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Often we go to the Lord and we request, even demand, a husband (or fill in the blank with something else). We request, and then we choose. In this process the Lord places this man over us in the roles of marriage (despite the fact that we are equal in God’s sight). The very thing for which we begged.

And the Lord tells us to fear Him, worship Him, and obey Him. He tells us to guard our hearts from rebelling against Him.

In the midst of this marriage with this man whom we have chosen.

Yet we grow discontent and dissatisfied. He warns us, and He tells us to watch the great things He is going to do in our lives giving us tangible evidence of His might, sovereignty, and His love.

In the midst of this marriage with this man whom we have chosen.

He yearns to reveal the gunk in our hearts that tears us away from Him. He puts us in trial and allows temptation to reveal to us that which is holding us back from Him. Choking us.

In the midst of this marriage with this man whom we have chosen.

Basic. Foretold. Promised.

Then the foolishness begins: Expectations. Circumstances. Fears. The Mundane. We take things into our own hands. Ah, but I am getting ahead of myself as that is in chapter 13.

The Lord, He is faithful. We are not. He tells us to just do that which we know to do. “Do the next thing.” Yet we want to add to His Word. Or take away. Even then He is faithful to forgive us. Even then. Always.

He tells us over and over again… Fear Me, but do not be Afraid. Despite your selfish foolish heart you can Return. Worship. Be Forgiven. For when you turn away to the ideology of the world, you walk toward your own destruction.

No profit. No deliverance. Just lies.

Oh that we would understand His heart for us. Oh that we would not seek after that which distracts us from Him and from His plan for us.

In the midst of this marriage with this man whom we have chosen.

Still the Lord will not abandon you. Return to Him. He will show you how if you but ask Him.

Return to Him and soar.

Golf & Growth

I see the similarity. Seriously.

I study the basics. I get fantastic instruction. When I am in the presence of my instructor, he easily sees the details I perform incorrectly. He instructs me again with more detail. One week its posture. Another week its weight transfer. Then another week its my bent elbow and straight wrists. I practice shots in front of him and I improve. For the moment. I go home and practice the the exercises he gives me.

I meditate on the swing day and night.

I get counsel from Godly friends (often without asking, but always appreciated as I know in their hearts they want the best for me).

I practice at the driving range. (and while blowing my hair dry, and while watching TV and while…)

I even seem to be somewhat skilled at teaching. But I cannot live what I speak. Consistently.

I really really want to do well. Now.

Whiff.

I hit air.

I want to curse. I want to blame my clubs, my hormones, anything but my impatience and lack of flexibility as I try to maintain the stance.

I whine, “I’m trying!” I complain, “Why?!”

I beat myself up mentally because I cannot get it right. All. Now. And I beg in prayer for the Lord’s help. Daily.

“Wait on Me,” He says.

And it all begins again the next week.

Apparently growth takes time, effort, patience and a mighty act of God.  For my soul this mighty act was the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He accomplished EVERYTHING for me, despite His command for me to turn to Him. To DO something. Amazingly He already did it all, and I just have to respond. That’s my responsibility. Now I am Right in His eyes because I have Christ’s perfect life credited to mine. I have a living hope. I have purpose. I have a new Identity. What a gift.

For my golf swing… I’m still waiting for that mighty act.

Marriage- 1 Samuel 12

As I read through 1 Samuel 13-15 it struck me that some things apply well to marriage, but chapter 12 sets the tone for the drama.

Of a people yearning for the next great thing.

The people continuously forget from Whom they received deliverance, provision, purpose and identity. They looked around at their neighbors, the other nations, and lost sight of their Lord. Once again their wandering hearts sought confidence in what is seen.

“Give us a king,” they cried.

Oh, dear one, be careful for what you ask. For what you demand.

  • You have a mighty and just King, His government rules over everything.
  • You have a perfect Husband Who cherishes you, and takes care of you.
  • You have a faithful Friend Who is loyal, and offers life-giving counsel.
  • You have a powerful Boss that desires your success and promotion (even if the path He gives is rough)
  • You have a kind and compassionate Father Who is proud of you, and longs to welcome you home.

Yet our wandering heart points to what we see around us and says, “That, I want that one. Gimme.”

So where are your eyes? To where do you look for hope and purpose? For help?

We must pray for one another, teach the good and right way, fear the Lord and worship Him faithfully.

