August 30, 2012

love is.


[ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. ] 1 Cor. 13

Father I don't know how to love like that, I don't even know where to start. I am so grateful that you pursue me with that kind of love. You are patient and kind, you rejoice with me, you bear all, endure all, and are faithful to see me through. There has never been such an example of love as when you sent your only Son to die for my sin.  

So how are we called to love? How does a broken person move towards another broken person in love? Musician, Ingrid Michaelson has a line her song "Breakable " that always painted a vivid picture to me of how frail we are..."Have you ever thought about, what protects our heart? Just a cage of rib bones and other various parts." Don't get me wrong, the human body is a complex, incomprehensible design that is another clear demonstration of God's love for us. But we are fragile, we hurt, we bend, and we break.  

 I need to remember that I am broken, that I am your design and I'm living for that day when I will be made whole, I will be complete and restored. How my heart longs for that restoration. That day when I won't hurt others anymore, when I will be free from the bondage of sin, when I won't be breakable anymore. But until that day help me look to truths like Cor 13 and see a promise of your love, and also a command to love. 

C.S Lewis writes, [I think what one has to remember when people “hurt”, is that in 99 cases out of a 100 they intended to hurt very much less, or not at all, and are often quite unconscious of the whole thing. I’ve learned this from the cases in which I was the “hurter.” When I have been really wicked and angry and meant to be nasty, the other party never cared or even didn’t notice. On the other hand, when I have found out afterwards that I had deeply hurt someone, it has dearly always been quite unconscious on my part.]

Father inevitably I will be the"hurter" or the "hurt" at some point in the future, probably today. I pray for strength to love like you command me to. Help me to be patient, kind, humble, rejoicing in the strength and success of others, building others up, believing all things, hoping in all things, enduring all things, help me realize that the way I love, should never have a expiry date. I can only do these things by through you.

August 28, 2012

tiny piranhas

[Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.]

I've always liked the imagery in that verse, "and I ate them". I picture a desperate, determined, hungry, needy person. At the first chance devouring scripture, knowing that his life depends on it. So aware of his need that he literally will eat them. I know the scriptures are not encouraging people to start literally eating their bibles. I can venture a guess that you wouldn't feel anymore holy and actually just probably feel like an idiot with a stomach ache. 

But with such vivid imagery Jeremiah is obviously trying to make a point. Throughout the Bible scripture is described as life giving. And I think that's what we're suppose to see here. "Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart." There is a promise of satisfaction and joy when you're feasting on scripture. 

Father I don't have to tell you, because you know everything. But I confess that I've been feasting on many things, your word not being one of them. I've been eating up the opinions of others, words of friends or family. I've been drinking in culture, soaking up energy from its toxic promises. But most of all lately I've been wallowing, hungry, in the doorway of your banquet hall. You've welcomed me in and I can smell the delicious aroma's of your invitation. But I'm bogged down in my despair and self pity, too worn out to move. 

Jon Bloom writes on discouragement, [If we linger in discouragement it can be costly. Its sense of defeat and hopelessness saps us of energy and vision. It can consume a lot of time. It can keep us from doing what we need to do because we don’t want to face it. When we feel discouraged we want comfort, which is right to feel. But the comforts we often turn to are ways to avoid our fears rather than ways to muster our courage to face and overcome them. When this happens discouragement simply becomes sinful indulgence in unbelief, no different than indulging in lust or anger or other sins of unbelief.]

Father I want to thank you for your faithfulness to bring me out of this season of discouragement, not that it's fully gone, I don't know when it will be. It requires a daily, hourly, moment by moment fight somedays. Scotty Smith wrote a few days ago about days when it seems like you're swimming in a pool of tiny piranhas that are slowly nibbling away at your joy.  I cannot fight if I'm malnourished. I won't care to fight if I'm starving. I won't have the energy to get up and come to the table to feast if I'm not daily staying nourished. 

