Sunday, December 15, 2013

And when I sin...

Scripture tells us that it's the will of the Lord to crush us, His children, at times. It's hard to fully comprehend and understand what that means until you're there. Today I got a simple text from a friend that the Lord used to open a flood gate of covetousness and idolatry in my heart. And it aches.

Jesus saved me nearly 20 years ago. Knowing that the majority of my sin has taken place post conversion is hard to reconcile at times. It's really difficult knowing that the very King who died in my place, the very Messiah I proclaimed to know, love, and follow, is the very Savior that I daily spit upon and whip and nail to the cross.

I've been sitting on these things all day today. In the Lord's sweet love for me, He didn't let me sit in condemnation and shame for long before, once again, taking my eyes off of myself and putting them on Him- and reminding me of His loving promises. As you read these Scriptures, I hope and pray you're encouraged. We sin. We need Jesus- and just as we celebrate now during Advent, He came. He came and brought a redemption and hope that the world had never seen- and we too are partakers of that hope. Rest assured, in your sin there is something so much greater- and it's His grace.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

Come, let us return to the LORD; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up.
Hosea 6:1

"For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid My face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you," says the LORD, your Redeemer. "This is like the days of Noah to Me; as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but My steadfast love shall not depart from you, and My covenant of peace shall not be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:7-10

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

Behold, blessed is the one who God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds, but He binds up; He shatters, but His hands heal.
Job 5:17-18

But He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift up for drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
Hebrews 12:10-13

Out of the depth I cry to You, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared. I will wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Psalm 130

Saturday, December 7, 2013

He's just not that into you...

I watched the movie He's Just Not that Into You today. It's a funny one. I think any woman, single or married, can watch that movie and "get" it. They can easily relate to one of the characters and, in embarrassment or shame, think "oh my gosh, I've done that!" or "crap, that's me..." It seems silly and irrelevant because it's "just a movie" but inwardly, something else, something deeper, is happening.

The first time I saw it a few years ago, I felt a deep sense of shame. I didn't believe I was worthy of pursuit or attractive because of the basics of my personality. The fact that the girls I went with declared "you are so Gigi!" didn't help much. I was mortified, embarrassed, and began to believe that my hopeful heart and ridiculous actions somehow had the power to dictate my love life, or lack thereof. I began to believe the lies that I had screwed up God's entire plan for me and that I was destined to be stuck in singleness for the rest of my life. There are a lot of things that were wrong with that mentality, and I think they are things each one of us, as single women, are prone to. (Side note, as a word of encouragement, the Lord is faithful to sanctify and grow. As the years have passed, these thoughts and tendencies are less and less frequent and my joy in Him is overflowing. He truly is the greatest gift- press into Him and allow Him to do a work on your heart.)

1. We forget Who actually does rule and reign. And it's not us.

We think of ourselves too highly- and too often. We allow our minds to wonder off into so many crazy places, believing that the things we say and the things we do determine the course of our lives. We are the highest authority and we have the power to control not only our lives, but those around us. How terrifying would it be if this were actually true?

In these moments of weakness and sin, fear and doubt, it's good for me to remember the One who has always been and always will be. God was never created- He is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. He sees all things, knows all things, and is everywhere, all the time. That means I'm in His vision. He sees me. He is daily aware of me and I am on His mind at every second of every minute of every day. Not only am I, and all the intricate details of my life, in His vision, but He's the author of my life. He is in control. Psalm 139 reminds me that before there were even any days of my life, He already knew them. Matthew 10 reminds me that the very hairs of my head are numbered. He sees when every sparrow falls, and how much more of a value am I than them? I, who am made in the image of the Creator, my Father, am incredibly and deeply valuable to Him. I am so valuable to Him that He will not give me the reigns of my life. He loves me too much to do that. And He, the God of all wisdom, knowledge, power, and might- wouldn't He know the right course of my life, in spite of me... I can't mess it up.

