Wednesday, July 31, 2013

If You.....(Now That's a bit Misleading...)

Today's reading:
Psalm 91

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”
Hmmm.... At first glance, David or whomever wrote this Psalm sounds a bit like BilBad from yesterday's reading in Job. But the longer I reflect and read over it... not as much. Is he recollecting the first Passover in regards to protection of deadly diseases that come in the night? Because my first read through made me stop and think, "Wait I know SEVERAL good Christian people that have suffered painful death caused from diseases, like cancer." I read the second paragraph and I think this could easily get taken the wrong way... "If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home." That doesn't seem to hold any truth when taken at face value, right? Then the famous quote that Satan used when tempting Christ in Matthew Chapter 4. When this happens maybe I should stop and see where two stories are colliding. Is this more of a prophecy? Is this more of a spiritual thing--and not physical? Because this past year more than any other year of my life has been deeply spiritual. And I don't see it as that until the battle has been won by my attacker! I'm struggling to put into words what I know in my heart but I don't think that believing and trusting and doing our best as a believer will win us some imaginary force field against trouble. I do believe that our best bet at getting through it is to look to our Savior. Because while physical death, disease and turmoil may over-take us here, it won't in the life to come.

P.S. I did turn to 'Google' to try and get some sort of help in this blog post, I eventually gave up. No one is reading this anyway and I understand what I'm trying to say... But I did come across this article over at Desiring God and I LOVED it! So with that..... 'Let us read!"
 


 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

For When I'm Feeling Hopeless....

Today's key verse on my pre-dated card was Job 8:21 "He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy."
I can't tell you how timely this verse is.... Here's the entire Chapter:
Job 8 (NLT)
Bildad’s First Response to Job

Then Bildad the Shuhite replied to Job:

“How long will you go on like this?
You sound like a blustering wind.
Does God twist justice?
Does the Almighty twist what is right?
Your children must have sinned against him,
... so their punishment was well deserved.
But if you pray to God
and seek the favor of the Almighty,
and if you are pure and live with integrity,
he will surely rise up and restore your happy home.
And though you started with little,
you will end with much.

“Just ask the previous generation.
Pay attention to the experience of our ancestors.
For we were born but yesterday and know nothing.
Our days on earth are as fleeting as a shadow.
But those who came before us will teach you.
They will teach you the wisdom of old.

“Can papyrus reeds grow tall without a marsh?
Can marsh grass flourish without water?
While they are still flowering, not ready to be cut,
they begin to wither more quickly than grass.
The same happens to all who forget God.
The hopes of the godless evaporate.
Their confidence hangs by a thread.
They are leaning on a spider’s web.
They cling to their home for security, but it won’t last.
They try to hold it tight, but it will not endure.
The godless seem like a lush plant growing in the sunshine,
its branches spreading across the garden.
Its roots grow down through a pile of stones;
it takes hold on a bed of rocks.
But when it is uprooted,
it’s as though it never existed!
That’s the end of its life,
and others spring up from the earth to replace it.

“But look, God will not reject a person of integrity,
nor will he lend a hand to the wicked.
He will once again fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.
Those who hate you will be clothed with shame,
and the home of the wicked will be destroyed.”


I don't think we'll ever know why bad things happen; to the good, bad, guilty or innocent. I used to think the same way Bilbad and Job's other friends think. It must be because of sin! I don't necessarily think that way anymore. I will be the first to admit that from this side of heaven a lot of unfair things seem to happen, but ultimately I can only find peace in handing it over to God and trusting He knows what's best. Sometimes I do that quite well. And sometimes I don't. Sometimes I give it to Him just to grab it back later. But verse 21 was definitely something my hopeless soul needed to hear lately. I don't know if my laughter and joy will come on this side of heaven or the other but its coming one way or the other.... its hard to remember that sometimes. That these dark moments won't last an eternity. It only seems that way sometimes.....

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's All About The Journey... not the destination.

