Warm Wednesday Words: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction…Or Can I?

 

Divine Romance

Phil Wickham “Divine Romance”

Though I too often let the business of life crowd out the mindset God has laid out for me, the deepest feeling of satisfaction for me comes from time spent in the Word because God never fails to reveal things to me and because His presence is a great comfort and guide in this life full of trials and temptations.

It’s natural for us to try to find comforting things that make us feel happy and I certainly have my favorites: a cup of coffee (even better a latte), a pile of books, family times, a close friend, a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, and dark chocolate to name a few. But I’ve found that nothing can bring the satisfaction I long for except time spent in the Word and worship. Beth Moore says in her “Living Free” Bible study, “I believe God creates and activates a nagging dissatisfaction in every person for an excellent reason….God purposely created us with a need only He can meet…. Unfortunately, salvation alone does not completely fill the need…Christians can be miserably dissatisfied if they accept Christ’s salvation yet reject the fullness of a daily relationship that satisfies…He wants us to find the only things that will truly satiate our thirsty and hungry hearts.”

Sometimes too much of a good thing is gluttony and runaway expectations are hurtful. Beth goes on to say, “I am not minimizing the difficulty, but I am suggesting the obstacles are removed by volition. Some of the idols in our lives – things or people we have put in God’s place – can take much longer to remove. Some of them have been in those places for years and only the power of God can make them budge. We must begin to remove idols by choosing to recognize their existence and admitting their inability to keep us satisfied.”

The Rolling Stones captured the age old problem of dissatisfaction in their song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, ‘I can’t get no satisfaction, cause I try and I try and I try and I try.’  As long as our misguided hearts cause us to seek satisfaction in the wrong places permanent satisfaction will continue to elude us.  Not only will it elude us, but our efforts to chase it down and have it can become dangerous to ourselves or those around us.  To continue to indulge makes that thing an idol and/or a stronghold.  Isaiah knew exactly what happens to an individual caught in such a trap, “He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, ‘Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?’ (44:20)”  This is where intercession with all sorts of prayers for ourselves and others entrapped can be like a spiritual life raft for the soul.  God can and does open the blind eye and set free the captive when we pray with tenacity and faith.

Beth Moore confides in her personal experience of having her eyes opened to a lie she once held tightly in her hand, “I also remember the harrowing moment God opened my eyes to see what a lie I had believed.  I cried for days.  I originally thought this lie was a good thing…My heart, handicapped in childhood, had deluded me….My only consolation in my idolatry is that I finally allowed God to peel away my fingers…I am very aware that Satan will constantly cast idols before me.”

Chris Tomlin expresses well the delightful satisfaction in choosing what’s true in his song, “Satisfied”.

The most satisfying time of my day is the time in Bible study each morning with my husband.  God’s Word never fails to comfort and exhort me.  I am grateful for those who have prayed for me, because at times in my life I have blindly fed on ashes and grasped at lies.  Have you?  Do you know someone was praying for you?  I also know some who have or are feeding on ashes and “cannot save themselves”,  as Isaiah says, because they don’t recognize the lie.  They need and get my prayers!   Have you went to war in prayer lately for yourself and others in order to peel a lie from the hand and pull back a friend from a meal of ashes?

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Warm Wednesday Words: Inside Out

insideout.jpgSitting in church Sunday, I glanced at my husband and was dismayed to notice that his shirt was inside out.  Surprised, but not too ruffled, he exited out the side door right by him and made the switch.  That was actually the second time my dear husband has been an inside out shirt trend setter at church.  The first time I noticed it after we returned to our seats from the alter where we had stood, back to congregation, and prayed for our youngest son on Graduation Sunday, while sporting “Faded Glory” washing instructions across his back for anyone with a keen eye.  While laughing at work the next day about our mishap, a sweet boss told me that it is the sign of a lucky man to find his shirt on inside out.  I don’t know, but I was thinking about the inside out business of being a Christian.

