Category Archives: sacrifice

what are you doing, God?

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ever have those times where you ask “What are you doing, God?”  I know His ways are higher than mine.  I know that He loves me and give and takes for my good.  I know what He’s given me, He also has the right to take away when He should choose.  And I know looking back that every time God has taken something from me its always been for my good, even though immensely painful and gut-wrenching at times.  I know that though things can be taken, that nothing can separate me from His love.  How I need that love to hold me close today.  How I long for my war-torn heart to rest there. 

God seems to be shifting me from one furnace to another.  And I am as unhappy with this appointment as I was with the last.  How I long for it to end.  Trials are a funny thing like that… you beg and beg for them to end and as soon as they do you realize that you’ve learned so much more than ever possible had you not gone through that trial.  So as incomprehensible as it seems to your feelings, you find yourself thanking God for what you just walked through.  And simultaneously you pray that you’d never have to go through it again.  In many ways, that’s where I’m at.  I’m grateful for the trials that God has carried me through because I know to a greater degree the depths of His love, care and compassion towards me.  But as I face yet again another trial, I approach it with the same dread and horror as I faced the last.  Horror because as God is calling me to pick up my cross and follow Him, I’m seeing the death, pain, suffering and heartache that accompanies that cross.  And nothing in me wants to go there. 

Yet somehow my loving Shepherd has promised to be with me each step of the way.  He has promised to complete what He has begun.  He has already cared for me time after time and He is faithful.  Because of that, through His strength to hold me, with His help, I will rest in His control over this.  I am choosing to look past the pain, to look past the cross to my Strong Deliverer, who defeated the power of death and the cross.  He will preserve me by His mercy.  He is my Rock in the middle of the storms.  God has promised to complete what He’s begun, therefore I can have hope that He will keep me safe and true in Him…even here, even in this, even though nothing in me wants this.

Somehow I’m excited to see God provide.  As He keeps taking and in my mind its getting even more difficult for Him to provide, I look to my Jehovah-Rophe with hopeful anticipation to meet my needs and comfort my sorrows.  I haven’t really known what to say lately because it seems there are no words to describe the unutterable ache in my soul.  Nothing seems sufficient other than crying to my Maker… the One who knows me and will never leave me alone.  So, in my loneliness, I look to the One who will never leave, abandon or forsake.  In my pain, I look to the One who suffered in my place.    In my despair, I look to the only One who was ever forsaken by God with gratitude that He will not leave me here.  And in my moments (or days) when I just want to complain, I remember how good He has been to me.  The God who restored my broken soul and gave me life, the God who gives me a reason for joy in my mourning, the God who drew me through His kindness and irresistable love… that God will not quit.  So I look to Him.

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this is my sacrifice of praise

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Let them thank the LORD for his stedfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!  And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!  They cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.  He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.  Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the stedfast love of the LORD.  Psalm 107: 21-22, 28-29, 43

I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.  Because he inclined hisear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.  The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me, I suffered distress and anguish.  Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”  Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.  The LORD preserves the simple; whin I was brought low, he saved me.  Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.  For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.  I believed, even when I spoke, ” I am greatly afflicted”, I said in my alarm, “all mankind are liars.”  What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.  O Lord I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.  You have loosed my bonds.  I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.  Psalm 116: 1-13, 16-17

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.  I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.  He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me.  God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!  My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery bests – the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!  They set a net for my steps, my soul was bowed down.  They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves.  My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!  I will sing and make melody!  Awake, my glory!  Awake, O harp and lyre!  I will awake the dawn!  I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.  For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!  Psalm 57

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world!  1 John 4:4

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful.  You adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of sufferings are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  1 Peter 5:7-10

It is the LORD who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.  Deuteronomy 31:8

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:6-8

Save me, O God!  For the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.  I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched.  My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.  More in number than the hairs of my head are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies.  What I did not steal must I now restore?  O God, you know my folly; the wrongs that I have done are not hidden from you.  Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me.  O Lord…  But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.  Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters.  Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me.  Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy turn to me.  Hide not your face from your servant, for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.  Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my enemies!  You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you.   Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair…  Let their own table before them become a snare, and when they are at peace, let it become a trap.  Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually.  Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them… But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high!  I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.  This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.  When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive.  For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.  Psalm 69

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth ahs been given to me.”  Matthew 28:18

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Colossians 1:11-14

And he said to them,  “I saw Satan fall like lighting from heaven.  Behold i have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  Luke 10:18-20

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  Romans 16:20

I love you, O LORD, my strength.  The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised and I am saved from my enemies.  He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters.  He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.  They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support.  He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me because He delighted in me.  Psalm 18:1-3, 16-19

