Help for What is Weighing on Your Heart Today

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest...What do you do with a heavy heart? What is weighing on your heart today? A big decision?  An illness?  A loved one?  Perhaps you’ve even prayed about these issues and  moments later find yourself  like me, in deep thought once again.  A burdened heart seems to go everywhere with us-in the car, to work, to the grocery store.  I have been right in the middle of choosing a ripe tomato when my heart has decided to think on a big decision.  How does that happen?  It is almost like my brain just happened to see the the post-it note that my heart stuck up there in case my brain dared to forget long enough to select produce.  Jesus tells us to give Him our burdens, and I want to, but sometimes I take them back.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'”  Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

“Let me teach you,” Jesus says after he tells us to to take His yoke.  Jesus promises that He will show us how to wear it.  Our master is either the world or Jesus.  My burdens under the world’s yoke cause my shoulders and neck to hurt with tension.  The world does not promise peace with its yoke.  Jesus says His is light and easy to bear.  Even when our physical body is hard at work in our career, or fighting illness, or care taking, or just needing discernment, we are tethered to God’s strength, wisdom, peace, and rest in the midst of our work.

Last week I had a heavy decision on my mind, that was weighing down my heart and this phrase “let me teach you” pierced my heart.  I don’t think I had ever even noticed that part before. And that’s what the Holy Spirit does when we read God’s Living Word.  He teaches us right where we are.  “Let me teach you…” a little further digging in my Bible Concordance gave me even more clarity when I learned that the greek word used here in this phrase means to learn, study, be instructed, even get into the habit of being. Wow! God can even show us how to get in the habit of trading my heavy heart for His light yoke?  There is hope for us after all!

Interestingly a yoke was often worn by oxen to do work in the fields, but God tells us Continue reading “Help for What is Weighing on Your Heart Today”

Does God Still Love His People?

 

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Who is like you LORD…..you delight in showing unfailing love.  Micah 7:18

In a broken, hurting world, it can be hard to believe that God still loves His people. Do the words we read in our Bibles, penned so long ago, even still apply to us today?  Or has our sinful world strayed too far for such love.

Let’s unhurry our heart for a moment, let go of worries, fears for the world, or perhaps even complacency.  Put all of that aside as we breath in God’s goodness and let’s listen to what God says about His love.

Throughout the Bible, God is often described as having “unfailing love” for his people, but what does that really mean?  It is certainly hard to see evidence of God’s love in the headlines of today’s world.

Interestingly, headlines throughout history have not differed much.  In the mid 700’s BC, the headlines screamed of a rotting society, dishonest political and religious leaders, selfish motives, fraud, violence, and oppression (Micah 2:1-13). Sound familiar?  Yet even in the midst of such depravity, God called out a message of hope and offered His unfailing love and His message and unfailing love for us continues today.

God called the prophet Micah from his rural village in Judah to warn the people of their coming judgement and exile.  For years and years, God had steered his people back to himself, but they refused to listen.  While none of them deserved His love,  God wanted none of His people to perish.  He sifted His people through a time of exile and captivity and blessed the faithful remnant who chose to love and follow Him.  Who offers that kind of love to a depraved people?  Just listen to the hope spoken to these people and to us today in the passage below.

“Where is the god who can compare with you-wiping the slate clean of guilt, turning a blind eye, a deaf ear to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty.  That’s what you love most.  And compassion is on its way to us.  You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing.  You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean.  You’ll stay true to your word to Father Jacob and continue the compassion you showed Grandfather Abraham-Everything you promised our ancestors from a long time ago”  Micah 7:18-20 (The Message Bible). 

Micah’s very name means “who is like the LORD?”  He explained that if his people would only turn to God, ask forgiveness and turn away from their sin, that God would forgive them and redeem them instead. When the world deserved the worst, God offered His best.  That is God’s unfailing love.

God maintains His plan and His will for this World.  His unfailing love is God’s covenant to us.  God will not let anyone miss the chance to love Him.  When the world deserved the worst, God offered His best. That is God's unfailing love.

