It’s Written All Over Us

Psalm 38:3-4; 17-18; 21-22 (ESV)

3 There is no soundness in my flesh

because of Your indignation;

there is no health in my bones

because of my sin.

4For my iniquities have gone over my head;

like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me….

17 For I am ready to fall,

and my pain is ever before me.

18 I confess my iniquity;

I am sorry for my sin…

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD!

O my God, be not far form me!

Make haste to help me

O LORD, my salvation!

When we are living in a season of sinfulness, it’s written ALL over us. We may not be able to see it in the mirror but we know it’s true when we hear comments from our friends like “Is everything ok?” or “So, how are you REALLY?” The heaviness of these burdens, these unconfessed and often unrealized sins, is obvious not only to God but to those God has placed in our lives and in our own inner circles. We have become masters (some of us, at least) at disguising it and lying to our friends, family and especially to ourselves.

This summer I decided that I had waited long enough on God to fulfill a very specific promise to me. I told Him I was done believing Him about this happening and that I no longer even wanted what He had told me He had for me 2 years earlier. I was done. I couldn’t “do” it anymore. It was too painful to believe, to trust, to wait, and even to think about it.

I quit on God that day.

And this was one of the hardest summers of my 34 years. I cried almost daily and couldn’t really even tell you why. I became physically, mentally and spiritually fatigued and angry at those I love. I became incredibly insecure. In short, I honestly thought I was losing my mind. For weeks I was not recognizable as me. I was something very different and I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

Finally, at my wits end and out of total desperation I cried out to God and asked for His forgiveness for my sins of unbelief and willful separation from Him. I confessed my selfishness of only wanting Him for what He gave or did not give me.

And just like that…I was restored-to good health in my mind, body and spirit. In my relationships and in my faith. He showed me merciful and gracious signs conforming His original promise yet again.

And all because He allowed the grace for me to confess my sins to Him and cried out for His mercy and restoration.

He restored me mercifully.

There was once again “soundness in my flesh” (Verse 3), “health in bones” (Verse 3), and my strength, or better yet, HIS strength in me, returned and was even more than before.

And again, it showed all over me. The comments from friends changed, my relationships were restored and life, in general, was back to being defined by His joy and my faith in Him.

What is written all over YOU today? What is the condition of your flesh and your bones and your mind and spirit today? If you just can’t put your finger on whatever it is that’s bringing you down, spend some time in quiet prayer and reflection and then confession and repentance. The restoration will come, I promise. But most importantly, He promises. And His promises are written not only all over His book, but also all over you as well.

 

***This was written as part of the She Shares Truth experiment…Go to http://shereadstruth.com/2014/03/07/shesharestruth/ to read more!***

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What am I waiting for? Psalm 130

Psalm 130:5-6

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in His Word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning,

more than watchman for the morning.”

Lent is all about the waiting.

But wasn’t Advent all about the waiting, too? In December we were waiting for the birth and for the arrival and for silent nights and peace and …

But in March…What am I really waiting for now?

I gave up sweets for Lent this year and if I’m completely honest, a whole lot of my thoughts and focus are spent waiting on Sunday morning to come (Ok… Maybe even midnight on Saturday night…) so that I can do what we “devout” Christians affectionately refer to as “feasting,” which we all really know is a glorified word for cheating, right?

We take our ashes on Wednesday and promise to deny ourselves and sacrifice…But my ashes have hardly rubbed off before my mind has wandered to what I am going to “feast” on come Sunday morning.

Where is the beauty from the ashes in that?

There is none.

Because nothing was ever really at stake with my half-hearted attempt at self-denial, was it?

So what…I can MOSTLY make it 6 days without sugar for 6 weeks out the year and what do I gain?

Nothing, really. And more importantly, how does that accomplish anything of worth for the kingdom?

Empty promises yield empty returns.

Does that mean that giving up sugar is a complete waste of time and energy and focus for me?

It doesn’t have to be.

Is God really honored by my lack of sugar indulgence or maybe I’m missing the entire point?

I am definitely missing the sweetness right now…but not the sweetness that comes from those empty calories.

I’m missing the sweetness of His Word in my heart.