One of the pastors at my home church, David Smith said something in a prayer a long time ago that when we're cut by the world  we should be people who  bleed scripture, ooze the gospel. That is my prayer. Make me someone who prays before they act, listen before speak, read before they write. Make me one who needs, eats and bleeds scripture. Your grace meets me in my need, it is sweet and refreshing to my hungry soul. It's like the delicious appetizer that leads into the main course. Father I want to be like Jeremiah and depend upon scripture. I want it to be the only foundation for my joy.

August 27, 2012

be kind

I read once, "Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Initially I thought this had the sounds of a works based effort kind of success. Be a good person because, karma's going to get you. But the more I thought about it the more my heart broke at the truth of that statement. Isn't that how Jesus walked on this earth? Recognizing that everyone he met was broken, needing salvation, needing grace. People are fighting battles they never imagined they would be fighting. The death of a child, financial bondage, strained relationships, sickness, worry about the future, loneliness. No two battles should be compared because no two people are alike. By elevating your struggles you're minimizing theirs and treating other people as if "they just don't understand" or "this is harder for me" you're robbing them of the opportunity to experience rich grace. 

The most beautiful thing about grace is that it meets you directly in your need. [And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16] Unlike individual struggles and battles the grace doesn't differ from person to person. The gospel doesn't make light of need or hurt, no matter how big or small, Jesus is standing there, calling all who are weary, all who are broken hearted to come to him. Should this not shape how I love others? 

Should my view not be, "Be kind, be loving, extend grace, show mercy, because Christ loves that person and they need to be reminded of that. There in the trenches right now, they are fighting a hard battle."

Father forgive me for seeing my own needs above the needs of others. Forgive me for being quick to judge motives and forgetting that things are normally what they are, not what I think they might be. Help me to slow down and be patient with those people that are hard to be patient with. Guard my heart from discouragement, help me to look back on scripture and see the rich promises you fulfilled, help me to eagerly anticipate future fulfillment of your promises. I want to love like you do, and I can only do that if I'm looking to you, meditating on your word and depending on your grace. You are faithful, you are loving, you provide, your gospel does not change. Guard my heard against condemnation, because today I'm more aware of where I've failed in these areas then how you can redeem those failed attempts, selfish motives and bitter silence.

So today I'm coming to you low, realizing that I cannot handle today on my own. Comforted that your cross has crushed all condemnation and discouragement is merely a flashing arrow pointing me back to yourself. In you and only you does my soul find rest.

[May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has deliver us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption , the forgiveness of sins.] Colossians 1:11-14

August 13, 2012

You gave us a rainbow

Father the past few days I've been so thankful that your love for me isn't dependent on how I love you back. Hallelujah you don't give up on us as quickly as I give up on others. I get irritated and frustrated, bitter, offended, and take that as an excuse to wash my hands of it. When things get tough, relationships bend but that doesn't mean that they will break. You are the faithful healer and sustainer, you can redeem the most broken relationship, the deepest hurt, you and you alone can bring reconciliation. 

Father forgive me for putting to much hope in other people. Forgive me for heaping expectation on sinners and being surprised and offended by sin. Forgive me for not praying fervently for the broken, hurting people, in my life. Forgive me for selfishly thinking I don't have time to care or show the Gospel. 

This morning I'm coming low before your throne and pleading for those relationships in my life. Start in my heart Lord, give me a hunger for your Gospel reconciliation. My heart is prone to wander, so anchor my feet firmly on your solid rock so even though the hurricane of human offense and the emotional hailstorms will come, they will make me thankful for my anchor, not doubt the security of the rock. 

For those friends and family I know and love dearly who are walking through this hurricane season I pray that today you will shine more clear, more beautiful through the storm. I pray they would be able to stand up and realize that they are still standing firm on that rock. Though it feels like they've wandered and wavered, you're holding them steady. Peel back layers, days, weeks, years, of offense and hurt and reveal your Gospel. It's only through you that their heart can find rest. Lastly Lord give them hope, some of these storms have gone on forever and they've stopped looking, even longing for rescue. Bring relief, for your glory and your praise. Amen

Romans 5

[Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.]