Tag Results For :: "faith"




Breathing Room

August 21st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.

— C. S. Lewis

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God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer.
When I’m far from anywhere,
down to my last gasp,
I call out, “Guide me
up High Rock Mountain!”

You’ve always given me breathing room,
a place to get away from it all,
A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
an open invitation as your guest.
You’ve always taken me seriously, God,
made me welcome among those who know and love you.

— Psalm 60:1-5, The Message

This morning wasn’t yesterday, or even the day before. Each waking up time seems to have a ready-made agenda by the time my eyes open about where to look, whom to listen to, what to focus on. Am I willing to begin all over again? Whose invitation at the start of this day’s journey will I accept?

One thing is clear: The mountain I start climbing from the moment my eyes and ears open can only be scaled in single steps, one foot after another, with each day’s journey enough by itself, all the way to the top. There is no other way to get where I’m going.

Lord, help me begin all over again each day in the space of Your breathing room. I confess my tendency to focus on the past, to choose today’s itinerary based on previous experience, to set a predetermined schedule about how far I’ll travel in the next twenty-four hours. Guard and keep me on your path as I climb as far and as long as You decide, day by day—in Christ, I pray.



A Prayer for Abigail

August 21st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

— Jim Elliot

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God, teach me lessons for living
so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
I love traveling this freeway!
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom,
and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me—
promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel;
preserve my life through your righteous ways!

— Psalm 119:33-40, The Message

Abigail had an amazing moment last night when she was the first graduate to enter the auditorium, both hands waving. As she wheeled across the stage at the Frank Erwin Center in downtown Austin, the highlights of her life’s journey filled my heart. Through it all, God has strengthened and sustained this remarkable young woman. Her life portrays a shining picture of His beauty and grace.

Lord, bless all of us who rely on Your strength in our weakness. Smooth the path ahead as we travel the road You lead us on. Thank you for the life, the hope, and the peace you alone give. May Your joy be ours—in Christ, we pray.   

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Joining In

May 17th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

O Lord, save us; 
O Lord, grant us success.
 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
 From the house of the Lord we bless you. 


The Lord is God, 
and he has made his light shine upon us.
 With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
 up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
 you are my God, and I will exalt you.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
 his love endures forever.

—   Psalm 118:25-29, NIV

 

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“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand,” declared David (Ps. 16:11, NIV). But we must take time to pray, to wait, to listen. 

How much we need to hear and heed Jesus’ promise that He will strengthen us for the journey ahead and light our way with His unfailing love, grace, and protection. With our hearts focused on God’s kingdom and our minds set on Christ, our hungry souls are strengthened, sustained, and shielded from harm.

Day by day we can lift our souls to the Lord of life, asking Him to lead us, feed us, fortify us, and make us more fruitful: “Fill my cup, Lord—I lift it up, Lord! Come and quench the thirsting of my soul; Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more—Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!”

 

Almighty God, we give Thee thanks for the mighty yearning of the human heart, for the coming of a Savior, and the constant promise of Thy Word that He was to come. In our own souls we repeat the humble sighs and panting aspirations of ancient men and ages, and own that our souls are in darkness and infirmity without faith in Him who comes to bring God to man and man to God. We bless Thee for the tribute we can pay to Him from our very sense of need and dependence, and that our own hearts can so answer, from their wilderness, the cry, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” In us the rough places are to be made smooth, the crooked straight, the mountains of pride brought low, and the valleys of despondency lifted up. O God, prepare Thou the way in us now, and may we welcome anew Thy Holy Child. Hosanna! blessed be He who cometh in the name of the Lord — Amen.

— Samuel Osgood 



Getting in Focus

May 4th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Keep your eyes straight ahead;
ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
and the road will stretch out smooth before you.

— Proverbs 4:25-26

 

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This morning my friend Christine emailed me a copy of this useful chart published by Learning Fundamentals. Its decision tree reminds me of the nerves and synapses that somehow link my heart, mind, and soul together to create focus.

I’m glad that the key element of my decision-making design, not pictured on the chart above, is actually a Person upon whom I can rely for help with getting in focus.

Lord, I need your wisdom today as I focus amidst my distractions. I’m trusting Your Spirit will direct my heart, mind, and soul toward You first. Thank you for the life-giving guidance You alone always provide—in Christ, I pray.

 

Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.

— Phillips Brooks



Listen

April 26th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , ,

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Job answered:

“I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.” — Job 40:3-5, MSG

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Job answered God:

“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’ — Job 42:1-5, MSG

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Silence can be so uncomfortable.

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Lord, as I wait upon you without words or an agenda, quiet my heart and fill my emptiness.

I’m ready to listen.




What Do We Lack?

April 20th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

— Psalm 36:7-9

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In the seventeenth century Francis Quarles wrote, “In having all things but Thee, what have I? Not having Thee, what have my labors got? Let me enjoy but Thee, what further crave I? And having Thee alone, what have I not?”

Indeed, if we belong to Jesus and His Spirit has found a home in our hearts, what do we lack? As we take time out to taste Christ’s eternal bounty, what further do we crave except more of Him? Still, it’s amazingly easy to dismiss this vital truth if our schedules begin to overflow with stressful activity, drain our inner reserves, and cause us to grow weary with life’s complex demands.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good,” David’s psalm invites us. “Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!” (Ps. 34:8, NLT). We don’t have to wait until tomorrow to seek and find the source of our soul’s satisfaction.