The LORD is my ligth and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  Though an enemy encamp against m, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.  For He will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.  I believe that I shall look upon the goodnessof the LORD in the land of the living!  Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!  Psalm 27:1, 3, 5, 14

Oh how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you.  Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a beseiged city.  I had said in my alarm ” I am cut off from your sight.”  But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I Cried to you for help.”  Psalm 31:19, 21-22

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts before him; God is a refuge for us.  Psalm 62:8

pictures

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the last 2 years of my life in “pictures”:

1. suitcases at the cross, covered fully in blood. red sheets all around, overhead. completely forgiven.

2. seed in ground. Master Gardener knows how much water and heat it needs to grow. seed doesn’t know the end result, but the Gardener does. He will tend his plant perfectly until it grows into what its supposed to.

3. child in waves. Father takes her there to train her. He won’t let her drown, even when she’s scared to death… even if she swallows some water. She will be okay because He is behind her holding her up, even when she can’t feel it.

4. dark night. stars are still shining. don’t forget to look up, its not completely dark.

5. out of valley. up to a mountain. the climb is hard. the road is steep and there are dangerous cliffs. there is fog. God goes before and is behind and on each side and guards each step.

6. looking at life with a pillow in front of my face. my problems and trials are the pillow. its all i can see. but learn to move it aside and see all God has done. give thanks. He has richly blessed me.

7. army attacking. standing alone in green field. thousands coming on every side. no armor. cried for help. looked back up and see angel warriors surrounding me. fighting for me because i’m precious to God. He won’t forsake me or let me die… i’m His precious child and He paid a costly price for me. He will protect me.

8. the battle is over. i’m not harmed. but i’m too weak to stand. its the middle of the day but all i want is sleep. i can’t move. i’m afraid the army will return. then i realize i’m being held. i’m safe in His arms.

9. acorn falls from a tree. the acorn thinks it fell prematurely. needs to stay and grow. instead its planted. the weight of the dirt seems unbearable. at first it fights, death is painful. it rains. the acorn is cold, alone and sad. then it remembers what it was told earlier… death comes, then comes a beautiful tree. pain, then growth. the acorn longs for that growth, longs to be a big beautiful tree. knows death is the only way.

10. walking on a road. the path is dark. the light guiding me is dim. forces in the darkness are attacking… loud, relentless and mean. the light seems smaller. must keep following. must keep trusting. no matter what, keep moving and trusting. He is faithful… remember His promises. standing still is not an option. sitting down would be wrong. walking cannot be done in own strength. must walk by faith. must put into action what seems impossible. go.

this would not be the way I’d have chosen

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If I had to describe this season of my life it would be with the following phrase “this would not be the way I would have chosen.”  God; however, has chosen this path for me.  He has chosen 10 months of debilitating migraines, crippling food allergies and countless nights of restless sleep.  He has chosen to give me no medical explanation or cure.  He has chosen a path formerly unknown to me, a path of new trials and pain.  

 

My Father has tested my faith over and over again, in many ways I hope never to repeat.  He has pushed me beyond my limits and right into His loving arms of care.  He has shown me my utter inability to change my circumstances, but greater still, He has shown me His love.  

 

I love God more now than before this trial began.  I know God loves me even if this trial never ends.  I plead for it to end.  But I trust His sovereign care.  I trust that He knows what’s best and that His desire is not to harm (Lamentations 3:31-33).  He is not vindictive or harsh.  My God weeps over the pains His children endure, and as one of His children, I know without a doubt that His compassion extends to me (Psalm 103:13).  He hears my feeble cries (Psalm 145:19).  He listens to my weak prayers (Psalm 61:2).  He does not condemn my questions and doubts, but instead He cares and wants me to cast those anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7), He strengthens me with His promises (Psalm 119:25, 28).  He comforts me that I will never walk alone (Deut 31:8, Is. 41:8-10, Matthew 28:20), that nothing can separate me from Him (Romans 8:38-39) and that others have successfully walked this path before me (Psalm 88, 27, 91, Hebrews 11-12).  

 

You see, though in my mind, this is the path less traveled, in God’s eyes it is not.  The way of salvation is hard.  The path is rough and few follow on that path of suffering.  But the joys… oh the joys are incomprehensible.  One day, I will be with my Lord.  I will gaze in the eyes of my Savior that suffered worse pain than I could ever know.  He took what I never will – separation from His Father.  I will see others, like William Cowper, who suffered for years in pain, yet chose despite all odds to praise his loving God.  Oh, I long to talk to him about his struggles… about his many nights of depression and doubts and struggling and to hear intimate encounters between him and his God who lovingly held him through each of those nights.  I look forward to meeting those who died daily for Christ, whether by a martyr’s death or in the daily fight against sin.  I want to hear how God was bigger than each horrible circumstance that men and devils created for them to endure.

