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Posts Tagged ‘Lord’

Strains of praise music filled the sanctuary while God’s people raised their voices in adulation and reverence.  Yet I stood–motionless, unmoved, and angry.  Lord, help my unbelief.  I can’t see your plan in his pain…his struggle…his loneliness.  Why him?  Why my son?

This child-man bore the brunt of another’s sin.  It lay heavy and unshakable on his soul like the weight of a yoke forced upon the shoulders of a helpless slave.  Pressing and unrelenting– its sharp splinters were a constant reminder of the burden he carried.

This morning–surrounded by smiling faces offering praises to the One who gave me the joy of mothering this blue-eyed son–my heart rebelled.  And I ached to have an answer…a reason…some reassurance.

When the pastor shared his illustration it was as if Christ was speaking to me alone–simple words penetrating a mother’s hardened, grieving heart.  What did he say?

Caught in a fire, a young boy peered from his second story bedroom window hoping to escape the flames threatening to 

consume him.  Smoke filled the darkness, but through the roar of the fire the child heard his father calling from below.  “Jump      

          down, son.  I’ll catch you!”  

          The  boy cried, “Daddy, I can’t see you.”  

But I can see you–trust me.  Jump.”

 

You probably understand.  Maybe you’re in the same place today–wondering, unsure, and asking for faith.   Trust Him, dear friend.  He sees you–and yours.

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Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;   

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray— I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;              

My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

We are shaped by the past–not defined by it.  Beholden to our memories–yet not held captive.  Molded by our experiences–but free to become more.

Consider Moses.  Born a slave, he was raised as a prince.  Then, in a moment of rage, he earned the unsavory title of a murderer.  Fleeing from his past, Moses hid in the desert and–in the most desolate of places–discovered God. That was the moment that changed everything in Moses’ life.  Instead of being embittered by life’s twists and turns or stymied by unforgiveness, guilt, or shame Moses was transformed.

He was no longer Moses the Prince nor Moses the Murderer.  Instead, he became Moses the Delivered.  As a man whose purpose had changed from one of self-preservation to one of God’s glorification, he began living afresh–sustained by his Lord, certain of his mission, and impassioned by the freedom found in Yahweh.

We, too, can share in that purpose and freedom–regardless of our past.  Despite hurtful memories or difficult situations.  We can become More than we are today–because of His redeeming power and matchless grace.  There is freedom in Christ, dear friend.

Scripture for Reflection

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,[a]
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

Luke 4:18  (www.biblegateway.com)

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A child reacts to police and fireman staged nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School where a gunman opened fire on school children and staff in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. REUTERS-Adrees Latif

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice…Isaiah 42:3

Like the rest of you, I’m in mourning today for the horrific and senseless loss of life in Connecticut. I sit helplessly in front of my computer screen–watching in stunned silence–wanting to do something, to help someone, to erase those fatal moments from history.

I cry and wonder aloud, How could something like this happen to innocent children? What if these were my little ones? Why would God allow such evil?

I don’t have the answers to the hard questions. I wish I did–or that someone did.
All we can do now is to bend our knees in prayer for those families who have been robbed of the gift of their precious children.

One day there will be justice for this unjust loss of life–for the children.

Lord,
We can’t begin to describe the sadness, anger, and bewilderment we are feeling. We can’t begin to understand how such an evil act can occur within the walls of a school building where crayons and books are the norm. But you, Father God, are the Comforter and Healer. You are the Rock and Sustainer. You bring about justice and offer us life everlasting in Jesus Christ.

We ask you to surround those families who have suffered and lost all hope today. Act mightily in their lives and turn our nation toward you because we are desperate for our Savior and in need of his redemption.

Amen

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A social outcast, Mary Magdalene was the bad girl of Galilee.  Women warned their sons about that woman and respectable men turned away in embarrassment at her knowing smile.  Mary was hopeless.  Rejected.  Irredeemable.

A beloved son rejected his father and his God for the false pleasures of the world.  Having ruined the family name, the young man returned home an impoverished and downtrodden fool…the stench of wild living still clinging to him.

Known for his religious zeal, Saul served as coat valet during a murderous rampage of  Christian converts.  Children cowered in his presence.  Families mourned.  A self-proclaimed executioner, Saul was guilty.

What do these people have in common with each other?  With a beloved friend or relative?  What do they have in common with us?

His name is Jesus Christ–the Savior sent to restore the rejected and rescue the irredeemable; the Shepherd commissioned to guide wayward children home to the Father; and the Lamb offering His life for those who are guilty.

