Archive | February 2015

To Know Him

Daisies

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NKJV) – Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

 

Ed & I got to spend a week at my sister and brother-in-law’s place in Dallas last week and it was great to spend time with them.  What makes it fun is that we have a lot of similar interests, so we’re rarely bored and always have something to talk about.  What made it even more special was the time Sam (my sister) and I have been spending once a week doing the study on prayer along with Ashley, my daughter.  How that continues to change us is evident in everything that we do.  We’re in our seventh week and we all agree that this study has been absolutely revolutionizing our understanding of prayer as well as our actual prayers.  It truly has been amazing* and every week has been very impactful, exponentially, not a 10+10 = 20 but a 10×10=100 type of increase week over week, especially as we think back to where we were when we started.

An interesting topic came up at our last study and that was how we see our Heavenly Father.  As you may remember I had extracted a quote from Graham Cooke in my previous blog where he said that God was the kindest, gentlest person he’s ever met.  That theme runs all through this study and as we discussed a section we’d read last week we began talking about how, in our mind, we’ve seen our Heavenly Father.  One view that arose was that God the Father was the bad cop, the stern, white haired patriarch, ready to mete out judgment and Jesus was the good cop, willing to take on our punishment and put us in good standing with the Father.  While we may not have all associated that particular description to our view, there were truths to it that resonated with each of us.  It was startling actually how similar our views of a Heavenly Father who has some type of anger, displeasure or sternness about Him was in each of our perceptions.  The whole reason I began this blog was to have my mind, and hopefully yours as well, renewed from the misconceptions I have lived with my entire life and replace them with the truth, the truth that He is the farthest thing from an angry, displeased and stern being but is loving, kind, slow to anger, patient and He is pleased with us, proud of us and full of joy, laughter and delight for each and every one of us.

As I’ve been studying other areas like prayer, I am even more convinced than when I started this blog, that it is the most important thing that we search and seek until we have a transformed revelation of the character of our Heavenly Father.  It is the foundation on which everything else God asks us to do is built.  In the scripture I started out this blog with, Jeremiah 9:23-24, it reveals that there is nothing to glory in if we don’t know and understand Him.  Let’s take another look at it:  

Thus says the Lord“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;  But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

If you’ve read this scripture before you might have seen the loving-kindness, and thought, “Nice!” but then lost some of the initial enthusiasm as you moved on to judgment and righteousness.  I, of course, can’t speak for more than myself but I believe that the enemy has caused us to focus in on words like judgment and righteousness, holiness and other words that make us feel separated or not good enough to instill in us that “bad cop” persona and then focus on the fact that Jesus came as a man, suffered unimaginable things and then rose again so we could be reconciled with our Heavenly Father and now that’s how Jesus has the “good cop” persona.  Maybe that’s not what you think in your conscious mind, I don’t think I did, but somewhere where I assess God’s character, there has been that type of thinking.  I’m going to assume I’m not alone in it and take a few minutes for us to see why that’s not the truth!

Sin had to be judged, that is true.  God is holy and perfect and He cannot be in fellowship with sin but we have to remember that the reason for His complete rejection of sin is because it is evil, it is designed to separate us from Him and destroy us.  From Adam and Eve’s first sin, God immediately made a way to bridge the gap of sin, through shedding of animal blood, until the time that Jesus shed His perfect blood and once and for all took away all sin (Hebrews 10:23).  But Jesus didn’t do this because our Heavenly Father was going to be upset and judging us.  How do we know this?  We know this because Jesus was very clear that when He walked among us the only thing He was doing was representing our Heavenly Father (John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”)  and this was before He went to the cross.  And remember the most known scripture of all time, John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son…  A son that the Father called His beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased.  Also, there’s Romans 8:32 (NKJV) He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  We could go on and on but the end result is that God the Father, God Jesus and God the Holy Spirit all feel the same about us, are all committed to our good success and love us with a godly love that is far beyond what our human minds can comprehend! 

