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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lord, help!

If you read the Daily Office for your daily devotional, you know that one of our Psalms for today is Psalm 121. Psalm 121 says,

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
   from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
   who made heaven and earth. 

He will not let your foot be moved;
   he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep. 

The Lord is your keeper;
   the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
   nor the moon by night. 

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
   he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
   your going out and your coming in
   from this time on and for evermore.

I love this picture of the Lord. Fortunately or unfortunately these days, when I wake up in the morning sometimes the only prayer I am able to blurt out before a child comes jumping in my bed is "Lord, help!". What those two short words are actually saying is, "Lord, help me in my parenting. Lord, help me be a better wife. Lord, help me to love others as you love them. Lord, help me to put the words on paper that you've written on my heart."

What jumped out in those first couple of verses to me today is the 2nd part of verse 2. Obviously I know my help comes from the Lord, hence the "Lord, help!" shout out. But, do I REALLY believe that He can and will help? Or, do I just throw that prayer out into the universe because that's what a good Christian does and then I go about my life trying to help myself? 

But, the psalmist says that our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. The creator and sustainer of the ENTIRE universe is standing at the ready to help. And not only is our Help the creator of heaven and earth, He doesn't need anything. He is ready, willing and able to help His children because He is in need of nothing and fully able to freely give all things. 

Verses 3 and 4 says he doesn't need slumber or sleep, but He is able to fully give rest to those who put their trust in Him. The Lord doesn't need protection or to be looked after, but He is the Keeper of His children. He provides for all of our needs and fully protects us by being the "shade at our right hand".   

Not only does He provide for all our needs and protect us from the world around us that threatens to beat us down like the noon day sun, He keeps our entire life. Nothing is beyond His reach. He stands guard for us in all our comings and goings from here until eternity.

The next time I shoot up my rapid fire prayer, "Lord, help!"; I pray that the depths of my soul will remember that He is willing and ready to help so that I will lay down all my natural inclinations to help myself. My Lord has the full capacity to help me no matter what surrounds me.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sufficient

This weekend I had the tremendous privilege to get away to spend time reflecting, praying, writing and meeting several wonderful new people on a similar journey. I am thankful to God for clarity of direction and encouragement.  

Before I left for the weekend, I read 2 Corinthians 3 as a part of my daily Scripture reading. Verses 4-6 say, 

"Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (ESV)

My natural tendency is to take pride in my self-reliance and independence. I take pride in being a sufficient, independent and responsible woman. And in many aspects of life, those are amazing traits that I am so thankful were instilled in me. But, when it comes to pursuing a call God has placed on my life, those prideful feelings can be detrimental. 

The negative side to those tendencies is to jump into something God has called you to head on and in your own strength. The results of that is often burn out, frustration, fruitlessness and failure. But Paul says, "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God..."

Of all people, Paul could claim sufficiency in himself. He was a chief Pharisee, an intellectual, skilled in the law, a successful church planter and a deep theologian who could clearly communicate God's message. He, of all people, could have easily fallen into the trap of thinking that he was sufficient and competent because of his own strength and gift. 

But, that's not his attitude as he approaches the Corinthians in this passage. In the previous verses, he explained that he had written the Gospel on their hearts and that they were a living testimony of the Spirit's work through him, among them. He could easily have left the explanation there. Instead, he goes on to explain that the confidence he has to do the work of the Gospel among them doesn't come from something he's conjured up in himself, but the confidence he has came through Christ. 

He goes on to explain that not only does his confidence come from God but that his sufficiency and his ability to complete the work has nothing to do with him. His sufficiency, his competency, his ability comes from God who has made him sufficient through the Spirit.

I know what God is calling me to do. What is He calling you to do right now? Do you feel completely incompetent to complete the task? Or, do you feel like you can muster up enough moxie and strength to do it on your own? Neither ends of that spectrum is going to allow the Spirit to do God's good work in you.


Until you and I remember that our sufficiency comes from God alone, we will never be able to obediently and successfully execute the tasks to which He's called us. My prayer is that I would sink deeply into God's ability to make me competent and able. I beg as the psalmist does in Psalm 90:17, "Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!" (ESV)