Word For The Day: HOPE

This morning as I was reading in my devotional, I sensed the message God wanted me to get was that I have hope. Of course, I was hopeful that I would have a great day at school, even though I wasn’t excited about going back. I was really enjoying my break and didn’t want it to end quite so soon. Alas, the end of the year is usually very busy with performances. Plus, finding ways to motivate the unmotivated, especially when you’re in that group makes for some challenging tasks. Needless to say, it was a day of learning experiences and I owe one of my classes an apology when I see them tomorrow. I was however pleasantly surprised by one student from my first class this morning who seemed to be happy to be back and was working harder than I’ve seen in long time. That was a redeeming moment that I didn’t expect. Thank You Jesus.

I was hopeful that the annoying problems with my car would be resolved today. I’m not sure that they are yet and I don’t know what to do now. If its not one thing, it seems like its another. I am so over this drama with my car and spending way too much to resolve all of its issues. I need to find the Car Whisperer.

I was hopeful that the decision to change my diet for the next two weeks so that I am eating mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts would take off without a hiccup. I couldn’t hardly get the plane off the ground without giving in to my Monday morning mocha with six pumps of peppermint and whip cream alongside a veggie breakfast burrito. Yum. But I did stick with it for the rest of the day, had a lot of energy for spin class tonight and feel great about where I’m heading.

I think that my misstep at the beginning of the day was focusing on where I knew I was going to have challenges and wanted to rise above them. That’s all that I was focused on at first, but I now recognize that my focus should be the reminder of why I already have a great deal of hope.

“Who is a God like You, Who forgives the wrong that I do and washes away the memories of my blunderous choices? He does not hold my actions against me because He longs to show mercy and compassion.”
Micah 7:18 (Elaina’s version)

I am so grateful that I have this hope. The hope that nothing I do will change God’s love for me, no matter how badly I mess up. And that He doesn’t even want to bring it up again. He won’t take my mistakes from today and hold them over my head.

So why should I continue to hold them against myself if He won’t?

I need You to have this day my dear Savior, my Friend and all that took place. I want You to use it for Your glory at work in me so that others may see You, see Your love. Thank You Lord that I get to learn from my mistakes, try again tomorrow and grow some more as I cultivate this heart You’ve placed inside of me. I believe You are working all of these things out for my good and have been since before I was born. Help me to hide myself in You where I find rest. I love You Jesus.

20130415-233316.jpg

A Display of Affection

Wow, Lord You amaze me. I don’t even know how to hold back these tears as I journal about my day. What incredible love I feel running down like a precious, fragrant oil You’ve poured over me.

Just in this moment alone You have shown Your faithfulness to provide for a need. I had no way of knowing how You planned to bring another person to assist the worship team I lead on Sunday mornings. But in less than a week three men from the congregation are coming in the morning to learn how to do sound and tech during the service. How did you do that so quickly? I am in awe and trust You will provide the very best.

You spoke to me about my need to stop complaining about my job and be thankful for what You have provided to meet my needs for this time in my life. Even though I often dread the potential struggles I know I may face each day because they might be uncomfortable, I know I can trust, believe and stand firmly on the truth that You are my source of strength and will supply an abundance of joy in the task of teaching each and every student who comes through my classroom.

I am reminded in a prayer request that came via text message this afternoon that I am not the only one who struggles with rising above defeat when I face disappointment in my personal life. And that to worship You is to overcome and find victory in the battle of my mind.

Even in my singleness You are reminding me that You have a plan and purpose for me. I can cry out to You in my loneliness and still declare You are sovereign in providing for me at just the right time. Today I felt You speak to me that I would see a specific man I know of, that some friends wanted me to meet awhile back. And I had dinner with them tonight. Wow! I was good. I stayed calm and true to who I am.

And the playlist from my iheart radio channel was speaking Your faithful love over and over with beautiful promises, truth of the woman You are calling me to become. Every word sunk deep into my heart, saturating my mind and restoring the joy that can only come from knowing You, Lord Jesus.

I am thankful for Your faithful, unfailing love for me, someone who is not deserving to be loved this way, yet I am considered worth every ounce of Your affection because You want me. You want to hold my hand and lead me through the life You’ve given me. You call me Your own, beloved, dear one. I am precious in Your sight. You know me through and through. Thank You dear Lord for Your amazing love that never runs out. Thank You for being the One who knows me best and knows exactly what I need, when I need it.

SOAP Hebrews 12:2

In an effort to be diligent in my practice of studying the bible, I am using the SOAP method. After I read a verse that speaks to me, I write it down (S). I make observations about what I notice from the verse (O). I then write about how to apply it to my life (A) and finally end my time writing a prayer (P). I felt led to share with you the SOAP journal I did for this verse from Hebrews 12:2 and used the Amplified version of the bible because it helps me to understand the context better.