Today's reading comes from Psalm 121. The chapter heading reads, 'A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.' And I immediately think of my Siesta verse #9 -- Psalm 84:5 "Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage." I had chosen this verse as a reminder of my purpose. I had finally come to realize that somewhere along my journey I had gotten mixed up in my understanding and while I knew that my salvation was a gift unearned, I had ended up with this terribly self-righteous attitude. Also I become pre-occupied with Hell and would find myself on this roller-coaster of "faith" where I just couldn't reconcile the whole works vs. faith thing! Then somewhere along the way, God saw me in my mess and quieted all the noise from the preachers, and teachers, and well meaning believers and helped me to stop focusing on the destination and start focusing on Him. On Christ who only desired a true relationship with him. And if I'm walking with him I shouldn't be so caught up in my destination. Because HE is the destination. He will never lead me away from himself.

Pilgrimage is defined as: a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion.
Psalm 121 

I look up to the mountains--does my help come from there?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.
The LORD himself watches over you.
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.
The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
So here I'm reminded that my focus (help) should be on the LORD, my travel guide & companion. Not on what's going on around me. Not the mountains on the horizon or the one's in the rear-view mirror. Not what I hope or fear in the future. Not some difficult climb from my past. The past is over and gone! Tomorrow isn't a guarantee. When my focus is on Him, I won't stumble. Its only when I take my eyes off of him that I stumble. I can be confident that He never sleeps. He is always aware of my circumstances. He 'stands beside you as your protective shade' -- at first glace I read this and thought of so many examples of his lack of protection in my life, the life of biblical characters, and those in the headlines. But now after prayer and a deeper reflection... I think... you can't have shade without the sun. So he's not saying difficult circumstances won't come upon us, but if our focus remains on Him during those times, we can find refreshment in the shade of his promises. In the shade of his mercy. His grace. His love. It may be hot... but not AS hot. There we can regain our strength ('blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage---remember?) To me the sun is a metaphor for life-- the hard circumstances that come from living in this fallen world and the moon is more of a metaphor for the attack of the enemy. The LORD is keeping watch. He's not asleep. He's right there.... and when I feel the heat of the sun or the creepiness of the night with all its shadows... where do I go. All I need to do is look to my companion. He's right there beside me the whole time. He's not waiting at the end. He's right here on this journey with me! When life gets hard (hot) I need to remember without Him its a lot harder (hotter) and when the enemy creeps in and I start to doubt or stumble I am reminded by my companion that "[He] is the LORD [my] God who takes hold of [my] right hand and says, 'Do not fear, I will help you!" (Is. 41:13) I have set my heart on this pilgrimage! My strength is in the LORD! I because of HIM, I am blessed!
 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

For When I'm "Passionate".... in the wrong ways

Ephesians 2:1-10 (NLT)

Made Alive with Christ

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
When my husband and I enter into a discussion, often times the conversation can escalate. He will then accuse me of being angry or at times, self righteous. I'm quick with the comeback that I'm neither "I'm passionate," I say. Hopefully this wording will help me to keep my 'passions' a little more in check. :)

I need to exercise my 'self-control muscle' a lot more! Which reminds me of a journal sketch I did based off of a guest blog post over at Ann Voskamp's A Holy Experience.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

For When I'm Slipping....

Psalm 73 (NLT)

1Truly God is good to Israel,
    to those whose hearts are pure.
But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
    My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
For I envied the proud
    when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
They seem to live such painless lives;
    their bodies are so healthy and strong.
They don’t have troubles like other people;
    they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.
They wear pride like a jeweled necklace
    and clothe themselves with cruelty.
These fat cats have everything
    their hearts could ever wish for!
They scoff and speak only evil;
    in their pride they seek to crush others.
They boast against the very heavens,
    and their words strut throughout the earth.
10 And so the people are dismayed and confused,
    drinking in all their words.
11 “What does God know?” they ask.
    “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”
12 Look at these wicked people—
    enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.
13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
    Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
14 I get nothing but trouble all day long;
    every morning brings me pain.
15 If I had really spoken this way to others,
    I would have been a traitor to your people.
16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
    But what a difficult task it is!
17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
    and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
    and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors.
20 When you arise, O Lord,
    you will laugh at their silly ideas
    as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.
21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
    and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
    I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart;
    he is mine forever.
27 Those who desert him will perish,
    for you destroy those who abandon you.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
    and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
 
 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rest

Yesterday's reading was from Ecclesiastes 11:1-6. I suggest reading it in The Message version. Its cryptic. LOL.

