Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
A friend asked me recently what incredible things God was doing in my life. I wrote this in response and wanted to share it here in hopes that it might encourage some of you.
On my way home yesterday, I was thinking about how incredible it is when the Lord reveals to you your gifts and then he uses them to touch someone else. Even more incredible is how he uses the pain and trials in your life for good. I realized though that we have to choose to be where he wants us and not fight against it. A change of how we think and perceive the things happening in our lives is required to see those things as being part of his will.
Once my heart finally surrendered to the Lord completely it was like a flood of his presence has filled every part of me. Everything I read, everything I hear seems to point me back to the truth. Pastor Al’s sermon combined with a book I am reading reminded me that these things that are bringing so much pain into my life are not meant for evil. They are meant for good…good because they drive me to an intimate relationship with the Lord. Good because it has given me the opportunity to reach out to others who are suffering and point them to the Lord in it. Good because they are producing something of such greater value than a life void of pain. Seeing all of this in light of how God is going to use it and is using it has increased my trust in Him and his ability to work it all out according to HIS purpose. I am learning that being at rest in his will comes from trusting his purpose and not having to work it out according to what I think he should do with it.
I guess I kind of feel like he has softened me into pliable clay. I have never felt so intimate with the Lord as I do right now. That is exciting to me because for years I have looked back to my teenage years and considered that to have been my strongest time spiritually. Not so good to be walking with the Lord for so long and to have lost that freshness in our relationship. It saddened me but not enough to stop fighting against Him and for my own way. I finally feel as though I can hear him again as he speaks truth in my heart. I can trust him with my heart. I can obey without fear. I can hear his correction and respond with surrender and not a “failure response” of giving up and running to sin rather than away from it. As a result, my heart finally feels again. It has been stone for a very long time.
The Lord truly is becoming everything to me. In the past year, he has stripped away everything I was replacing him with. He is taking away the walls that I have been hiding behind. He gave me these certain friends who have challenged me in so many ways to find and cling to truth. He took my need to be pleasing to people and used that same need to face some things I really need to deal with and not run. In the process, its becoming more important to me what God thinks than what people think. I am not totally to that point of being free from my desire for approval but I think the Lord is loosening the fear that need had imprisoned my heart in. He took my greatest fear, brought it into my life, and then walked step by step through it, teaching my heart to seek approval in him and desire to hear his words alone, and then gave me what I needed in his way. So much healing took place in such a short amount of time and in a few powerful words. He is the very thing I thought I needed others to be.
I never thought the Lord would ever choose to use me again. I have failed horribly. I have willingly chosen to sin in horrible ways- like a rebellious child determined to crush her Father’s heart. I have dared God to leave me and walk away. I have tried, like I have done in many relationships, to convince him he shouldn’t waste his time. And true to who he is, he has waited for me to surrender and has patiently and passionately pursued my heart. Now he has allowed my heart to feel the freedom and healing power of his forgiveness. One day in the past couple of weeks, my mind was flooded with images of so many of the times I chose to sin. Each time the thought would come to mind, the Lord was there reminding me that it was paid for. It was incredible to me how many of the songs I heard that day had to do with the past and forgiveness.
So I am amazed and humbled that the Lord has given me the opportunity to be used again. It is bringing me so much joy. So much so that I never want to settle for less than God’s best again. I have been praying and asking him to allow me to have a women’s group again to lead, to serve, and to love. I am amazed now that he has brought these women together and it is more than I ever thought possible. I love it when the Lord allows me the opportunity to pour his love and truth into another person and getting to watch them grow. I have gotten to experience what happens when the Lord reveals things to us that have affected us and can be used as an excuse to justify our behavior. As I am learning to let go of those things and not let them be an excuse for me, I get to share with others how to do that too. Each time he gives me the opportunity to share with someone else, help someone else or serve someone I am overcome by joy. It makes everything else worth it to see God using it to bring someone else closer to him.