Be encouraged!  Christ came to save the prostitutes, prodigals, and perpetrators.  He came to save the sinners.  He came to save you and me.  No sin is too great nor soul too tarnished to be outside the grasp of a loving God.

Verse for Reflection

We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross.    (1 Corinthians 2:8-10)

Action Step

Who did God put on your heart as you read this devotion?  Are you struggling with the idea that God offers love and forgiveness to you?  Or have you been praying for a friend who hasn’t yet met the One who sets us free from our sins?  Tell the Lord about it and then give Him that concern, thought, or prayer for today.

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Philippians 1:4-6 “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

As a newlywed, were you surprised to discover you and your husband failed to share all of the same expectations?  Disappointed because he left the toilet seat up?  Startled to learn he was as much in need of the cross as you?  I was.

When we exchanged our vows, I hadn’t realized the number of expectations both David and I had of each other.  I knew my husband would lovingly tolerate mood swings, easily give up the majority of closet space, and avoid comparing my cooking to his mother’s.  In turn, he assumed I would recognize the value of his waxing the pickup every weekend, the importance of creases in Navy uniforms, and the necessity of always arriving 20 minutes early for church on Sunday mornings.

Our expectations weren’t wrong, but they were inaccurate.  Preparing for deployment is similar.  Planning ahead, while important and certain to ease some transitions, will not eliminate challenges each of you will face.

Moses had expectations, as well.  After fleeing Egypt, Moses built a life for himself in the desert of Midian.  He gave up privilege for wealth, started a family, and grew old.  Moses knew the routine.  He enjoyed life’s predictability.  He knew what to expect.  Until…God called him to the unexpected.

For over 400 years, the Israelites had suffered in Egypt.  In fact, they had been brutally enslaved.  Children were torn from their mother’s arms, old men felt the sting of the whip across their backs when age limited productivity, and starved young men could only beg for mercy at the cruel hands of their masters.  In despair, God’s people cried out for relief…hope…deliverance.

You may know the story.  God sent Moses–a man who had once been accustomed to the riches and pleasures of royalty and now lived the humble life of a shepherd—to rescue Israel.  But, what could God do with a bent old man—a recluse?  Even Moses doubted God’s wisdom.   “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  (Exodus 3)

Despite his fears and insecurity, Moses remained faithful to God’s commands.  He asked to have an audience with the king of Egypt.  While it may seem surprising, Pharaoh granted the request—likely because he wanted a good laugh.  Think about it.  Pharaoh held the power of the world’s richest nation in his hands.  Commerce and trade were booming.  The military was unshakeable.  Wealth and education were hallmarks of the kingdom.  The ruler of Egypt had nothing to fear from a desert hermit.  Wouldn’t it be amusing to invite this unkempt, senile, stuttering fool to the foot of the throne?

So…Moses entered the glorious halls of the palace.  Unimpressed with the beauty around him, unafraid of the guards escorting him, and uninterested by those snickering in amusement at his blue-collar appearance, he approached Pharaoh and announced without hesitation, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:  ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.”

Laughter filled the room as Pharaoh and his court heard Moses’ words.  Did this white-haired relic realize he was addressing the most influential man in the world?  Surely, this hermit realized his life was at stake?  Was he insane?

Locking his gaze on Egypt’s king, Moses waited for the noise to subside.  He doesn’t realize who You are, Lord.  He is his own God. What a fool!

Finally, the room grew quiet.  Pharaoh’s face hardened.  He had expected Moses to be a cowering old man tottering on the brink of sanity.  Instead, he recognized strength and determination in an enemy more than twice his age.  Unwilling to admit it to himself, the great king of Egypt knew the Hebrew God had set a plan in motion the moment Moses entered the gates of the royal courtyards.

Remember, friend, the One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow can also use the unexpected in your life.  Yes, it will be difficult to give up comfortable routines.  You may yearn for the security of predictability.  At times, you might even feel as if you’ve been exiled to a foreign land—abandoned to a place apart from your husband or the life you had known.  Your expectations—for your life, your family, and your faith—will be altered and changed in amazing ways when you give them to God.

Suggested Scripture Reading

Psalm 93

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They were easy to spot.  Every one of them was dressed in red, white, and blue and stood waving a flag with as much eagerness as a boy scout troop might.  Looking like two colorful pieces of popcorn, our two youngest children were jumping up and down.  The older two–both teenaged boys–maintained a cool exterior, but their feet shuffled in anticipation and broad grins split their faces.

As their father strode toward them, there was a sudden rushing to meet in the middle of the causeway.  People turned at the sounds of sudden commotion as the children engulfed their dad enmasse.  Dave had returned.  Daddy was home.

