~ music by Shane Henry, “Amore” from the Album “Beauty in the Struggle”
Recently I saw a quote on Pinterest that said, “I don’t need someone who sees the good in me, I need someone who sees the bad and still wants me.” Thankfully, there is such a One! God knows us inside and out. He sees the bad and still wants us. He remembers that we are “but dust” and “doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve” or “repay us according to our offenses”. (Psalms 103:10 & 14) He is patient, longsuffering, and loves us with a perfect love that can only come from Him.
See wise words below from Tim Keller and remember, God will never leave you or forsake you. “He who began a good work in you WILL carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)
“The gospel is this: we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
I just happened to be reading Tim Keller’s book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering while recovering from severe burns from a grease fire in my kitchen. I stumbled upon the powerful piece of wisdom below that was a terrific reminder for me during this time of healing, but is also important to remember no matter what difficult or confusing circumstances we might find ourselves in life.
“When my son was around eight years old, he began to exert his will and resist his parents’ directions.
One time I told him to do something and he said,
“Dad, I’ll obey you and do this – but only if first you explain to me why I should do it.”
I responded something like this:
“If you obey me only because it makes sense to you, then that’s not obedience, it’s just agreement. The problem is that you are too young to understand most of the reasons why I want you to do this. Do it because you are eight and I’m thirty-eight – because you are a child and I’m an adult and your father.”
We can easily see why children need to trust their parents even when they do not understand them. How much more, then, should we trust God even though we do not understand Him. It is not just that the differential in wisdom between Him and us is infinitely greater than the difference between a child and a parent. It is not just that He is sovereign and all-powerful. We should also trust Him because He earned our trust on the cross. So we can trust Him even when He hasn’t shown us yet the reason why. He is good for it.”
~ Taken from Pages 153-154 of Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller
“I have calmed and quieted myself as a child, like a weaned child with its mother; I am like a little child.”
Some days I am much more conscious of my sin than others. Oh, I am certain that my sinfulness is there and that I am just as sinful on the days when I am not conscious of my sin. But one particular day, a day when I was more aware of my sin, I read the following excerpt from page 285 of “The Gospel in Leviticus”. May it bless you in the consciousness (and unconsciousness) of your sins as well.
“It is indeed melancholy, my brethren, that we, as Christians, still have so much impurity cleaving to us—that with all our efforts so much evil still works in us—that with all our penitence, prayers and resolves, there yet is this frequent oozing out of contamination—that with all the doings of God to cleanse us, we still have so much cause to hang our heads in shame, and humble ourselves in dust and ashes—that not one of us but would blush and be mortified almost to death to have all our thoughts and feelings suddenly laid open to the inspection of those around us. But still it is not without its good effects.
We need something to keep us humble, to drive us continually to the throne of grace, and to keep us ever mindful of our dependence upon the mercy of God.
If we were not troubled with these secret flows of sin, we would be in great danger of growing spiritually proud, negligent, and over-confident. But this keeps us down at the foot of the cross, and ever prompts to more earnest prayer, and keeps the soul from stagnation.
It makes us feel the presence and power of the foe, that we may be stirred up to ever-renewed zeal, and be strengthened the more by our trying encounters with the enemy.
It helps to soften us towards the failings of others, and to make us charitable in our judgments of offenders.
Though it is painful, and keeps us in constant peril of making shipwreck of our faith, I do not know whether I would have it otherwise if I could. I fear that we should be too much at rest and satisfied in this present world, if we were not thus made to feel the inconvenience of living in the flesh.
It helps greatly to reconcile us to the idea of dying. It contributes to make our dying day, a blessed day; because it will put an everlasting end to these vexations. Then we shall be delivered “from the body of this death…..
Egypt may pursue us to the sea, and its men of war go with us into the waves, but there shall the oppressor cease. From that flood he shall never rise again. He shall never reach the other shore, or set foot in heaven. God shall there take off his chariot-wheels, and he shall pursue and oppress us no more. Oh, happy, happy day! that thus lays all our tormentors forever with the dead…
And then, again, this constant consciousness of sin assists in endearing to us the cross and righteousness of Jesus. Though evil ever works within us, we have a remedy.
We have an Advocate in heaven ever interceding for us. Though uncleanness clings to us, life and purity flows down through him to cover our unrighteousness and to help our infirmities.
With all our weaknesses, in Him we are strong.
Let faith but touch the hem of His garment, and healing is at hand.
Let the poor sinner but press to Him, and all these disgusting issues shall be as though they were not.
Blessed Physician, that God hath sent to us from the heavens! How precious the virtue that goeth out from him! He healeth all our diseases. His blood cleanseth from all sin.
Allow me, then, my dear friends, to commend this Savior to you. He is what you need; and He is ready to become everything to you that is necessary to complete your peace. You may find yourself full of sin; but He is able to cleanse you. You may be poor and friendless; but He sympathizes with you, and proposes to you eternal riches. In more than angelic meekness, He spreads out His hands to you, and says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are Heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Only accept that call, and you shall be blessed forever.”
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
I’ve heard it said before that more often than not we won’t remember the words to a sermon, but we WILL remember the words to a song. I believe this is true and exactly why God told Moses and Joshua:
“I am going to give you the words to a new song. Write them down and teach the song to the Israelites. If they learn it, they will KNOW what I want them to do…” (Deuteronomy 31:19)
Because the truth of the song below is important and is something that God wants us to know, I’m sharing it in my blog post this week so that perhaps we will all learn it, remember it, and know what God wants us to do…
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!
