What are some of the most compelling moments in history? What are a few of the events that have shaped our country and world into what it is now? If you look over the course of history, including ancient and middle history as well as modern times, compiling a list of pivotal moments could go on and on and on. You could make a list as long as Webster’s Dictionary and still not include all the life shaping, cultural influencing, family changing, church influencing events that have taken place during the course of time.
If you were to narrow the search, so to speak, to only include disputes, battles, wars, etc., in your list of world shaping events, you could focus on military actions and government movements and still come up with a pretty hefty catalog.
And there would be one thing all these particular occurences had in common ~ those going into the battles were prepared. They had been trained. They had been equipped. They were prepared with a battle plan. They were prepared with a plan of attack. They were prepared with their armor. They were prepared with their weapons.
A soldier would never go into battle without all of these things in place ~ training, a plan, armor, and weaponry. He would never walk out onto the battlefield, willy-nilly, hoping for the best results possible, hoping it would all turn out okay. No.
So what about us? Are we prepared for the battles we face every day? Do we go to God for a plan? For our armor? For our weapons? He tells us in His word that our battles are not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of this world.
Do you remember the scene from the movie Bambi when Thumper the rabbit says to one of the other forest animals, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all” ? I bet I’m not the only mom who has repeatedly reminded my kids (and myself if I’m being honest) of that simple yet profound statement. Our words matter.
Thumper knew what he was talking about. Our words matter. Our words affect the people around us. Our words can build others up, be the wind beneath their wings, can encourage and uplift, or they can tear down, discourage, embarrass, or crush the spirits of others. Our words are an overflow of what is in our hearts.
Matthew 12:34 tells us, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Convicted yet? I know I am. How different our days would be if we really, and I mean REALLY, believed how powerful our words are.
Scripture has much to say about our words, our tongue, and the overflow of our heart.
Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Proverbs 12:18 “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
1 Peter 3:10-12 “For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Pretty powerful words there if you ask me. “For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil…” This portion of the verses in 1 Peter brings me back to my original thoughts when beginning this post. I’m not a big “new year’s resolution” type of gal. I do like to set some personal goals for myself for the new year, with some realistic plans for keeping those goals. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t, but the ones that do almost always are true lifestyle changes that have a real, tangible value.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about 2016. I don’t have my word for the year…it just hasn’t come to me yet, but I have been wondering about changes, goals, etc. and the Lord just keeps reminding me that our thoughts and our words have a profound effect on our days. What if our words are carefully chosen so they are life giving words? What if our hearts overflow with love, grace, and gratitude to the Lord for all He has done for us? How would that change our words?
What if we purpose together, and pray together for our hearts to overflow with life giving words to those around us, as well as to ourselves. 2016 can be a better year than 2015 if we purpose to make that change. Our circumstances and trials may not change, but our heart, our attitude, and our outlook will. And our walk with the Lord will grow exponentially when we meditate on His word and ask Him to change our hearts.
Have you picked your word of the year for 2016? I don’t have my word yet, but at least one of my verses for this year will be Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Sometimes days just seem to come and go and the busy~ness of life begins to take charge of all the details of our day. I’m sure at least some of you can relate. The day starts in a rush, and pretty soon it’s time to feed your people their midday meal, or if you’re at work it’s time for the meeting you were sure wasn’t scheduled until after lunch, but it’s already that time of day, and how did that even come so quickly…didn’t you just get up and brush your teeth two and a half minutes ago! And only about 3 minutes after you feed your people or attend that meeting, it’s time to collapse into bed and end the day, knowing that tomorrow will likely be more of the same.
When life gets hectic and the craziness is around every corner and all up in our faces, if we are completely honest with each other, we would admit that the part of our day that gets bumped off the radar of our priorities is, all too often, the time we spend with our Lord Jesus. And can any of us even explain why we let that happen? Yes, we’re human, we’re sinful, we think we can do this life on our own, but surely we’ve seen often enough that it’s just a mess when we aren’t spending time with our Lord on a daily basis. He is the one that lovingly keeps us grounded; holds us in His hands; gives us His wisdom; convicts us when we are sinning; and so much more. He is our Heavenly Father and His love for us is unfathomable.
When our minds are focused on the things of this world and our daily lives and our problems and our own personal solutions, we lose touch with our Lord Jesus, our God who never leaves us or forsakes us. Our faith in Him and His wondrous works declines and we begin putting our faith in ourselves, our plans, and our solutions. And good grief, what a mess things become then. Our ugly starts spilling out all around us and all over the people who are closest to us and sometimes it spills out enough that it reaches those who we just encounter here and there throughout the day.
Our God is very gracious to us, His people. He doesn’t leave us in our mess, even when it’s a mess we’ve created ourselves. He lovingly convicts us, draws us back to Himself, reveals His truths to us once again, and uses it all for good in our lives and for His ultimate glory to proclaim His excellencies. Just like He did with the people of Israel at the Red Sea, when pharaoh and his men were about to take them over, God rescued them. He provided a way of escape. He parted the Red Sea and led His people across on dry ground. God provides a way of escape for us when we have forgotten to walk with Him in faith. Remember, He draws us back to Himself. He hears our cry in our mess.
Psalm 34:15 “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears toward their cry.”
Psalm 34:17 “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
The lyrics of a song recently spoke to me and reminded me of all that God has done for me and made me wonder once again why I ever let myself walk through these days without walking closely with Him. I don’t know who originally wrote it or originally recorded it, but it surely speaks to my heart.
How Deep The Father’s Love for Us
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.
Walk with Him first and daily, and even the messes and crazy that are this life won’t be more than you can bear. Rest in the Father’s love for us.
Blessings, sweet friend ~
For more encouragement in walking with the Lord, visit the links below. You’ll be glad you did ~
What do you think the results would be if we took a survey of people and asked them about their day, week, month, even year? How many of those people would describe their weeks and even years as carefree, fun, delightful, stress free and energizing? There would probably be a few who would fall into that category, but only a precious few, I’m sure. If you happen to be one of those people, I’m honestly glad for you. If you are one of those, you might decide not to bother reading this post, but I hope you will read on, because chances are you know someone who would be very hesitant to whisk their pen across the survey and describe their life as carefree.
What about you? I know on which side of the survey I would quietly write my name and it wouldn’t be with a carefree, flamboyant swirl of my calligraphy pen. It would be written thoughtfully, carefully, and deliberately in the column with the ones who struggle with hard life, hard days, hard decisions, hard conversations, hard relationships, hard diagnoses, burnt meals, messy homes, anxiety attacks, broken relationships, miles of things that never seem to be completed, and you get the picture…
So what is one to do who writes their name in the “hard” column of the survey? There are lots of options and responses to choose from, and sometimes we don’t even have a split second to “choose” because life comes at us just that fast. We sometimes can barely respond and dare I say we may even react, in those hard moments, moments when we just really wish someone would throw us a lifeline and pull us out of all the “hardness” that seems to always be right there.
“But God…” two of my favorite words in all of scripture, two words that my pastor so faithfully reminds us of on a regular basis. Two words that if they didn’t exist together in scripture, would leave us completely hopeless and lost in our suffering and pain and sin.
Romans 5:8 “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ”
Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail me, but God is my strength and my portion forever.”
Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many souls.”
1 Kings 5:4 “But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster.”
Psalm 49:15 “But God will redeem my life from the grave; He will surely take me to Himself.”
Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of God stands forever.”
Jonah 2:6 “To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God.”
Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
You see, sweet friend, God is enough. Jesus Christ is our salvation. He has provided a way of escape for us from our sin, from our hopelessness, from our pain, from our suffering. He is our only hope. Days will still be hard and all those messy things in life will still be messy. But God redeems us and restores us. He restores us to Himself and to each other. He heals relationships and softens hearts that are like stone. Not every relationship and not every heart, but He is still God and He can be trusted.
He can change our pain and suffering into peace and resolve. Resolve to continue on even when the days might seem to swallow us up, resolve to see things from His perspective, resolve to move and walk in faith and joy, resolve to do the right thing even when it may not be popular with people around you. Days will still be hard and pain and suffering will still come, but God is enough.
Meditate on these scriptures and let God fill you with Himself and His promises. Let Him begin to change your pain and suffering into peace and resolve.
If you’re looking for more encouragement regarding your walk with the Lord, below are links to blogs that I believe will be a true blessing to you.
Imagine a day or time when you felt like things were really clicking, things just seemed to be going smoothly. You felt at ease and comfortable. You were relaxed and had maybe even let down your guard ~ you know, the guard you always kept up just a wee bit to protect yourself from the arrows that may come your way from this world, circumstances, other people. The guard that sometimes is as sturdy as a fortress, but every so often you release some of the fortifications so that it is just a slight hedge, protecting you in the mildest of ways, just in case…
You’re going along, enjoying seeing the horizon that is normally blocked by the fortress, enjoying the freedom of movement that feels so much better without the constraints of the heavy gates, iron latches, and multiple pad locks that are usually in place as a means of protection ~ protection from being misunderstood, judged unfairly, accused, discouraged, and so on. But for a short time the gates are open, the guard is loosened, the fortress is lowered. You are feeling at ease, maybe even willing to be vulnerable, you are comfortable, comfortable in your own skin, so to speak.
Then it comes, seemingly out of nowhere. That arrow of accusation, of misunderstanding who you are at your very core, criticism of your movements because of the freedom you felt for such a brief time, maybe even the feeling that so many things are piling on that you can’t even breathe. Why did you think it was safe to let down the fortifications even for the briefest of moments? Circumstances, disappointments, failures, relationships all have the potential to penetrate even our greatest efforts of protecting ourselves.
Do you have fortifications around your heart with guards posted at every corner? Sometimes I do, and sometimes I wonder why I ever loosen them. Sometimes I wonder why I ever let myself feel comfortable, why I ever let my guard down. When I’m doubting and wondering, I’m so thankful for the reminder that I can go to Jesus, one on one, on a very personal level, without need of an intermediary to send my message to Him, and without any guard posted around the corners of my heart and soul. He is my guard. He is my savior.
I have direct communication with Jesus, my creator, my savior, author and finisher of my faith, the One who holds the entire universe in place, the One who was offered as a sacrifice for my sins. He knows me at my very core, the good and the bad.
He understands the pain, He’s interested in who He created me to become. He understands my weaknesses and my struggles, He knows my gifts and my dreams. He created me. He lovingly convicts me and humbles me, reveals Himself to me, and sanctifies me. He heals my hurts that are caused by the arrows from around me, and He restores the hurts that I inflict on others with my own personal arrows.
I am His and He is mine.
No guards necessary, no fortress needed.
How is your heart feeling right now, sweet friend? Are you hurting? or are you in a sweet place of calm? When the world seems to be crashing on all sides and things just don’t make sense please run to Jesus. He is the only one who can make sense of all the crazy that goes on all around us and right up against us. He is sovereign and He is watching. He is in complete control and He is walking right alongside His children.
1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you.”
Isaiah 26: 3-4 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”
Sweet friend, let your heart run to Jesus! No guards necessary, no fortress needed!