I’m missing the sweetness of His mercy on my failures.

I’m missing the pure, living sweetness of His steadfast love and plentiful redemption. (Verse 7)

And I’m definitely missing the point.

If, through my somewhat trivial sugar-fasting, I allow the Lord to direct my focus and my cravings for sweetness toward HIM and the only true sweetness that really satisfies the cravings, then just maybe the trivial can become something else…Maybe the ashes of triviality can BEcome the beauty of something else entirely…Something truly sweet and fully satisfying and lasting far longer than that sugar high ever could. The beauty of a deeper, richer relationship with Him.

Empty promises yield empty returns.

But IF I’m waiting on the Lord and putting my hope in His Word, His promises are anything but empty. If my waiting on Him for peace, for direction, for purpose, for healing is truly focused on Him, He promises all these things and exponentially more…”a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19), “strength” (Nehemiah 8:10, Isaiah 40:31), “beauty instead of ashes” (Isaiah 61:3), and “joy in the morning” (Psalm 30:5)…

“My soul waits for the Lord

more than a watchman for the morning

more than a watchman for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!

For with the Lord there is steadfast love,

and with Him is plentiful redemption.” Psalm 130:6-7

Now THAT’S something worth waiting for!

A Message in the rain

Ok, so last night the girls and I were headed out to have our “Girls Only” night…and of course by “girls” I mean AC and Moo! Anyway, as we were driving on Thompson Lane, out of NOWHERE came this heavy, LOUD, really hard rain shower! It came upon us so quickly that I immediately had to slow way down, turn on my lights and my windshield wipers and really focus on the road ahead. It was SO incredibly loud that I could no longer hear anything except the storm and the water pounding down on the car. It was overwhelming, to say the least. I glanced in my rearview mirror to check on the girls and I could tell that they were watching me to see what my reaction would be. I knew it was a teachable moment and the Holy Spirit prompted me to turn up the praise song that was playing on the radio. Now, it was so LOUD inside that car that I had to turn the radio REALLY LOUD to even hear the music. Once I did, almost immediately, as quickly as it started, the rain all but stopped. I could see in my rear view mirror that there were dark, foreboding clouds behind us, but up ahead was a beautiful sunset getting ready to happen. So peaceful, so serene.

I told the girls that just like that storm that came upon us so quickly, life will happen the very same way. Before we know it we are in a situation that can be overwhelming, consuming, and often times, even very scary, but that we ALWAYS have the option to do just what we did in our mini-van…get a grip, take a breath, and turn UP God in our lives. He is always there, just like that praise music is always available. Often times there is so much else going on that turning up the praise music seems to be unimportant or even trivial when your body,mind and senses are saying to go into survival mode, but always remember that Christ is there, waiting on you to turn Him up in your life.

Waiting on you to focus your attention and your prayers and your time and your feelings and your worries and your burdens on Him, and He will watch over you, He will quiet you with His presence and He will give you peace…to get you straight through whatever storm you may be “powering through”…until the only remnants remain in your own rear-view mirror and that beautiful peace is all that stands before you.

Thank You Lord for speaking to us, for loving us, and for always showing us the way out of our own storms..

Tis the season…

***I just  found this and am publishing it, over a month late!****

How does the saying go? Tis the season to be jolly, Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra.. (Yes, I know it’s wrong, but I love the Christmas Story far too much to think of it any other way!)

Anyway…I am really feeling the nudging this year to live simply, especially this Christmas season…and I see the same thought everywhere I go, every blog, every magazine article…EVERYwhere. Is God trying to tell just me something or is this a trend? I would love for it to be a trend..doesn’t that always make transitions easier..if everyone else is doing it? What a crazy thought, that to be obedient and peaceful with my choices, that it could be “easier” because everyone else is doing it! I truly don’t want to BE like everyone else, but I also don’t want to be, well, a freak, you know? I want my children to be loved and accepted for who they are, but I also want them to be set apart from this crazy world and it’s backwards virtues. How do you do that? There are so many beautiful examples of families that actually accomplish this at our church. One, in particular, is my absolute FAVORITE family to sit behind at church on Sundays. I love to watch them as they sing the praise songs and as their teenaged children worship God freely and without looking over their shoulder to see who is watching…..

