Love God

30 06 2014

“Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.” – Augustine of Hippo

I read this statement by Augustine years ago and it has stuck with me. One short sentence that sums up how one is to walk in faith. “Love God and do whatever you please.” I know. I am pausing so that you can go back and read it again. At first glance, it doesn’t seem quite right. But is it?

The two parts of the sentence don’t seem to go together. The first focuses on God, loving Him, serving Him, and centering our hearts on Him. The second phrase seems to run in the opposite direction. I know myself. If I do only as I please, too often I will choose a path that takes me away from God, rather than towards Him.

Psalm 37:4 puts it this way. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

The key to understanding both Augustine and Psalm 37:4 is to see how they are interconnected. When I love God, what pleases me is what pleases Him. When I delight myself in the Lord, He shapes the desires of my heart and fills me with Himself. The way that we love God, focus on Him, delight in His presence, worship before His throne, and come to know His character must transform our actions, attitudes, thoughts, and direction. Loving God means that we will desire to do what pleases Him.

My Jesus Resolution today is to love God and to let that love transform every part of me. Loving God is the constant in the equation. As I love Him, His love begins to shape and change my heart to reflect His own. My selfish desires give way to His will. My pride is shattered by His glory. My self-reliance is transformed into dependence on His grace. What I love, what I crave, and what I desire become reflections of the One whom I love, crave, and desire.





A Prayer Song

27 06 2014

It is over one hundred years old, but the words of this hymn give melody to the prayer of my heart. Written in 1897 by T.O. Chisholm, this song speaks of a deep longing to be like Jesus and a willingness to completely surrender to the Lord. Sing with me?

 

Oh, to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer:

This is my constant longing and prayer;

Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,

Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

 

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee!

Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;

Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;

Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

 

This song echoes the essence of The Jesus Resolution. It gives wings to our desire to be transformed to look more like Jesus. It challenges me to refuse to settle for lesser longings and shallower yearnings and fix my heart completely on being Christlike. It calls me to set down the distractions that pull at my soul, and open up every piece of my life to God’s purpose for my life.

 

My Jesus Resolution today is to sing, pray, and live in the depth of five simple words – Oh, to be like Thee! I really do want those five words to be my constant longing and prayer. Today when I feel stuck, I am going to sing this song. When I face a tough choice, I am going to pray these words. As I walk through my day, I am going to live these words. As I do, I long for His image to be impressed deeply on my heart.





Covered in Grace

25 06 2014

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” – 2 Corinthians 12:9a

These words are speaking loudly to my heart today. Paul received them during a season of pain. Pleading with God to remove the thorn that tormented him, God responded not with freedom from pain, but grace sufficient for the moment.

Can you name your pain? We all carry a burden of pain. It may be physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, or relational. Sometimes it is easy for others to see our pain. Other times, it burrows in deep and invisible. It doesn’t matter what your ache is. Pain rubs our hearts raw. It attacks our confidence, our ability to live out our dreams, and even our faith.

God answers our pain with grace. Whatever we are going through, no matter how dark the night, how oppressive the agony, our God is with us and He pours out His grace in order to help us hold onto His hand and live out His purpose. He gives us sufficient grace. Grace that is enough to meet our needs. Grace big enough to help us take the next step. Grace strong enough to empower us to face a new day. No matter what your day holds, God’s grace will be sufficient, more than enough for your heart.

My Jesus Resolution today is to live in His grace. I tend to pray for release from pain more than eyes open to see the sufficient grace He has already provided for my situation. I want to be so surrendered that God can use even my pain as a frame for His glory and a tool for His purpose. I don’t serve a skimpy, tight-fisted God. Whatever I face today, I will be bathed in a grace so abundant, so lavish, and so rich that it will be able to transform me, even if God doesn’t change my circumstances.





Scavenger Hunt

23 06 2014

Have you ever been on a scavenger hunt? Scavenger hunts are a lot of fun. You are given a list of items to find. The idea is to keep your eyes open as you move around so that you discover what the maker of the list wants you to see. Sometimes you have to bring the items back to the starting line. Other times, you have to take a picture to document your find. Either way, a scavenger hunt challenges to find things that might otherwise escape your notice.

Today I want to invite you to take part in a different kind of scavenger hunt – a thanksgiving scavenger hunt. Use the following list to find things in your day for which you can be thankful. It isn’t a race because everyone who tries gets to experience a little bit more of God’s presence, and that makes us all winners.

