Give Me Life

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I have been greatly humbled, Lord Jehovah;

give me life according to your word.

Psalm 119:107

Pain, lack, limitations, broken relationships, financial pressures are all humbling experiences. I tend to have emotions that run the gamut from fear to peace and back again.  When my emotions try to get the best of me, I turn to the Psalms. The writer’s of these psalms wrote of their emotions, our emotions. They, too, knew what it was like to be humbled by circumstances beyond their control. They understood the emotional upheaval it can cause. These are some of the emotions expressed in the psalms:

fear, joy, abandonment,

betrayal, despair, sadness,

blessedness, joy, gladness,

pain, grief, anger, fear,

anxiety, guilt, shame, reverence

What I find so interesting about the Psalms is that most of these psalms relating humbling circumstances and painful emotions end in praise. Somewhere in there, there is a turn, an and yet… or a but.. and the psalmist breaks out into praise and a purposeful, intentional, looking at God. So, if they can do it, we can too, when circumstances are causing our emotions to run amuck.

“The Psalms challenge our shallow experience of God. How deficient we are in expressing everything to God – our joys, sorrows, frustrations, and fears. God wants us to tell him everything. Every emotion and every experience can be the context of worship when expressed to God.

The Psalms are the prayers of Christ. As a faithful Jew, Jesus would have prayed these regularly. The Psalms would shape his faith and practice. Even more, every Psalm speaks of Jesus. In his humanity, he fully experienced every one of these emotions-complete identification with humanity. What greater reason could we have to make these prayers our own-patterning our prayers after them!

The Psalms teach us what it means to experience God with our whole being in every circumstance. We discover that true prayer involves speaking to God in every situation and with every emotional expression. To close part of ourselves to God is to fail to worship God truly and fully. God wants the expression of all our heart – mind, will, and emotions – in every situation to be an act of worship. Only when we fully embrace all we know, feel, and do and express everything to God – the good, bad, and the ugly – do we truly worship!” *

I think this is where the but… or the and yet… came in. The psalmist felt free to express his emotions to God, the good, the bad and the ugly.  And when they acknowledged these painful emotions and prayed them out, worship exploded inside them. They were revived.

When we are willing to tell God of our difficult emotions during trying times, He hears, He cares, He isn’t judging us, condemning us for feeling that way, or even turning aside until we get over ourselves. He is waiting patiently, knowing that in the end, His word will have its perfect work in our life and we will be revived according to that word.

How truly grateful I am that I can bring my emotions to You. I don’t have to hide them for fear You will be angry with me. It is so good to know You love me enough to be my “dumping grounds” where I can dump my feelings while, together, You and I sort through them. Your word has revived me so many times in the past, and I know Your word will continue to be my source of life in good times and in bad. Thank You for Your word and the life it brings me. Amen.

 

*I found this excerpt on theocentric.com.

pic credit: consumerstock.com

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If…Then…

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea’, and it will happen. 

But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in you heart.

I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 

But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”  

Mark 11:22

If I believe…then the mountain will move. Speaking to the mountain is not a superstitious exercise. If our faith is in God and in alignment with His will and His word, it becomes an applied release of God’s creative word of promise. When I was in Bible school and first learning anything about faith as a means to an end, I saw a number of misapplications, at least, I thought they were misapplications. One time, while driving to a women’s prison to hold a Bible study, a man riding with us pointed to a newer Cadillac and claimed it as his. For all I know, he is driving one now but it seems contrary to what I have read in the Bible. Our faith needs to align with God’s word and His will. I don’t think this is a carte blanche opportunity to go around speaking to everything and commanding it to become ours or to disappear altogether.

But, we are told by none other than Jesus Himself that if we have the God kind of faith we can move mountains. What are the mountains in your life right now? Disease, financial lack, a relationship gone sour, a child who is rebellious? Would having the faith in God’s ability to keep His word move that mountain?

What are some of those promises that could move mountains?

God has promised that His grace is sufficient for us.

God has promised that His children will not be overtaken with temptation.

God has promised us victory over death.

God has promised to supply every need we have.

God has promised that all things work together for good to those who love and serve Him faithfully.