His strength in our weaknessWhen life seems overwhelming, I run to the Rock that is higher then I, and (sometimes after kicking and screaming inside first), I usually find this inside out truth – that His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  I make it my goal to…” take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures because of Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Cor. 12:9-10 HCSB) When I forgive others with the same grace I’ve received, knowing the ground is equal at the foot of the cross, and when I trust God to turn a situation around for the good, He is then willing to go to work on my behalf.

possible with HimHe picks up right where my weakness and faith invite Him in to take over.  Nothing is impossible with Him.

do not be anxiousMost everybody knows worry is a bad thing even in the most upsetting of circumstances.  It might take me a little while to get to a place of peace.  But the most inside out thing of all is to give thanks for my upsets and tragedies.  Not that I am glad for tragedies, but that God can be glorified through them.  For that I can give thanks with His help.

more blessed to give then receiveHere’s another inside out principle….storing up and  coveting more and better without thought for the poor (and that is not necessarily defined by government) can make a selfish and hardened heart, yet generous sharing enriches a soul.  God warns not to live in selfish  luxury and indulgence.  Giving, especially sacrificial giving, definitely softens the heart and just plain feels good.  In another inside out twist, God has actually chosen the poor who love Him to be rich in faith.

rejoice in insults I have been on both ends of rudeness and mistreatment before, (whether intentional or not) as likely anyone whose honest has.  It happens, though the persecutions spoken of here are more serious and horrific around the globe, and on the increase even in our country.  But the inside out perspective is this.  There’s a reward waiting when I leave it in God’s hands and refuse bitterness.

treasures in clay jarsThe cool thing about being a child of God is the enemy can’t win.  He’s already lost.  Even when I’m down.  God rushes to  rescue (soul first and foremost) and uses it all.  When I rally in my own strength this promise does not apply.

those who exalt themselvesWith God, the way up is down...bowed down in prayer that is.  Praying His promises, believing He will fulfill them because I have died to self and live for Him.  Just as a flower dies to drop it’s seed before renewal, so I have to leave my vision in His hands to fulfill or not, according to His best plan.

we look at what can't be seenHere’s a great inside out truth.  I look at what can’t be seen.  But actually, in my faith, it can be seen and I hold onto it through His promises.   Because of this I can let go and worship while still in the storm.  I can “see” with my faith vision, and because of His love for me that I know so well, I know that I know that He is at work.

we fight on our kneesIn my prayers, I go to war with the most powerful weapons not generally known to man.  They are mighty weapons that demolish “invisible”, but very real, strongholds.  They are the weapons of the name of Jesus, my faith in Him, and the Scripture promises that I stand on!  There is nothing on this earth so effective as a devoted child of God praying with “clean hands” and a pure heart (because of Christ) and childlike trust.  It’s here that often dismal circumstances turn with God’s miraculous touch, but whether or not, I definitely abide in His presence and know His love.  No matter how my life is going here, where I am just a stranger, I long for the day I am with Him in eternity and these present sufferings behind me.  I know it’s just ahead and I keep my eye on the prize.

faithful to death - crown of lifeThat seems to be the ultimate inside out deal.  Faithful unto death, gets the crown of life.  Whether it’s death to a thousand little selfish things, or choosing death over denying Christ for eternity’s sake, this is the ultimate call.  So next time you find your shirt on inside out, consider yourself “lucky” to be reminded that we live inside out.  What have you worn inside out or turned around?   Please tell me it’s not just at our house.  What “lucky” application fits?

 

Warm Wednesday Words: The Heart of the Matter

the heart of the matter

I am so thankful Jesus gets to the heart of every matter.  When I let His Words be driven deep into my heart, the burden will be personal and, in the end light, as I respond to Him in obedience.   (Matt. 11:30)   When I keep my eyes focused on Him, and my heart tuned to His, then I am eager to carry out His mission, which is tailored for me and also interested to hear the unique mission He has given you.  We then can celebrate His glory in unison, even if He displayed it quite differently in each of us.

