I like this word.. discernment. It is the ability to tell right from wrong.. truth from error. This is critically important in our present day culture. So many things that are not true are presented as facts.. everyone is an expert. We need wisdom so we can tell the truth from the lies..that is not always easy. Fortunately we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. What that means for us is that there is a source we can go to and we can seek the truth about everything.. if we really want to know it.
Sometimes it is easier to just read something in a book and believe it.. the problem is that it may not be true.. unless that book is the Bible. There are no errors in the Bible, but there are many books that claim they are interpreting scripture.. in reality they are misrepresenting it.. very troubling. Our only hope is to pray and seek clarity from the Lord .. to use the minds He has given us and to realize that His truth is not hidden from us. It is available if we seek it with our whole hearts, minds, and souls.. we need to desire it and to search for it and to make it important enough that we would die for it.
This is not a popular outlook in our narcissistic culture..we are constantly being sold a bill of goods. Our lives are to be filled with comfort.. remember anything goes.. don’t rock the boat or question things too deeply. You may cause division or create conflict if you stand up for what is right.. better to just roll over and be a peacemaker. There are times when there is no way to achieve peace.. relationships are messy and they don’t always end well. Life is complex and the road to the Kingdom is filled with potholes and traps.. we may fall if we are not careful.
So.. let’s be discerning people.. opening our eyes to the truth.. searching for it and believing that God is revealing it daily as we seek Him and His ways. Don’t blend in and don’t fit in.. stand up and speak out. Let’s pray for courage and strength in these times.. God knows we need it.
” When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” (John 16:13)
What happened to January? Well.. for me January was not the start I hoped for in this new year. My husband was sick for many weeks and a neighbor died rather suddenly of cancer. The weather was extremely dry after having so much wonderful rain in December. There is our continuing challenge as well..we are moving toward 2 years of unemployment for my husband. I don’t know about you, but every year I hope for a good beginning and get disappointed when that does not happen. This year was no exception.
In the midst of the difficulties.. I have seen God working in me and through me. I was able to minister to my neighbor’s wife because of the loss I suffered 15 years ago when I was widowed… I hope to continue to support her as she adjusts to a totally new life. God does not waste our suffering. I think the biggest learning curve for me is realizing the importance of leaning on the Lord. There is not a day that I don’t feel the need for more of Him and not an evening when I don’t realize that without Him I cannot carry on. A great lesson in humility and absolute dependency.
Two things have helped me during this season.. one is being part of an amazing church. It is amazing because the pastor teaches the Bible so well.. our current study is on the book of Isaiah and it is rich with lessons that we need in our times. God is speaking truth to his people through his servant Isaiah. So many wonderful metaphors and prophecies. The second thing has been the discovery of a website called ” My Kingdom Come.” There is a great weekly study ” Take Me Deeper.” The site is filled with ideas for art journaling, photography, mixed media etc. A group called Logos365 is a wonderful opportunity to seek the Lord for a word and keep it in front of you.. for 2015.
I mention these things but I suspect you are struggling too. I pray that you will find those resources that God has for you as you trust Him and explore ways to dig deeper and move closer to His heart.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
About 37 years ago I was called out of the darkness into the light. God revealed Himself to me and I have followed after Him for over three decades. Recently God reminded me of my commitment to Him.. to stay on the path He has prepared for me and to trust Him with everything.. not because I forgot, but because the pull of the world is strong. It is easy to want those things the world says we must have to be content.. so easy to be distracted by the things that pull us away from Him.
I needed the reminder..to be called to a walk in a deeper level of faith.. to admit that I was double minded. He chose me to come into a relationship with Him and I owe Him everything. All the good things in my life come from the hand of the Lord and all the trials passed through Him before they reached me. My life is in His hands and it is His right to give and to take away.. He is the one who knows what is best for me. I want to finish this life with the same level of faith I had over 30 years ago.. trusting in this mysterious God who came close to me and made Himself known to me.
