I was supposed to post what I'm learning today, but I guess God waited till the very last hour of today to really hit me with the lesson.
I just shared at Exemplify today about something Jesus said that has been weighing heavy on me. He said,
"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
But he who endures to the end shall be saved." Matt.24:12-13
Just now, after sobbing my way through the movie Fireproof (which I have not seen before tonight) I realized my love has been growing cold for my husband. And it very well may be because "lawlessness" (the refusal to feed on or take as a prescription God's word) abounds in him. Nevertheless I'm the one called to endure to the end LOVING whether the lawlessness abounds or not.
In the movie, Kirk Cameron's screen dad gives him a 40 day Love Dare. After surrendering his life to Christ midway through the 40 days, and enduring the rejection of his wife through the 40 days, and even when it was past, Cameron was finally able to win his screen wife back.
When the movie was over I sobbed to my Lord, "My 40 day Love Dare has lasted 4 years!" My heart was so touched by Christ in that moment. The scripture that flashed on the screen as the movie ended was Romans 5:8,
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
That was the verse God used to fill me with His love for my husband when he was filing for a divorce 4 years ago and I was delivering our second son.
I remember a family member calling to tell me her "concerns" after having heard a rumor about what my husband was out doing while we were just beginning our separation. I was overflowing with something I'd never had for a person before... agape love. I remember defending my husband, who was OBVIOUSLY not very defendable at the time. I remember saying something like, "You know, Christ died for him! He died for all of us while we were still sinners! If He can forgive him, I'm not going to hold it against him!"
My concerned loved one was angry with me and thought I'd lost it. She was right in a sense, I had lost it. I'd lost all my selfish grip and judgement and all I could see was the cross. I couldn't get passed the cross. I couldn't look at the cross and then look at my husband and hold his sin against him. Christ's dare to love me was enabling me to dare to love my husband even while he was rejecting me.
But 4 years have come and gone since then. And because the "love dare" continues without the repsonse from my husband I was hoping for, I've been tempted to give up, or grow cold in my vulnerable love towards him.
After watching Fireproof tonight my heart was rekindled. I saw the cross again and I saw what He wills to do in and through me towards my husband.
I saw Him willing to wait.
I saw Him deserving of my on-fire love towards my husband whether I got a response or not.
I saw Him, arms outstretched wide, crying, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!" without any promise that we'd turn to Him.
If your tempted to let your love grow cold towards your spouse or towards anyone in your life, maybe like me you need to take a good look at the cross again.
Maybe like me tonight you need to confess that you're growing skeptical and hard.
Maybe like me tonight you need to write your husband a note and leave it on the table.
Maybe like me, the Lord would bring to mind a time in the past when your husband as said something like mine said to me 4 years ago, "I just want to be appreciated Sheila!"
But even if he's never said something like that. Even if he's never done anything that shows you any kind of desire or openness towards your love, Christ HAS! He showed us He loved us by dying for us while we were still rejecting Him!
Oh Father help us! Help us as wives today! Please, give us tender hearts in exchange for the ones that have grown cold and hard. Show us, remind us, how much You've loved us so that we can stretch out our arms wide and be willing to endure to the end with a tender, warm, passionate, vulnerable, love- even if we get no response from our husbands! Help us to entrust our hearts to You! I know Father that the best hope I have of winning my husband is in letting Your sacrificial love be seen in me. Please let it be Lord! Take my life, take it and LOVE through me Love of God! Love through me!!
He's lifted my head every time to fix my gaze above all the quesion marks and circumstances to His unchanging love and unmoveable power.
If you're looking for a way to get started memorizing scripture I highly recommend the Living Proof Ministries blog (with Beth Moore). There's a mass of women seeking to renew their minds through scripture memory there. The goal is to memorize two scriptures a month. Go here for more information and help.
I've decided to post a video of me speaking my memory verses for each month at the end of each month here at my blog just to help me stay accountable and connected.