God has promised that those who confess Jesus as Lord shall be saved.

God has promised His people eternal life.

God has promised to be with us always.

God has promised that no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

God has promised to lead us and guide us and provide for us and heal us and love us and love us and love us.

Surely faith in those promises could the mountains that seem unmovable.

Father, You tell me in Your word that the grass withers and the flower fades, but Your word stands forever. Your word of power is unshakeable and the power of Your word is undeniable. Thank You for all that You have promised me, thank You for loving me with an ever-lasting love. I pray for healing, for myself, for Bruce, for my children, for Roy and Kathy and Janice. Forgive me for my sins and if I am holding unforgiveness towards anyone, would You reveal that to me? In Jesus’ name. Amen.

pic credit: zazzle.ca

Rock, Solid Truth or Not

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Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

This part of this song by Hillsong United got stuck in my head. Day and night, I was singing this, only sometimes out loud.  I changed a word in it inadvertently. I sang where my faith is without borders.  Over and over and over again.  One day I heard the song on the radio and heard them sing “my trust is without borders” and my first thought was – they must be wrong. Right – the people that wrote the song, sang the song and made it famous got the words wrong. I held onto some of that thinking until I got home and looked up the lyrics and realized I had been wrong. By this time, however, I had sung that song so many times that it was hard to break the habit of saying faith instead of trust. Not really such a big deal, but it made me think of other times when I am wrong in my thinking and don’t realize how deeply ingrained in me that thinking is.

I think that sometimes, my approach to God’s word is a little like that. Perhaps I hear someone teach on a particular passage, perhaps I hear that preaching from other people over the years and I accept it as true. When I read something though, in the Bible that doesn’t jive with that teaching, sometimes my first thought is well, I must be reading it wrong, or maybe God is wrong. It takes a while for my thinking to move from that to accepting that perhaps the teachings weren’t spot on and I have believed wrongly.

The way that we think about something, especially if we think it over and over again, becomes so ingrained in us that it is hard to see it as wrong sometimes. When confronted with the truth we tend to defend our position rather than consider we might be wrong.

The importance of lining our thoughts up with truth is critical to our successful journey on this earth. We are told to that we need to be “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”  I Corinthians 10:5

I think one thing I have learned in this healing journey is that I can’t think wrongly about God’s word and have it work in my life the way God intended it to work. I have to bring every thought captive and ask, does it line up with the word of God or not? If the doctor says you have a congenital problem here, but God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made, which comment will play again and again in my mind until I accept it as rock, solid truth?

Lord, I know Your word to be what preserves my life, what sustains me, what strengthens me and heals me. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. Thank You for standing behind Your word. Help me to bring every thought captive so that it becomes obedient to You, to Your word. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who leads and guides me in truth and for Your rod and Your staff that comfort me. Amen.

The Girdled Tree

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I have never had to have a tree removed; I don’t need to, I have a puppy who has destroyed three already.  They were young and she was young and I hoped they would outgrow her but that wasn’t the case.  It was pretty easy to determine that the tree was dead. The leaves were gone and the branches chewed off. I have heard though of a method for killing off invasive or unwanted trees called girdling.  Girdling is done by stripping off a band of bark from the tree. This removes the part of the tree that transports sugars necessary for growth basically stopping its food supply. The tree dies over a period of time. It won’t, however, look dead for all of  this time frame. There will be evidence of life for a while. But because it has been girdled, it is easy to picture the tree as dead in spite of evidence to the contrary. It time, the evidence of death will be obvious.  Sighted evidence will line up with faith that the tree is indeed dead.

Believing I am healed in the midst of evidence to the contrary is much like watching that tree only in reverse.  It requires that I look beyond the evidence.  I have to look at what is not seen. What I can see with my eyes is not the whole story. I have to see with eyes of faith. See my knees bending properly, see my neck and shoulders moving freely, see my hands and fingers functioning unhindered.  I have to see life where there seems to be death. One day, sighted evidence will line up with faith that I am healed, if I keep believing.

F.F. Bosworth writes, “The process of faith which brings the healing is a far greater blessing than the healing itself.

…When we have learned the process of faith for receiving healing,

we have learned how to receive everything else God promises us in His word”.

