Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

PART 3 OF TWO BROTHERS + AN OVER-TOLD STORY : MAIN TAKE-AWAYS

February 4th, 2016

After looking at the events that took place in Exodus 31-33ish in post 1 and observing each brother’s response to the circumstances in post 2, this 3rd post will highlight what I believe are some further take-away applications for anyone seeking to grow as believers in Christ. In all honesty, we can find ourselves relating to […]

 

After looking at the events that took place in Exodus 31-33ish in post 1 and observing each brother’s response to the circumstances in post 2, this 3rd post will highlight what I believe are some further take-away applications for anyone seeking to grow as believers in Christ. In all honesty, we can find ourselves relating to either of these two men who served God…so it is beneficial to store away some Biblical wisdom for times in our life that are not too unlike this time in both Moses and Aaron’s walk with God.

What we can take away from this – 

This is what brothers are for – God can do anything and everything, yet He often uses our family of believers to help each other and come alongside each other – both to teach us how to live when we feel like Moses in this story as well as reveal insight, truth, and hope to us when we might find ourselves more like Aaron. When we can see our lives in light one of these two brothers, we realize God can use us in the lives of others to help us see, know and understand our Lord’s heart more, and He can work in our lives to shape our hearts to be more like Christ and more suited for the plans He has for us if we choose to come to Him in our time of need. As it is in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “ Two are better than one, … For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!  Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” God doesn’t have to involve us in the work He’s doing in other people, but He chooses to often to teach and stretch and shape us both through our life circumstances if we seek Him in them. Are we there for others when we could be? And do we come to Him when we realize we’ve wandered?

For times we could be Aaron – When we are unsure of our calling, We need to trust that God has a plan for our lives, especially if we’ve experienced Him before, and rest assured that He planned what he wanted us to do long ago (Ephesians 2:10). Meanwhile, if we feel like we do not yet know specifics about what God has called us to do, we need to carry out the great commission while loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength… and love our neighbors as ourselves (the general call on all believers’ lives Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 28:16-20) and continue to seek Him wholeheartedly lest we be led astray to temptation (2 Peter 3:14-18).

And For when we feel like a bystander like Moses – We need to first check our hearts and ask God’s help in making our hearts like His. Moses was overcome by anger – which tends to cloud our ability to keep perspective and leads to poor reactions. I believe we need to make sure we ask God to help us exchange some of the raw reactions of our heart for a heart that more reflects that of the Holy Spirit  (specifics of what God’s spirit exemplifies in the fruit of the spirit and definition of love in Corinthians)  before we’ll be able to be most useful in the given situation. Once we have done this,  we should pray to God fervently for mercy for whoever is an Aaron in our life…and be willing to act when God invites us to share the truth in love and point to Christ to our Aaron.

Moses and Aaron. Two imperfect brothers…One Holy, Mighty, and Loving God, and a chord of three strands that was not quickly broken. May we always have someone to help us when we fall, and may we always be there to help when another falls, and may we come to know the heart of our awesome God through it all!

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Two Brothers + An Over-told Story That Taught Me a New Lesson Pt. 1

January 27th, 2016

Wo! I just read Exodus 31-33ish and it was some stuff that blew my mind! Before diving in I want to note that many of these thoughts are from reading the scripture as well as Matthew Henry’s commentary…so many of these thoughts are paraphrased as my understanding from some of his writings as well as […]

 

Wo! I just read Exodus 31-33ish and it was some stuff that blew my mind! Before diving in I want to note that many of these thoughts are from reading the scripture as well as Matthew Henry’s commentary…so many of these thoughts are paraphrased as my understanding from some of his writings as well as scripture.

In these chapters, God was specifically telling Moses about the very special and honorable and high calling He had for his brother Aaron. Aaron was to be set apart as a high priest and all his sons after him were to have this calling. What a calling on someone’s life! But wow the sequence of events to follow. This first of three posts will summarize the sequence of events and insights gleaned from it.

A little back story is that Aaron had just encountered multiple amazing, undeniable God experiences. As Moses’s brother and right hand man, he literally was used by God to do many of the signs and wonders with his own hands and staff before Egypt – the events that led to Pharaoh letting them leave (Exodus 7). It was Aaron’s staff – not Moses’s – whose staff became a serpent before Pharaoh and swallowed the magicians’ and sorcerers’ serpents up. It was Aaron’s outstretched arms who turned the waters of Egypt to blood, his hands stretched out and brought the plague of frogs and then brought the plague of gnats. He’d just seen God use him to perform miracles, to send plagues against Egypt while also distinctively preserving and sparing the people of Israel, and he’d seen God provide miraculous deliverance leading them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13), parting the sea (Exodus 14), creating drinkable water out of a rock and providing food in the wilderness (Exodus 17). He also was one of the two holding Moses’s arms up to God and witnessed God’s intervention that led to battle victory over the Amalekites (Exodus 17). And as if that weren’t enough evidence to authenticate God’s existence and power, the entire people of Israel just watched a mountain shake as they audibly heard God speak and call Moses up to the mountain.

