Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh How We Need Jesus

Lately I have really been seeing my need of Jesus. So often I try to be my own Savior or even someone else's. I look to do things in my own strength. I try to fight sin in my own strength, make right choices in my own strength, love others and my family in my own strength. And every time every effort in my own strength falls flat. This is because I desperately need Jesus....ALWAYS. And really, I am thankful for all these things that show me that I am a great sinner in need of a GREAT Savior. This is part of a prayer in Valley of Vision and I think it says what I feel quite nicely, "O let me never lose sight of my need of a Saviour, or forget that apart from him I am nothing, and can do nothing." Yes, I am desperate and needy. And that is a really good place to be. I NEED the help of the Holy Spirit. I NEED to remember that I am adopted as a child of the One True God not by any goodness in me but because God is rich in mercy and loved me when I was his enemy. I NEED to remember Jesus, Emanuel--God with us, who came, loved, lived, died, and rose again so that I may have life to the fullest IN HIM. I NEED to daily remember the Gospel.
The Word of God is rich and penetrating, sharper than any two edged sword. It is the weapon I hold that transforms my heart and instructs me in the way I am to walk. This excerpt from Daily Light was really helpful to my heart. I will leave with it.
October 31
"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the LORD of hosts."

Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel?---God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

"The wind blows where is wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."---Born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."

"My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not." ---The battle is not yours but God's."---"The LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORDS's."

ZECH. 4:6. ISA 40:13. 1 COR. 1:27-29. JOHN 3:8. JOHN 1:13 HAG. 2:5 2 CHORN. 20:15 1 SAM. 17:47

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Faith Not Feelings

July 24. That is a date that I will never forget. That is the date when our dear friends unexpectedly lost their 15 month old daughter. She was my daughter's best friend. Dreams were shattered that day. My faith was rocked. Life looks different now and is lived differently. This is the case for all who loved this precious little girl and her family. She left an imprint on all of our lives. Thankfully, for those who love Jesus, that imprint points us to our Savior.

But, what does faith look like now? How do you deal with the pain of this tremdous loss? How do you fight against fear...fear of death, fear of pain, fear of losing those you love? Fear of having to realize that life is hard and will be hard until we enter into etenity and and are able to see our Great God and Savior and know that all has been made right. What do you do when you know so much in your head, but it does not seem to affect your heart. What do you do when you feel your own pain and know that it does not even begin to touch the pain of two friends that you love tremdously. What does faith look like now?

Well, in so many ways, I still have no idea. I think sometimes you don't know from day to day because every day is different and can bring different feelings, different thoughts, and different emotions. There is not this prescription to make everything all better. And, in so many ways, it will never really be "all better" because "all better" will not happen in this life. But, there is one thing that has been resonating with me lately, and that is this: Faith is not built on feelings, and truth doesn't change just because I don't feel like it is true. The fact that God had wonderfully ordained each day of this sweet little one's life to accomplish His purposes is still true. The fact that these purposes are good and right and best is still true. The fact that God's glory should be what we long for most is still true...the prophet Isaiah tells us that God's glory and renoun should be the desire of our hearts. This doesn't change just because I don't understand His ways or wish that He had chosen a different way...a way that would have kept this little girl with us in this life. The fact that Jesus is enough for us, that He was a man of suffereing and intimately knows our pain, that He is sitting on the right hand of the Father interceeding for us, that He is trustworthy and is working all things for our good because He loves us----all these things don't change because I don't FEEL they are true. We serve a POWERFUL GOD. And whether I believe it and feel it or not---His ways are BEST.

