Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hope, Joy and Peace

Hope, joy and peace...who doesn't long for more of these? As lovers of Jesus, these are our birthrights! This is part of the GOOD NEWS...yes, Jesus died for our sins to be forgiven eternally, but temporally, He has given these treasures as well, more than the anxiety, concern, fatigue and uncertainty I get trapped in! In light of this, I love the verse Romans 15:13
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
I am encouraged that the God of hope is the one doing the filling, like the teapot in the picture...He is the rich source, not me having to grasp at something. He is such a kind father and giver of good gifts! And who doesn't want to be filled with joy and peace...sometimes that almost seems too good to be true! The part that I get stuck at is "trust"...sure in my mind I know I can trust Him, but my heart is weak and honestly I think I try to get my life in order, or problems solved first, then when I'm not anxious or stirred up about something, there will be plenty of room for trust. This never happens! Swing and a miss! Trust cannot be circumstance dependent!

I looked up the key words in this beloved verse in the Websters dictionary and rewrote it using the definitions and inserting personal pronouns...this verse took on even deeper meanings, more encouragement and really speaks to my heart...here's what I found:
"May the God of (trust in whom is my confidence) (put in me as much as I can hold, satisfy, feed) me with all (emotions of well being, delight) and (freedom from disquieting/oppressive thoughts, security) as I (place my confidence, depend, hope, am without fear, rely on truth) in Him, so that I may (flow over the brim) with (trust, confidence in Him) by the (authority, physical might, means of supplying energy, influence) of the Holy Spirit."
I am challenged by asking myself how much room is there in my heart for the Holy Spirit to supply delight and security so that trust in God would flow over my brim.

able to jump to the wrong conclusion in a single bound!
For me, the phrase "freedom from disquieting/oppressive thoughts" holds a key the type of vessel I allow myself to be. This takes on a whole new meaning to "taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). This is my role in preparing my heart to receive the peace and joy the Holy Spirit would love to supply. As an act of worship and obedience I can keep my thought life in check, resisting figuring out solutions to troubles on my own or letting empathetic feelings rule when I hear of a tragedy...these are burdens I easily pick up and carry and I grow weak and anything but joyful and peaceful. In a way, it is saying I don't trust God to carry these, I must do it. As I gaze at the broken world we live in, what do I see...brokeness and if I dwell on that it declares hopelessness. BUT God is the God of HOPE, He is a redeemer...one who makes things new and better than the original...He must be my gaze above what I see on earth.

For two days, when I've been tempted to dwell on tragedies, brokeness or things I simply wish were different for myself or others I love...I have simply said, "no, I will not elevate these...Jesus thank You that You see these and You have the answer. Show me my part if there is one, otherwise I choose to trust You to work all things together for good with Your wisdom and many resources and I ask You to work in that situation, etc." In a way, I am setting Jesus Christ apart to worship Him and not circumstances. And you know what...there is delight and security filling in my heart...hmmm...aren't these "code" words for joy and peace?! The source - the Holy Spirit, the vessel - my heart that chose to empty itself of oppressive thoughts to place my confidence in Him. And the overflow or the flowing over the brim - hopefully my mouth. "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him." Matt. 12:34-35

What's coming out of your mouth? What topics do you find yourself thinking/stewing/talking about? Are these emphasizing the fallen world or trust in the God of hope? Are you carrying burdens as if there is no God bigger than yourself like I was? Take notice of your thoughts and words, these could be the joy robbers of your soul and the stealer of confidence in God. We need to emply our hearts of self, the world and lies so they may be filled...like trying to fill a watering can with water that is 3/4 filled with sand, the overflow will be murky water, but an empty vessel fills with pure water and pours forth clear, refreshing streams. Similarly, a stuffed up heart will not have much room for the joy and peace the Holy Spirit longs to supply to overflowing. Here's to the hope, joy and peace that Jesus longs to give and we so desperately need!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kingdom For Sale

"You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." ~Isaiah 14:13-14

As I write, it is the middle of June and the lazy days of summer are upon us...lazy, my foot! I have five children clamoring for what to do, can I get a ride here, etc. I find my life anything but lazy and honestly my heart is a bit overwhelmed...how can I meet all these needs and wants?

It dawned on me I am carrying more than is mine to carry. Why do I always go to this place of thinking its all up to me...I can and must come through for all the needs around me! That is quite a burden to live under. Very far from the burden is light and yoke is easy stuff I read Jesus telling me in His Word.

At first, the above verse made me think of the arrogance of Satan before his fall from heaven...wanting to be like God. I was encouraged to tuck this away for my talks around spiritual warfare and God's kingdom at women's events. I was shaking my head at Lucifer's pride and worshipping God for His might, wisdom and wonder. THEN it dawned on me...am I much different? Isn't this the lie whispered in the garden..."the serpent said to the woman, 'For God knows that when you eat of (the fruit) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God..."

Believe it or not this is the root of the pressure I am feeling this summer! As a mom, I am seeing myself as the one to come through for all my kids' desires, do all character training, encourage life and protect them from the evils of the world. In my heart I am building a kingdom around ME and MY strength! And in this way I am "making myself like God" who is the giver of good things, the fortress to run to in time of need and the one to show the path to life. He is more jealous for my family's hearts and more capable of providing than I ever will be.

To go a bit deeper for my own heart...whenever I have suffered hurt, disappointment or lack, I have spent time going through the facts logically and reaching a conclusion that explained it away. All of this to protect my heart from feeling hurt, because I had no clue what to do with that emotion. So if I could come to an explanation for the "injury", I could avoid the pain and keep my heart pushed down. In a way I was elevating MYSELF (my mind) over a situation and building MY kingdom/throne that I could manage and control, intellectually at least. As an example, I rationalized my father's suicide as him really loving me by leaving life insurance money behind. What kind of explanation is that?! Or when I've had a fall out with a friend, I blame myself for making a mistake in communication which leads to shame. Again, what kind of reason is that?!

The Light has shone on this dark place and I now realize, rationalizing kept me from feeling the hurt, for a while, and it also kept me from running to God and His kingdom for comfort and protection. I set myself up to live apart from His presence and replaced it with my own throne of understanding! YIKES, this sounds so backwards and obvious, but it is so subtle that I am just now having the eyes of my heart opened to this prison I created.

Eventually the heart must speak! That is where the healing, freedom and life is. Not in understanding, but in trusting Jesus enough to run to Him to pour out my heart, wanting comfort and not demanding explanation nor understanding. I now know He will comfort me, bring truth and He is enough for every situation I will face...this is an uncertain world but I have a Rock as a Redeemer and need no fear of what will happen, nor need to control to feel safe!

Hence, my old kingdom is for sale and praise God Jesus' blood has paid for it. He takes it upon Himself so I can be rid of it and runs to me with HIS Kingdom of love, comfort and joy. Not to mention carrying my burdens and my family. I give you all Jesus and help me RUN to you in emotional upset when I am tempted to sit on my throne and rule with understanding. Understanding is a poor scepter when I can live loved as your daughter, a princess, who is radiant and free because of you.