He Loves Me!

I’m very easily excited.  My family will attest to this with a resounding “yes” and a dramatic head-nod.

The smallest things delight my heart.  And to me, they’re not so small.

Like when God painted a breath-taking heart in the sky right after my 3 year old whispered “I’m so happy Jesus lives in my heart” {unprompted} from the back seat of the car…

IMG00022-20100626-1958

{isn’t that just crazy gorgeous?}

Like the fact that garlic grows curly for a while before it straightens up and forms a bulb.

Or like the fact that pretty green leaves turn a ravishing red year after year after year.

Leaf

And like the fact that crusty crabs from the bottom of the ocean that wash up daily, get devoured by the seagulls and get trampled on my unnoticing feet…

could be so phenomenally beautiful.

IMG_1154

{pay no attention to unmanicured, dirty nail}

I don’t know about you, but these seemingly trivial things simply point to one thing.

How deeply, thoroughly, and outrageously well we are loved by our Creator.

Think about it for a minute.

He could have chosen to paint this world in shades of gray.

But he chose vivid color instead.

He could have made one type of flower…one species of animal…one form of boring, tasteless nourishment for our bodies {think sludge through a straw}.

But no.

We get to enjoy a plethora of colors, shapes, sizes, a myriad of scents, flavors, and textures.

Why?  Because he loves us with a radical, passionate, extravagant love.  And because he created us to appreciated beautiful things.

Garlic.  Clouds.  Leaves.  Crabs.

Yup…they spell L-O-V-E to me.

 

{and I haven’t even touched on the whole baby Jesus, God incarnate, gift of life thing yet.  Wow.  Now that’s love.  Lavish, outlandish love.}

 

by Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

FIRED UP!

Angry. So angry. Not at anyone in particular, or even at God. I was just furious at life and how it was turning out.

My childhood dreams didn’t include gut-wrenching endless pain. I never set out to be crippled. My bucket list never came close to this.

Few people seemed to grasp the severity of my illness. Everyone seemed so carefree and happy. While my peers shopped for adorable Easter outfits for their children, I was at home gasping for my next breath.

Offense came easily. Patronizing comments bothered me the most: “Do you have good days and bad days?” No, every second of every minute is hell. Or, even worse, the benign noncommittal, “I’ll pray for you.” Please don’t tell me that. I need your HELP. I need my house cleaned. I need dinner on the table. I need my laundry folded and put away. I need someone to play with my kids.

Like I said, I was angry.

My only escape was in the Lord. He knows me. The mess in my heart wasn’t a secret to Him.

Countless times I cried out for relief. Lord, I HATE this! Please help me. Give me one hour without pain. I’m begging you for mercy.

Other days, when I was able, I drank in Scripture:

“O my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me.”
Jeremiah 8:18

Or,

For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me.
I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin…
O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.
Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.”
Psalm 38:17-22
And,
I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
Psalm 40:1-2

His words were like an old friend, who spoke what I felt but couldn’t quite say. God continues to strip my heart of rage. Layer by layer, bit by bit, He pulls back hurt feelings, displaced dreams, and wounded pride. Occasionally a temper tantrum rears its ugly head, which the Lord patiently excises while reminding me I’m a work in progress.

Has anger got a grip on you, too?
    CRITICISM                  bitterness           FrUStrAtIOn              RAGE        disappointment

When anger takes center stage, life becomes miserable after awhile. If you’re like me, it’s exhausting carrying such a heavy load. I can only take so much.

Although I can’t offer a magic pill to make everything perfect,  I can point you to the One who is perfect:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Weary one, have you come to the Lord lately?
I’m not so angry anymore. Certainly, it’s not self-effort that got me here, just a day-by-day working of Christ.
He has given me rest.
Would you like rest for your soul, too?
Carrie Cooper @ comfortedbyGod.blogspot.com

WHY ARE WE SO AFRAID?

“Am I dying,” I asked the doctor, “because my body is falling apart?”

He gently smiled and comforted me with a confident, “No.”

As my health worsened questions about the future raced in my head: Will I be like this the rest of my life? Will I ever walk again? Will Normal ever come? Will God answer my prayer?

Have you ever been overcome with fear?

It’s paralyzing at times, isn’t it? Despite our best efforts to generate happy-go-lucky thoughts, sometimes life is HARD, and sweet musings never materialize.