I need to be convicted of wanting things to be easy and wanting to be comfortable.. He never promised me that. He did promise to be with me and to hear my prayers and to come for me when I need to be rescued.. that is more than enough.
Thank you Lord for the fresh wind that blows through our lives.. reminding us of your presence. Thank you for loving us enough to show us when we wander away and long for things that are not important. Thank you that this life is a gift from you and since we belong to you, we want to honor you by being willing to follow you fully… trusting you to take care of us and provide for us.
My ” one little word” this year is REST.. I may have shared that in an earlier post. So I’ve been spending time contemplating the meaning of that word and asking God to help me enter His rest..
As a result of this journey with that word, I started thinking about feeling safe. For me, it is all connected. I can only rest when I feel safe. Makes sense doesn’t it? So am I safe with God? This topic opens up a can of worms for me. It is all related to that famous quote from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. You probably know the one I am referring to, it is a reference to Aslan, ” He’s not safe, but He is good.” Many writers have taken off in one direction with those words..talking about how we make God too small and put Him in a box so we feel safe with our image of Him. I understand their point, but there is something else to consider.
God is not in a box and He doesn’t fit with our preconceived ideas and He is much bigger and more mysterious than we ever imagine. But at the same time, we are safe with Him. Yes safe. He cares for us and we can run to Him every time we feel threatened by people or circumstances. He wants us to feel safe. There is proof of this in the Bible..over and over again He says ” do not be afraid.” That tells me He wants us to feel protected and cared for and to know that we are always safe as long as we cling to Him and call on Him continually.
So.. I am learning to rest..feeling safe and secure with my God. How are you doing? Remember His goodness and relax if you can..knowing that He has you right next to Him.. He is keeping an eye on you.. watching your back.. You are SAFE with Him.
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”( psalm 91:2)
We live in a world that doesn’t think holistically. We become convinced that each part of us operates separately. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are complex beings…If we are unhealthy in one area, it will overflow into another.
Unless we come to terms with our emotional struggles and invest time (and energy) in learning how to deal with them.. they will grow into physical struggles. Our body will tell us that we are not doing well..that we need to stop and examine our livestyle and our levels of stress. We can run to the doctor and get a diagnosis and possibly medication, ignoring the underlying issues… if we ignore our emotions and stop growing.. we may stop moving forward spirtually..
Growth in one area.. leads to growth and freedom in other areas. God created us this way. He made us feelers, thinkers, and believers. He designed us so our hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits would all need attention.. Unfortunately we get a very limited view of this because we separate ourselves into compartments.. we act as though we are only our feelings or only our bodies and we miss out on the healthy life that God intends for us. The same thing happens when we over- spiritualize.. everything is not a spiritual issue. We need discernment to realize all this and God is ready to give that to us if we ask.
He gave His Holy Spirit to us for such a time as this.. to help us navigate this complicated world and to give us answers that will enable us to live fully while we are here.
Jesus said this in John 16:
“I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. “
I need them every day. The truth is that we all do. Yesterday’s words just won’t work for today. I wake up every morning needing more faith, encouraging words, hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. What about you?
We start each day with the cares of yesterday threatening to overwhelm us. We remember the things that circled around in our minds the night before..we need help to walk into this day. We need fresh faith each and every morning. For me that comes through being still.. talking with God..and waiting to see how He will put me on my feet again. Sometimes just looking at the blue sky or taking a walk is enough.. other times I need to cry and ask Him for healing and tell Him that I am not being trusting..that my faith is wavering and I wish my trials were over.
We are on a great adventure and the journey is treacherous at times. We have an enemy who would like to destroy our faith and hang us out to dry. We need help every second of every day..the world is spinning out of control and only God sees the bigger picture. Let’s agree to trust Him today..just today..to walk closely by His side believing that He has good things for us. Let’s put our hand in His and know that He will never let us go.. Let’s do that today and tomorrow morning we will decide to do it again.. one day at a time.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.
