Thursday Inspiration 7.31.14

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Psalm 119 The Message (MSG)

119 1-8 You’re blessed when you stay on course,
    walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
    doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
    you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
    now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,
    keeping to the course you set;
Then I’d never have any regrets
    in comparing my life with your counsel.
I thank you for speaking straight from your heart;
    I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what you tell me to do;
    don’t ever walk off and leave me.

 

Even though it is human nature to rebel and wander off–God is patient with us. He’s like the GPS on your phone or in your car that keeps saying “recalculating route”. He will get you where you need to go no matter how far off course you get. 

Today is just a simple thought–that God knows the right way. Any time we feel prone to wander we need to remember that following Him means we never have to have regrets or think we aren’t going the right way. 

I pray that I always do what you tell me to Father–don’t ever walk away and leave me behind. Amen.

 

Photo Credit: http://coffeebreaksandconstellations.tumblr.com

Wednesday Inspiration 7.30.14

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I love the intimacy of morning coffee or tea with God. I smiled when I saw this picture. And then I googled and stumbled upon this:

“One of the greatest weapons you possess is the power of prayer. If you have an effective prayer life, it will not only keep you from being fearful and at the mercy of evil as it abounds in these last days, but it will also connect you with the unlimited resources of an all powerful God.

God wants a close relationship with you. He wants to hear your voice calling His name. He cares about the details of your daily life and wants to be the one you run to with your problems and all of the situations you face.

Scripture tells us that Jesus is touched by the feeling of our infirmities and that when we come to Him, we “receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). God is for you and not against you, and it makes a difference when you pray!

Why Pray?

Praying to God brings His power into your situation. Psalm 107:28-30 says, “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven.” Without God’s powerful intervention, they would most assuredly have been lost!

How about you: Do you have trouble? Are you in distress? Is there a storm raging around you? Cry out to God in prayer. He will hear you and bring you out of your agony, giving you the guidance you need. There is power in prayer!”http://www.walkingbyfaith.tv/journal/single-article/141/

When you wake up tomorrow–go to your kitchen, sit down in your chair or on the edge of your bed, and talk to God. Although He is all-knowing He wants you to tell Him everything that’s in your heart or on your mind.

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

Tuesday Inspiration 7.29.14

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Psalm 139

7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!

Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

This is one of my favorite images in Scripture–the idea of running away or seeking seclusion and getting as humanly far away as possible but because our Heavenly Father is immeasurably large He can still find us in a minute. We might think we’ve found the best hiding spot but He is the best seeker.

No matter how dark your hiding spot is–know that even God sees you in the dark and when He finds you, it’s like a floodlight that engulfs you in brightness.

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

Monday Inspiration 7.28.14

My mom had surgery on her knee last Friday to repair two tears. She was in too much pain to go to church so we had to take the day off–I didn’t feel right going without her. Needless to say my dad was THRILLED to hear we weren’t going to church. Every Sunday he’s mad that we go. Any time something has gone wrong with our cars he gets a power trip knowing that if for whatever reason we can’t afford it–that there’s a chance we will be unable to drive to church. 

Anyway, this Sunday even though she was still in pain we didn’t want to miss church again. That started an argument when we got home and my dad threatened (in typical fashion) to not pay an important bill. Now my brother is mentally ill and on disability–he can barely afford his own bills. My mom is recovering from a surgery and isn’t working. Then there is me and my dad. When he fails to come through–I don’t have a choice. I.e. if he doesn’t pay the car insurance, I have to. If he decides he doesn’t feel like food shopping and only buys food for himself while he is out, I have to. 

I have been doing this for so long that although it isn’t fair–I’m used to him not coming through. 

As I drove my mom this morning to pay the bill before I needed to drive back home to catch my bus to work, there was a group of landscapers sitting on our stoop. They do this every morning for as long as I can remember. I usually avoid them completely by going out the back but I’ve been parking in the front of the building because it’s easier for my mom to get to with her bad knee. Anyway. We barely open the door and the rowdiness starts. “How does it feel to be the breadwinner of the family”, one says to me. “Did you guys go to church the other day?”, says another. One makes a mockery of how my mom is limping to the other guys and says “Heal me!!!! Heal me!!!!”. As much as I genuinely don’t care what these people think of me or my family it’s just the fact that they are so hateful. Between living with my dad and his abuse and then the neighbors and other people in the area–it gets old. I’m not ignorant to say we’re the only ones who go through this, but so often it can feel like you are totally alone as a Christian. That somehow other people are on the shortcut, the paved path, and you are on the road less traveled. It’s not pride. It’s confusion. Why did you bring me here? Why am I here? Where is the relief? 

