Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lean on Jesus

"Exactly what do you mean wBoldhen you say we should lean on Jesus?" an anonymous reader asked today, and I am so thankful that she did. (Yes, thank you, dear reader, for you gave me much to think about and challenged me to affirm to myself just how I can do that.)

I think that to "lean on Jesus" is to depend on Him and to rest upon Him. To lean on something or someone is to be supported by and/or sustained by that thing or person. My daughter is using crutches right now. Her leg hurts when she puts weight on it, making it difficult for her to walk independently. When she leans on the crutches and uses them to get around, her pain is not as great.

When she leans on the crutches, she relies on them. She trusts that they will hold her up. She believes that they will help her around.

And so it is with Jesus. But just like my daughter has to make a choice to pick up the crutches and use them to help her, so do we have to make the choice to depend on Jesus. We realize that we can not do it alone, and so we reach out and lean on the one who is fully trustworthy and will surely ease our pain.

Here are a few things that I have found to be helpful as I eagerly, desperately try to lean on Jesus:

1. Stay close to Him by spending time reading the Bible and asking the Lord to show you what is true about Him and true about you. Get to know Him through His Word and through quiet times of prayer. the more we know of Him and grow in an intimate relationship with Him, the more we can trust that He will hold us up.

2. Try to "let go" and "let God." Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you." Picture yourself placing your cares in the palm of your hand (or hands, some days!) and not only hand them out to the Lord, but then turn your hands upside down so that they fall out of your hands, and into His. If we have dropped them out of our hands, they are harder to hold on to. And if we are not trying to holding on to so much, it will be easier for us to rest on the Lord. God does not guarantee that He will obliterate our problems, but He does promise to be with us, holding on to us, as we lean in to Him and hand over our cares.

3. Try not to look too far down the path but rather tell yourself, "Just for today ..." Sometimes this is all we can do. It is a daily, sometimes hourly, committment that we can make. Call out to the Lord and say,
Help me to trust you, Lord, and obey -- Just for today.
Help me to know when to rest and to stay -- Just for today.
Help me to know when to move, and to know in which way -- Just for today.
Help me to discern what to say -- Just for today.
Help me to do what is right without delay -- Just for today.
Help me to lean when I sway -- Just for today.
Perhaps it sounds simple, but I know it is not. It can be very hard, but I am confident that Jesus is waiting for us to lean in on Him, and in that He is there to support us and to sustain us. Fall back in to His everlasting, loving arms and He will be found strong and dependable.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Loved and Cared for by The Man of Sorrows -- Our Jesus

Earlier this evening I was reading in an old book that I have, "The Precious Things of God" by Octavius Winslow. In particular, I was reading the chapter on the preciousness of trial. I was inspired by a great amount of what is written in this chapter being reminded that our trials and suffering can bear the disguise of a foe, but in reality are a friend.

And then within hours i would have to put my belief in that to the test. My oldest son, who has CP broke down and shared his heart with me over the loneliness that he is struggling with at school. He started high school this year and all seemed to be going OK, so I thought, but tonite he spoke of how he feels as if he does not have any friends.

The river of sorrow runs deep and strong in my soul right now, and the current quickly can pull me in to it. Surely, there is nothing like watching your child suffer that tears your heart a part. Lord, how much can I handle? Standing amidst the rubble of a major crisis, I then bear up the suffering of my daughter in physical pain and my son in emotional pain. I know ... God says He does not give us more than we can handle. But I am tempted to wonder.

It is one thing to struggle and endure and grow through a trial of your own, and a whole other experience to help your child do so. I found myself almost at a loss of words. What was I to tell my son in his deep loneliness? How could I direct him to the only Hope that we have without minimizing his pain? What words would make a difference?

I cried with him, tried to brainstorm about resources that we could turn to and prayed with him. And now, late at night, I am entrusting Him to the tender care of our loving Father in heaven who loves him more than I even do.