So here it goes:
I've been concerned that anyone who reads my blog doesn't get the impression that I think of myself as some Bible scholar. I don't want to come off as some spiritual snob. I wrote about that here. But I also want to let you all in on the everyday "real" me. I think that's why I started posting short videos here and there. A little real-time video clip is sure to bring me down to my regular-irregular gal status real quick!
In case you don't see the videos (I'm secretly hoping no one watches the videos :) Here's a little about me and day-to-day life:
This blog is a part of the real me, cause I thoroughly enjoy writing and especially sharing my musings over God's word, which I cling to desperately. It's a form of Christian fellowship for me and it's a piece of the ministry I offer with joy and thanks as part of the body of Christ. I'ts important to me and I find myself thinking in terms of blog post ideas all the time. But blogging/writing is only a sliver of my days.
Like I said, I'm desperate for God's Word, and cling to it like a drowning woman, but I have a really hard time letting go of my pillow early in the morning in exchange for my lifesaver!
I usually wake up early, without an alarm clock, before the rest of my family does. I've just been programed that way I guess. But don't think I get up all chipper and ready to tackle the day. I'm a slow riser. I usually get up, go turn on the coffee, don't turn on a single light, mosey over to the couch, curl up with my favorite afghan, and wait for the coffee to stop perculating.
Some days, I fall back to sleep while the coffee's brewing and wake up only minutes before my kids do. I usually give out a Simpson's style, "Aaahng!" when that happens, cause like I said, I'm desperate for God's word to light up the darkness I step into each day, but I have such a hard time letting go of the comfort of a warm spot on the couch!
The days when I do, like today, manage to relinquish the afghan for coffee, my Bible, journal and pen, I usually make my way to our office (spare bedroom), where, if I'm not careful, I can get sucked into checking email, reading blog posts, posting blog posts, updating Facebook, looking at websites for my kids, and running computer errands before I let God's word light my path.
Usually I wake up with a song in my head and when I respond by singing it out loud... those are the best starts of days for me.
Once my family wakes up my day is full of making meals, responding to my 4 and 5 year old's requests for "a snack" (which often starts the minute they wake up and continues throughout the day... Note to self, make designated snack times), verbal instructions and multiple reminders to the kids, "What do you want to eat honey?"s (directed at my husband), laundry, dishes, spills, meltdowns 4 and 5 year old style, times on the front lawn watching my boys ride bikes in the street, lots of corrections... I could go on and on.
I'm not an organized person, but I'm always trying to be. My kitchen has a little desk, nook, thingy. I have my large desk calendar there which is often covered by recent projects and notes of to-do lists and blog post ideas written on various note papers.
I feel good if I get my bed made right after my husband gets up and off to work, but that doesn't always happen and I hate it when I look in our room and it looks neglected.
If you walked through my day with me I think you'd find I'm very much a regular irregular woman. I definitely have my quirks and idiosyncrasies. I don't really know how to assess those for myself so I'll tell you what others have told me about me:
- You're motivating
- You're not a good multi-tasker
- You're analytical
- You've got the gift of mercy
- You're emotional
- "You're always thinking of me"
- "When's the last
time you cleaned the furniture?"
- You're the best mom ever mom!
- You always forget that mom
- You can't do everything Sheila!
- You're so optimistic
- You bring up a good point
- You're a good cook
- You're concerned about what the kids learn
- You want Jesus to be the foundation of your life
- How come you never excoriate your heels?
- You have thick eyebrows.
- You need a goal and you'll get it done
Those are just some of the things I've heard. I think they're mostly true. And my first to rise just walked in here to start my day, so I'll wrap this post up.
This blog is a very dressed up window into my life. But I pray you'll see past the pretty decor to the real me. Even more than that I pray you'll see a woman desperate for and delighting in God's love and salvation, and a woman who points you to Him. I pray this little blog-window into my life magnifies Christ not me. I picture a magnifying glass, bring into focus a more close up image of what you're looking at. I pray that image is my Redeemer.
I just did something I've never done before. It felt really good!!! I wrote an email to the Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China to the U.N. in regards to an old woman in China who's been thrown in prison for sharing her faith in Christ.
