Direction


 
As a Christian, we acknowledge Christ as our Savior; and it is for Him we want to live and love.

We often think we need to have everything right in order for Him to accept us. And we think that when we mess up, He’s shaking His head, or turning His back on us in disappointment. If we only truly understood what His love entails. He loves us, regardless of our sins, despite our failures, maybe even because of our imperfections, period. You see, He knows we’re not perfect. He knew that before we were born, and yet He made us. (Psalm 139:16, Jeremiah 1:5) He knows we will fail (Romans 3:10); but it’s because we try that keeps Him with us. He knows our sins are great; but it is His love that is greater. And it is because of that love that He continues down our path with us. The path He designed for us, each valley and peak; each clear paved and rocky road... The path He chooses for us, to go with Him, yet He goes before us, and He is always beside us, holding our right hand (Deuteronomy 31:8, Psalm 139:10, Isaiah 41:13). And sometimes He carries us (Deuteronomy 1:31, Isaiah 46:4) because we just can’t seem to take another step (whether out of exhaustion, fear, illness, doubt…)—He’s there; always.

And if we knew that, truly understood that partnership, then we wouldn’t ever doubt His way; His will for us. We wouldn’t question Him when He tells us to go left instead of right. We wouldn’t question when He tells us to walk instead of swim. We wouldn’t question when He tells us to let go instead of holding on tight. He knows what His plan is for us (Jeremiah 29:11). Why do we insist on thinking we know better? Or, that He should share any part of it with us? It’s a trust that we must learn to accept. As a child trusts his parents to provide and care for him, we must trust our Father to provide and care for us. The only difference is our Father is perfect (Psalm 18:30) (and let’s face, while all parents strive for perfection, none ever succeed), so we can trust that He’s never going to steer us wrong.

So again, why can’t we trust Him? Why do we think that to do what His will is for us, we need to know what it is first? Obviously, we need some instructions; we can’t fly by the seat of our pants the whole time (though, sometimes, that flying is pure trusting). God does tell us His plan; in increments. He whispers a direction in the wind. He shows us confirmation in a song, or a verse, or through a friend. He leaves us hints to follow—only we’re too oblivious to notice them most of the time. He drops bread crumbs, but we’re too busy looking around. He writes it in the sky, yet we never look up. He puts it on paper, but we never open the Book. He places it in our hearts, but we won’t tear down the wall.

He speaks so clearly to us at times, but we can’t hear over the noise of the world. We ask Him for direction, but don’t stop long enough to wait for Him to answer. We’re so busy expecting Him to be at our beckon call that we’re not at His. And it is His call. It is His Will be done, not our own. (Matthew 6:10, Matthew 26:39)

Maybe the next time we call out to Him for guidance, we should stop and wait for His direction. Because He has a direction for us (Psalms 32:8); He never leaves us lost. He never leaves us alone. He is with us, always. (Deuteronomy 31:6) And He loves us unconditionally. (Romans 5:8)

The Real Question...


God love you....just the way you are.  It's true.  He loves you when you hit snooze on your alarm clock rather than get out of bed and spend that time with Him.  He loves you when you choose to tell that "little white" lie rather than face the consequences of your actions.  He loves you when react in anger to a loved one, or turn a blind eye to the person on the side of the road that has obviously had better days.  He truly does love you in spite of all you do.  (Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:10, 1 John 4:19, Lamentations 3:22-23)

The real questions, is do you love Him?  Think about it, when you love someone you are eager to show them you love them by adjusting your life to make them happy.  You cook a special meal, you watch sports that you don't really like, you change your schedule, your life to make them feel special.  And then there is God.  He will understand that you broke your date to chat with Him....again.  You can apologize later for the lie and He will let it go because it kept you out of a little hot water and after all, He loves ya.....right?  See a problem here?

Yes, God absolutely, whole-heartedly loves you so much that He sacrificed everything  for you.  But remember, we were created in His image.  You know that feeling you get when the person you love gets wrapped up in something other than you and forgets to call?  Or when you and your best friend get in a fight?  Now remember we were created in His image....He gets those feelings too when we hurt Him.  And it does hurt Him.  (Psalm 95:10, Genesis 6:5-6)

All those "rules" you think we are supposed to be following because God said so, aren't really rules so much.  Think of them more as an inside scoop on what makes your beloved happy.  If you were dating someone and came across a letter that told you exactly what made him or her happy and what didn't, wouldn't you do your best to adjust your actions based upon that letter?  Especially when you had already been shown how madly that person is in love with you?  THAT my friend is what the Bible is all about.