After texting a few of my friends from church for prayer–one told me to pray for my dad. Ugh—right? Anything but THAT. I don’t hate my dad, but I can’t honestly say that I like or respect him. He resents being a father, a husband, and 9 out of 10 times he has something negative to say about you or a situation. I waited until I was really groggy before bed and sent up a quick prayer. Something honest like “I don’t want to pray for him, he doesn’t deserve it, but soften his heart to pay the bill..I don’t have anything in my account. I haven’t been paid yet.” Not verbatim, but to the same effect. 

1 John 4 tells us that if we claim to love God but harbor ill feelings toward our brothers and sisters we are liars. If you can’t love the people you see how can you love the God you cannot see? And quite frankly that verse is awful–because who really wants to love someone who is awful? For me it’s easy to love strangers, I like people, I can even like people who don’t like me. That’s fine. But it’s a whole different story to be kind to people who go out of their way to spew garbage on you. Who deliberately want to make life harder for you.

When I woke up today my mom showed me the cash my dad left on the couch this morning for the bill. In a way–cool right? An answer to my half-hearted prayer. But in another way it’s still unsatisfying because he pulls this all the time. And a good percentage of the time–he doesn’t give the money enough to trust that he may have a blow-up but it will fizzle and he’ll come through. He’s not that trustworthy unfortunately.

However I am grateful for this time. And through gritted teeth I will try to pray for my dad every day–a task that honestly–I don’t look forward to.

Luke 6:37-38The Message (MSG)

37-38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.

But I will remember that ultimately it isn’t for my sake, or my dad’s sake, I merely just want to honor God. Like this photo says I want my Heavenly Father to be proud and look at me and say “That’s my girl”.

 

Photo Credit: flickr.com 

Friday Inspiration 7.25.14

Last night I had a series of pointless dreams–for example the dream right before I woke up was me buying gum and being unhappy with the flavor. Haha. But in the middle of the night, in darkness, I woke up instantly with one word “Myanmar”. I have no idea what it means. I’m aware geographically that it’s a place. I wasn’t sure if it was still a country or if like with some areas that was an old name and now it is referred to as something else. I woke up, heard the word, and remember groggily being like I guess I’ll pray. I don’t remember what I even said but I said a short prayer and went back to sleep.

When I woke up this morning I decided to Google it and apparently there is some unrest there. I don’t really understand the details other than that Doctor’s Without Borders are being removed because of perceived religious favoritism–aka treating one group over another. This is just perception according to this article and merely just that one group is more in need than the other:  http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/troubled-myanmar-state-invites-back-aid-groups-24691009

I have no idea why I was woken up. Even posting about it seems a little weird because I don’t know what that means. Does this mean I was just encouraged to pray for them? Does it mean more? Am I missing something?

I know the Holy Spirit intercedes when we don’t know what to pray for–so maybe that was it. Simply being prompted and responding.

Has this ever happened to you before?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Flickr.com

Thursday Inspiration 7.24.14

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Isaiah 61 The Message (MSG)

Announce Freedom to All Captives

61 1-7 The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—

a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness”
planted by God to display his glory.

They’ll rebuild the old ruins,
raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They’ll start over on the ruined cities,
take the rubble left behind and make it new.
You’ll hire outsiders to herd your flocks
and foreigners to work your fields,
But you’ll have the title “Priests of God,”
honored as ministers of our God.
You’ll feast on the bounty of nations,
you’ll bask in their glory.
Because you got a double dose of trouble
and more than your share of contempt,
Your inheritance in the land will be doubled
and your joy go on forever.

This verse is beautiful in so many ways. The first thing I love is the image of God’s spirit on me, anointing me. I imagine that it would feel like a blanket straight out of the dryer. Or like the sweet syrupy taste of tea as it slowly warms up your throat on a chilly day. You get the picture? Total peace is in that first verse. But it goes on to say that because I am, you are, we are anointed in this way we are to be that warm blanket or soothing tea to others. “God sent me to announce the year of his grace”. To show people what they haven’t seen or heard before.