don't waste a minute comparingThe Pharisees of Jesus day were forever trying to appear one up on their Jewish counterparts and even on Jesus.  Even the disciples fell into the temptation to one up their performance above others on occasion.  Jesus told them the folks they were concerned about would surely be changed by His own powerful name, which they were proclaiming.  He went around their argument to the heart of the matter.  He made it clear that His divine Words to the heart of each matter were superior to anything they had ever heard before.

come to meTo really allow God to get to my heart is a far different matter then tritely saying He does, and He certainly knows the difference.  To allow His Holy Spirit to soften my heart means allowing His hands, in effect, to take a hardened portion and squeeze it back to mold-ability and usefulness.  It may mean  a layer is pulled back to expose something starkly in need of correction.  It means I will be willing to accept His challenge to do more for Him.  It means I will be thinking on what He is trying to say to me, and praying for further revelation.  It means I will be open to wise counsel that embraces God’s creativity in accomplishing His purposes in myriads of ways, and that I will not feel peer pressure to compare with anyone else, nor impatience to run ahead of Him.  Peer pressure can be a good thing, if it wakes us up to what we’re to be doing and inspires us to get on with it, while giving us support.  Yet, as long as we are truly seeking God’s will and striving to perform it and support others as they do they same in whatever way they are inspired, there really is something to the strange saying, “There’s more then one way to skin a cat.”

responding to God's challengesResponding to God’s heart work means I will be putting into practice His mission in me that “fits” with my unique circumstances that I am in, unless He sees fit to change them.  When God gets to the heart of my matters, it changes me.  I am restless to hear more from Him.  What about you?  How does it change you when He softens an area of your heart?  Do you find it hard to press in to His will that is tailor made for you?  Do you feel the excitement of His personal revelation to you?  Is waiting for further direction hard for you, as it is for me?

Warm Wednesday Words: Intensive School is in Session

 

from dark cloudsI am in a Master’s Degree School Program as I trudge through some one way valleys.  After over 25 years of homeschooling seven children I have become accustomed to curriculum, whether bought as a package or whether I put it together hodge podge style.  I spent many an August watching kids and sometimes grandkids swim at the city pool while I poured through the following year’s school plans and calender.  Implementation of each year took off with grandiose thoughts of how organized I would be, how much they would learn and what balance of study versus hands on and field trips would be used.  In addition to hours of planning, there were many, many more hours of reading out loud, drilling of tables and verses, etc.  Admittedly, I did fall asleep a few times while reading out loud in the evenings, and my kids won’t let me live down the way I mastered “reading” in my sleep.  There were a few such times when I sent them to bed, but still under the spell of sleepy delirium, told them to do such interesting things as “Brush your teeth and get in the toilet.”  But none of those years of homeschooling required my focus as much as the intensive classroom of praying and keeping faith while an adult child wades through serious troubles.

As I focus on standing on many scripture promises, I can’t allow myself to indulge in logic and reasoning.  Oh no.  I serve a big God who is able to do exceedingly above all that I ask or think.  (Eph. 3:20).  Nothing is impossible for Him.  (Luke 1:37)  He can reach where I can’t.  (Isa. 59:1)  He will rescue my children, even when they’re not innocent if I keep my hands “pure” because of Christ.  His rescue is first and foremost the soul, but sometimes he rescues circumstances also, if He chooses to bring glory to Himself from them a different way.  (Job 22:30)  His Word that we helped them store away, won’t return void.  (Isa. 55:11) He is able to bring our children back to the Way; i.e. their own spiritual “land”.  (Jer. 31:17)  And best of all He is able to accomplish all this in spite of me, and all of my teaching efforts, because He will actually be their teacher and give them peace.  Not only does He not judge me, He makes up for my lack.  (Isa. 54:13)  That is my teaching retirement verse.  The very spring of my last year of supervising our home school, God caused that one to stand out in “neon” letters, both as a wake up call and a comfort, so that I can get on my knees before Him each day and give the teaching results to Him.  Then I’m able to start a new day with renewed faith knowing He made this day for my faith to land on and soar in, no matter what circumstances I’m in.  He causes me to repeat such promises as “What time I am afraid I will trust in Thee.”  (Ps. 56:3) and Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil. 4:6)  And most of all, He brings me around to a sacrifice of praise to Him even when I’m down.  My praises may come out in a sob but they switch my focus to Him and bring His presence into my circumstances or that of someone I’m praying for, sometimes with a surprising turn of events.

