Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Comfort, When There Are No Easy Answers

There are days when I feel kind of lost. I know who I am and what I’m supposed to do, but the details of life overwhelm me. I just want to be held. There’s a verse in the book of Zephaniah that does that for me. It holds me with words of comfort and assurance, even when there is no “quick fix” for the issues at hand. It arms me with courage and confidence that God is in control and He cares about me personally.
The following phrases are from Zephaniah 3:17. The comments that follow are from my journal. I hope they minister to you today and bring you comfort and joy in the days ahead.

“The LORD your God is with you”

This is present tense; He’s with you now. Not just in the past when your life was less complicated; not just in some future time when you have relief from these struggles. He is here now. He is with you, in you, above and below you, surrounding you—breathing His Spirit, strength, peace, and inexpressible JOY into your frame.

“He is mighty to save”
These present heartaches are nothing in comparison to His all-encompassing, unlimited power to rescue and save you, and all who call on His name. He is able. He is all-mighty. And He cares for you.

“He will take great delight in you”
You don’t feel delightful in your current state of worry and fear.  But He delights in you anyway, and is committed to an eternity of delighting in you, His child. He could not love you more, because you are His.

“He will quiet you with His love”
Your heart is noisy—fretting over why’s and what if’s as you thrash about in your own storm of doubts. His love is all you need to become quiet. Or perhaps I should say recognizing and accepting His love is what will bring you quiet. You know in your head that He loves you; you’ve heard it for years. But do you know it; really know it in your heart? That knowing is when true peace comes.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

“He will rejoice over you with singing”
Does He rejoice because you are perfect, rich and successful, or talented, or beautiful? No, God, your Father, the Lover of your soul, rejoices over you with singing because you have come to Him and nestled into His embrace. You sought Him out in your need, like a child awakening from a nightmare and needing the safety of Him. Or you simply came to be near Him.

He sings to reassure you, calm you, to infuse your heart with light and truth, and because love for you springs from His heart and overflows in song. Feel His touch; listen to His words; savor the vibration of His voice on your spirit as He sings. Lean into Him.

You are loved, so loved, so loved.

Draw strength from the love of the Lord God Almighty and trust in His Son Jesus Christ.

#needahug #comfortfromscripture #doesGodloveme #doesanybodycare

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

You Are No Accident

I cringe every time I hear it, “My parents didn’t plan to have any more kids; I was an accident.” Or even worse, a parent telling the story, “Yeah, well we thought we were done until _____ decided to show up” (like an unwanted guest). Even if parents and family are delighted and dote on this child and treasure them, somehow these words plant the idea in a child that they really don’t belong here.
Maybe you’ve always suspected you were not planned, or expected, or wanted. Perhaps you were even told—verbally or physically—that you messed everything up with your untimely arrival. The hurt runs deep. But don’t you believe it. YOU ARE NO ACCIDENT. 

You are loved; you were designed. There’s a reason you’re here on this planet, even if your parents didn’t plan for you. There is a God in heaven who hovered over you in the womb and delighted as He made you—His one of a kind creation. 

This last weekend Janet showed us an amazing sweater she made thirty years ago for the baby girl she never had. She told us her husband groans when she starts knitting a new creation, because she stops every few rows to effervesce over her work. “Isn’t this just beautiful?” she’ll say, holding out her masterpiece. “Can you believe these stitches?” 

“Mm, hmm,” he’ll respond, perhaps less enthusiastically than she might have hoped.

How much more does our Heavenly Father delight as He plans each tiny detail of our being? “I think I’ll make her eyes blue…I’ll give him a dimpled chin…She will inspire everyone who hears her sing…He will be good at math and science…She will care for the unloved and give others hope…He will be a man of integrity and courage.” On and on it goes. Every person God has ever created is uniquely gifted.

Jan also made us laugh when she held up her knitting needles and ball of yarn, “And just in case you think I could throw these up in the air and an explosion would make them come out looking like that sweater I just showed you? I don’t think so!” No, we’re not an explosion, or a science experiment.

Just look at what the Bible says about how we got here:

Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you? (Deut. 32:6)

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! (Psa. 139:13-17)

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. (Ecc. 11:5)

“This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, the Maker of all things.” Isa. 44:24

Like any artist, God hates it when we insult what He has made and call ourselves worthless:

Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? (Isa. 29:16)

But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Rom. 9:20

God not only wants to have a personal relationship with us, but He designed us to fill a place only we can fill:

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, (put your name in the blanks) _____, he who formed you, _____: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. (Isa. 43:1)

This is what the Lord says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, (put your name in the blanks)_____, my servant, _____ whom I have chosen. (Isa. 44:2)

 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jer. 1:5)

It is the evil one who wants you to despair, to think you have no value, to wish you’d never been born. If you think your life is not worthwhile, or have toyed with ending your life, I plead with you to stop and consider. 

Read the verses again, out loud this time, and ask God to show you if He’s real. He may speak to your heart, in a dream, a song, through another person’s words, or from the Bible. God has unlimited ways to let you know how much He loves you. I pray you will open your eyes and heart to Him now.

You are no accident. 

#reasontolive #bornforapurpose #unwanted #suicidenottheanswer #createdandloved

Friday, April 8, 2016

Step In to the Shower

I love a nice, hot shower; to linger and savor the steaming water as I wake up for the day. But if I’m sweaty from playing tennis and weeding in the sun, like yesterday, a cool shower is the ultimate luxury. Nothing beats streams of water—cleansing, reviving, energizing.
We’ve had a lot of rain showers around here lately. I’d rather have sunshine, but it’s the alternating showers with the warm spring sun that makes the grass green and the flowers come to life. Today in our yard the lilacs, strawberry plants, phlox, hebe, mock orange, calla lilies, lithodora, and bleeding heart are bursting into bloom. Other plants are sending out tendrils, and forming leaves and buds for more flowers and fruit. I love this season! 

Have you ever noticed whenever someone mentions a shower it’s usually a positive thing? Besides cleansing showers, there are showers of praise, rain showers, wedding and baby showers, and showers of blessing. In order to benefit from them, however, you have to step in to the stream of water, gifts, words, or spiritual flow. In other words, showers won’t do you any good unless you give yourself to whatever stream is bursting forth.

The old hymn written by Daniel Whittle in 1883 begins: 

There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

We yearn for God’s blessings: reviving, abundant, refreshing. Then the last two verses reveal the key to stepping in to these showers of wondrous blessings—confession, trust, obedience; letting God have His way in us. We must choose to exit our dry self-sufficiency, and let God pour himself over us.

I’ve recently felt dry in my spirit. I kept reading my Bible every day, but still felt no comfort or inspiration from words that usually fill me to overflowing. “What’s wrong, Lord?” I asked. “Where are your showers of blessing?”

He showed me I needed a change of heart. I was clinging to worry and discouragement, looking at the problems around me instead of the bigness of my God. I needed to thank Him for the blessings He’s providing every day and trust His plan. Once I stepped in with faith, I felt the sprinkle of His showers once again. The cares of life remain, but now I am singing with a grateful heart.

Are you in a time of drought? Ask God if there’s doubt or an attitude holding you back from His fullness. These scriptures tell us the many kinds of showers God has for us! I’ve summarized most, but I challenge you to read each one in your Bible or a good Internet site (https://www.biblegateway.com/ is my favorite).

Welcome His teaching like a tender plant loves showers of rain: Deuteronomy 32:1-4
Rain softens the ground, brings abundance, growth, and refreshes the weary: Psalm 65:8-13; Psalm 68:7-10

This is a beautiful prayer for the king or ruler to reign in righteousness. When he does he rains blessings on his people: Psalm 72:1-7
God reveals His identity to mankind by blessing us all; He rains down righteousness and says, “Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish.” Isaiah 45:5-8

God Shepherds and Provides for His sheep. The time will come will He will care for them and no one can ever again make them afraid: Ezekiel 34:20-31

God will restore what has been lost and refresh His people with abundance: Joel 2: 19-27

If we seek Him and get ready to hear God, He will shower down unfailing love and righteousness: Hosea 10:12

Ask God to supply for your thirst; He’s the only One who can meet your need: Zechariah 10:1

I pray God’s rain will fall on you in showers of blessing, hope, abundance, and abiding trust—refreshing your spirit and filling you to overflowing.

#showersofblessing #spirituallydry #healingrain #whenindrought