FIRST

 

Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
Before I lift my cares
I will lift my arms
I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
And seek You

First


Lauren Daigle’s voice woke me up at 3:30 this morning singing these words from her song, First. How often do I go boldy before the throne of God with a laundry list of my needs and wants? Sometimes we use prayer like a drive-thru at McDonalds…  We give God our order and drive away with a bag of forgiveness and a side of grace riding shotgun and feel like we’ve done our prayer thing for the day! To quote the apostle Paul, “may it never be!” (Romans 3:4)

The way I see it, God doesn’t want my list anyway. He knows what I need already! What He desperately wants is my heart. Me. My self. My soul and spirit. My body and mind. ALL OF ME. In relationship with Him. See, that’s the beautiful thing about the heart of our God… He is never going to force us to come to Him. I can choose to follow my own path, doing my thing, and hoping everything works out. Or I can follow the One who created me, who knows how I work, the One who wrote the manual.

So this morning, even though my heart is heavy and full of burden for people I love and care about, I’m not starting there. I’m sitting here in my nightgown with my coffee and my hands lifted high, offering my heart to God. (In between sentences. 😉) It’s His already, my heart, and I know that He will take good care of it. He can fix it when it breaks. He won’t ever lose it or misplace it. My heart is precious to Him. It’s in good hands. 

Click here to listen to Lauren Daigle’s First.


Drops in the ocean

Where do you go when you want to know? Most of us grab our smart phones and get any information we need in an instant. Is it going to rain tomorrow? There’s an app for that. How many times a day does someone ask a question or speculate on a topic and everyone in the group picks up their phone to look it up? 

Some things I need to know can’t be found on Google. Like how much my husband loves me, or whether my friend’s test results came out okay, or if another friend was accepted for the graduate program she desperately wanted. How about God’s love for me? Can I Google that or should I look elsewhere? The song in my head tells me where to look. It is Drops In The Ocean from Hawk Nelson.

If you want to know
How far my love can go
Just how deep, just how wide
If want to see
How much you mean to me
Look at my hands, look at my side
If you could count the times I say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean

It’s all about relationship. Do I want a relationship with my phone or with people? With God? Our Heavenly Father created us to love us, to be His children. To put down whatever is distracting us from Him and pay attention. How often have we done that with our own kids? “Look at me. What did I say? Pay attention.” This song reminds me of the promise in Romans 8:38-39…

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If I want to know about God’s love for me, I must go to the source and open my Bible. And read it. And reflect on what it says and remember what it says. I must look at the hands and feet of Jesus. I must fix my eyes on the wounds He suffered, the cruelty and shame He took on Himself so that I could live this life He gave me. Thousands of times he has forgiven me, even before I knew I needed forgiveness. More than the drops in the ocean. There’s NOT an app for that!!

Click here to listen to Drops In The Ocean from Hawk Nelson.

Featured image: Drop in the Ocean by David Ardley, 2012. Click here for more information on this artist. 

“It doesn’t matter!” -Grace

I hear a voice, and He calls me “redeemed” when others say I’ll never be enough.

This line from the MercyMe song, Greater, woke me up this morning. Just this line. Isn’t it a wonderful thing that God calls us “redeemed” no matter what anyone else says of us? Even ourselves. As this line played on a loop in my mind while I went about my wake-up routine, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said those same words…. Even ourselves.

I am my own worst enemy. I am self-everything… -Critical, -absorbed, -serving, -deprecating, -fillintheblank. Insert the word “self” in front of each of those words and many others. I have always been too quick to tear myself down. But that’s not what God says of me.

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

Like the song says, “there will be days I lose the battle. But Grace says that it doesn’t matter because the cross already won the war!” I love the full definition of the word redeemed at Merriam-Webster.com. Please read it and know that Christ has done this for you. And me!!!

Full Definition of REDEEM

transitive verb
1
a  :  to buy back :  repurchase

b:  to get or win back

2
:  to free from what distresses or harms: as 

a:  to free from captivity by payment of ransom


b:  to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental


c:  to release from blame or debt :clear


d:  to free from the consequences of sin

3
:  to change for the better :  reform
4
5
a  :  to free from a lien by payment of an amount secured thereby

(1):  to remove the obligation of by payment <the United States Treasury redeems savings bonds on demand>

(2)  :  to exchange for something of value <redeem trading stamps>

c:  to make good :fulfill

6
a  :  to atone for :  expiate <redeem an error>

(1):  to offset the bad effect of

(2)  :  to make worthwhile :  retrieve

Please have a listen to this wonderful song, be prepared to dance. Greater.
Please click here to read Greater from a different perspective written in August last year.