  • The people of Judah resisted the prophet Micah’s message, and history recorded their foretold Babylonian captivity.  But out of this captivity, God gathered and redeemed a remnant of believers and blessed them. That is unfailing love.  God doesn’t throw us away because we mess up.  He shows every willing person the way back to Him.  Even if it takes wandering and captivity to get us there.  He loves us too much to let those who love Him slip out of his hands.  Like the Israelites, we are selfish and forgetful, but He continues to relentlessly pursue us with his unfailing love and redeems us, washing us clean when we turn back to him.
  •  God made a covenant to Abraham and God protected a remnant of believers throughout the Old Testament. Micah 7:8 speaks of a covenant love, chesed, a Hebrew word describing absolute fidelity, unwavering even when that love is undeserved (from Strong’s Concordance) Out of this remnant Micah foretells a future deliverance not only for the exiled people, but for all believers as God’s unfailing love climatically emerges with the promise of the Messiah (Micah 5:2).  Micah chapter 4 is a glimpse of God’s perfect kingdom that you and I as Christians get to live in one day when Jesus returns to gather His people. We have a future to look forward to and be excited about!

So does God still love His people? YES! Over and over again, account after account,  example after example we see a cycle throughout the pages of the Bible of people messing up, God steering people back to Himself,  God’s forgiveness and redemption, and God’s blessing.  There is hope for God’s people and there is hope daily for us individually.  This hope is God’s unfailing love.  This unfailing love has a name; His name is Jesus.  

 

 

A Life-Changing Way to Live Out Life

img_6799“I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 28:20.  At first glance this might sound like a warm and fuzzy sentiment of goodbye, but when Jesus says these words, he is proclaiming a promise.  If you have ever lost anyone dear to your heart, you will keep memories of them close to your heart, perhaps their belongings, or traditions in their honor and memory.  You never stop loving and missing that person.  In that sense they never feel very far away.  But the promise that Jesus is proclaiming to his disciples (and to us) is not that Jesus remains close to our heart in love and thought, but that the Spirit of God literally dwells within our heart.  I love how author and Continue reading “A Life-Changing Way to Live Out Life”

Waiting on God: “what to do while you’re stuck in the waiting room”

Waiting rooms are a just a part of life.  We’ve all been stuck within the four walls of the dreaded waiting room.  Sometimes I feel like I am stuck sitting in God’s waiting room.  I show up on time for my appointment, I check in, and wait for God to call my name.  It is very hard to be patient in God’s waiting room.  I am sitting there today.  Perhaps you are in the room with me.  Has God asked you to do something, but the next step isn’t clear?

if I truly submit to His plan, then I submit to the wait in God's waiting room.“Waiting Room,” the very name of this room gives itself away.  We enter for the single purpose of waiting until we are called.  We select our seat of choice and begin the wait.  The wait might be short, or we may be waiting a very long time.  It is one of the mysteries of the waiting room; the length of the wait is uncertain.  After a few moments, we settle into the back of our chair and exhale, taking in our surroundings.  We surrender to the wait. After all, we have absolutly no control over the situation.  All of the huffing and puffing and clock watching will not speed up our time one bit.  If we are lucky there is a window or a TV to help pass the time.  Perhaps there is even a loud talker on his or her cell phone.  I do love piecing together an interesting phone conversation.  (Being a quiet phone talker myself when amidst other strangers, and I am always amazed at the decibel in which some people feel comfortable speaking).

The tricky thing about God’s waiting room, is that the waiting could take moments or years.  In obedience we stay ready to take the next step, but what in the world do we do while we wait?  As I have been struggling over the last several weeks,  I came up with 5 things to do in God’s waiting room. Join me in trying a few this week:

5 THINGS TO DO IN GOD’s WAITING ROOM (in no particular order):  
Continue reading “Waiting on God: “what to do while you’re stuck in the waiting room””

If the Earth yields to God, why can’t I?