So flash forward to the mountain top experience for Moses. While much of the talk would be about the law and instruction regarding the tabernacle, a substantial portion of the conversation concluding Moses’s time up there was about Aaron and how God has a high, specific, and purposeful calling on his life. But meanwhile, the people forgot God and assumed that Moses was gone, so they cried out for Aaron to make a god for them. I should know this story inside and out but was actually surprised at Aaron’s role in the horrible decisions that followed. Did Aaron remind them of God? Did he rebuke them or stutter in his answer? No! The Bible simply records a very willing and participating Aaron who actually led the charge on creating and worshipping the golden calf.

How could someone with such an incredible assurance of God in his life, such previous experience of His goodness and faithfulness, turn so quickly and do something so opposite? So against God? Have you ever found yourself in Aaron’s shoes? Where you have experienced God in a powerful, personal, undeniable way in your life and then found yourself doing the unthinkable? In her book  Arm Yourself Against the Enemy’s Schemes: A Taste of When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, Beth Moore suggests that actually after a personal failure or a spiritual victory is often when we are incredibly vulnerable to fall to an attack of the enemy. So, this is not as surprising as it seems when we know how Satan can attack us… but to the one caught in the schemes and finding themselves in a situation against everything they once stood for, it can totally catch you off guard. If this has never been you, perhaps you have you been like Moses and known an Aaron or an Israelite in your life who has seen or possibly experienced God but chose to chase after other things. I think of a few things about this in particular about Moses and Aaron –

1.) Moses knew of Aaron’s calling, Aaron did not yet know God had this awesome continued plan for Him. Moses was enraged to say the least to learn what was going on when he got back. As a bystander, it can be heartbreaking and enraging to be so sure that God has great things in store for someone you love, they hold so much potential, and then you look and they are drowning in ungodly strongholds.

It can be so heartbreaking and frustrating (especially if their struggles affect you personally) to say the least to come off a mountain top experience with God like Moses and realize how broken the world is. From an experience of everything good, true and right to everything corrupt, twisted and provoking. In much of how Moses responds (some right ways some wrong ways), we see that – as a light for Christ and thus ministers to those we love and influence – our role is to help “expose the greatness of sin”. We can only help reveal the wickedness, but we are helpless to fix it for anyone. The truth we hold  can only help expose, but it cannot fix the situation. Similarly, the Ten Commandments and the law of Moses cannot make us righteous…it can only make us knowledgeable of our sin, but the laws will never cure anyone of sin. The cure for sin is only found in the atonement and acceptance of the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. (Matt Henry)

2.) Aaron had not yet known God had a high and purposeful calling on his life for his future, BUT he had seen God use him and work in his life. And as the one in the middle of the struggle, sometimes we don’t know of what God has planned and we lack vision for ourselves and do not seek God with all our hearts which leads to abundant opportunities for temptation. Where there is no vision, the people perish (Prov. 29:18). Aaron could have and should have, – and if he would – have stood firm in what He already knew and experienced of and with God, and fled temptation and sought God with all his heart, he most likely would not have gotten lured or wrapped up in something so far off from what God wanted for him. Not to mention his actions led and encouraged many others to go astray.

So here they are – Moses frustrated and enraged, and Aaron leading a charge against everything he’d just witnessed. What’s a brother to do? We’ll look at their responses and some powerful insight on each brother’s situation in the next post.

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And My Shame is Undone.

January 13th, 2016

I started this week off fully aware of my weaknesses in the current roles God has placed me in and determined to fix.them.once.and.for.ALL. They all boil down to getting my act(s) together. Ever feel like you need to do that? I am totally aware of the fact that many women have a lot more on […]

 

I started this week off fully aware of my weaknesses in the current roles God has placed me in and determined to fix.them.once.and.for.ALL. They all boil down to getting my act(s) together. Ever feel like you need to do that? I am totally aware of the fact that many women have a lot more on their plate than I do, but nevertheless the perfectionist in me is still more than unpleased with being less than excellent in my roles and responsibilities.

