Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No Small Things

But the greatest danger 
of all consists in this, 
that by neglecting small matters, 
the soul becomes accustomed 
to unfaithfulness. 
True love can see nothing small; 
everything that can either 
please or displease God, 
seems to be great... 
It acts simply with God.

Most days are days of small things.
They are days of setting alarms,
making breakfast, doing dishes, 
correcting tests, teaching classes. 
Whatever responsibilities we have in life, 
they are about doing the things 
we have done over and over,
and yet needing to do them again today.
True love sees nothing small.
To walk simply with God, 
trusting that He is in the mundane--
the repetitive, routine, ordinary, everyday.
And, because He is present in every moment, 
we can have a measure of the extraordinary.
That is His nature.
That is the life He gives to us.
So today, Lord, I want to be faithful 
in the everyday small matters.
And not see them as small.
May the greatness of my day 
come from knowing I am pleasing You.
And that Your faithfulness is alive in me.

Teach me your way, LORD, 
that I may rely on your faithfulness; 
Bring joy to your servant, Lord, 
for I put my trust in You.
You are good, Lord,
abounding in love 
to all who call to You.
Psalm 86

Image: http://blog.grahnat.se/2010/03/three-of-kind.html

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Wondrous Cross

Yesterday during worship 
we sang the great hymn, "Wondrous Cross."
You just can't sing those words and stay the same.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride
See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless Your name
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
As we sang, "Oh the wonderful cross,"
I was so aware that
this wasn't just a song.
It was a declaration.
The cross is not wonderful 
only for what it bought me; 
it is even more wonderful for what it bids me.
It bids me "come and die and find that
I may truly live."
This love demands everything I am. 
It is one thing to sing it; 
It is still another to recognize daily
when the principle of the cross is bidding.
Today, Lord, I want to see Your wonderful cross.
The cross that bids me come.
The cross that offers me true life.
The only life worth living.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

God is a Rewarder

...He rewards people who try to find Him.
Hebrews 11:6
There are so many reasons why the Gospel is good news.
This is one of them:
God is a rewarder.
He rewards people who TRY to find Him.
We must only believe that He is a rewarder.
We must only try to find Him.
So Father, I keep coming back to You.
Whether I feel like I have seen Your face
or heard Your voice,
I trust that You are pouring a reward over me.
You are giving me more of Your life.
More of Your grace, more of Your goodness.
I love those days where I know that I have touched You.
But I trust You those days where I feel like I have not.
Because Your word is true.
And so I keep coming back to You.
Because everything I need is found here.
You could have said, 
Seek Me until You find Me--
I can't give you anything unless you find Me.
But You did say,
I will reward everyone who tries to find Me.
And who believes I am that good.
Once again, Lord, I come to find You.
You are my great Reward.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Those Dreary Days

After a week or two of snow, rain and cold, 
Dave and I ventured out for a walk this afternoon.
January, you are a bit on the dreary side.
Gray sky, brownish scenery, cold wind.
You seem to be lacking joy.
These are the kinds of days that I have to look beyond--
trusting that in the ground, in the limbs, 
there is abundant life.
I felt a little like January today.
But I know that underneath
there is abundant life.
This too will pass.
One day soon I will hear:
Look around you.  Winter is over.
   The winter rains are over, gone!
Spring flowers are in blossom all over.
   The whole world's a choir—and singing!
Spring warblers are filling the forest
   with sweet arpeggios.
Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed,
   and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms.
Song of Solomon 2
The good news of the Gospel is that 
our hearts can "change seasons" everyday.
His grace and His presence come 
and His life changes our landscape.
We don't have to stay stuck 
when those January moments come.

There may not have been any spring warblers out today, 
but when we got a little closer to home
we spotted two eagles up in the trees, 
seemingly watching us.
Some say the eagle is a symbol of God's presence.
Today, it was a message from the Holy Spirit directly to my heart.
I am always with you.
A double portion on this January day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Our Former Life

Since you were taught how the truth is in Jesus, 
change the former way of life
that was part of the person you once were.
Instead renew the thinking in your mind by the Spirit 
and clothe yourself with the new person 
created according to God’s image 
in justice and true holiness. Eph 5

So often I read this Scripture and am reminded of 
my initial salvation that radically changed my former life, 
because it did.
But just yesterday I had a way of life 
that probably needed changing too.
And just yesterday I had thoughts 
that probably needed changing as well.
Yeah, probably.
I love that we can read Scripture like this and be encouraged
that we have changed in huge ways 
from the person we once were--
and be so grateful for the mercy and grace of God.
We are a new creation and we have the mind of Christ.
That is such a reason to celebrate.
But I also love that I can change 
the former self of yesterday,
of this morning.
Repentance, mercy, forgiveness, change.
We are being transformed continually, 
by this Gospel of great grace, 
and never have to settle for "the person we once were."
Even that person of just a couple hours ago.
That is the Gospel of Good News--
the power to save us everyday.
The Gospel that saves saints and sinners.
Because He is THAT good.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In the Secret Places