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 131

No need to worry about the failures to be exposed today. They have all been covered by the blood of Jesus. No need to be discouraged by the "could haves" or "what ifs." All your "coulds" and "ifs" are controlled by your Sovereign Savior. No need to think for a moment that you're beyond hope. Your hope doesn't rest on your power, but on your Savior's amazing grace.
Paul Tripp

Rest assured, your sin, weakness, and failure do not have the power to thwart God's unstoppable redemptive plan.
Paul Tripp

2. Our actions do have consequences, but God never looks at our sin and choose to withhold because He's fed up with us. Nor does He sit around waiting for us to "get our act together" before He blesses us. His gifts are NOT dependent upon our actions, but His character.

Self-righteousness is not only the belief that our right actions should somehow merit His favor, but that our wrong actions should bring about His frustration and anger. Praise God that neither of those are true, and by the grace of God may He sanctify us and eradicate those beliefs. There is nothing that I can do to make God love me any more or any less. It's because He is good that He loves me. At my "best", I am undeserving, yet He loves me. At my worst, I am undeserving, yet He loves me.

Just like that silly movie, there are actions that we partake in (as men and women, single and married) that have consequences. There are patterns that are unholy and ungodly- that are unattractive, unfeminine, unmasculine, and not what the Lord wants for us. But never once does He look at our sin and turn His face from us. Never once does He look at me and think "That When will she get her act together? I'm just ready to give up on her. A husband for her? No way. Definitely not kids. She is just too much!" - the enemy whispers these LIES (call them what they are!) in my head, and as a daughter of the King, I renounce them. I choose to trust God's perfect plan, and I choose to rest in His love and in His promises, not on my ability or my charm. I choose to wait for the Savior's return with hope and expectation. I choose to know Him and commune with Him, knowing that joy and hope is ultimately found in Him.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Matthew 7:11

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:17

When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.
AW Tozer

3. You are never "stuck in" singleness, but intentionally and providentially placed there, for HIS glory and for your good.

If you're single, chances are you've been encouraged to view singleness as a "gift." That isn't an original concept, but one that Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 7. It's interesting if you do a word study on "gift." In Paul's writings, he referred to a "gift" as the ability to encourage and build others up. He is not speaking of the gift you open Christmas morning that entirely excites you and brings a great deal of ecstasy. Tim Keller has some good things to say about this in his book Meaning of Marriage (this is a shameless plug- just go buy it!)

The "gift-ness" of being single for Paul lay in the freedom it gave him to concentrate on ministry in ways that a married man could not. Paul may very well, then, have experienced what we today would call an "emotional struggle" with singleness. He might have wanted to be married. He not only found an ability to live a life of service to God and others in that situation, he discovered (and capitalized on) the unique features of single life (such as time flexibility) to minister with very great effectiveness.
Tim Keller

This life is so much bigger than us. We were created to live for God. We were created to know Him and make Him known. The glory of the gospel is that we get God- and that's good, that's profound, that's life. You were created in His image and in His likeness- for Him. The depth of your personality and your character is for Him. Whether you're extroverted or introverted- male or female - single or married- melancholy or sanguine- athletic or poetic- life of the party or the wall flower- you were created that way for His glory. Use it. Take your eyes off of yourself, learn to walk in humility, and grow to love others more than you love yourself. Use your singleness to bless others and to encourage the body of Christ. Use the uniqueness of your situation to further the Kingdom of God. Use your femininity and your masculinity for His glory.

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us.
Acts 17:26-27

You were created to live for something vastly bigger than you and only grace can make you willing and able. You were hardwired to live for God, so even though you may not be aware of it, every good or bad thing you do today has verticality to it. Remember that every physical, situational, relational glory you'll experience today is meant to point you to the glory of God.
Paul Tripp

4. His perfect love truly does cast away all fear.

Read the following Scripture, and rest. Let your heart be at ease and sit - peacefully - under His love and in His care. He knows you in a deep way that is too profound to put into words. Rest.

I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Psalm 34:4-5

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Nevertheless, I am continually with you. You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel and afterward You will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but You, O LORD, are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:23-26

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:18-19

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Deuteronomy 31:8