Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Chains That Bind

My devotions this morning refered to Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace".  He sings:  
"My chains are gone. I’ve been set free 
My God, my Savior, has ransomed me.
And like a flood, his mercy reigns.
Unending love. Amazing grace.”

I played the song on YouTube, and as I listened, my thoughts hovered over a beautiful truth that has thrilled my heart with the immensity of it's chains are gone!  I can walk away from the chains that have held me captive to defeat, fear, anxiety and all manner of sin.  We are free to live the abundant life of liberty.  2 Cor. 3:18b says:  " where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."  

We have been given the liberty to choose.

  We can continue to sit in darkness in our chains like a familiar albeit miserable old coat, or we can shrug them off, rise and leave them lying on the floor as we walk out into the light.  There is a human phenomenon called "learned helplessness".  What happens is that if we experience failure repeatedly, we come to believe that there is no way to experience a different outcome and we cease to try...even when circumstances change that would have allowed us to experience success.  Women trapped in abusive marriages can experience learned helplessness and decline to escape their tormentor, even when an avenue such as a shelter opening is provided for them.

Sin can be like an abusive husband who torments us daily and convinces us that we have no way out.  Well, I have news for you!  God provided a way out through Jesus Christ.  His work on the cross loosed the chains of sin, fear and shame that keep us from living the free, abundant life God intended for us.

The power of faith

What is the key?  Why it is faith of course.  Our beliefs are infinitely more powerful than any actual circumstance.  Why does one blind person sit in dark loneliness, feeling worthless and pitiful while another has a vibrant joyous career and social life?  Faith.  Somewhere along the way, they came to believe that such a thing was possible for them and they began to walk according to their belief.  Were there obstacles and failures along the way?  Most certainly, but their deep belief led them to try again and again and adapt and find another way if possible.  But they would not give up. 

I am not just speaking of belief in our intrinsic value or our unique abilities, but of a belief that the work of Christ is finished and that we truly are no longer bound by our chains...whatever they may be.  When we walk according to His will for us, we can be assured that we will find strength to complete the good work He has begun in us.  It is only when we believe the lies of the enemy in that time of temptation that we fall and run back our old ways.  

Walking in freedom can be a very foreign, even scary experience.  We must take courage and hold tight to our Lord and Savior (and the hands of some dear friends who have gone before) and learn to walk, much like I am seeing my beautiful granddaughter begin to take her first faltering steps.  Sometimes she has to sit down, just because she gets so scared!

Eleanor Roosevelt said:  "Do something every day that scares you".  What an adventure life becomes when we live by those words!

Lord Jesus:
Give us faith to walk in the abundant free live you are offering us.  We refuse to listen to the voices of fear, shame, worry and helpessness.  We are free indeed!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Resurrecting an Old Dream

This morning my devotional talked about how God resurrected an old dream that had died for Elizabeth and Zacharrias.  After many years, God chose a point in time to fulfill that dream, even after all hope had died.

 My mind wandered back to a time seven years ago when God spoke to my heart and resurrected an old dream that had died for me.  My dream had been to become a Christian counselor.  I knew this required a great deal of education and had dismissed my dream on the assumption that I could never complete such a long term, rigorous goal.  But something was different this time.  God challenged my faith and I accepted this challenge.  This was the beginning of a journey that would broaden me, heal me, test me and grow me beyond anything I had experienced before this point.

The timing of this devotional was no accident.  I am still in the midst of this journey and have been in a place where there seemed to be an enormous amount of work with very little return.  I was feeling discouraged and wondering if I had somehow wandered off the path.

What a comforting reminder of Gods amazing ways.  The fulfillment of His will in our lives does not depend on our strength....only our willingness to obey and not shrink from His calling on our lives.
Are you feeling the stirrings of God's Spirit blowing amongst your graveyard of long-dead dreams?  Could it be that God is presenting you with the turning point in your life that will reveal all the fullness of purpose for which you were created.  Perhaps God has put you on the earth for just such a time as this.

Or are you the one who has been faithfully walking that dream, and find yourself in a dark valley of discouragement that you fear could be a dead end.  Remember the many stories of God's faithfulness along the way.  He has not left you....he will continue to be faithful and this is just one more set-up for God to show Himself merciful, powerful and infinitely able to be all that we need for the journey.  Do not shrink back dear brothers and sisters.  Press on and His glory will break through like the dawn.  Remember that building endurance is always part of the plan.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

There is a River....

Psalm 46:4
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

I am a human of limited resources.  I have limited money, limited time and limitied capacity to love and care.  There never seems to be enough of me or what I have.

I must join the flow.
I must open the gate on both sides.  First I must open myself to God.  I must let myself receive the love He is pouring out on me and be filled.  I must acknowlege my need for Him and offer Him my flawed, limited resources, inward and outward.  This is the "incoming gate".  If we do this we will be filled, but we will soon fill up and the water will cease to flow in and we will grow stagnant. We must also open up the "outgoing gate". 

We must begin to give out of what we know to be a very limited resource.  But give we must.  This giving must come out of a desire to become part of the river, not because we are feelin compelled by someone or some demanding situation.  We must know this is our choice and that our giving springs from our own faith.  In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus observes a woman throwing the only cash she has, a mere two mites, into the offering.  Jesus commended this woman, because she gave all she had.  She had no care for the void this left in her pocktbook, because she knew THERE IS A RIVER.  She knew that God was her supply and that she could pour out all she had because God would be pouring in just as fast as she poured out.  She would join the flow.  Now, truely, she may not have thought of her giving in these terms.  She most likely merely gave out of a pure desire to honor God and out of a grateful heart.  There is no doubt in my mind, that somehow, someway, God cared for this woman more beautifully than the birds of the air.

How often do we shrink back from what God is calling us to do because of a fear that there will not be "enough" of ....something:  love, money, time or energy.  THERE IS A RIVER!

When we operate out of fear, compulsion, seeking to please others or selfish ambition, we will find a dry and thirsty land all around, but  when we make decisions and act out of a love to please and serve our Lord we will find a river.  We will find that our needs are met, our joy intact and that mercy and goodness shall follow us all the days of our lives (Ps 23).  This dear friends is abundant life!

  Psalm 1:3 says that the man who delights in God's ways and keeps his mind on Him is "like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season. Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper:"

For Inward Reflection:
Am I weary, tired, discouraged and impovered?
Is there some way in my life that I have sought to give or withhold without consulting God?
Is He asking more or less of me than I am currently giving/doing?

Matthew 11:28-30 (New International Version)

 28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."