  • As a wife, I want to know what I am making for meals ahead of time rather than repeating meals out of lack of time to get creative and standing at my fridge with last minute grocery needs. I want the meals to be delicious and healthy. I want my house cleaning to find a consistent medium rather than spic-and-span to it-looks-like-we-threw-a-party. I want to be amazing at serving my husband since he works so hard selflessly serving me.
  • As a serving hand, I want to be helpful and reliable in any roles I have in ministry and in my role as an FRG co-leader.
  • As a friend I want to do my part to love and connect and fill gaps in communication that are my fault.
  • As a photographer, I want to get back  to focussing on and enjoying my passion photography and serving and blessing my clients.
  • And generally, I want to be ahead of my schedule rather than feeling like I am always running to try and catch up. I need time-management and organizational improvement. That should do it for my 2016 goals if I had any! 😉

I have begun reading about realistic organizing and scheduling for women with important but fluid and flexible and ever changing time blocks of availability. I am beginning this journey to improve these things and was feeling accomplished the night before last when I had succeeded in making meals ahead for much of our busy week. Bryan had liked them, was impressed with the change in my norm, and told me he felt like a king. THAT is how I want to treat my husband and I was so encouraged to love and serve him better like that! But it never fails that, because I am still a work in progress, I will always inevitably rest my head at the end of a busy day seeing things that fell through the cracks. I didn’t message her back. I should have prepared more for this. I should have made time to be there for that. I totally forgot about this…how could I forget?!?!

Yesterday, for just a tiny example, I woke up early to spend time with the Lord and prep everything for my day according to my new to-do list. Bags for lunches, ministry items, items to bring over to friends, ingredients for food for our FRG meeting and a photo collage to show-off our troop activities to encourage family involvement, my purse to pay for things, and makeup to put on on-the-go. I made a trek to our post with everything I had noted I needed to bring so that I wouldn’t have to drive an extra hour home and back for anything. I ushered in all of the items I needed to bring to our chapel’s women’s ministry for the day…and soon realized I totally forgot something essential. One of the roles I volunteered recently for was to photograph events for this ministry, and with another separate responsibility in mind, I completely forgot my camera. Like it didn’t even make it onto that list I was so sure was going to make me fool-proof. I swallowed a healthy dose of humility when I informed our ministry leader and received her sweet extension of grace and understanding for my mishap. Inside though I hated feeling like no matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to avoid screwing something up. I slapped a smile on my face – which stayed there once surrounded by so many fun witty and loving girls in our community. But I couldn’t shake feeling discouraged, disappointed in myself and just aggravated.

It wasn’t until being in the middle of worship at the end of this program that God would prick my heart. Singing a beautiful song, we got to a verse that says:

Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
[in] Your presence, Lord

Y’all. I felt tears just roll on down and struggled to sing the words. The Lord was revealing to me something in my heart I needed to bring to Him. My Shame. I new somewhere along the lines I was believing lies that were resulting into inward shame, and I knew that was not what I as a believer in Christ should be continuing in. But I felt stuck.

There wasn’t a moment of time to myself the rest of the day, so this morning it was still on my heart. I began to search for Biblical wisdom and insight and found a really really well-written extensive article on shame in the heart of people. It defines Shame as:

SHAME: the painful emotion caused by a consciousness of guilt or shortcoming or impropriety.

The part that resonated most with me was that there is well-placed shame (or I like to think of it as conviction and a lack of peace) which is the result of doing something or saying something or believing something that dishonors God, and  there is a shame that is misplaced. I knew nothing in my heart sought to intentionally dishonor God in my current actions, and that none of the things that actually made me ashamed were in themselves dishonoring to God. Thus I was dealing with what I had already presumed that morning prior in worship – that I was believing a lie and experiencing misplaced shame. Shame that I had no business feeling, but that brought about conviction on some things that I did in fact need revealed to me so that I could confess and seek God’s grace and forgiveness and redemption for (so my misplaced shame exposed a root of well-placed shame…something I was not living according to God’s truth thus not honoring Him). The article, along with scripture, hit the nail on the head for me –

“much of what makes us feel shame is not that we have brought dishonor to God by our actions, but that we have failed to give the appearance that other people admire….Much of our shame is not God-centered but self-centered. Until we get a handle on this, we will not be able to battle the problem of shame at its root….So in the very act of wanting to avoid shame as the world sees it, they (talking about the people of Corinth but I might as well replace they with I) fell into the very behavior that God counts shameful.”

