#WhoIAm in Him: Toward full Acceptance

Today’s Verse

But those who did welcome Him, those who believed in His name, He authorized to become God’s children, born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. (John 1:12-13, CEB)

john-1-vs-12-13

Exploration

This verse is part of John’s discussion of the acceptance of the Word made flesh (Jesus). Not all were accepting of the man-God in his time — in fact, we find in these and preceding passages that He was being shut out by the majority of his people. He was acknowledged by a few, however, and He regenerated them with his own strength and power — and giving them the rights associated with being children of the Father.

I have undertaken a journey to move from relying on temporal things being a determinant of #WhoIAm to relying on God’s promises.  Thus, my expectation is that #WhoIAm will become fully a function of Whose I am — and I am His — a child with full expectations for unconditional love and support, and sharing in the rights and benefits inherent in his promises.

I have His Word, in writing:

I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:18)

Affirmation

Through his honor and glory he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, that you may share the divine nature and escape from the world’s immorality that sinful craving produces. (2 Peter 1:4)

God never promised a life without pain,

Laughter without tears; or sun without rain.

But He did promise strength for the day, 

Comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

For those who believe in His Heaven above;

He rewards their faith with His everlasting love. (Author Unknown)

Inherent rewards:

In addition to his uncompromising love and support, as a child of God — I am an heir, with standing to inherit.

Because you are sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and if you are his child, then you are also an heir through God. (Galatians 4:6-7)

in my temple and courts, I will give them a monument and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give to them an enduring name that won’t be removed. (Isaiah 56:5, CEB)

Reflection

The path and the end-result are the same no matter who we are, what we have done, or where we come from. Through faith and trust in the Divine Truth.

How?: through the Son and the Spirit — You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26); and All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. (Romans 8:14)

galatians3_26-27

 

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Asking Him for Help: #MovingForward

Today’s Verses

My whole body is completely terrified! But you, LORD! How long will this last? Come back to me, LORD! Deliver me! Save me for the sake of your faithful love! (Psalms 6:3-4, CEB)

Reflection

Being in the midst of  a lengthy period of adversity and trials, this Psalm speaks to my heart and describes some of my feelings. In some of my darkest days, the doubts become so overwhelming that I lose sight of the ways and means to endure and understand why things happen. Reviewing and reflecting on it, helps me refocus my thoughts away from myself and toward the fulfillment of the plan that He has for me, reminding me that things are occurring for very specific reasons, and ultimately that He is there to help me through it.

The verses are part of one of David’s lamentations. Written with the feeling of one who has been humbled and almost broken by an extended time of great troubles — questioning, perhaps whether or not the trials are part of a punishment and when it all may end.  My whole body is completely terrified! But you, LORD! How long will this last?

Moving to a plea for help — Come back to me, LORD! Deliver me! Save me for the sake of your faithful love!

Describing the feelings, emotions, and tolls of the worry prior to seeking intervention:  I’m worn out from groaning. Every night, I drench my bed with tears; I soak my couch all the way through. My vision fails because of my grief; it’s weak because of all my distress.  (Psalms 6: 6-7, CEB)

and exhibiting an understanding of the depth of His mercy: Get away from me, all you evildoers, because the LORD has heard me crying! The LORD has listened to my request. The LORD accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be ashamed and completely terrified; they will be defeated and ashamed instantly. (Psalms 6:8-10, CEB)

Inspiration

In reality, any pleas for Him to come back to me are ill-placed — for He has never left! Yet, it is often difficult for me to remember that He will not lead me to something without reason, nor will He abandon me in its midst —  and ultimately He will lead me through it if I maintain patience, and trust in his faithful love.

Particular verses that come to mind to buoy my trust and patience, include:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6, CEB)

Whenever you cry out to me, I’ll answer. I’ll be with you in troubling times. I’ll save you and glorify you. (Psalms 91:15)

Prayer

LORD, Your love is unfailing! You accept my prayers — always hearing and answering me when I cry out to You. You will always save me, and glorify me. So when I begin to become mired in doubt by relying on my own limited insight into my situation, let me turn my thoughts away from myself and unproductive emotion, and toward absolute trust in You.  In Jesus’ name, I pray, AMEN 

How do you determine your worth? (And why does it always come up short?)

I have earned the respect and admiration of others through a variety of accomplishments and in many cases have outperformed both my own and other’s expectations for me, but I keep pushing for more, because it never seems like it’s enough. I have a great family and support system, the members of which I love and I know that they love me, yet often I have expectations that can’t be met and dreams that go unfulfilled. I have a huge closet full of clothes, shoes, and drawers full of accessories; a nice home, two vehicles, and lots of state-of-the art electronics; but they don’t last … in fact, nothing I have, or do, and no one that I know or love has ever offered enough to fill a lingering void, nor salve deep wounds … and I have found myself in some very dark places over the years as a result.

So as Renee Swope (2011) notes, I often feel “that aching emptiness we know when something or someone fails us — that cannot be filled by food, family, shopping, friends, sex, alcohol, or anything else (p. 56),” further, “If [I] am doing well, [I] feel fulfilled. If [I] am not doing well, [I] feel empty and worthless (p. 58).” Of course, the measurements of doing well are worldly standards and determination of my worth thus often rests with what I call the 4 Ps — people, performance, position/power, and possessions. This seems to cause me to repeatedly come up short, and cannot begin to address the need for healing of my long-broken heart.