I shared with him that even though we can not understand why or what is happening, we can trust that God is in control of everything and that we do have a friend in Jesus. When we are lonely, we can turn to Him, and He is the best friend that we can have. I prayed for my son that he would know Jesus in a special way in the days and weeks to come and that he would be able to lean on him, even in his saddest moments, and that this dear friend, Jesus, is a man who is familiar with sorrows, just like the sorrows that my son is experiencing. Just like the sorrows that you and I are experiencing.

Isaiah 53:3 appropriately says, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering."

Dear reader, if you struggle with loneliness today, I want to encourage you to lean in to Jesus. He knows your every heart ache and your every burden; He has experienced them all in great measure. He will come in and fill the lonely places with His perfectly sized love for us.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

God's Grace IS Sufficient

Dear reader, today I realize how much I have missed writing on the blog. It brings me so much joy and really helps me to internalize the truths that I learn about God.

The reason for my absence for the last week is that my 12 year old daughter had an unusual injury in ballet class, fracturing a part of her pelvis. We tried to manage her intense pain at home, over the weekend, but on Sunday morning I had had enough, and brought her to the ER. She was admitted for pain management, and ended up being in the hospital for three nights. It was so sad to watch her struggle with so much pain and the side effects of the pain medications that she was on. I am very relieved that she is home and feeling much better.

A friend shared with me that Shakespeare once said when sorrows come, they come not as single spies, but in battalions. I can relate to that right now. The dictionary says that a battalion is a large number of persons or things. In military terms, it is a ground force unit composed of headquarters and two or more companies; an army in battle array.

It does seem like a sort of assault when troubles come in multitudes. As I have shared, my heart is tired and weary as it sorrows over the crisis that I have been walking through, and now watching her suffer was heartbreak on top of heartbreak, as well as trying to care for my family, while she has such great need, was added challenge.

I am reminded of the description in 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

As the army of our sorrows push in, and we feel as we are overwhelmed, squished, even unable to take a deep breath, we can have hope, for within us we carry the truth of Jesus and his great love for us. And we can be confident that God will give us the grace that we need each moment of each day, as He says "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" 2 Corinthians 11:28. God gave me the grace to stay up late (even all night)and care for her in her pain, to hold her hand, rub her back, alert the nurses, feed her when she could not, support her body when she needed to take a few steps to the bathroom, and discern what she needed and when, and be available to my other children, even if by phone, to help them as they go on with their lives. God's grace is truly sufficient.

I am thankful to be home, and I am thankful that even when I feel like it is too much, that I can rest in God's grace and He will do more than I can imagine. I hope that you are able to rest in these simple yet powerful, active truths, today. It is good to be back.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Longings and Tears

Yesterday, a friend gave me this piece of pottery, made on the streets of Jerusalem. Painted on it is the first verse from Psalm 42. "As the hart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after you, O God."
In the NIV this same verse reads as, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" and continues with "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night ..." (Psalm 42:1-3).

We long for God as a deer who longs for water. Thirsty, we search for the life giving water of God Himself. We desire to be in His love, but in our despair and sorrow, we call out "But when can I do so? Where are you?" Like with physical thirst we can become weak, weary, and worn out, needing the One who can only satisfy.

Our souls thirst for water and our hearts cry streams of it. It is these tears that seem like our food, day and night. How many have you been there, too, where in our deepest pain, we can not eat, but only weep, and it is these tears that become our food. I believe that God uses these tears to nourish our soul. It is a paradoxical nourishment as we pour out our inner grief in tears, God uses this very act, as we are in utter dependence on Him, to bring us sustenance and to strengthen us.

The reality is, and who of us can not speak of the great struggle that it is, that side by side our deep longing (panting) for God lies snug up against the deep pain of our heart. We desire God and at the same time, our tears flow day and night. It is hard to live in the complexity of this. We may know to lean in to God and bring Him all of our brokenness and pain, and in that there is rest and hope. Yet, our emotions remain real and sometimes, very raw. Desiring God does not take away our broken hearts.

Have hope, dear reader. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18). As your soul weeps and your tears that feed you day and night flow, continue to lean in to God thirsting and longing for Him. He is close to you and will save.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Creator God

"By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible" (Hebrews 11:3).

