Christmas Reflections – I need a Savior!

lilandivychristmas2012

This Christmas was different for me.  Although Christmas is always a time of hope, and joy is found in that hope, it can also be a time when things that aren’t right about this world come to the surface and cause grief.  For me, my battle with migraines was at the forefront as I have had one more often than not now for about 2 months.  Because of this I’ve been, for the most part, laying low.  I did our Christmas shopping online and somehow avoided most of the glitter, and often times confusing messages that come with this season.  I had very little exposure to the world’s messages of Christmas and in many ways found my soul much more prepared to worship the king, born for us.  The trial in which I find myself has granted me a clear message.  I need a Savior!  (Talk about a timely Christmas message!)  This is obviously not a new message, but oh so clear and helpful.  The physical suffering I’ve been experiencing has been doing 3 things in me.

1.  The suffering is keeping me reliant.  I need the Lord to help me to persevere.  I need Him to strengthen and to grant perspective. The continuous migraines are helping me to walk minute by minute, hand in hand with Christ.  I need a Savior!

2.  The suffering is spotlighting my sin.  It doesn’t take much time when you’re feeling terribly to realize that you are sinful.  I’ve battled with anger, frustration, impatience, and the list goes on.  By God’s grace and help by the Holy Spirit, I pray that this sin is being uprooted!  I need a Savior!

3.  The suffering is helping me to cry out for/long for my Savior.  My body and soul are crying out to be saved from this broken world.  I am longing for heaven and for my Savior to take me there.  Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!  I need a Savior!

1 Peter 1:3-9  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

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Gripped by fear or dwelling in His house?

As my due date approaches, I’ve found myself in a constant battle of putting off sin.  I’ve allowed myself at times to be gripped by fear, and it hasn’t been pretty.  The months following Lillian’s birth were some of the hardest I’ve ever experienced.  My body felt as if it was shutting down and it was really scary.  My emotions were all over the place and I found myself often feeling a sense of despair.  Here I was with this precious gift from God, my little girl, and in a sense felt like the early weeks/months were a whirlwind of pure survival.  I realize every mom experiences “survival mode” and emotions that don’t make sense, but this was so intense that I often have to run to the Lord with the thoughts and feelings that accompanied this time of great trial.

As I approach another delivery, the battle has begun.  Will I trust the Lord and His plan for me?  Will I trust that even the most difficult of days are for my good?  In a sense I feel badly that I even have this battle.  After losing a precious child to a miscarriage last summer it seems almost ridiculous to be approaching this season with anything but joy and thanksgiving – yet, the reality that my body may not respond well is so real and feels so near.

I’ve been trying to prep my heart and mind for this season.  Listing out verses of truth to fight the lies that will try to creep in and arming myself with songs to make my meditation.  One thing that’s come out of these efforts, as of late, is the realization that the answer to fear and anxiety is immediately turning to God in prayer.  It seems so simple, yet I so often dwell on my fears first, not bow in prayer.  Phil. 4:6 has been ringing in my heart, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Will you pray for me that I will trust my loving, faithful God and quickly turn to Him in everything?  Over the next few weeks/months I’d love to hear (through comments or personal emails) verses/songs of comfort, courage, truth, peace that will help draw my heart and mind to where they are called to be, humbly bowing before my Savior in complete trust.

Psalm 27

“1 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?

When the wicked advance against me
    to devourme,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face! ”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.”

 

Asking for healing?

I found this sermon, by Kevin DeYoung really challenging and convicting as I’ve been convicted lately that I’m lacking in faith.  I’ve been wondering if the root of my lack of faith is the sin of unbelief.  It’s not that I don’t truly believe that the Lord can heal me, because of course when it comes down to it, I believe He is all powerful and able.  On the other hand, it seems that unbelief kind of creeps in and manifests itself in unexpected ways.  After 9 years of living with extreme fatigue, dizziness, etc., I’ve just gotten used to the trial before me and I forget to pray and ask for God’s healing.  I face each day, prayerfully relying on the Lord’s strength to get me through.  In a sense I’m more reliant than a healthy person because I carry around with me a constant reminder that I need help from my powerful God just to complete basic daily tasks.  Oddly enough, when someone is acutely sick, I am quick to pray for God’s healing hand to be about that person.  Honestly, I rarely think to pray for complete healing for myself anymore.

