Watch In Hope

watch in hope

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”Micah 7:7 NIV

I had a long season of waiting. Being still. Over a year I was still. My year consisted almost exclusively of reading, prayer, and journaling. Other things had  gradually been stripped out of my life. Some of the stripping was easier than others. Some was downright painful. When I stumbled upon this verse, the word “hope” stood out to me. In my stillness, my one desire was to be obedient and learn a new way of life. It didn’t feel like a sacrifice.  It was more of a determination to do things differently.

For years I had tried to do things my own way and that didn’t work out very well.  Now I was determined not to repeat the same patterns all over again. The “hope” in this verse was as loud to me as a thunderclap. It started as a warmth in my belly.  It occurred to me that I can be still and sit in hopefulness for what is yet to come.  I do not have to have any direction.  I can still sit quietly but hopefully. It made me want to spend the day watching Karate Kid.  It made me realize that in my daily activities, small as they might be, a transformation was taking place. A kinder, gentler lifestyle that depended on someone else for a change. A hope for something better.  So much better in fact, it required a purging of old patterns, relationships and hurts that I no longer needed to carry around anymore.

Hope was the beacon that lit my new path.

Lord help me to always place my trust in you and not myself, others, or material things!

Psalm 34:5-6, 37:7-9, 40:1-3; 1 John 5:14-15

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Smooth Edges

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Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what. Love will never become obsolete.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 The Voice

One day during my devotional time I decided to let my Bible fall open and that is where I would read.  It fell open to the last page of the concordance.  The words “wrong” and “wronged” caught my eye.  It took me to scriptures in 1 Corinthians and Proverbs.  The gist of the scriptures I read was this:

  • Isn’t it better to be wronged than to have wronged someone else?
  • Love covers all wrongs

This gave me pause. I still had quite a few sticking points in my heart with some folks. They felt like rough ragged edges that my feelings would get caught on. It was a place of injury.  So I started to pray.  I started to ask for the characteristics of love.  I asked for patience, kindness. I asked to be able to rejoice in the truth, protect always, trust always, hope always and to always persevere.  I asked God to help me let go of all the junk associated with these ragged edges in my heart. I began to realize that I was not the only one injured.  I was able to lift others up in prayer too.

Father, show us where the frayed and ragged edges are in our hearts. Make them more smooth from experiencing and practicing Your love.

Proverbs 10:12, 13:9; 1 Corinthians 13

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Not Just For Them

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20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23 NIV

This prayer is a prayer for us. This blew me away when I understood it for the first time.  We are the ones who heard the message of Jesus Christ all these centuries later from the messages carried on through His disciples.  As Jesus was getting ready to face the most horrific of executions, here he was, interceding for us. This touches my heart so deeply.  What incredible love. He wanted us to have the relationship with God that He had. He wanted us all to be together again…even before we were born.

I have always heard the scriptures of God knowing us before we were “knit together in our mother’s womb” but this scripture made we realize very practically how much Jesus was a part of that picture too.  It made it very real for me.  It is right there in black and white.

Jesus, thank you  for Your unfathomable, unconditional love and sacrifice.  It humbles me to a point that words cannot express.

Ephesians 4:12-16; Colossians 2:2-4, 3:12-15, John 3:16

True

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“4 The weapons of the war we’re fighting are not of this world but are powered by God and effective at tearing down the strongholds erected against His truth. We are demolishing arguments and ideas, every high-and-mighty philosophy that pits itself against the knowledge of the one true God. We are taking prisoners of every thought, every emotion, and subduing them into obedience to the Anointed One.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 The Voice

True. One true God. Historically, true was not a word that packed a lot of punch for me.  As it becomes more and more challenging to tell the difference between pop spiritualism and the gospel, I am beginning to understand that true is a very powerful word.

True: Adjective– conforming to reality or fact; not false. Real, genuine, authentic. Sincere, not deceitful. Loyal, faithful, steadfast. Reflecting the essential or genuine character of something. Conforming to a standard. Exact, precise, accurate, correct. Legitimate or rightful. Reliable, unfailing, sure. Exactly or accurately shaped, formed, fitted or placed. Honest, honorable, upright.

As I look at these descriptions, they hold great power.  For me, it offers a word of caution.  We should be wary of things that do not reflect this description; things that are not true.

