God Will Never Give Up On Me!

IMG_1075Resurrection Sunday comes to me in tidal waves of mercy. Even though it’s almost impossible for me to reflect on the Crucifixion without feeling the shame and sorrow of what all my sin did to the Sunrise From On High (Luke 1:78 NASB), I canNOT help but rejoice when I reflect on the glorious light that poured forth from the tomb early in the morning on the day Jesus defeated sin and death once and for all.

Oh Sweet Jesus…how I absolutely need to remember that YOU are my Dayspring!

“And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways;

To give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, 

Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us,

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76-79 KJV

Dayspring; i.e. a rising light, dawn; by implication, the east; a.k.a daybreak, sunrise, dawn, morning. A. New. Day.

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.

The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22 & 23

Who doesn’t love a sunrise? Who doesn’t experience a flutter in the heart when looking to the east at the break of dawn? Who doesn’t take a pause to marvel at the wonder of God’s infinite beauty and to appreciate His unlimited creativity?

For no two sunrises are ever the same.

Only the Sunrise From On High knows that from within this heart of mine is the potential for something more. Something new. Something worth resurrecting.

I’ve been pondering John 21 this morning. I never get tired of reading how Jesus appeared to His disciples at the Sea of Galilee after His resurrection.

I don’t know…maybe I just have all the feels for this band of fishermen. Just about every single one of them, except for John, had failed Jesus miserably at the moment when He needed them the most. They ran. They deserted Him. Peter even denied Him.

And, yet, even though they failed, Jesus still came to them.

Please take note of this: The Resurrected Jesus came to them.

Oh Yes! He came to resurrect their hopes. Their dreams. Their need for restoration.

The tears are welling up in my eyes as I type this because I know in my heart there have been times when I, too, have failed my Savior. And, if I’m to be completely honest here, there’ve been times when I’ve felt just like the disciples…that my failures have disqualified me from ever being used by God again.

But, hallelujah, Jesus is all about “out with old, in with the new!”

Those times when I messed up pretty bad, I honestly thought the only thing I could do was go back to what I’d always done before because I wouldn’t be good enough for anything else. I honestly thought I just needed to go back to what was comfortable.

Maybe I thought by “going back” I could recapture some sense of dignity, some sense of purpose, some sense of usefulness.

But, if I believe that resurrection is all about new,then I have to believe God can take all my messes, all my mistakes, all my failures and redeem them. He can restore dignity, renew purpose, and reshape usefulness.  And it’s most likely not going to look anything like the “before” picture.

Because God is in the business of making all things new.

That’s why I love reading how Jesus came to this motley crew of men, who didn’t know what to do with themselves after their “Big F” (failure with a capital F) but go back to the only thing they knew…fishing, and get them out of the boat and out of the water once and for all.

And you’ll never guess…Jesus came to them in all their doubts, all their insecurities, and all their uncertainties At. The. Break. Of. A. New. Day.

He came to them while they were in the boat in the middle of the water after a night of unproductive fishing and He stood on the shore “when the day was now breaking…”

How absolutely beautiful….the Sunrise From On High stood on the beach at sunrise…He came to them and He called to them.

To Jesus, they would never be failures and He was going to prove it to them. He told them to cast their nets on the opposite side of the boat and empty nets were filled to overflowing with the catch of their lives.

At the break of day, something new…something wonderful…something only Jesus could do…happened. Their eyes were opened when their nets were filled. These men who tried to replace the “F for failure” with an “F for fisherman” could not get to Jesus fast enough.

Peter, the one who needed assurance the most, jumped in the water and swam to shore. He stood before the One he’d pledged to die for dripping wet, failure on his mind, but hope in his heart. He saw the coals already hot waiting on the sandy beach and when Jesus issued the invitation to “Come and have breakfast…” Not. One. Of. Them. Refused.

OMGoodness…only Jesus can set a table that fills not only our stomachs but our empty souls, as well. Jesus had blessed their nets, but it wasn’t until He blessed their hearts that their thirst was truly quenched.

Jesus restored them. Every. Single. One. He gave them back the promise that with each new day there was the hope of living out a resurrected life. At the dawn of each new day He…Jesus, the Sunrise From On High…would always be waiting for them on the shoreline of their emptiness. He would always meet with them.

