Friday, August 24, 2012

His Hands

So I don't know about you, but whenever I'm sad or upset, worship songs really help me.  Singing songs and hymns reminds me of the truth and helps me relax.

During a time when I was sad and had to surrender to God, there was one song that I kept singing over and over, but I could only remember part of it.  This is what it was:

I trust in you
I trust in you

I believe that you're my healer
I believe that you are all I need
I believe that you're my portion
I believe you're more than enough for me
Jesus, you're all I need

This song spoke to my heart in the moment.  It helped me come to a place where I understood that Jesus is really all I need.

The other night, I was singing this song again, not because I was upset or anything, but just because I was remembering the goodness of God.  Thinking about singing that song in church, I was suddenly reminded of the part I had forgotten:

Nothing is impossible for you
Nothing is impossible for you
Nothing is impossible for you
You hold my world in your hands

This made me cry.  In the original situation, I was struggling because it seemed impossible to me.  It was out of my hands.  But that doesn't matter, because I serve a big God who holds my entire world.  He is all I need. In fact, He is more than enough.  I am amazed that the God who created the universe would care about my little problems.  He truly is an awesome God.

The song is "Healer" by Hillsong if you want to look it up.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The attention level of a three year old.

So today I spent some time playing with my three year old cousin.  (To see pictures of her her when she was one click here.)  While I hung out with her, I was reminded of how short the attention span of a little kid is.

Example:

"Do you want to play on the swings?"

"Sure! Let's go!"

2 minutes later she says...

"All done now. Can we play on the teeter-totter?"

You get the picture. But, even thought she would only play the other toys for about a minute, there was one thing she really wanted to do, the trampoline.  At the time, some other kids were on it, so she had to wait.  Every time we finished playing with something else, she asked for the trampoline.  When she finally got on, she had a blast and wanted to stay on for a really long time.

That surprised me.  Since she had such a short attention span about the other things, why did she like the trampoline so much?  She knew what she wanted, and she really worked to get it.  (I mean, how many times can you ask for something in the space of ten minutes?)

I can be like a three year old at times.  My mind and my focus want to jump from activity to activity or from event to event.  I have to push to stay focused and have a long attention span for the things that are important.

But what about those things that I really want?  What about those things that I work for?  Am I pushing hard after the things of God, or am I working really hard to get to jump on a trampoline?  It was another good wake-up call to remember to evaluate everything I do in light of eternity.

To end this post on a happy note, let me show you a few pictures of my cousin at her "big kid" age of three years.
 

Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm an Israelite.


Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”

-Numbers 14:1-4

One of our new pastors at church preached about this on Sunday.  He talked about how the Israelites had forgotten where they came from.  In this passage, they were crying because they were afraid to enter the promised land.  They told themselves that the people in the land were too big, that it wasn't worth it.  Quite simply, they were saying that God didn't know what he was doing.  

Reading this, I can get pretty frustrated with the people's attitudes.  Yes, it seems like a big job, but God just freed you from the most powerful nation on earth!  The ruler of that nation gave up when faced with the mighty power of the Lord.  How can they say such a thing?  

Then it hit me.  I'm an Israelite.  Many times, including two specific times this summer, I have said very similar things to God.  I asked, "Why did God bring me here, only to have me fail?  or  Why did God bring them into my life only to take them away again?"  In my small, human view of things, sometimes I questioned Him, asking if it would have been better for me not to have gone.  Would it have been better not to have met them?  

Just like the Israelites, I forgot how great God is.  While He saved them from the Egyptians, He saved me from death.  While He freed them from slavery, He freed me from sin.  I can imagine God shaking His head when we ask these questions.  So often I forget that I can only see a tiny piece of the big picture, while He can see it all.  

It all comes down to trust.  Do I really trust Him?  
I would answer in the words of  Mark 9:24:

"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief."

Of teeth and sin.


Today I have a confession to make.  When I was little I had a habit.  No, maybe a bad habit. No, maybe a really bad habit.

