Repentance Pays Off

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
   consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
   my King and my God,
   for to you do I pray.
3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
   in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Psalm 5:1-3

Jesus, I called out to You this morning with such longing.  But instead of despair, Lord, I laid my sins out before You in repentance.  I took a hard look at my life and my actions over the last few days and You drew me into Your lap.  I laid it all out there, God. I poured out myself to You. I shared my fear, my guilt, my love, my longing.  I gave it all to You God. And when I thought I was spent, I cried out some more. Through my tears I confessed my weakness.  I confessed my doubt. I confessed my sins.

You held me in Your arms with such sweetness, Lord.  There was no condemnation. Though I was afraid and felt guilty, You showed me no anger and gave me no punishment.  Instead, You listened to my cries. You listening and You wiped away my tears with laughter and kisses. You reminded me of Your great love.  You showed me Your renewed mercy. You gave ear to my words, Lord. You considered my groanings. You heard my voice as I sacrificed my own will to follow Your ways and obey You.

I turned to the Word, Lord, and You spoke to me.  You reminded me of Your faithfulness even in my folly.  You are so quick to teach me! You are so quick to comfort me, Jesus!  

And that would have been enough.  But You weren’t satisfied with enough.  Instead You gave me more. You had a sister text me with these verses from Psalms.  She said that You had encouraged her to share them with me this morning. Lord, You answered my groanings with concrete truth from Your Word.  In the obedience of a friend, You comforted me beyond my expectations and my requests, because that is who You are.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
   let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
   that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
   you cover him with favor as with a shield.
Psalm 5:11-12

Thank you, God, that You hear me, You see me, You love me, and You hold me in Your hand.  You cover me in favor as with a shield, and I will glorify Your name.

The Lord is Faithful

Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
Joshua 21:45

Lord, You are faithful with Your promises.  The written accounts of Your faithfulness are vast.  You describe Yourself as faithful and true. You have been faithful to me and to the promises You have made me.  So, why do I always doubt? Why do I fall so short of trusting You? I look around and it seems that everyone who knows You counts on Your faithfulness.  Do they question it in their hearts the way I do? 

Why do we doubt You?

I know it is the enemy sowing his seeds of doubt.  I know he is trying to knock me out of Your lap. But You have a firm hold, Lord.  You won’t let me fall. You are faithful. I recall Your faithfulness and my heart is made light.  I get reminded of Your goodness. I remember Your work in my life: how You saved me from sin and death, how You walked with me and gave me strength, how You put courage and faith in me and held me up.  

Why do I doubt You?

You have brought me back from death so many times.  When I repent, You hear me. You have turned my failings into blessings.  You forgive me and love me and walk with me. You know everything about me.  You made me. And still You love me. Still You see me. Still You forgive me.  

Why do I doubt You?

Hold me up with Your righteous right hand.  Create in me a clean heart. Prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  Make my paths straight. Guide me in the paths of righteousness for Your namesake. Be my strength and my shield.  Be my fortress, my shelter, my comfort, my defender. Be my everything.

Don’t let me doubt you.

Lord, You are faithful.  You are good. And Your love and forgiveness never need to be doubted.  Yet over and over again You prove Yourself to me. When I doubt, You don’t condemn, You encourage.  When I feel dead, you show me life afresh. When I doubt, You provide faith. Build my faith fresh today.  Fill me with Your power, Precious Lord. Let me feel Your Presence and be reminded of Your faithfulness.

Lord, You are faithful.

 

Surely Not!

And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while.10 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the cornerstone’?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
Luke 20:9-18

For the longest time I have denied certain sins in my own heart, God.  Like the scribes and the chief priests in the temple long ago, I’m guilty of denying the blatant arrogance in my own heart.  I say, “Surely not, Lord! Not me. I’m a good Christian! I go to church and read my Bible, and I pray! I do this and that and this and that and this and that!”  We all do that, don’t we, God? In the past I would read these words scattered all over the Gospels and I would shake my head and think in my heart, “Sure am glad I’m not like that!”  Wow! How wrong I was! How wrong I am!

How many times have I said to You, “Surely not!”  

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Isaiah 64:6

I’m so sorry, Lord.  I’m sorry for refusing to hear your conviction in my heart because of my own arrogant confidence in myself and my deeds.  Of course I knew that my deeds were “filthy rags”, but I still acted like they were so much more than that! In my own depravity I welcomed the validation of my own actions with the pride I felt in them.  