In the secret places of the cliff, 
Let me see your face, 
Let me hear your voice; 
For your voice is sweet, 
And your face is lovely.
Song of Solomon 2:14
Ah! how sweet is that voice.
Speak and let none other dare to speak but Thee! 
Be still, my soul.
Then we can know all things without knowing anything. 
We feel that we see nothing, 
can do nothing, and are nothing.
In this unreserved abandonment, 
we find everything we need 
from moment to moment, 
in the infinity of God.
All truth is eminently contained 
in this sacrifice of love, 
where the soul strips itself of everything 
to present it to God.

This is all I know right now.
I have to hear HIs voice
and see His face of love.
The sounds of life are loud
and my eyes take in so many sights.
In the secret places today, God,
let me see Your face.
Let me hear Your voice.
It is this unreserved abandonment to You
where I find everything I need.  
These moments get filled with You 
and my soul sings 
that all is well.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Focus Your Thoughts

Focus your thoughts on these things: 
all that is true, all that is holy, 
all that is just, all that is pure, 
all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise...
The God of peace will be with you. Phil 4
In the flurry of thoughts that bombard us each moment, 
the Holy Spirit gives us a command with a key.
There is a whole lotta room 
for a whole lotta thoughts in there.
He gives us keys that we might open 
the right doors of thought.

Things that are true.
Is what I'm thinking about right now true?
In the highest sense of the word, is it true?
Is it in accordance with: 
Lean not on your own understanding, 
but be filled with trust in the Lord.
Is it holy?
Can that thought mix with the Spirit of the Lord
and find a place to dwell?
Is it pure?
Does it have His stamp throughout, 
no trace of human wisdom or fear?
Oh dear.
Is it worthy of praise?
This morning I am aware of how many thoughts I have,
thoughts not in alignment with His word.
There is a promise of peace attached to focus.
And I desperately need His peace.
He is a source of strength 
to those who turn back the battle at the gate. Is 28:6
Lord, You are my source of strength.
The battle is at the gateway of my mind.
I want my thoughts to pass the test today.
I want to answer yes to all those questions.
When my thoughts pass through the grid of Your word, 
they will be worthy of praise.
So grateful You meet me each morning
with mercy and adjustment.
You are my source of strength.
I choose focus.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Established by His Favor

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us--
establish the work of our hands for us,
yes, establish the work of our hands. Ps 90
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love...

My heart so wants to stay connected with His--
the desperate depths of my soul 
have to have the fullness of His spirit
filling up every dry and empty place.
He will lead me beside still waters and restore my soul today.
His goodness and mercy will follow me
and His favor will rest upon me.
Father, I ask that You establish the work of my hands today.
May I not waste time with my own ideas or idle deeds.
My heart cries out that I would be stiller yet, 
that I would hear Your voice and follow Your ways.
I know the places that are dry, that are restless.
All I can do is tell those dry places 
to be still and drink deeply from Your waters of life.
And trust You.
All I know is I find mercy.
Your grace never fails to meet me.
Your favor gives my hands and my heart
their assignments and establishes 
the work that they do.
Your unfailing love 
deeply satisfies my soul.

Image: http://john1139ministries.org/web_images/lead_me_beside.jpg

Monday, January 23, 2012

Get Up and Eat

Then suddenly a messenger tapped him and said to him, 
“Get up! Eat something!” 
1Kings 19
Passages like this bring a sense of reality to my life.
We are confronted by a situation 
and we are not sure what to do.
In Elijah's case, he had just killed all the prophets 
and Jezebel was not so happy.
God sent a messenger, an angel, 
with a message: Get up and eat.
God sends an angel and he tells him to eat?

It's those daily things sometimes.
I sit here this morning and struggle just a bit 
with getting back into the dailyness of life.
We just had a full week of snow, everything shut down 
with the whole family home together for all that time.
It was a beautiful week.
Now, the alarm goes off at a time I haven't seen for a while.
And there is a small sense of being overwhelmed 
with re-entry into the routine and the schedule.
Certainly not hard days and challenging times, 
but the reality that comes in the mundane.
And the Lord comes to remind me 
that it is one foot ahead of the other.
"OK, here is the plan. Get up. Eat. Get dressed."
Where ever the spirit of God is, we can find inspiration 
to do the simplest of things and trust that He is in them.