  1. Three things that are red.
  2. Something that is soft.
  3. The first thing you see when you look out of a window.
  4. The first thing you notice when you look in the mirror.
  5. Something in your kitchen sink.
  6. Something on your to-do list.
  7. Something in a hard or difficult situation you are facing right now.
  8. Someone who made you smile today.
  9. Something in your closet.
  10. Your favorite words of Jesus.

My Jesus Resolution today is to keep my eyes open. I want to be deliberate about things for which I can be thankful. It isn’t that I am not thankful, but my gratitude often becomes a little stale. I repeat the same list over and over, missing the multitude of small moments through which God reveals Himself in my day. Doing a thanksgiving scavenger hunt helps me to be alert to His presence, sensitive to His power, and humbled by His provision. Ready? Set. Go find God.





Saying Thank You

20 06 2014

Two sentences. That’s all it was. A two sentence note from a former student. Facing a difficult deadline, she remembered something she had learned in class and took a moment to say thanks. She told me what she remembered, and how it made a difference in her day. What impacted me most is how her thank you made a difference in my day.

 

A thank you changes your perspective. It reminds you that your actions and words have power. Telling someone that they have made a difference lets them see themselves in a new light.

 

A thank you is a source of encouragement and hope. The things that we do for each other can make a difference even years later. Never underestimate a smile, hug, or gentle word.

 

Saying thank you expands your world. It helps you look at others with different eyes. It helps you see where God is moving. It lets you notice blessings amidst the burdens.

 

A thank you tells someone that you notice them. So many people walk through this life feeling invisible. Appreciation is like sunlight for the soul.

 

My Jesus Resolution today is to say thank you. God tells us that a gratitude-shaped soul is key to looking like Jesus. Thankfulness changes my eyes, my mouth, my hands, and my heart. Gratitude humbles me and allows me to honor those who touch my life, even in simple ways. I want to be generous with my gratitude, knowing that every time I say thank you I am recognizing His hand on my life and His presence in the world around me.





One Book

18 06 2014

“I want to know one thing: the way to heaven. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. He has written it down in a book. Oh, give me that book! At any price give me the book of God. Let me be a man of one book.” — John Wesley

Perhaps more than at any other time in history, the Bible is easily accessible and available to anyone who wants to read it. In our society, it is as simple as downloading an app or using a search engine or going to a bookstore. While I realize that there are places in this world that do not have the luxury of readily available scriptures, we do. Sometimes I wonder if its easy accessibility has caused us to lose our hunger for the words written in its pages.

The Bible is not a quick snack to be gulped down, but a rich feast to be savored and enjoyed. It is a blueprint for a life built on Christ. It is a compass, map, and guidebook for the journey we all must make. It draws us into the presence of God and invites us to make our home with Him. It is a book that requires attention, time, diligence, courage, and stillness of heart and mind. In the hurry, busyness, and stress of our time, it is difficult to develop a heart that aligns itself with the rhythm of eternity.

My Jesus Resolution today is invest myself in one book. I want John Wesley’s words to be my prayer – Let me be a person of one book. I want the Word of God to define the boundaries of my thoughts, shape the contours of my heart, and transform the brokenness in my soul. I want to be so saturated with His Word that it spills over into my speech, actions, attitudes, and interactions with others. It will require an investment of time and focus. The result will be knowing the only thing that really matters – Jesus.





Little Orange Flowers

16 06 2014

I don’t even know what they are called. Driving down the street, I noticed little orange flowers brightening up the sides of the road. Calling them little orange flowers really does not do them justice. They are deep, dark orange in the center. The petals then move from being rich orange to bright yellow on the tips as they spread out under the sun. Stunning. Each flower is a masterpiece, having been painted by an Artist intent on revealing His glory.

I know I didn’t see those flowers last week as I drove this same route. Next week they will probably be a memory. Today they fulfilled their purpose. Today they pointed to a Creator who delights in beauty. He extravagantly poured splendor onto the side of the road hoping I would notice. Today they revealed a Savior’s interest in the most ordinary part of my day. He graced my drive with glory just to remind me that I am loved. Today He spoke through flowers as He reminded me of His wisdom and His Word.

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” – Matthew 6:30

The care God showered on the little orange flowers by the side of road is just a glimpse into the beauty, power, wisdom, transformation, and glory that He longs to shower on me.

My Jesus Resolution today is to live in the truth revealed by the little orange flowers. God is at work in this world. He moves in nations, controls the winds and the tides, and reveals Himself in little orange flowers. The words that follow in Matthew 6 remind me that I don’t need to be anxious, worried, or troubled. The little orange flowers tell a story about the One who made them. God is in control. He takes care of the smallest details on this earth. His eye is on me. He knows what I need, and He cares enough to plant little orange flowers along the way to remind me.