Saturday, March 29, 2014

Music Inspiration: I Am by Crowder

Music really encourages me. Here's a song I can't hear enough lately: I Am by Crowder from his upcoming solo release:


Friday, February 14, 2014

Encouraged by Love


heart made up of flowers*


Every spring (and other days throughout the year, actually), I pull out this gem from the Song of Songs 2:14—

“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely.” (NKJV)

The Song of Songs can be taken literally, to refer to husbands and their wives. The book can also be taken symbolically to refer to Jesus and the Church, His bride. I love reading the Song through that lens because you have to look beyond the more obvious interpretation.

In this verse, Jesus speaks an invitation to His beloved, an invitation to get alone with Him, to commune with Him. Not only that, but he affirms us as well. Symbolically, the voice and face could refer to insecurities we might have, imperfections we might perceive about ourselves. But, Jesus addresses those and displays His adoring heart.  

The picture that comes to mind (bear with me, it’s a parent-child picture, not a romantic one) is that of a child who has melted chocolate on her face. She’s come to you for a hug. Will you reject her because she’s a bit messy? Nope. That chocolate smudge will not hinder your adoration of her. Jesus sees our imperfections, better than we can see them ourselves, but those “smudges” do not, cannot block His love for us. So, He affirms us—come to Me, get closer. Don’t hide your face.

He also wants to hear us. The psalmist encourages us to pour out our hearts to Him. We might have insecurities about what we hold in our hearts, about what we would voice. But Jesus knows it all anyway. Don’t withhold your heart because it’s not full of beautiful thoughts 24/7. Just speak. Just pray. Just commune. Because Jesus accepts us!

Simply putting those thoughts into words today encourages me. How about you? 

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Photo credit: "heart made up of flowers" by "africa" at freedigitalphotos.net

Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Hope


Sunrise*

There is a lot of hope as the new year rolls around. Do you feel it? You know that hope you feel at the start of a new day as the sun’s rising and your day stretches before you? That feeling, only multiplied. Reminds me of this verse:

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
(Lam. 3:22-25 NKJV)

God is the God of hope, according to Romans 15:13 (NKJV)—

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Aren’t you glad there’s always hope? God can turn things around in an instant. No matter the circumstances.

We’ve been through some trials in 2013, but through it all, even the suffering, God has shown up. He has graced us. He has provided for us. He has given us hope for the future. And He has turned things out for our good. Reminds me Romans 8:28 (NKJV)—

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  

So, what if hope is distant? Here are some hope finders:

** Hope comes from discovering God’s will, hearing from Him. Go to Him in prayer and ask for a word from Him. Sometimes personal prophecy has been just the encouragement we needed. If you have a prophetic friend who can pray for you, consider asking them to minister to you.

** Locate a promise in His Word and apply that promise to yourself, to your circumstances, by faith.

** Believing that God is with you. You are not forsaken. He could never forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

** Believing that God will come through for you, provide for you, bring you through the situation, whatever it is. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (see Psalm 30:5) 

You never know the amazing blessings God is bringing your way, the breakthroughs, the answers to prayer. Hang in there. Sometimes humbling ourselves and reaching out to others is exactly the thing needed for breakthrough.

Here’s a hopeful verse to end on for today:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11 NKJV)

With a promise like that, we can hang onto hope.

Have a hopeful New Year!

* photo credit: At Day's End by Jennifer Ellison on freedigitalphotos.net

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Season Series: Light



lit candle
Some December days, daylight begins to fade at 1:30 here. Mostly, that’s due to clouds or an incoming storm. All the dreariness can be wearying. Then, I glance over from my perch and see the Christmas tree. One of the perks of a dreary day, is we turn on the twinkle lights early. They bring cheer and bling into a gray world. 

Jesus does that too. From the very beginning, John describes Him as the life that was the light of people. His is the light that cannot be overcome by darkness. Amidst hopelessness, loneliness, aimlessness, or pain, Jesus brings light. He brings healing. He brings hope.

That’s the gift at Christmastime—Jesus coming to earth to bring us hope. Light.

And not just at Christmastime, but year round. Jesus is there, ever present. He’ll get as close as you let Him. He’ll heal and restore.

His life is ours. His light is ours. I’m grateful for that. Aren’t you?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Season Series: Joy



Christmas Tree*


We heard a sermon today on the spiritual fruit of joy, linked to the Christmas story and season. Pastor Tom walked us through Mary’s experience as the chosen vessel of God to be Jesus’s mother. 

I too was reading Mary’s story lately, in the beginning chapters of Luke. Zacharias’ heart was hardened from years of unanswered prayers. His wife was barren, and both of them were getting on in age. His response to Gabriel as the angel brought glad tidings was one of bitterness, like “do you expect me to believe this?”

Let’s talk about the pathways to joy.

TRUST

But Mary’s was “How can this be?” She didn’t understand but she didn’t reject the good news either. And because she trusted God, she would see her needs met, her promises from God fulfilled, her joy complete.

An unhardened heart can receive the good news so much more easily than a bitter one. There’s no room for joy in a cold heart.

THANKFULNESS

The other “pathway” to joy, besides trusting God is that of thankfulness.

Next time your joy meter is low, try this: make a mental list of seven things you’re thankful for, and dig deep. Don’t just settle on the obvious ones. If you say “family,” let a picture of your family’s love come to mind. Go beyond the obvious. By the time you’ve finished, you’ll not only see how God has been faithful to you and your family, but joy will sneak up on you.

Deep and sincere gratitude leads to joy.

COMMUNION WITH GOD

One more “pathway” is that of communion with God. Nothing lifts burdens (that crowd out joy) like chatting with God, giving Him our burdens, getting His perspective, hearing from Him, recalling His promises.  

So, this season, make room for joy. Let God fill you up. 
 
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Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net Christmas Tree by Keattikorn