Lord, I am desperate for Your life today. 
May I see You more clearly today than I did yesterday. 
Your presence is all I need to go and be 
who you have created me to be for this day.
This day is Yours and You have everything I need.
His love is ever present.
With gentleness He responds:
"All your fountains are in Me.
I have all that you need for this day. 
Indeed, I AM all you need for this day.
Keep calling on Me and coming to Me 
and I will exceedingly and abundantly meet you this day. 
My rest is your portion.
My love is your life.
Get up and eat."
He definitely said that with a smile.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Good News of Grace

"We wrestle our crowns from the giants we face." (Streams)

This morning I was talking with God 
about something He has asked me to do.
Not a big thing, but I have been making it one.
It wasn't about whether I wanted to do it;
it was about whether I thought I could.
Apparently I said, "I don't think I can"
a few too many times.
The Lord gently reminded me that He wasn't asking me
to provide the inspiration or the effort for anything.

I still get stuck in thinking that if God asks me to do something,
surely I am responsible for some measure in my own strength.
But...(as Pastor Norm preached in this week's message)
Jesus came with the Gospel of grace.
Grace eliminates the need to provide 
our own strength, our own understanding. 
Pride denies that grace.
As the Lord was helping me acknowledge my pride, 
a faithful friend emailed me encouragement in Psalm 18:34.
He is sooooo faithful.
The whole psalm is filled with grace!
Only God!  He equips me with strength 
and makes my way perfect...
who lets me stand securely on the heights, 
who trains my hands for war 
so my arms can bend a bronze bow. 

Your strong hand has supported me; 
Your help has made me great. 
This is the God who avenges on my behalf, 
who delivers me from my enemies. 
You are the one who gives great victories, 
who shows faithful love to Your anointed ones— 
Psalm 18 ( selected)

The good news of God's grace
shows up everywhere we look in His Word.
He equips me, He trains me, He makes me, 
He supports me, He delivers me.
Grace is recognizing that I am not the source of anything.
My lowland thinking stands corrected, again.
Oh, Jesus, help me to keep that truth unmovable.
I gladly repent for pride
and trust You to do what only You can do.
Grace us SUCH good news!

image: http://claudiablonde.tumblr.com/post/14166592778

Saturday, January 21, 2012

For God So Loved

Sometimes it just gets beautifully simple.
"For God so loved the world that He gave
His only Son that whosoever should believe in Him
shall not die, but have eternal life." John 3:16

That is the message that God is sending out all over the world.
The obvious example is the recent hype of Tebow throwing for 
316 yards and averaging 31.6 yards a completion.
The media declaring that evangelicals are just making 
some wild connections to promote their agenda.
Ummm...does it matter?
The media took the ball and threw John 3:16 
into the #1 spot on the search engines.
Tebow says virtually nothing and 
John 3:16 goes viral.
The good news is that 
God so loved the world that He gave.
I happen to believe that a great angelic host
is orchestrating this paradoxical display,
using a media that hates anything Christian
to promote its most important message.
It appears He wants to make Himself known everywhere 
as this God who loves us with a wild love, 
this God who gave His only Son,
that we might know Him and love Him in return.
I expect to hear this message come forth 
from every one of the cultural mountains.
Messages from a good God
in this year of good news.
For God so loved the world
that He gave His only Son.
A sacrifice of greatest worth, 
worthy of everything that we are.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Let It Grow

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, 
consider it an opportunity for great joy...
endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, 
you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 
James 1
We have such a limited perspective of trouble;
we don't really understand the value of endurance.
Endurance comes from the Latin durus, meaning hard.
The value of doing hard things.
Endurance is a "state of lastingness," 
a continuing under distress without sinking, patience.
When I look back on my own life, I can clearly see 
the opportunities that troubles and testings have provided.
Like many, great joy was never my first response.

Newly saved when I got married, 
I began this new life somewhat battered and just a little broken.
The challenges of living life without a Savior 
left me fending for myself, and I was a poor fender. 
But God.
The troubles and testings did not stop after salvation,
but I had a perspective and a promise.
"I will cause everything to work together for your good, 
you who love Me and are called according to My purpose."
By His great mercy, every challenge that I have faced
has caused me to grow.
Each one of those early year challenges
called out to endurance.
We don't necessarily change because we want to; 
we change because we have to.
Those "found in the desert place" days
were no less gifts than the "sun shining down on me" days.
Scripture says we need nothing when endurance has grown.
Endurance continues without sinking, patient in faith,
a beautiful offering to the Author of our faith.
Lord, thank You for using everything that has come into my life
to develop "lastingness."
To help me be complete and needing nothing.
You do all things well.