With so much of this in mind and a clear identification of where my thinking and heart have ventured off the path of God’s truth, I knew what I needed to bring before the throne. If you are experiencing shame of any kind, I highly recommend reading scripture, checking out this article, and praying about it. This is my prayer (below)…and I share it in case it can be one we pray together if you find yourself in a similar situation!

     Lord, I have bought my accuser – the enemy’s – lies. I have shamed myself wrongly and in doing so I did not see the root of my sin which is the vanity of wanting to please or be acceptable to others, the pride of wanting to be perfect (which is a pointless pursuit), and the selfishness of wanting others to think I have it all together. But what glory does it bring You, Father, if I lose sight of my need for You and my depravity apart from You and without Your grace, strength, and ability to be exalted in my weaknesses? 

     Culture says to cover your weaknesses and put up the best front. To seek success, recognition, comfort and/or power. Your Word says to rather boast about our weaknesses and not in our abilities but in You alone. 

     Thank You Lord for not letting my efforts to appear perfect prevail. Thank You for reminding me of my weaknesses (daily) and need of Your sufficient grace and strength and power, that I may not continue to buy lies or pat myself on the back, but instead look up to You, smile, and Praise Your Sweet, Tender, Mighty, Name. 

     Forgive me, Father, for getting this wrong lately. Lord, redeem me back to where my heart needs to be and help me guard my heart and mind from this continually. Thank You for Your Truth, for revealing it to me in the midst of my struggling with lies and for bringing me back to the path walking in Your Truth. I know my weak areas well Lord. You have allowed me to recognize them plainly and publicly that I might not cover (despite my best efforts) or ignore my need for You to work in me and through them. 

     Help me submit and be obedient to You to work in them each step of the way, and may I keep a humble heart having godly humility, selflessly only looking to You, and seeking to honor and glorify You King Jesus!

In Your Name, Amen. 

“God is the giver, and we are the receivers. His richest gifts are bestowed not upon those who do the greatest things, but upon those who accept His abundance and His grace.”

– Hannah Whitall Smith

 

I believe this needs to be a constant reminder in our lives, and I pray we never settle for living in shame! He has come to redeem us, to bring us abundant life and the richest form of freedom. May we not miss out on what He offers us!

shame undone

 

 

 

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Like Apples of Gold…

December 9th, 2015

Recently I’ve been learning a lot  about how to better love and honor people, and I find myself eager to look for and find praiseworthy things in people among me to build them up or compliment them. I know how it is to be a woman (or just a human being in general), and sometimes […]

 

Recently I’ve been learning a lot  about how to better love and honor people, and I find myself eager to look for and find praiseworthy things in people among me to build them up or compliment them. I know how it is to be a woman (or just a human being in general), and sometimes it means everything to hear some one say a kind word about how you look, the efforts you are making in things in your life, and simply acknowledging and praising the good in who you are. My goal has become to genuinely see the beauty and good in people and, when I look for it, it is always possible to find something to sincerely appreciate and share in an encouraging compliment to brighten their day. Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced what it’s like to be down, and my heart doesn’t want that for anyone.

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I know I am probably not the only one, but sometimes it seems that this life choice to be an encourager can be a lonely one way street.

What God’s been teaching me through it is to find my encouragement in Him alone, and yet to be grateful when He does use someone to brighten my day with a kind word.  Recently I walked into a gathering and was surprised to have multiple people compliment me. I will be the first to tell you that – for me – THIS IS NOT NORMAL. But looking back I will say that I never knew how much I would have needed it. After this gathering, I would soon experience the opposite end of the spectrum and find myself at the end of the day feeling defeated and like a failure. It wasn’t until I talked to my Mom that I burst into tears. But it wasn’t what you would think.

I was indeed sad and discouraged and feeling less than loved or valued, but I didn’t break down to tears until I remembered the unusual and beautifully kind encouragement God had sent my way just before He knew I would face temptation to feel worthless. How extra loving it was to send this gift of encouragement my way, and I was reminded He is always working to teach and shape my heart in the good and the hard. I  am so thankful that, when I need it, His Word never fails to overflow with the lasting encouragement I need. It is my help in filtering out negative or destructive thoughts or assumptions I may make and editing my thoughts to only the truth in His Word about who I am, who He is, and what really matters.

When I worry about what others might criticize about me, I know He knows my heart and I have peace and choose to accept that that is enough. And I am also thankful for those people who loved on me with their thoughts and words when they easily could have kept their thoughts to themselves or chose to pick me apart and identify all my flaws instead of praising the good. My new and true hope in reflecting on my own experiences is that we never hold back a kind word…because we may never know how much that word means or how God may just use it to send some extra love and encouragement to somebody when they need it most.