I believe he is right. Putting our faith in God’s promises is not manipulating God, it is trusting God. It is taking Him at His word and not letting go until we see the manifestation of what we are believing for take place.  Can you see what you are believing for in the midst of evidence that says forget it? Can you continue to see past the evidence to the trustworthy promises of God?

Too many times, I have a hard time seeing beyond the evidence. I can count the years I have waited and hoped and prayed and still not seen the healing and I consider giving up. Forgive me, for placing more faith in evidence than I do in Your word. You purchased my healing, You prophesized my healing, You promised my healing, You provided for my healing, what tremendous love is that? Thank You for caring so much about me and doing so much for me. When I am tempted to look for evidence, would You nudge me back to Your word? I ask in Your trustworthy name Jesus. Amen.

Picture credit: wikipedia

 

Daily Bread

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I’ll be honest here, sometimes, days go by and I haven’t picked up the Bible one time. There have also been weeks and months when that happened.  I can say I treasure the Word of God, that I believe in the Word of God, that I have been transformed by the Word of God, that I have been healed by the Word of God, but sometimes, it’s just easy to put it aside.  There, I’ve said it. Rick Warren has this incredible reminder for me:

“The Bible is far more than a doctrinal guidebook.

God’s Word generates life,

creates faith,

produces change,

frightens the Devil,

causes miracles,

heals hurts,

builds character,

transforms circumstances,

imparts joy,

overcomes adversity,

defeats temptation,

infuses hope,

releases power,

cleanses our minds,

brings things into being,

and guarantees our future forever!

We cannot live without the Word of God!

Never take it for granted.

You should consider it as essential to your life as food.

Job said, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread”. 

I have to confess that I have taken it for granted. Confess and ask for forgiveness and maybe ask the hard question of myself – why is it so easy to put aside?  What is really more important to me? I am actually stumped on that.  I have had times when I didn’t read the Bible because I was miffed at God or downright angry or disappointed. I am none of those right now and yet… I can’t blame it on busyness, because sometimes I find time to watch episodes of Breaking Bad when I could have used the time to read the Bible. I wouldn’t dream of missing a meal and yet I should consider it as essential to my life as food is. More than essential.  

Perhaps, reading the Bible and studying it and praying and meditating on God’s Word are called spiritual disciplines because we have to discipline ourselves to make use of them. I believe every word of what Rick Warren wrote about the Word of God and I know I cannot live without it but I am lacking in discipline. I remember, though, when I first became a Christian, that I couldn’t put His Word down. It was new to me and I was enthralled and curious. I lack that passion now and I dearly want it back. More important than my physical healing is my spiritual renewal.  I want to return to my first love with a passion I haven’t had in years. What about you? Do you find it easy to put off getting into God’s Word? Are other things more urgent and pressing? Do you have advice that would help me? I would love to hear it.

Lord, You know my heart so much better than I ever could. If there is something there keeping me from Your Word would You cause me to see it? Would You also forgive me for being lukewarm and being so easily distracted from spending time in Your Word. Help me, not to just purpose to read, but help me to fall in love with Your Word all over again. Please. Amen.

 

Pitiful or Powerful?

Two of my adult daughters were going through extremely difficult times.

Times I wished had not come their way; times I can’t spare them from going through.

I hurt for them.

My heart broke for them.

And I felt helpless.

My husband and I were discussing this one night and he said it must really feel bad to know what they are going through and not be able to do anything – to be so powerless.

And I nodded in agreement.

Then I trudged upstairs to get into my pajamas and curl up in the darkness of my bedroom and be  powerless and helpless and feel sorry for them and sorry for me.

I decided to pray first maybe more out of habit than conviction and an amazing thought crossed my mind.

Actually, I remembered Joyce Meyer saying, “You can be pitiful or you can be powerful”.

I must have heard her say that dozens of times but that night, it resonated with me.

In the natural, there is only so much I can do for my daughters.

But God, through my prayers, can do so much.

I began speaking His Word over them:

They are the head and not the tail.

They are loved with an everlasting love.

They are led in paths of righteousness.

They are inheritors of the promises of God.