My prayer list right now is packed with the names of friends who desperately need God’s guidance and direction. I am currently praying for the following serious prayer requests:
Seven people on my list need a job
Two friends need housing
Quite a few have severe Health issues
Others are dealing with aging parents
Marital and child custody issues
School related problems
And Guidance for Parenting Teenagers and Grown Children
If you’re in need of God’s guidance too, see below for three good pieces of advice…
1) Don’t be afraid to ask for God’s guidance and direction. James 5:1 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
2) Then, as Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
3) Read the devotional below from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers for what to do next…
“There is no thrill in walking; it is the test of all the stable qualities. To “walk and not faint” is the highest reach possible for strength. The word “walk” is used in the Bible to express the character “. John looking on Jesus as He walked, said, Behold the Lamb of God!” There is never anything abstract in the Bible, it is always vivid and real. God does not say—Be spiritual, but—”Walk before Me.”
When we are in an unhealthy state physically or emotionally, we always want thrills.
In the physical domain this will lead to counterfeiting the Holy Ghost; in the emotional life it leads to inordinate affection and the destruction of morality;
and in the spiritual domain if we insist on getting thrills, on mounting up with wings, it will end in the destruction of spirituality.
The reality of God’s presence is not dependent on any place, but only dependent upon the determination to set the Lord always before us. Our problems come when we refuse to bank on the reality of His presence. The experience the Psalmist speaks of—”Therefore will we not fear, though…” will be ours when once we are based on Reality, not the consciousness of God’s presence but the reality of it—Why, He has been here all the time!
At critical moments it is necessary to ask guidance, but it ought to be unnecessary to be saying always—”O Lord, direct me here, and there.” Of course He will! lf our common-sense decisions are not His order, He will press through them and check; then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence.
“They that wait upon the Lord… shall walk and not faint.”
Maybe it’s because I am getting older, but I am so sad to take my Christmas tree down this year. For 28 years I have taken our Christmas tree down on the day after Christmas. Looked forward to it! I was always ready to get my house back “in order”. But this year the thought occurred to me, “What’s the hurry? Why all the rush?”
So tonight, I sit in the dark bathing in the peace of the twinkling blue and white lights of my heavily adorned tree. And I have decided to slow down, enjoy the glow, and leave my tree up until after New Year’s.
A PSALM OF LIFE
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
WHAT THE HEART OF THE YOUNG MAN
SAID TO THE PSALMIST
TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”
My husband and I are blessed to have a terrific extended family…Both sides of the family tree are filled with loving folks, and we all enjoy getting together for holidays, birthdays, or for no particular reason at all…Just this weekend we had the pleasure of savoring a little of the Christmas season with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and two of my nephews who live out of state…I realize that not everyone has the good fortune of such a loving family, and this time of year can feel like salt being poured into an open wound…If this has been your experience, I pray that the excerpt below from Max Lucado’s book “You’ll Get Through This” will be like the healing balm of Gilead for you this season…
“Go up to Gildead, and take the balm…
In vain you have used many medicines…”
~ Jeremiah 46:11
“I hope your childhood was a happy time when your parents kept everyone fed, safe, and chuckling. I hope your dad came home every day, your mom tucked you in bed every night, and your siblings were your best friends. I hope you find this chapter on family pain irrelevant.
But if not, you need to know you aren’t alone. If your least favorite part of the holidays is sitting across the table from the ones who were supposed to love you, you’re not alone.
Your family failed you. Your early years were hard ones. The people who should have cared for you didn’t. But, like Joseph, you made the best of it. You’ve made a life for yourself. Even started your own family. You are happy to leave Canaan in the rearview mirror.
But God isn’t.
Restoration matters to God. The healing of the heart involves the healing of the past.
He gives us more than we request by going deeper than we ask. He wants not only your whole heart; he wants your heart whole. Why? Hurt people hurt people. Think about it. Why do you fly off the handle? Why do you avoid conflict? Why do you seek to please everyone? Might your tendencies have something to do with an unhealed hurt in your heart? God wants to help you for your sake.
And for the sake of your posterity. Suppose Joseph had refused his brothers? Summarily dismissed them when they arrived in Egypt requesting refuge and help? Washed his hands of the whole mess? God’s plan for the nation of Israel depended upon the compassion of Joseph. A lot was at stake here.
There is a lot at stake with you too.
Yes, your family history has some sad chapters. But your history doesn’t have to be your future. The generational garbage can stop here and now. You don’t have to give your kids what your ancestors gave you.
Talk to God about the scandals and scoundrels. Invite him to relive the betrayal with you. Bring it out in the open. Joseph restaged the hurt for a reason. Revealing leads to healing. Don’t just pray, Lord, help me forgive my father. Unearth the details: God, Daddy never wanted to be a part of my life. He didn’t even come to my birthday parties. I hated him for that.
Or: Every day I came home from school to find Mom drunk, lying on the couch. I had to make dinner, take care of baby brother, do homework on my own. It’s not right, God!
Difficult for certain. But let God do his work. The process may take a long time. It may take a lifetime. Family pain is the deepest pain because it was inflicted so early and because it involves people who should have been trustworthy. You were too young to process the mistreatment. You didn’t know how to defend yourself. Besides, the perpetrators of your pain were so large. Your dad, mom, uncle, big brother—they towered over you, usually in size, always in rank.
When they judged you falsely, you believed them. All this time you’ve been operating on faulty data. “You’re stupid… slow… dumb like your daddy… fat like your mama…” Decades later these voices of defeat still echo in your subconscious.
But they don’t have to! “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Rom. 12:2 NLT). Let him replace childish thinking with mature truth (1 Cor. 13:11). You are not who they said you were. You are God’s child. His creation. Destined for heaven. You are a part of his family. Let him set you on the path to reconciliation.
Joseph did. The process would prove to be long and difficult. It occupies four chapters of the Bible and at least a year on the calendar, but Joseph took the first step.
If God healed that family, who’s to say he won’t heal yours?”