What are the incredible things he is doing? He is giving me a soft heart. He has replaced my mourning with gladness. He has brought me to the edge, allowed me to see the possibilities of things I could lose and asked me whether I will still choose Him. He has given me a steadfast faith that says “No matter what happens, I will follow you.” He has spoken his words of love, worth, and truth into my heart and has given me faith to believe him and cling those words. If you had known me these past ten years and seen the icy wall around my heart, the desire to be free yet feeling like I am always drowning never able to reach the surface, heard the lies that have waged war against my mind and heart, and felt the intensity of the fear that has imprisoned me you would agree that the things the Lord is doing is incredible. In finally surrendering to His love and allowing him to be everything I need, I feel like I can face the future, with whatever it might hold, with courage, security, and peace.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Revelation 15:3
Songs of Praise Rise From Affliction
"Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints" (Rev. 15:3).
The following incident is related by Mrs. Charles Spurgeon, who was a great sufferer for more than a quarter of a century:
"At the close of a dark and gloomy day, I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on; and though all was bright within my cozy room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the Hand which I knew held mine, and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked,
"'Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?'
"These fretful questions were quickly answered, and through a strange language; no interpreter was needed save the conscious whisper of my heart.
"For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of the oak log burning in the fireplace. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window.
"'What can it be? surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night.'
"Again came the faint, plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke our wonder. My friend exclaimed,
"'It comes from the log on the fire!' The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak's inmost heart!
"Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all was well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold. But he had grown old since then, and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody, until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness, and the vehement heart of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice. 'Ah,' thought I, 'when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified!'
"Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log, cold, hard, insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds, were it not for the fire which kindles around us, and releases notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will.
"'As I mused the fire burned,' and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set forth before me.
"Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before."
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Monday, March 08, 2010
How majestic are your whispers, O Lord. The words of the song rolled off my tongue and I couldn’t help but smile. I knew a little something about the whispers of the Almighty God. Standing in the midst of other worshipers as we declared the truth of the Lord, made the words of this song feel like I was on the inside of an inside joke. An intimate exchange between me and the Lover of my Soul could be described in the majesty of the whisper of God. The sovereignty of God, ordering these particular worship songs to be sung on this very day, was nothing less than a continuation of this exchange.
The details of the encounter from the night before flooded my mind and melted my heart. Healing words had washed over my broken spirit. Words from man joined the words of God. Both working hand in hand to restore the assurance I so desperately needed. Only the Lord could have known the words I needed spoken over the ache in my heart. He alone knew the cry of my heart. He had seen the struggle. He knew how much I was doubting my worth and place in this world. He knew how unloved I felt. He knew the battle that was daily raging in my mind as I fought against insecurity and accusations.
So he whispered.
He whispered his truth.
I love you.
You can do this.
I have given you strength.
I am so proud of you.
You are my treasured possession.
I have chosen you.
Look in my eyes and see how I see you.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: 2 Corinthians 7:5
Our Dependency on Christ
"We are troubled on every side" (2 Cor. 7:5).
Why should God have to lead us thus, and allow the pressure to be so hard and constant? Well, in the first place, it shows His all-sufficient strength and grace much better than if we were exempt from pressure and trial. "The treasure is in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
It makes us more conscious of our dependence upon Him. God is constantly trying to teach us our dependence, and to hold us absolutely in His hand and hanging upon His care.
This was the place where Jesus Himself stood and where He wants us to stand, not with self-constituted strength, but with a hand ever leaning upon His, and a trust that dare not take one step alone. It teaches us trust.
There is no way of learning faith except by trial. It is God's school of faith, and it is far better for us to learn to trust God than to enjoy life.
The lesson of faith once learned, is an everlasting acquisition and an eternal fortune made; and without trust even riches will leave us poor. --Days of Heaven upon Earth
"Why must I weep when others sing?
'To test the deeps of suffering.'
Why must I work while others rest?
'To spend my strength at God's request.'
Why must I lose while others gain?
'To understand defeat's sharp pain.'
Why must this lot of life be mine
When that which fairer seems is thine?
'Because God knows what plans for me
Shall blossom in eternity.'"
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Im longing for You now
To meet me in my weakness
And heal me with Your power
I wanna see You
Open up my eyes
I wanna see You tonight
Jesus, I am ready
To leave the past behind
But Im still hesitating
Oh, to let go in my mind
Im fighting with confusion
And Im drowning in my sin
I thought I knew the answers
But Im left unsatisfied within
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