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He Delighted

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;  he rescued me because he delighted in me.”  Psalm 18:16-19

When David was a young man he wrote Psalm 18 but, in 2 Samuel 22, he sings it again when he is old. This is a perfect example of how God wants us to receive His grace…fully and freely for the rest of our lives! My favorite portion of this Psalm is the second half of verse 19, “He rescued me because He delighted in me.”  This truth was not for David alone; it applies to you too.  God rescued you because He is delighted in you.

God the Father, like any good parent, delights in His children.  However, unlike human parents God does not expect us to perform on any level to earn His love.  (He delighted in David before He rescued him.)  Therefore, we know that God’s favor does not ebb and flow based on our behavior or circumstance. Whether we succeed or experience failure, are in perfect physical condition or not, memorize books of the bible or struggle to get the homework finished we are His delight. Even when we sin He ushers us into His presence with the gift of confession and repentance because He desires a close intimate relationship with His children.

Fortunately, this applies to our past as well.  We don’t have to clean ourselves up for God to love us.  For example, we had our first child way before I knew God delighted in me.  In my quest for unconditional love I decided I would find it in motherhood.  I delighted in our son but for my sake, not his.  When Sean was a toddler it was clear that he was advanced for his age. This was fertile ground for an insecure woman to plant seeds of conditional acceptance.  These seeds were cultivated during my own youth then preserved in the cracks of a broken heart.  I didn’t know that every sour glance of disapproval was planting lies in the garden of his heart.  Thankfully, God is able to pull up any lies I sowed and, by his grace, restore what has been damaged.  God delights in the fact that we, as broken people, are willing to be made new and gives us this promise, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

So, when the day comes when I can no longer “do” anything for the LORD, because I am secure in the knowledge that He delights in me, I will not despair because He is my Hero who has rescued me from having to live up to standards of perfection that no one can live up to but Jesus.  He loves you and me no matter what because He sees us complete in Christ.  Take comfort in the wondrous truth that there is nothing that can separate you or me from the love of Christ and, in the words of Paul in Philippians 3:13-16, “…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  We press on not to earn God’s love but to please the Father who loves us.  We are free to delight Him without any fear of disapproval, failure or rejection.  How refreshing!

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Ants in the Cupboard

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15

Have you ever returned home from a vacation to find something waiting for you that you’d rather not deal with?
That’s what happened to us last week after returning from visiting our son in Florida. The counter was being used as a superhighway for several dozen large black ants. The first thing I did was investigate where they were coming from and what attracted them in the first place. In the pantry I found what I thought was the source of the problem, a box of cereal that was not quite clipped closed all the way. Creeping exoskeletons hard at work gathering food is a pleasant picture on the Discovery Channel but NOT in your cereal box.
After quickly disposing of the box, ants and all, I cleaned out the pantry, vacuuming pesky ants wherever they showed themselves. Victory! Well, at least we thought so. The next day the ants were back, this time in the coffee cupboard. When Marty opened up the cabinet to grab a coffee mug he found the ants’ hiding place. He graciously began emptying the cabinet and found, in the dark, back corner, a sugar bowl with a loose fitting lid. I am thankful the ants were visible and we were able to recognize the problem. It was dirty work and time consuming. However, in order to have freedom from the pests we had to keep digging and do the work. Along with disinfectant and spraying the house, inside and out, with insecticide, we finally did gain victory.
In the same way God allows visible “pests” in our own lives for the purpose of freedom and victory. When we can recognize ungodly behavior and ways of coping that control others or leave us out of control it is an opportunity to clean out an ant infested cabinet within our own hearts. We see things so differently than God does. He knows the recesses of our hearts and loves us too much not to allow opportunity for freedom this side of heaven. It’s not “just your personality” to be anxious or angry. Something you believe that directly opposes God’s truth is crawling around in your heart and mind. Knowing this is crucial because there is now motivation to allow God to exterminate, clean and fill that space up with His loving truth. This too is hard work and much of what is uncovered may even be disgusting to you. However, this pressing into the pain is analogous to surgery. You allow the doctor to cut you open for the purpose of healing, not masking or harming, even though it may be a painful process.
I’m about six weeks away from offering a discipleship course at our church based on the book by Robert S. McGee called, The Search for Significance. (If you’ve never read the book I highly recommend it.) The first chapter is called “The Light Comes On.” This chapter makes me imagine a dark, forgotten room in a tropical climate full of cockroaches. When the light is turned on they scatter to hide in the darkness. That is what sin does. Our flesh does not want to die so it scatters, hiding itself in the cracks and crevices it hopes we will ignore. It calls itself part of our charm or personality while, at the same time, stinking up the joint.
Again, God loves us so much! The last thing He wants is for us to be living in a sin infested temple. He is also a gentleman who desires to lead you to victory over a life controlled by hidden sin. “Make your thoughts obedient to Christ” by replacing the lies (strongholds) with truth. This, of course, is easier said than done. Like the ants it will take hard work and time.
Are you being controlled by the love of Christ or by a stronghold? There really is no in-between. Lift up those arms in surrender and allow God to shine His light and clean out the ants in your cupboard. Because, It is for freedom sake that Christ has set you free! “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

grace, Hope, Humility, Sanctification

The Last Petal

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” 1 Peter 1:13

Rain and sun are both foe and friend to the flower; giving life yet having the power to destroy.  However, the flower does what it was made to do regardless of the elements.  It brings glory to God whether it lives or dies.  God gave me this poem today as I was contemplating why I feel so beaten up at times and why I still struggle with strongholds of lies after so many years of healing:

A flower blooms in season,

Not fearing scorching heat

Nor does it close to raindrops’ pelting force.

It opens for one reason,

God’s glory will it meet

To serve its purpose, thriving in The Source!

Like us, in good conditions a flower thrives, getting renewed and sustained by both the sun and the rain.  In harsh conditions, though, it may look withered yet stands firm until the last petal falls.  We too are to persevere! God not only calls us to bloom but to persevere in His power through all circumstances.  In other words we are to believe Him at all times.  Believing “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” (Romans 8:28-29). These verses are true, regardless of your past experience or current situation.

Therefore, no matter what, there is a “good” thing happening.  We are all being transformed into the likeness of Christ! So what do we focus on?  Certainly not our failures or irritations!  We are to set our hope on the grace that is coming!  (1 Peter 1:13)  We are to stand, “For the Lord GOD helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.” (Isaiah 50:7)  We are living in order to die for His glory and are to reflect His image not our own.  For someone like me who has experienced dysfunction, rejection and abandonment it is a daily battle.  Every conversation needs to be filtered through God’s truth; “taken captive and made obedient to Christ.”  But, every time I allow God’s chisel to chip away at my selfish, broken heart of stone He becomes clearer than ever before! Oh LORD, if I have to be pelted in order to die so that I may live, let the rain pour down on me! You are my Hope and my Salvation!