But I’m done with that, Lord.  

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2

I want to always remember that only by Your grace and only by Your blood am I worthy of anything.  But by that same grace and blood I am worthy of all things! I’m done with sin and death. I want to pick up Your life and be free!

So, humble me, Lord Jesus.  Show me again how great You are!  Show me fresh the love You have for me.  Show me deeply how beautiful I am because of You.  I won’t walk in shame for the failure of my own heart.  Instead I will lift up Your name and acknowledge the banner of love You cover me with.

He brought me to the banqueting house,
   and his banner over me was love.
Song of Solomon 2:4

I’m in your banqueting house because You brought me there.  I didn’t do anything to deserve it, but You choose to fly your banner of love over me. So, Lord, the next time I start to say, “Surely not!”, please show me with your gentle love and correction.  Only that will bring wisdom and peace for my whole life.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
   or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
   as a father the son in whom he delights.
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
   and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
   and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
   and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Proverbs 3:11-15

The Struggle is Real

I am struggling, God.  I feel like I’m drowning.  Nothing brings me any solace.  My heart is so heavy with sorrow.  I read the Psalms and I still feel empty.  My moaning is hollow.  The truth that I know isn’t bringing any comfort.  I know you are there and yet I am in such pain.  The world taunts me.  It laughs.  It mocks.  It takes its shots against me.  And I find myself just submitting to it.  I know that’s not what I’m supposed to do.  I know that doesn’t help me.  It just leads to more sadness.  A real struggle.  A vicious circle of torment whips around my thoughts, my heart, my mind.

I’ve hidden your word in my heart, God.  It’s not helping.

I’m pouring over your word: meditating on it day and night.  It’s not helping.

I call out to you and you answer.  It’s not helping.

I blare worship music.  I sing.  I ponder.  It’s not helping.

Where am I falling short?

But the struggle is real, God.  It hurts.  And to think that I don’t even really know what real struggle is.  I don’t know real persecution.  I don’t know real suffering.  And yet here I am pouring out my tears and anguish to you.  I guess my hope in you to hear me is enough.  Collecting tears in a bottle.  Writing volumes and volumes of my struggles turning into faith.

I know this is all the enemy attacking me and trying to steal my joy.  But I’m so tired of fighting.  I’m so bloody tired.  Can you give me some new mercy?  Can you give me more faith.  Can you give me something?

“Because of the Lord’s great love for us, we will not be consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

 

Preparing for Battle

Image result for armor of god

The armor of God has always been one of my favorite passages, but Lord when I’m fighting I seem to forget almost every bit of it!  In the heat of the moment I run into the fight without being prepared.  I let the confidence in my faith replace my faith.  Lord, renew my mind.  Renew my thinking.  How can I be strong in You if I am focused on me?  How can I fight with my hands when You are the one “who has trained my hands for war and my fingers for battle”? (Psalm 144:1)

Lord, be my strength and my armor.  The only way I can stand against the schemes of the enemy is by Your power.  If I have been made the righteousness of God, then let me walk in that righteousness and not my own!  I’m not fighting a physical fight.  I’m fighting a spiritual fight.  A fight that never ends, but one that I can endure through your power.  I know it’s not against flesh and blood that I fight.  So, Lord, help me not to fight in flesh and blood.  Help me to fight in spirit!  Clad in your salvation, your righteousness, your peace, your truth, your faith, and your Word.

It seems so obvious God.  You don’t just cover me with the armor of your own body, you fill me.  You and I are one if only I would let you rule in my heart!  You have given me “a new self, a new life, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24)  

So, God, I’m asking you to keep me clad in your robe of righteousness.  Keep me clad in your full armor, day and night, so that I am indeed ready for the siege of the enemy.  He is relentlessly barraging me with arrows, but your Faith is enduring.  It doesn’t fail.  It doesn’t falter. Help me not to partner with the darkness and the desires of my flesh.  Help me instead to partner with you, in your light and love.  Help me to honor all that you have done for me by taking the time to be obedient to your requests so that I can conquer the enemy day in and day out through the power of your Spirit.  