So, what do I do now? I cling to truth and preach it to my heart. I chose to do things that are hard even when I don't feel like it. I pray the Word for myself and for my friends. I choose to see God working in all of this. I choose to believe that He IS working this for the good of my friends that I love dearly. I have to choose to cling to truth because my feelings and my thoughts will tell me differently, and I know that the enemy is seeking to come in and steal, kill, and destroy. I HAVE to fight to believe the truth because if I don't everything I love and hold dear is at stake. Jesus is it for me....He is what makes my marriage sweet, my realtionships with friends and family warm and encouraging, being a mother a joy and delight. He is the center of it all. I MUST fight by the power of the Holy Spirit to believe what God's Word says is true. It is what slays my disbelief, calms my fears, gives me sustaining strength on my most wearying days, and gives me the grace to do and believe what is RIGHT not what is EASY. Jesus and His word is EVERYTHING to me.

There have been several quotes that I have read recently that have really encouraged me in this line of thinking. I want to end this post with a few of them. I hope they encourage any who may read this as well.
"Help me to honour thee by believeing before I feel, for great is the sin if I make feeling a cause of faith. The Valley of Vision p. 9

"The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
Job 1:21

"May this be your experience; may you feel that the Hand which inflicts the wound supplies the balm, and that He who has emptied your heart has filled the void with himself."
Hudson Taylor

Everyting, including our pain, is His. I am thankful He will meet me in it.
Mary Beth Chapman, Choosing to See

The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise."
Jerry Sittser

After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
1 Peter 5:10

Monday, June 13, 2011

"It Shall Not Seem Hard"

This devotional by Susannah Spurgeon has been really encouraging to me. It comes from her book, Free Grace and Dying Love. Thought I would share it!

It shall not seem hard to thee (Deut. 15:18)

Dear Lord, I have this morning come to one of the secret springs of sweet waters; an ancient, hidden well in the wilderness which you love, as it were, kept covered up and concealed, till in my great need moved you to open my eyes to discover it. How precious has your thought been to me, O Lord! How strengthening and refreshing are these 'cold waters to a thirsty soul', which you have thus made to break forth in a strange place! For I thought I was suffering a hard thing Lord, in the dealings and discipline which you have seen necessary for me; and, though your grace kept me from openly murmuring and complaining, my inner self constantly cried out, 'This is hard, Lord, this is very hard.'

But, now you say, 'No, my child, it must not even seem hard to you. Your trust in me should be so perfect, your faith in my love so strong, your obedience to my will so complete, that nothing should seem grievous which I appoint, no trial that I send should frighten or overwhelm you. Have I not always been to you, "a very present help in trouble"'? Lord my heart says 'Amen!' to your gracious words, and then trusts you to work all this loving obedience in me by your own mighty power.

'It shall not seem hard unto thee' The peculiar trial through which I may now be passing, is the very 'it' which must not seem hard to me. God's bow is never drawn at random; he makes no mistakes either in telling the number of 'the stars', or in measuring out to me the griefs which shall teach me to glorify him. And, dear reader, if you would find comfort from the words which so comforted me, you must look upon your present trouble, whatever it may be, and say, 'Lord, this shall not seem hard to me, I have known so much of your pity and pardoning love, that I dare not mistrust you, or question for a moment the divine wisdom of your dealings with me.'

Ah! our eyes are so dimmed by earth's fogs and shadows that we cannot see clearly enough to distinguish good from evil and if left to ourselves might embrace a curse rather than a blessing. Poor blind mortals that we are, it is well for us even though to our imperfect vision he seems sometimes to have appointed hard things.

Ill that God blesses turns to good,
While unblest good is ill,
And all is right that seems most wrong,
If it be his sweet will

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Accepting What Comes From God's Hand

So I am not really sure how many people actually read this blog, and I am completely ok with that. This blog was created more as a way for me to journal what God is teaching me and then if someone happens to read it and be encouraged by it...great! But, in general, it is just a really good way for me to document the work God is doing in my heart. And all that is to lead up to me saying that I haven't blogged in a LONG time! I have been wanting to...I would be pondering some new or old truth God was teaching me and think "I want to write about this!" But there has been NO time. For the past several months now I have been dealing with an injury of sorts. I will not go into all the details of it, but I have damaged muscles in my chest and shoulder which limits so much of what I do because so much of what I do involves lifting...which I CANNOT do. You don't really realize how much you lift until you can't...but it is a lot---especially when you have a young child. So, God has been very gracious to us in that we have had family and friends to help me. Family has even taken off work to come and stay with us...which isn't really a chore for them, but still such a blessing. But with all of this there has been very little time for blogging. Tonight I actually have time all by myself, and in efforts to take advantage of it I want to document how God has been refining me.