They are blessed to be a blessing.

They are surrounded with favor like a shield.

They are taught of the Lord and great is their peace.

They are protected by angels.

They can do all things through Christ who strengthens them.

They are children of the Most High God who has not forgotten them or forsaken them or turned a deaf ear to them.

God will restore to them for the years the locust have eaten.

Goodness and mercy will follow them all the days of their lives.

They will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

No, I don’t have to be pitiful.

I don’t have to be powerless.

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I can take them to the throne room of God anytime, day or night, and know that He hears my prayers.

He has bottled up my tears.

He has sent His angels to perform His Word in their lives.

I still curled up in the darkness of my bedroom, but instead of feeling sorry for them and for myself, I felt peace.

That peace that surpasses all comprehension.

Peace that only God can give.

Pitiful – I don’t think so.

Powerless – I don’t think so.

Not me, not anymore!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.

Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.

It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Philippians 4: 6-7 Message Bible

reposted from my old blog godhappenings.wordpress.com

Repeating Decimals? Could You Please Repeat That?

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Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

Matthew 22:29

Our son is homeschooled, which means we are his teachers.  Some days that is great and others, well, let’s say less than great.  Our last less than great day was one where he encountered converting repeating decimals into fractions.  I can honestly say that in my multiple decades here on earth that I have never had to use that.  And if I ever needed it, I could google the answer way faster than trying to figure it out.

So much of what I learned, and perhaps you too, in school and college is information that I have not needed as an adult.  The rationale behind teaching kids repeating decimals and other, dare I say, useless things, is that we don’t know where they are headed and we want to keep all doors of opportunity open for them.  I get that but I don’t buy it.

The success of my son’s life will be based on how well he knows one thing – God’s word and how well he can apply it to his life.

As my son journeys on in life, I hope and pray his life will be filled with all the blessings of God and heaven.  But, sometimes, as we all know, we go through difficult times.  It is good for him, for me, for you, when difficult times come, that we know what God says about it.  And equally important, what God says about us who are Christ followers:

We are children of the Most High God.

We are called according to a purpose.

We are loved with an everlasting love.

We are blessed to be a blessing.

We are healed by the stripes of Jesus, forgiven of our sins by the blood of Jesus, brought into a right relationship with God because of Jesus.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

We are the apple of His eye, the crown jewel of His creation.

We are surrounded with favor like a shield.

We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.

The list goes on and on.  These are the things that need to repeat in my son’s mind.  These are the truths that will help him stand when difficulties come.  These are the truths that will open the doors of opportunity for him.

Lord, I do believe you have called us to homeschool our son, and You know the difficulties that presents.  Grant us patience and wisdom to guide our son into adulthood.  May Your word that has gone into him produce a harvest in his life for years to come.  Thank You that Your word is true, we can count on it and You to guide us through life -both the easy times and the difficult times.  Help us all to hide Your word in our heart so that we might not sin against You.  In Your son Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Pic credit mathtraintv

Good King, Bad King

I read the Bible for the first time in 1983. I was a brand new Christian and wanted to see what God had to say for Himself. I started at Genesis and read through to Revelation. It took about 3 months. When I closed the book I lay my head down and cried.

I grew up in a Presbyterian Church.  We went on Sunday mornings and almost every other time the doors were open.  I remember a lot of things but I don’t remember learning anything about God.  I am sure He was mentioned but I’m just saying, for me, church wasn’t where I discovered God.   I did, however, have an opinion of God. I envisioned Him with a large blackboard where with white chalk, He made tally marks of each of my sins.  Probably yours too, but in all honesty, I was way too self-absorbed to be concerned about your sins.  Mine scared me.  Terrified is a better word.  I lived in tremendous fear of His judgment.  I had no idea what His judgment would be like and I had no idea if it would be brought on by the sum total of my sins or one big, bad one that would tip the scale. Only that it was imminent.

I also had no idea of what sin actually was. I had enough knowledge of the Ten Commandments to know that I wasn’t supposed to steal, or murder or commit adultery and I wasn’t doing those things. But still I felt those tally marks being made and I had no idea how to stop them from being made or how to erase them. I lived with condemnation and fear that was crippling.

