Monday, February 8, 2010

On Monday, as on Sunday

Ephesians 6:10 " strong in the Lord and in His mighty power."

Ahh Monday. Perhaps one of the most hated days of the week, a far cry from the love and fanfare of Fridays. Dread and fatigue are usually the first to greet us on Monday mornings. Usually, long lists of duties and errands, which cry out for our attention seemingly simultaneously, follow closely behind. But there is another voice crying out when Monday rolls around. It is the voice of Jesus, our Savior.

He wants to show us that instead approaching the day with fear, disdain and resentment, we can face it with joy and with hope. God's mercies are new every morning. His love never fails, regardless of what the calendar says. This is the day that He has made, we can be glad and rejoice in it. He beckons us to come close and to see Monday from His perspective.

And we have a choice. We can choose to be a prisoner to the Monday monotony. We can opt to start the day lamenting over all that must be done, versus the little time to do it. Or we can look to Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Because He remains faithful, we can approach the day with gratitude at His goodness. He is God on Monday, just as much as He is God on Sunday. Your lists and problems don't intimidate Him. Your emotions don't surprise Him. Your weakness doesn't weaken Him.

This Monday, why not take a different approach? Come to God with a sacrifice of Thanksgiving. Ask Him to help you see this day as a new dawn of opportunity. Dwell not on all that's yet to be done, but dwell instead on all God has already done. See how many times you can recall how faithful He's been in the past. Let it encourage you that He will again remain faithful in the future. Even on Mondays, we can take heart. We can find encouragement and hope to face the week, no matter what it may bring. God is God every day and I want to live like it! How about you?

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Come, Rest

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."(Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

Are you tired this morning? Do you long for the relief of rest? Have you awakened today from sleep only to find it was not enough to satisfy? Does your soul strive to just be at peace?

Jesus is offering you rest. He longs for you to come to Him and to abide in the peace He alone can give. Let the majesty of His presence cause the chaos of your circumstance to diminish to the background. Let the goodness of His love bring comfort to your pain. Allow His grace to cover all of your efforts and striving.

Just Be Still.

And Know He is God.

He is good.

He is enough.

He is rest.

When Jesus came and died in our place, and rose to life again to conquer death, hell and the grave, He bought a way for us to find rest. His rest blankets to the bone, from the height of emotion to the depth of the soul. For every circumstance and every situation, He is enough.

All of our efforts to please God, to measure up, to "keep the law", to be good enough were crucified with Christ on that cross. He bought a way for our souls to find peace forever. If we belong to Christ, sin can't steal it. Death can't. Time can't. Riches or lack of riches cannot. Jobs or joblessness, family or no family, dreams broken or realized, hurtful words or haunting words. These all stand powerless to overtake the rest Christ bought for us with His own blood.

Child of God, your life is paid for. Your sin is paid for. Your righteousness has already been made whole. Your God is enough. Come, Rest. Abide in Your Savior's presence and find the strength you need afresh today. Let Him lead. Let Him carry the burdens of your day. You will find that even when life lodges the heaviest of loads, Christ shoulders them with you, covers you in His yoke and leads you in His abiding love, grace and peace. His arm is never short. His grace is always enough.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Paraphrase)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

He knows

"He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with Him." Daniel 2:22

I don't know where you're at this morning. Maybe you woke up eager to face the day, invigorated by the challenges and adventures ahead. Maybe not. Maybe you woke up with that dark fog over your head and your eyes. Maybe this morning, as Bill Hybels once put it, you're flipping coins - tossing back and forth over whether to just quit. Perhaps the struggle to continue, to keep pursuing, to keep pushing back that addiction, to keep investing in that relationship, to keep doing the right thing with no reward, seems like swinging in the dark.

If so, let this verse be an encouragement to you today. God reveals deep and hidden things. He knows what lies in darkness. And light dwells with Him. Light always overtakes darkness. Whatever your hurts or struggles today, I am praying that God will reveal the deep and hidden things behind them. I pray that He would fill you with courage and belief and inspiration to put one foot in front of the other for one more day. I pray He would give you specific insight and revelation into what ails your soul. And I pray you would find encouragement to know that all of that seed you think you're simply planting in the dark does not go unnoticed. Your Heavenly Father sees. He knows the time and money, the heart and soul, the physical and emotional investments you are making, and those you have already made, to seek His kingdom first.

As you allow Him today to continue to unfold the mystery of His grace in your heart, think about what this scripture says. And look at Daniel 2:27 too: "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries." God knows the dreams and longings, the fears and failures. He knows what lies hidden beneath dark layers. More than any mere man, friend, or professional, He knows.

Why not take a moment now to just sit at His feet, to let Him show you His perspective on your hurts and habits and hangups, on your unrealized dreams, your wavering faith, your struggles with unbelief. Ask Him to do what only He can do, to reveal the mysteries, the dreams, the hopes of your life, to expose, to heal, to renew. May Christ renew your mind and your hope this morning by the washing of His Word. There is no darkness He cannot overtake, for dark is light to Him.

Psalm 139:11-12

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,"

even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Backwards If

"If is a big word." That was one of my Moms favorites to me growing up, and turns out she was right.

If is a concept with which we must all wrestle along the way, most especially when walking out our dreams. What if I'm not funny enough, clever enough or savvy enough? What if no one reads, supports, likes, agrees, etc.? What if I fail? What if I make a good start and never finish? What if it becomes plainly clear to those watching me step out that I don't have what it takes? Yes, "if" is both exhausting and inexhaustible. And it's often that way simply because we're using the backwards if.

What would happen if we re-framed our "ifs" to start from a totally different place?

Look at Galatians 1:10: Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

That perspective changes everything.

Dreams mean nothing when all of our ifs start with man or self. They mean everything when we start with Christ. It doesn't matter if people find us witty or smart or clever. It doesn't matter what our follower count is, on our blogs, in our churches, around the office, or at school. It matters Who we follow. Are we trusting? Are we trusting with more than our bobbing heads and flapping jaws? Are we obeying? Are we more concerned with what God thinks about what we're doing than what our other "audiences" think?

Look at the book of Daniel. Look at the book of Genesis, the life of Joseph. Look at your life and mine. God gives the dream AND He gives the interpretation. We often get that confused. We think we are responsible for both or either, when we're really responsible for neither. It's not the dreams we muster, the plans and grand visions we map and plan out with detailed vigor. Instead, it's the way we respond in trust and in obedience to God's dreams and plans for our lives.

The truth is, no matter the "if", God is bigger. So, press on. Even when your efforts aren't perfect. Even when no one stands up to say "atta boy." Even when dollars and high fives run dry. Keep doing the thing in front of you, because of the faithfulness of the One Who's asked You to do it.

For me right now, my ifs have a lot to do with myself. I know I'm great at starting things, and not so great at finishing. But you know what? The Bible says that God is the Author and the Finisher of our faith! See, no matter the "if", God's bigger.

What are your "ifs" right now? How can I be praying with you for a shift in perspective to see that no matter the "if", God is bigger?