Monthly Archives: August 2011

No one knows me better…

Psalms 139;1-18, 23.

1 You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God

How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,

they would outnumber the grains of sand-

when I awake, I am still with you.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

No one knows me as God does. Not my son, not my husband, not my parents, or brothers, or sisters-not even my best friend! God knows me from before my creation; from before THE creation! He “created my inmost being,” and “knit me together in my mother’s womb.” I cannot hide from Him. He knows not only where I am, at all times, He knows my thoughts. No matter how deep or dark or depressing they are. He knows. He knows how I feel- no matter how hard I try to hide it from the world-God knows. I cannot flee from Him. He knows where I am going even before I go there! “Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.” Verse 23 says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Yes, he knows all of my thoughts; good, bad, happy, sad, worried, anxious- ALL of them. And yet…He loves me. Completely. Wholly. So much that he ONLY has what’s best for me in His Perfect Will. He is ALWAYS there, ready to listen, ready to show me the way. I only need to follow.

“Lord, please help me to remember that you know me, and love me, better than anyone else. You only want what’s best for me. And I only need to trust and follow you. Amen”

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Focus!!

 

1 Corinthians 13:12 The Message (MSG)

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! Focus. This is something I sometimes have trouble doing. Ok, more than sometimes- quite often, in fact! I tend to have too much going on at one time to really focus on what needs my attention most. My mind is constantly on what I need to be doing next; or what I should have already done! As a result, things get done (IF they get done at all) haphazardly, and nothing gets done well. But, I find, if my focus is on God first, the other things in my life take shape a little better. It’s kind of like the difference between wearing my glasses, or NOT wearing them. Sure, I can see without them- but not well. But, when I put them on, suddenly, my vision changes- colors are sharper, images clearer. And so it is with God. When my focus is on Him, all the other things in my life become clearer. Maybe not crystal clear, but, less murky, at least! “Dear Lord, help me to always put you first-to make you the focus of my life- so I may see the things in my life clearer, and better do your will. Thank you, God, for showing me what to focus on – for being my ‘spiritual glassses’. Amen”

Forbidden Fruit…

Forbidden Fruit
Genesis 2, 8, 9 and 15-17.
8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Matthew26:41.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

We all want what we can’t have; whatever it is that we can’t have. Chocolate cake, when we are dieting. A new car, when ours is on its last leg, and we can’t afford another one. The attention of someone who we shouldn’t want attention from. It’s a tale as old as time itself. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, wanting the ONE FRUIT God said they couldn’t have. David and Bathsheba; well, really, is there any need to say any more? Example after example is given; not just throughout the Bible, but throughout history itself. It’s a basic flaw in us; we want what we can’t have. A friend recently told me that I am a “have your cake and eat it kind of girl”. Yes, I am, and it gets me in trouble. It’s why I am overweight now, and dieting; because I WANT to eat that cake, whether or not I NEED to. Whether of not I am actually hungry; I WANT it!! Wanting things we can’t, or shouldn’t have, though, can get us in trouble; over our heads. In waters that we are not accustomed to traveling. In areas we are not familiar with. This is how Satan works in my life. He shows me something I don’t have, something I want, and tempts me with it. And it is VERY difficult, at times, to not fall into temptation. For, as it says, not only in Matthew 26:41, but also Mark 14:38, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. Yes, it is.

But, God gives us the formula for success. In the first part of both verses: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Watch. And Pray. Both. not just one or the other. BOTH. Sometimes I remember to do one, and not the other. I must do BOTH. Satan can use a nice thing; a wonderful thing, to our downfall. For, as Eve said, the fruit was “beautiful to look at”. God made it beautiful. God also made it unavailable. Sometimes, when God says “No” it means no forever. Sometimes, it only means, “not right now”. It’s not up to us to know whether God means no forever, or no right now; it’s only up to us to obey. Because regardless, no means no.

“Lord, help me to both WATCH and also to PRAY. Help me to have discernment about things that look good; things that can be tempting. Help me see that, whatever your plan is, it is right for me. Help me to follow that plan, and to remember that no means no. Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings in my life. Amen.”

Patience: Waiting on God

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Waiting…. Is there anything more irritating? Waiting in line… Waiting for a traffic light to change to green, so we can hurry up and get on our way… Waiting for someone to finish talking so we can add in our own two cents. ..Waiting…It takes patience. Something that I do have…but could use more of. Usually, if I know I am going to be doing some waiting, I will bring something to fill the time; a book to read, a notebook to jot down ideas into, etc. However, sometimes there is nothing to do but…..wait. Such as when I am waiting on God.

 I tend to think that I know what’s best; I know what God’s plans are for me. When, in reality, I cannot possibly know His plans for me; only that they are good. Sometimes I try to rush God; try to hurry Him through the plans He has for me now, in order to get to what I feel is on the other side. But what I must remember, is that there is a REASON for the waiting. I don’t know what it is; I don’t know WHY I am going through the “tests and trials” that I am going through right now. I don’t know WHY I am having to wait…but maybe….just maybe…God is trying to teach me patience. To lean solely on Him. To trust solely in Him.