When God wows me…

As I type, I am in awe of our God, of MY God and the way that He is constantly at work in my life. This morning, as I typed out the scripture that I send out daily to my people…my “Prayer Warriors” as they are titled in my address book in my phone, actually, as I searched for a scripture to send out, I found it in the Joyce Meyer study notes that I had downloaded this past weekend on “Contentment and Satisfaction”, which God has chosen as the theme for my life with God this year. THIS is what God is doing in my life right now, in case you were wondering…

Anyway, this theme keeps coming up, as God is always faithful to do when He wants to tell us something. The verse I decided upon was Philippians 4:13 “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” You hear it all the time, right? Well, as I type this I am also listening to a sermon by one of my favorite pastors, a good friend of ours, Jacob Armstrong at Providence United Methodist in Mt.Juliet, Tn. What verse is he preaching on? Philippians 4:13! What is he talking about? Being content in all situations, in ALL circumstances.

Why is this so important, SO life-changing to me right NOW? Because last week I had my own version of a mini-breakdown. I admit it. I threw a royal fit….with God. I screamed. I cried. I told Him that I knew that He is BIGGER than THIS. This situation. This circumstance. Which one, you might ask? I am ashamed to say, but I will confess it to show you just how selfish and ungrateful a person I REALLY am. I was mad at God for not selling our house yet. For allowing us to find yet another home that I “fell in love with” and that would be “perfect for our family”. I was MAD at God for putting this desire on my heart and not filling it…YET. I was MAD at God for Miller pooping in his pants…AGAIN. I was MAD at God because I have been working so hard to keep the house clean, working SO hard to read my devotionals (all, like 10 of them) everyday, working SO hard to try and BE the woman He wants me to be, and in all reality, to EARN the grace and the reward that He has promised me. Striving. Toiling. Working. IN VAIN. At least in my own mind. I actually decided that I was done with it. Done with trying. Done with thinking about what I NEEDED to do all the time. Done trying to please Him all the time and DONE trying to figure Him out.

Do you know what He said?

GOOD. Now I can actually do something in you. NOW I can actually work with you and use you.

Now that I KNOW that I am useless to God unless I surrender all of me to Him, NOW He can make BIG things happen. I understand that my “righteous acts” are as “filthy rags” to Him, because He is so pure. So righteous. So GOOD. And I am me. I am weak. I am inconsistent. I am flesh..and that’s it! WITHOUT God, that is.

But WITH God, WITH His Spirit in me, “I can DO ALL THINGS” through Christ who strengthens me….

He didn’t tell me this at that moment, like I wanted Him to. He didn’t immediately comfort me with this…or actually maybe He did, but I wasn’t ready to receive it. I repented later that night, for feeling blasphemous and disobedient. I prayed for God to show me how He loves me. I prayed for His love to be all consuming. I prayed to start over with God. Luckily, God happens to be in the business of fresh starts. Of new beginnings. Of doing a “new thing” and giving us a “new song” to sing.

The song “How He Loves Us” by the David Crowder Band has been in my head and heart all weekend and still today. Even as I was sitting on the couch Friday night, I heard Josh playing it on the computer in our room, randomly. I don’t know why, but he was playing it. Then he told me that the praise band would be singing it on Sunday. I didn’t actually get to hear that, because AC had gotten sick, but that was ok. I knew that God wanted me to know that it was being sang.

How has He loved me? Well, He’s told me over and over to just trust Him. Whenever my mind starts going to that place of anxiety, to remember that I trust Him. That He ALONE is trustworthy. Even when I don’t see things happening the way I think they should. To whisper to my Spirit, “I trust You”.

Just a little while ago, as I turned on my laptop to check e-mail and Facebook updates, I came across something that caught my eye, something that a friend had posted. I watched it in amazement and cried and praised God at the same time. Something that God put on my heart a LONG time ago. Something that I had very easily given up on because of life circumstances. Something I very honestly DID NOT WANT anymore. But today, as I watched and read and listened, I heard something that wasn’t on the video clip. I heard something move in my heart. I heard God whisper something in my heart that I realize now that I have been very adamantly pushing out of my mind and heart for a LONG time.