Open yours to just about any page and you will find a revelation of God.  What He likes, what He doesn't.  Take the time to deepen your relationship with Him, to love Him back.  Make Him a priority  in your life (for the first time, for the 100th time-it doesn't matter!).  He longs for you to reciprocate His love.  When we view our relationship with Him as just that, a relationship, it becomes much easier to choose to do the right thing.

Faith and Trust


Where do you stand with God when it comes to faith and trust? It’s easy to say you have faith and that you trust God, but it’s entirely different to actually believe and act.

We have faith that God has a plan and a will for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) We trust that He’s working in and through us (Philippians 2:13) — until things get a little tough. Then it’s out the window. We second-guess His plan, His direction, and His love. But what we should really be second-guessing is ourselves. Because let’s face it, if we can’t keep our faith and trust Him in whatever He has us do and puts us through- we are nothing.

We have our own plans and ideas of what we want. And when God intercedes and changes, even destroys those plans, we want to throw in the towel. We easily give up on our faith, lose our trust and question Him. But who are we to question the all-knowing God? Do we think that our way is better? Or maybe we think that if He’d just tell us what His plan is, show us the blueprint, we’d be able to trust Him more; our faith wouldn’t falter… Really? How is it faith, when we ‘know’? How is it trust when it’s all spelled out?

Imagine if God did tell you every detail of His plan; if He showed you the entire path, instead of just the next step. (Psalm 119:105) If you saw every valley and steep mountain climb- would you continue on the path? Would you trust that He will keep you safe and give you the strength to move forward? Or would you stop short, and start backing up to what you know is ‘safe’? Or maybe even, if you saw it all laid out- would you think you even needed to rely on God? Would you think that you can do it, so why even need Him with you?

“What if you knew more than you did? What if you could give an answer to the whys of your heart? What if you didn’t have to struggle with weakness, with inadequacy, on your own? Can you imagine where that would lead you? Do you trust how I protect your heart? I protect you, and I push you on, too. I lead you, but it is your choice whether or not to follow. I give you vision, just enough, to see where I am and know where I go, with you. One foot in front of the other. Why do you need to know more? Do you? Do you need to know more to believe Me more? Do you need to see more to know I am here, whispering to you, loving you, guiding you?” (Jennifer Camp, Loop)

The question is do you trust Him? (Hebrews 11:1) All of Him—His plan, His will, His love? The reality is He won’t give us something we can’t handle with Him. (Acts 13:28, 1 Corinthians 10:12-13) And all He wants is to be with us; always. He wants us to rely fully upon Him. To have faith that His will is better than our own. To trust that He has a way. To understand that we are His children, and He loves us more than we can ever understand. So, do you trust Him?

Taming the Tongue

I was reading a devotion with my youngest daughter this morning.  Some days it feels like my biggest lessons come from these and I tend to have more "ah-ha" moments than she does!  Today was more a gentle reminder though.

In the devotion a young boy was working on a science project about sound waves.  He had read a book in which scientist believe that every word that has ever been spoken is kind of floating around in space and that one day it might be possible to hear them again.  Uh-oh!  There are LOTS of words that I have said that I pray no one ever hears again, including me.  Those grumbles I have let slip under my breath.  A lot of my speech before I came to know Jesus, and admittedly some afterwards.

Our words are powerful.  God used words to bring most of what we see today into creation.  Proverbs 18:21 tells us that words have the power of life and death.  They can turn away wrath or incite anger (Proverb 15:1). Our words can bring pain or healing (Proverbs 12:18).  Do a Bible word search on words and you will see that God devotes a lot of verses to what we speak.  And He promises that one day we will have to give an accounting of all of them (Matthew 12:36).

But it really isn't so much that you said some unkind words.  Our words are simply an outward reflection of our heart (Luke 6:45, Matthew 15:18), and that is what God is truly after.  James tells us that you can say you worship God all you want to, but if the words you are speaking are not a reflection of that, then you are simply deceiving yourself (James 1:26).  If you are deceiving yourself, you aren't really, wholeheartedly committed to God are you?