Giving the results to God as I bow my head in the “faith” school takes focus, but is rewarding.  I have set backs, where I just don’t really want to display His glory.  I’d rather stay under a pile of blankets (at least mentally) and indulge in some grief over some latest turn of events.  He is patient with me as I need a little “down time” before forging ahead in this Master program He has me in.  During those times I feel all the brokenness and all the pain and know that it is real.  There is healing in this acknowledgement and in tears, which God collects and keeps.  He hears my cries and yours!

But back in the faith classroom, He carries me to the table where I don’t see my brokenness anymore.  I see things from His perspective and it’s so much better then my own.  I’m whole and I know He is fulfilling His promises as He sees fit in my life and that of my family.  This degree program doesn’t commence until eternity, but the dividends can’t be equaled in any other program out there.  There is faith and peace for character enrichment and future crowns to lay at His feet.   This is a program that some of the most intelligent folks don’t acquire; since it requires a surrendered heart.

Who am I to question His ways or His timing.  It is enough that He carries me to a table I don’t deserve.  Do you struggle with trials and His timing?  What ways help you not see your brokenness, or that of a loved one, anymore, but rather the One who carries you?

Warm Wednesday Words: The Secret Things

friendship of the LordThere are times I am in circumstances that require me to seek God for the sake of God, not because I have an agenda.  This is not because I don’t have an agenda or keep a prayer “wish” list.  It’s just because I have no control over my list anyway, so I might as well find warmth, comfort and love from God because He is God, loves me and offers an eternal perspective full of hope.  And isn’t that what trust is about anyway?  Turning my control (or lack of) over to the only One who really has control and is All Knowing.  When I spend time worshiping in this realm, it’s not long before my list becomes secondary to His will and He reveals Himself to me in some intimate, personal and often delightful way.

These expressions of His love to me are very real, though their significance is not always  easy to explain to others.   Nor is it always easy for others to explain such personal and holy “secrets” or blessings from God.  It’s not because they’re not genuine, but because God chooses to extol His extravagant love in an often deeply personal way.

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Truthfully, no one can love the way God can.  Who else knows the number of hairs on my head?  Or exactly how I was formed in the womb, including any “defects” he allows as thorns in the flesh for a greater purpose or assets and gifts He places inside for eventual discovery and selfless use.  As Oswald Chambers said in “My Utmost for His Highest”, ‘then we find that God wants to get us into relationship with Himself, to get us in touch with His purposes.  Are we so wedded to Jesus Christ’s idea of prayer – “They will be done” – that we catch the secrets of God?  The things that make God dear to us are not so much His great big blessings as the tiny things, because they show His amazing intimacy with us.  He knows every detail of our individual lives.’
Have you laid aside your prayer “wish” list lately and simply pressed into listening for His intimate expressions of love, joy and communication toward you?  He has secrets ready to share with His intimate friends.

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Warm Wednesday Words: Visions of Rapture

 

blurry vision

Visual distortion can be an issue for me.   Physically, I have post radial keratotomy complications, which I now realize are quite common due to not well researched optometrist claims made back in the 80’s and 90’s.  As frustrating as this condition is increasingly becoming, it is not these visual distortions and fluctuations that can cause me the most grief.  The most critical visual malady I suffer from on occasion is when I focus on the perspective most easily seen by my circumstances, negative or otherwise, rather than God’s perspective.  When I submit to God and refocus to His point of view I am enveloped in a spiritual bubble of truths and promises, often revolutionary, that I couldn’t see before or had temporarily lost sight of.