Unfortunately encouraging words aren’t always received when we can use them, but this is how we learn to go to a faithful and overflowing source of encouragement – God’s Word. When I need a word of lasting encouragement, I am never disappointed to find it in scripture.

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And being the pinterest quote saver I am, here are a few quotes and scriptures about the power of kind words and looking for the good and praiseworthy in others!

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And this brought to mind this song written for people to encourage each other in the Lord. What a favorite!

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Responding to Failure in Relationships

November 23rd, 2015

“When Jesus told the disciples they would soon abandon Him, He was not attacking them or challenging their loyalty. He knew them. He saw the limits of their faith. In compassion, He loved them even in their weaknesses. -(Journey Magazine article October 26, 2014) Even Jesus, with a perfect record of love, joy, peace, patience, […]

 

“When Jesus told the disciples they would soon abandon Him, He was not attacking them or challenging their loyalty. He knew them. He saw the limits of their faith. In compassion, He loved them even in their weaknesses. -(Journey Magazine article October 26, 2014)

Even Jesus, with a perfect record of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control…with a life chock-full of miracles and example of faithfulness and loyalty, even He did not receive 100% loyalty or faithfulness in return by those closest to Him. Was it because He was not worthy of their loyalty or faithfulness? Not at all. No one was, is or will ever be more worthy. But this was not about whether He’d proven Himself worthy. It was about the imperfect wavering hearts of even the most faithful of mankind. Even when we have the best intentions as people, there are always fleshly limits we are facing in need of God’s transforming work.

Jesus knew his beloved disciples and He saw their limitations. And His love did not waver.

Reading this devotion, I think about the standards, the impossible standards, I tend to hold for my husband and even others very close to me. Today, while reading this, I saw my husband and my loved ones through the heart of Peter. Now, before you think Ha! She thinks she is Jesus in this story… believe me – I saw just how short I fall of the description Christ-like when comparing my usual response and perspective to that of Jesus here. Zealous and passionate, Peter fiercely rebutted Christ’s prediction that he would deny Him. Like Peter, one of the virtues I love most about my husband in particular is that he has a very strong sense of loyalty. He would never think himself capable of anything else in his relationships – our marriage in particular. He has stood up in awkward situations time and again chosen strategic personal guidelines guard himself and protect our marriage. But the truth is, like Peter, we are all capable of failure. While Bryan has never detrimentally failed me, I realized that anything less than perfection from him tends to really disappoint me. It seems, at least for me, those closest to us in life will always be those we depend on most, but it will also sting the most when they let you down – even in the tiniest of ways.

In this case I saw how very much I could learn from Jesus in the responder role when in this situation. My A-ha! moment was studying His response after Peter denied Him…and also the outcome of the events. Peter was in this case devastated when he realized he’d failed Jesus. Because he already recognized his failure, Jesus, after the resurrection, chose to approach Peter – not with I told you so’s or How could you!?’s but with a humble and loving presence. I noticed two things here:

  1. Jesus knew his accusations were not needed to fix the situation…or to even the score of the offended. Isn’t it amazing how, when we can see through the eyes of Christ in this passage, we see the frivolousness of our tendencies? When we are denied in a sense or disappointed, what if instead of focussing on making someone understand  just how much we’re hurt or disappointed …we instead recognize that the root of the issue is something entirely different? What if we seek Christ to show us what is really needed rather than honing in on making sure our offended heart is understood or justified? When someone disappoints us, the way we feel is only a symptom, and we need to pray that, instead of our feelings blinding us to only our perspective, that God opens our hearts and eyes to His – the Great Physician’s – perspective so that we can discern how to be obedient let God can treat the root of the problem in the hearts involved rather than us slapping some salve on the symptoms that affect us individually.
  2. When we do our part, we are a more effective vessel for God’s purposes remaining out of the way for God to do His part. We can only do our part. Our job is not God’s job. God’s job is not our job. When we are obedient and stick to our part, God can do His part and those moments and change everything. That dark moment of failure changed Peter.