Now, don't think I am telling you that you are doomed.  Fortunately we live in a time of grace.  God understands that we aren't always going to get it right all of the time, he isn't looking at what you do as much as He is looking at your heart.  Are you truly and honestly trying to bridle your tongue and speak words that are encouraging, helpful, full of grace?  Are you allowing the Spirit to convict you when they aren't and as a result repenting?  Then you aren't deceiving yourself, you are learning.  God gives us the guidelines so that we would understand not only what sin is, but how it hurts others.  Jesus died and paid the price for every unkind word or deed we have ever or will ever say or do.  The act of bridling our tongue is an act of obedience, but more so, it is an act of love.  And considering how he demonstrated His love for us, it is such a small thing in comparison.

The Light Giver


 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. ~John 1:9-12 NLT
I have to admit, it is really hard for me to grasp that God, who created billions of universes, paid attention to teeny tiny details of His creation, and for whom nothing is impossible, sent His Son down here to yet again give us a chance to be with Him.  And He did it knowing we would not only reject Him, but kill his human form in a horrible way.  I just can't grasp that kind of love.

I love my children with all my heart, but I would never send one to be tortured to save another, and yet that is what God has done....

for you.....

for me.  Let that soak in.   This wasn't something He did for your neighbor, or just for the ones who were trying to get it all right.  Jesus came for the drug addict, the pornographer, the liar, the thief, the mom who just wants to get away from her children, the father who abandoned his children, the murderer....He came for ALL of us.  That includes you and me despite the things we have done or are doing that are detestable to God.

You see, God isn't looking at us with condemnation in his eyes, but sorrow.  He knows the person we were created to be, He created us.  He knows what we are capable of if we weren't burdened down by all of the bad choices we had made.  That is the person He sees when He looks at us, and that is the person He wants to restore us to.  That is why He sent Jesus, and why Jesus accepted His fate knowing how difficult it would be.  Take a moment and read His words in Luke 22:38-39:
Then he (Jesus) said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 
 You see, not only did Jesus accept His fate, He loved us enough to follow through.  Read that again...He loved us enough to follow through.  Jesus died for you to be able to enter into a relationship with His Father and not only that, but to be able to stand before God pure and clean.  Jesus paid the price for every sin you ever thought or committed as well as those in the future.  And yet we go about our day and try to squeeze Him into our life....if we have time.....if we remember.....

Take a moment today and give Him the time.  Not because He has earned it, which He totally has, but because of who He is...because of how much He loves....because He deserves our all.

Reflection

 
At some point in your life, you will have looked back at a situation you were in and second-guessed whether you handled it correctly or not. And while reflection and retrospect are good to help you see your errors, or reaffirm your decisions were justly made, it can be dangerous when you start reliving the past; thinking you could’ve done it better, said something differently, or completely altered the outcome. We don’t live in the past. We live in the present, looking forward to the future. Yes, our past helps form who we are, and will be, but it is what it is- in the past.
And at some point in your Christian walk, you will hit a point of trials and tribulations that will have you searching for answers, seeking clarification on a situation, and second-guessing whether it (Christianity) is worth it or not. We’ve all been there. We have this delusion that once we give our life to Christ, it’s smooth sailing from there on out (maybe we think that by making this decision, He owes us…) (that may be a separate message in itself). But the Bible clearly tells us that we will face trials. (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, John 16:33) Christ was persecuted, and as Christians we need to expect and accept the probability of persecution as well. (Matthew 5:13, John 15:18, 2 Timothy 3:12, 1 Peter 3:17, 1 Peter 4:19, 1 John 3:13…)
While it’s human nature to second-guess words we spoke, or a decision we made, or how we handled a particular situation; we should not continuously return to our past. Yes, we’ve made mistakes. Yes, we will have to live with the repercussions of those mistakes. No, we don’t have to let those mistakes define us. Christ defines us, nothing less.
If we continue to look back at our past- the good, the bad and the ugly (and admit it, we’ve all got some ugly behind us), we’re losing sight on what the future holds for us. God tells us not to dwell on the past, (Isaiah 43:18-19, Ecclesiastes 7:10, 1 Corinthians 5:17) to look to the future (Proverbs 4:25Philippians 3:13-14, Hebrews 12:1) Remember Lot’s wife? (Genesis 19:26) When Lot’s family was leaving Sodom, the angels told them to run for their lives and not to look back. (Genesis 19:17) Except she did- and *poof* she turned to a pillar of salt. It sounds trite, but it was a simple disobedient act that destroyed her. Clinging to her past, she was unable to completely run towards God. (Matthew 6:24) (Luke 17:33) Clinging to our past, relishing the sin we don’t want to completely give up, reliving the moments that brought us earthly pleasure (but made our Father weep) is behaving like her- and will also destroy us.
We must continue to pursue our eternal destiny with our Father. Let go of the past, and look to the future. Again, the past is what it is: the past. We can’t change it, and we can’t erase it, and we can’t stay there. It’s the present and future where our lives begin; where we live. Perhaps we fear what is ahead of us, so we continue to look behind us. Perhaps it is the fear of the unknown that we rely on the previously known. Perhaps it is the lack of trust that Jesus is who He said He Is. Whatever our doubts, our second-guessing, we have to move forward. So from here on out- trust Jesus. No more looking back; look up. (Luke 21:28)

