Stuck

22 09 2014

Psalm 119:33-40

Sometimes we get stuck. Stuck in a relationship that bleeds our hearts dry, stuck in a sin that ruptures our faith, stuck in a situation in which we can’t see our way out, or just stuck in a place that saps our joy and pokes holes in our peace. When we are stuck, we feel like we can’t move forward, can’t escape the weight pulling at our souls, or can’t find a way for tomorrow to look different than today.

The fifth stanza of Psalm 119 is a cry to God to move in our lives so that we can go from being stuck to moving forward. Each line of this part of the psalm is a request for movement.

Teach me … let me see beyond the limits of my own understanding.

Give me … provide me with the resources I need to move forward.

Lead me … point me in the right direction.

Incline my heart … pull me away from sin and towards your love.

Confirm to your servant … let me be so certain of your promises that I can see light, even when things are very dark

Turn away the reproach … let grace, rather than fear, define my actions

My Jesus Resolution today is to pray for God to help me move. Sometimes I get stuck. I get in a rut that narrows my perspective, squeezes my confidence, and constricts my hope. But God doesn’t mean for me to live a stuck, just-getting-by, barely-holding-my-head-above-water, kind of life. He is bigger than whatever has me stuck. His power is stronger than the concrete holding my feet to the ground. God designed me to run in His commandments, walk by His side, and soar in His grace. When I move in Him, I get to experience the freedom that He intended for my heart.





A Bigger Heart

19 09 2014

Dr. Seuss was a philosopher and a keen observer of human nature. His stories are vibrant pictures of our hearts, both who we are and who we want to be. My favorite is the story that he wrote in 1957, entitled How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The tale follows a mean-spirited Grinch who is bothered by the holiday festivities that fill the town of Whoville. Determined to squash their joy, he sneaks into town and steals Christmas. Little does he know that the bows, packages, and lights are just the overflow of the love they have in their hearts. Watching the Whos celebrate, even when everything was gone, transforms the Grinch. As the story goes, his heart grew three sizes that day.

“I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!” – Psalm 119:32

The truth is that the Grinch isn’t the only one who needs a bigger heart. My heart squeezes small when I let selfishness run rampant, bitterness bloom, and discouragement dig in deep. The fourth stanza of Psalm 119 contains a prayer and a desperate cry for a bigger heart. Filling ourselves of God’s Word, letting His voice rumble in our souls, and leaning in closer to hear His quiet whisper will stretch our hearts in unimaginable ways. That stretching will shape the contours of who we are. It will change how I see, what I hear, and how I respond to the world around me.

My Jesus Resolution today is to ask God for a bigger heart. Stretching isn’t always comfortable or easy. It requires giving up the familiar in order to be pulled and shaped within the parameters of His purpose. And yet, I want a bigger heart. A bigger heart has more room for joy, peace, praise, and celebration. In the end, a bigger heart will help me look more like Jesus.





Open Eyes

17 09 2014

Psalm 119:17-24

Did you ever play hide and seek as a child? Most people like to be hiders. Very few people enjoy being the seekers. When you hide, you get to hurry around in search of the best place of concealment. You listen carefully for the seeker, holding your breath as they pass by you, hoping that they don’t discover your secret place. There is disappointment if you’re found, but triumph if you remain undiscovered. The seeker, on the other hand, has to close their eyes and count. When they reach 100, they have to do the hard work of searching out the hiders. Victory comes when you discover what has been hidden.

In the third stanza of Psalm 119, the psalmist asks God for open eyes. God doesn’t hide Himself from us, nor is His word a secret. But I still have trouble seeing. Distractions, worries, busyness, pleasures, and enticements make it difficult for me to always see and appreciate the riches of God’s word. Sometimes I read His Word, but fail to really see the beauty it contains. Sometimes I read His Word, but resist surrendering to the transformation it calls me to embrace. And to be honest, sometimes I just want to hide from His voice and do my own thing.

Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Psalm 119:18)

God wants to turn us into seekers. He wants us to search out the wondrous things, amazing truths, deep treasures, and startling beauty that are contained in His Word. He wants us to have hearts that hunger to find His gifts, to enjoy His blessings, and to delight in His wisdom.

My Jesus Resolution today is to pray for open eyes. What might happen if I made Psalm 119:18 my prayer each time I opened my Bible? God wants us to open those pages anticipating being awestruck, challenged, inspired, pierced, and changed. Too often, I open my Bible with my own agenda, hiding my heart from the God who seeks me out. Today I want to be a seeker, and open my eyes in wonder at how God reveals Himself to me in His Word.





Keep It Pure

15 09 2014

Psalm 119:9-16

Purity isn’t really valued in our society. Sure, we all want clean air and fresh water, but purity of heart, mind, and spirit is seen as something naïve or quaint. While protecting the environment is important, God wants us to be vigilant about protecting the purity of our souls.

The second stanza of Psalm 119 begins with a question. “How can a young man keep his way pure?” We are not the only society to struggle with being saturated with sin or immersed in immorality. Just hoping that we can walk through the gauntlet of temptations and distractions unscathed is not going to be enough to keep ourselves pure. If we want to be pure, we have to set up a guard, a sentential, around our hearts. The answer to the psalmist’s question is that purity is best guarded by the Word of God.

