Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm thinkin'...He loves me!

"...His banner over me is love."  Song of Solomon 2:4 (NIV)

In my quiet time a few days ago (in Beth Moore's Praying God's Word Day by Day devotional book...which I use year after year...soooo powerful), I came across a verse that stuck with me ever since...primarily because it was made into a song that has played over and over in my head.  Do you remember singing that chorus repeatedly in youth group or summer camp??  "His banner over me is love.  His banner over me is love...His banner over me is love (2 syllable love)."  So, I couldn't get it off my mind...which caused me to ponder the meaning...and try to picture it in my mind.  I asked my smart hubby about it...about banners in the Bible and such.  I prayed about it, asking the Lord to help me to grasp the meaning.  I don't know if it was God or just odd that those obnoxious Arby's commercials came to me.  You know the ones where someone is in the middle of something real a business meeting...or a wedding...and the bright red Arby's logo pops up over their head and somebody says, "I'm thinkin' Arby's."

Well, I think God's banner is waaayy cooler (and much more beautiful) than that goofy Arby's hat logo!  And what it means to me is waaayy more important than a roast beef sandwich!  Just imagine, when God looks at me...and you...He sees His own hand-woven brilliant, spectacular banner over our heads...embroidered in the finest of fabric and thread with one word written on it.  LOVE.

That's all He sees.  He doesn't see our faults.  He doesn't see our failures.  He just sees LOVE.

He doesn't flip the banner...or switch it with another...ever.  He always sees LOVE.

So, yeah, I'm thinkin' He loves me.  Now that is bliss.

Lord, I pray to walk worthy of that banner.  Help me to You first loved me.  Thank You for Your love that never fails.  Thank You for the Love that paid the price for my that the banner of LOVE is all You see.  I love You. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Below the Surface

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”- Romans 8:35,37 (NIV)

I had a bit of a shocking surprise last weekend.  I was visiting at my parents' home...precious, sweet memories...well, all but one.  You see, at my house in the master bath we have raised sinks.  They are nice for several reasons...less bending over when washing my face or brushing my teeth.  I'm not getting lazy...just less flexible.  They provide a comfortable resting place when leaning over to look in the mirror and apply my mascara (as I battle to find the right distance to meet the needs of my near-sightedness in combination with the far-sightedness that has come with increasing age).  Okay, so I had just gotten out of the shower and started the make-up process and it a bathroom with a standard height sink.  I saw my thighs!  Yikes!  Ugh!!!  What had happened???  When did that all go south???  I couldn't believe what had been hiding below the surface of my sink.

I haven't gotten over that harsh realization.  (I guess I'd better get back on the treadmill...or walking in the neighborhood....Yes, I "fell off the wagon.")  As I mulled over this matter of relative insignificance, God whispered words that I felt worthy of sharing...whether my own frightening experience was or not.

He reminded me that we need to be aware of things that are going on "below the surface" in people's lives...of unsightly circumstances, hearts bulging in brokenness...and share His love.  It's often crystal clear that someone is bearing a burden...the cranky lady in the checkout line, the tearful Mom you saw at school today, the gruff old man at the park.  But many times a smile masks turmoil that bubbles and boils inside.  We need to be less hasty in our judgements...even the ones that believe someone "has it all together."  We need to be more compassionate.  We need to look through the eyes of our Heavenly Father who matter what He sees on the outside or within.  We need to take time to share a smile, an encouraging word, an act of kindness.  As Matthew 25:40 tells us, "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' " (NIV)

Lord, open our eyes to see the needs around us.  Give us wisdom and discernment to assess what You would have us do to be Your arms of comfort, Your words of refreshment, Your means of tangibly meeting a need.    Help us to share Your the the the the those who openly share their pain and to those who hide it below the surface.  Love through us. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

You Can Take It, But Can You Dish It Out??

"For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required."  Luke 12:48 (NKJV)

So, did you read my title and think that I've got it backwards???  Yes, I did take some liberty with that cliche.  However, it must be turned around to make the point that God is pressing into me...somewhat painfully, I might add.  You know how He is the potter and we are the clay?  Well I feel like He is turning me every which way but loose today!

There are many things that are easy to "take" from God. We gladly accept His love...obliviously, at times, not realizing just how lavish His love is.  We accept His forgiveness...even when we flippantly utter "forgive me of my sin"...often forgetting the price that was paid.  We expect God to be patient with wait until we're ready to accept Him, to listen to Him, to make time for Him, or to obey Him.  We enjoy the benefits of grace...unmerited favor.  We are accepted, loved, forgiven, and even favored by the God of the universe.  Ponder that a minute.  Astounding, don't you think? 

"Amazing sweet the sound...that saved a wretch like me."

I am so unworthy.  I don't deserve His love...His forgiveness...His patience...and surely not His favor.  I've neglected Him, at times even walked away from Him.  I've disobeyed Him and sinned against Him.  I've questioned Him and been impatient with Him.  Yet, He shows me mercy and grace...and I "take" it.

But can I dish it out?  I must confess before Him...and to you, that I'm struggling.  Showing love, forgiveness, patience, and grace sometimes seems beyond my realm of capability.  But I must keep reminding myself that it is not beyond His...and that "to whom much is given...much is required."

Lord, I know that in my weakness You are strong.  I'm bowing at Your feet, asking forgiveness, and yielding to you.  Work in my heart.  Transform me.  Thank you for Your grace.  Help me to not only take it, but to give it.  I want to be like You.  Mold me and make me.