Enough

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For Christian women who struggle with feeling like we’re not enough. Warning: I cried.

Are you enough? With God, you don’t have to be. He has enough. His love can make you enough.

The poised, young professional woman in white came boldly before the throne of God, dragging alongside her a battered, bruised little girl in filthy rags. “Lord, I’m surrendering this to you, my broken, wounded heart. I caught her running away from you and thinking wrong things again, so I’ve taken her captive, brought her back, and am presenting her to you again. I know she’s not much, but she’s all I have to offer, and I trust by faith she is enough. I have so much to do for you, and so little time, so I won’t keep you long. Amen.”

With that, the professional adult scurried away to get about the Father’s business.

The wounded child curled up on the floor in the fetal position, trembling, and sobbed. “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

The Son knelt before the terrified little thing and caught her tears in a bottle.

The girl shirked back. “Why are you collecting those? Aren’t my tears bad? Don’t you already have plenty of evidence of how bad I am? Who is she kidding? I’m not enough. I’m a worthless thing trampled on, not a valuable treasure worthy of belonging to the king. I can never live up to her expectations, or the expectations of others. She dumps me here with you so she doesn’t have to deal with my brokenness. All I do is get in the way and make trouble. If I’m not enough for flawed humans, how can I ever be enough for a holy God?”

“This is how.” Compassion in his eyes, the Son showed the wounded child his nail-pierced hands, spread open wide. “This is enough. Your value is not based on works or on the approval of men. What I paid for you is what you’re worth. How much is my blood worth?”

“It’s priceless.”

The Son hugged her. “You are my priceless treasure. You shall be a royal diadem in the hand of the Lord. You are accepted, and you are loved, simply because you are my child.”

He scooped her up and carried her toward an incomprehensibly vast, wide, deep pool full of liquid red love.

And the Sheep of his hand–heed his voice!

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“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice,” (Psalm 95:6-7)

To ears familiar with a certain chorus, the psalm’s transition here is as jarring as the stopping point is awkward and incomplete. We go from an upbeat worship tune playing in our heads to a solemn, perhaps even tuneless, warning not to harden our hearts against the voice of God.

So what is the connection? We are the sheep of his pasture, kept in the hand of the shepherd. God’s sheep, Jesus declared famously in the gospels, know their shepherd’s voice and heed it. So it is a quite logical next step to urge, if the shepherd speaks, be a good sheep and listen and follow him rather than going astray after our own way.

Lord, we thank you for choosing us and making us the sheep of your pasture. We thank you for keeping us safe in your hands. Open our ears, Lord, to both hear, know, and recognize your voice. Grant us discernment to know what thoughts of the heart are from you, what is from the enemy, and what is of our own flesh. Give us an earnest desire to seek after what your voice says and follow your lead. Soften our hearts towards you today. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

The Lord of All Creation is Waiting to Take Your Call.

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“Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it— the LORD is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:2-3)

In verse one, we helpfully learn this prophecy came to Jeremiah when he was imprisoned/under arrest basically. This is the lead up to God announcing he’s fed up with the evil of the Chaldean oppressors and promises to destroy them (strike them down) and restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel (the kingdom being divided at this time.)

First let’s not read past what God asserts right off: he made, formed, and established, that is he’s responsible for the laws of physics and the physical properties and parameters of Earth, including its orbit and location in the universe, boundaries between the sea and the continents, everything is located right where he’s put it and moving according to the rules he established. The water cycle, the often delicate balance of ecosystems,  God designed all of it. None of it is a result of happenstance or a fluke. The fall introduced all of creation’s “groaning” and the “birth pangs” we’ve endured for two thousand years. The destructive forces of our fallen nature, which atheists and their dupes mistakenly credit with the creation, were introduced well after God set this place up and wrote all the natural laws science has and can actually test and prove.

This intelligent cosmic designer, this supreme king who reigns over the entire universe, declares his ears are always attuned to the cries of little old us. He is never too busy, too tired, or plain unconcerned.  No matter what major crisis is going on elsewhere in your world, God has time to answer your prayers and he will if we will stop and listen long enough to hear his voice in our hearts. God is pouring out his holy spirit on all believers today, not just the prophets.