S: “Looking away [from all that will distract us] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”-Hebrews 12:2

O: What sticks out most to me in this verse is the phrase “for the joy.” How could anyone find joy in the pain of being crucified? It’s nothing I would choose to do. Just the phrase sounds ridiculous in my mind, but oh how the ways of God are not ours. God longed for us to have a connection to Him. Jesus is the bridge that makes that relationship possible. Even though I don’t understand why He chooses things that make little or no sense at times, I am grateful for what His death gave to the world.

A: Jesus did what He had been asked to do by God the Father. He did it knowing that the end result would bring us into a much better place, where we have a part in receiving the good things God intends for us: eternal life, grace to believe that no matter what we do His love for us will never change, promises for healing and restoration, an inheritance that surpasses anything we could imagine here on earth. He ignored the humiliation and disgrace that came with death so that I might live. What a beautiful Savior!

P: Lord God, I am awestruck at the beauty of Your love for me. I am amazed that You would lower Yourself this way because I am worth so much to You. Thank You for being my sacrifice so I didn’t have to walk through life on my own. I bless You Lord for Your goodness and merciful love poured out on me. Help me today to respond with the same attitude that You had in going to the cross, that I would choose to do what You ask of me, even if its difficult to go through. I know that You have been working for my good before I was born. I choose to trust You and believe in Your promises, that You are for me, not against me, that You love me with an unfailing love. Thank You for the cross and the torment You endured so that I might live forever with You my king. Amen.

Not Failure

A few nights ago I was renting a movie from Redbox and a young man asked me for a cigarette. I told him I didn’t smoke and he said “Good for you.” (I thought to myself “That probably wasn’t the best thing to say.”) But he didn’t seem offended by my honest answer and continued to talk with me. “I don’t want to by a whole pack, I just want one. I’m trying to quit.” I responded with “I’m sure that’s got to be hard.”

Honestly I wasn’t in the mood for small talk. I didn’t want to do anything more than get the movie and go home. I had dinner in the car and it was late. As I walked back to the car something told me to tell him that even though I didn’t have a cigarette I could pray for him, but I wasn’t about to turn around and talk to him some more. Remember, I had food, a movie and it was late. Obviously, I had greater priorities here. (As I write this I shake my head in disappointment at myself, but I would much rather respond with a willing heart than out of a sense of duty and obligation.)

So I headed home, but I knew I should have stayed. My heart strings were being pulled, but I responded selfishly. I now wish that I had stayed and shared the love of Christ. That’s truly what I want to do, who I want to be. But I find myself at this crossroads more times than I care to admit and its getting old. All I can think about now is why I don’t do the things I know I should and do the things I shouldn’t.

So here comes the battle in my head:

Lies rush in like “I’m not someone who should be in leadership at church, that was low girl, what’s wrong with me, I’m a selfish person (well, that’s true if you look at my actions here), I’m rebellious, disobedient and a myriad of thoughts that I know aren’t from God. Just condemnation from the enemy of my soul.

Then I begin questioning my behavior and the motive of my heart. Is it because I’ve felt so worn out lately, exhausted from life, my job? Life itself has been draining. I’m working hard to change so many things, in an effort to be a better person, a better Christian, a better leader in the church. Why shouldn’t I give myself a break? Is it because I’m struggling with depression? Is it due to the discontent that I find in my heart because I’m disappointed at what I don’t have that I want right now in life?

I am reminded that I don’t need to concern myself with the why so much because it only seeks to take my focus from You Jesus? Like my four year old niece I want to understand the why behind my choices so that I can fix it, yet I recognize that I don’t need to know or really understand the why because it’s not my job to fix things or derive the solution to making a change. I have been trying for so long to fix things and find solutions to walk in freedom, but anything I try on my own independent of God’s leading goes nowhere or finds me more disappointed than before.

My response is to come to Jesus, ask Him to change my heart so that I will respond with His when the next opportunity arrives at my doorstep. In desperation I asked “Would you put me in the place where there is no other option but to respond the way I know You would have me respond?” Maybe I would make the best choice next time, but then again I don’t know that I would. I have to discipline my thinking to recognize when the fear and doubt come that it’s not from God. I must remember the truth of who God has purposed and called me to be, humble and in community with all types of people, even those that I am not always comfortable with at times.

This scripture comes to mind “Everything is permissible, but not everything is profitable.” Lord, I want the profitable, not just what’s permissible. I want to respond with a willing heart out of my love for You and those You put before me everyday. Thank You for being patient with me as I grow to become more like You. Flood the heart of this dear one with the beautiful love of my Savior. Don’t let me hold back; compel me to love like You want me to love. I offer my heart and my life to You again to be used as You want dear Lord Jesus.