You can read about Shuang's story here and write her a letter yourself. But, if you want to go a step further you can also email the ambassador to China and/or the Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China to the U.N. here.
As I was writing I was really driven to prayer even more. I mean I've written to my brothers and sisters in prison before, and felt helpless to do anything for them as it is, which has brought me to my knees, seeking the care of the Father. But while writing this short email, I thought, "They'll never read this! And if they do, this isn't going to make any difference!" And then I remembered not to put my hope in princes, but to write it, putting my hope in God who has the kings' heart in His hands.
I sorta felt like Esther on a very microscopic level. It's only the Father who can persuade the heart of the communist leaders of China and the captors of Shuang and others, and yet He has allowed them to rule. So in dependence on the Father I wrote this to the representative of China to the U.N.:
Dear Representative of the People's Republic of China to the United
On January 26, 2007, 76-year-old Shuang Shuying was arrested. Shuying has
numerous medical problems. The story of this case has been circulated
around the world and thousands of Christians know about it. We ask that she be
released from all charges. We are praying for you as a leading spokesman for
Would you like to join me?
I've been sitting here looking at my blog. I looked at it through the eyes of a person who doesn't know Jesus intimately, or hasn't been around church, or just doesn't really believe in all that Bible stuff. I thought, "Would they think I was a spiritual snob? Would they think I'm so "religious"? Do I come off holier than thou?"
I wonder about this sometimes. It's easy, especially on a blog, to come off one way but not really be that persona.
I truly do love God's word. It lights up my way. It cuts me to the core and keeps me from deceiving myself into thinking I'm good or better than someone else. It encourages me when I feel like no one understands. It gives me hope and direction. It reminds me of what's really real, what's really forever and what's not. It helps me to know the Saviour I love but have never seen.
I do love God's word and I chew on it, wrestle with it, fight it, soak in it, surrender to it, disobey it, obey it innocently, and chew on it some more, all day long.
And I love writing about what I read and hear when I'm mulling over scripture... I feel like God speaks to my heart more when I put pencil to paper, or finger to keyboard in this case, than any other time. But I'm by no means a Bible scholar or even a faithful student.
I'm no spiritual superwoman. I curse, and grind my teeth, and get angry at my kids, and yell at the person who cut me off, and complain about the marks on the carpet, and huff and roll my eyes at my husband, and worry about my kids' decisions and future, and many other things all of which I'm ashamed of... I'm a mess! But I'd be even more of a mess if I didn't have God's word, and I wouldn't have any courage to get back up again after my millionth fall short of His glory if I didn't have His promises of redemption and faithfulness to complete that which He started in me.
So if your a person in my life who doesn't go to church, or read the Bible, or isn't really sure if you know Jesus or God; or if you're a total stranger and you have any of the above perspectives or otherwise, please know I'm no better or different than you! I just cling to the hope of what's written in the pages of my Bible like a drowning woman! And I believe He saves.
"Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will Say, 'Here I am.' "If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations
of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In." Isaiah 58:6-12
Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me--for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? Should you not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous, and the South* and the Lowland were inhabited?' "Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, "Thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion Everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, The alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart Against his brother.' - Zechariah 7:5-10
But last week, was especially special! It was past "lifting" a weak spiritual muscle and on to intimacy in the secret place with God! Here's the verse that the Lord drew me to, and though it is one I've read and heard many times, this time, it was the call of the Lover of my soul to get away with Him:
But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:17-18
Appear to be fasting to your Father who is in the secret place. Aaaah! An invitation to meet with the Father in the secret place through prayer and fasting!
It never struck me like it did last week. And don't get me wrong. I didn't get away to a mountain top or off to a tropical island for my secret place meeting with the Father.
I was in my closet ironing (our ironing board is in our closet), and then on the floor talking to the One I can't see. I was in my backyard with open journal and Bible while my boys played war games with their nerf guns on the trampoline.
It wasn't a "perfect" setting. But it was perfect!