Yield and I will nourish the roots of your heart. It is God's Living Water alone that can nourish and heal the unreachable and untouchable places of the heart.You can be certain that prized purple tulips are not worried if they will bloom in time to host a baby shower.  Prized purple tulips are not worried they could lose a petal.  Prized purple tulips are not even worried about life-threatening April snow.  They just yield to the One who grows them and focus on bringing God glory.  I want to be like that. Don’t you?  So if the earth yields to God, why can’t I?  Because I’m human.  I’m stubborn. I have worries.  I have what-ifs.  I want to be able to give it all to God when storms threaten, but I get caught up in the worries of the moment.

I woke up to beautiful snow this morning,  truly a reason to marvel at God’s wonders, but my first thought was, “Oh no, my tulips!” And then a one-sided, downhill conversation began in my head. “Why would it snow?  It’s April.  It’s not supposed to snow.  This is such crazy weather; it just doesn’t make any sense.  I have worked so hard in my yard.  Lord, everything has just begun to bloom, why would it snow and take it all away? And Oh no, I’m hosting a baby shower in a couple of weeks, nothing will be in bloom at my front door to greet my guests!  Wh..wh..”    

I jumped out of bed and sprung into action.  I grabbed trash bags and a pair of shoes left by the door.  I scrambled to shield the endangered blooms.  With my last bag, I bent down and checked the vitals of my favorite purple Tulips, cupping its elegant head in my hands.  At that moment,  I saw the humor of my salvaging frenzy.  That beautiful tulip was not worried one bit about freezing to death, and certainly not about her upcoming role of front door hospitality.  She was simply yielding to God at that moment and weathering the storm.

What a site I must have been to anyone who witnessed a crazy woman running around  her yard with trash bags, wearing non matching pajamas and feet hanging off the backs of shoes that were clearly too small because they belonged to her son.  Oh to be as faithful in yielding to God as this delicate spring flower.  As I looked around my yard,  I didn’t see a single flower who had chosen to simply throw itself on the ground convinced it was just going to die anyway.  No, as I looked around my yard, each and every bloom gracefully yielded to their Creator as the snow kissed each one of their tiny heads.  But what would I do in that same situation?  My honest answer is Continue reading “If the Earth yields to God, why can’t I?”

A Perennial Heart in an Annual World

Perennials vs Annuals…gardening terms, but perhaps relate to people as well.  First let’s set the record straight.  Typically, annual plants last one growing season and perennials come back year after year.  As I write, it is time to divide perennials that have grown too large, time to plant bulbs, and time to plants trees and shrubs.  Recently, I planted handfuls of spring bulbs,  grape hyacinths to be exact.  With the promise of cheery clusters of  purple faces that will awake when the snow melts, I tirelessly placed the little bulbs in their prescribed depths of soil.  Next, I  covered them with a think blanket of earth ensuring their protection from squirrels and dropping temperatures.  When at last, the final little bulb had been tucked in for his long winters rest,  I stood up and stretched out my dirt covered knees.  I stood back to look at my work and I noticed something.  I couldn’t see one darn thing!  All this work, and nothing to show for it.

AOh but the promise.  As a gardener, I have learned that planting bulbs in the fall ensures months of beautiful flowers in the spring and summer.  But it is so hard to wait!  We live in a world of instant results, and we often want instant fruits of our labor.  We live in an annual world, rarely pointing to patience.  It is hard to have a perennial heart in an annual world.  Our annual world likes to point and click and get instant answers.  Our annual world celebrates the quick and easy.   It is much like buying the beautiful flowering annuals that create an instant garden.  Now, I love to plant showy flats of marigolds and begonias just like the next person, but I am reminded at the end of the season that they don’t last very long.  Patience of a perennial heart is a lasting reward.

What makes perennial plants different?  Much of perennial work occurs under the ground. Perennials grow a lasting structure and they carefully re-seed.  Perennials are able to weather storms or an accidental shovel because their roots have grown deep into the soil.  They can adapt and seek shelter and regrow.  They trust in God’s timing.  Perennials watch the passing shows of annuals grace the stages of flowerbeds and they wait patiently for God’s timing instead.  They endure and persevere and wait.  In God’s perfect timing, their tender shoot bursts through the soil, giving God all the glory as they display their proud flowers.

