Devotional – How Did I Miss That?

1 Corinthians 4:3-5  I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

I love love love having people in my life who I can turn to and simply say “I don’t know how to handle this”. I love it even more when those people (thanks Pastor Phil) point me right back to God’s word.

Somehow I managed to miss these verses yesterday…and they were part of my devotional reading. Go figure. I’m totally human. Now that I’ve had them pointed out to me, I feel so much better. My pastor encouraged me to trust in Christ’s righteousness instead of trying to prove my own. To not allow the way others see me, to warp how I know I’m viewed by God. So, I’m going to. I will make a conscious choice to have faith in the Lord’s acceptance, regardless of the rejection of man. I will take things to the Lord with an open, honest desire to search myself for areas I need to change. And then simply rest in what He shows me, knowing that His is the only opinion that matters.  Whew. I feel such peace right now. It’s incredible. What a powerful thing it is to know who my judge is. Not other people, not myself – only God. I just need to remember that.

Devotional – My Jerusalem

Acts 20:22 And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.

Sometimes God asks us to do things that are uncomfortable. Things we really don’t want to do. I’m facing a “Jerusalem” of my own. I know I’m supposed to go there. I know the Lord has compelled me to take the journey, but I do not know what will happen once I get there. I anticipate hardship, tears, pain and hurt. Not quite the prison hardships Paul was facing on his journey to Jerusalem, but I know it really isn’t something to look forward to. This isn’t a vacation in Hawaii kind of trip.  Actually, I really want to chicken out. In my own strength, I know I cannot be faithful in the task at hand. But I also have the knowledge that God will be there to carry me through any task he sets before me. That if I just trust in him to give me the wisdom and strength I need, I’m going to be just fine.

So, I’m going. I’ll be covering myself in prayer before I leave, along the journey, and during the visit. All I can do is rest in God’s peace that I know I’m doing what he’s asked of me. Because no matter how hard the path, if it’s the one the Lord has asked me to walk, it is right. As much as I want to take the “easy way out” – I know following my own desires is not going to solve anything. My own way isn’t going to do the work God has in store for my heart and others as well. So, I’m willing to go. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know the Lord is sending me there. For now, that’s what I’m holding on to.

Devotional – Delighted to Know You

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

I love people. Some of the most fulfilled moments in my life are when I really connect with another human being. That’s probably why it hurts me so much when I feel disliked, judged, misunderstood or outright lied about. Pretty much, I want to be liked by everyone. When it is wholly apparent that someone seems to loathe me, especially when it seems to be for reasons I can neither control nor change, it’s possibly the deepest wound I can bear. It hurts me beyond measure when someone’s aversion to me affects those I love. I really don’t know how to handle it.

You can probably tell, I’m struggling with a personal relationship right now. But you know what? God is faithful. I am not an early bird, but this morning, I awoke at 5 o’clock and couldn’t get back to sleep. I had a rough afternoon yesterday, discovering a duplicity that shocked me, and wrestled with my own emotions for hours before sleep finally came. The battle continued as soon as my eyes opened this morning. I tried to work it off at the gym, but still felt unsettled when I got home. I should have known to go to God first. This verse in Zephaniah (a book I don’t think I’ve ever read before) was like a soothing balm to my soul. As I re-read the verse, God’s love overwhelmed human hatred. I remembered that it really doesn’t matter what someone else thinks. It’s not important. I am precious to the Lord. He delights in me. What an amazing thought! Not just that He knows who I am, or that He occasionally checks in on how I’m doing. He delights in me. This same word (suws) is used in Isaiah 62 to describe a groom delighting in his bride. That’s how highly God thinks of me. Wow.

So really, how can I let the resentments and judgements of one little person affect me if I know I’m all good with God? Later in this passage (vs 19) God talks about dealing with those who oppress me – giving praise and honor where I’ve been put to shame. I am a fixer. It’s what I do. If something is wrong, I want to talk about it – out in the open and deal with it. But sometimes, that just adds fuel to a situation that’s being manipulated already. I need to rest in the knowledge that God has my back. I don’t need to prove my worth, argue my convictions or convince anyone to like me. I just need to respond in love, not allowing anger over the hurt to take hold, realizing that the only One who matters is already delighted to know me.