I take the creation story for granted. I know that I do. I believe that God created the world out of absolutely nothing, and I just don't give it another thought.

But I need to. Right now.

If we look at the book of Genesis we read the familiar story of the creation of the world. We learn of how in the beginning the earth was formless and empty and darkness was everywhere, and here is where the Spirit of God hovered.

And then God began to create. On days 1 -3 God separated and gathered and gave our world form. He separated the light from the darkness. He separated the waters below from the sky. He gathered the waters and formed the seas and gathered the land and formed dry ground. On days 4 - 6 God made and filled the earth, removing the emptiness. He produced plants and trees. He produced the sun and the moon and the stars. He produced the living creatures - animals and man.

God called in to existence the things that did not exist.

As I stand in rubble of my current situation, it feels like everywhere I look I see devastation. There seems to be emptiness, little form and darkness, much like the beginning.

The God who gave form and who filled the emptiness can do, may I be so bold and trusting to say will do, the same thing in our lives. He comes in and gives our life purpose and shape and He fills the emptiness with Himself and life.

Let me say it again, God calls in to existence the things that did not exist. It is hard to imagine what God is doing. We can look around and say, "Lord, how are you going to use all of this? How can you take this rubble and do anything with it?" However, God not only can take things and make them new, He can take nothing and make it in to something. God does not just recycle, He creates.

Lord, as we look at our lives today, help us to remember that you created the world out of nothing. Help us to believe that You can do the same thing in our own lives, more than we could have ever hoped for or imagined. And we can hope that it will be as lovely as the natural creation that You brought in to existence. Maybe even lovelier.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hemmed In By God

Throughout the afternoon today, I could not escape the picture of God hemming me in. It came to me while I was driving in the car, alone, praying out loud to God, asking Him (ok, pleading with Him) to continue to reveal to me what is true and guide me in the way that I should walk. I was seeking God for wisdom.

I recalled Psalm 139:5. "You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me." Other versions say "you squeeze me in from behind and in front" (NET), "you have enclosed me behind and before" (NASB), and "I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too" (MSG). I love that imagery of God totally surrounding me with His presence, His love and His protection.

Sometimes in the middle of the night, my little girls will crawl in to bed with me to snuggle. They fall sound asleep, and I find myself sandwiched between two little lambs. I can't even roll over without bumping in to them and being totally aware of their being right there.

That is how it is with God. He is always present, and we can't go anywhere or do anything without bumping in to Him. Even more so, He has His hand on us. His hand is laid upon us, directing us, loving us, showing us the way. Squeezed tight by God, we are unable to move without a keen awareness of His reassuring presence.

Later in Psalm 139 it says, "If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast" (vs. 8-10). This brings me a great amount of comfort as I walk through each day, each one full of actions and decisions. I know that I can count on Him to reveal wisdom to me and to mold my heart so that I do what is right in and glorify Him in the process.

I am so thankful that He hems me in, squeezes around me and no matter where I look, is right there. It humbles me that His love is so close and so intimately for me. I pray, dear reader, that you have a keen awareness of being tangibly hemmed in by God today, amidst the trial that you may be walking through.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Thoughts about Worry

Tonite I was brushing my daughter's hair, after taking out a series of corn rows that were braided in her hair. She wore them for about 3 weeks, and we could not believe how much hair was in the hair brush when we were done taking them out - handfulls of hair. We really lose alot of hair each day, and when they are not allowed to fly free -WOW - they really accumulate!

In addition to thinking about the hairs on our head, a friend dropped off a bouquet of lily's. I decided that God is trying to get my attention and speak to me about my worrying.

I did some research and an average person's worry is focused on several things:
Things that will never happen - 40%
Things about the past that can’t be changed - 30%
Things about criticism by others, mostly untrue -12%
About health, which gets worse with stress -10%
About real problems that will be faced - 8%.

Isn't that interesting? Only eight percent of the the things that we worry about are real problems that we face. The first two we can't even do anything about.

God has some things to say about worry, in the bible, and lily's and hair remind me of two of them.

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown in the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith. So do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat?' or ' What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" Matthew 6:28-34.

