Monday, May 30, 2011

Week #20 Psalm 62:1 "Resting in God"

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him."

I realized last week that I am behind schedule. It is now the 22nd week of the year, and I am blogging for week #20. My mistake. I missed a couple of weeks somewhere in April or May.

But, I also am a firm believer in Romans 8:28, that all things (including my miscalculations) work together for good. So, I may be late in my blogging schedule, but God is blessing my blogging for today, according to His schedule.

What am I talking about? Well, today is Memorial Day. This is a day when we Americans stop and remember those who gave their lives in the service of their country. It's a special day for us in the United States, for the that reason. But, fortunately, it is also special for us because Memorial Day is a national holiday. For most of us, that means we have the day off from our work or school responsibilities. It is a day of rest.

My son is spending the day at Safeco Field watching the Mariners. My husband is doing some simple work around the house and then taking the rest of the day for leisure. On an unusual Monday, we get to rest.

So, I thought about what the Psalmist says here, that our souls find our rest in God alone. It makes me ponder the concept of rest. Resting from our jobs or schoolwork....and resting in God.

For us Americans observing Memorial Day, we are taking a rest from our labor, the occupation that not only supplies our basic needs (via the paycheck we receive), but gives us a sense of identity and purpose. All these things are essential to the human life.

But the Bible also tells us that we have those same things when we put our faith in God. He supplies all our needs (Phil.4:19), give us our identities (1 Pet. 1:9-10) and gives us purpose (John 20:21). So, what's the difference between resting from our jobs, and resting in God?

Simple. Our rest on a holiday is something we earn because we work at our jobs all the other weeks of the year. Our resting in God is something we are gifted with because of the work Jesus did on the cross. We didn't earn it, Jesus did it for us.

This is why our rest in God is so wonderful. We can now cease striving, stop trying to prove our goodness. We can't anyhow.

But we can pray without ceasing. We can fill our mouths with thanksgiving and praise. We can tell God how much we love Him. Most of all, we can celebrate our day of rest on any day we wish, because God's rest is 24/7. Every day is a holiday for God's people.

Thank you, God.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Week #19 Proverbs 31:30 "The 21st Century Proverbs 31 Woman"

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."

Oh yes....Proverbs 31. You all remember that chapter in the Old Testament. The biblical laundry list for "the perfect woman." The woman that all serious Christian men want (and sometimes demand) in a wife. Oh yeah...THAT Proverbs 31.

Please excuse the sarcasm here. It stems from a lifetime of disappointment and criticism.

Instead of finding encouragement in these verses, sometimes I see a standard that is impossible for me to attain. That Proverbs 31 lady is a tough act to follow. She works tirelessly to make a beautiful and nurturing home for her family. She is a shrewd businesswoman. She is charitable and compassionate. She is praised by her family for her wisdom and noble deeds. And on top of that, she's one serious seamstress.

But wait. She also seems to have a well-respected and (by inference) equally hard working husband. Her children are respectful toward her and don't appear to take all her hard work for granted. They are told specifically in these verses to praise their wife/mother.

Okay....I guess the "impossible standard" here applies to all members of the family. Life was hard back in those days. No Kitchen Aid technology, packaged foods, and 9 - 5 work days to neatly fit into their lives. Men, women and children all had to work hard, work together and work joyfully in order to thrive in that world. Making a home was much more than shopping at the mall for just the right comforter to go with that new Tempur-Pedic mattress set. It was sheer labor.

So...Proverbs 31 tells me, among other things, that being the virtuous woman/wife/mother is a labor of love. It's all about love for God and love for our families. Okay, we DO have the luxury of shopping malls and kitchen appliances today, so the 21st Century Proverbs 31 Woman doesn't have to "select wool and flax" or "make linen garments" by her own hands. We can use modern technology to help us meet our family's needs.

But we do need to do it all with love and joy. And yes, we CAN do that. That is not an impossible standard to live by. I don't do all things perfectly. My house still doesn't meet that quality outlined in Proverbs 31. But I can take my work as the LORD's work. I can see my family as part of my holy calling. I can rejoice that God gave me the privilege of such a wonderful calling.

And the best part of it all? Look at verse 30. None of this is dependent on my charm or beauty, two things that the world overly values in women. God looks at our character, our lives and our hearts when He sees us. Not our flawless complexions, flat stomachs or flirty eyelashes.