It’s not rocket science, God.  It’s so simple.  It’s so honest and gentle and perfect because that is who you are, Jesus.  That is who you are.  So, in order to be perfect as you are perfect, I must let you lead me in all things.  I need to diligently relinquish myself to the desires of my sinful nature, and fully embrace the gentle cleansing and perfecting of Your presence in me.  You create in me a clean heart.  You restore my soul.  You wrap yourself around me and place your tent over me to protect me.  No weapon formed against me can stand against You.  

I will pray at all times in the spirit, and keep alert with perseverance, because you have made me to endure and to persevere.  I will stand and boldly proclaim the gospel for which I am an ambassador.  Then people will see you and know you through me.  And you will be glorified.  And you will be exalted.  And you will truly be the king of my heart.

I love you, Jesus.  I will keep trying.

God’s Poetry in Us

 

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:10

 

Heavenly Father, God, Creator of all things, you hear me and love me and know my heart.  You know me in my innermost being.  You made me.  You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  You created me to be your masterpiece of love and joy.  In all the world, in all who have been made and walked the other, there is no one else like me.  I am completely unique.  Like every star in the sky.  Unique and special and made for a purpose.  Lord, thank you for making me.  Thank you for gifting me with all good gifts.  Your love has made me your servant for eternity, but not just to serve you but to be a part of your family, to be an heir to your kingdom along with Jesus.  Therefore, Daddy, teach me your ways, show me your path, guide my steps in the right truth of your covenant made with Abraham, so that I can be a part of all that you wanted from me and hoped for me from the beginning of Creation.  I marvel, my Lord, at what you have done in me, and at the miracle of who I am and what you have hoped for me from the very start of time itself.  

I want to serve you, God.  I want to worship you.  If all I do is sing your praise then I am satisfied, so long is that is what you ask me to do.  I pray Lord that all people, all nations, all kings and princes, all beggars and soldiers, all oppressed and oppressing would know you with the same intimacy that you have given me.  The same intimacy that you have given all your children through the divine power of the Holy Spirit.  What an incredible gift!  To have such intimacy with you!  And that is all you have ever wanted from humanity, for each and every one of us, to be your FRIENDS, to be your partners.  You chose us all from the very beginning.  What joy that is.  What peace it provides!  How could anyone doubt the truth of your intentions?  Because all you have ever wanted is to love us and know us.  

In you is no darkness.  Not one shadow can exist in the light of your presence.  Not one evil thought can endure.  Not one evil deed can succeed in your Holy light.  So, deliver us from the darkness of this fallen world and from the powers and principalities of this present darkness.  This world doesn’t belong to them.  We claim it for you once more, Father God.  For the sake of your son and for His sacrifice, we lift up Jesus as our King.  We are no longer slaves to fear and doubt, to the evil and corruptible things of this world.  We stand in your light and are not consumed because you have saved us!  You have defeated the enemy!  

Give me joy in the battle, Lord. You will rescue me from every evil deed.  I will find you in the waiting and know that you are my God and that I am your daughter and a joint heir with Jesus.  Jesus has asked for the nations, Lord.  Give them to him!  Increase your Kingdom!  Cleanse this place once and for all.  

Give strength to your workers and endurance for the days to come.  Darkness thinks it is winning.  There is darkness everywhere today, Lord.  Darkness on every street corner.  In every place.  The human condition has been tainted, Lord and all are lost.  But you have saved us through your son.  You have brought light into the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it, no matter how hard it tries.  Help us to hold onto that promise as the days grow dimmer and dimmer around us.  Help us to be your light and life.  Shine through us, as we allow your Spirit to have dominion over our hearts.  Let us all be well equipped to be your light bearers, wherever we go.

I long for your peace, Lord.  I long for your rest.  Give us endurance.  Give us peace and rest.  Come Lord Jesus, Come!  Return to your people once again.  Restore your Kingdom.  Amen.

Broken Alabaster Jar

“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper,  woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.”

Matthew 26:6-7

Jesus, my love, my savior, my brother, my Lord, thank you for Mary and her alabaster jar of perfume:  this precious gift from her to you, that no one understood.  It made people jealous and angry and irritated.  But you honored her and her gift.  Her love poured out on you, just as you would pour your love out on us.  She gave you the most expensive, most beautiful thing she had and she offered it to you, and anointed you, and walked with you to the cross and to your death with her gift of perfume.  She acted out real devotion to you and you acknowledged her.  Love like that it what you long for from everyone.  Deep, sacrificial love, like the love you have for us.  A love that gives us everything.  We don’t deserve it, but you do!  