Matthew 10:30 reminds us "Aren't two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

We can learn of one of the solutions to worry in 1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

We are more valuable than lilies and sparrows, whom He cares for tenderly, and He even knows every hair on our heads. That is pretty detailed, intricate care. I am humbled by that. So therefore, I will try to cast my cares upon the Lord, and not reel them back in, but leave them at His feet entrusting them to His loving care.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Call Out for God and He Will be Found

"Where is that dog?" I mumbled under my breath in between calling out to him from my back door. "Why is he not coming?" I could just see him in the distance, but he would not respond to my increasingly frustrated tone of voice, as I called out to him. It was cold out. I was tired, and I had things that I needed to get done. I was beginning to get irritated. Why isn't he showing up?

So, I walked out to look for him, with my thin shoes on, sloshing through 18 inch deep snow, as far as I could go. I called, and he did not come. I went back in and waited. A few minutes later, I tried again. Slosh. Slosh. Slosh. I walked out there, could just see him in the distance, called for him, and he would not come. Ugh! That dog!

Finally, I put on my snow boots. With a determined face and tone in my voice, I firmly bellered for the dog, this time clomping in to deeper snow. I marched in to the woods, snow filledmy boots, and cold wind blew around me: I was on a mission to get that dog. And finally, he came.

Now, it's not a perfect parallel, but that is how I feel with God sometimes. I call for Him, and there seems to be no answer. I tread out to look for Him; once, twice, and seemingly still no response. Finally, I get determined.

"Where is He? I am cold, tired (weary) and I need to get things done. (Doesn't He see that I have alot going on and I need HELP?)"

And so I put on my boots and get serious at tracking Him down. I relentlessly pursue Him, in His Word, through the support of others and in prayer. I seek Him with a vengeance. I know He is out there; I can just see Him in the distance. It seems as if He is not listening, and then -- He comes.

I don't understand it. But I do know a couple of things that are true and I have to keep on telling myself.

Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord."

Psalm 15:5-6 says "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."

And God says in Jeremiah 29:13-14 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, and will bring you back from captivity."

Sometimes, we are really hurting and we can look out in to the distance and we see God. Yet, it seems like we call and we call and we call, and He doesn't seem to show up. So we go out and try to find Him. Still, He does not come. So, finally, with all of our heart, we trudge out and we dig in deep and seek Him. And then, He comes.

God wants our hearts. He already knows our pain and our suffering and our circumstances. Unlike my dog, He is not being stubborn or disobedient. Of course, God can not be those things.

Instead, His apparent not coming when we first call is not that at all. His timing is perfect in all things. He wants our heart and He wants us to seek Him with all of it. His thoughts and ways are not ours. Good News! They are even better, and He has already set the boundary lines in pleasant places for us, even if it does not feel like it right now.

Seek Him, relentlessly. He will be found. And as He releases you from the captivity of your pain, He will show you the good things that He has for you. In His time.

P. S. As I was writing this, the dog came to my feet and settled in. He dropped from his mouth (did I tell you he is a puppy and eats everything?) a small rectangular magnet with the word
"GOD'S" on it. Yes, God, I get it ... God is here. God is present. God is found. (He never went missing!) God is showing up.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

When in Doubt, Remember God's Faithfulness

The thing about times of trouble and suffering is that there appears to be so many unknowns. We are barraged by troubles from the outside and from inside, and when uncertainty prevails, it is not unusual for us to doubt.

We doubt ourselves and we doubt God. We wonder, perhaps not whether He really exists, but more whether He really is at work in our current situation. Sometimes He reveals Himself immediately, and other times He seems to be at work behind the scenes. It's hard for me when I am not getting quite a clear picture, or perhaps even more so, when the picture that is coming in to view is not quite what I thought.

In the last couple of days I have been thinking (and trying to believe myself) that the solution to doubt and worry is to remember. To remember what the Lord has done in the past, and to remember that He is a faithful God who cares for the ones He loves and who love Him. The Lord brought me to Psalm 77 tonite.

Perhaps these questions are at the tip of your tongue or the forefront of your heart, too.

"Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?"
Psalm 77:7-9

But, let us say along with the Psalmist.

"Then I thought,'To this I will appeal:
the years of the right hand of the Most High.'
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds."
Psalm 77:10-12

Yes, I am trying to do this, too. I am remembering what God has done in the past. I look at the stories of truth in the bible and I see that He is a God who saves. And then I look at my own life and I choose to remember that God has been faithful to me in the past, and I will trust that He will remain faithful to me in this trial, as well. God comforts me when I call out to Him and remember His faithfulness of the past. I will choose to trust in Him.

Monday, January 12, 2009

God is Within Her

Scratched on a bright green sticky note, hanging above my computer is Psalm 46:5 --

"God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day."

Other versions read "God is in the midst of her," and "God has taken his place in her." I am so thankful for the reality of that. God dwells within us and IS present!

"At the break of day" is the morning. This is viewed metaphorically as a time of deliverance and vindication after the dark “night” of trouble. How I do need to hear this!

Earlier in the Psalm, we are reminded of Who God is and what He does. Take comfort in this, dear reader, as you settle in to this day and look with hope to the "morning" that comes, breaking forth from the dark night of trouble and despair.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall
into the heart of the sea, through its waters roar and foam and the mountains
quake with their surging" Psalm 46:1-3.

The world may seem to be surging around you, and you may be quaking in your circumstances. Walls may be crumbling; the water may feel like it is rising and we are going to drown. Our pain is real and our suffering not a vain imagining. But God is our refuge and our strength. We need not fear because we can rest assured that God is with us, in the midst of us, and has taken His place within us and we will not fall. God will help us.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On Asking God for Wisdom

There are times in life when the answers to what we are called to do, come easily. Other decisions are much more complex, and we must seek the Lord prayerfully, and carefully and earnestly for wisdom. This wisdom often looks different than that which the world supports. But it is the wisdom of God, as a lover of God, that we must seek.

And God will give. When I come up against these times, I need to remember some things about asking God for wisdom. This is what I have discovered in God's Word --

"...if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding and if you look for it as for sliver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand that fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God." (Proverbs 2:1-5)

So, IF we -- accept, store up, turn our ear, apply our heart, call out, cry aloud, look, and search ...

"Then you will understand what is right and just and fair -- every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you ... " (Proverbs 2:9-12).

THEN, we -- will understand what is right and just and fair and have wisdom in our hearts. We will have knowledge that is pleasant to our soul and discretion that will protect us, along with understanding that will guard us and wisdom that will save us.

But, most importantly, in our searching and our finding, it is all BECAUSE of who the Lord is.

“For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” Proverbs 2:6-8

Yes, BECAUSE, God is the giver of wisdom and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding, we can be confident that He holds the victory and is our Shield. He guards our course and He protects our way.

These are truths in God's Word that we can trust, and so as we begin a new week and come up against trials, let us seek God for the wisdom in the way that we are called to walk.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Praise Will Always Be on My Lips

Rejoicing in all circumstances -- this is what has been on my mind over the last couple of days. When we are at the end of our ropes and feel as our breath has been taken away we are called to praise.

Philippians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" and then, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (vs. 6)

In everything, joys and deep sorrows, we are to praise the Lord. When we want to curl up and cry and retreat and maybe even give up, turn to praise and trust the Living God to come and meet you in the midst of your deepest sorrow, offered up as a sacrifice of praise.

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, through the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, through there are not sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in god my Savior" Habakkuk 3:17-18.

When we feel fruitless, bare, without much to be thankful for, we can still rejoice in the Lord. And when we exercise such faith, we realize that the Sovereign Lord will not only strengthen us to endure, but He makes our feet like the feet of a deer; he enables us to go on the heights (vs. 19). We can walk forward with sure footed confidence because we learn more of who God is in praise.

The bible is full of praises to the Lord. When we read through the Psalms and praise the Lord, regardless of what circumstances we are trudging through, God's Word will nourish our hearts and souls so that we can say with the Psalmist,
"I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together."
Psalm 34:1-3.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Scared about Hard Tests?