He hooked me. Maybe He knew that I don't go to the gym with much motivation physically, much less spiritually, and that if He was gonna strengthen me in this spiritual discipline He was going to have to give me a taste of something worth "working out" for.
NOTHING. I MEAN NOTHING compares to meeting the Creator of the Universe who calls Himself my Father in "the secret place" of prayer and fasting. By His grace I'll keep coming back. Who knows what He'll do.
If you care to join me... Thursdays are my "secret place" days if you know what I mean :)
I'd love for you to email me and let me know your joining me. We can hold each other up in this.
My email is AWomanFound (at) gmail (dot) com.
Just to get started here, let me give you the definition I came up with for a Timothy Mom:
A Timothy Mom is a mother who, like Eunice and Lois, makes it her aim to not only teach her children the scriptures, but also models a life of genuine faith in Christ to them whether her husband does or not. A Timothy Mom labors in prayer, in talking, in listening, in rebuking, in correcting, in coaching, in encouraging, in nurturing, in serving and in modeling faith in Christ for the prize of seeing Christ formed in her own children.
Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless
the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. - Psalm 103:1-5
"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear..." Isaiah 59:1
*Related- Here's a very encouraging article at the Mom Blog by Gina at Chats With an "Old Lady"*
I have very strong concerns about Mr. Obama's philosophy for leading our nation, and shudder because the testimony of the colored person's freedom in Mr. Obama's newly inaugurated presidency is marred by the blood of thousands of unborn babies who are created in the image of God, and are as worthy of the right to life as any black, white, or peron of any race. But as I read the true accounts of oppression and bondage my country once deemed normal in Douglas' day, in the buying, selling, raping, murdering, beating, starving... owning of our human brothers of darker skin as slaves, I have to see how this is a day to rejoice in the God-ordained raising up of a family whose race was not too long ago considered not at all to be part of the crown of God's creation- mankind.
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to
one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be
lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in
hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are
in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not
curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live
in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with
people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as
far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my
friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to
avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry,
feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will
heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil
with good." Romans 12:9-21 NIV
So just to let you know a little about these new features:
Benedictions- My Thousand Gifts: I aim to regularly give thanks to God openly for the manifold gifts He's blessed my life with in this feature. I'm part of Anne's, at A Holy Experience, gratitude community, or as the image says, "My Thousand Gifts" community. Giving thanks is easily overlooked, and finding myself downcast a lot last year, I knew I needed to start just giving thanks to God more often for the thousands upon thousands of gifts I enjoy at His hand daily.
Timothy Mom Thoughts- The term Timothy Moms came to me from looking at Timothy in the scriptures and the reference to his mom and grandma. I share the similar marriage situation spiritually as Timothy's mom did, "...Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek" (and in my case we're not talkin' from the land of Greece). I define a Timothy Mom as:
A Timothy Mom is a mother who, like Eunice and Lois, makes it her aim to not only teach her children the scriptures, but also models a life of genuine faith in Christ to them. A Timothy Mom labors in prayer, in talking, in listening, in rebuking, in correcting, in coaching, in encouraging, in nurturing, in serving and in modeling faith in Christ for the prize of seeing Christ formed in her own children.
And the "vision" verse I have for Timothy Moms is:
Laboring in birth again until Christ is formed in our little children.
Also, I've been asked by a couple of ladies about what I'm learning about prayer and fasting and plan to post on that subject next Friday. But I'd love to hear what part prayer and fasting has in your life. I'll tell you right now, it's new and I'm just learning about it for me (not so much prayer... that's a constant part of my day, but prayer and fasting). So would you take my little poll up in the sidebar? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
What am I learning?
Where do I start?
I'm continuing my reading through the Psalms and have been really impressed by the emphasis in the Psalms on God's trustworthiness when it comes to making sure right is done by His kids... even if it doesn't seem like it at the time.
I've also been recalling Bible prophecies as I see the news unfold and it seems that the tiny plot of property, Israel, is increasingly a cup of trembling to the world. I've been just listening and praying for discernment so that I can give an answer to those who ask a reason for the hope that is in me in the times I live.