We see that God exercises loving-kindness, we see that God exercises judgment but not judging us, but judging sin, and all of that was resolved through Jesus. Now let’s look at the fact that God exercises righteousness.  The good news is that that’s been resolved as well!  Our righteousness (our right standing with God, our standing before Him perfect as though we were never impacted by the damage of sin in our lives) is Christ’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  I think we can say it this way, “We who know and understand God, know that out of His loving-kindness has judged sin and made us righteous through Jesus Christ, representing our Heavenly Father who so loved us, sent Jesus to redeem us and be His delight.”  Does that change the way you look at your Heavenly Father?  It is certainly changing the way I see Him.  I’m learning to take scriptures that I’ve let paint in my mind an inaccessible Father, be transformed by God’s Spirit to show that this whole book is a book of our Father’s great love for us and any separation that appears is made of no effect when I understand that in receiving the work that Jesus did I am a beloved daughter of my Heavenly Father.

To know Him, if we can keep that as the focus of this journey, all of these other things will fall into place and we will know love and know joy and know peace and have confidence in a future bright with daily promise.

*  Note:  If you are interested in this study, information is in my last blog as well as on the resource page.  Also, I haven’t forgotten the notes and questions for the Crafted Prayer study.  As you can see it is amazing and transformational  and I underestimated the amount of time it would take to complete, but as James says, waiting produces patience!  I am continuing to work on it and will advise when it is available.  Feel free, though, to purchase the book and read through it and then come back and do the study when it’s finished.  The book, while relatively short, takes going through several times because it is very different than how you’ve probably ever looked at prayer!

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, to know You, Your good character, Your loving-kindness that is my desire.  I pray that the misconceptions and incorrect images I’ve had of You would be replaced with truth.  You are the kindest, most gentlest person we will ever know and I pray that my eyes would be opened to see more and more of Your kindness and more and more of Your gentleness and that any time I feel myself slipping back into old views that the Holy Spirit would help me stop that way of thinking and reveal to me Your true nature, Your loving nature that gave Your beloved son, Jesus, to us to make the way for me to be Your beloved daughter.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

Stillness

 

Stillness

Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

 

Last post I shared about getting with God to hear Him in my time of not being sure what He has next for Ed & me.  I shared about going in with what I thought I would hear and what I ended up actually hearing.  As I’ve been spending more time in this Crafted Prayer study that Sam, Ashley and I are on, the more I realize that stillness is something that many of us are struggling with, whether we realize it or not.  I think Americans are probably some of the most challenged in being still, having a quiet mind.  In our day and age there is so much noise and ways to divert our attention and things to keep our minds occupied that many of us may not even remember if we’ve ever had a peaceful moment in our minds.  The Lord is impressing on me that for us to be able to really hear Him, this is something we need to be willing to do but it’s something we might not know how to do, or even think we will be able to do.

There are a lot of reasons we don’t want to let our mind get too quiet but there is one I want to address that I think might be the biggest hurdle for many.  If we let our internal thoughts have a place, our minds go to things that cause us too much pain and we’ve learned to avoid that at all costs.  I know that the reason many people drink, do various types of drugs, are constantly on the run is because of this very thing.  Stillness and quietness of the mind for them is a thing to avoid at all costs.  I admit, I feel very out of my element here because, although I’ve had some very unpleasant things happen in my life, I know they do not compare to some of the things that have happened to others, maybe have happened to you.  I in no way want to minimize the devastation of the trauma you may have gone or be going through, but I know that for this very reason our Heavenly Father’s healing is needed.  He greatly desires for you to hear Him and what He has to say to you and about you and the enemy’s plan is to keep our Heavenly Father’s voice out of your head is by keeping you away from these thoughts.

Over the last months, through this blog, we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about who our Heavenly Father is versus how we believed our thought He was.  How loving and kind He is and that His love for us is so great our human minds cannot comprehend it.  In Graham Cooke’s Crafted Prayer book Graham says this about God and it is so very sweet, “God is very generous and the kindest Person I have ever met. He wants us to know what His will is. He longs to release His children from worry and fear.”  Our Heavenly Father wants us to know that we can trust Him.  We can surrender to Him, let go of whatever is causing our pain, and He promises to carry our burden for us.  Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30 (NKJV) 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  He wants to do a great exchange, on the cross He bore our sicknesses, diseases, curses, and all the sin we’ve committed or that has been committed against us and took that upon Himself.  In exchange He asks us to take His yoke upon ourselves and in that we will find a gentle, loving Savior who will give us rest for our souls.  This, I pray, is a journey you are on or are willing to begin because it is the path to rest in Him and the ability to be still and be in a place where you can more clearly hear the voice of Your loving Heavenly Father and begin to become a part of that heavenly dialogue about who He created you to be, what His plans are for You and the amazing purpose you were carefully crafted by Him for.