What “great and hidden things” does he reveal? He shows us how to rightly divide his word, he reveals what our hearts hide from us, he reveals all we can be and become if we walk faithfully by his side, seeking to do his will. Even more than that, he will reveal himself to us and make us like him, rather than our flesh’s sinful tendency to remake God like us in our deceived minds.

Lord, open our eyes to the truth of your eyes–tear down the strongholds of our minds and false images of you and reveal your true self to us as your spirit opens up our eyes to the truths you revealed  to the saints gone before us in the never-changing message of scripture. Guard our hearts and minds from all lying spirits and false teachers who would appeal to the wicked inclinations of our flesh and turn us away from knowledge of you as you truly are. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Want to Grow Spiritually? Slow Down!

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“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

According to James, we are deceiving ourselves about what we believe in our hearts when we read the bible, known intellectually what it says, and go out and ignore it in practice. So how do we not turn away from this uncomfortable mirror and promptly forget what we looked like and keep on as we are?

In our instant culture and world, we often react by habit and by impulse. If our habits are godly, that is great. If our habits are indistinguishable from our impulses, that’s not so great. Contrary to what we often like to think, we are most likely to react from the fallen sinful flesh when we’re go-go-going rather than being led by the spirit as we hope to be, or at least like to think we are.

Unfortunately for our time, the spirit walk still requires stopping to plug into God and sync our hearts to him. We have to stop and think rather than letting our hearts take the lead. As our “why the heck did I do/say that?” regrets after the fact testify, our hearts aren’t always on the same page as our minds are with what our hearts believe and what our heads believe. So we have to stop and think it through and deliberately act according to what we know to be true. Such discipline, along with prayer and the work of the spirit, is the path to godly habits and hearts that aren’t holding dirty secrets from us anymore.

If only it didn’t take so much time, huh? What is most important to us, keeping up with the rest of our crazy world, or spiritual growth?

Lord, ouch. Strengthen me in discipline. You know I am weak of mind here and prone to be driven by impulse. Check me in my spirit, remind me to stop and pray about it, to mentally search your scriptures for what your way is. Open my spiritual ears to hear you, give me a heart that seeks you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

God’s Commandment Defines You, Not Your Sin

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“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:10)

Today’s verse comes in the middle of the vine and the branches parable urging us to abide in Christ.  We were designed to connect to God and we need to receive spiritual nourishment from him to grow and live.

Christianity is all about love and relationship to some. To others, it’s really all about rules and regulations with lip service paid to Christ’s atonement for our breaking the rules and regulations in the past.

What we actually have is a divine paradox.  Love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all  your strength and love your neighbor as yourself, Jesus told us is the aim of the law and the prophets.  The commandment is  a tool teaching us how to properly relate to one another. If we forsake the truth and throw out the commandment, our love is nothing but a demonic counterfeit.

Jesus paid the whole debt for sin on the cross. Our works are filthy rags. We cannot keep the law sufficiently on our own. We obey not to save ourselves, but in gratitude that he has saved us, because we love and trust him. He has to do the work. We need his transforming grace and power flowing through our hearts to walk as Jesus walked, especially in those areas where our fallen flesh is weak.

In verse eleven, Jesus tells us he spoke said verse ten and the ones preceding it so our joy may be full.  If your reading of this text brings condemnation and despair, then you’re reading it wrong. God’s desire is for you to abide in him and in his love and to keep the commandment. He won’t lower his standards to accommodate your weakness, but he will raise you up to meet them by strengthening you and renewing you in your mind.

Trust God’s commandment. He designed you. He, not the world, knows who he created you and fashioned you to be–and it is *not* a sinner of any sort, no matter how attractive that sin might be to you. It is not who you are. Embrace the commandment. Accept by faith who God says you really are meant to be and who he is willing to restore you to being over the course of this earthly life. It can be really tough down here, but if we hold on, one day, we will shed the sinful, corrupt flesh and put on our incorruptible Heavenly bodies.