"Mom, do you get scared about hard tests?" my nine year old son asked me, after I picked him up from school. He was talking to me about a big science test that he is concerned about on this coming Monday. "Oh, yes, dear I get scared about hard tests, too."

My thoughts immediately turned to the current tests -- hard tests -- that I am facing right now. The thing about tests is that we often don't know the format or the types of questions that are going to be asked of us. Sometime we are not sure if we'll have the answers or have to learn by taking the test. We are not sure if it is going to contain "true or false" questions, in which we are going to have to discern truth from lies. Or whether there are going to be multiple choice questions, where we are going to have to look at all our options and choose the right one, following God's will. Or is the test going to contain long essay questions that are going to be laborious, intense, and needing of much information to answer? Or all of the above?

Having tests can be scary. And yet the bible says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" (James 1:2-6).

I have a hard time with that. Maybe we all do. It's hard for me to "consider it joy" and its hard for me to slow down and let perseverance do its work. But I do know though, from experience, that it is possible and God works powerfully in the process by giving us the wisdom that we need when we ask for it. Sometimes it is hard to believe, maybe even scary to believe.

Each day I ask the Lord, please reveal the truth to me today and help me to walk in Your ways. As I participate in the tests in this day, help me to understand the questions and believe that you will give me the answers, through your Word, prayer and the counsel of Godly people.

Yes, hard tests can be scary, but remember that we know the One who not only holds the answer key but is willing to give generously the answers that we ask for; all we need to do is believe in the One who is the Answer to all, Jesus, and cry out to Him.

Hold on to that truth, dear reader and believe, so that you are not tossed about on the sea, but can stand firm on the solid ground of God.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hearing His Heart Beat

When we lean against a wall, weary and worn down from physical exhaustion, we trust that the wall will hold us up. We relax our bodies and shift our weight so that our own legs are not holding us up alone; the wall is helping.

When a child leans in to its mother's chest, it rests. Is is vulnerable and safe. It lays its head upon her chest and is soothed by her breathing and her heart beat.

"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields them all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders" Deuteronomy 33:12.

The truth is that there may be alot to be concerned about in our lives. There may be alot to be anxious about, but my continual desire is that I would learn how to relax and rest in the arms of the Lord. He calls to us, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

The bible tells us that we can cast our cares on the Lord because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). I don't know about you, but often times I do not feel like I have the energy to cast or hurl or throw my cares, and if I did, they seem too heavy to do so.

But God has other options when we do not even have the strength to cast ... we can just rest, and be still. So I try and just lean in to Him, resting my heart between His shoulders, where I can hear Him breath and be assured that his heart beats for me. Does it take away the reality of my cares? Not necessarily, but it does help me to remember who God is how much He really does love me.

He loves you, too, dear reader, with an everlasting and abounding love. My prayer for you today is that you would embrace that love, and rest in it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Seek His Face Always

"Look to the Lord and His strength; seek his face always." Psalm 105:4 hangs in my kitchen, right by my kitchen window. A very talented friend of mine (thanks Miriam!) calligraphied it for me years ago, and the verse was brought to my mind again today. Isn't it funny how some things are right under your nose, every day, and you don't notice them until the time (or is it God?) warrants so?

I came across that verse in my bible, tonite, as I was reflecting on Jehoshaphat and some wise words that he said. Jehoshaphat was one of the many kings of Judah. I don't know alot about him, but from what I can tell, although not perfect, he was known for having a heart that was devoted to following the ways of the Lord. You can find out more about him in 2 Chronicles. What I am drawn to about Jehoshaphat is his instant desire to seek the Lord.

In 2 Chronicles 20 we see that a vast army was approaching Jehoshaphat and his people. Upon hearing this and being alarmed, he immediately inquired of the Lord, gathering his people and seek help from the Lord. He stood up in the assembly of the people and cried out to the Lord, praising Him and recalling what the Lord had done and His promises. At the end of the prayer, after pleading with the Lord for deliverance from the enemy, he says "For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." I love that!