I need a perennial heart don’t you? God speaks of plants and seeds, farming and cultivating, and waiting for the harvest throughout the Bible.  God’s answers and actions often take place after a period of waiting.  God is at work, even if is taking place in the deep soil of our hearts. There is something special about waiting.  Like a seed or bulb, God tells us to wait for His placement and timing.  A little seed is useless until it dies to itself.  The seed cracks open as germination takes place.  It is reborn and given new life.  God does that in our hearts when we surrender to Jesus.  He has a good and perfect will for our lives and when we place our trust in Him, when we pray, and when we wait, we are germinating.  We are bulbs resting and growing underground so that in God’s timing He can use us to show His glory to the world.  A perennial heart is patient.

  • In 2 Timothy 2:24 we are told to be patient with difficult people. Additionally, Paul tells us in this passage that as a servant of the Lord, we are to be kind to everyone and not quarrel.
  • In Genesis 6:6-12 God tells us to be patient with difficult circumstances.  After the rains stopped, Noah waited.  No doubt craving space to stretch out, fresh air to breathe, and the absence of the boat’s sway under their feet, his family and the animals waited for God’s timing before they exited.  Romans 5:3-4 tells us that problems and situations help us develop endurance and perseverance, which strengthens our character and grows our faith and trust in God.
  • In Psalm 142 God reminds us to be patient in distress. “When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn…” (Psalm 142:3).
  • Psalm 127 God reminds us to be patient with our goals.  In all of our pursuits (even our dreams and areas we feel called to serve), the LORD must be our firm foundation.  This psalm reminds us that unless The LORD is the builder, our work will be wasted.
  • Romans 8 reminds us that the best is yet to come.  We are reminded to be patient for the future.  Romans 8:18 says that “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

While these are just a few examples, we are reminded that there is care and beauty and strength in the waiting.  Having a perennial heart in an annual world isn’t always easy, but let us remember that God’s glory is always worth the wait.

 

 

Going on an Adventure with God

What if your best friend called you up and told you to pack your bags for the adventure of a lifetime.  All the details had already been planned out including all of your current responsibilities and commitments.  All you have to do is just say yes.  Would you go?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his port that is at work within us, to him be the glory Ephesians 3_20.pngWhat if that best friend was God?  God wants us to have that kind of relationship with us.  He wants us to abide in him.   And yes-that includes going on adventures.  Do you think being a Christian is fun and exciting and adventurous? If not, it may be time to go on an adventure with God.  

What is an adventure with God? I can tell you first hand. But first let’s understand the word adventure.

Webster Dictionary defines “adventure” as the following:  “1.  a) an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.  b)the encountering of risks.  2.  an exciting or remarkable experience. 

What feelings did that definition evoke? Exciting or even a little scary? Count me out, or count me in?  Me too.  But oh when we say yes!  God shows us things about him and about our selves, and about the world around us that are far greater than we could even imagine.

You see, a year ago I said yes to an adventure with God. God invited me on an adventure  to be a writer.  In school I never minded writing assignments, and I always kept a journal of thoughts and prayers, but never dreamed of being an author.  That dream was lying dormant.  But over the years, a little inexplicable flame would ignite in my heart when thought formed into words on paper before my eyes.  Certain words began to pierce my heart and I would find myself jotting down words, phrases, and thoughts for no understandable reason.  I was just compelled to keep them close to my heart.  I think the Lord had been whispering in my heart, “you will need these on your adventure.” I suppose I had been packing, because years later when God called me to say yes, and it was time to board that vessel,  and all of my bags were packed and ready.

God is so personal and so creative and exciting, I’m sure the adventure process is unique to each of us too. But for me, it was gradual and then once God’s invitation burst forth, I was ready to say “yes.” But then what?  God does not always provide clear instructions for his adventures.  I dreamily decided that I would write a book.  And maybe I will one day, but as I began to walk toward the route of published writing, God slowed me down.  He completely unhurried my heart.  And that’s where it got a little scary.  A little risky.  A little personal. Continue reading “Going on an Adventure with God”