But as I pause to really think about what I've been learning from the Lord this week 2 MAJOR points come to mind:
1. God is sovereign and is able to accomplish the good He desires in the lives
of those I love even when I'm not there (Imagine that! :)
2. There is something really special and really spiritual-muscle building about
secret times of prayer and fasting.
I'm at a time in my life where I'm being asked to go back to work, and not just asked, led. Led by the Lord. And I have as much nervousness, excitement, and peace about it as I did about His leading to stay home 4 years ago. Only this time, I'm not going to make the same mistake I did when He led me to stay home by trying to make a doctrine about whether a woman should or shouldn't work outside her home... that is just not part of God's word. (But that's a whole 'nother post)
"Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established; He will not be afraid..." Psalm 112:4-8aHead over to Gina's (Chats With an "Old Lady") and share what you're learning.
Oh, and I heard this song on the radio on the way home and it was just so what I needed to hear:
I'm going to be gone all day taking a class to renew a certification I need to go back to work. I plan on sharing more about that later, but for now, I'm just asking for your prayers. I'm nervous.
"The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results." James 5:16
I just finished reading it. Here's what Gina posted:
Oh Lord help me to be speaking words that edify and build up others... help me to be INTENTIONAL, thinking before I speak, and praying for the law of kindness to rule my lips!
Ask yourself these questions about the words you speak and the things you share:
*Is the person you’re telling the information to a part of the problem or a part of the solution?
*If they’re not a part of the problem, and they’re not a part of the solution, then probably it’s something you should not be saying.
*Is it true?
*Is what you are sharing kind?
*Will it build up, will it edify the person of whom I’m speaking?
*Is it necessary?
*Does the person I’m talking to need to know what I am telling them?
*If this were about me, would I want it shared with someone else?
*Would I mind if the person I’m talking about were standing right here?
*What’s your motive in talking about it?
*Do you want to see the person you are talking about restored?
*Do you care that they will be restored spiritually, or do you just want to undo them; you just want to hurt them; you just want to punish them?
*If you’re a part of that person’s life, if you have a relationship there, you’re part of their network of relationships, what do you do?
*If you have gossiped, acknowledge your sins of the tongue.
*Acknowledge the sins of your heart-what was it in my heart that caused you to gossip?
*Confess to God the root issues—the pride, the jealousy, the wanting to look better, the comparison, the competitive spirit, the underlying sinful heart attitudes.
"Put off all slander and evil speaking and put on a heart and words of kindness and love and forgiveness and grace—not just put off the slander, but replace the slander with a heart of kindness and goodness and grace and love. "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).
Be intentional about speaking words that edify, that build up, that put other people in a positive light." (Nancy Leigh DeMoss)
"Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we
ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture." -Psalm 100:3 (emphasis added by me)
"I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know
wickedness." - Psalm 101:2-4 (emphasis added by me)
Oh come Lord Jesus come! Come reign in me! If I've held back any part of my heart I plead with You to come to me and conquer it now! Take it for Your possession and set up Your kingdom in my entire heart!
Richard Wurmbrand used to annoy some Christians about their campaign to restore prayer in schools. Mystified, he would say, "Why do you need a campaign? Just have your children bow their heads and pray." We become so worried about legal walls and petty penalties that we forget there is always a window, even when there are trivial earthly consequences.
Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come; and
I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
O to grace how great
a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
I post songs it seems when I'm struggling just to seek and do the will of God, much less talk or type about it. When I'm overwhelmed, singing praise to God is my rescue. I can't change a thing, but I can sing His praises, cause He deserves them no matter what. Let me just sing His praises. Whatever the matter is, He's good in every way and I'll find rest in just singing to Him.
The lyrics to the old hymns have been on my heart alot lately. I repeat this song on my ipod all the time, especially to hear this part:
I picture HIS goodness like a fetter, this, binding my wandering heart to Jesus, and oh how I need His goodness to bind me to Him.