But then I read the Bible.

It was the kings of Judah and Israel that helped me see God.

And myself.

Reading through I and II Kings was an emotional roller coaster ride for me.

These books record the history of the reign of kings over the Israelites.

Some were good and some were exceedingly bad.

A chapter might begin something like this:

“Now Ahaziah was twenty -two years old when he became king…and he did evil in the sight of the Lord”  II Kings 8:26-27 .  

And I would cringe.

And then a new king would come to power and it would read like this:

“Then Jehoash became king and …. he did right in the sight of the Lord all his days”  II Kings12: 1-2.  

And I could breathe again.

But then the next king would come to power and it would read like this:

“Jehoahaz …became king and… he did evil in the sight of the Lord”   II Kings 13:1-2 

And I would fear for them.

This continued for chapters and chapters and years and years and years of their history.

And I couldn’t take it.

I just knew the tally marks were winning and they were doomed.

Like me.

Each time an evil king came on the scene I would want to scream at them the way I might do watching thriller movie when someone is in danger and doesn’t see it.

I wanted them to stop their sinning; I wanted to believe it was possible.

For them; for me.

I didn’t want to see what God would do to them because whatever God would do to them wouldn’t He surely do the same to me when my tally marks exceeded His limits?

What God did do surprised me.

He allowed consequences for their sin; sin always has consequences but His heart for them was always merciful, compassionate.

He stood with open arms to welcome them back.

To forgive them, to wipe away the tally marks.

Listen to His heart in this passage from Isaiah:

“For the mountains may be removed

and the hills may shake,

but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,

and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”

says the Lord who has compassion on you”

Isaiah 54:10

God isn’t watching over me to keep track of my sins; He is watching over me to find ways to tell me once again just how much He loves me.

Is it any wonder I cried?

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Remember?

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“Remember the day when we first met?  I do. 

I remember the sunshine and the sound of the creek as it rolled by. 

I remember your tears. 

I saw your pain, your confusion. 

You lost all hope that day, remember?

But you called out to me, remember that?  You called out through the tears.  Your words were barely audible, but I heard them.

And when you were out of words and out of tears remember how I held you?

Remember the peace we shared that day – sweet, heavy, lingering? 

Did you hear the angels in heaven rejoicing that day?  I did.  I remember it like it was yesterday.

You began reading my letters afterwards, remember that?

You couldn’t put them down.  You hung on my every word.  Sometimes you smiled and sometimes you cried and sometimes you just sat there in silence holding my letter to your heart.  Do you remember?

Can I just say that I miss you?  Can I say that that time was special to me?  That everyday I looked forward to our time together? 

I loved how you forgot to eat sometimes and how you let chores go undone you were so intent on reading and rereading my letters. 

Remember that one day when you never even got out of bed – you just read my letters over and over again as the day slipped into evening?  I remember.

Can I just say that I miss you?”

I was washing dishes one day when God spoke these words to me.  Whispered is more like it.  I do remember those days, how long ago now?  Why is so easy to slip into a routine that leaves God waiting?  At the end of yet another day, when the  tyranny of the urgent screamed louder than that still, small voice of my Savior, guess which voice I responded to?  I am not proud of this.  I purpose daily to do differently.  Perhaps you do too.

Whatever the concerns of our life, however, pressing they may be, putting Jesus first, changes our perspective.  Problems lose a little of their power to dominate our thoughts and peace has a chance of prevailing in our lives.  In that peace, we can find a clarity we may miss when our thoughts are primarily on the problem.  Problems come and go, pain, sickness, relationship issues, financial problems,  these are sometimes part and parcel of our lives, but they don’t need to be the dominating factor in our lives.  Jesus knows our need, our wants, our deepest, sometimes unspoken hopes and He says to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (His way of doing things) and ALL these things shall be added unto us.

I do remember, Lord, when You were my highest priority.  I remember hating to put Your word down, looking forward to every minute I could spend with You.  I want to return to You in that way, forgive me and help me, I pray.  Thank You for being faithful to me even when I am not faithful to You.  As I seek to put You first, I will rest in the knowledge that You know the need, and are willing to provide for me.  I am grateful.  Amen.