Love Take Me Over

🎶Love, take these words that I’m speaking
Love, take these thoughts that I’m thinking
Love, take me over
Love, fill up all of my space and
Love, stand right here in my place
Love, hear this prayer that I’m praying
Love, take me, Love, take me over
Love, take me over

If you haven’t heard this song from Stephen Curtis Chapman, click here to listen to Love Take Me Over. It’s running through my head early this morning, lifting my spirits. I love the lyrics for the second verse…

This is what I’m sure of, I can only show love
When I really know how loved I am
When it over takes me, then it animates me
Flowing from my heart into my hands

So I’m praying, Father, help my heart believe
That right now You’re singing over me
And fill me up with Your love 🎵

What a simple truth! I can only show love when I really know how loved I am. Romans 5:8 says that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I don’t think any scripture more beautifully describes love than 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

Here’s what I think. God cannot go against His own character and His own word. God is perfect love (1 John 4). By loving ourselves and loving others, we abide in God. I saw one definition of abide that said “continue without fading or being lost.” So if I love myself, and I love others, then I will continue in God’s perfect love… It won’t fade… I won’t be lost in the cracks. If it’s not a loving thing to do, then don’t do it. Period. Because every time we do something UNloving, I think Satan scores another point for his team.

Love above all things. Love take me over!!

Epic Fail

Sometimes? I wish the music would let me sleep! “Love like I’m not scared. Give when it’s not fair.” These words woke me this morning. And my brain being what it is, I went into analyzing mode. Is this a reminder? An admonition?

“Love like I’m not scared.” Am I scared? Who am I afraid to love? Am I not loving enough? Love even though I’m scared? Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If Jesus loved me this much, then why am I scared to love others?

“Give when it’s not fair.” What am I holding back, and from whom? Am I giving myself or just money and things? Jesus gave his everything so that I could have the privilege of giving what others need if I have it.

The lyrics are from Fix my Eyes by For KING & COUNTRY. If I’m going to fix my eyes on Jesus, then I have to look UP! I can’t look down, or behind me, or look to another, or look inside myself. Looking UP requires me to lift my eyes, to raise them higher. Isn’t higher where we all want to be? When we are little kids we want to be picked up, put on daddy’s shoulders so we can see better. We want to get a “raise” in salary at work. We want higher grades in school. When I bake, I want my cakes to rise higher. UP is better.

Loving like I’m not afraid to do so… Giving even when it’s not “fair”… These are things I can do through Christ who gives me strength. Honestly, if I try to do them under my own power, I end up hurting myself and others. Epic fail!!

Click here to listen to Fix My Eyes.

This song sticks in my brain. I hear different pieces of lyric at different times. Click here to read Fix My Eyes written earlier from a completely different perspective.

And another perspective… Memory full. Unable to complete backup.

Featured image: pencil on paper, 1999, Sharon at 14

Fuzzy Faith?

“Not that one… It’s blurly.” My three-year-old granddaughter has been using my phone to snap pictures early this morning. I told her that it was okay… “I’m kinda blurly myself this morning.” A little out of focus. A little fuzzy around the edges.IMG_0758.JPGI think that’s how our faith can get sometimes. Blurry. Out of focus. Fuzzy around the edges. We know we believe in God. We go to church. We pray. But maybe we’re on autopilot, just going through the motions. Maybe that’s why it’s called “practicing” our faith. Like this picture, we know what our faith is supposed to look like, but we have to squint to try to see it clearly. We fear that some of it is our imagination.

The Bible says otherwise!! Hebrews 4:12:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Romans 8:29 says that God’s children are “conformed to the image of his Son.” Somehow, I don’t think our faith can be “blurly” if we are made in HIS image. Jesus is not a fuzzy, out-of-focus, ethereal concept floating out there somewhere. He is real. He lived! He died, and He rose again. He will come back and bring us to himself!

Until that day, we must keep the lens of our minds focused and sharpened on God’s word. Live out our faith every day in the words we say and the things we do. Love above all things, so that our edges don’t have time to get soft and fuzzy. “Blurly, Grandmomma!”

The song in my head this morning is a very old choir anthem called With a Voice of Singing. “Declare ye this, and let it be heard, Hallelujah!!”

Make His praise glorious!!!

Silent

Sometimes I’m speechless. I know that’s hard to believe, but I am a quiet person. Soft spoken, given to long periods of quiet, thought-full. My brain is running all the time, and my personal challenge is to channel all that brain activity.

“Though I’m silent, my heart is crying ’cause I was made to come to You.” These words from Sanctus Real were in my head when I came awake in the pre-dawn morning, and they’ve stuck. The song is called simply Pray. More lyrics…

So I pray
God I need you more than words can say
Right here in this moment
You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray

I’m going to take this song at its face value today. I have several people on my heart this morning, and it can get heavy. But God knows my heart, he knows my need. He knows every situation and person I’m thinking about, and I know that he is already working in those situations. Hebrews 4:16 says we can “then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

For me, “draw near” sometimes means just be still, be quiet, stop. And, in that quiet, I can be confident because the Holy Spirit has it all under control. Romans 8:26 says, “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” So even if it’s just to speak the precious name of Jesus, I’m going to pray. And speaking his name is enough.

Click here to listen to Pray by Sanctus Real

I posted about this song from an Easter perspective back in April. Read Pray here.

The featured image is a shot I got in early March at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. A very quiet place.