Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A New Name

This morning, a friend wrote on Facebook that she read a quote somewhere that said, "Satan knows our name, but calls us by our sin. God knows our sin, but He calls us by our name."

When I finished reading that quote, this beautiful Scripture was in my heart and I responded to her with, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." Isaiah 43:1 ESV

I am His.

He knows my name.

I have struggled from time to time with knowing who I am in Christ. But, I love the faithfulness of God and how He never gives up on me. And He never allows me to just get by with things in life. 

Here's an example of His relentless love. He wants us to know that we are His and He is ours.  And He will do whatever it takes.

I pulled the book "Captivating" by John & Stasi Eldredge off my shelf last week and decided to work through the workbook since I only read the book last time. *If you haven't ever read this book, I highly recommend you buy it immediately.* 

Anyway, it's been a few years since I read it. By nature, I'm a note taker and I highlight and journal in my books all. the. time. I opened to the introduction page and I see a passage of Scripture and nothing was highlighted. Weird for me. I quickly opened my Bible to Isaiah 62:1-5 to see if maybe I highlighted it there. Nope. 

This is what I mean when God doesn't give up on us when He's trying to send a message. I read the passage a few times and I see this phrase: 

"you will be called by a new name"

Funny, it took me two years to see that. 

I quickly made a note card with Isaiah 62:2, 4 and posted it to my Instagram account with the caption: "When God speaks loudly: listen." 

I never even noticed those Scriptures before but its the message He's been wanting me to understand for some time now. He has given me a new name.  He's been telling me this over and over and yet I didn't hear Him. I was too busy trying to perform and produce and calling myself names like:

-not good enough
-world's okayest mom :)

We don't have to answer to those names. Because we are His, we respond to:

-my darling
-my delight 

All we have to do is come to Him and surrender.

And listen. 

He's been trying to get me to hear His voice and His Words of life to me. This is why it is so important to spend time with the Lord daily and wait for His still small voice. Read the Word out loud. Confess who He is to you and then listen as He shares His heart. And then journal what you hear Him respond to you. Cling to those promises. 

We serve a relational God who wants to be in fellowship with us. We can get so caught up in the temporal everyday nonsense but what He desires is to share with us all that He has. Take the time to get to know Him more.

You belong to the King of Kings.

His delight is in you.

You are beautiful to Him. 

One Word

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Deliberate Purpose

I've been known to over complicate things a time or two...or ten. But one thing is for sure, I don't want to complicate The Gospel. I like the way The Message Bible unpacks verse two. Here it is:

"I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who He is, then Jesus and what He did-Jesus crucified." 

First Jesus: Who He Is.
Then Jesus: What He Did.
Jesus Crucified.

The crucifixion, the most humiliating way to die, was not in vain. Everything The LORD does has a purpose, and when we realize that the power of the cross transforms lives, we can't help live a different way. 

This is the plan of redemption. The crucifixion is His testimony of love; the greatest love story in all of His-story. This testimony changes hearts; restores lives; brings prodigals back; provides hope.

I like to call that God's power.

I'm a huge fan of song lyrics and I especially love singer/songwriters because I feel more connected to the song knowing the person singing it, wrote it and lived it out. Here are a few examples:

"That's the power of the cross, see the chains fall off..." (Power Of The Cross by Natalie Grant)

"There is freedom in the power of the cross, let the world see..." (In The Mystery by Hillsong)

"Mighty is the power of the cross..." (Mighty Is The Power Of The Cross by Chris Tomlin)

"There is hope in the promise of the cross, You gave everything to save the world You love..." (Anchor by Hillsong)

The power of the cross. It changes lives. The Message Bible says, "God's Spirit and God's power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God's power..." (v.4)

I'm fairly confident that I sound like a broken record, but I want to express that it is God's power that changes lives, redeems us and makes us whole.

Here's proof via a personal paraphrase of an Albert Barnes quote: 

"He converts sinners. He grants peace, joy, and happiness. He transforms lives, by making us different people: 

-drunkard sober
-the thief honest
-the licentious pure
-the profane reverent
-the harsh and unkind- gentle and kind
-the wretched happy

"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." Ezekiel 36:26 NLT

This is my response to God's power. He changed my heart and transformed my life when He took my place on my cross. We have to make the cross personal to us. Had it not been for Jesus... O Lord have mercy.

I respond to Him by living a transformed life. Because I love Him. He made me different from what I once was. I now "carry this precious message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives..." 2 Corinthians 4:7

Let's not rely on limited human knowledge. It's all about knowing Christ and making Him known.

"...to make Christ crucified the grand object of his attention, and seek always and everywhere to make Him known." Albert Barnes

The message of the cross is the power of God for those who are being saved. Remember to pray for those who think its message is foolishness because Jesus is not willing that any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9)

First Jesus.
Then Jesus.

"It was not a matter of accident, or chance, that I made Christ my great and constant theme, but it was my deliberate purpose." -Albert Barnes

Lord, let it be so.

Friday, April 4, 2014

What's In Your Heart?

The things on the inside of me come out through my mouth.

S C A R Y.

If I am being honest, I have not always been kind and loving. I've said ugly things. I've taken my anger out on people and have used less than stellar vernacular. And my Mom would always say...

"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." Luke 6:45 ESV 

Everyone knows that. If I've heard it once, Mom, I've heard it a million times....and I love it because it is true.

The New Living Translation is my favorite. "What you say flows from what is in your heart."

We have to get words on the inside of us in order for them to come out of our mouths. This is why it is extremely important to fill our souls with Truth, words of life, Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Otherwise, things can and will get ugly in a hurry.

If left to my own devices and neglecting what the Scriptures say, I might be found "meditating" on our bills or how I messed up with my boys or said something I shouldn't have....again.

Sometimes I don't know what to say. Sometimes I know what to say and I don't say it. But my prayer has always been that when I do say something, it would be from a heart that is full of truth, full of The Word, full of Jesus.

But we can't say something that's not in our hearts. For example, I tell Jesus, my husband and my boys that I love them because it is in my heart to love them. I spend time with them. I talk with them. I listen to them. I wouldn't go up to a complete stranger and say "I love you" because I don't know them. Does that make sense?

We have to think about what we are thinking about. In my world, that is meditation. I can get so caught up in thinking about me. Sad but true. But Jesus gives Joshua a new way. And that way is still relevant for us today.

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it." (1:8 ESV)

The Book of the Law gives life. And:

direction: 2 Thessalonians 3:5

hope: Romans 5:5

freedom: Galatians 5:1

 joy: Acts 2:28

strength: 1 Corinthians 15:57

If I don't know these things in my "knower" I am prone to mess up.

Why? Because, then.

"For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (8b-9 ESV)

Only then.

We can do a lot of different things with our mouths, spiritually speaking. We can bless. We can curse, we can build up or tear down. (James 3:8-11)

We have to first fill our hearts with the Truth of His Word so that what flows out of us will be helpful to the people within earshot of us. We are called as His Daughters to encourage one another and build each other up.

But it all starts with meditating and confessing the Word of God. We have to eat His words. We talk about what we know. Do we really know and confess the Word? Or do we just read it? I like to read the Word quietly and then I like to read it aloud, put my name in the text, make it personal. We have to get it in on the inside of us.

Did you notice it?

We are to meditate on the Word (first) day (Psalm 119:147) and night (Psalm 63:6), so that we may be careful to do according to all that is written, so we can prosper and have good success.

But wait, there's more. (I've always wanted to say that).  :)

The Lord is commanding us to be strong and courageous. Because He knows all of the ways the enemy works. And he works hard to steal our joy, take away our peace, and to torment us with all manner of lies.

But, the Lord says to us, "Don't be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for I am with you wherever you go." What a promise!

He knows that we will be scared. And we will be frightened. But He doesn't want us to be dismayed (or to lose heart) because He is with us and He has given us His Word to quote in times when we are scared, frightened, overwhelmed, questioning, wondering, worried.

So if the Word is in us, it will come out of our mouth in confession. This is why it is mega important to think about what we are thinking about and make sure it lines up with the Word of God.

"When I discovered Your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear Your name, O LORD God of Heaven's Armies." Jeremiah 15:16 NLT