I’ve been reading through Exodus while on a break from study as part of my daily Bible reading plan. I’ve got to be honest that I haven’t really been reading it with much excitement. The intricate details of the tabernacle and the law that God gives to Moses and his people as He led them out of Egypt is overwhelming. Clearly there’s something in this book of the Bible that the Lord is really wanting me to think through. In His sweet sense of humor, a book I’m reading is doing an overview of Exodus and a children’s devotional I read to my son in the mornings is also going through Exodus right now!

 

As I sit here writing to you and explain what I’m thinking I see my hardness of heart towards God’s Word. My son’s devotional goes through the different meanings of God’s name. Today we read about His name meaning “The Lord Will Provide.” The devotion walked through chapters of Exodus explaining to the reader about the Lord providing the pillar of cloud for the Israelites by day, the pillar of fire by night, the bread from heaven, the quail, the water from rocks, the list goes on. The Lord provided everything that the Israelites needed. In the book I’m reading, Missional Motherhood, the author talks in depth about the details of the tabernacle, the symbolism of it all and the amazing way the Lord provided for His presence to dwell with them because He knew that they needed Him. He was all they needed, and even in the midst of their grumbling and complaining, He chose them, He loved them, and He provided a way even then as His story of redemption was unfolding for His presence to be with them. Oh goodness friends, how easily I take this for granted. I’m almost through the book of Exodus and honestly didn’t give any of this a second thought. It’s so sad to me how easily my mind and heart can veer so far from the Lord and His ways.

 

While this makes me sad to confess to you, oh I am so thankful. Last night I was with a sweet group of women at a Christmas party that all love the Lord by His grace. It was a sweet night of fellowship and just a time to praise and thank the Lord for what He has done this year. We had a time of prayer as some women were experiencing being around people that simply cannot see the Lord right now, they cannot see the truth. As I listened to women pray about this I thought back to our most recent study Heart of a Woman and Laurie saying “It is no small thing to be given the gift of faith.” I have been given eyes to see, eyes to see even when my heart is hard to His truth. This is no small thing. This is such a gift and so worthy to give thanks to the Lord for.

I went back to my Heart of a Woman book this morning and saw a paragraph that I had underlined. This time of year, more than others a lot of times, can steal our focus away from what really matters. I know all too well as I’m preparing for baby boy number two any day now that Christmas can be a time of celebrating God’s provision and God’s coming and the anticipation of Him coming again or it can be about getting Christmas cards out, presents wrapped, my house perfectly decorated, cookies made, traditions started and for me on top of that, curtains hung in the baby’s room, car seats installed, everything spotless, blah, blah. Not that any of those things are bad in and of themselves, I LOVE getting Christmas cards in the mail ha, but goodness the focus can just so easily be off Christ and onto self. This is where I find myself today; my heart hard, my focus on me, but thanks be to God that it doesn’t have to stay this way and He allowed me to see! Maybe you find yourself in a season similar? If so, I pray that you find encouragement in this truth today from Heart of a Woman if you are in Christ.

“Your flesh no longer has power to control you. If may feel like it does, but it’s just an illusion. In the midst of that hour, all you may see is your fear, your anger, or your frustration; you may not be able to see Christ in you at all. You may not feel Christ in you at all. But faith is in the unseen! So believe in what you cannot ‘see’ at that moment. Believe that Christ does dwell within you and tell yourself that the overwhelming feeling of fear, anger, or despair is merely a shadow of fear, an illusion of your old girl that was crucified with Christ and is dead. Tell yourself, ‘If I no longer live and Christ lives in me, I will choose to believe that He can overcome. I do not have to give into my feelings or my circumstances. I will not identify or offer myself to unrighteousness but will instead choose Christ and identify with Christ and offer myself to be an instrument of righteousness. I do not have to fear—I can have faith and trust in God.’ So as you are aware of your limitations, your circumstances, your feelings, your passions, choose to believe that God has given you everything you need; choose to believe He has given you himself. Your weakness? God’s strength. Your sin? God’s grace. Your enemy? God’s shield and strong tower of protection. Your fear? God’s faithfulness….” (Page 156-157).

Just like the Israelites, God provides for us now, but instead of the tabernacle needed for Him to dwell, He actually dwells within us; we are the tabernacle if we are in Christ! And just like God provided everything they needed in the wilderness, as you read above He provides that for us now—Jesus is our bread from heaven (John 6:25-59). Jesus is ALL we need.