Not that anyone ever reads this, but even so, I am not going to tell you what it is. This is between me and God, at least for now. I’ve got lots of praying to do about it. Lots of spirit searching. But I will tell you this. The fact that I am even CONSIDERING this, is an act of God ALONE. But you know what? I HAVE PEACE. I HAVE TOTAL PEACE about this AND about our house situation, and about just about EVERYTHING else. Because if God is BIG enough to make this happen (and I KNOW that He is), then my God is BIG enough to do anything. And THAT is what I trust.

I couldn’t make this thing happen if I strived day and night. Not a chance. But thankfully, God doesn’t ever want us striving, for anything. If He wants us to have it, He wants us to have peace about receiving it…from Him. That doesn’t mean He doesn’t want us working hard in obedience to Him, just as Nehemiah worked hard after he prayed to God for His wall to be built (yet another story God keeps presenting me with on this journey!). It just means that when we are STRIVING and toiling, that if whatever we are stiriving for is in God’s will for us, striving is NOT part of the process. “Toiling in vain” doesn’t mean “working in vain”, it means “toiling or striving”. That may not make much sense, but I don’t know how to explain it, except that toiling will ALWAYS be in vain.

Trust God. Don’t toil. Don’t strive. Work hard. Pray even harder. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will GIVE you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4.

“Living with joy and power because you’re connected with Jesus.” -Jacob

A New Year and a new perspective…

Just this morning, as I finally got around to making the time to be quiet with my God, I was yet again tremendously blessed with His comforting Spirit through His Word. The Upper Room Devotional for yesterday (that I just got around to reading today!) was just beautiful. Here it is:

-Psalm 42:1 (NIV)

Well, apparently that is all the Lord wants me to give you for now, b/c as hard as I have tried, I can’t copy and paste the entire thing, just this sweet scripture, which reads:

Psalm 42:1

“As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, oh God.”

Here is the link to read it all for yourself:

http://www.upperroom.org/devotional/default.asp?month=1&day=1&year=2010

Isn’t that simple verse so sweetly, and completely true, though? Even when we don’t know what that longing is, what it is that we are longing for, He shows up as soon as we invite Him into our hearts and take the time away from the world to be with Him alone. As the New Year begins, my mind goes immediately to the decision that we have been putting off for a few months now. Our house.

God has been so trustworthy and faithful to provide peace to my soul about the fact that He has not yet moved us to the “spacious place” that He has promised again and again. I can finally, without a doubt say that I don’t doubt that promise. He has it for us and I can feel the longing that He put there when I see the house of my dreams still sitting on the market, at an unbelievable price…still sitting there, unsold..just like ours.

Our decision was to wait to re-list until after the holidays…and here we are..sitting on the couch, with a much needed day of rest, watching the snow fall and not talking about it…it’s the elephant in the room to me and I so wish that it were not…so many times I’ve pleaded with God to take the desire away but He does not, He leaves it there in hopeful anticipation of the promise to come…

But…

then we have many other decisions to make and lots of work to do before that can happen. Well, not LOTS, but some. The real work comes in the constant upkeep of the house in the hope that we’ll get a call that day to show it. What a crazy thing to have anxiety about, but I do. It makes my stomach hurt, to be honest. Is it just not the “season” of my life, well, my kids lives to be doing this again?  Is it detrimental to their well-being because of the stress it brings me? Isn’t that simply my problem to overcome and be at peace with?

Then, I read today’s (yesterdays, really)devotional and something stirs within me. Whenever I feel the anxiety coming over the house, seek His face. Seek His peace. Seek His comfort and remember His promises.

So beautifully simple.

Peace-not from my surroundings, not from the dream of a bigger house or the false hope of a recovering market. But faith in Him. The One we call Father. Provider. Lover of my soul. Prince of Peace. He created peace to bestow it upon us. Upon me in my desperate seeking of Him. Like a deer panting by a stream and the quenching of that thirst that He creates in us so that we will look only for His face to provide…

I love Him so much. Thank You God. I sing your praises.

Bible Search Bar – Bible.Logos.com

Bible Search Bar – Bible.Logos.com.

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