Today’s Truth

If as Swope posits, “the wells of our hearts were created to be filled by God alone (p. 60),” then I need to move from reliance on the 4 Ps to reliance on the 3 Gs (Father, Son, and Spirit).

What better place to start than with the one who knows me best:

Psalm139v13_16

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.  (Psalms 139:13-16, NRSV)

No one can possibly know me the way that He does. He determined my path before I was conceived and formed me in my mother’s womb.

Exploration/Affirmation

Because I am one of His creations, I am “wonderfully made.” I was also, as Renee Swope (2011) noted, “made for love that isn’t measured by our last accomplishment but marked by God’s measureless grace (p. 62)”

Proverbs 19 22

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7)

No one can protect and defend me like He can. Nothing can possibly satisfy my needs and desires as He can. And no one else can begin to help me heal my heart like He can.

So, I took some time to refute the 4 Ps, and affirm the 3 Gs as my next step toward gaining #AConfidentHeart:

As to measuring my worth by the 4 Ps standards and measures:

  • Relying on the opinion of others has been disappointing, to say the least — Here you are, trusting in deceptive words to no avail. (Jeremiah 7:8, NRSV) ; no matter how hard I have tried to please or how many accolades I have obtained — the response is often hollow, and sometimes false; thus, It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals. (Psalms 118:8)
  • As for the clothing, the property, the vehicles, and the “toys,” they quickly lose value and must be replaced, not to mention they are of no value when I die — Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19);  but the promises made by God are invaluable thus, I should store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:20-21)
  • The pursuit of position/power yielded little of value when I pursued it with a self-centered intent, for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, (Luke 18:14b); and I did learn from this behavior, adopting a desire to serve — thus (albeit unwittingly) I reaped the benefits of Commit[ting] [my] work to the Lord, and [my] plans [were] established. (Proverbs 16:3) — as, all who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 18:14c) though regrettably only for a short time.

So, as I turn to the 3 Gs, I affirm that:

  • Relying on the Father, means relying on someone willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for me — For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16)
  • To live in the Word and attain all of the promises He made in recognition of the fulfillment of His Father’s will  — I long to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that [I]may be filled with all the fullness of God.
  • Those who trust in their own wits are fools; but those who walk in wisdom come through safely. (Proverbs 28:26) Thus, I seek the Spirit’s counsel in understanding the Divine Truth and finding the words to express myself in properly-motivated prayer.

Inspiration

My goal, then, is to learn to rely on His promises and to seek His mercy and grace daily:

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

Reflection/Prayer

From Paul’s epistle:

LORD, I pray that, according to the riches of [Your] glory, [You] may grant that [I] may be strengthened in [my] inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in [my] heart through faith, as [I] am being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that [I] may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that [I] may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21)

References

NRSV translation of The Holy Bible

Swope, R. (2011). A Confident Heart, Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishers.

#priceless love: its results must be acknowledged

Today’s Truth(s)

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalms 28:7)

Because Your love is better than my life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. (Psalms 63:3-4)

Exploration

I find that the Psalms hold a great deal of wisdom. I have combined these two truths, analyzing the meaning of key words and phrases to form one that serves as a very personal wake-up call for me:

The LORD is the source of my emotional support and my buffer; I trust Him, and I am comforted, and protected. Through His unconditional love and willing intervention I find relief — and I seek to express my gratitude in prayers of thanksgiving , singing his praises, and in encouraging others to do so as well.

Application

One of the things that I tend to have difficulty with is being consistent in expressing my gratitude when I am blessed. I do recognize when my prayers have been answered, and I revel in the feeling of peace and well-being. Then, as quickly as that recognition and euphoria occurs, my focus can shift back to all of the other petitions I have that are as yet unresolved.

When this happens, I am glad that in moments of self-reflection, I am struck by the realization (or perhaps by the hand of the Holy Spirit) that prayer is not merely a transactional exercise — wherein I ask, He gives; but rather it must be part of an ongoing process of building a deep and trusting relationship with God — one where, based on his capacity for love and in light of the desired fulfillment of his promises, I can feel confident that I am moving along the path he intends.

To me, as I seek to build the type of relationship that I desire with Him — while I can feel free to express all of my needs and emotions, I have to remember that my trials and circumstance are intended often to teach me something valuable. I have to be open to accept His help and His grace in dealing with my situation with the understanding that his plan unfolds only as I am able to understand and implement it. When I am blessed, I have to recognize it as a result of His Hand, and give thanks. Then, I have to focus my prayers on building the fortitude to continue to endure any trial or framing the appropriate plea for resolution of any outstanding issues until such time as I have developed the requisite mindset and behavior to accept the intervention and/or carry out the next steps.

Inspiration/Affirmation

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. (Psalms 29:11)

This verse serves as a reinforcement of the truth highlighted from Psalms 28, and also reminds me that this is where my sense of peace is coming from when I am blessed. This is all the more reason to follow through on meeting my goal — working to develop a habit of mind that allows me to balance giving praise when it is due with making additional pleas for understanding, fortitude, and relief.

Prayer

Lord, in giving me strength, you bring me peace; in answering my pleas, you show me your infinite mercy and love.  Through Your intervention I always attain comfort, relief, and protection, and often receive grace in the form of bolstered fortitude and ability to endure.  Let me remember that Your plan unfolds as I am able to understand the lessons inherent in the trials and adversity that I face, and as am capable of applying what I learn as You intend. Let me never forget that Your priceless love deserves my song of praise and thanksgiving. Please help me to always balance my pleas with my praise. In Jesus’ name, I pray, AMEN.