He would always come to them.

He would always call to them.

He would always fill them up.

And He would never give up on them. No matter what.

No two sunrises are ever the same. And thank the Lord for that!!

Because I don’t want to focus on my failures.

I want to focus on the hope that is mine in Christ Jesus and the dreams He has for me, whatever they may be. In His eyes, I will never be a failure. He will never give up on me.

And I don’t ever…EVER…want to forget my need for restoration. Or my need for a fresh new filling.

I AM a new creation and I’m so thankful that the Dayspring will always rise in my heart…

At. The. Break. Of. Each. New. Day.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Reflections On Psalm 6

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The violins are playing a dirge…

And it’s not for a funeral. It’s for a man who is pining away. The music he hears in his head is mournful. And the words he hears in his heart are sorrowful. The two go together like tears and grief.

David wrote Psalm 6 for the eight stringed lyre. He wrote words to mock and composed music to taunt. Music to express sorrow. A sorrow that’s almost too hard to express because it comes from someplace deep.

Like the pit of the soul.

The place where sometimes there just aren’t any words. Only sounds.

Yet, somehow, David–this man whom God called “a man after His own heart”–always seemed to find the words. Somehow, he always managed to give God the raw emotions that threatened to eat him alive if he didn’t bring them to the surface.

I don’t know about any of you, but I can recall a season when I, too, was pining away. Far from God. Weak. Feeble. Head hanging down and heart drooping low. Bones disturbed and soul dismayed.

Sin does that. It affects the entire body, soul, and spirit.

This is what David is trying to tell us. He knows he’s messed up. He knows he’s done wrong. He knows he deserves God’s wrath.

But, David also knows his God. So he appeals to His Father’s mercy.

“O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O Lord–how long? Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your loving kindness.” Psalm 6:1-4

Even though it sounds like David feels abandoned by God, he still believes God is there. He still cries out to God. He still talks to God. He still believes God will listen. God will forgive. God will restore.

Because this he knows…

“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…” Exodus 34:6

For all of David’s messes, he still knew what it would take to get right with God.

I can’t help but wonder…the way David felt…for all his pining, all his sighing, all his groaning…I wonder…was it God Himself that he missed the most? Is that what made his heart so sick? Is that what made his soul so dismayed? His bones so disturbed?

“A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Sometimes God’s silence can be so frustrating. So disturbing. So depressing.

I don’t like it when God is silent. I, too, have found it very disturbing. I, too, have cried out in frustration, “How long, O Lord–how long?!?” 

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines…

He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”  Hebrews 12: 5, 6, 10, 11

David was a man of great passion. But so is God. His lovingkindness is all about His zeal for His children. All about His goodness. His kindness. His faithfulness.

It’s also all about His holiness. His righteousness. His salvation.

When I mess up–and I do–I appeal to God’s mercy. I appeal to His lovingkindness.

But, I also have to understand that sometimes there are consequences. If I believe that God truly loves me, then I have to believe He will discipline me in His love. Not His anger. He will always be merciful. He will always be kind. He will always be faithful.

Even in consequences, God’s grace is sufficient.

And how long does it take? Until I learn. Until God knows I’m ready. Until He feels I’m equipped.

I may get weary with my sighing. My bed may swim and my couch may dissolve with tears. My eyes may waste away with grief, but this I know…

“The Lord hears my voice of weeping….He hears my supplication…He receives my prayers.” 

I wouldn’t ask God to rescue me if I didn’t think He could deliver me. 

I wouldn’t ask God to save me if I didn’t think He could liberate me.

I wouldn’t ask God to return to me if I didn’t think He could strengthen me.

I wouldn’t ask God to heal me if I didn’t think He could restore me.

And so…I’ll never stop asking. I’ll never stop making my appeals.

No matter how many times I mess up, I know God will never abandon me. He loves me too much.

I may hear the violins play a dirge in my head every now and then…I may feel like I’m pining away…I may sigh and groan and dissolve my bed with tears, but it’s not because I’m forgotten by God.

