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 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

 

God is Jealous For Me

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God’s jealousy for me makes me weep.

Because sometimes it’s just so hard for me to understand why He would care enough about me to be jealous at all.

Because He’s faithful. Even when I am not.

Because He’s merciful. Even when I am not.

Because He’s God. And I am not.

“Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14

God is jealous, not in the angry, malicious, violent sense, but in the burning, holy, righteous sense. He is zealous for His good Name. And I am His child. I wear His Name.

HIS Name. A Name that makes some people curse and others praise. A Name that makes some shake their fists and others lift their hands. A Name that makes some kick and scream and others bow low. A Name that makes some cringe and others hope.

But no matter how people react, He’s still God and there’s just something about His Name.

My Sunday School class at church is studying, Praying The Names Of God, by Ann Spangler. I love it. I really love it. I love focusing on a different name for God each week. Every day, pondering, reflecting, chewing on the significance of the names, understanding the meaning of the names, and trying to wrap my mind around the character of God.

This morning I’ve been reflecting on El Kanna (EL kan-NAH), Jealous God.

And it’s in my reflecting that I weep.

Because I want to be zealous for the God who is zealous for me. I want to praise, even when my heart is sad. I want to lift my hands, even when my arms are heavy. I want to bow, even when my legs are weak. I want to hope, even when my soul is downcast.

When I’m too focused on my humanity or too distracted by the world, my heart tends to stray and God wants my heart. All of it. That’s why He never lets me stray too far. That’s why He never leaves me where I am. That’s why He never gives up on me. He is mindful in His pursuit of me and I can’t tell you how I rejoice in this knowledge. It’s just a little too wonderful for me.

That’s why I can trust in His Name, El Kanna, and all it represents and all it stirs inside of me.

Because wearing God’s Name reminds me of Whose I am. Bearing His Name reminds me of Who I serve. Calling on His Name reminds me of Who has my heart.

When all I need is found in Christ, why would I want to praise, lift my hands, bow down or hope in anyone or anything else? Ever? Why would I want to let my heart stray when I have a God who loves me so? And, yet, God knows that sometimes I do. That’s why He’s jealous for me.

“I am the Lord; that is My name! I will not give my glory to another, or my praise to idols.” Isaiah 42:8

Yes, God is Jealous God. And rightfully so. His love is perfect and holy, fiercely protective and intensely powerful. His love propels Him to want what’s best for me and guard the part of me that’s most precious to Him.

So, today this is how I pray:

Yes, Father. I will let You be jealous for me. I will let You be zealous in Your love for me. I will let You guide me, grace me, and guard me. 

Because I love You, too. And I want to honor You. Because You are faithful. And merciful.   

Because I want to give You the glory that is rightfully Yours.

Because You are worthy.

Because You are God. And I am not.