Archive for June, 2010

When Exhausted and Worn Out

June 30, 2010

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Are you weary and tired of performing, burdened from the non-ending effort of seeking to prove and establish your value? Christ calls us to come empty handed so we can freely grasp Him. He invites us to surrender our falsely assumed need to earn His love and acceptance through exhaustive striving and performing. To stop trying to prove our worth through works and performance when He’s already determined and secured our value at the cost of His death at Calvary.

Put down performance and don’t bring a resume. Simply rest confident in His love which is impossible to upgrade. He gave everything up for you at the cross and declared you were worth it all. He cannot love you or value you any more. You’re worth everything He gave up and you’re all He wants. He’s absolutely wild about you. Efforts to earn His love only demonstrate your refusal to accept it and the value He set for you.  

Personal Response

God’s love is rock solid, non-changing, and never-ending. Yet, thoughts will come that invite you to question God’s love, and emotions will arise that bring feelings of abandonment, inferiority, and insecurity. When this happens, it’s time for you to decide whether you will believe your thoughts and emotions or if you will accept Christ’s death at Calvary as your security of God’s love and His established value for you.

I urge you to believe and receive God’s love demonstrated at the cross. May you learn to rest in His love.

Come

June 29, 2010

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

What I love about Christ is His desire to have a personal relationship with us. This is expressed in His personal invitation to “Come.” Unlike the friends you are always calling and suggesting getting together with, who eagerly respond and participate, but never extend an opportunity or throw out an idea for an activity, Christ is the initiator.

Unlike the childhood recess line-up for those wanting to play baseball, with Christ, you’ll never become the undesirable left-over who becomes a casualty for the unfortunate team. That’s because Christ picked you and called you before you even wanted to play. (Eph. 1:4, Col. 3:12)  A relationship with Christ is not about what you have to offer, Christ picks you and offers Himself to you.

Don’t be afraid that your sin will cause Christ to run away from you. Like Adam, whose sin in the Garden didn’t prevent God from seeking him out, it’s Christ’s love of you, not your abilities or skills, that cause Him to actively pursue you. You see, He’s wild about you, who you are, not what you can do for Him.

Respond to His call right now. Remember, He’s not calling you to religion, to comply to a list of do’s and don’ts, or to activity, busyness, or labor. Christ is calling you to Himself with three powerful words, “Come to Me.”

Respond to His invitation and come.

Prayer

Father, thank you for calling me to you. I accept your invitation. I want to come to you and remain with you. Help me to live in your presence. I want my mind, heart, emotions to rest in you.

Journey with Me

June 28, 2010

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I’m extending a personal invitation to you to travel with me through the words of Matthew 11:28-30 for the new few days. Spend time today reading, rereading, speaking the words out loud, and meditating on Jesus’ invitation. Reflect on the meaning and significance of the bolded words above. Refuse to only be informed of God’s Word, instead ask God to transform you through obedience to His Word.

When My Plans Compete With God’s

June 25, 2010

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Shortly after leaving the elementary classroom in order to pursue my “next chapter” as a writer, I purchased tickets to attend a writer’s conference and flew 735 miles to pitch my study guide to a publishing agent. Upon arriving, I was informed that the agent scheduled to meet with me was sick and wouldn’t be attending.

This discovery devastated me and shattered all my plans. My investment of time, money, and energy was non-refundable. In my highly emotional state I retreated to my room, fell to my knees, and I’m uncertain whether I did more praying or crying. For a brief moment, I quieted myself to whisper a plea for God to somehow reveal His plan in the midst of my disappointment.

While reaching for a tissue, my eyes glanced at the title of my study guide, “Embracing Joy Whatever Your Experience.” It was then that it hit, the outcomes I desired for this conference were my desires that I formed into my plans and assumed they were God’s desires. It was time to surrender my failed plans and invite God to reveal what he desired for me thorough this conference.

Although I didn’t leave the conference with a book contract, I left free of personal desires that would have blinded me from discovering God’s plans for me during this conference.  

Personal Response

  • Be aware of the danger in assuming your desires and plans are God’s.
  • Ask God not to bless what you are doing but to help you do what He wants to bless.