Peter knew he’d failed. No hurt-filled or harsh words from Jesus were needed. They might have felt good to vent, but they weren’t necessary or productive. In fact, in Peter’s story, accusations or harsh words might have drowned out that dark quiet silence that followed his failure that were so key to transforming Peter deep within his heart. It is through this sting of failure that Peter began to change within from the man whose original name Simon meant “like grass or a like a reed which is flimsy and wavers and is tossed by the wind” to Peter whose name means “Rock” to which Jesus told him “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matt 16:18)

I think again about the sometimes impossible standards I hold for my family – my sweet husband in particular. Today I see a perfect picture of how Jesus – though being the standard of perfection – holds us to a standard of grace. He even told the disciples about their weaknesses and loved them with compassion through their weak points which proved key to changing them from the inside out. I often want my husband in particular to be to me what only Jesus could ever be – unfailing and perfect. Ever been there before? And when he falls short, I either blame myself or blame him viewing it from my limited perspective. This passage is key in refocusing to a better perspective. I am not Jesus. I am imperfect. And I am beyond blessed to have a husband with the godly character, loyalty, love and devotion that he has. But he.is.not.Jesus. And he.is.not.perfect. And when I expect that, he will miss the mark every time. But like Jesus knew his disciples, I need to know my husband and loved ones and pray that God would help me discern my their current limits that I may also receive and heed godly instruction on how to best love them compassionately even in their weaknesses…that they too, like Peter, might develop strength in areas they were once weak in through the love grace and power of Christ. When we are obedient and do our part, instead of attacking or challenging our loved one’s loyalty, we have a powerful opportunity to be a vessel for Christ’s truth, love and grace while trusting God to do His part in His way in His time. And we’d be blessed to have our loved ones hold us to the same standard of grace in return…because – really – we are all like Peter. And we are all capable to let Christ chisel His character into our hearts like never before when we seek Him through our failures.

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Portion Control for the Soul

April 28th, 2015

As you may have recently read in my previous blog, my furry best friend Maya unexpectedly and tragically passed away last week, leaving me totally alone – just God and myself. Those first days that followed, I found that a few of the only moments that spared me from my own tears were a handful […]

 

As you may have recently read in my previous blog, my furry best friend Maya unexpectedly and tragically passed away last week, leaving me totally alone – just God and myself. Those first days that followed, I found that a few of the only moments that spared me from my own tears were a handful of moments when I could hold my hand on my heart and sing softly along to worship music. One song in particular– Healer by Kari Jobe – hit home with me in particular two days after the traumatic loss of my loved little companion.  The phrase that stuck out the most –

I believe You’re my Portion. I believe You’re more than enough for me. Jesus you’re all I need.” And, forgive the temporary disregard for the seriousness of the lyrics, but at that moment – I had to chuckle.

Where do I start? I am infamously known for lack of portion control. When I buy a plate, I buy 42 of them because you never know when you might throw a huge shindig (which has happened 1 time in 8 years by the way, and hand washing them all made me understand that in those times – disposable is better!!) When I eat chocolate, I would really like to eat enough to make me not want anymore, but I have yet to find that this happens!! If there are sauces to choose from, I’d prefer a little of all of them with a meal. My husband tells me I should not need a paper towel to dry hands after hand sanitizer. He drops his jaw when he sees my idea of adequate amounts of toothpaste, lotion, and shampoo. He sometimes even asks which dinner plate is his if I was hungry while cooking. I just always think more is better. It is better than not enough.

So when I lost Maya, it is only natural that I searched for as much comfort as I could find. MORE IS BETTER. But I did not exactly have the luxury with Bryan gone and family and friends physically in a separate country. Two days later, I heard this phrase and began thinking about it. He is my Portion.  I began looking up verses talking about God as our Portion. The one that stuck out to me happened to be in Lamentations 3. Lamentations – how appropriate. As I read it in context, it was extremely odd for what I was hoping for (I mean just read chapter 3…).  However, as I began to read more on the chapter, the verses 24-29 in particular and commentary were unbelievably perfect relating to what I was experiencing in my life.  Maybe you will find it fitting for times in your life too –

“The LORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, the soul who seeks Him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him;

let him put his mouth in the dust – there may yet be hope.” (Lamentations 3:24-29)

Though this wasn’t really warm or fuzzy (especially at first) to read…the more I read about this passage the more I knew its importance –