I would forget to brush my teeth.  Yeah, I know. But as a little girl I just didn't remember.  I would forget until my mom told me I needed to.  Thankfully, I don't have that habit anymore, because I started to notice.  I noticed that when I forgot, my teeth didn't feel clean, and I wanted to brush my teeth as soon as I could.  I hate having teeth that aren't clean.  


My Youth Pastor was speaking on James once, and he talked about how we are supposed to hate sin, but love the sinner. I realized that sin should be like dirty teeth. I should hate the feeling of it.  When I speak to someone with a disrespectful tone, my first response should be to apologize to the person right away.  


Have you ever noticed that it is much easier to hate other people's sin than to hate our own.  It is easy to look at my brother's rude attitude and say that I hate sin, but do I feel the same way about the pride that is continually creeping into my own heart?  

Loving the sinner is also hard.  When someone is being unkind to me, I can't love them on my own strength. I have to use God's strength.  I remember a time when a person did something mean simply to get a reaction out of me.  I wanted to give them a piece of my mind, but I could hear the Holy Spirit inside me telling me to turn the other cheek.   Because I did not strike back in anger, they stopped being mean and were kind to me for the rest of the trip.

Hate the sin and the love the sinner? Seems like an impossible command.  But we can remember that what is impossible with man is possible with God.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hearts

Riches I heed not nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art

For those of you who don't know, this is the third verse to Be Thou my Vision. We sang this song at family camp, and this verse in particular touched me, especially the third line.  

First in my heart. Always. No ifs, ands, or buts.  He needs to be first.

At first, this might seem kind of easy.  I mean, we already accepted Jesus into our hearts, so obviously He is first.  I have learned that keeping God first is not a one time decision.  It is daily.  Every single morning, I have to purpose to put God first in everything I do.  I have to purpose to listen to His voice.  Otherwise, it is very easy for other things to slip in unnoticed.  

The hardest part is that the things that slip in are not always bad things.  I can get distracted by schoolwork, fellowship with believers, or even ministry.  The problem is when those things become more important than my relationship with God.  I have to fight against this constantly.

What's cool though, is that God knows how easily we get distracted.  He says to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." If it were easy to stay focused on God, why would strength be in there?  God is telling us that we need to constantly be redirected our focus and strength to building a relationship with Him.  

I have been closer to God this summer than I ever have before.  It was an amazing thing last week when I realized that I am more comfortable talking to God than anyone else.  It is incredible to realize that I can call on the Creator of the universe at any time and He is ready to listen.  

But it wasn't easy.  I learned some hard lessons about trust and obedience.  At several times, I asked God why.  I told Him that I didn't understand what was happening.  Because of the lessons I learned, I know that I can trust Him, and that He is more than enough for me.  This last week, there was a situation where I had to let go and trust God.  I still don't know what will happen, but I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that He is in control.  

In the words of another famous hymn:
Here's my heart, Lord.  Take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.

He has my heart.  I want it to stay that way

Your Last

Am I truly thankful?  Do I really understand the gift of it all?
Yes, I thank God for my daily bread, and I praise him for his blessings, but do I truly live out my thanks?

The real question: Do I live every day as a precious gift from God?  Do I treat every hour as if it were my last?
My answer: Not really.

But the hard part of it is, how do I turn this around?  What is the right way to spend each minute?  How would I know?
I found my answer as I was reading Matthew this week.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
-Matthew 6:33

That is where true joy can be found.  To follow and seek after God in every circumstance.  To listen to his voice to know what He wants me to do.

I have spent some time lately evaluating my actions.  If today were my last, would I respond differently to my sister?  Would I reach out to the person who seems to have no friends?  Would I let trivial things consume my thoughts?

We don't know when God will take us from this life.  I don't know if I will have one more year, or eighty.  God has each of us on this earth for a purpose. Whenever He calls me home, I want to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."  I want to know that I used my time on this earth to bring glory to his name.

So I ask you, Will you live every day as if it were your last?
I'm sure going to try.