There is an amazing devotional that you might want to do that I think will help us, as daughter’s of our Heavenly Father, begin or expand this journey of healing.  It’s called, He Is My All: Living in the Truth of God’s Love for Me by Debbie Alsdorf (I’ll have the link below in the Resource section).  Day by day she does an absolutely amazing job of walking us through the scriptures and showing how much we are loved, how important we are to our Heavenly Father and what an incredible plan He has for every single one of us.  It certainly has impacted my life and I’m sure that it contributed to my ability to begin this next phase of my journey in becoming still and being able to begin to more clearly hear God’s voice as part of our Crafted Prayer study.  Now I’m not afraid to let my mind be quiet for fear of painful thoughts I was wanting to avoid.  Instead, I’ve been able to experience that rest and delight that God said He wanted me to experience while He brings about my desires and secret petitions of my heart (Ps. 37:4).

If we can pursue peace (Ps. 34:14…crave peace and pursue (go after) it!) with a diligence, as though we cannot live without it (and honestly, we can’t live well without it), we will be able to find rest and stillness.  Our Heavenly Father wants this for us because as He says in Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  He wants us to understand the experience of Him being God, God over every aspect of our life and future.

Once you’ve reached the place where you are ready to be still, I’ve also provided a Stillness Exercise that we’ve been using as part of our Crafted Prayer study.  I, of course, also highly recommend the whole study because it will absolutely revolutionize your prayer life and interactions with your Heavenly Father, but if, right now, you are just wanting to work on stillness, I believe you will find this very helpful.

This week I may have put a pretty big challenge out there but I am thoroughly convinced that it is worth it and every one of us will find it transformational.  I love the parable of the pearl of great price, it goes like this:

Matthew 13:45-47 (AMP)

45 Again the kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a dealer in search of fine and [a]precious pearls,

46 Who, on finding a single pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it.

There are some things that are worth selling all you have and going after, and I believe this is one of them!  I know God will meet you where you are and bless you as you search for Him with all of your heart.

 

 

Resources:

He Is My All Devotional  http://www.amazon.com/He-My-All-Living-Design4living/dp/1434768368/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423667472&sr=1-1&keywords=he+is+my+all+debbie+alsdorf

Stillness Exercise https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-7dYLuQ9g3nakktUEdFY3VweXM&usp=sharing

Note:  I’m still working on the notes and questions for the Crafted Prayer study, should have them up on the Resource Page later this week.

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, I have been learning about who You are but it is even more important that I just know You.  Things and events have affected me and made it difficult and painful to be still, but You are found in the stillness.  Yours is a peaceful and quiet voice but it is also a passionate and powerful voice.  I surrender, I choose to surrender to You because You are the kindest and gentlest person I will ever know.  I lay down all my obstacles and give them to You, You alone know what to do with them.  You promised if I would seek you and search for you with all my heart that I would find You.  Nothing is more important than that.  Jesus has saved me, and I am Your daughter and I want to really know You and know what all You have for me.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

Not What I Thought

Sunflower in the sun

Psalm 139:17 (NASB) – How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

 

I mentioned in an earlier post some of the changes God has been making in my circumstances and situations (released from a job, still have a second home to sell, etc.) and I have been very confident that these were all God working a change in my life and while there have been a few anxieties, for the most part I’ve felt very good about the changes.  So time goes by and we start to wonder, “Ok God, we know where we were isn’t where You wanted us to stay but where are we going?”  Like we talked about with Abram, God told him to get out but all He said was He’d take him to a place He would show Him.  No specific destination provided.  At the first stage of the journey that’s not so worrisome but as time goes by and you still don’t know where you are headed, it starts to become a more persistent question, “Where, Lord, are You taking us?  Where are we supposed to be?”  So we’re working to be patient, because we know that patience only comes through the testing and trying of our faith (James 1:2-4) but waiting without knowing what you are waiting for is almost impossible, at least for us, that is certainly the case!