Early on in this battle the Lord began to graciously show me that I could find complete contentment in Him, no matter my circumstances.  I could either embrace my lot and seek to glorify God in the midst, or I could become embittered and frustrated, letting my circumstances rule my life.  By God’s grace, I’ve, for the most part, chosen the first way.  Maybe in a way I’ve grown too comfortable in this trial.  I wonder if I don’t ask for healing because I don’t want to be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. If I’m battling hard for contentment and (usually) winning the battle, why upset things by dwelling on healing?  On the other hand, I think I am called to ask my Father for good gifts and to believe that He indeed can heal me.  It may not be His will to heal me, and I must prepare my heart for this, but receiving a possible “no” as an answer shouldn’t keep me from asking.  It is good and right for me to be asking the Lord continually for healing.  He desires to give good gifts to His children!  I think this is one way where disbelief has certainly crept in, do I truly believe this?

I wonder how many of you wrestle with some of these thoughts/battles?  How do you strike a balance of good desires and asking for good gifts while at the same time humbly submitting to the Lord’s will in all things?

If you’ve wrestled with any of these thoughts, I’d encourage you to listen to this sermon by Kevin DeYoung.  I think it will encourage your heart and you may even find yourself bringing your requests before the Lord with a sense of urgency and confidence!

Matthew 7:7-11

  7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.    9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Humbling Myself and Listening to Truth

In a recent post I mentioned that I’ve been going through (along with my family) the kind of trial where I’ve had to, at times, rely on those around me to point me to the mercies and goodness of Christ.  I was encouraged as I came across this article tonight about emotions.  The following quote really stood out.  No matter what my emotions tell me, clinging to the cross right now includes humbling myself and listening to the Christians around me.

“A wise person listens to the Truth and listens to other people. A wise person listens. And this is no mere listening, as the book of James reminds us. It is really hearing, which doesn’t come naturally.”     ~Ed Welch

Read the entire article here.

Psalm 28:6-9

 “Praise be to the LORD,
       for he has heard my cry for mercy.

  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.

  The LORD is the strength of his people,
       a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.

  Save your people and bless your inheritance;
       be their shepherd and carry them forever.”

“A Greater Blessedness”

This Christmas season, Keith and I were blessed and challenged as we read through this excellent book of advent readings.  I have continued to reflect on a few of the selections that seemed to prick my heart in new ways.  One such reading, by Jonathan Edwards, keeps coming to mind.  Here’s an exerpt from it:

‘”Tis a greater blessedness to have spiritual communion with God and to have a saving intercourse with him by the instances of his Spirit and by the exercise of true devotion than it is to converse with God externally, to see the visible representation and manifestations of his presence and glory, and to hear his voice with the bodily ears as Moses did.  For in this Spiritual intercourse the soul is nigh unto and hath more a particular portion than in any external intercourse.”

It seems in my own life as I read Scripture I find myself thinking thoughts such as, “if I could only see Christ and hear Him say these words then obedience would come more easily,” etc.  I found this selection by Edwards so challenging as he clearly explains how we are SO much more blessed to have “Spiritual Communion” and “saving intercourse” than if we were to sit at Jesus’ feet and literally hear his voice.

The work of Christ on the cross is all I need and yet I so often lose sight of the implications of the Gospel as I go about my day.  The Holy Spirit now dwells in me.  My sins have been atoned for.  My Savior is interceding for me, cheering me on.  I have the hope of Heaven shining brightly and yet too often I let the darkness of this world seep in robbing me of joy and perspective.

Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to see my blessedness!

Union with Christ and Thanksgiving

I was challenged last week as I read this quote by Jerry Bridges in his book “The Practice of Godliness.”

“Thanksgiving is a normal result of a vital union with Christ, and a direct measure of the extent to which we are experiencing the reality of that union in our daily lives.”

Wow, what a humbling reminder that if I’m united with Christ then I will overflow with thanksgiving.  I was challenged as I thought about my own thankfulness (or really lack of!) as a measure of the vitality of my walk with Christ.  I find it so easy to get bogged down by the weight of this world and to allow this to squelch any thankfulness.

Even this week I’ve found myself much more symptomatic and have wrestled with feeling down about how I’m feeling physically.  But if change my focus to seeking union with Christ I am quickly reminded that I am SO incredibly blessed and should be going through my day overflowing with thanksgiving.

Help me Lord to seek your face, to be unified with you in a vital union and for my heart to well up with thanksgiving in a song a praise!

A New Definition of Perfection

My friend Kristen posted about a wedding sermon in which the pastor gave this definition of perfection.  I’ve been meditating on this for weeks now and when I feel overwhelmed by my sinfulness I am encouraged and motivated.  Instead of getting down and focusing on how impossible it is to reach perfection this side of eternity I’m reminded to actively pursue God rather than dwell on myself.

p.s. Warning: if you spend any amount of time reading Kristen’s blog, you will be inspired.  She is an amazing example of perseverance in amazingly difficult circumstances!