Change Your Mind

Embed from Getty Images“Now change your mind and attitude to God and turn to him so he can cleanse away your sins and send you wonderful times of refreshment from the presence of the Lord…” Acts 3:19 Living Bible (TLB)

God places us carefully where we need to be. Sometimes it is to work something out of us.  Sometimes it is to work something into us. Sometimes it is simply to fulfill a purpose. In every case we have a choice. We can either turn our heart to God or away from God.  It can look a lot of different ways.  Maybe we are working hard at doing everything ourselves without expressly listening for direction.  Maybe we think we know the best way to get things done. Maybe we think we see a situation that is spinning out of control and we need to step in to give it order and get things back under control. But who really controls it?  Food for thought.

When we turn our heart to God it is a type of worship. We surrender our heart to Him, trusting He will make it right.  We recognize the magnitude of who He is. We trust that He and He alone can give our heart the refreshment that it needs.

Speaking for myself, there are times that I go to God in prayer stating the obvious.  I know I’m not in great shape. So I just lay it all out there for us to discuss together. I know I need a change of mind. I have found that my change of mind follows a change of heart.  By acknowledging in a very real way where I am at a given moment (no matter how ugly it may be), it allows God to take hold of my heart and turn it around. Turn it toward Him. The ugly stuff I may be carrying around goes away when I release it to Him.  I continue this process no matter how many times it takes.

Eventually, the change sticks in my heart.  The refreshing stays. I have a change of mind that goes with it.

Lord, thank you for dealing with my heart. Turning it toward You. Thank you for the refreshment You bring. Thank you for Your help, strength, and wisdom in all things. I pray that I receive every good thing that You have for me. You know better than I do if and when I need it! I praise Your Holy Name, Jehovah El!

Acts 3, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Deuteronomy 8:18

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Suddenly

Embed from Getty Images“Thus Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, because of what God had prepared for the people, for it was done suddenly.” 2 Chronicles 29:36  AMP

Hezekiah wasted no time restoring worship in the temple of God. He made quick work of it and carried out the spirit of what God had requested.  It happened “suddenly:” in a little time, with a great deal of ease, and without any opposition. Those that go about the work of God in faith and with resolution find that it is not as difficult as they imagine. It is a wonderful surprise to see how and when it is accomplished because it defies what they know. It is greater and more than they can imagine. It stretches our comprehension of God.

I love how Hezekiah knew in his heart when to dispense with the rules in order to accomplish God’s work. There was no disrespect. It was a matter of necessity to call the Levites in to help the priests administer the sacrifices.  Hezekiah’s heart was turned fully toward God to reconnect  Him to His people. He operated according to the leading of God to accomplish His work. He could see when the rules became an obstacle rather than serving the intended purpose. Hezekiah was more focused on obedience than on rule-minding and performance.  He was all about re-establishing relationship.

Father, help me trust in You. Help me trust that You will not ask more of me than I am strong enough to handle in You; not in my own power, but Yours. Father, help me release any fear or anxiety that is holding me back. Help me release it to You and choose You over the familiar. Choose You. It is a choice.  Simply a choice. Help me embrace the “suddenly” in You.

2 Chronicles 29, 2 John 1:6, Philippians 1:6, John 17:20-23 Psalm 118: 23

A Spacious Place

Embed from Getty Images“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19 NIV

I love space.  The wide open plains.  Wide view of the sky.  I love room to roam. A spacious view. A long and winding road. You name it. They all give me a happy feeling inside. God knows that too!

Psalm 18 made me weep this morning.  It reminded me how much God loved David. And best of all, David was not perfect.  He was like you and me. It powerfully reminded me how much God loves me.  And you! It reminded me of how powerful He is and who I am to Him. Peter knew that too.  It’s why he could rest so peacefully in his stocks and chains. He did so without expectation.  He did so because he was solely focused on God…not himself.

This is such a comfort for me. It shifts my heart. It’s grounding in a powerful truth. It feels like being anchored in a stone foundation; not just a rock or a boulder, but a slab of granite! Immovable. Unshakable.

Father, this is Your plan, not mine. I will watch for You. Your favor and Your direction Father. I know its less about what I do and all about what You do.  I will wait for you. I will wait for that spacious place with You.

Psalm 18

Being Neighborly

Embed from Getty Images“He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.” Luke 10:34 NIV 

In the Bible a donkey could be symbolic of knowledge, humility, poverty, courage and peace. It could also symbolize a sign of richness befitting the House of David. So in that sense, they could also represent commerce and wealth.

As we look at the care the Samaritan provided to the man beaten and left on the side of the road, we see all of the above.  We see the Samaritan use every resource he had at his disposal to provide aide: he used his oil, wine and bandages; he used his only method of transportation for the injured man (his donkey), he delayed his trip, he paid for ongoing care and lodging plus any additional expenses that were incurred.  All for the care of a stranger. Remember, the Samaritan was traveling so his resources were limited based on the journey he had planned.  In spite of that, he withheld nothing.