I can't remember the last time that I really wanted something to end, but I really want this to end. It is not that I don't love having family with us---that has been a blessing with many encouraging conversations. But, this has been very trying. I have realized a lot about myself in new ways. I don't like asking for help...I take pride in taking care of my home, husband, and child. It makes me actually sad to not be able to vacuum. And I think, "God has given me the task of caring for my home! Why has he taken it away?!" The answer was slow in coming to my hard heart (and I still struggle to remember it), but the answer is--- for the sake of the gospel. The question is not how I can keep my home clean and be the perfect wife and mom by my standards. The question is, "how can I be a gospel wife and mother?" I can be a gospel wife by welcoming others into my home and seeking how I can encourage them and fellowship with them together by loving Jesus (and when I have had this perspective God has given me some amazing conversations with others that really encouraged my heart and theirs!). I can be a gospel wife my HUMBLING myself and asking for help. God casts away the proud and I want to be as close to him as possible. If he chooses to humble me in this way (and he is) then my heart should welcome it. This also gives others the opportunity to serve which is something that God commands us to do. I should fight my pride in not wanting to give them that opportunity. I can also be a gospel wife by submitting well to my husband. He is a very wise man. He knows what my physical limitations are. In my selfishness I will want to do something that will in the end cause me more pain and prolong the healing process. He is wise to gently remind and, if necessary, rebuke me when this happens. God is also cultivating humility and trust in my heart when I chose to listen to my husbands wise guidance. And I am a gospel wife when I am not finding my self worth in what I am able to accomplish. In my head, when I am able to clean my house, do laundry, cook meals, take care of Cara, I feel good about myself and will feel like others think well of me too. And, while these are all wonderful things to do, my self worth cannot be found in them. My self worth can only be found in Jesus Christ and in submitting to and trusting in his perfect will for me. I MUST remind myself of his infinitely gracious love for me. His plans are for my good and His glory...I can trust and cling to that truth.

And then there is the gift. With the "suffering" God, my gracious Father, has given me this precious gift. Since my early teens I have always had a desire to be in God's Word...I desired to make it a priority. However, it was always a challenge to have it in the mornings. I would hear others say that it needed to be in the mornings but I would tell myself that I was not a morning person and that it was ok for me to have it at night. This doesn't mean that it was always at night. There were times that I had it in the mornings (but NEVER early mornings). This also doesn't mean that God didn't really speak to me during those times...HE DID! And this is not condemnation for those who do not have their QT's in the morning. But, when this injury happened, there was all of the sudden no time to have my time with the Lord during the day and at night I was always very tired and my times with the Lord were struggling. I had been feeling convicted for a while about having my QT's in the morning (thanks to the book Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney and her blog Girl Talk and also a very wise and godly lady in my church, Mrs. Barbara)...but the thought of getting up earlier just made me cringe. However, all of the sudden I realized I had NO CHOICE. If I wanted to have time to meet with my Savior each day it HAD to be in the morning. So, after a good conversation with my sister-in-law and asking my good friend to hold me accountable I made the step. I set my alarm for an hour earlier than when I usually get up and purposed to have my time with the Lord. And here is the gift...God so worked in my heart that now I LOVE those times. They are so sweet and nourishing to my soul. I love spending time in prayer and in the Word before I do anything else that day. And my mind is much more stayed on the Word and prayerful the whole day through. It has just been SO GOOD! This does not been I am able to get up every morning. If for whatever reason I have a very late night (like when my child is sick), I do extend grace to myself and plan a time to have it later in the day. But, the incredible thing is that I am yearning to get up and have that time again the next morning. This is nothing but God's great work in my life. My flesh has NO desire to wake up and be in the Word, BUT GOD has transformed my desires. What convicted me the most was looking at the life of Jesus. He was God made flesh and he was bent on pointing us to the Father. I know I do well to follow His example and be his imitator. So when I read Mark 1:35 that says Jesus rose early while it was still dark to be alone and pray I need to take notice. No man could have been more tired and busy than Jesus. But HE needed to be with the Father. If Jesus needed that how much more do I!!! And in Matt. 26:4-5 Jesus is earnestly praying in the garden of Gethsemane as he is about to have the full wrath of God poured out on him. He asks two of his disciples to pray but they fall asleep (I must admit that I would have too!). He then rebukes them and tells them to watch and pray! The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! Oh how I know that to be true! Oh how I must be on guard! Oh how I must heed his words! And oh how I know it to be true that, as Barbara says, I need fresh manna every morning. Just like the Israelites, I cannot live off of yesterday's manna! I pray God guards my heart and keeps this yearning alive...a yearning for HIM and His will to be done above my own.