If we’re not careful, we grow comfortable with the What Ifs and worry becomes our best friend–how difficult it is to divorce ourselves from those rambling thoughts!

My anxiety didn’t disappear overnight. After months–no, years–of prayer, confiding my fears to my husband, and learning to live moment by moment in the Lord, the worry subsided. It wasn’t easy; it was a process God allowed me to endure for the sake of relying on Him, even for my thoughts.

How about you, friend?

Has fear trapped your thoughts in a cage? Are you bound to worry and stress as you wonder what might happen?

Hear the truth of God:

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come.’” Isaiah 35:3-4.

Even though you may be alone with your thoughts, the Lord has not abandoned you!

Do you remember the timeless words of Jesus, spoken to the terrified disciples?

“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Matthew 8:26

His calm reproval makes me feel silly for freaking out. Why are we not trusting Him? He is GOD. Our lives are in the Creator’s hands. Our hearts beat becaue He wills it! So, certainly our life’s problems are not impossible for Him.

My heart echoes the cry of the father who took his child to Jesus for healing,

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

With love and compassion,
Carrie

Again, Lord?

A few weeks ago my health took a momentary downward turn—fatigue and pain reared their ugly heads again. Even though I know the disease will wax and wane, I was most surprised by the fear that accompanied it.

Didn’t I already deal with this, God? Haven’t I already faced my fears of living with a chronic illness?

I guess not, because panic and doubt wormed their way into my thoughts. What Ifs popped up repeatedly as I considered the possibility of the disease returning full force.

But, almost as suddenly as those anxious thoughts appeared, I remembered the work of Christ:
Through this illness, the very thing I fear, God has done an amazing work in my life. He stripped me of the things that distracted me from Christ—now trash in a landfill.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him. Philippians 2:7-9

 

Why am I afraid of this pruning process?

Ultimately it only serves to enhance my dependence on Jesus Christ. I must admit I struggle to join the Apostle Paul in prayer:

I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 2:10-11

Does anyone want to share in Christ’s sufferings?

Of course not, because that involves pain. But, it’s that very discomfort that reveals our desperate state. Without Christ, our troubles broadcast our need for a Savior. With Christ, our struggles confirm we can’t go at it alone.

I need Him. You need Him, too.

I guess there’s still a lot of rubbish that needs to be thrown out.

A DEEP VACUUM

Those were the lonely days, the days when friends were scarce and I was unable to leave my home. Isolation built a wall around me. I didn’t think I could take one more blow.

But, it came anyway.

An acquaintance from church called to see how I was doing. I was honest—after all, she asked—and told her the truth: I needed help. My house is a wreck. The toilets haven’t been cleaned in ages. My carpets needed vacuumed. Laundry was piled up.

After a long pause she said, “I was thinking about meals. No one wants to clean somebody else’s toilets, much less their own.”

I fought hard not to become embittered by her remark, which revealed her true character. to this day, it brings tears to my eyes as I recall the sting of her words.

I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the friends that abandoned him during his imprisonment,

“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.
May it not be held against them.” 2 Timothy 4:16

Paul was on trial for his very life, yet his friends failed him.

HAVE YOUR FRIENDS FAILED YOU, TOO?

Yet, the very next verse declares Paul’s victory:

“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…” 2 Timothy 4:17-18

Even in our darkest hours, the children of God are not alone. The Lord stands by our sides and gives us strength. When all others have failed, we have certain confidence that the Lord is with us.

Just this morning I read the powerful words of Jeremiah 20:11,

“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior. . .”

If everyone else has deserted you, remember you are guarded by the Lord, the mighty warrior, who promises never to leave you nor abandon you.

TAKE COURAGE IN THE LORD!

Carrie Cooper @ comfortedbyGod.blogspot.com

True Love

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

February 14th is always a day that brings to mind flowers, hearts, chocolate and love.  I woke up yesterday to a sweet card from my sweet husband. I gave my boys their own special box of chocolate.  We played the movie, Fireproof, at church.  It was definitely a special day.

I was curious as to how this all started, so I looked up the history of Valentine’s Day. There are 3-4 stories explaining its origin,  I like this one:

Around the year 270 AD, the Roman Emperor Claudius II, issued an order forbidding marriage. The Roman Empire was being attacked on all sides by its enemies, and the Emperor felt the men would be better soldiers, more dedicated to their task, if they did not have wives and families at home waiting on them. So … no marriages were allowed. There was a priest near Rome, named Valentine, who commiserated with these young men, and married them in secret.