In John 11:1-43, we are relayed the story of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. They lived in Bethany, and Jesus loved them dearly. Jesus stayed with them whenever He came through Bethany. I imagine Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were like family to Jesus. However, when Jesus and His disciples received word that Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed where He was for 2 more days before beginning the journey to where Lazarus lived. Christ knew Lazarus would be dead when they got there. He told His disciples in verse 14: “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe…” When Christ and the disciples arrived, Martha met them, and told Jesus of her brother’s death. She also told Him,”Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She had faith, however, that no matter what Jesus said, it would be done. Did she think Jesus would raise her brother from the dead? I don’t know; perhaps. But she had faith in Christ, no matter what. Mary, when she found out Jesus had come, ran out to meet him, and also said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” It was then that He asked to be taken where Lazarus was. Lazarus was already entombed. His body had already been prepared for burial, wrapped, and placed in a cave, with a stone in place at the entrance (sound familiar?) However, this did not deter Christ; He knew that at the sound of His voice, Lazarus would live again. Christ had purposely delayed His trip to Bethany so that the people could see the power He (Christ) possessed; power to raise the dead. What would have happened if Martha or Mary could have hurried Jesus up? We would not have this stirring image of Jesus love, or the display of power over death and the grave, the He has. I need to remember that, no matter what I am going through, God’s love for me drives His will for me. And that, no matter what, His time is perfect time. If I try to “hurry it up” it only messes things up. There are lessons to be learned on this side of the miracle, that I may not understand until I get to the other side of it.

“Lord, please forgive me when I try to take Your will into my hands. When I try to hurry you up. Please remind me that, there are reasons you are having me wait; even though I may not know what they are, I know there is something you want me to learn. Maybe even patience…”

http://youtu.be/eLn0cRl-0GE

Brokenness:Strength in Weakness

Brokenness:Strength in weakness:
2 Corinthians 12; 9and 10, NIV
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
 
I love going to the beach.  Although I HATE the hot, humid weather,  I love the activity of the beach; the seagulls, sand pipers, dolphins, and such.  I also LOVE collecting sea shells, sand, and driftwood. I have a large, decorative jar in my bathroom that holds these treasures.  See, I only get to the beach once or twice a year, so, it is a special thing for me to be able to go.  Each time I go, whether it is a family trip with my son and husband, or a “girls only” trip with some of my best friends, it’s a special time, and I like to bring back something that ties into that trip.
 
This past Marti Gras, I went with some of “my girls” to the beach.  One morning, early, some of us went walking on the beach.  There were shells EVERYWHERE!  I went nuts, taking pictures, and sorting through the shells to bring some back home with me.  Many of them were very tiny; almost too tiny to see.  Many were broken.  Many were sort of plain-looking.  But, I don’t only like the large, pretty, unbroken ones.  I also love the ones that are tiny, or plain, or broken.  For one thing, it’s the broken ones that help make up the beautiful, sugar white sandy beaches down here on the Gulf of Mexico, that I love so well.  In its brokenness, beauty is derived; it’s God’s plan. 
 
I also wonder, if the different kinds of shells, starfish, and sand dollars could talk, what kind of stories could they tell us?  Some of them may spend their entire existence on the same beach, or in the same area.  Some, on the other hand, may start out  miles and miles and miles away from where they start their journey.  Some may have been tossed and turned by stormy seas, and endured untold difficulties in their journey.  Some may seem “plain”, or tiny, and therefore easily be overlooked by those looking for the pretty, or large, or impressive shells.  But, I have noticed, if you turn over some of the ones that are rather “ordinary” looking at first glance, they oftentimes turn out to be beautiful!  I also like the tiny ones, and the ones with small holes in them; they are cute to make jewelry out of!  And the broken ones; they are some of my favorites.  I wonder why they are broken; what hardships they have endured, yet still they are there! 
 
These seashells remind me of people; just like the shells, some are “pretty” and some are “plain”.  Some have great stories to tell about how they got where they are today, whether it is their spiritual journey, or their actual journey through life, in moves from place to place, or whatever.  Some spend their entire lives in the same place, while others have experienced vast travels.  And, some, just like the shells, look plain, or tiny, at first glance,  but upon further inspection, turn out to be beautiful; you may think someone has an ordinary life, then find out that they volunteer at a homeless shelter, or take meals to a shut in, or reads to those in the nursing home.  And the broken ones; well, just as with the shells, they are some of my favorite people.  It’s our brokenness that makes us more human, more approachable, more relatable. For, who of us, in our lives, haven’t at one time or another, been broken?  Maybe it was the loss of a job, or a child, or a marriage, or a spouse.  Maybe it was a downward spiral into a life of sin, that left us broken and used up.  Or maybe it was just life; maybe you are just burned out on all of the ‘”things” that you are called on to do, day after day after day.  But, it’s in our brokenness that God can often perform the greatest work.  Just as in our own life, our brokenness reveals God’s glory, His strength, and His perfection.  It’s as God’s Word tells us in 2 Corinthians 12; 9 and 10.  And although at our time of brokenness, it can be difficult to remember that His grace in sufficient for us, it IS just that.  Sufficient.  Enough.  Adequate.  Just what is needed.  God’s grace is sufficient.  For whatever we are going through.  And on the other end, is the promise that His power is made perfect in our weakness.  For when we are weak, but still come through strong, it can be nothing BUT God that brings us through.  And His Glory is revealed.  Even though at the time of our weakness, we may find it difficult to do, His Word says we should delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. Because it is then that when we are weak, we are made strong. 
 
Dear Lord, remind me that it’s okay to not be perfect.  To be overlooked, or ordinary, or even broken. That I only need to cling to you, lean on your strength, and know that, in the end, my brokenness will be made into something…beautiful.  God, remind me that your power is made perfect in my weakness, and that in that weakness, I am strong.  Thank you, Lord, for loving me through my weakness.  Amen.