Friday, July 25, 2014

The REST of the story...

Right now where I am in life, things are so hectic and many life-changing events have happened, and it seemed like all in a hurry.  It was so easy to say “why all this at the same time”?  But instead God in His wisdom gave me verses to carry me through these times, and they became life to me. 

Psalm 62:1-2  My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

This verse grabbed my attention and I memorized it because it seemed like a great, strong verse to learn.  But it wasn’t until looking at life in retrospect did I realize learning these verses was preparation for a season of change that was coming.  I had no idea how important this verse would become to me until my world was shaken and my soul needed to know that God was my Rock and my Fortress.  I didn’t need “rest” as in no activity; my soul needed to rest in knowing God was in control.  The “rest” is an assurance.

A few months later I was prompted to memorize this verse:
Psalm 116:7  Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.

Again, the word rest!  I learned this verse at what I thought was the end of this particular season of leaning on God’s sovereignty and seeing His goodness.  But it all hit again like a whirlwind as we were planning our move across town.  I don’t know if you’ve moved much (we’re a pastors family… it comes with the territory), but for me across town moves are so much harder than moving states!  Anyway, 3 days prior to this move our daughter went into labor 5 weeks early while her husband was away for the Army!  Talk about timing!!!  REALLY??!!  I was able to be with her as she brought her son into this world and it was THE most amazing experience for me.  Seeing your child bring life into the world is an experience unlike any other, I’m in tears even now.  But my heart grieved for my son-in-law whose loss of witnessing this miracle was my gain.  In the midst of chaos I continually recounted how good God had been!

At one point in labor my daughter was overcome at the timing of all that was happening, and that is when God made the connection for me.  I told my dear sweet baby, “I don’t know why this is happening right now, but it did not take God by surprise.  He is a good God and He is not haphazard.  We can trust in His sovereignty.”  My daughter and I both recall the peace that filled the room after that truth was spoken. 

God might as well have stuck me on the head to finally make the connection between Rest and His Sovereignty!  When we know He is in control, our soul can be at rest.  There is comfort in His sovereignty.  We can know that if God allows something to happen, He has a use for it.  There is glory and good to come from it.   

Over and over again, God is reminding me that He is LORD!!  He reminds me not to look at the circumstance around me, but to look at who He IS!   Do I really believe that He is Lord?  That He is able to “handle” my life?  And can I trust Him with my heart?  I know the answer to all these is “yes” BUT it’s an entirely different thing to LIVE it rather than just KNOW it.  I love this quote from A.W. Tozer, “As God is exalted to the right place in our lives, a thousand problems are solved all at once.” 

So today I ask you not to look around you at your circumstances, but to look to God and exalt Him to His rightful place in your life and in your heart. 

Be at rest once more my friend!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

People Pleasing

I'm reading through Galatians right now and I have come to notice a theme. The Galatians seemed to be people pleasers. I can relate to that. Can you? In fact, in the first chapter, Paul out right calls them people pleasers in verse ten.  Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. I would imagine that before his encounter with God, Paul was a people pleaser. He followed the rules and knew the laws inside and out. It was Paul's glorious encounter with God that killed his people pleasing and people persecuting days for good. 

People pleasing in a learned behavior. It is easily learned, but difficult to unlearn. Whether it was learned as a coping method or as way to advance in the popularity ladder, people pleasing is not pleasing to God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20) You see, we are no longer bound to a life of people pleasing. We are free from the judgments of others. Besides, we are called to be different then this world, so people are going to think we're weird for that fact alone! The Galatians got hung up on this. Paul had to remind them of their new identity in Christ because they kept resorting back to living like they were living before they knew Christ.  

How many of us do the exact same thing?! We get hung up just like the Galatians. While they were trying to please the "important" people of the law, we compromise what we believe to please whom we perceive to be important. However, what the world deems important is incredibly different than what God sees as important. If followers of Christ, keep compromising our identity to make others feel better about themselves, who then will see Christ? Our new identity given to us by the grace of God, is not only for ourselves, it is so others can see that there is a God who hasn't compromised, but has given everything so that they can live in freedom! Eternal freedom. Our people pleasing causes confusion to all those watching us as followers of Christ. Compromising our faith by not saying anything, going with the flow, or biting our tongue as to not offend, is not helpful. It's harmful. It's harmful because Christ gave himself up so that ALL can have a new identity in Him. Those who don't yet know Christ are watching us. They are hearing our words and watching our reactions. Let's point them to Christ with our uncompromising faith!

I say all of this to say, that if we don't define ourselves, others will! Being in the Word daily and claiming God's promises over your life build your identity. You are not a slave to what other people think of you! You know God. You are known by God. The creator of the universe who so intricately placed the beauty in the world, placed that same beauty inside of you. That beauty resonates when you smile and draws others close to God just because Christ is alive in you! Take care not to let the weak and miserable forces of what others think turn you away from your faith. Instead, build a strong uncompromising identity, the very one Christ gave himself for. 

Until the whole world hears,