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
We're begining the year with this one, Rock of Ages:
1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,I LOVE all the lyrics to this song. It's my heart's cry and I cry almost everytime I sing it. But right now the part that really gets me is:
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.
2. Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law's commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.
3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.
4. While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.
Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law's commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.
No matter how much I work. No matter how zealous I am. No matter how much I cry. None of it can fulfill God's law for me, or atone for my sin. Jesus must save and Him alone!!!
I'm hiding in Him this year... how about you!?
Reading this blog a person might think I've got it all together... the little tidy, favicon homemaker, thinking on Jesus all day long, smiling and singing while she cleans her toilets. But it's not the case at all!
I struggle just like the next person, in fact, often I get caught up in that pitiful place of thinking I struggle MORE than the next person and that they've got it good. It's so easy to start comparing myself to others, or to start getting my eyes on my life circumstances and begin faltering in believing, and pressing on in personally knowing and being changed by the Lord. That's why I NEED, DESPERATELY NEED, to frequently look into His word praying and listening to what He'd speak to me.
So, part of what I'm learning lately is the danger of setting expectations for what God should do in my life. Now, I'm not saying I shouldn't believe that God can do great things, in fact I should believe He can do exceedingly, abundantly above all that I ask or think, according to the power that works in me(Ephesians 3:20). But when I put God in a box of my "great" expectations, I really put Him in a small confinement He refuses to stay in, and I set myself up for disillusionment and even offense at Jesus.
Scripture the Lord has been teaching me this through is:
And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" When the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, 'Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?' " And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." - Luke 7:19-23
John the Baptist found himself in a position that caused him to question Jesus, even be offended at Him (as Jesus was exposing). After all He'd spent His life making a way in the desert for the Lord, and now here the Lord had come and John was possibly in prison, about to be beheaded by Herod.
Another person in scripture was let down by how Jesus turned out for him. Judas. Judas betrayed Jesus and took money instead of the gift of simply following Christ. Maybe he thought Jesus would take the throne of Israel and drive out all the Roman oppressors right then and there, but instead, Judas watched the One who was claiming to be Messiah go into Jerusalem to take up His cross, even submitting Himself to the abuse of the Roman government. His dissatisfaction with who Jesus turned out to be led to him betraying Jesus to find some personal satisfaction in temporary riches... which of course turned out to be no satisfaction at all, just a haunt he couldn't live with.
This is kinda heavy I know. I pray its not coming across in a hopeless way. Because it's through the example of John the Baptist, and Judas, and all of the disciples for that matter, who fled from Jesus or denied Him when it came down to the cross, that the Spirit has been using the Word to exactingly, and sharply discern the thoughts and intents of my heart (Hebrews 4:12)- exposing them that I might agree with what He says about them (confession) and let Him wash me with the water of His Word from them.
I'm learning that Jesus wants me to lean all my weight not on what He'll do in my life or how He'll do it, but on WHO He is! Despite my circumstances He wants me to be pure in heart, single minded, fixed on Him, pressing forward by faith not by sight! And oh how I desire to do be and do just that! And so I trust that He's not exposing these maladies in my thinking to condemn me but to wash me clean and change me a little bit more on the inside into His own image.
To help me press on and not get caught up in fear and unbelief I've written out a list of clear instruction which deals specifically with me in regards to how I am to conduct myself in the house of God from 1 Timothy 2, Titus 2, and 2 Corinthians 6-7. Staying focused on reading, even memorizing some, and praying over these verse that deal directly with my calling as a child of God and as a woman, is helping me to be so occupied with what God wants me to do in walking by faith. That way, I can't be looking around at what I think GOD should be doing in my life circumstances. Doing this is freeing me to walk by faith and worship the Lord no matter if even like John the Baptist I found myself in a prison cell facing death.
No matter my circumstances, by the grace of God, I have plenty to do in following Jesus personally, trusting in WHO He is, and I need to shed all the weights and sins which easily entangle me, so I can endure the road ahead with my eyes looking to Jesus.
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