Hope Rising

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thoughts from my journal...

February 6, 2009

I was reading this traditional rabbinic blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 to bless a friend who is going through a difficult time, and saw these verses differently tonight.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (NIV)

“God bless you and keep you, God smile on you and gift you, God look you full in the face and make you prosper.” (MSG)

The phrase “the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace” jumped out at me.  Or, as The Message puts it, “God look you full in the face”….I so want that in my life.  I want God to look me full in the face.  I want to experience His gaze, to see the love in His eyes, the reassurance in His direct stare.  I want to feel His eyes upon me—I know He’s watching, because the Proverbs 15:3 declares, the “eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”  But to have His face completely turned toward my face—eye to eye—implies that His full attention is turned towards me.

It also makes me ask myself a couple of questions:

When His face is turned toward me, what will He see?   
When He is looking me full in the face, what else will matter?

And, what a beautiful blessing--to pray for others that the God of the universe would look them  full in the face and give them peace.

When His face is turned toward us, and His full gaze shines graciously upon us, and as our hearts are right with Him, may we experience His full blessing and peace.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jesus is Really Big in My Heart

This is a devotional that I was asked to write recently.  I based it off of this original blog post.

Over the last year, I've been teaching my young son how important it is to pray, "Search me, O God, and know my heart...see if there is any wicked way in me..." every day (Psalm 139:23,24). When he's done praying the prayer, I encourage him to be quiet and to listen with his heart to see if Jesus is telling him anything.

One night as we were ending our day by reading his Bible, I reminded my son again that we should pray the "Search my heart" prayer.  He prayed, and then I began to remind him to be quiet and listen to what Jesus was telling him.

As I was speaking, he interrupted me and said excitedly, "I hear Him, I hear Him!" I asked him what Jesus was saying, and with his hand over his heart, my 5 year old son said, "He's making my heart feel warm, and He's really big in my heart!"

What a description of being right with God.

Although I’ve tried to ask God daily to search my heart for many years, recently I find that God has been asking me to let Him search my heart in ways that I traditionally tried to avoid.  Can I allow Him to look into my heart and speak to me about my selfishness?  Or what about my motives--am I self-seeking or manipulative?  What about my reactions or responses when things don't go the way I think they should? For me, the list could go on and on. 

George MacDonald says, "Obedience is the opener of eyes."  As I allow God to show me the ugliness in the hidden places of my heart, I then must obey what He’s telling me to change, and keep allowing Him to scrutinize my life.  Even though it might initially be hard, there is such peace in allowing Him into those places, obeying Him, and walking in complete harmony with my Father.

As you allow God to search your heart, here is a question worth pondering:

When was the last time your heart felt warm, and Jesus was really big in your heart?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dwelling in His shelter, abiding in His shadow...

This passage has been such a comfort to me as I face a difficult week. He is my dwelling place, and He IS good!

Here are a few of the definitions from the original Hebrew of the two words from this passage that have spoken to me the most:

Dwell: to remain, stay

Abide: to lodge, pass the night, to remain

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 

I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!" 

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day;  of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you. 

You will only look on with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. 

For you have made the LORD, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. 

No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. 

For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.

They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down. 

"Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. 

"He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will   rescue him and honor him.

"With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation." 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How much they might be...

...most women affect me only as valuable crude material out of which precious things are making.  How much they might be, must be, shall be!... for until aspiration brings humility, people are generally well satisfied with themselves, having no idea what poor creatures they are.
George MacDonald 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Masculine and feminine roles...

Acceptance of their respective positions frees them both and whirls them into joy.
A woman in the presence of a good man, a real man, loves being a woman.  His strength allows her feminine heart to flourish.  His pursuit draws out her beauty.  And a man in the presence of a real woman loves being a man.  Her beauty arouses him to play the man; it draws out his strength.  She inspires him to be a hero.  Would that we all were so fortunate.  ~John and Stasi Eldredge

...men are designed to initiate, pursue, assert, protect, conquer, or whatever you want to call those traits that we refer to as masculine...When asked about their relationships, women talk a lot about desiring to respond, desiring to be pursued, wanted, initiated with, and so forth...a man's strength allows her to be all she is created to be. So guys, wake up.  God gave you testosterone, so use it. Step out, initiate, pursue, and stop being so passive. ~ Henry Cloud

If two people agree to dance together they agree to give and take, one to lead, and one to follow.  This is what a dance is. Insistence that both lead means there won't be any dance.  It is the woman's delighted yielding to the man's lead that gives him freedom.  It is the man's willingness to take the lead that gives her freedom.  Acceptance of their respective positions frees them both and whirls them into joy.~Elisabeth Elliot

Call me old fashioned, but my "feminine heart" would tell you that these statements are quite true. I read each of these quotes within several months of each other, and it struck me how similar they were in their wisdom...good stuff, IM*humble*O. :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

"I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me..."

A prayer speaking to my heart after a sleepless night...
O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray and gather my thoughts to you, I cannot do it alone.
In me it is dark, but with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not desert me;
My courage fails me, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace;
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me.
Father in Heaven praise and thanks be to you for the night.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Written in Tegel prison, Berlin
As much as God has done a healing work in me, there are some nights that are still very hard.  Last night was one of them...when my courage failed me, and my faith was weak.

In those times, I may struggle to praise Him, but I know that is what I must do...so this morning, I lift Him up again, with a thankful heart, knowing that my life is in His all-powerful, all-sufficient hands, believing that His plan for me is good.

***And here's hoping that 4 cups of coffee will be enough to get me through this day... :D