How? How do we do all that in a world that distracts us and leaves us angry or sad or weary?

Consider the great things He has done.

For you.

Return to Me

Hosea 12-14.1

Our Lord is a jealous God. He would that we worship no other. Yet how often do we worship our own selves? Isn’t that really where is all boils down?

He is willing to tear us apart in order to build us back up- in Him. He demands that we put no confidence in anything.

But God.

“Return to Me,” He pleads over and over. “Return to Me. Wait for Me.” Even in His anger and wrath, even in His disappointment there is always longing. And love.

Of God… for us.

While this is written to Israel, our Father has called us- YOU- His very own as well. We are also His beloved, and He always comes after us to return us to His presence. Purified. Forgiven. Free.

He has given us every part of Himself.

His Son.

His Spirit.

His whole heart.

He is completely wrapped up in those gifts to us so that we too might have life and have it abundantly. Without those gifts there is no hope. He fully gave of Himself that we may have hope.

Behold!

We are our own greatest enemy. But God is stronger than our all enemies- without and within. He has overcome our own sin and the whole world, because of His abundant love and mercy. And grace.

Praise the Lord for His power and His might. His love so underserved.

And today may you be encouraged.

Are you too fat? Too thin? I have friends who are, but they think they are fat (which makes me obese). Hair falling out and reappearing in odd places? Talk too much? Too little? What is wrong with you? You know SOMETHING is….

Do you spend a lot of time and energy concerned about temporary and truly unimportant things that you are sure define you? Mix in there the deep desire to bear fruit that lasts, and you have a less than desirable result that can leave you weary.

Here is where I am supposed to insert something sugary like- But we are Beautiful, Sister! Wonderfully made!

Can’t do it. Won’t do it. I know I am fallible. I bet you are too.

If we don’t continually remind ourselves of how He has chosen, renamed, and remade us, the struggle to grow in Christian character will become nothing more than another attempt at self-improvement, and self-improvement always results in self-loathing or pride. (Elyse)

Always.

We are dependent. We rely on the God of the universe. The Great I Am. We have to be reminded that the One who created us, who loves us and has the authority to name us, has already told us who we are, what we need, and where we’re going. He has determined our individuality, our place of belonging, our purpose, and our permanence. He has answered our fallibility. The problem of our ongoing fallibility and failure has been answered in the Gospel. We are, each one, more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe, but more loved and welcomed than we ever dared hope. (Elyse)

So today and tomorrow, despite you, you are in the Father’s favor. You are His gift to His Son. His delight. Sealed by His Spirit.

We are on a journey of faith and repentance- by Christ and for Christ. This truly can be a journey of joy, peace, hope- through faith in Christ.

Walk on.

FYI- I am quoting Elyse Fitzpatrick (Because He Loves Me) with abandon. Assume much of what you read in these posts- especially the really good stuff- is from what the Lord has taught her. Thank you, Elyse.

Are you so nearsighted that you cannot bear fruit? Have you forgotten that you are cleansed from your former sins?

Sheesh, my entire post was just deleted. I cannot retrieve it. Hm. I suppose the Lord has something else to teach me and I shall begin anew.

Who are you? What makes you… you? Is it your heritage? Hair color? Weight? Your career? Your ministry? You get the point. Well, do you get the point? Have you forgotten? You are cleansed. You are His. He loves you, and He defines you. Jesus lived the perfect life for you. And you, a horrible sinner, an enemy of God, are forever free, loved and saved from the endless pursuit of happiness. You have the righteousness of Christ imputed to your soul.

There is peace, hope, purpose to your every breath and every step on the path of life.

Previously there was a disconnect between my stated beliefs- my identity that I am one who’s been loved immeasurable by God, and am one with Him- and my practical beliefs- my identity and self-worth are determined by whether I look a certain way, am popular, respected, successful. I had willfully consumed the intoxicating wisdom of the world, rather than be filled with the Spirit.

I knew He was disappointed in me.

Frustrated. Again.

I thought.

Guilt is a lie from the pit of hell. Isn’t that wonderful?! You are free. Free! I know you are a miserable sinner, but I also know that you are a new creation. New. That’s not my definition of you. Its His view of you. You are His and He Loves You. How does it look in every day life? How does His fruit grow?

Faith- if we only see our record of failure, and we don’t apprehend God’s love for us, then though we know we should try to do better, we won’t believe we truly can change. We feel deserted rather than seeing our Captain leading us on.