God's ways higher

Refocusing gets easier with practice.  It comes about by time spent in the Word, in prayer, in worship and seeking out those who give Godly and encouraging words and counsel and who will help identify the negative lies of the enemy to toss out and replace with truths.  I know why Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer, wrote in “Blessed Assurance”, ‘Perfect submission, perfect delight!  Visions of rapture now burst on my sight; Angels descending bring from above Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.’

a bright warrior angel

To our detriment, we often don’t see what God knows and sees.  Elisha’s servant had this problem and was overcome with fear, as anyone might be, when he saw the enemy armies surrounding them.  Elisha, who was seeing a spiritual realm, prayed for God to open his servant’s eyes to see the deliverance at hand.  Ps. 34:7 promises, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.”   Have you ever spent time with someone who so bolstered your “faith” perspective that you walked away feeling squished between the Christ beside you, behind you, and ahead of you?  I have and I am thankful God uses brothers and sisters in Christ to provide just the medicinal spiritual boost we need on occasion.

warrior angel help

In Zechariah we are told of unseen angels that patrol the earth and go before the throne to inquire on our behalf. We also know, but may forget, that Christ is there to intercede for us day and night.  Balaam was initially unable to see things quite from God’s perspective, yet God allowed Balaam’s donkey to see the warning angel.  Balaam later repented for not realizing this invisible spiritual realm and the urgency of God’s will in the matter.   Daniel may have thought his prayers were slow in being answered but eventually an angel arrived with the answer and chalked the delay up to a strange but unseen struggle in the spiritual realm.   Joseph’s view of the bad that happened to him was summed up in the spiritual perspective he acquired during his years of trials, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..” (Gen. 50:20).  This is the promise we have when we love God.  This is why we can have a peace even when evil seems abundant in high places.  God is still ultimately in charge and His plan has not changed.

angels surround us

In stressful situations when I have trouble with keeping my perspective on the faith filled focus I know to be true, I pray for help (Mark 9:24).  Then I attempt to press on with Hebrews 12:1-2 in mind, “ Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us.  Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus….”  Those invisible witnesses are martyrs, loved ones who have gone before us to Heaven and angels watching our spiritual progress with great interest.  Though curiously mysterious, we are being watched by an invisible crowd, we have angels to watch and attend us, and Christ is constantly interceding for us.  We serve a God who not only sacrificed His Son for us, but who stands with us in all of our circumstances and uses every one of them for our good when we believe Him.  I have learned to cope with fluctuating distortions in my vision and may even find a remedy soon, but I do not want to be spiritually nearsighted.  Visions of rapture are too good to miss!  What are your most recent visions of rapture that took a second look to “see”?

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Warm Wednesday Words: Drink from the Living Water

 

living waterA dear friend and mentor just recently said to me, “Drink lots of water…from the living supply”.  Water consumption nowadays has become extremely specialized.  We use purifiers, filters, flavors, sweeteners of all sorts and carbonation.  We package with bottles, cans, and jugs of all sizes and designed for a variety of specific purposes and ventures.  We have streamlined our tastes because, after all what and when we drink is important and we know it.

How much more so what we “drink” into our thoughts and soak into our “hearts” and how often.  Hence the advice to drink much from the living supply.  Jesus said in John 4:14, “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life“, and in John 7:38: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  There is absolutely nothing like soaking in the scriptures and taking refuge in the shadow of His wings.    There is no other source that can quench every soul malady no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.

God warned his people through his prophet Jeremiah (2:13), that they had sinned in two ways:  first by abandoning Him, the fountain of living water; and second, by digging cisterns for themselves that were cracked.  If they could hold water at all, it was stagnant.  Stagnant water holds disease, decay, toxins, harbors mosquitoes and is foul.  Leaking cisterns presents the idea of falsehood.  They gave the appearance of holding water but didn’t.  Our “leaky cisterns” can be pride, materialism, teachings and traditions of men, false sense of spiritual security, false religions, excessive entertainment, and depravity.  I want to drink deeply from the Well that never runs dry and satisfies my thirsts.  I want the living water that flows out in service and doesn’t stay pooled up in a leaky, misleading cistern.  What is your source of soul “water”?  Is it deeply satisfying and flowing?

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