Does God speak to us? Yes..He is always speaking and revealing new things to us. Learning to hear His voice and follow His leading has been the focus of my life for the last 35 years. What better way to live than to follow Him and receive all the things He has intended for our lives. The living God who created the universe has a unique path for each of us.
Do you doubt that? I believe we all do. One of the things that has helped me is to look back on my life. If I look carefully I can see the way one thing led to another. I can see how the pieces of my life fit together like an amazing puzzle. One piece by itself does not make sense.. but put them all together and you have a picture of God’s faithfulness.
Another practice that encourages me.. is to look around my home. In every room and on every wall are gifts from God. We purchased a few things, but most of it was given to us..God’s abundance is so visible. I am very visual and love beauty..God knows that ..we have views from every window in our condo. Nothing is an accident or coincidence.. it is all part of the story that God has written for my life.
I encourage you to begin to look for the places in your life where God is speaking to you..revealing His goodness. He wants you to know that you are the apple of His eye and that He loves you more than you can ever imagine. His arms are open wide.. longing to embrace you and fill you with everything you need to continue.
He is speaking.. listen.. it is the still small voice that only says wonderful things to you!
“See! I have not forgotten you..I have carved you on the palm of my hand.”
No.. I’m not talking about a misplaced object..I’m talking about something that God might be doing. In every season of our lives God is doing things..both in us and around us. One of those things that He is continually doing is healing. He loves to bring healing to His people. For some reason we fail to realize this..causing ourselves to suffer more than we need to. We find ourselves in difficult circumstances and we react to our situation with strong emotions. Often these emotions are over-reactions.. we wonder how we will ever live through this season in our lives.
God is doing something in the midst of this pain. He is showing us that we are not only reacting to the present but also to the past. He is unearthing something that He wants to remove..old pain that sits below the surface of our lives..keeping us from living fully. It is our responsiblity to pray and ask Him for healing.. remember He never forces Himself on anyone. He is the one who can make us whole..removing the knives that are stuck in our hearts…healing the deep wounds.
He takes pleasure in this process because He knows we will be more free..more joyful..more able to live the abundant life. He pursues us..waiting for us to ask Him to reveal what He is doing. I’m sure He grieves as we experience the deep pain that will eventually cause us to cry out to Him. He is patient..never anxious and unrelenting in His love for us. His plan for us includes inner healing.. healing of emotions..healing of our broken hearts. If we seek this..desire it and pray for it.. God will do it.
Looking beneath the surface our lives is a habit we can develop..we can teach ourselves to seek His purposes in every situation.. to realize that He has a reason for everything and nothing is wasted. He will lead us to people, books, movies etc.. all designed to help us understand our journey and bring us into greater freedom.
Remember..He loves you and He wants to bring you out of the darkness into His wonderful light!
“Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.”
That is the title of a daily reading in God’s Message for Each Day by Eugene Peterson. This man has a gift when it comes to writing. The way He expresses thoughts and ideas never ceases to amaze me. Here’s the message that follows that title:
“Each morning we wake to a world…that is given by God. God shares who He is and what He makes, His love, and His salvation. He is not just maker of heaven and earth; He is not just the revealer of truth; He is not just architect of salvation.. He gives…
Where all is gift, I do not own things or persons and thus have to protect them. Therefore I do not have to be anxious. In a world of grace I do not live in laborious struggle trying to fashion a world that suits my needs and desires, hammering together a life out of the bits and pieces of scrap lumber that come my way. I do not live in anxious suspicion, nervous about what others might do to me, what others might think of me, I simply discover and receive.”
Isn’t that beautiful? I especially like the part where he talks about hammering a life togehter out of the bits and pieces.. Wow! Don’t we do that? It reminds me of how we try to live in our own small story instead of the larger story that God has in mind for us. We are incapable of imagining all the wonderful gifts that He has for us, our finite minds are unable to truly conceive of the goodness of our God.
Some thoughts for this advent season.. Let’s move forward to discover, receive, and anticipate all that He has planned for us.
“Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven”