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Archive for December, 2011

 

“This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 NIV

 

MP900227566 Many years ago, I used to have this internal picture of myself –I was standing on a hillside at the edge of a cliff. My long, dark-brown hair whipped away from my face in the stiff breeze. In one hand I held a staff with one end planted firmly in the ground, the other fisted hand rested on my hip as I stood, balanced, and able to withstand anything life blew my way.

That person toppled from her cliff-side stance many years ago when I finally realized I was trying to do things by myself. Sure I was doing things FOR God, but I wasn’t working WITH Him. Life had become unmanageable and I couldn’t handle things myself anymore.

God did a lot of healing work in my heart to change that solitary image. Many years passed before i could see myself in a new light – standing with the Lord – relying, trusting and allowing him to be my support as life’s adversities swirled around me.

But through this long and sometimes difficult year of 2011, I saw glimpses of that “warrior princess me” trying to regain her footing on the cliff, facing the winds of adversity by herself, trying to live FOR Him again instead of WITH Him.

This morning,as we stand on the verge of a new year, the Lord stood beside me on the hill and shared these verses from Isaiah 43 with me. As we talked together, He helped me see some valuable truths I need to re-apply for the coming year.

1. I must keep my eyes and heart focused on God through the new year.

He is GOD, the One who cuts a swath through the difficulties of life. I don’t have to do it alone. He will go ahead of me, as a buffer so I am not overwhelmed by the full force of life’s gale-strength winds.

2.  I must forget the past.

That doesn’t mean I should forget the lessons I learned from my shortcomings and failures; they are invaluable  insights from a loving Father to help me become all He knows I can be.

But  I do have to forget those feelings of shame stemming from my imagined inadequacy – to stop listening to the lies of the past; to accept His forgiveness for those hurts I have inflicted on myself and others.

Lastly, I must have to forget the fear of moving forward that held me captive in the past.

3.Then I need to move on – to put on the Spirit’s glasses in order to see the new things He wants to do in and through me in the coming year.CB014309

God doesn’t see a spiritual wasteland when He looks at my heart and life.  He sees life as a spiritual adventure where He will show me the hidden treasures of the wilderness; the teeming life in the desert oases; the beauty and light of His heart revealed in the darkness.

Lord, as 2012 dawns, help me to focus on you, to forget the past and to walk in joy beside you through this new year, no matter what it brings. Amen.

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““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”        Matthew 11:28 NIV

Whenever I read this verse, I think of the 92% who fail in  their resolutions. When we are going through hardships and trials, we feel so overburdened and we often come to Christ to lay our burdens at his feet, asking for his peace. When we feel his presence and peace, we vow never to pick those burdens up again, but generally within a few days, we are lugging them around again on our own backs. We seem to fail miserably in our resolution to allow Christ to carry our heaviness of heart.

It sometimes feels like we’re on a train going downhill fast and our of control into the pits of discouragement and despair.So how can we stop it to find that true peace and rest we crave?

1. Undoubtedly the most important thing we need to do though, is to enlist the support of others. When we are suffering and beaten down, we often don’t have the strength to pull the brake and stop the cycle of hurt and discouragement. We are tired. So we will need the prayer, moral and even physical support of others in the form of hugs, etc. to get to the place of rest and stay there. And that means we have to ask for their support – we can’t just assume that others know how we feel because they can see our situation.

2. Once we have a support system in place, we must understand that rest demands work. It’s like stopping a train on a hill – the brakes have to be kept engaged to stay in that place of rest. Spiritual rest means we must work daily at placing our hand in Christ’s in order to remain in that place of peace with Christ.

3. Become thankful for pain. This is hard because we always want to escape pain. But pain lets us know we are still alive. One of the problems of leprosy is that the person loses their feelings in their extremities. A leper can burn himself severely and never feel it, leading to infection and even death from blood poisoning. As long as we can feel our pain, we will be reminded of our need to cling to the Lord for our comfort. As our soul’s pain eases, we tend to stop leaning on Him.

4. Embrace the Word. Fill our hearts and minds with scriptures so we have His words to hang on to. Wrap our arms around them – think about them through the day, place them where you can see them often and each time you do see them, take a moment to let it soak into your soul.

5. Develop an attitude of thankfulness rather than dwelling on the sorrow or suffering you are going through. This is a biggie – praise really does work

I’m sure there are more things you can think of to help lay your burdens down and remain in that place of rest in Christ. I’d love to hear what you do that works.

Father, help us learn to rest in you!

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Forget Not All His Benefits

“Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—” Psalm 103:1-2 NIV

Perhaps our prayer and wish for the new year for those around us should be that we “forget not all His benefits” instead of “Have a Happy New Year.”

Because of our human nature, when we are content with life and the things around us, we tend to forget the Lord. We fail to praise Him; we fail to lean on Him and to trust Him for our direction in life. We become complete in ourselves. We forget that we need Jesus and others to stand with us in this life to make it through.

But when sorrows, trials and losses come – and they will! – we are reminded once again of our frailties. When we reach the end of our rope, we finally remember to cry out to God and learn to trust Him for our daily bread. There in His arms we find true happiness and peace in the midst of all the turmoil  when we turn our gaze upon His lovely face.

If we develop an attitude of praise and daily remembering God’s benefits, we may actually be spared some of the hardships of life – or at least when they do come, they won’t tear us apart so badly because we already know where our strength comes from. We won’t spend so much time wallowing in our pit of despair, but will be able to go right to the Source of our strength.

So my friends, my wish for the New Year for you is not that you will have a happy new year filled with happy events and experiences, but that you will “Forget not all His benefits” – learning  to curl contentedly in the Father’s hands, the most joyous place of all during this New Year of 2012.

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A Case of Christmas Spirit

I knew I was in trouble halfway up the post office entry stairs. In my haste to get my cards and package mailed in time for Christmas delivery, I forgot to look up the zip code for my brother’s package.

“Oh well – there should be a way to look it up inside,” I reasoned, climbing the remaining steps. I rested a minute at the top because my arthritic knees were bothering me – the weather made the pain worse. All of the post offices I had visited in the past had huge books where a customer could thumb through until they found the right code.

Not this small town office! There was no sign of a zip code book. No computer terminals for forgetful postal patrons like me. I chuckled aloud and mentioned my plight to the person in line near me.

“The guy behind the counter should be able to help. Isn’t that what they do?” She laughed.  I suppose she’d been there herself at some time in her life.

The line moved quickly in spite of all the last minute Christmas activity. When it was my turn, I placed my package on the counter and explained my predicament to the postman.

“Sorry, I can’t help you,” he said, frowning and handing the package back to me. “You’ll have to go look it up.”

I tamped down the mental protests about parking difficulties, the pain in my knees and the rushing around to get back before the window closed at noon.  “I guess I’ll have to go home and look it up and come back,” I said, checking my watch. It was 11:15 – it would be tight, but I could do it.

I put my package down on a nearby table and dug in my bag for the cards I wanted to mail. The woman I chatted with earlier came scurrying over and said, “I thought they were supposed to do zip codes – isn’t that their job?” She pulled out her phone and said, “I have a Smart Phone – let me try to look it up for you.”

We struggled with her phone for several minutes to no avail – perhaps those phones aren’t so smart after all since it kept substituting a different word for the name of the community we were trying to find.  I think I spelled Perkiomenville about 5 times before we just gave up. LOL! The poor woman kept apologizing because she couldn’t help.

By this time we had attracted quite an audience – you know how those big old stone buildings echo, even if you’re talking softly.  Everyone who was waiting in line knew what we were doing  and they also thought the post office should help look up a simple zip code or at least provide a service where the patrons could look it up themselves.  I was beginning to feel very embarrassed for the unintentional scene I was causing,, but thankful for the help and moral support.

I guess it bothered the postman so much, they opened a separate window and one of the other employees came to take care of me real quick. Whether it was a case of greasing a squeaky wheel or genuine Christmas Spirit , I’ll never know. But as I left the building, everyone in line and even behind the counter was wishing me a Merry Christmas and smiling.

Lord help me to pay that helpfulness and caring attitude forward, not only at Christmas, but all year long!

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