Oh Jesus, thank you so much for being with me this morning as I struggle with hurt. Thank you for calming my aching heart with your love and showing me (again) that the situations of life are never outside your command. Help me to hold on to your peace thru all conversations – to cling to your word’s promises and not allow the ugliness of revenge and resentment to seep into my relationships.

Devotional – Running

Psalm 139:7-10 (NCV)
Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?
Where can I run from you?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
If I lie down in the grave, you are there.
If I rise with the sun in the east
and settle in the west beyond the sea,
even there you would guide me.
With your right hand you would hold me.

I spent the day at Seattle’s premiere trauma hospital while my beloved Poppa (grandfather) had surgery to repair his broken neck. He’s been on feeding/breathing tubes and fighting severe infections all week. Drugged to manage his pain – fighting to regain strength enough to even be able to attempt the delicate procedure he had today. It’s been a rough week as just about every day brought some new problem, a fresh difficulty he’d have to overcome. And yet, the past few days I have been utterly overwhelmed by God’s great faithfulness. I barely made it thru worship at church yesterday because I was enveloped by the knowledge that no matter what my circumstances say, God is with me.

My Poppa believes in Jesus as his Savior. That alone is a miracle beyond words for me. This morning, my pastor came to the hospital and prayed with Poppa. And when I looked at him prior to his surgery, I saw pain in his eyes, but also peace. I suppose this scripture could refer to anyplace – “If I go to the ICU at Harborview, you are there” “If I am utterly emotionally spent, even there you would guide me”.  Poppa came thru his surgery and is stable this evening. He is such a fighter and I’m so very proud of him. While my day at the hospital was totally draining, it was nothing compared to what Poppa struggled with today.

I went for a run when I came home, trying to clear my mind – dump some of the emotional baggage I’ve been building up in hospital waiting rooms all day. Even as I allowed my tears to flow, cascading as my feet pounded against the pavement – God was with me. As I poured my energy out, His right hand held me up. In my exhaustion from the day, I rested in His comforting Spirit. Running is therapeutic for me, but it’s sure nice to know there’s nowhere I can run that would take me away from God.

Devotional – I Promise You Trouble

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

It’s really kind of a bummer, but there it is. Not a promise of an easy life. Free from cares and worries. No guarantee of smooth sailing, of everything going my way. But a promise of trouble. Take it to the bank, in this life, we have problems. Thankfully, Jesus promises that in Him, we will also have peace. Not because there’s no rough patches in life, but rather, because in those hard places, we have someone who’s bigger. Bigger than a lost job. Stronger than any illness. Smarter than the toughest problem. Peace that comes from knowing Jesus is not dependent on a calm easy life. His peace rises above despair, loss and worry. His peace shelters us from life’s storms.

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that through it all, Jesus promises peace. I find it much easier to focus on the trouble. How it isn’t fair. Why it’s happening to me. I need to keep my focus off the worries of life, and squarely on the giver of life, who soothes my soul with His peace.

Thank you Jesus for your amazing, unending peace. When troubles come in life, help me to keep my focus on you, and not be distracted by the problems. Hard things in my life come and go, but You remain constant. Thank you for overcoming the world, so no worry can defeat me.

Devotional – What’s Your Talent?

1 Chronicles 15:22 Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.

What are you good at? Not just ok, not good enough, but really truly gifted at?

My tendency in life is to focus on the attributes that need some work. I’m always striving to become better at certain skills. I’ve been working on sympathy for years. Mercy is another “improvement needed” area in my life. In the struggle to maintain areas that have some rough patches, I forget that God has given me talents that I naturally excel at. Some of them are easy to spot.
Continue reading

Devotional – The Red Balloon

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

What an awesome day. I am continually impressed with God’s ability to mold me and shape me into a better version of myself. Closer to His own image. Transforming me little by little, or sometimes (like today) suddenly in a big chunk.

I am a perfectionist by nature. My own worst critic, I have a tendency to never allow myself a passing grade. I realize God has gifted me in many ways, but my first instinct is usually to find fault with just about everything. No matter what my success, I’m always following it up with a list of ways I could have done better. This is an area the Lord has been working on with me for several years. Slowly changing my heart to allow for the things in life I cannot change, nor can I control. Do you know how God “fixes” a control-freak-perfectionist? He gives you things utterly completely and entirely beyond your ability to handle or even manage. And you know what, it works really well. Continue reading