So, I must accept what comes from my God's hand. I may not understand it. But, I can trust that it is for my good. And I can ask for a teachable heart that treasures Him and trusts Him. Lord, make this true of my heart!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Mind Set On The Gospel

The Glory of God
My God is immense beyond imagination. He measured the entire universe with merely the span of His hand.
He is unimaginably awesome in all of His perfections, absolutely righteous, holy, and just in all of His ways.
He has also been unbelievably good and merciful to me as the Creator and Sustainer of my life.
Every breath, every heartbeat, every function of every organ in my body is a gift from Him.
Every legitimate pleasure I experience is a gift from His loving hand to me.
All that I am and all that I have I owe to Him and to His goodness.
My life in every way is, and will continue to be, utterly dependent upon Him in whom I live and move and have my being.
This wonderful God is the most supremely worthy Object of admiration, honor, and delight in all of the universe;
And He has created me with the intention that I might glorify Him by finding my soul's delight in Him and by living in joyful obedience to Him in all my ways.
A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent
pages 57 and 58

Lately I have been reminded of how much I so desperately need to be speaking the gospel to myself every moment of every day. It is this gospel that so radically transforms my heart and mind---nothing else in this world has the power to do so. If left up to me, I would die in my sinfulness. But God, being so rich in mercy, has completely saved me and transformed me into a new creation in Jesus Christ. Milton Vincent says in his book, A Gospel Primer, "There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemnings of my heart, and the lies of the world and the Devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the gospel." I have noticed that when things go well and every thing is easy I am not nearly as diligent as I should be to meditate on the glories of the gospel....I am quick to fall into laziness and complacency. But God, being the loving Heavenly Father that he is, knows that we need to be reminded of our desperate need of Him. This is where I am...needing reminders of my desperate need of Jesus. And God, in His kindness, is not allowing things to be easy right now. He is choosing to teach me humility. He is teaching me to rest in Him and His timing and His sovereign plan. And each of these difficulties causes me to run and cling to my Savior, and, because of this, I am so thankful for them. I find my heart agreeing with the psalmist, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and what you do is good; teach me your statues....It is good for me to be afflicted, that I might learn your statues. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces." (Psalm 119: 67, 68, 71, 72) So, lately I have been striving to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5) I am asking God to give me a teachable heart that is sensitive to His Spirit's leading. I am desiring to be drawn out my own sinful thoughts and feelings and saturate my mind with the holy Word of God. Listening to myself just leads to more anxiety and sin, but setting my mind on the truths in the Word brings life and peace....oh so much peace. This is a fight every day. It does not come naturally or easily to set our minds on what is holy, pure, and good. But thank God that He keeps drawing us back and supplies us with His strength. And, the more we focus on the wonder of who He is and His great work on the cross, the more we desire Him and find our delight in Him. Jesus is all that we need and all that we long for. Praise God for such a sufficient Savior!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Some words of encouragement from 1 Peter

