Wednesday, October 29, 2014

31 Days Of Strength In Scripture: Who Our Father Is

I think we often don't understand the way that God deals with us. We are confused by His discipline, or we choose to follow our own paths instead of His guidance, and we lack the understanding to know the difference. Considering He doesn't exactly write us notes across the sky, it's understandable that our human limitations often get in the way. But I do know that I can know who He is and what He has promised through His word, thus there are certain truths I can be sure of in the way that He operates.

All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your forefathers.

You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” - Deuteronomy 8:1-3

He is more than just some master giving orders. Everything He does has a divine purpose, and His desire is to get man involved in His great purposes. When I consider that the One who holds the whole universe in His hands is interested in getting me intimately involved with the events in that great universe, it's humbling. It is also beyond humbling to realize that I truly can't live by bread alone because everything I have and everything I am, I owe to Him.

Just because I've been writing about strength in scripture doesn't mean I have it all figured out all the time. If anything, I need these kinds of reminders daily, which is why I decided to write them in the first place. We have a God who brings us through the wilderness and teaches us along the way, and that's something to celebrate.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

31 Days Of Strength In Scripture: Worship

Since I'm spending the month writing about finding strength in scripture, I can't ignore another very important counterpart to scripture in which that strength is often magnified – worship. I've always found worship to be a very personal and humbling experience because it's so unique to each individual, and thus such an incredible expression of His glory in the way that He understands His children so intimately.

For me the old hymns are most effective at awakening my soul and stirring up the truth that's bubbling beneath the surface. When I need a recharge, it's often because I need the connection that comes through worship.

I'm blown away by this performance of How Great Thou Art by Vince Gill and Carrie Underwood every time I see it, and I just happened across it again today. May you also be blessed by it, and by the beautiful lyrics below.
   How Great Thou Art

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Monday, October 27, 2014

31 Days Of Strength In Scripture: Discouragement

It's easy to get worn out in this life.

Though I do a pretty good job of 'looking on the bright side', I am most often discouraged when I start feeling the weight of the world, and by that I mean I can be crushed by having too much coming at me all at once - things like unmet expectations, disappointments, hurt feelings, stress, and all of life's little downers. And sometimes BIG downers.

But whenever I get discouraged, what I generally try to fall back on is taking all of the good in my life and bringing it to the forefront. It's tempting at times to dwell on what's wrong, but the 'wrong' is always there. We are in a fallen, completely messed up place, out of sorts absolutely all the time. We have to make a habit of finding our little joys and focusing on the good – otherwise we run the risk of getting swallowed up by the bad.

I'm human, and sometimes I forget who I am and what's important. I forget to have perspective, or better yet, I choose not to have the right perspective – because attitude is always a choice.

The good is often pretty simple and easy to see. My children are healthy. We are comfortable and fed and warm in our beds at night. I have people I love to share my life with, however messy that life may get. That kind of perspective tends to keep me going.

But if you are feeling the weight of the world right now, perhaps it's not all that easy to make a list of the good. Thankfully, we can find rest in the hope that lies beyond the veil, despite the battle that wages around us.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
- 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

I truly believe that all we see and experience has value beyond the temporary and a greater and more beautiful meaning than we could ever imagine. Without that hope, I'm not sure where I'd be. I do know, however, that I can have glimpses into eternity by knowing the One who has promised it to me.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

31 Days Of Strength In Scripture: When Life Happens

Well, I missed a couple of days. It was bound to happen, since that's just how it goes sometimes, and I have a good excuse (I was spending quality time with family out in the country, aka 'away from it all'), so I can't say I'm all that distraught about it. Plus I made it a full 23 days into this challenge, faithfully writing about strength in scripture every single day, and I'm grateful that I have these little devotionals to look back on and to one day share with my kids. I suppose I'll just keep on truckin' and write a few more to finish out the month.

One thing I can take away from this whole experience is that even when I fail to carry out the tasks I set out to do, and even when other people in my life fail me, and even when the world fails to give me the answers that I seek, there is always one constant in my life.

The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” - Lamentations 3:22-23

And part of my reasoning for participating in this challenge was to ensure that I'm pursuing growth and improvement. I never want to stay still, stuck in my own inadequate ways, never reaching for all that I can to make me a better person. I have the ultimate example of what that can look like.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” - Hebrews 13:8

I pray that I will raise my children to pursue that kind of integrity because it's certainly a challenge in the world today. I hope that they will learn faithfulness through the words that I've written to them and the examples that their father and I try to set for them. And I hope that we will all continue encouraging one another as we face the challenges that come our way.