Today's pre-dated card was from Hebrews 4:16. I read the entire 4th chapter of Hebrews.

Promised Rest for God’s People

God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,
“In my anger I took an oath:
    ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’”
even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.” But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.”
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:
“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts.”
Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Remember a few days/posts ago, where I had prayed this prayer about rest? And now here we are four days later reading an entire chapter on the Promised Rest for God's People. Interesting, don't you think. So I had prayed that I wanted to rest in Him alone. And here in the first few verses he says its something of such importance that we should tremble with fear that some might fail to experience it! WoW!  He goes on to explain that only we who believe can enter His rest. If when we hear His voice we don't harden our hearts! We're then encouraged to "do our best to enter that rest" and not to fall by way of disobedience as the people of Israel did. We're reminded that we can't hide from God. He knows us completely and our best bet at getting to know our true selves, our true nature, is to measure ourselves by the Word of God. And through obedience to His Word we can best achieve this rest. By marking out a straight path for our feet! And for the times when we fail? We can hold to what we believe about Christ. That He has experienced all we have, except the sin, and He offers us mercy and grace during the times we need it most.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Leading--It Takes Strength, Courage, Focus and Obedience.

*I didn't blog yesterday's reading. It was out of Matthew about how "the harvest is great but the workers are few". I have a movement disorder, I may have mentioned before, but sometimes it takes a painful toll on me and I have to medicate. I was on Percocet yesterday and it was hard to focus. I am still on it today, but I'm going to try this anyway....

Today's verse on my pre-dated Scripture card was Joshua 1:9 "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" So I read all that fell under that same heading. It ended up being Joshua 1:1-9

"After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said,  “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them.  I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea  in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’  No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. 
  “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.  Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.  Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.  This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
This group of Scripture is a familiar one to me. I've hard the topic verse (from my pre-dated card) my entire life. Today as I read it though, it took on meaning for me as a mother. The time has come for [me] to lead these little ones-- well they're not so little anymore, which is why this scripture is packing more of a punch this time around.

My oldest will be 14 in a few short months, then I have an eleven year old fast on his tail and then an eight year old bringing up the rear. I'm starting to discover the not so pleasant years of adolescence and reliving all the heartache and frustration I unloaded on my parents. Adolescence is such an important, if not THE MOST important part of a persons journey. It's where their journey to take hold of their future begins. Adolescence is our Jordan River. Its the starting point before we enter the rest of our lives. Its where some of our biggest battles are fought. Battles for abstinence, against drugs, gang violence (for some--not here that I am aware of), under-age drinking and similar battles are all fought during this time frame. It's where important decisions are made. The ones that can affect the rest of our lives. And the LORD is reminding me that my job as a parent is to lead. And this isn't a job invented only for me. There have been several before me. And His promise to me, is the same promise He gave them. I will be with you as I was with [them]. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these [children] to possess all I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Now in context the Lord is speaking about the land promised to the Israelites but here I feel Him saying its my duty to equip and lead my children through this phase so they can take hold of all the promises He lays before us through His word. Promises of eternal salvation, peace, rest, unconditional love, mercy and grace. And yes, hardship will come despite our faith in the Lord, because the enemy will wage war, but also our best hope for a pleasant life here, also comes from being careful to obey His instruction. (I love how He even points once more toward that "straight path for my feet" that has become the theme this week).  Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.  Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.  This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. So as a parent, LEADER, I am being reminded once again to "mark out a straight path for my feet... SO THAT... those who are weak and lame do not fall but become strong" The weak and lame being my children. (Hahahaha. They'll get a kick out of that won't they) And today's reading reminds me that I can do this because He is with me through it all. I don't take it lightly that He also says over and over again to be strong and courageous not to be afraid or get discouraged. An acknowledgment on His part that this will not be some walk in the park. It will be difficult, scary, and hard. But He is there with me every step of the way and if I stay on the path, study His Word and obey, the journey will be a successful one... and remembering the best way to lead is by example.