And what about bouquets instead of ashes? That’s poetry. Pure poetry. Imagine all the dead parts of your life: divorce, a terminal illness, poverty, depression, whatever it is and imagine it as physical ashes in your hands. It’s not contained an urn. That’s not big enough. Right? Every time something dies it’s just another empty sandbag in your open hands. It’s overwhelming in it’s magnitude and grief and you close your eyes because you’re tired of looking at dead things. But to God. They aren’t dead. To him death is a temporary circumstance—because life is eternal. So what if you opened your eyes again and somehow there were flowers where there was once decay? Your joy would be visceral. Deep in your gut you would have butterflies, and maybe be so overcome that you would shout, or burst out laughing, or cry. The joy is what God wants to give you.

And His joy? Well it goes on forever.

Wednesday Inspiration 7.23.14

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Excerpt from Romans 10 MSG:

“It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”

11-13 Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.”

14-17 But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,

A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
telling all the good things of God!
But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.”

God’s love is extravagant. The very fact that He bridged the gap between us and Him is unfathomable–He who lacks nothing and us who lack everything in comparison. But His love is like that. Unconditional.

On a human level we don’t always get this exchange. We’re suspicious of anything someone claims to be free of cost. But God so loved, that He gave. It might not be in human nature but it is in His nature.

So today I encourage you to reflect on God’s love anew. And if you have no idea what that feels like and what I’m talking about — take the first step and just talk to God. Say God, I don’t know this kind of love. I don’t know if I believe in you. But if what she says is true–I ask you to set things right between us. I ask you to help me to believe. Reveal yourself to me. Show me who you are today.

His Word promises you will never regret it.

Photo credit: betype.co

Tuesday Inspiration 7.22.14

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James 4 The Message (MSG)

Get Serious

“4 1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.

2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.

4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”

7-10 So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.”

As harsh as this verse is–I love it’s bluntness. None of us if we’re honest enjoy the struggle. We want it fast and with the fewest roadblocks. But that’s not the life we signed up for or the world in which we live.

I was thinking the other day just about my life and the pain I’ve overcome. Not many years ago (even as a Christian) I wondered why my sorrow wasn’t going away, why I felt like God saw my misery but didn’t remove it and overall why I didn’t feel like He spoke to me.

Now I feel close to God, I hear Him and although there’s always more that I could grow in proximity and intimacy with Him–I am not where I once was.

My revelation for today is that you need to trust your struggle.

What I mean is that you might not be doing anything wrong or to deserve it and then again maybe you are holding on to toxic relationships or negative thought patterns. Regardless we can trust our struggle. Whether we want it or not Jesus is obsessed with us. He is that ex who wants you back or that person you never gave a try. Think about it like the phrase “nice guys finish last”. He isn’t going anywhere. He is willing to wait for you to exhaust all other options, travel the world, entertain hobbies, etc and when you got that all out of your system He will finally catch your attention.

I specifically remember saying to my mother once that I wanted God but I wanted to have other things too. Things He couldn’t satisfy. I think I was in my teens. But yeah. Things like hand holding or listening to my crazy stories and laughing. Tangible human things. Or I really wanted to write. And that seemed like a passion outside of what God could do.

Ouch.

But over time, I learned that everything I wanted ended up being crap. I didn’t find enjoyment in writing for years, I haven’t had a healthy dating relationship, and the list could go on. I’ll spare you. And honestly most days I don’t care what I don’t have. I’m human so there are days where you desire things again but for the most part everything looks less shiny.

The one thing that hasn’t dulled is Jesus. If I said this to my bitter younger self she would have rolled her eyes but it’s the truth. And I can’t roll my eyes at myself because I’ve lived it.

If you feel disillusioned with God or life in general today–I get it. Oh boy do I get it. But let me remind you that your struggle is paving the way for your strength. There will be pain, there will be heaving tears, sleepiness nights, anxiety, feelings of anger but this isn’t betrayal or the end of the world. It’s actually the start of something better.

Think of it like a baby chick. You grow and grow inside an egg and eventually you’re too big for the shell. You’re used to living in it but you have changed and it’s natural that it has become too small for you. The shell cracks. You might not want to break it completely open but the more you move the more cracks form. What you really ought to do is open your eyes and look around at all you couldn’t visualize or get to by staying inside that space.

The same is for us. Wanting a career, marriage, etc are not bad things. What’s bad is wanting them more than God. He wants us more than anything else and He created all things. Like any relationship you want to be wanted. You don’t want it to be lopsided. If these are feelings we have in human relationships but we are made in God’s image so where do you think we got it from?

