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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hope

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12 ESV)

I've been contemplating disappointment and discouragement a lot lately. Not only has my pastor been preaching on the subjects, but I have been feeling a lot of both of those emotions recently. As I was studying today, I came across Proverbs 13:12 and started thinking about the words hope and desire and expectation.

The writer of Proverbs is stating that if the thing you desire is not obtained in the time expected you will be left disappointed. But if and when the object of desire does arrive, new life is breathed into your heart and soul.

So the question becomes, "What is it that you are desiring or expecting?" The Bible is clear that the things of this world are disappointing and temporal. Let's take money for instance. Wealth does not satisfy and once one reaches a certain level, another level is desired.

When we place our hopes in the things of this world we will be miserable because our expectations lie in things that will never satisfy. But those who hope in God will most certainly be satisfied. Scripture is clear that those who call themselves children of God should not hope for much from this world, this world is sure to disappoint, but we should hope for much from the world that is to come.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)

When discouragement sets in we are called to remind ourselves to hope in God as David did in Psalm 42.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
 Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." (Psalm 42:5 ESV)


So as I am constantly praying for my own heart to not be discouraged and to hope in God; I gain great comfort from the words of Jesus from John 16. My prayers is that you will as well.

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Okay with Being Bored

I know most of you grown-ups, especially moms, might be confused by the title of this post. Most adults and parents can't even fathom the concept of boredom let alone being okay with being bored. Well, just recently I very unexpectedly found myself in the role of stay-at-home mom which in and of itself is not boring, believe me. But, 3 days a week my 2.5 year old is attending half-day preschool and I have no idea what to do with myself.

Today was her first day and as I dropped her off I thought to myself, "What the heck am I going to do for the next 4 hours?" I know it's unusual to find yourself without errands to run and without chores that need to be done around the house, but that's where I found myself this morning. And what's even worse, I sat in front of my computer with nothing to write about.

So what did I do next? I start moaning and pouting about how I wish my life was more exciting or that I could find something "meaningful" to do with my time. In that moment of self-pity, God reminded me that there are seasons in one's life and each season is a blessing if seen through His eyes.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..." Ecclesiastes 3:1

There have been and will be times in my life where the calendar will be full and life will be crazy. But, right now is not one of them and that's okay. I don't know what God's doing but I know He has brought me to this point for a reason. My responsibility is to see this time as a time of preparation for whatever He has in store next and I just need to rest in Him, waiting patiently for the next open door.

Monday, August 13, 2012

True Rest

It seems lately that I live in a constant state of exhaustion. (Such is life with a two year old, I guess.) As I type this my daughter is napping and I'm wondering if I should do the same. All of these thoughts about sleep and naps and rest reminds me of the fact that God NEVER sleeps. Psalm 121:4 says,

"Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep."

God is self-sufficient and never gets tired. Even while I'm sleeping; He keeps a constant watch over all things. He's even watching over little ol' me! While that is a comforting thought; I often wish I didn't need sleep. Think of all the things I could accomplish if only I didn't need 8 hours of sleep and an occasional nap!

But, Scripture says that God gave sleep to us as a gift. God designed our physical bodies to need rest and restoration through sleep.

"It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep." Psalm 127:2


Our physical body is not the only part of us that needs rest. Spiritually we are all in desperate need of rest. Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Because of sin, our hearts are tired. For many of us, including yours truly, our first instinct is to strive to do good, to make things right, to pull up our boot straps and fix our hearts on our own. But Jesus says that we can come to him, not laboring and striving, but freely and he will give us rest. Because of the cross, we can rest from the constant work of trying to get to God on our own merit. The work has already been done, all we have to do is rest in Jesus.

In the Old Testament God gave the Isrealites the gift of the Sabbath, a day of rest once a week. For them specifically, the Sabbath law was a picture of the rest God would eventually give them when they reached the Promise Land. But the Sabbath is also forshadowing for all of God's people. God has promised us an everlasting rest that was ushered in by His Son. The ultimate fufillment of the Sabbath promise will happen when believers enter God's rest in the new creation God will bring when Christ returns.

"So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his." Hebrews 4:9-10

So, as I contemplate my constant state of exhaustion, I'm grateful for the gift of sleep for my physical body. But, I'm also thankful for the constant reminder that I can stop all my striving and laboring and find true rest in Jesus.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lip Service

Yesterday at church we sang several of my favorite songs but one has lingered with me over the past 24 hours - All To Us by Chris Tomlin. I was so excited when the song started that I couldn't wait to start singing. But about half-way through the chorus which reads,

Let the glory of Your name be the passion of the Church
Let the righteousness of God be a holy flame that burns
Let the saving love of Christ be the measure of our lives
We believe You're all to us

it was like the Spirit closed my mouth. Could I really sing that the saving love of Christ was the measure of my life and that I believed that God was all to me? It got even worse when we got to the bridge,

You're all to us
You're all to us
You're all to us
Yes, You are

No matter how hard I tried to sing "You're all to us"; I couldn't. It was as if God was asking me, "Am I really all to you?" I couldn't sing any more words to the song until I confessed that He's not all to me. His love is often not the measure of my life.

To sing that song unless it was really true felt like I was giving lip service to God. I had to confess that while I wanted those words to be true in my life, they weren't. I want God to be all I need. But in real life, outside the church walls; He isn't. So many things of this world - money, fame, the praise of others, etc. distract me and lead me to believe that they are all I need, not God.

That experience in church yesterday reminded me that daily I need to approach God, confessing that I want Him to be all to me but I am weak and I am sinful. I need Him to give me faith so that I will want only Him and nothing else.

During times of conviction and repentance such as these, the words of John always comfort me.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9