MOTHERS: "You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God’s fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts." Charles Spurgeon - The Prince of Preachers

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Solid Ground

The verse on today's dated scripture card is Psalm 26:2-3. So I read the entire 26th Chapter of Psalm. Twice. Then I wrote it out in my journal. And then I heard it. His still small voice. But before I lay it all out here-- what I felt the LORD telling me, I want to mention the last bit of the prayer I prayed before closing my eyes and drifting off to sleep. I prayed that I wanted to rest in Him. Not in my marriage, my parenting, my body image. I wanted to be rooted in Him and Him alone. And then I went to sleep.
Psalm 26 (NLT)
"Declare me innocent, O Lord, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.  For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth. I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites. I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked.  I wash my hands to declare my innocence. I come to your altar, O Lord, singing a song of thanksgiving  and telling of all your wonders. I love your sanctuary, Lord, the place where your glorious presence dwells.
Don’t let me suffer the fate of sinners. Don’t condemn me along with murderers. Their hands are dirty with evil schemes, and they constantly take bribes. But I am not like that; I live with integrity. So redeem me and show me mercy. Now I stand on solid ground,  and I will publicly praise the Lord."

The underlined portions of this verse are various thing that stood out to me, upon my third run through of the chapter, while writing it out by hand in my journal. During my first read through, I thought, "What? I feel the exact opposite of these things!" But then I read through it again and I decided to underline the things I should desire to be true. The things that would allow me to "stand on solid ground" Thus possibly aiding me in my prayer last night, of finding rest in God alone.

First up, integrity. First off, I am participating in Siestas, this year (again!). Its an idea started by Beth Moore, where you commit to memorizing 24 verses or groups of  Scripture a year. My second verse this year was Psalm 101:2 "I will behave myself wisely and give heed to the blameless way--O When will you come to me? I will walk within my house in integrity and with a blameless heart."


Noah Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language defines integrity as: 1.Moral soundness; honesty; freedom from corrupting influence or motive 2. The quality of being entire or complete; wholeness; entireness; unbroken 3.Unimpaired, unadulterated, or genuine state.
Well I am not free from corrupting influence because I live in a broken world where Satan has real influence. On me! I'm broken. Often. And impaired. So back to my Siesta verse.... maybe this was a call from God reminding me that the point of memorizing these verses is not so I can check it off my "to-do" list. They were to serve as a reminder of how to live. To help me "mark out a straight path for [my] feet." My first month into this year, when I chose this verse, it was a pledge to walk in integrity. Am I trying my hardest here? No, I haven't been. I started out great, but then something happened, which leads me to....


Trust in the Lord without wavering. Something happened in my life nearly 4 years ago (Wow, I can't believe its been that long.) that had a huge impact on my faith journey. It was terrible and incredibly raw at first, but the Lord came along side me and  revealed himself to me, firsthand, instead of just through all the stories and sermons I had read and heard my whole life. I was given the gift of first hand relationship with Him. I had never been so close. It was honestly the greatest high I have ever felt. (Imagine if heaven feels anything close to that!) But then, triggers of this life shattering event started popping up everywhere! And my trust in the Lord started to waver. And I've been struggling ever since. That was a few months ago. Four to be more exact. And why did my trust waver? Because I stopped being....

aware of [His] unfailing love. Satan used this assault of triggers to take my mind off of God and kept it focused on my circumstances instead. And he was relentless. But why wouldn't he be, I mean, I just explained (best I could) how incredibly close to the Lord I had become. I mean, he had a lot to lose. Just my relationship with the Lord alone, had initiated warfare. And the battle began. And Satan has been winning in my life recently. My integrity is severely damaged. My studies have been hollow or feeble attempts at best. I've been trying to change on my own because Satan has caused me to mistrust the Lord. And in that mistrust, I haven't come to Him, asking for His help. Just sitting here typing out and remembering what my life was like when I was walking alongside God is so healing. Freeing. And that leads me to....