When we store up His Word in our hearts, it not only brings us comfort, teaches us about righteousness, and gives us guidance, it offers us a protection that we can’t find anywhere else. His Word helps us navigate through the darkness of our culture. It helps us see His truth in the midst of the world’s lies. It lifts up His standard, offers us a refuge, extends grace, and holds us accountable. It serves as a shield, an anchor, a lamp, and a guardian. When we fill our minds with the Word of God, there isn’t any room left for the impurity of the world.

My Jesus Resolution today is to value my purity. Pure things don’t stay pure by accident. Keeping my way pure requires me to be diligent about setting a guard around my heart. This piece of Psalm 119 challenges me to seek, store up, declare, delight, meditate, fix my eyes, and not forget the riches of His Word. Committing myself to these seven actions sets a guard around my heart that helps me keep it pure.





Wholehearted

12 09 2014

Psalm 119:1-8

Halfhearted is an interesting word. The dictionary defines halfhearted as ‘having or showing little enthusiasm.’ I don’t like to think that I’m halfhearted, when I look in the mirror I can see it. I am halfhearted about things that I have to do, but don’t really want to do. I am halfhearted about things that are hard, difficult, or that stretch me too far. Halfhearted reveals my comfort zones, my pet habits, and the priorities that come to light in my actions, even when my words say something else.

Psalm 119 begins with a blessing on those who seek God with their whole heart. It encourages us to give ourselves diligently, enthusiastically, and wholeheartedly to studying and living the Word of the Lord. What is interesting about God’s Word is that nothing less than our whole heart will do. It is simply not possible to love God’s Word in a halfhearted way and have it be open to the change that He so deeply desires to work in us.

Yet, if I am honest, I too easily give away little pieces of my heart. I give it to smaller pleasures, lesser joys, and selfish satisfactions. That is why I am thankful that these first words in this song about loving God’s Word include a prayer for a wholehearted heart. “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” (Psalm 119:5) I am too easily distracted. I let stress, busyness, and worry pull my eyes and pieces of my heart out of focus. Praying for a heart that is steadfastly, wholly, enthusiastically devoted to His Word is my only hope.

My Jesus Resolution today is to pray for a wholehearted heart. I want my life to be defined by enthusiasm for God’s Word. I long for Him to gather up the pieces of my heart, stitch them together with grace, wash them clean, make them new, and give me a desire to be nothing less than steadfast and wholehearted in my love for Him.





The Middle of the Book

10 09 2014

 

“When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, ‘It is talking to me, and about me.’” –Soren Kierkegaard

Do you have a passage of Scripture that just speaks to your heart? I hope so. I pray that there is a verse, a story, a song, or picture that fires your imagination and ignites your soul. The Bible is meant to do that. It is written to dig in deep, spread its roots, and change the rhythm of our hearts. When it does that, when it comes alive, that is when we have the best chance of being awestruck by His presence and transformed by His grace.

One of the passages that has a deep hold on my heart is found in the middle of the book. Psalm 119 is the prayer of a soul that longs to saturate itself in God’s Word. The psalm rehearses the blessings of living by His Word, contains reminders about the importance of His Word, weeps in repentance over the sin that takes up residence in our lives, and speaks with an aching desire to live a life that is immersed, directed, shaped, and defined by the truths contained in His Word. It is a living, breathing picture of the kind of heart I long to have.

Psalm 119 tugs at me, and I want to share its richness with you. Written as an acrostic poem, each of its twenty-two stanzas starts with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet, unfolding into an amazing picture of someone wholeheartedly devoted to God and His Word. Studies tell us it takes twenty-one days to develop a new habit. Psalm 119 challenges us to fall in love, surrender to deep transformation, and experience overflowing joy in twenty-two stanzas.

My Jesus Resolution today is to open my heart wide to the fullness of His Word. Kierkegaard is right, The Bible isn’t a dry, historical textbook. It is the living, active Word of God. When I read its words, I am drawn into His presence and can hear the whisper of His voice. It is the most personal, intimate book I will ever read. If I am willing to open up the middle of the book, I might just find Jesus growing right in the middle of me.

 





My Closet

8 09 2014

Your closet is sort of a snapshot of your life. Right? The thought is a little intimidating, but it really is true in many ways. Your closet is picture of who you are. It’s where you hang your clothes, stash your stuff, and keep the things that are the most personal to you. Some closets are organized, some are messy, some are big, some are small, some are stuffed to the rafters, and some just stick to the basics. Just like people.

Maybe that’s why what happened in my closet spoke so loudly to me. The muffled crash went unnoticed in the middle of the night. When I got up in the morning and opened the closet door, it looked like someone had come in and tossed my life upside down. Clothes were everywhere, the Christmas present I bought and lost was now in plain sight, and there was a hole in the wall. The rod from which I hung all my hangers and which supported the design of my closet was laying on the floor.

My husband looked things over, while I was just overwhelmed by the chaos. Turns out that whoever hung the rod in the closet had mounted the supports in the drywall, rather than making sure that it was firmly attached to a stud. It looked fine. You couldn’t tell that anything was wrong. Until what was anchoring my closet came apart, and I was left with my life laying all over the floor.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24-25

My Jesus Resolution today is to make sure I’m building my life on the right foundation. Jesus is my Rock. Anything in my life that is built on anything else will not stand. It may look good for a while. I may not notice that anything is wrong until life crashes in and finds me standing in a mess. Building on the right foundation requires investment, deliberateness, and a commitment to anchor my soul in nothing less than the person of Jesus. Storms will hit my life, and my closet, but when I’m anchored in Jesus, at least I know that what is holding me up is rock solid.








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