Monday, June 17, 2013
Thursday, June 6, 2013
1 John 1:5-6. April 15, 2013
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.
I chose this as a way to hold myself accountable to 'thinking light' and not privately allowing myself to 'think darkness'. If God is everything good - everything light symbolizes (truth, beauty, being unashamed, goodness and purity) then darkness is everything that is not of Him. Darkness can take the form of so many things in our thoughts - lust, greed, envy, lies we believe under deception. I can recognize I'm 'thinking darkness' in some situation and do nothing to change it, and eventually let it suck me under to misery. Or, I can actually remind myself that God would have nothing to do with such thoughts. I'm human - I can't magically change what pops into my mind, though I can change what I'm purposefully feeding it, but I can 'take it captive' and call the darkness what it is. If I don't call myself out then I'm basically saying that God and his word are worthless in my life. I can render myself ineffective by allowing dark thoughts to continue.
1 John 1:7-8. May 1, 2013
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
I continued here with verses 7 and 8 because they explain the relationship between our thought lives and our relationships. Now, I'm walking backward from the truth found in 7: If we 'think and walk light' then we are able to have fellowship with one another. That tells me that we can't truly have fellowship with one another if we are 'living darkness'. If I'm hiding thoughts that would cause myself shame, I'm going to likely keep (subconscious) distance between myself and others. If I'm 'behaving darkness' in a way that is evident (subtly or overtly) to others, they will probably sense that I'm not really trustworthy or that red flag will go up in their spirit that says to 'be careful' with me.
The truth here, that applies to both our relationships with God and mankind is this: no authenticity equals no intimacy in relationship. If we are not fully owning up to who we are and who we currently aren't, why should a person accept that and be open with us? I'm not saying that relationships are 50/50 or that there is a form of currency going on there, but I am saying that we would be unwise to really go deep in a relationship if the other person is hiding darkness on purpose, wearing a mask, or especially living opening in darkness.
Furthermore, I was meant for relationship with God...why should I offer Him anything less than all of me? He died for all of me - in process me, future me, even the messed up me that does what I really don't want to do all the time (Romans 7). I need to hold myself accountable to thinking light as He is light in order to stay close to Him, and my relationships with people will follow suit because everyone around me will see that I have nothing to hide. My goal is transparency.
Proverbs 16:6. May 15, 2013
Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.
My first reaction to this verse was that man can make reparations for wrongs done by their love and faithfulness. Then I thought of Hesed kindness. A basic primer on Hesed if you're not familiar: this describes God's one-way kindness, faithfulness and covenant keeping toward man. It's a promise to love that is not dependent on man's ability to reciprocate. In light of that, I now see Proverbs 16:6 more from the opposite perspective: God makes good of our wrongs and sin by HIS love and faithfulness. This is exactly what came by and through Christ. Christ is the expression of the Father's heart to save his creation, the expression of love and faithfulness and endless, one-way grace.
The second part of this reminds me to fear God with a mixture of both respect and actual fear of what a powerful Authority can do when you've done wrong by disobeying them. A great place to visit and see an illustration of what the fear of God (and earthly masters) looks like is Genesis 39. Read it and see how highly Joseph regards Potiphar, but more than that, God. He even goes so far as to literally run away from a married woman attempting to seduce him rather than sin against God and man. Evil was definitely avoided by the fear of the Lord in this case.
Psalm 40:11. June 1, 2013
Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
Continuing on with the Hesed theme...love and faithfulness. Here I'm seeing them as protection. God's love and faithfulness (again I'm looking at that as the physical expression of Jesus) protects me from sin, from eternal consequence, from so many things I'll probably never realize. It's funny that because this is a psalm written from man's perspective, the writer fears that God might not give mercy. It's so natural that we'd think this way since we know so many people (and maybe do this ourselves) that say, "I hope that person gets what they deserve!" Really you just have to watch the news and see how most victims and families of victims respond to their perpetrators. It is so rare to see a human being react to a criminal by desiring mercy for them. Not so with God. He's somehow both just and merciful. Nobody will get cheated out of justice and yet his way of working out our offenses is redemption. Beautiful.
Monday, June 3, 2013
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Monday, April 1, 2013
I have been choosing verses that are close to my life as the weeks go by. Two verses a month: one on the 1st, one on the 15th. So with today being April 1st, I’m on seven. As I go on here I’m going to test myself, knowing there will be some mistakes, but here we go! All seven from memory and nothing else….