I have been reading in 1 Peter for the last week and it has been completely refreshing to my soul! I thought I would just share a few of the promises that have encouraged me lately. May they strengthen your spirit as well.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
1 Peter 1:3-5
What riches we have in Christ Jesus! By, and only by, His MERCY he has give us a LIVING HOPE. And, oh how I love the part where He is guarding our faith by His great power. That will certainly stir hope into the faintest of heart---God is using his almighty power to guard our faith. If this is true, then we can never lose faith for He is guarding it! And I am pretty sure that God has never failed at guarding something. ;)

"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is Holy, so be holy in all your conduct," 1 Peter 1:13-16
How lazy I can be! I can so easily be lulled to sleep by the busyness of the day, my own pleasures, and my own hardness of heart. But, seeing that God knows us perfectly, he knows that we will struggle with this and he is guarding us against it. Be prepared for action, be sober minded, set our hope of the grace given in Jesus Christ lest we act as we did before we were saved! How often I forget that there is a battle being waged against my soul. How thankful I am for God urgent reminders and Jesus's sufficient grace.

"Longfor pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation--if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good." 1 Peter 2:2-3
Oh God grant me a longing for your word for in it is life and peace. I have tasted and you are truly good!

"For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly." 1 Peter 2:19
"For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps." 1 Peter 2:21
"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8,9
Why do I think I should not have to endure suffering. If Christ is my example, and he was a man of suffering, surely I should not be surprised when I suffer, no matter how great or small. It even says that we were called to this! So, Lord may be endure sorrows well. May we joyfully follow the example of our Lord. May we have unity of mind, love, sympathy, and be characterized by the humility of Christ. May we always bear the sweet aroma of the gospel.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Lately there have been things that I have been really tempted to fret over. I find myself wondering how I am going to fix this, or solve that, or please someone in some way. Then it occurred to me, I must be thinking that I have the most wisdom and the most might because I was relying totally on myself! Well, I truly know that it is not me who has the most wisdom or understanding. It is not me who knows how to handle and respond to each and every one of these circumstances. The One who has infinite wisdom, strength, and sovereign control is Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. How much do I need to be faithful in prayer instead of faithful in worry! Instead of relying on my own feeble efforts, I should be humbly, continually communing with my Lord. Today I was reading in Luke 11. In the beginning of this chapter Jesus is teaching his disciples how to pray. Right after he teaches them what to say when they are praying, he teaches them how much and how earnestly they should be praying.

Jesus says, " Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within, 'Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything'? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." (Luke 11:5-10).

Oh for this faithful persistence in my prayers to a God who is lovingly waiting to hear them. My God is not like the neighbor who does not want to get out of bed! He DESIRES for me to come before him in prayer. There is nothing that is too small and no matter to great. Our God is big enough to handle it all! Below is a writing by C.H. Spurgeon. May it encourage you as it has me to be devoted to prayer.
"Devote yourselves to prayer." Colossians 4:2
It is interesting to notice how many pages of Sacred Writ are taken up with the subject of prayer, either by providing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We can scarcely begin reading the Bible before encountering a phrase such as "At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD," and, just as we are about to complete our reading, the "Amen" of an earnest supplication meets our ear. There are numerous examples of this. Here we find a wrestling Jacob---there a Daniel who prayed three times a day---and a David who, with all his heart, called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands and myriads of promises. What do these examples teach us? Specifically, the sacred importance and necessity of prayer! We may be certain that whatever stands out prominently in God's Word is intended to be observable in our lives. If He has said a great deal about prayer, it is because He knows we have a great need of it. Our necessities are so deep that, until we are in heaven, we mustn't stop praying. Don't you lack anything? Then, I am afraid you do not know the extent of your poverty. Don't you have some mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord's mercy show you your misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. Is is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honor of a Christian. If you are a child of God, you will seek your Father's face and live in your Father's love. Pray that this year you may be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter more often into the banqueting house of His love. Pray that you may be an example of blessing to others, and that you may live more to the glory of your Master. The motto for this year must be: "Devote yourselves to prayer."