It’s because I feel something deep in the pit of my soul.

Even when I hurt over my sin, I’m always comforted in my salvation. And because of that, I will always find the words. While the violins play a soulful tune, I will pour out my heart, trusting God will always hear and God will always pardon.

I will always trust in His love.

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Next Sunday is Easter. My favorite holiday of the year. Yes, I love it more than Christmas. Because I’m so thankful for the Cross.

I don’t know when it hit me exactly…but one day…many years ago it dawned on me…before I could see the Risen Savior I had to see the Crucified Christ. Because the Cross is at the root of it all.

No, the Cross isn’t pretty. It’s ugly, but it leads to something beautiful. This is why I lead a reflective life. I reflect to connect with Jesus. All the ugly in my life He has turned into something beautiful. He took my whole heart and held it gently in the palms of His hands and healed it…with all His tenderness and all His love and He bound my heart to His.

And I can only hope my heart now reflects less of me and more of Him.

Easter Joy!

 

Reflections On Psalm 5

IMG_1572I’m glad I don’t have the responsibilities of a ruler. No one calls me the Queen Mother.

Well, I take that back. Sometimes my husband calls me a “queen.” He can do that, if he wants to. He’s my earthly king, after all. I’m crazy about him.

But, you know what I mean.

I’m glad I don’t have the fate of an entire country in my hands. I’m glad I don’t have to make decisions that affect the lives of millions of people. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about people speaking falsehood about me or people deceiving me or people flattering me with their tongues.

I mean, I guess even those who aren’t ruling a country experience such things, but I can’t imagine how much worse it is for those who pretty much live their lives in the eyes of the public.

I guess if I really wanted to revel in it, I could recall to mind times when others spoke unkindly about me, told me untruths, or lied to my face. Yeah…I could do that. But, I don’t wanna.

Not today.

Because today I want to remember the kindness of people. The goodness. ‘Cause there’s just too much evil in the world. And I hear all about it. All the time.

I don’t hear enough about the good stuff and sometimes I need to focus on what’s good. ‘Cause if I don’t, I might forget. And I don’t ever, ever want to forget that no matter how bad things are, there’s still a lot of good in this world.

“For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You. 

The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.

You destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.

But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness, I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” Psalm 5:4-7

Oh. Gosh. How I need to remind myself that God rules. He sees. He hears. He loves what is good. He hates what is evil. He takes no pleasure in those who deliberately rebel against Him and those who purposely do evil with no thought of consequences.

How I need to remind myself that God sees. His sees my seeking, He considers my prayers, and He heeds the sound of my voice. verses 1-3

How I need to remind myself that God hears. He hears my words, He considers my groaning, and He heeds the sound of my cries. verses 1-3

He is King. The fate of the entire world is in His hands. Not mine.

God will make the final decision that will affect the lives of all people. I know because I’ve read His Book. From cover to cover. I know how it all ends.

My King knows falsehood when He experiences it because there is nothing false in Him. He knows deception when He sees it because there is nothing deceitful about Him. He knows flattery when He hears it because there is nothing insincere about Him.

He has the whole world in His hands.

I recently spoke these words at a women’s event and I’ve come to believe them with all my heart:

“If we believe that God is perfect then we have to believe that He is perfect in all of His ways. And if we believe that God is good then we have to believe He has a good plan and a good purpose for our lives, in spite of the bad things that happen to us.” 

When I wonder how much longer this world can remain and how much more evil this world can take, I remind myself that God is ever watchful. Ever patient. Ever in control.

As He is perfect, so is His timing in it all.

As He is good, so are His thoughts toward us all.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God. For He will abundantly pardon. 

‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” Isaiah 55:6-9

Yes. Today I’ll focus on the lovingkindness of God when I enter into His presence. verse 7

Today I’ll focus on the way He guides and leads me when I walk in paths of righteousness. verse 8

Today I’ll focus on His favor and blessing around me when I love and praise His name. verses 11-12

And I will choose to remember He always speaks words of affirmation to me. His words are never false. Never deceiving. Never insincere. He’s crazy about me.

The Word of God is truth.

It is life.

And that is that.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth…” Isaiah 55 10-11