 

So, in my weakness, He is proving His strength.  In my despair, He is becoming my joy.  He is fulfilling my longings and providing all the comfort my soul needs.  In my agony, He is reminding me that He bore my eternal agony so I could know joy.  I praise Him for His steadfast love and compassion.  I rejoice, as Paul (sorrowful, yet rejoicing) in my infirmities as I see more of His power displayed through my weaknesses.  And I look to Him in faith, my tender, compassionate Father that has the power to give life to this mortal body (Romans 8:11).

Closed Doors

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My job seems to be a continual pattern of closed doors. I suppose I should rejoice, for this is an answer, but it’s difficult when 8x in a year, the answer is no. My boss did a good job explaining why and I do not take it personally (and now have some areas to work on improving) but nonetheless, “no” is difficult to hear so often.

The reason has been different each time, therefore my only conclusion can be that this is God’s will for me right now and that in whatever state I am, I must learn to be content (not simply for “doings” sake but because I know that no matter what state I’m in, He is with me).

“For I lead the blind in ways that they do not know, in paths that they have not gone, I guide them. I turn the rough places before them into level ground. These are the things I do; I do not forsake them.”

I’m not forsaken. Stuck behind the same door, stuck in the same room, stuck in limbo, I am not forsaken. Still wondering why and when, God is saying “I’m here, I haven’t left you alone to figure this out on your own. I’m guiding. I’m leading. And I’m comforting.”

That must be and remain my comfort. If it is not, then I start to question and accuse God. Job questioned God and was met by the all-powerful Creator. That all-powerful God is the same one holding back right now. He’s the same one closing the doors in front of me. He’s the same one not opening other doors I long to walk through.

But, keeping this in perspective, I don’t deserve a new job. I don’t deserve better pay. I deserve hell. And God opened the greatest door in all of eternity – the door to eternal life, rest and complete fulfillment in Him.

With that in mind, how can I complain. In light of eternity, how can I question. God has been so kind – eternally, immensely kind. He’s right now preparing a place for me – a filthy, vile sinner who is justified not by my own merit, but by the righeousness of His Son.

That’s why our lives are commanded to be a sacrifice of praise. I don’t wan”t to sacrifice that right now. I want to lament. I want to cry.

But He says – NO!!! Grab your soul – arrest your mind and focus it on me. Don’t give in to the devil’s lie that you deserved this and I’m unkind in withholding it from you. Focus on truth – I loved you so much (and continue to love you) that I gave ALL for you – I sacrificed with JOY for your good. Rest there. Rejoice in that truth.

Let your conduct be the same as mine – offering up sacrifices of praise to God when your circumstances deem the opposite. That’s how I receive glory here – through yet another closed door. That’s where the world will see your differences and glorify me. Trust me, my child. I know what I’m doing.”

Safely Home

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excerpt from “Safely Home” by Randy Alcorn… thoughts to follow…

“The watchers searched the earth, their eyes probing every tent, cave, hole, and dungeon. The King looked at the continents, his eyes searching from place to place. He would pause periodically, watch and nod.

In the Netherlands a small church gathered on its knees to pray for the persecuted. In Australia, a church took a special offering to assist a ministry getting Bibles into closed countries. In Korea, a church made plans to cross the border. In Singapore, a man left his family to board a plane, for some remote destination.

His eyes rested now on a 5th grade Sunday school class in America as they collected money. “This is all I earned last summer mowing lawns” said a boy. “This is the money I was saving for a bicycle” a little girl said, smiling. A boy proudly handed his teacher an envelope. She opened it, then looked at him. “Where did this come from?” I told mom and dad we’d been talking about persecuted Christians and how to help them.

I told them how we were all making a sacrifice to collect money to help. My parents said they wanted to help too. So I said maybe we didn’t have to go to Disney Land; maybe we could just go to the beach for the weekend. That’s what we did. We had a great time. This is all the money we would have spent, you know for planes and hotels and admissions and everything.

The King watched nodding and smiling. “Thank you” he said to the children in the Sunday school class. He turned to the men and angels of the watching heavens “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for Me. Your reward shall be great.”

“Never forget Jesu is King. Never forget this is not your home. Never forget your Father is waiting for you.”