Singing a song of thanksgiving. Over and over and over again there is a great command to remember. Why do you think that is? I think one possibility is that, just as Satan uses less than ideal circumstances to wage war, causing us to shift our focus off of God, remembering God's goodness, faithfulness, love and mercy are how we shift our focus back into gratitude, true reality, and thus combat Satan's assault. Because nothing. Nothing. is more peaceful and securing that knowing you are NOT an enemy of God. You are His child. And if I want true security, my ultimate place of peace is found in.....

the place where [His] glorious presence dwells. James tells us to, "humble [ourselves] before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you."
So again, like yesterday, the Lord has convicted me to immediately turn to Him when my circumstances become heavy. When the thoughts start repeating over and over again, as soon as I become aware, seek His Word. Go to prayer. Seek Him. And then, my question from Psalm 101:2 "O when will you come to me?" is better answered -- When I come close to Him. When I choose to listen to these thoughts, it is the same thing as taking a bribe . A bribe is defined as: Something serving to influence or persuade. Exactly! By listening to these thoughts instead of drawing near to God, I allow Satan to influence and persuade my thinking. But when I come close to God he restores my integrity. In his presence the corrupting influence of Satan isn't so influencing. I feel less broken. Less impaired.

When I accepted Christ as my savior, He redeemed me. When God looks at me, because I am covered by the blood of Christ, I have perfect integrity. But what about here....now. There are many things, I believe the Lord can redeem, besides just my soul. He can redeem my life here. He can redeem marriages, jobs, relationships etc. The question is, will I allow Him?  I believe the "straight path for my feet" could be the same thing as standing on solid ground. Or maybe this "straight path" leads to solid ground.  Either way today's study of Psalm 26 has reminded me that I have thousands upon thousands of reasons to publicly praise the Lord. I pray that I am back on "the path" now, after bushwhacking for far too long. I do know these past three days have spiritually been very peaceful.  

Thank you Lord, for new mercies over and over again. Thank you for calling to me once again to follow you. Thank you for opening my eyes to the lies of my enemy. Thank you most of all for your unconditional love, forgiveness, and the sacrifice of your Son. Forgive me for taking so much of that--you--for granted. Thank you for your patience. Amen.

 

 




 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

He Will Show You The Way

Yesterday I mentioned how the Lord uses coincidence to get my attention or to teach me something.  Well first I should inform you that I choose my daily reading from a preprinted dated daily scripture card from DaySpring, similar to this. And I read the surrounding chapter. In yesterday's reading of Proverbs 4 (NLT)  the phrase mark out a path for your feet, stood out to me because it was word for word the same phrase from a verse I had recently memorized. Well today's verse on my scripture card was Psalm 25:10 so I read the entire 25th chapter of Psalm.