If you are in the midst of your struggle know that you are in the process of awakening to the fact that nothing will satisfy. Any control you thought you had is a lie. Any person or thing you had on a pedestal is faulty. God wants to keep you secure. And the only person who can come through consistently and supply every need is Him.

The struggle is paving the blessing.

Photo Credit: asportsnerd.wordpress.com

Monday Inspiration 7.21.14

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1 John 3 The Message (MSG)

“3 What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.

2-3 But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him. All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.

4-6 All who indulge in a sinful life are dangerously lawless, for sin is a major disruption of God’s order. Surely you know that Christ showed up in order to get rid of sin. There is no sin in him, and sin is not part of his program. No one who lives deeply in Christ makes a practice of sin. None of those who do practice sin have taken a good look at Christ. They’ve got him all backward.

7-8 So, my dear children, don’t let anyone divert you from the truth. It’s the person who acts right who is right, just as we see it lived out in our righteous Messiah. Those who make a practice of sin are straight from the Devil, the pioneer in the practice of sin. The Son of God entered the scene to abolish the Devil’s ways.

9-10 People conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. It’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin. Here’s how you tell the difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children: The one who won’t practice righteous ways isn’t from God, nor is the one who won’t love brother or sister. A simple test.

11 For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other.

12-13 We must not be like Cain, who joined the Evil One and then killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because he was deep in the practice of evil, while the acts of his brother were righteous. So don’t be surprised, friends, when the world hates you. This has been going on a long time.

14-15 The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don’t go together.

16-17 This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

When We Practice Real Love
18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.”

I love this quote because it reminds me of God’s love for us. He has seen our darkness and longs to wash it away with His light.

A few takeaways:

1. We are children of God
2. The world doesn’t understand God and His ways so there will be people who don’t understand your ways
3. If you are openly doing wrong — it is a sign that you don’t understand God or fully realize His love for you. Christ died so you could be free from your old life. I once heard that it’s like watching Christ be buried and raised from the dead and you going inside the empty grave and laying down. God didn’t want you there. He made arrangements so you never had to go there. So why are you still burying yourself?
4. You are responsible for killing God’s love if you do not help others i.e. ”
If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear”. This is quite similar to my post from 7.15.14
5. Even if our criticism of ourselves is justified we need to remember God knows who we really are and that we are loved. We are not the sum of our failures–we are the aftermath of Christ’s victory. If we live defeated or questioning our place in God’s family we cannot boldly ask Him for the desires of our hearts because we will question if we deserve it and by extension if God can do it for us.

I pray that we all learn to accept our human limitations but not be defined by them. Greater is He.

Photo credit: hplyrikz.com

Friday Inspiration 7.18.14

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John 10:

27 My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. 29 The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. 30 I and the Father are one heart and mind.”

This verse is a good reminder in so many ways:

1. Jesus and the Father know you. That in and if itself is crazy right? Out of all the millions of people, species of animals, insects, etc They know YOU. And that is why They want you to know Them in an intimate way where you are so close in community that you recognize Their Voice and follow.

2. I remember in a Bible study years ago someone being concerned about their salvation. They asked Jesus into their heart, believed, but still had doubt that they could be in Heaven. We all fall, we all struggle, and through God’s grace we learn how to be better. We don’t stop sinning but we are renewed daily. And we grow. This verse proves that we are never let go. You are protected for life. You are kept safe by the Shepard. Though the wolves may come around and howl and frighten you, they can never take you. Jesus goes on to emphasize that even more so by saying that God entrusted Jesus to look after us and that He is in agreement with all Jesus says. It’s not like we’re accepted by Jesus but His dad doesn’t like us. Right? It’s important to remember that Satan is mad that He can’t have us. But being the Destroyer He will still try to steal our peace and joy about our safety in the flock.

3. Jesus doesn’t say anything that isn’t true and God and Jesus are of one heart and one mind. They aren’t playing the role of Mom and Dad where one parent is the softie and the other is the enforcer. This isn’t good cop/ bad cop. They agree with each other and feel for their children equally. They aren’t in disagreement with each other.

Today remember to be still. Practice hearing God’s voice. If you don’t hear Him ask for clarity. Ask Him to speak to you today in a way that you can’t miss. I’m sure He has something He’s been trying to say.

Photo Credit: gods gracefulness.com