Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Getting The Victory By Giving Thanks

I’m writing this week on Monday morning.  Today was one of those days when you want a rewind of the last seven hours when the alarm rings in the hope that next time it goes off you’ll actually be ready to face the day, instead of wanting to hide under your pillow.  As I moved through my morning routine of getting kids up and out the door to school, collecting laundry, and making myself get ready to go the gym, I stayed busy enough not to notice the heaviness.  But when I pulled out of the driveway and joined the rush of traffic out of the neighborhood and onto the freeway, it became almost overwhelming.  Thankfully, just as the enemy was pouring a wave of discouragement over my head, the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart.  I remembered the thank offering verse He showed me last week.
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.  Psalm 50:23 (NIV)

I knew this was battle time, just as clearly as if I had heard the bell that rings to sound the beginning of a boxing round.  I began to sing to the Lord, just making it up as I went.  (This is a wonderful benefit to being in the car alone!)  I told Him how I felt and then I began to thank Him for things anyway.  It was singing in the face of discouragement and sadness and somehow I know it was powerful.  I sang some more and it morphed into a prayer time for friends who are going through very hard things.  By the time I reached the gym, I was refreshed and encouraged.  My heart was back in alignment with the One Who is in control and my soul had been reminded that He is good no matter what.  This is what incarnational life looks like:  Jesus’ Spirit speaking to and empowering us and enabling us to draw on His strength to get through the day.

I want you to know something.  Every life lived in pursuit of relationship with our Abba Father through His Son Jesus is important.  Not one is more valuable than another.  The Kingdom of God is not a contest or a tournament where we try to outdo one another’s exploits and compete to win our Lord’s favor.  We have His favor because we wear the robe of righteousness bought for us by the blood of Jesus.  He delights in each and every one of us as individuals.  I write because He’s put it in my heart to do it, but my life with Jesus isn’t any more than yours because of it.  Now more than ever, I believe we need to live for the audience of One, knowing that His eyes are smiling at us with compassion and encouragement, just like a proud parent watching a beloved child take on any challenge whether it is their first steps or their first wrestling match or recital.  We need to face each day knowing our Abba is rooting for us, Jesus is praying for us, and the Holy Spirit is as close as our next breath to give us grace to get through each moment. 

Hallelujah!  Praise His Name!    

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hearing God Through His Word

This week I’ve been reviving a practice my dad taught me; reading the Psalms and Proverbs that correspond with the date.  So on Monday I read Proverbs chapter 19 and I began reading the Psalms at 19 and continued reading by adding 30 each time – 49, 79, 109, and 139.  It’s always interesting to see what treasures I’ll find.  Yesterday, I came across a verse that really blessed me. 
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.  Psalm 50:23
Isn’t that an amazing verse?  When we focus our hearts on all that our Abba Father has done for us, it creates a highway for His saving grace to flow toward us.  Wahoo!  That’s pretty cool.
Then there are those other verses that pop out because they are charged with conviction.  I had one of those yesterday, too.

You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son.  Ps. 50:20
How easy it is to pass judgment on those around me – almost as if I thought this were my job.  Nope.  Jesus talked about the harvest fields being white and He talked about sowing seed on good ground, but He never said anything about appointing me as a fruit inspector for His Body.  James 4:11-12 covers this pretty thoroughly. 
Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Busted!  I hadn’t even really realized how much I’d been doing this until I saw the Word telling me not to and then I knew.  That feeling of conviction from the Holy Spirit is pretty unmistakable.  The great thing is that with it comes grace to repent and ask forgiveness. 
As always time in the Word of God is time well spent.  I believe our Abba Father can speak to us in so many ways, but spending time in His Word is definitely one of the best. 
Abba Father, please give us hearts to listen for Your voice, and hunger for Your Word.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Storm Season

I have a love/hate relationship with springtime in Texas.  I love to see the fresh green leaves coming out on the trees and all the beautiful flowers blossoming in every direction, but I hate fighting the symptoms of seasonal allergies my children endure.  I also really hate the fact that it is storm season.  I love a good storm.  Thunder and lightning don’t bother me a bit.  It is the tornado warnings and watches – never can keep the difference between the two straight – that cause my anxiety to rise.  Last night, I was musing over this problem and I realized that the terrifying thing about tornadoes is that I can’t control them.  I have no way to guarantee the safety of my family if one hits.  We are completely in the hands of God.  Of course, when I actually had that thought I saw the foolishness of my isolated fear.  After all, whether I realize it or not, we are completely in the hands of God every single moment of our lives.  This is at once a wonderful and terrible thought:  wonderful if you believe He has your complete best interest in mind; terrible if you like to imagine that you have some control over your life.  At any given moment, a crisis of any kind can whirl into our lives and reveal the fact that we are completely at the mercy of our Creator.  Again, the nature of our relationship with Him will determine how we feel about embracing this idea.  I have to admit, as much as I love the Lord and see Him as my loving Heavenly Father, I also really love the idea of having a storm cellar where I can go and be safe from whatever happens.  Ideally this would be a charming, comfortable space stocked with everything my family could possibly need to survive any type of calamity.  It would be so easy to put my trust in a place like that.  Maybe that is why the Lord hasn’t seen fit to get my husband on board with building one!  What I hear the Lord saying today is that He wants to be my storm cellar, my hiding place in time of trouble.  He wants me to trust Him with the ones I love and believe that He will bring us through whatever crisis may befall us.  Security will not be found in a list of 47 essential items.  Any supply we may put our trust in is subject to destruction or theft.  In the end, all we have for sure is our hope in the Lord.  We have to believe that He is all we need.  Dear sisters, I don’t know what high winds are blowing in your life this morning, but I do know how scary it is.  I’ve wept as I’ve written today and I’m not sure if it is my flesh, my spirit or both.  I only know it is hard to say, “Yes, Lord, I trust You – with everything,” but I believe with all my heart that it is the only way to survive, thrive, and walk in the joy and peace our Abba Father means for us to have. 
In His unshakeable love,


For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.  Psalm 32:7  New Living Translation