"O LORD, I give my life to you.  I trust in you, my God.  Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.  No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.
Show me the right path, O LORD, point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O LORD, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from ages long past. Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O LORD.
The LORD is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. The LORD leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands.
For the honor of your name, O LORD, forgive my many, many sins. Who are those who fear the LORD? He will show them the path they should choose. They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. The LORD is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. My eyes are always on the LORD, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.
Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive all my sins. See how many enemies I have and how viciously they hate me! Do not let me be disgraced, for in you I take refuge. May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.
O God, ransom Israel from all its troubles." 
I should start by saying I began my morning in prayer. I had a lot on my heart but I couldn't put what I wanted to say into words. I stumbled through it, feeling it was quite lacking. And then I began to read this chapter out loud and it was as if God put this prayer in my mouth, as if to say, I know this is what you were trying to say. Especially the part about forgiving my 'many, many sins'!
A few years ago, when I would read through the Psalms I would think, "How does this apply to me--all this talk of enemies?" But more recently, I've come to realize my enemies are these voices or thoughts that replay through my mind. I know its a way for Satan to take my eyes of the true nature of God and focus me on my circumstances rather than my merciful and faithful Father. Do you remember how yesterday I wrote,
"Depression is something I've lived with since I was a young girl. My mind seems to focus on the less than ideal circumstances in my life and plays them like a broken record. Sometimes I can drag myself out fairly easily. Sometimes when one negative circumstance doesn't hold me, my mind grabs hold of a few more until its like I'm drowning. Someone... something... pulling me under over and over again."
Did you catch the verses for today in Psalm 25, "Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. My problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save me from them all! Feel my pain and see my trouble. Forgive my sins. See how many enemies I have and how viciously they hate me! Protect me! Rescue my life from them! Do not let me be disgraced, for in you I take refuge." ? This is my prayer...or should be, when I start to sink. When those thoughts/voices start I have got to find a way to train myself to immediately go to the Word of God because that's where I find refuge. That's where he will show me the right path...point out the road for me to follow. Where he will lead me by [His] truth and teach me. Because [He] is the God who saves me! Going to His Word for Truth is one way I can Mark out a path for my feet!

Thank you Lord for never forsaking me, even when I have forsaken you. When I give in to my hurt feelings and negative emotions, instead of turning to One True Source of Comfort. Thank you for your love and mercy. And thank you for not being silent when I am in despair.


 
 
 
 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mark Out A Straight Path

Today while reading for Immersed Challenge, my reading came from Proverbs 4. I've recently fell in love with the NLT translation. Anyway, not sure that's relevant or not but anyway... So I'm reading chapter 4 (kind of speed reading, as I've spent a bit of time in Proverbs and Psalm this year and it was like, "yeah, yeah, I've read this before") and I get to verse 20 and it starts to have impact:
"My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don't lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them and healing to the whole body.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. 
Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.
Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the path. Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil"
"Mark out a straight path for your feet" Hmmm. That sounded more than familiar. It was word for word part of some Scripture I had to committed to memory recently.
"No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening - it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong." ~Hebrews 12:11-13
I have found this past year that the LORD deals with me often with "coincidence" if you will. Or at least I find it a call to sit up and take note. I've been in a dreadful place for a few months. Depression is something I've lived with since I was a young girl. My mind seems to focus on the less than ideal circumstances in my life and plays them like a broken record. Sometimes I can drag myself out fairly easily. Sometimes when one negative circumstance doesn't hold me, my mind grabs hold of a few more until its like I'm drowning. Someone... something... pulling me under over and over again. This verse in Hebrews and the NLT's wording, "take a new grip with your tired hands" grabbed me and pulled me in the other direction. It encouraged me to keep fighting. Is this life preparing us for something greater than we can imagine? Is it our training? And don't I long for peace? So, when I want to throw in the towel, I can remember God's voice, like a coach on the sidelines, encouraging me to keep going. Acknowledging my weariness, but encouraging me to keep going nonetheless. I didn't really catch it the first time around.... but that last bit.... reminds me this isn't only for my benefit. I should 'mark out a straight path' so that those who are watching and are also weak, weary, tired, depressed, will be encouraged also. We can strengthen each other. Like a team. When one or two gives up, its hard for the rest of the team to recover. But when you have a teammate that sees and feels the struggle you're feeling but cheers the team on, you often see a 'rally'. So in my life, in this moment, I see my team as my marriage. I love my husband dearly. And we've had some very hard, heartbreaking times. And my heavenly Father reminds me with 'coincidence' in Proverbs 4, to pay attention to what [he] says. Listen carefully to [his] words. Don't lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into [my] heart. They bring life and healing. Look straight ahead and fix [my] eyes on what lies before [me]. (Not what lays ruined and desolate in the past!)To mark out a straight path for [my] feet and stay on the safe path. Don't get sidetracked; keep [my] feet from following evil. Take a new grip with [my] tired hands and strengthen [my] weak knees. Mark out a straight path for [my] feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong!

How about you? Do you need encouragement? Do you suffer from depression? What or who helps you? Where to you turn?