He sees us. And He loves who He sees.

Thank you, LORD.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Week #18 Revelation 3:20 "Opening the door to Jesus"

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me."

Back in the day when I first became a Christ-follower, this is the key verse I was given.

It explained the process that I had just gone through in becoming a Christian. I had just asked Jesus into my heart, and opened that proverbial door to my heart and invited Him in.

Yes, I got that. It meant a lot to me back then. It still does. Declaring your faith in Jesus Christ and trusting Him as your LORD and savior is huge. It's live-giving. It's live-changing. It's the door to life itself.

But, almost 40 years later, this verse still is dear to me. Not simply for the memories of giving my life over to God, but for my present life as a middle-aged believer.

The process of giving ourselves to God never ends. At least it shouldn't. You see, on some days, I find it's easier to live my humdrum life on my own shallow terms. Sometimes I can almost see how an atheist can exist day to day without even once considering if God loved me, is pleased with me or has a perfect and loving purpose for my life.


Those moments of amnesia about God are fleeting for me. I know I walk with Him and He walks with me. I know there isn't anything in this world that would separate me from His love.

But, I do have those moments when I want to go my own way. I want to live in the immediate, the obvious, the superficial. It is during those times I need to open the door once again to my heart and ask Jesus to enter. That heart door is annoyingly good at closing.

Unfortunately, that door might stay closed even longer than it does, if it weren't for the first part of Rev. 3:20. Jesus tells us that He stands at the door and knocks. He knocks, and thank God He does.

No, Jesus isn't pestering us. He isn't simply prompting us to listen and obey. What His knocking at the door of our hearts tells me, is that He seeks us. He invites us. He pursues us. Just like a lover woos the object of his affection, Jesus woos us with an indescribable love. No one is more loved than we are.

So, why do I need to "hear" a knock at the door of my heart before I respond? I don't know. It makes me sad to think about it.

But, I thank God that He never stops pursuing me. I am loved. I am worth it.

Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Week #17 Matthew 9:22 "Touching Jesus' Robe"

"Jesus turned and saw her. 'Take heart, daughter,' He said, 'your faith has healed you.' And the woman was healed from that moment."

This beautiful verse is taken from the story of the woman who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. Instead of coming directly to Jesus and asking for healing, she merely touched the edge of his robe, knowing that simply touching his garment would transmit Jesus' healing power to her.

She was right. But, not only did she receive the cure for her chronic bleeding, she received a couple other things that are just as precious.

For one, she got the attention of Jesus. Jesus was a busy man. At that moment, He and His disciples were hurrying to the home of a ruler whose daughter had just died. He was constantly being called upon to heal, counsel, and in this case, raise someone from the dead.

But here was a most unfortunate woman, whose suffering (and probable social ostracism) was great. Her reluctance to speak to Jesus face-to-face was understandable, considering her "unclean" status in society and the poor self esteem it brought. So, even with a timid touch to the edge of his cloak, Jesus faced this woman and gave her His undivided and loving attention. For this woman, this undoubtedly showed her how much she was loved.

Also, Jesus commended her faith as He healed her. What an honor this was for her! A woman, who spent the past 12 years being dismissed by polite society and probably accused of having a weak faith (otherwise, she would have been healed sooner, they concluded), was told her faith was strong and sincere enough to receive Jesus' healing.

If she were anything like me, she would have spent much of those 12 years doubting her faith, her worth and her God. She would have suffered from the "Why me?" syndrome. On a good day, she would have simply resigned herself to her fate and humbly accepted whatever charity or kind attention she got from anyone.

But Jesus didn't simply give her a pat on the head or a few denarii for her troubles. He did much more than that. He met her deepest needs: emotional healing, faith, and love.

Sometimes our physical healing doesn't happen the way we wish. But, Jesus always wants to meet our deepest needs. How often do I come to Jesus and touch the edge of His garment? How much do I believe that touching His robe will meet my needs?

Also notice that, until Jesus turned to her and spoke, not a word was exchanged between the two. My long-winded prayers aren't always necessary. But I can touch Jesus' robe at any moment during my day. In my greatest need, when words fail me, I can still touch His robe. Sometimes, that's the best my faith can do.

But, during those times, that's all that is needed. Praise God.