So Father, put a thirst in my heart for all things true, for all things of You.  Help me come to understand You as the One True God.  Help me embrace all the ways that You are true.  Father, I pray that I will be true to You in all things and in all ways.  Thank you for Your true and perfect love and mercy and grace.  Thank you for giving me these gifts undeservedly.  Thank you for loving me so true and unconditionally.

Matthew 6:22, 24:35; Mark 3:35, John 1:9, 3:21, 15:1

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Dig Deeply

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“Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am. Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain. Psalm 139:23 The Voice

This is a cry for intimacy.  When we share intimate space with someone, we get to know the good, the bad and the ugly (and of course there is a preponderance of beauty as well!).  The bottom line is there can be no secrets.  Nothing can be hidden. There is no room for it.

I love The Voice version because you can hear the pain in this cry “Dig deeply…Put me to the test…watch how I handle the strain.” So when this happens, we get at the truth of the matter. So here is what was uncovered for me: anxiety, doubt, worry, fear of man, unhealthy connection to people, performance, rejection and fear.

This made me so angry!  It was a list I was familiar with.  I was so tired of the same list popping up time and time again. After a growl, I asked the Lord to deliver me.  I was done with it.  I prayed in the Spirit for thirty minutes because I didn’t trust my own heart to get at the ugly stuff that seemed to be hanging around.  There was a shift!  My heart was lighter. My mind was clearer. I had more energy. It was amazing.  I’ve heard testimonies and sermons about praying in the Spirit but this application was even more validating and faith building. Cool. God gives us all the instructions and the tools.  We just have to use them.

Lord, thank you for every piece of instruction and tool You have provided. I pray i exercise them all to the fullest!

Psalm 139, John 14:26

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He Loves Me Anyway

he loves me anyway

“Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am. Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain.” Psalm 139:23 The Voice

I read this verse today and thought “Why in the world would I ask for this?” Search my heart and mind and soul and desires and put them all to the test.  Huh.  I really have to think about that.

Then I read the entire Psalm, verses 1-24. What I saw was all the beauty of intimacy and unconditional love and reliance on God. I am foolish to think that I can hide anything from Him. I am also foolish not to realize that He decided to love me long ago… anyway. He knew about every bad decision I was going to make before I did.  All of them.  And He loves me anyway.  He still showers me with love and compassion and His tender mercy.  There are days that I feel like I can wrap my head around a small piece of His love for me but I always know that it’s so much bigger than I can even imagine.  It makes me thankful and gives me encouragement to continue to stretch into the person that He designed me to be.  It also gives me courage and strength to love others the way He loves me….anyway.

Father thank you for Your immense unconditional love. Help me grasp the depth and breadth of Your love that began before time.

Psalm 139

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No RSVP

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“So those who…are last will be first…, and those who…are first will be last…. For many are called, but few chosen.” Matthew 20:16 AMP

I have read this verse many times.  However, when I read this in the context of another verse it literally sent chills through me.  The second verse was this:

“23 Then the master said to the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges and urge and constrain [them] to yield and come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, not one of those who were invited shall taste my supper.” Luke 14:23-24 AMP

This made me stop and think.  I’m not the best at an RSVP to invitations. As a matter of fact, I have gradually fallen “off the list” so to speak.  There was a time that my social calendar was very full and it was a priority.  However, there was a shift for me.  It was not my intent to offend anyone.  It just slid down my list.  I still have coffee, lunch and dinner with intimates and associates on a less frequent basis.  My schedule has a much more leisurely pace these days….by design.

However, as I was thinking about this grand feast that was prepared as described in the scripture, the words that were bone-chilling to me were:

“…not one of those who were invited shall taste my supper.”

Have I ever not shown up for God?  Has He ever set a table for me and I made other priorities? I had to sit with that one a while.  A long while.  I’m still reeling a little.  What if in my hustle and bustle I never even looked at His invitation?  Or what if my calendar was so full of other priorities that His fell off my list?

As I step back, I realize that I have to reassess.  That is one invitation I do not want to neglect.  I also want to make sure that my relationships with others reflect His graciousness as well (i.e. treat others with respect and care).

Father, I repent for ever taking Your invitation for granted.  Help me treat You as my first priority.  Help me love others like You love me and treat them with respect and care.

Matthew 19:28-30, Matthew 7:13-14

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