September 15, 2015

Open for 2015 {Week 35}

I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe for righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Isaiah 61:10

But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
Psalm 68:3

Do these verses describe you?  Does your heart overflow with delight, rejoicing, happiness, and joy, because GOD and what He has done in your life?

After reading the Isaiah verse Tuesday morning, I stopped, my soul gasping for breath.  I couldn't think of many times during a common week that my demeanor is overtaken by delight and rejoicing because God has saved me.  All I could think was, Man, I want to live like THAT!

A handful of days later, again in the darkness of the early morning, I was gut-punched by Psalm 68:3.  The psalmist prays that the righteous will be glad and rejoice, happy and joyful.  Boy, I do not know if that can describe me, I thought.  I sure do spend a lot of my time planning out my life, thinking about myself, or complaining!

Right away, feeling so delightfully stunned, I knew I wanted to write to you all about this.  You know what these verses communicate to us?  I'll tell you.

God's people should be full of praise for their God!

And another thing:

We can become people full of praise for their God!

Being OPEN this week meant doing two things.

  • First, asking myself, Do praise and rejoicing in my God-initiated, God-enabled, and God-completed salvation characterize my life?   Most of the time, the answer is no.
  • Second, trusting God can change me by giving delight and rejoicing a go.  Salvation does not often come up in day-to-day conversations, and I do not have to live in some bizarre euphoria all the time.  But I can seize moments the when the Spirit moves to invite those around me to wonder with me at the goodness of God and to stand in awe of His work of salvation of otherwise-helpless souls.

Oh Lord, as the Psalmist prayed, may we - those who are righteous because of what you have done in our lives - be glad and rejoice before you, and be happy an joyful.  Thus you will receive your due and sinners will be drawn to seek you.  Have your way in us, Lord.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Time to Take Action:
Is your life marked by praise?  Do you daily give thanks and rejoice that God has saved you from the dominion of darkness and brought you into the Light?  Do you ever thank God that He is and praise Him because He is worthy?  Every moment of every day, the Christian has cause for rejoicing!

Now, raise your hand if you need to ask the Lord to forgive you for taking His mercy, love, and presence for granted.   Yup.  I have my hand up, too.  Confess and be forgiven (1 John 1:9), then take some time to make a list of praise and thanksgiving to God.  Give being glad and rejoicing before God a go.  That is worship.  Worship becomes the people of God!

September 11, 2015

Open for 2015 {Week 34}

With much rejoicing, the past week was not a Pushback week and my children were back to normal levels of disrespect and disobedience!  Seriously, though, whatever was possessing them for those few days did pass and life has not been as intense.  I am grateful.

Since calm was restored, the Lord decided it would be a good time to bring up something I need to face, but usually don't know what to do with.  I am a terribly judgmental person.  Every situation I encounter I immediately make assumptions and conclusions that influence how I interact in the environment.  My pride causes me to fear or pity, feel inadequate or self-righteous.  Hopefully at least one of you dear readers can relate to what I'm talking about!  (Though, for your sake, I do hope none of you are not as proud and stubborn as I am.)

I struggle to keep loving others at the forefront, because I have such great affection for my opinions and, well, myself!  Usually the way I deal with this sin is by feeling bad about how awful I am and making some useless vow to try not to judge people in the future.  You can laugh; I think it's laughable too.  Self-pity and self-help can't bring lasting change.  Another way I've tried to address it in the past is by meditating on verses about not judging others.  The Bible's always a good idea, right?  But again, I use the verses to try to make the change myself.

Friends, we need more than words to transform us.  We need The Word!  I mean, I often size up people and situations before I know what I'm doing; there's no time to think about whether or not I'm going to choose God's way or mine.  My will is so quick to assert itself!  Have you noticed that about habitual, ingrained sin?  It's so hit-and-run, leaving us feeling battered, guilty, and confused.

The Good Lord was helping me to think thought these things this week and moving me toward being OPEN to some new ways of thinking about this particular issue.  Because, see, I really do love people and want to become one of those folks who loves everyone with the love of Christ and who values them over and above her own opinions and insecurities.  I firmly believe God can make such transformations in us if we remember a couple of things:

  • God loves me.  If we belong to God though faith in Christ, we are His child.  No longer orphans looking for love in all the wrong places, we are secure in His family!  There is no reason to fear abandonment or to look for love based on our behavior.  Remembering who we are in Christ - while we were still sinners He died for us - protects us from the insecurity or superiority that pride offers us as the only ways to relate to others.  We are LOVED!
  • Repentance is a life-long practice.  This brought me such hope this week.  I felt God saying to my weary, sinful soul, Hey, when you catch yourself in sin, repent!  I forgive.  What comfort!  I may not be able to catch myself before I start making judgments, but when I notice what I'm doing, I can quickly shoot a prayer up to heaven:  Lord, forgive me for my sinful habit and use this situation to your glory, not mine.  Repentance draws us near to God and to others.

I must be off this morning, but have been dying to share this with you this week, because I know some of you get stuck like I do.  Hopelessness can settle in quick!  But with the Lord, there is always hope.  Redemption and restoration are kinda His thing.

Know peace, today, friends. You are not alone, will never be abandoned, and any moment is a great moment to repent and believe the good news!

Time to Take Action:

Here are some great verses for meditation.  The way I have the one section memorized is this, but with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.  Let relating to God in humble repentance be the beginning of transformation.  I'm gonna be doing that right along with you!  It is good, good, good, good news that the Lord keeps no record of sins.  I mean, seriously, who could stand?!

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
~Psalm 130 1-5

September 4, 2015

Open for 2015 {Week 33}

Last week was what I'll call a Pushback Week.  For several days almost everything I asked the kids to do was met with opposition.  Something was not right and I was not sure I had the stamina - or kindness in my heart - to outlast it.  I'm typing here today, so you know I did, but in the midst of it I was not confident!

Knowing that I was reaching my breaking point, (meaning I wanted to scream and yell a lot, give my children life-long consequences, and tell them they could never come out of their rooms, ever), it occurred to me that perhaps it was time to consider being OPEN.  I could not change my kids' hearts,  but what did God want to happen in me?  How could I use these trying days to take a deep breath and trust the Lord to use them to increase the fruit of His Spirit in me?

I wish I could say that, after those holy thoughts, I kept my cool every moment and gently guided each one child his or her moments of frustration, willful disobedience, and anger.  I cannot.  But I can say, Praise be to God who uses being a parent to remind me how He loves me when I am ungrateful and discontent, unlovable and disagreeable.

Like I said, it was not a stellar week for me either; I am weak and a work in progress, just like my children.  But when one is interrupted by grace in the middle of a Pushback Week, the best she can be is thankful.  Who is this God we serve who is so slow to anger and abounding in love?  Our Redeemer--the LORD Almighty is his name-- is the Holy One of Israel.

Have a good weekend with Him!

PS Most of the time, I think my kids are the coolest creatures in the world.
Here we are pretending we're on a wild magic carpet ride!