While we’re waiting my sister, Sam, and my daughter, Ashley, and I start a new study on a short book called Crafted Prayer by Graham Cooke.  I’ve been praying and journaling for a really long time.  Praying probably for over 40 years and journaling for at least 20 and we’re reading and studying this book on prayer and learning how to really get into the presence of God and I realize how many areas of my prayer life have been out of sync.  Life has been so busy and the world around me so loud, I really can’t keep my mind quiet or still, which are significant areas in order to be in God’s presence.  The three of us laughed because we each saw this, that to be still and quiet in our minds seemed a monumental task because our minds were so busy.  Busy with thoughts of our day, busy with trying to solve the most current problem, busy thinking about other people, busy trying to figure out what God was doing in our lives…you get the idea.  I began to realize that I needed to get into a place where I could hear God, because how was I going to know what He was doing and get in agreement with it?   What if I couldn’t hear Him speaking because my mind was crammed packed with all this stuff?!  So, excitedly I began studying Graham’s teachings and day after day and week after week I began making progress in being able to get my thoughts off of everything else and quiet my mind to be in a place to hear God.  I was so thrilled because now I could be in a place to get direction and clarity and not only know that we’d been called out but where we were being called to!!!

The big day arrived, I’d set aside a week to take as much time as I needed to get in God’s presence, utilize the tools provided in teaching and even wrote out what I was hoping to get out of this week, the desire for direction and clarity and expectation of seeing what God was bringing us to.  First day, I’ve started with praise and thanksgiving, I’ve stilled my mind and I begin listening to the voice of God and what I hear is not at all what I expected.  He tells me He’s pleased with us and has great love for us.  He tells me to have peace, rest, stillness and enjoyment.  He tells me He wants us to enjoy His presence and have confidence in what He can do.  This is all very beautiful but it doesn’t feel like clarity or direction.  In fact, it feels like more waiting.  But it’s so clear, I know that to do or say anything else would be contrary to what He is speaking.   So, I receive those words and commit to being obedient and to take joy in the fact that He wants us to just be in Him right now.  It goes against our human nature big time, where it’s all about doing, but as we continue to walk this journey of discovering our Heavenly Father, we continue to see that He isn’t as enamored with our doing as He is our relationship with Him.  Accomplishing things pleases us, but when done outside of relationship with Him, it doesn’t please Him.  We’re at a place that we really want to move forward in God’s plan for us and that means laying down our desire to do something and surrendering to Him.

A couple more days go by and through a teaching I was watching, God brings the scripture that this is all about, the why He is having us wait in His presence.

Psalm 37:4-7 (AMP)

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.

And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shining sun of] the noonday.

Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.

It was so amazing to hear through His word why He was asking us to wait and enjoy His presence.  As we delight in Him He’s bringing about our desires and the things we are longing for but don’t really even know.  He’s inviting us to trust Him and He is promising to bring to pass these things and then we get to go in the righteousness He’s given us as be as bright as the noonday sun without worrying about what we see around us.  How awesome and totally amazing is that??

I didn’t get what I thought I wanted, basically a map to lead me to my next “thing” but I got something so much greater.  I received a revelation on how much my Father thinks about me, and that His greatest desire is that I enjoy Him and take confidence that He is taking care of me and my loved ones.   It’s not by my striving and efforts, but my dependence on Him and knowing that He is faithful.  He is constantly working and blessing and because of Jesus I have everything that I need to be led to the place He will be showing us.

My sister shared something I think is a big shift, she said she is learning to pray less for her circumstances and more for her heart to be aligned with Him and trusting His plans.  To be a trusting and faithful servant.  How does that speak to you today?  In whatever your situation is, He is there, He is working on your behalf and He has so many amazing thoughts toward you to bless you and your circumstances.  Believe it or not, you can relax in Him and delight in Him with the confidence that He is working all of these things out in His grand design.  I smile because we may not get what we’re asking for, but in His loving kindness He is giving us something so much more incredible, His presence, in addition to taking care of the circumstances.  So…It’s not what I thought but truly greater than I was able to imagine.

Resources

Crafted Prayer by Graham Cooke https://www.brilliantbookhouse.com/crafted-prayer-1.html  I highly recommend this book and on my resource page I will be posting the weekly study and questions we did to really dig into this study.  Will try and have them up by next week.

In Over My Head by Bethel Music https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=915507638479694  Ashley passed along this song and the song itself is incredible and so is the video.  It has blessed me tremendously as I’ve spent time in prayer and worship.

 

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, I am so thankful that Your thoughts towards me are thoughts of peace, thoughts to give me a hope and a future.  You have told us that we can come and pray to You and You will hear us, hear me.  You are gathering me and bringing me to Your place.  I am so thankful of every situation and circumstance that has brought me to this place where I am seeking You and being found of You.  Abba, I am searching for You with all of my heart because You love me.  I love You because You first loved me.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.