  1. God is our portion and promises He is more than enough for us. I knew this in my head and have said it with my mouth, but I needed my soul to know it… and how could I come to know this in my soul except through experiencing in a situation where He was, in fact, all I had so I might personally find Him to be all I need?
  2. The yoke is believed to refer to the suggestion that it is good for a youth to be yoked to faith early in life and to experience affliction and waiting on God our affliction… and further – it is good that we are quiet and go to God to sort out our distrustful thoughts when afflicted. Unfortunately, I can’t report that quiet was my initial response. From the moment I screamed as I plopped down beside my car at the vet, to the moment I made it onto post to begin processing what had just happened, I cannot say quiet was the appropriate word. But quietness had its place and necessary effect as I was – as I said – all alone. I had initially wanted to run and scream my heartbreaking news to my closest loved ones. While I wanted to talk to somebody, God knew that only in quietness and coming to Him could I begin to receive the help I needed. The Lord knew I’d had plenty of healthy and unhealthy emotions and thoughts to sort out. In God’s kindness, Bryan did call but we only had a brief moment, but I felt like I needed so much more. But I am almost certain that God specifically directed every phone call I initially made to go to voicemail so I could come to Him first. By the time I spoke to anyone, I believe God was able to have demanded my attention first and thus had already begun working as my comforter and present help.
  3. The verse goes on to say that it is good to wait on God and seek Him with our souls essentially bowing down to the dust in our sorrow. The commentary suggests that this is also when – if necessary – it is beneficial and important to begin recognizing sin, receiving forgiveness, mercy, strength, and correction from God. It is peculiar, but over the course of time spent seeking God in the midst of this hard time in my life, this event has caused plenty of time to reflect and I have not only been able to sort out distrustful thoughts with God regarding my grief for losing Maya, but I’ve also experienced a heightened awareness of totally unrelated sin I have needed to confess and accept grace for even from years ago. It is a mystery to me how this situation brought other things to mind, but I believe God works in a broken person to rebuild and restore whatever He can if a person is willing to let Him.
  4. This same commentary by Matthew Henry said that this yoke is part of being weaned from the world. I believe God wants to change the habits of his children. Instead of running to the people I have always gone to first, God wants to be my Portion. Instead of spewing my emotionally healthy and unhealthy thoughts all at one or a few poor souls trying to help me sort my wholesome and harmful emotions and thoughts out and bear the weight of trying to encourage me solo, He wants to sort them and help me see straight again when I have been knocked dizzy by life’s most difficult moments. People and comforts here on Earth can be so sweet. I cannot begin to explain to you the overwhelming blessing I have in my husband and parents-in-law in particular who have not hesitated to shower empathy and the most treasured forms of love and encouragement on me because they know the heartbreak of even deeper loss of Bryan’s precious sister. Family and friends that ache, mourn and cry with you and speak encouragement and prayers for you are priceless! But even so, no matter how much comfort we seek, earthly comfort will always pale in comparison to the compassion of God. He can comfort us when we are betrayed because Jesus knew how it was when Judas betrayed him. He can comfort us when we feel deserted or alone because he remembers well his heart when the disciples deserted him in fear. He can comfort us when we are brought harm because Christ has been there and done that too. And He is the all-time most wonderful comforter when we suffer loss because God remembers the sacrifice of His own beloved Son. Where is He when bad things happen? On His throne hoping desperately that we’ll come to Him so He can cover us with the compassion He has from His own understanding and to heal us and shape us to the image of Christ. Weaning from the world is His want for us because a part of maturing includes becoming less dependent on people and more dependent on the loving and more than capable God who gives perfect comfort, lasting restoration and love to rebuild us if we’d just run to him.
  5. Then there is the part where it says “there may yet be hope.” Perhaps the most wonderful notation in that commentary to me was what I am experiencing at the moment…it says “Those who are truly humbled for sin will be glad to obtain a good hope, through grace, upon any terms, though they put their mouth in the dust for it…” This is where He’s brought me. Though I have had such sorrow for this little but precious loss in my life…whatever the cost, I remain grateful that God is using such a hurt in my life for correction, restoration, and weaning in my heart. I praise Him for the gift of my precious dog to our family, and I praise Him that even when He had to take her – He did not have her die in vain, but He has continued to use that sweet little dog for shaping my heart. In life she filled me with joy; in death that sweet little dog so earned my broken heart and buckets of tears that He is able to teach me still through the grief of losing her.

What a hard but important life lesson in faith. As I find myself figuratively wiping the dust off my lips, I am filled with wonder and thanks to the mercies, compassion and correction from a loving Father to never let my brokenness be wasted if we’d seek Him through it. I haven’t always sought Him (especially in difficult times), but I am assured now more than ever of the power He is capable of showing through our weaknesses. My Portion. Your Portion. Wait For Him. May your soul seek Him.  May you find Him to be as He promises – more than enough – and may you find yourself glad that you searched and waited even if you have had to put your mouth to the dust from time to time.

breaker

Dealing with Lies : Progress Not Perfection

February 2nd, 2015

Saturday’s post was about how Satan often takes what you desire most and promises to fulfill it if you reject God and ignore His word and set out to fulfill your desires on your own rather than in a way that aligns with God’s Word. In yesterday’s post, we talked about 4 ways we often […]

