Archive for the ‘November 2010’ Category

Strength in waiting

“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). Are you waiting for something special to happen before your soul will be comforted? Wait upon the Lord. “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Ps. 27:14) and remain confident of this, that you will see the goodness of the Lord (vs. 13). What you are waiting for may happen tomorrow, but He will come to you today. Simply call upon His name.

Surrender to the trial so that perseverance may finish its work in making you mature and complete (James 1:4). Seek to be filled with the Spirit of God in order to bear His good fruit of patience, and added to that joy and peace. He Himself will strengthen you as you wait on Him. That is far sweeter than whatever else we are waiting on.

Those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:31

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Lord, you endured scorn, shame, and humiliation to prove your love for me. Help me to be brave enough not only to have your heart for people, but to prove myself to them through service and sacrifice and confession. Help me to be active in others’ lives. To fight for them, hope for them, intercede for them, dream for them, as you do for all of us. Help me to meet their needs even at my own expense. Help me to listen to their stories, to enjoy their company, and to honor them like you do.

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Sunday Best

Are you discouraged because you know in your head that God is present in your life, yet in your heart you don’t feel him close? Is it embarrassing that with your mind you know Christ is worthy of all your affection, yet you’re so quick to feel more strongly for other people and things? Do you acknowledge that he is the living God while it seems during your day he is barely alive? Have you read that he is the bread of life, yet go to bed in emptiness?

Maybe God is not real to you because you are not real with him. Maybe you believe that he loves who you are in your Sunday best, but that he isn’t very fond of you the rest of the week. So maybe you do believe in his love, but you give him the parts of your life you think he wants, or is worthy of, and keep the rest behind closed doors. But the question is, How can you feel loved in the places you don’t feel known?

Have you considered that what you think about yourself, especially the parts of you in the dark, does not determine what he thinks about you?

Take heart as he proclaims to you, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7).

Beloved, since the cross he has maintained his heart for you. Shame has no right to hide your face. So take off your mask and all your rags. Let him love you when you are naked and ashamed. Confess your true beliefs and your real needs. Admit your genuine feelings and attitudes. Come with plenty or come with need. Just come in honesty. Whisper or speak up. Sing it or scream it. As long as you mean it.

Be real with him and see if he won’t be real with you. See if he leaves you. Or see if he loves you. See if he clothes you. Let him get to know you. When you are who you are, he will still be who he is.

Beloved, who has been stealing you from your Love? Maybe unbelief is the thief. Afterall, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). Personally, I don’t wake up every morning thinking, “God loves me YAY!” Every single day it takes faith – believing that God stays true to his character and his promises. His character is love and he promises everlasting love for us and never to leave us. So I must start the day just believing him with my head, and then seeking him with my heart until the Spirit of God reveals his love for me anew, and that’s what stirs my heart’s affection for him again and awakens me to his presence.

Maybe David was a man after God’s heart because he knew God was first after his. Listen to his heartbeat. “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you… I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!” (Ps. 63:1-3). “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD…” (Psalm 27:4). “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Ps. 16:11). “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” (Ps. 42:1).

Are you tired of mere religion? Get out of the pew and let him dance with you. Isn’t the wedding just the beginning of the marriage? Isn’t there dancing and singing and unity and delight and passion? So the glorious day that you became his promised your abundant future with him!

Your soul was made to know him and be known. Fully. Your spirit was made for intimacy with the Spirit of God. Your heart was made to beat for him. Even more important than guarding your heart from others (Prov. 4:23) is maintaining your heart for him, because even he maintains his heart for you (Exodus 34:7). Get serious about your joy in the Lord because he will be most glorified in you as you are most satisfied in him (as John Piper says). Fight to delight in the Lord like David. If you want his presence and power in your life, ask! Seek him with all your heart and you will find him (Jer. 29:13). Be bold like Moses who cried out, “Show me your glory!” (Exodus 33:18) And you too will taste and see the goodness of the Lord! (Ps. 34:8)

PS. I write to my own self before I write to anyone else

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Against all hope

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…” (Rom. 4:18). I love that! Even when all seems hopeless God gives us reason for faith.

“[Abraham] did not waver through unbelief regarding the promises of God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised.” (v. 20-21)

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as you are

Have you been disappointed in yourself to the point it’s hard to pray to God under the weight of shame? Did you make promises to Him you couldn’t keep? Did you expect more out of your service to Him than you actually gave Him? Were you alarmed when you found out that seeking to meet your own needs was more important to you than seeking His Kingdom, especially with the words “seek first the Kingdom and all these things shall be added unto you” in your head?

Is it difficult to admit that after feeling called to an extraordinary life, you honestly don’t believe you will be among the great saints? Are you worried to sit around the King’s table when it’s all said and done with martyrs and evangelists and missionaries and ministers who gave everything to serve Him, while you found it hard to tithe 10% and nearly impossible to witness to your next door neighbor?

Is it embarrassing that with your mind you know Christ is worthy of all your affection, yet you’re so quick to feel more strongly for other people and things? Is it hard to accept His passionate love for you while you are so passive toward Him? Is it sad to know a living God but to experience His presence so distantly? To know He speaks but to barely hear His voice? To believe He’s there but to hardly see Him?

Are you tired of living in a body of death, as the apostle Paul said? Weary of fighting against your own flesh and feeling defeated? Yet even defeated disciples are disciples nonetheless. Even the smallest child of the house will be fed. It is time to come as we are, for the Father already knows. Let’s bend our knee in humility and simply ask for grace and change. Let us confess our true feelings to Him… about others, ourselves, the world, the Kingdom, everything.

Whether you find yourself in David’s shoes as he danced before God or Thomas’s eyes as he doubted the risen Lord. Whether you are Mary or Martha. Whether you persecute Christ like Saul or preach Him like Paul. Whether you find all things meaningless like Solomon or hear God’s call on your life like Samuel. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.

Come with plenty or with need. Just come in honesty. Confess your true beliefs and your real needs. Admit your genuine feelings and attitudes. Take off your mask and all your rags. Use your own voice and say what you’ve got to, not what you ought to. Whisper or speak up. Laugh or cry out. Stand up or bow down. Sing it or scream it. As long as you mean it.

Be bold like Job. And then be still and you will know He is God. Be silent and you will hear His song. And speechless you will encounter His love. His grace will take your breath away. His presence will make you stand in awe. As deep as you are known, you are loved. He knows the depths of your heart, and loves you as you are. But His mercy will not leave you that way. By His grace you will be changed.

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