When Claudius learned of the priest performing secret marriages, he had him thrown in prison. While there, he met and fell in love with the jailors daughter. Just before his execution, he wrote her a letter declaring his love for her and signed it “From Your Valentine”, a phrase that is still widely used today.

Now, this love story may or may not be true.

But I do know a love story that is true. It’s a story of a God who loves us so very much, that he sent his only son to this earth to die for us. So that we could live with him, forever.

I have two little boys. I can tell you this. I would not let my sons die for anyone. I can’t love as God loves because God is love, according to I John 4:8.

The Bible tells us in Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God’s love is unconditional, and it’s not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable or because we make Him feel good; He loves us because He is love.

If you’ve never experienced this love – true love — maybe it’s time for you to get to know God?

Father, thank you for your love. A love that really is beyond measure. I know I cannot grasp it, but I am so very thankful for it.

In Jesus Name I Pray,
Amen
 
God Bless You!

Love,
Joyce

The Choices You Make Today
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!
http://www.alifedecision.org

All We Like Sheep #4

Our last in the series is a look at the shepherd. Coincidence that it comes right before Easter? Hmmm…don’t think so!

Sheep must have a leader for they must be led and not driven. They must be told what to do and where to go, otherwise, they will wander off and get lost. They need to be watched over and cared for constantly. Hence, the need for a shepherd.

Since we looked at some of the characteristics of sheep that mirror those of humans, let’s look at some of the characteristics of a good shepherd and how they apply to Jesus as our Good Shepherd.

A good shepherd…

* loves his sheep and continually encourages an intimate relationship with them so that

they will develop trust and know his voice

* knows the things that make them sick and guides them away from them

* always watchful for predators and defends sheep against them

* protects the sheep while they sleep

* leads them to fresh pastures and fresh water

* is gentle yet firm while shearing them, watching closely for injury or disease

* goes ahead of sheep and prepares the path

* disciplines and corrects them

* keeps sheep from fighting, from hurting each other

* searches for a lost sheep and rejoices when finding it

* keeps sheep moving so they don’t get into a rut

* comforts them when they are hurt or fearful

* anoints them with oil to heal an injury or prevent disease

* is pleased when sheep are contented, well-fed, and safe

* knows the sheep’s needs better than they do

* sacrifices his life for them.

We find so much of this in Psalm 23. Adding in some of the definitions, we might look at it this way…

*The Lord is my Shepherd = The Lord is my guide, my companion

* I shall not want = I shall not lack; I have contentment

* He makes me to lie down = He causes me to rest

* in green pastures = giving me habitations of nourishment

* He leads me = He leads me with care to watering stations

* beside still waters = beside quiet waters, refreshing me

* He restores my soul = He draws me to return to Him, to restore me

* He leads me in paths of righteousness = He guides me in ways of rightness

* even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death = even though I move through the narrow valley of death’s dark shadow

* I will fear no evil = I will not be afraid of evil; I will have confidence and trust in my Shepherd

* for You are with me = because You are by my side

* Your rod = Your discipline and protection

* Your staff = Your guidance and support

* they comfort me = are my consolation and comfort

* You prepare a table before me = You arrange and spread out a feast of Your fellowship before me

* in the presence of mine enemies = in the face of those enemies that distress and bind me

* You anoint my head with oil = You soothe me with the oil of Your Spirit

* My cup runs over = You fill my life, saturating it to overflowing with provisions

* goodness and mercy shall follow me = Your goodness and favor pursue me

* and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever = and I will inhabit Your household for eternity.

This Shepherd said, “I am the Good shepherd; and I know and recognize My own, and My own know and recognize Me,” (John 10:14 Amp) and “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11 NKJV)

As the Good Shepherd that gave His life for His flock, He is also the Lamb of God, the great Sacrifice, of which John the Baptist said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV)

Do you know all that this Good Shepherd provides for you? Do you know Him, recognizing His voice as He calls out your name? Do you know His peace, protection, provision, guidance, and comfort?

I pray you can often be found lingering at the feet of the Good Shepherd, awaiting His touch, and that you know Him as the Lamb of sacrifice.

~Blessings, Lynn~~

Previous Older Entries