The rest of the story is quite remarkable. The Spirit of the Lord comes and proclaims "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah of Jerusalem." As the people sang and praised the Lord with "Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever" the Lord set ambushes and the enemy was defeated.

So it is for us, the battle that we wage is not ours, but God's. Although it sometimes may feel otherwise, let us, too, seek His face and say with Jehoshaphat "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." And then, as we give thanks to the Lord, let us take up our positions, stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord. It may not happen at that very moment (or maybe it will!) but as we walk keeping our eyes focused on Him I am confident that we will know of His love that endures forever.

Look to the Lord and His strength, dear reader, seek His face always.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dwelling in the Shelter -- Resting in the Shadow

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1.

I have been pondering and praying Psalm 91 for some time now and wanted to explore today, what does it mean to "dwell in the shelter of the Most High" and "rest in the shadow of the Almighty?"

To "dwell" means to live in. To take up residence. To set up camp and hang out there, with God the Most High. We can do this through reading the bible, praying and keeping an awareness of who God is. To dwell with God means to spend time with God; to try to live and breath the reality of Who He is in our lives. We are to dwell in the "shelter" of God. A shelter is a place of refuge from the storms of chaos and uncertainty that may be blowing around us.

Psalm 27:4-5 gives us a picture of what that may look like. "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in His temple for the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling ..." Live. Gaze. Seek. And as we do, we will know that in our troubles, He will keep us safe.

And what about to "rest in the shadow of the Almighty?" As I work on dwelling, how do I rest? In the Hebrew language "shadow" is often used as a metaphor for protection against oppression. As the shade of a tree protects from the oppressive heat of the sun, so does the shadow of God Almighty protect us. This is sometimes hard to believe, isn't it? Especially when there seems to be so much difficulty and heartache, and yet, we can not understand the ways of the Lord. We can trust that nothing slips through the hand of God, the very hand that provides the shadow, that is not for our good and for His glory.

Isaiah 49:2 says, "In the shadow of his hand he hid me," and Isaiah 25:4 says "You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat."

Dear reader, a storm may be raging around you right now, and I want to encourage you that God is your shelter. Run to Him and dwell in Him. He will protect you from whatever threatens to harm you. And He is the shade that comforts you. He will cool you with His love and provide rest for you from the oppression and weariness and pain.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What to Wear? Strength and Dignity

Have you ever watched the TV show "What Not to Wear?" I may have caught it once or twice, enough to know that it is maybe somewhat interesting, but superficial and way too much "appearance" driven. As women, we can easily get caught up in the outward appearance, but what does God say about what we should wear?

In my studies, I'm realizing that He actually says quite a bit of it. Today, a friend wrote to me about what the Proverbs 31 woman wears, and it reminded me of one thing that God thinks is important for us as women.

The NIV version of Proverbs 31:25 reads, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." Other versions say that she smiles at the future; she laughs with no fear of the future. I like the NKJV (New King James Version) that reads, "Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come."

We can choose to put on strength and dignity, each day, just as we would put on a shirt or pants. They reveal and give evidence of who we are. We can cloth ourselves with strength, because we know Who is our Strength. We can cloth ourselves with dignity because we know Who made us and has a purpose for our lives. We can walk walk with our heads held high because we are loved by the King.

When we choose to do this, and walk dependent on the Lord, it helps us to be confident in what the future holds, even though it may seem to be filled with uncertainty, because we know Who holds the future. And we can be confident that we will rejoice in time to come.

I am having a hard time believing that last part. Rejoice in time to come? I wonder what that will exactly look like? My friends who have walked similar roads reassure me that it will happen, and that I will be able to feel the joy, again.

I believe that God gave me a verse a month ago, or so, and I have it in the margin of the blog. It is from Jeremiah 31:3-4, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt ... Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful." It gives me hope that God is involved in a building project in my life, and that He will complete it. I will be rebuilt. Some day, I will be able to sing and dance and be joyful, again.

And my prayer and desire is the same for you, too, dear reader. I do not know what you are walking through, but I know that God's promises are for you, as well. Hold firm to Him and cloth yourself with strength and dignity, for you are unfailingly loved.
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