Perspective

Perspective is a funny thing, it can cause two identical things to look completely different. For example, in the picture above, do you see a woman's face, or man playing a saxophone?  Same picture - different perspectives.  I am expecting my first grandchild in about three weeks. For me and my daughter, it is going to be a mighty long three weeks. But for a momma who was just told that there is nothing more the doctors can do and her child only has about three weeks left on this earth, three weeks isn't nearly enough time. It's the same three weeks, but the perspective is different.

Paul encourages us to look at this life from a different perspective from the world. For those who don't know or understand the promise of eternal life with our Father, life on this earth is all there is. As a result, when hardships come they have nothing to look forward to, no promise of joy. (Romans 14:17, Psalm 71:23) It is hard to persevere when you can't see the silver lining. We, however, know how the story ends, our team wins. With that perspective, how can we possibly let the things on this world get us down for very long?

Don't get me wrong, I have my moments where I forget the ending and get lost in the conflict. Moments where I wonder how I'll get through, or if the battle is worth it. But then I look up, and not just up from my situation, but up to my Father who reminds me that there is a bigger picture. He helps me to regain my perspective on the situation.

You see, so often I catch myself living this life like the momma who is told she only has a few weeks left with her child, when in reality I should be living like the one expecting the new life, because that is the promise that we have. Yes, we will have to say goodbye to this one, just as the expectant mom must say goodbye to her previous life. But what awaits her is a love like she has never known before, a life better than she ever could have imagined. And that is what awaits us also.

So when things get you down, when the world and your situation just doesn't make sense, remember your perspective. Look up and be reminded that we win in the end!

Eternal Hope


Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11 coupled together give me the greatest sense of Hope in this world and beyond. That God uses all things for His Good; for His Plan in my life. (obviously I’ve paraphrased) But this is the synopsis that I come up with- (incidentally two of my favorite verses) - they fill me with Hope; they bring forth a Peace, reassuring me that no matter what, everything will be okay. Reminds me of the John Lennon quote: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.”


How true is that? While we will have many trials—problems, misunderstandings, heartache, pain on this earth- (John 16:33) — it doesn’t end there. (Praise the Lord!) The truth about those trials is that they are all a part of His Plan. He uses each stumble, scrape and tear for His Good (and honestly, for ours). He doesn’t allow anything we go through to be wasted. That’s where I draw my greatest Hope from. Because how lonely and hurtful would it be to think that we suffer a situation for nothing? How reassuring and comforting is it to know that He uses each tear we shed to build us and His Kingdom up?

We may never know why He allows us pain, but we know He has a reason for it. This world has nothing of true comfort or love to offer us; if even temporarily. Though, even while we think that the anguish we are going through will never end, it is temporary- and a greater pleasure will follow in Heaven for eternity. None of the pain here, can compare to the joy there. (Romans 8:18) ‘Believe’ what John Lennon said- because “Everything will be okay in the end.” (the end being eternity) “If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” I’d love to tell you that we will be justified here for our trials, but that just isn’t promised. Christ suffered the most horrific, excruciating, undeserved death (something most of us will never come close to experiencing) - and He wasn’t justified on this earth. (think of the millions of people in this world that don’t recognize Him, His suffering, or accept His Love (let alone those that don’t believe He even existed!)) So if Christ wasn’t accepted, vindicated and rewarded for His pain (here), why do we think we should be? We are nothing compared to Christ. (And we are nothing without Him) However, we are promised the reward of Heaven- to be with Jesus (John 14:2-3) for eternity; a place where there is no pain, only love. (Revelation 21:4) And if for nothing else, isn’t that the greatest Hope of all? Colossians 1:5