The other two men in the parable, the priest and the Levite (who were considered holy men), did not miss a step and walked on by. I’m sure they were busy with their own plans and agendas.  They simply stayed on course as planned.  Maybe they were even on holy business trips!

The parable following the “Good Samaritan” in Luke is about Mary and Martha.  The story tells of how Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet while Martha toiled away.

When I looked at these two parables together I saw something I hadn’t seen before.   The priest and the Levite were no different than Martha.  The similarities were all wrapped around being so busy and task oriented that they missed the opportunity right in front of them.

How often have I been busy doing something that I missed the broken person in my path that I needed to minister to?  Did I stop what I was doing to attend to the opportunity right in front of my face? Or did I find what I was doing more important?

I’m sure the Samaritan had plans at the other end of his journey that had to be changed because of the delay and care he provided to the man on the side of the road.  But for him compassion prevailed. Compassion without any strings attached.  It was not about score-keeping.  It was not for acknowledgement.  It was all about caring for another human being in need. A stranger.

Sometimes it is through these delays and detours in our journey that God does a work in our own heart.  When we are able to set our interests aside, it opens up room to have the love of God flow through us in a new way.

Lord, give me the wisdom to see opportunities to be Your hands and feet when people are in need.  Place compassion in my heart to stop what I am doing for the sake of others.  Help me to love like You do.

Luke 10:29-37, 38-42; 1 Samuel 10:9-14, Matthew 6:33

Deep Waters

Embed from Getty Images“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” Psalm 18:16 NIV

Have you ever had a near drowning incident? I had one in Cancun, Mexico.  I had gone snorkeling and gotten separated from everyone else by a current.  I was washed up on a shallow bed of coral.  My rear end was getting shredded more each time a wave knocked me further up onto the coral bed.  I finally managed to make my way into deeper water, but my body was starting to ache from the multitude of coral cuts.  Swimming back to the group was against the current that had swept me away.  I began to have thoughts of exhaustion.  I didn’t know how long I could continue. I was contemplating giving up.  Suddenly the guide appeared, grabbed hold of me, and dragged me back to the boat.

When I think of this experience on a spiritual level, there is so much to see! I was swept away and distracted by the view of the fish and underwater landscape.  I got separated from my group. The coral that looked so pretty became very dangerous. On my own, my strength gave out.  I needed rescued.

God is like that for us.  He never tires of reaching down to draw us out of deep waters.  He hears our cries and yearns for us to stay with Him.  Even when we are distracted by “pretty” things, He continues to wait patiently for us to return, offering that helping hand when we tire of the struggle.

I think of that day occasionally. It could have turned out very differently. I know that God was there, both literally and spiritually, to tend to my needs.  Just waiting for me to return to Him.

Father, thank you for Your long-suffering patience and love.  Thank you for reaching down into the deep waters for me!

Psalm 18:16-19, 25-29; 1 Timothy 6:6, Colossians 1:11

Control

Embed from Getty Images“Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the ruler of all mankind; your hand controls power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:12 Living Bible

Control.  His hand controls power and might.  I have noticed that when I try to control things I struggle more with negativity.  I am taking on the fight instead of prayerfully leaving it with God. Negative thoughts creep in.  I may even see a pity party forming with me, myself, and I!  “God, have you forgotten me?”  Of course He hasn’t.  His Word tells us over and over again how much He loves us.  And then look at the sacrifice He made.  When I really focus there, in a place of gratitude and acknowledgement of all God has said and done, I can see how ridiculous those thoughts are.  But it may take me a minute to get there!

If I have to be in control, I give up the Lord’s wisdom in exchange for my own very limited understanding. I focus on the overwhelming landscape of the future instead of staying in the moment. I miss every blessing of today. If I try to maintain control, I miss my turn to reach a better destination or even a shorter route. I miss my rest stops and refueling stations.  I miss the view of the journey.  My head and my heart are bound to toiling to anticipate every potential outcome and reasoning my way through it. Plan A, Plan B…to infinity.

But if I release the need to be in control, I can stay in the moment.  I can remain thankful.  I can count my blessings. I can rediscover joy and peace and hope in the moment. I can appreciate others that God has placed in my path.  It’s not just about me. If I release control, I can acknowledge that my understanding is limited, as well as my line of sight. I can accept that I don’t know it all and truthfully, won’t ever know it all. I can accept that it’s not all up to me.  If I let go, my hands are open to receive instead of being clenched tightly onto something that isn’t the answer.  It’s just a security blanket because I was not trusting God. If I let go, I release whatever is weighing me down and distracting me from God’s greater purpose.  That yoke He did not intend for me to ever bear.  I can give it back to God.

Father, remind me to let go when I am holding too tightly to those things I need to release to You. Thank you for Your better way and lighter yoke when I dwell in You!

Jeremiah 6:16, 1 Kings 8:36, John 15:5