God Never Withholds Good

June 24, 2010

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Psalm 84:11

Even in the middle of a garden of paradise, in enters the sleazy serpent slithering over to Eve carrying out his plan of seduction. First he invites Eve to question God’s goodness, “Did God really say, you must not eat from any tree in the garden?”  Secondly, he lures her to doubting the accuracy and value of God’s Word in blatantly calling God a liar, “You surely will not die.” Lastly, he presents God as a withholder, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

We find ourselves in the Garden every time our thoughts cause us to question if God’s holding out on us. Our questioning may sound like, “God why didn’t you…? This is the first lure leading you down the descent of false belief. The final step leads you to believe God is withholding by refusing to grant your request. Deceitful lies spoken by our culture say “The Bible makes no sense, make your own decisions.” Advertisements declare what we need and deserve if we will only purchase the item. After all, “You’re worth it!”

What Eve wanted, and what God wanted to protectively withhold, was the knowledge of evil.  Eve and Adam’s deadly bite into the fruit that appeared “good” introduced evil into the world. Everyone living has felt and experienced the catastrophic impact.

How thankful we are to have a loving and protective Father who withholds granting our requests and upgrades us by providing what is truly “good.”  I’m glad He always discerns the difference between what I believe to be good and what is truly better.

Personal Response

  • Reflect on past prayer requests where God said no in order to provide what was best. Thank Him for protecting you from your desires and requests.
  • Ask God to always trump your wants and upgrade your requests by giving you what is truly “good.”

Let God Define Your Good

June 23, 2010

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

There are times when I am uncertain of what possible good God can be doing in situations that I would have preferred God to prevent in my life. Despite this uncertainty, I’m becoming increasingly confident that whatever God’s will is, it is good and it is for my good.

Things didn’t look good for Joseph when abandoned by his brothers and sold into slavery. Not many declared God’s goodness while Naomi faced a tsunami of devastation. Mary and Martha both questioned the goodness of Jesus in neglecting their request to come immediately to heal their brother thereby preventing his death.

Our challenge today is to stop defining good by comfort, pain removal, protection from tragedy, injustice, or evil. If this definition were accurate, the lives of Joseph, Naomi, Mary, Martha, and Jesus would accuse and convict God of not being good.

I’m learning to allow God to define what is good in my life. This involves trusting that his thoughts and ways are far beyond my mind or my heart’s ability to comprehend. (Isaiah 55:8-9) At the same time I realize my lack of understanding doesn’t hinder God from doing good.

Although I will never be able to comprehend fully what God is doing or why He is doing what He is doing, there is a peace in recognizing God is fully good and busy doing good in areas where my mind and heart see no evidence of good.

Personal Response

  • Reflect upon times when your evaluation of your circumstances caused you to question God’s goodness? Share with God your decision to believe in His goodness regardless of what your mind and heart would interpret as God’s lack of goodness.

God is Always Good

June 22, 2010

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

I’m growing increasingly concerned when friends share positive updates and close with the words “God is so good!” Please understand that I have no doubt about the goodness of God and no desire to question God’s goodness. Yet, these comments trigger a warning sign in me when favorable situations become a determiner of God’s goodness.

The Bible clearly states that God is always good! He was good when humanity first messed up and is good when we repeatedly make poor choices. God is good when earthquakes rumble and roar, when tsunamis devastate and destroy, when a life is birthed and when death becomes a graduation from earth to heaven or hell. God was good, is good, and will forever be good.

Our circumstances will wax and wane, outcomes will at times appear favorable and at other times, hopeless. Even so, whether events give us a reason to celebrate or shatter our earthly plans and hopes, God is always good.

Personal Response

  • Determine today to daily acknowledge God’s goodness regardless of your circumstances.
  • Thank God for the favorable outcomes you’ve experienced and also thank Him that He remains good (and at work in your life) when you experience undesirable outcomes.

When Expectations Blind

June 21, 2010

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.  2 Kings 5:11

The same deceiver that spoke to Eve is whispering deceptive lies to us. These lies form into faulty expectations of  things we think God should do or ways we believe He should act. In essence we present an agenda, not a request list, to God. Without realizing it, we create a God in our image instead of allowing God to create us into His image.

As Naaman’s faulty expectations nearly robbed him of healing, even so, our expectations blind us from seeing who God is and what He wants to do in us: changing us to reflect His likeness.

Until we surrender what we want God to do, and stop defining the way we want Him to work, we rob ourselves from discovering who God really is and we miss His transforming power to change us.