The scene struck me as a foretaste of what it may be like when our heavenly Father returns for His children.  What a beautiful picture!  I can’t wait to run into His arms.

Scripture for Reflection-Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. – 1 Peter 2:12 (MSG)

Just for Today-Remember to live each moment today with an eternal perspective.  Will others notice the way you carry the family name–Christian?

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My dear son (daughter),

I am taking a chance and hoping you will set aside your anger long enough to read this letter.  Honey, I know you feel like I keep hounding for things you are doing.  Please, try to understand that I would never put you through any kind of pain if I believed there were an alternative.  Instead, I want to spare you from long-term hurt and pain in your life because of foolish or immature decisions.

In my heart, I pray my concerns are unfounded.  Given some of your previous experiences, though, I felt it necessary to protect you—even if that means I have to suffer your disdain and anger.  The anguish I am currently feeling is only surpassed by my love for you.

Please know there is nothing you can ever say or do to make me love you less.  You are, and always will be, a special treasure in my life.  You may not believe it, my son (daughter), but I am your champion.  I believe in you and see such potential just waiting to be tapped.  If you will seek the Lord, I believe He will do amazing things through you to impact the lives of others—I trust you are going to make a difference in this world!

Even before you were born, your dad and I prayed God would claim you as His own child; that He would protect you; and that you would recognize Him as not just your Savior but also the Lord of your life.  My precious boy (girl), I urge you to renew your commitment to Christ.  Turn back to what you know as true before the Holy Spirit has been quenched and your heart is unwilling.

Trust in the love your dad and I have for you.  Above all, trust in the one who formed you and knew you before Creation.

Your loving mother,

Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.”

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 In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.–Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

Maps were a mystery to me.  After all, I didn’t need to use one in the small farm town where I grew up.  But, Seattle was different.  Unfamiliar bridges, detours, and people who attended the Move-It-or-Lose-It-School of-Driving seemed to dot every hill, loop, and crossing.  I was directionally challenged and didn’t know where I was headed.

Have you been in a similar situation?  Do you ever find yourself thinking, Where are you taking me, Lord?  I didn’t anticipate this bend in the road.

He may lead you through unexpected terrain.  In a different direction.  Even to a place with a completely different view.

To get to the place you need to be, ask Him for direction.  You’ll never be lost when He’s behind the wheel.

Just for Today:  Ask Him to lead you–toward growth, forgiveness, becoming.

Recommended Reading:

 Amazing Love: True Stories of the Power of Forgiveness  by Corrie Ten Boom

The Purpose Driven Life:  What on Earth am I Here For?  by Rick Warren

Betrayed by God?  by Shana Schutte

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You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.  Psalm 30:11

“Mom, will you teach me how to dance?” These sweet words were the first Connor said to me this morning.  With a heart full of mother-love, I shuffled around the bedroom in red pajamas with my son–dancingThe little boy was gone and in his place stood a young man on his way to adulthood.   What a wonderful, bittersweet thing to behold.

Sometimes my heart aches when I slow down to notice these fleeting moments.  I long to keep Connor safe within the circle of my arms.  Protected from struggles.  Sheltered from storms.  But, growing up means stepping onto that dance floor–without me.  And whether or not the music is fast or slow, erratic or calming, I know he’ll adjust–not because of something I’ve done to prepare him, but because the One who gives us a reason to dance will be there.  Singing tender words of comfort when there are tears; whispering “Follow my lead” in moments of uncertainty, and celebrating life’s joys with the child he created.

Teach him to dance, Lord. 

 

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My manic morning began with the unrelenting pulse of the alarm clock reminding me that the day’s demands required my attention.  I silently pondered a mental “t0 do” list and groaned inwardly.  Better get moving.

 The standard pre-dawn routine halted abruptly when plumes of smoke erupted from my blow dryer and then…mechanical silence.  Strands of hair clung wetly to my head, my two youngest children were wailing because—well, they could, and my oldest son was yelling something about needing clean jeans and could “somebody” take care of the laundry.

Meanwhile, the clock continued its steadfast march toward the rest of the day.  Inwardly, I moaned.  How was I to face another day of maternal duty amidst the confusion and chaos?

I paused just long enough to offer up an abbreviated prayer, “God, please help me today.  I can’t do this myself!”  The Lord spoke gently to my heart. .  “You’re right.  You cannot manage everything without me.  In fact, you can’t manage anything without me!  Remember, Child, this is my day.  Exchange your burdens for my yoke and you will find rest.”

Ahhh…rest.

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