 

Saturday’s post was about how Satan often takes what you desire most and promises to fulfill it if you reject God and ignore His word and set out to fulfill your desires on your own rather than in a way that aligns with God’s Word. In yesterday’s post, we talked about 4 ways we often cooperate and take the bait – giving those lies power and effectiveness. When we are caught up in a whirlwind lifestyle of believing and living accordingly to lies and we come to recognize our destructive thinking and bad or sinful habits, we can often feel guilty and shameful. But, as Beth Moore explains God’s intent in her book Breaking Free, He never sheds light on our weaknesses or shortcomings for the sake of condemnation (Romans 8:1). God makes us aware of hindrances so He can set us free!” Knowing the right way to discern the mixed feelings that accompany recognition  of these weaknesses/shortcomings is so important. You will be faced with both more of Satan’s lies and God’s truth.

As Beth Moore put it in So Long Insecurity, “The enemy of our souls has more to gain by our setbacks than by our succumbing to an initial assault. An initial assault catches us by surprise…setbacks, on the other hand, just make us feel weak and stupid. I should have conquered this by now. They steal our hope and make us want to quit…we will never be so secure that we will never be shaken…in order to grow and move forward with God something has to happen to make me want to leave where I am. Even when you are frustrated with moving 3 steps forward and 2 steps back – isn’t that still 1 step forward? Some pretty big progress as we run against the hurricane winds of a godless culture? “

The key is to focus on Progress, not Perfection. 

It is very important when recognizing you’ve believed a lie and messed up to learn to recognize Jesus’s voice by knowing His character (through studying it in His word) so that you can sort His voice from that of the accuser (aka Satan) so that Satan will not have a second victory. This is just one more way Satan will try to block out God’s voice and healing truth and try to kick you while you are already down. Satan’s lies are always condemning, questioning, and confusing – He is our accuser. His accusations lead to shame. But Jesus’s conviction will be loving and specific. He will reveal a sinful action or attitude and show us what to do to right our wrong. This is what leads us to life-changing repentance.

Take for example the adulterous woman in the John 8:1-11 (Oh I love this story!).

She was found, “caught in the act of adultery”. Imagine that humiliation. The men around wanted to stone her. They humiliated her and were full of accusations, condemnation, and shame-inflicting intentions towards her. Jesus steps in says “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”  Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (As some suggest,  I’d like to think He wrote the 10 commandments, so that it was apparent to all of them that not one of them was righteous.) 9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

LOVING, SPECIFIC CONVICTION WITH CLEAR DIRECTION. 

That is the God of the Bible. That is our God. :)

 

While full of mercy and forgiveness, don’t be mistaken – Jesus didn’t beat around the bush telling her to knock it off. So whatever God convicts your heart on, I would knock it off! But the forgiveness of those who seek God’s mercy is a life-changing forgiveness and small step in breaking free and changing your destiny. There are always consequences that accompany poor choices, but I encourage you that if you have recognized an area like this in your life, God is wanting to do a mighty thing in your heart. His love for you and desire for you to come to Him never wavered regardless of any choices you have made. So be strong and patient. Take responsibility and endure whatever consequences come, because by seeking Him and His mercy and forgiveness with a repentant heart, you will see how God can truly work all things for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28). One of the most impactful scriptures that show how to cling to God in the midst of a personal failure is –

Micah 7:7-9

7 As for me, I look to the Lord for help.
I wait confidently for God to save me,
and my God will certainly hear me.
8 Do not gloat over me, my enemies!
For though I fall, I will rise again.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.
9 I will be patient as the Lord punishes me,
for I have sinned against him.
But after that, he will take up my case
and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies.
The Lord will bring me into the light,
and I will see his righteousness.

(I have no clue where they’re from, but these quotes are in my journal and I love them)-

“Guilt leads us to performance, but conviction leads us to repentance (a changed heart and mind).”

“Guilt is a ball and chain, but conviction is a gift that keeps us close to Him when Satan tries to use our feelings of guilt and shame to distance us from God.”

“But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.” Hebrews 10:39

“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,” Ephesians 6:14

I want to encourage you to keep seeking truth and Jesus.

“Keep asking,[a] and it will be given to you. Keep searching,[b] and you will find. Keep knocking,[c] and the door[d] will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door[e] will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

I Love this song below and the reminder it is that He has new Mercy for us every day! :)


****This material is from my notes, quotes and paraphrasing of the Bible and the books I love on the Resource Page…primarily Lies Young Women Believe for this blog series.****