We desperately need to return to Christ’s model of prayer: “Yet, not my will, but yours be done.” (Matt. 26:39)  The challenge is dying to our expectations. Christ’s confidence that His Father wanted what was best allowed him to surrender His desires for God’s.  It is a trust in our Loving God that allows us to release the blinding expectations that separate us from discovering Him.

Personal Response 

  • Ask God to show you faulty expectations you have of Him.
  • Ask God to help you release your faulty expectations allowing you to discover His greater plans for your life (and for others).

What’s Your Motivation?

June 18, 2010

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…Colossians 1:1

Paul’s Damascus experience, while traumatic and terrifying, became a defining moment that ignited an inextinguishable fire in Paul. Entering into a relationship with Jesus, Paul embraced the love of Christ that fanned into flame a desire to do God’s will. The love of Christ empowered his service for the rest of his life.

While few people hear their life assignment directly from God as Paul did (Acts 26), all Christians have the same purpose: to do the will of God.  God’s will is not a location, it’s a condition of the heart. A heart where love motivates service. Where the purpose of one’s service is to honor and glorify God. In modern day English that means spotlighting Christ through our lives and actions.

Paul’s apostleship was not motivated by selfish aspirations or ambition. He was consumed by the love of Christ which caused him to labor selflessly. Paul’s commitment and dedication can help us reflect on our motivations for work and service.

When I experience resentment, bitterness, agitation, anger, discontentment, self-striving and lack of peace, it’s time for me to examine whether my motivation is self-motivated or God motivated.

I’m not saying that serving from pure motives will prevent you from experiencing negative emotions, but emotions can be a clue of needed examination and reflection.

Let your emotional warning signs serve as a Damascus experience where you meet with Jesus. In His presence release your agenda and expectations in order to embrace His love, plans, and purposes for your life and service.

Realize that emotions may be warning sign for a needed heart change. Be open to exploring this possibility. Negative emotions may also identify the need to engage in difficult conversations with others. These learning conversations need to occur in an atmosphere where your feelings are openly shared without judging the actions of others or yourself. They need to focus on understanding yourself and others more deeply.

 Steps to Discovering What’s Motivating You

  • Start one-on-one with God. Pray asking God to reveal what’s in your heart. In other words, what is motivating your actions?
  • Invite God to do heart therapy, replacing selfish motivation for motivation influenced by His love.
  • If negative emotions remain, its possible conflict needs to be resolved with others. Ask God how to pursue these needed conversations with a humble and non-judgmental heart.
  • Even Paul had to initiate difficult conversations with others.

Cleansing Dirty Hands

June 17, 2010

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

 Although forgiveness and cleansing of sins are foundational to the Christian faith, I still struggle to understand how I can be completely cleansed because of what somebody else did. Face it, I still flub up and realize my hands and heart are dirty. I get that Christ forgives, but how does His action cleanse my hands and heart? 

Jesus’ cleansing may be challenging for me to understand because of my works mentality. The thinking that says, “Be responsible, you broke it, you fix it.” But, I can’t clean up with dirty hands. No one cleans anything with grimy hands. Responsible behavior says anyone with sin stained hands should have them pierced and be hung on a cross.

God agreed, and because He didn’t want to condemn us, but couldn’t compromise when it came to sin and ignore dirty hands, He sent his pure white-handed son Jesus, the sin cleaner.  Jesus said instead of piercing humanity’s dirty hands, take my clean hands and let me pay the penalty of sin (painful abuse of Calvary) along with the redemption price of dirty handed humanity (death).

Love and justice united on Calvary providing cleansing and redemption. The dirtiness of sin was punished and Christ’s death was my redemption payment restoring me to His family.

Now, every time I reach out my hand to take communion, I’m reminded that God sees Christ’s nail pierced hands reaching out which cleansed me and reunited me with Him.

Although I don’t live in a constant state of sinless perfection, the Perfect One lives in me. This makes cleansing available every moment. I’m learning to live my life in constant communion recognizing that since Christ is in me, cleansing is continually available. At the same time, I’m allowing the power of His presence to overcome the dirtiness of my sin.

Personal Response

  • Do you recognize any “works mentality thoughts” that compete with Christ’s cleansing?
  • How can you live in constant communion recognizing cleaning is continually available?