Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Happy Place

No, I'm not talking about the playground at MacDonalds. =)

For me the "happy place" is what some people call the "sweet spot of grace."
The place where David said "I sing in the shadow of your wings" (Ps. 63:7).
What Paul meant when he wrote "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation" (Phil. 4:12).

My "happy place" is where I find myself when God performs His miracle of grace in my spirit - so that my heart is truly happy in Him and I am "well content" with my circumstances, whatever they may be.

I wish I could say that I live here always. Unfortunately, sometimes my focus wanders and I become unahppy with my circumstances, wishing I was elsewhere, wishing I could change things that are beyond my control. It only takes a moment of wayward thinking to dislodge me from the "happy place." But thankfully, it only takes a moment of turning my eyes to Almighty God to bring me back "home."

I wish I could describe more eloquently what a precious gift it is to have this Refuge, this place of joy and gladness in my spirit, regardless of the storms that blow around me. But if you've ever been to your own "happy place" with God, then you know exactly what I mean. =)


Lord, thank you for the supernatural happiness you give us in You, completely apart from our circumstances. Please keep us in our "happy places" of trust and contentment, so that others might see how completely fulfilling you are!
Amen.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gideon

Have you read the story of Gideon lately? (Judges 6-7)

I think it's a story full of irony.
-God called Gideon a "mighty warrior" - even though Gideon was hiding in a winepress from enemy raiding parties.
-God told Gideon to tear down his father's altar to Baal - Gideon obeyed, but he did it at night because he was afraid of the townspeople.
-God told Gideon to lead Israel's troops - then God said, you have too many soldiers, send all but 300 of them home.
-Gideon overheard the enemies saying how afraid they were of him - when Gideon was the one who was afraid of everyone!

See what I mean? Ironic.

At the same time, this is a story full of grace.
-God appeared to Gideon and called him - though Gideon was the least important person in his family and the least likely leader.
-God told Gideon to go, but Gideon was afraid and kept asking for signs - God graciously gave him two specific signs.
-Even when Gideon was ready to fight, he still was unsure - God sent him to overhear a conversation of the enemy saying how afraid of him they were.
-When Gideon obeyed at last - God routed the enemy with ease.

Can you see the grace all over?

It's easy for me to judge Gideon's fear and need of constant reassurance. When I read this story, I think, "What a wimp!" But really, I'm just like Gideon. Ironic. Thankfully, God is still the same today in His approach to "wimps" as He was then. Grace.

Do you ever feel like a spiritual wimp instead of a "mighty warrior"? It's ok. God likes to choose us wimpy, unlikely people to be His "soldiers," so that He can display His grace - and so all of us will know that HE is the one who routes the enemy!

Hallelujah!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pure Religion

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being pulluted by the world." -James 1:27

I memorized this verse several years ago, and it comes back to my mind often.

I'm thankful to say that I have watched many people over the last 24 years who put this verse into practice by minstering to my mom and our family in our distresses.

I know what it is to be a father-less child, to rely on the kindness of others to help meet needs, and to see the love of the Father displayed through those with "pure religion."

What about me? What about you? What can we do demonstrate true religion to the orphans, the father-less, and the widows in our midst? We have been given so much. How can we share those blessings with others in need?

Our loving God wants to display His Father heart through us. This Father's Day, let's take a moment to pray for those who are without husbands and fathers. And let's ask God to enable us to live out Pure Religion, to His glory!
Amen.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Not to us...

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." -Psalm 115:1

"But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” -John 3:21

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." -2 Corinthians 4:7

"LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us." -Isaiah 26:12


Not to us, O Lord. We claim no glory for the good things you do through us. Thank you for using these jars of clay to display your awesome power and grace!

To God alone be the glory!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Compassionate God

I was sitting in our backyard yesterday in the shade of our oak tree. The two mockingbirds who have a nest in the tree kept flying back and forth between the tree and the roof of the house. At one point, one of them came and perched on the lawn chair next to me and looked right at me. I figured they're just not used to having people in their "territory."

Then a few minutes later, I noticed a tiny rustle in the grass a few feet away. I looked closer and saw a little baby bird! He must have fallen out of his nest and was hiding in the tall grass. This explained why the parents were acting so nervous.

The poor little thing was so small and helpless, my heart just went out to him! I wanted to help him, but I knew there was really nothing I could do. If I got any closer the parents might attack me, and if I touched their baby then they would probably reject him.

So I did the only thing I could do. I prayed, "Lord Jesus, please take care of this little bird!" Then I left, hoping the parents would go feed him once I was gone. I kept thinking about him all night, hoping he was ok.

It's strange how in one moment a helpless, little bird completely captured my attention and filled my heart with compassion. I can't begin to imagine how much more God cares about me!

Isaiah 30:18 says,
"Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion."

The compassion God has for us is infinitely greater than what we feel for others. Just like that baby bird, we are weak and helpless, but God LONGS to pour out His grace and love on us. He delights in showing us His compassion, in taking care of us, and loving us.

Just like the little bird, I'm on His mind and in His heart. And so are you.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." -Matthew 10:29-31