My sweet love, show me how to give you my everything, as you showed us all on the cross.  Show me what true devotion and love and honor look like fresh every day.  Fresh every moment.  May my heart be filled with the deep, enduring, eternal love that would take you down the road of deep suffering and anguish just to save me.  Just to be my champion.  My warrior.  My King.  

I don’t want honor, Lord.  I want you to be honored.  I want to love you in a way that no one else even understands.  To love you so perfectly and so boldly as to surrender all my rights and all my worth to you for you to be lifted up.  For you to be proclaimed as King once more.  I want the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart to be pleasing to you, oh Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.  I want the world to know that you are God and I am not.  

You have called out to me and I have answered you.  You saved me.  You hold me.  You honor me with your death and resurrection.  You gave it all for me, my love.  You gave it all for me and I want to give you all of me in return.  Help me to not hold anything back. Help me not to seek any of my own glory.  Help me to only seek you. Amen.

 

Salvation Belongs to the Lord

“Salvation belongs to the Lord.”  Jonah 2:9

Father, salvation belongs to you and you alone!  You are merciful and full of love!  While we were your enemies you died for us.  So, Jesus, I’m so sorry for all the times I had hate in my heart instead of mercy, for all the times I wanted to see vengeance poured out on my enemies instead of love and mercy.  My heart aches to realize that there are times when I have run away from your mercy for others because of my own hurt or anger.  I’ve looked at the evil in the world and I’ve longed to see you put it to an end, and I know that one day you will do that.  You will put an end to the rampant sin of the sons of disobedience.  But before you do that you offer your salvation.  You say in your word that it is your heart that all would find redemption and reconciliation in you.  So, I’m sorry that, like Jonah, I have questioned your love for others while freely accepting it for myself.  Thank you that you have forgiven me.

So now Lord, I lift up to you your enemies.  I lift up to you the murderers, the rapists, the pedophiles, the liars, the cheaters, the profaners, the torturers.  I lift up the broken, the bruised, the beaten, the subjugated.  You died for them all.  You died for them and paid the price for their sins that they could find joy and peace and have changed hearts.  Salvation belongs to you alone, Jesus.  And you have chosen us all “from the foundation of the world”.  Who am I to question it?  Your love is greater than me.  Your mercy is greater than me.  Your heart is greater than my heart.  Your ways are higher than my ways.  Salvation belongs to you.  So use me to share your love with those who don’t have it.  Use me to love those who have no love.  Use me to bring life to those who are walking in death.  Use me to offer the cleansing love of your Son to those who are dirty and ruled by sin.  Use me, God.  Here I am.  Send me.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in me.” Psalm 51:10

Amen.

God is With Me

 

“God was with Joseph” Genesis 39:2 

Dear Lord, thank you that you are with me through your Spirit.  Thank you God that I don’t need to fear the schemes of the enemy no matter how bad things might look.  I can rest in the assurance that you are on your throne, but you are also with me.  You have given me your Spirit.  You have given me your love.  And you have given me your forgiveness.  I am safe from the intent of the enemy to destroy my blessings and kill me.  He can hurt me, but he can’t have me and he can’t have my blessing.  What you have promised me you will be faithful to give to me!  Nothing can separate me from you.  Nothing can thwart the plans you have for me.  

Like Joseph, I feel so trapped by my circumstances, God.  I feel helpless to succeed because of the enemy’s plans to kill me.  But Lord, you have reminded me that you are so faithful.  In the midst of my trials and oppression you are there with me and you will bless me even if I’m in slavery or prison.  So often my body feels like a prison, God.  It has kept me from so much.  But Lord, you have given me charge over my body.  You have blessed me with your Spirit to resist sin and follow you in the path of righteousness.

Help me God to always see your plans and blessings for me so that I can call on them.  I want to always be reminded that you are with me and that your plans cannot be thwarted.  Nothing the enemy can do can keep me from your blessing and your promises for me.  Nothing.  

I have nothing to fear.  Though the nations rage and tremble.  Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.  You are with me, God of Jacob.  (Psalm 46) You are my shelter and my safe place.  You are my life and my blessing.  You are my king and my savior and my beloved one.  You are my heart and my soul.  And I am yours.  I will not fear.  Amen.

Music Video: Psalm 46 by Shane and Shanepsalm 46