Virtue (moral excellence)- will grow in direct proportion to our appreciation of the fact that we’ve been cleansed, forgiven and loved which empowers our desire to make the Gospel glorious before the eyes of a watching world.

Knowledge- we won’t be afraid to boldly approach Him. He’ll be our delight. We’ll know His love and it will make us strong.

Self-control- is easier as our particular idols lose their power to entice, and loving obedience is easier to One Who loves us so!

Steadfastness- grows as we rest in His steadfast love for us, especially in trials and temptations. We’ll not give up as we see His nail-scarred hands and thorn-pierced brow making intercession for us that our faith not fail.

Godliness- we will want to be like the One Who has loved us so. We yearn to bring Him delight, He who has cleansed us and set us free.

Affection- we’ll see others as people who’ve been loved in the same way. Our ambition, selfishness and impatience will be swallowed up in humble amazement that He has loved us so much, that He suffered so for us. We’ll gladly welcome and serve all those whom our Father loves.

Be encouraged on this journey. Though you struggle and fail, you have been cleansed by Jesus’ blood- His FINISHED work on your behalf. And HE guarantees our ultimate transformation into His image.

Run to Him.

Behold Him.

And be encouraged.

FYI- I am quoting Elyse Fitzpatrick (Because He Loves Me) with abandon. Assume much of what you read in these posts- especially the really good stuff- is from what the Lord has taught her. Thank you, Elyse.

As I begin this study, what is my hope? What is my expectation? I want to know Christ. I want to be so in love with Him that nothing on this earth can compare, not the pleasant things, nor those which distract and tempt to discontentment. I want to know the power of His love for me that leads one to rejoice and to hope. In Him. Then in this blessed freedom and hope I want to be His messenger to others. An instrument of His righteousness to a dark and hurting world. To be transformed into His image so to reflect Him, truly.

Question: “If we’re not completely convinced that His love is ours, right now, fully and unalterably ours, we’ll hide in the shadows, be focused on our performance, fearing His wrath”? Do you agree? How often do you think about God’s love for you as demonstrated in the Gospel? My answer: Agree. At least for me. For a very long time I was sure I was vacillating between His favor and His disappointment. Based on my thoughts and actions.

“Works driven, results oriented Christianity” (my quote) is rampant in the USA. We are so focused on our own selves (heart-examination, fruit-patrol) that we ignore the very One Who did it all for us, already. God does it all. Jesus finished the work. I am already loved and righteous. Because He Loves Me. Not because I am faithful, but because the One Who began it all is faithful to complete it. Responsibility is a response to something (my quote). A response to His love and His finished work for me, His enemy now loved.

Elyse’s premise for this book is that many of us are so focused on living the Christian life, we’ve left Jesus behind. Agree? I do. It fit my walk these first 40 years. I read Scriptures with a focus on myself, and my responsibilities. I knew it was about Jesus, before salvation and in eternity, but the here and now was about ME. MY FRUIT, MY HEART, MY WALK. Sigh. All about me.

Then when I failed Him, again, and again, it was all about how I let Him down, again. Where was Jesus in all this? What about His finished work? Why did God love me anyway? Ugh, if I heard that my good deeds were filthy rags one more time, I was gonna scream! What was the point anyway? It seemed as though even my obedience was an offense to Him. Even that. What hopelessness. No wonder I struggled to ever have joy. Lasting joy that overflowed? No way, sister. Not me. But I knew I was supposed to. Failure again.

God loves me and He loves you. God loves us right now. Jesus lived perfectly for us and already paid the price for all our sins- past, present, future. He commands a pursuit of sanctification, confession and repentance, but not to gain favor lost after each sin (known and unknown!), not to gain merit. For by grace (unmerited favor) are you saved, not by works lest any man boast. Boast with confidence and great joy, sister, but boast in Christ! For it is finished and His perspective of me is one of unchanging love. It does not change based on my thoughts and actions, for it is rooted in Christ. He Himself is our peace. Praise God. What hope!

Do you think these promises, this love and hope are for someday? For eternity? What about today when ______ ticks you off, again? What about when you open your mouth in gossip, again? What about when you look with frustration on ______ again? Do these define you? Do these set the tone? Do these things rule your heart? Do they distract you from the glory to come and even that is… in Him, by Him, for Him?

Rest.

Rejoice.

It is finished.

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