Planted for His Glory

Imagine you are walking through a tunnel. You know there is an end; you can see light. But suddenly, you start encountering giant cobwebs (we’ll leave out the spiders in this example!). You have to work hard to move the webs out of the way so you can make your way forward. The webs slow your progress. They are thick, high and wide and they cling to you.

That’s how it is with my thoughts.  My mind can become hindered so quickly by wrong thinking.

Thoughts such as:

“You really should do x.  It will make you look like a better Christian.”

“Look at (whomever).  They have their priorities as a family straight.  Your family should be like that.”

“You’re not reading your Bible or serving the Lord enough. You’re not good enough.”

These thoughts run together, bounce around, and repeat. They can make me question my faith, my beliefs. The enemy whispers lies and I feel enticed to listen. I feel distant from God.  I feel like I am going through the motions and am “faking” my relationship with the Lord.  The webs entangle.

But Jesus says, “…the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).  TRUTH! The truth will free us from the lies of the enemy, from the webs his lies create in our thoughts and minds.  The Bible tells us to “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion” (Eph 6:10-18 NLT, emphasis added).

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.  I need a sword to cut through the webs in my mind.  That sword is God’s Word.

When my mind is caught in this battle (and it is a battle), I can open the Bible to literally any page, and after reading, my mind clears. I may have to read a passage several times before I can even begin to focus on the words.  But eventually, if I keep reading, the Word of God penetrates my mind. My thoughts settle.

I love David’s words: “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” (Psalm 25:5).  He also says, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)

The only way to truth is in God’s Word. The Word, which is alive (Heb 4:12), which makes straight our paths (Prov 3:6), transforms our minds (Romans 12:2) and nourishes our souls.  The Word feeds our faith.  Our faith operates in our thought life.  Do you see the cycle that forms? If we remain in God’s Word, we abide in Christ and He abides in us (John 15:7).  We walk forward.

If your thoughts are entangled in webs of deceit or distraction, if you feel distant from God, I encourage you to simply open your Bible and begin to read. Our great and loving God will meet you.

Growing in Grace
 

 

I have been thinking a lot about controlled demolition, as in the implosion of a building, because of a sermon I heard recently. I’ve always marveled at the engineering that is required to build skyscrapers, particularly the super tall skyscrapers. I have also been fascinated with the precision planning of the implosion of tall buildings and love that a 45-story building can be torn down by a series of explosions without damaging the surrounding buildings. Often the destruction of the old building is done to make room for something new.

I read that when you need to tear down a skyscraper, it is one of the most precisely planned, strategic, and delicately balanced engineering feats you will ever witness. The tallest building ever imploded was 47 stories. When a building is surrounded by other buildings, it is often necessary to implode the building, making it collapse down into its footprint. One explosion after another occurs and large dust clouds form. It can seem like chaos and mass destruction. However, when all the dust settles you can see that it has been a very orderly process and the surrounding buildings remain completely intact and unharmed.

This all reminds me of a series of trials that I have been through. I have felt at times as though it has been chaotic with one explosion after another going off in my heart, leaving billows of dust. It felt very painful and frightening much of the time. It was hard to see what was going on. I wondered what the Lord was allowing to happen. Would there be anything left when it was all over? Would it ever be all over? As it turns out, the Lord was imploding old traditions, strongholds, and ways of thinking in my heart over the past 15 years. I realize now it was all very strategic, precise, and purposeful, yet painful, and at times extremely confusing and frightening. He has an incredibly beautiful way of destroying the old without harming the new and even growing, strengthening, and establishing us in the process. I am still healing from some of the destruction but rejoicing over the new He is building! He has answered so many prayers and given such hope. My heart rejoices and gives thanks! He is doing a new thing!

Psalm 66 came up in my quiet time about a month ago. It has been my prayer of praise and thanksgiving since. It gives further understanding to all the Lord has been doing or allowed in my life and in my husband’s life this past decade or more. Praise be to God, our Lord who sits upon the throne always. He sat as king at the flood, and He sits upon the throne in the midst of all of our trials. He watches over all and protects us and provides for us. He gives us strength and blesses us with peace even in the midst of the most fiery blasts! (Ps. 29:10-11).

I have included Psalm 66 below.
I pray it will be a blessing to you.

Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you. All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” Selah

Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There did we rejoice in him, who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations— let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance. I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will perform my vows to you, that which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls.

In His Hands for His Glory