LORD, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.
Psalm 26:8 1/1/13
(Coincided with the move in December – was needing to focus on not where I live, but on Who I live with, Who lives in me)
All those the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me.
John 6:37-38 1/15/13
(Because I desperately need reminding that Jesus will never turn me away)
And this is the will of him of sent me, that I should lose none of all those he has given me but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
John 6:39-40 2/1/13
(Jesus is serious about his Father’s desires and will. He is completely faithful to carry out that will to the end of earth as we know it. And for this, I am grateful! He won’t let me go!)
I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them, and that I myself may be in them.
John 17:26 2/15/13
(I was finding it true…when I thought He would just stop communicating with me and leave me in silence, I found Him reaching to me through so many things, making Himself known. I love this scripture because like so many others I’ve chosen so far, these are the words of Jesus. This passage is taken from a prayer Jesus prays over all believers.)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 3/1/13
(Because I was pretty much horrified at how messed up I am and continue to be. I chose this in a time when it was obvious to me that I can’t do the good I want to do, no matter how hard I try. Grace. Grace. Grace. I can’t do this alone.)
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
John 15:9-10 3/15/13
(I was still thinking about my weakness in a particular area of life…knowing that I need to get it together and conform my thoughts to His. This verse is particularly motivating because He’s telling me He loves me and He wants me to stay with Him. “Don’t go there. Don’t think that. Don’t entertain that idea…just hang with me. I want to be with You.” That’s what I was hearing. The way to do that is to seek to obey the things God desires – whether I am great at obedience or not isn’t the part that really matters – it’s just that I’m trying because I’m motivated by His love and want to please Him.)
And that brings us to today…
But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
1 Corinthians 1:27 4/1/13
(Still very aware of my many weaknesses. Still beating myself up and wishing I could get it together….but then came this verse. God CHOSE me, a fool, weak, in full knowledge of who I am. He did it on purpose! In a way, I can be thankful as the special object of his affection. He says in the word after all that He didn’t come for the healthy, but for the sick. And sick I am. I have to find ways to flip all my self-criticisms on their heads and see myself as God sees me…because God flips everything upside down. The first will be last and the last first. Isn’t it wonderful that even in our weakness we have reassurance of God’s love??)
I’ve found that this SSMT experience is making me take a step back and look at God and just fall in love with Him all over again. I’ve been with Him for seventeen years and it’s just getting better and better. We’ve had our ups and downs and really, really hard places. I guess it’s sort of like marriage…well, it is marriage. I hear people say things like, “You think you know the person when you get married and then you spend the rest of your life finding out who they really are.” That’s true of my relationship with Jesus. I love that I keep getting to see more of Him. I love His heart. It’s mind-blowing, really.
I have been thinking of some Jars of Clay lyrics through this memorization process:
Trace the shape of my heart
Till it becomes more familiar to your eyes
I've been lost without you
Cold without your love
It's taken days and nights
To make me realize…
Rescue me from hanging on this line
I won't give up on giving you
The chance to blow my mind
The Eleventh Hour
As I’ve prayed and asked for guidance in choosing the verses that need to be permanently etched in my mind, I’ve sort of felt like God is taking my finger and tracing his heart with it. Letting me touch the heart that beats for me, that is passionately in love with the heart of mankind, repetitiously learning its beautiful form. Saying his words over and over and over, until they just roll off my tongue.
It’s when I compare my thinking without his word to my thoughts as they seek to slip into His truth that I realize how lost I’ve been, how cold, how self-centered. Making the effort to do this personal thing with Him shows me every time: this is not in vain. He’s meeting me here. He’s rescuing me from my own self-seeking attempts to find satisfaction and fulfilled desires and showing me they aren’t out there in a man; they aren’t in beauty or feelings of acceptance, or the lack of struggle or in having enough money or a newer car. They aren’t in success or recognition at work. They aren’t in eating well and exercise. Deep fulfillment, joy, the spark, the chemistry…they are in His heart for me. He still blows my mind after all these years.
I am crazy about this God that I’ve never seen and must wait my whole life to Him see face to face. But the waiting is worth it. Learning his word is learning His love for me. This isn’t wasted. I want to trace His heart more. I want Him to trace mine. Till Love becomes very familiar to my eyes...