 

Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,

Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,

From the best bliss that earth imparts,

We turn unfilled to Thee again.

 

Thy truth unchanged has ever stood,

Thou savest those that on Thee call;

To them that seek Thee, Thou are good,

To them that find Thee, all in all.

 

We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,

And long to feast upon Thee still;

We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,

And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

 

Our restless spirits long for Thee,

Where’er our changeful lot is cast;

Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,

Blest when our faith can hold Thee fast.

 

O Jesus, ever with us stay,

Make all our moments calm and bright;

Chase the dark night of sin away,

Shed o’er the world Thy holy light.

— Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)



A Place Like This

April 19th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!

I’ve always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!

— Psalm 84:1-2, The Message

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A few weeks ago while checking out a realtor’s open house in a nearby neighborhood, to my surprise I found myself entering a residence that seemed like a perfect fit. Though I had no intention whatsoever of making a move to a different address before walking in the door, once inside my imagination took over.

What a beautiful home….

Here’s the kind of place I’ve always longed to live in….

I’ve often dreamed of staying in a room much like this one, where I could….

It’s a given: As long as I’m camped out here on earth, there will be a part of me that will keep longing for my perfect home, no matter where I am, regardless of how plain or attractive my temporary tent is. Even so, until I reach heaven, I’ll continue praying for the grace to realize where I am now.

Lord, open my eyes to Your eternal reality, that I may see today where I am already abiding.

 

“For we know that if the earthly frame that houses us today should be demolished, we possess a building which God has provided—a house not made by human hands, eternal, and in heaven. In this present body we do indeed groan; we yearn to have our heavenly habitation put on over this one—in the hope that, being thus clothed, we shall not find ourselves naked. We groan indeed, we who are enclosed within this earthly frame; we are oppressed because we do not want to have the old body stripped off. Rather our desire is to have the new body put on over it, so that our mortal part may be absorbed into life immortal. God himself has shaped us for this very end; and as a pledge of it he has given us the Spirit.

Therefore we never cease to be confident. We know that so long as we are at home in the body we are exiles from the Lord; faith is our guide, we do not see him. We are confident, I repeat, and would rather leave our home in the body and go to live with the Lord. We therefore make it our ambition, wherever we are, here or there, to be acceptable to him.” — 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 5:1-9, New English Bible



As Thou Hast Been

April 13th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , ,

He’s God, our God, 
      in charge of the whole earth.
   And he remembers, remembers his Covenant— 
      for a thousand generations he’s been as good as his word. 

— Psalm 105:7-8, MSG

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Great. Faithful. Forever. Father.

As I look toward the horizon this afternoon, I can’t see what’s next. I may think I can see around the corner an hour from now, or a week from now. But I really can’t.

So many things this side of heaven seem permanent, fixed, final. But they aren’t.

In whom and what will I place my heart’s hope and trust?

 

 



Off and On

April 7th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. 
   You have bedded me down in lush meadows, 
      you find me quiet pools to drink from. 
   True to your word, 
      you let me catch my breath 
      and send me in the right direction.

— Psalm 23:1-3, MSG

 

“When God finds a [person] that rests in Him and is not easily moved,” noted Catherine of Genoa, “He gives the joy of His presence, which entirely absorbs the soul.”

By diving into the depths of God’s Word and waiting upon Him within it, we learn that Christ’s call to the life above is not just for noteworthy spiritual giants like Catherine of Genoa. It is also for everyday saints like you and me. Through the private posture of our soul, we seek God and His kingdom with the eyes of faith, resolutely taking our thoughts off our circumstances and setting them on things above.

Without question, meditating on the Word of God—sitting down to enjoy the Lord’s spiritual feast—nourishes our soul’s growth. Yet how can we possibly taste, chew, swallow, and digest the meal He has provided if we persist in keeping ourselves on the go, in apparent denial of our soul’s need for rest and stillness, rarely slowing down long enough to listen to our Shepherd’s voice? Why are we still surprised when we experience such troubling hunger pangs, distracting our soul from “the one necessary thing” that truly matters? Then again, our life in Christ does not have to be this way.

As we turn our eyes and ears toward Jesus—waiting in silence, savoring God’s Word—we more and more taste and see God’s goodness. By determinedly directing our heart’s desires toward Christ and depending on Him to satisfy our soul’s deep longings, we find our love for God, and others, grows. 

 



Take

April 7th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Every day, let us renew the consecration to God’s service; every day let us, in His strength, pledge ourselves afresh to do His will, even in the veriest trifle, and to turn aside from anything that may displease Him. He does not bid us bear the burdens of tomorrow, next week, or next year. Every day we are to come to Him in simple obedience and faith, asking Him help to keep us . . . leaving the future always in God’s hands, sure that He can care for it better than we. — Anonymous

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We frequently feel pulled in opposing directions by those who encourage us to look at a job, an investment portfolio, or our looks as the central core of our identity—when our greatest joy and highest privilege as Christians is designed to come from knowing, serving, and loving our Lord, one day at a time.

“I trust in your unfailing love,” David said (Psalm 13:5 ESV). The walk of faith requires that we choose moment by moment where we look for help, surrendering ourselves to the Lord and relinquishing our personal autonomy in this present world. As Christ’s followers, we never have to wait for precisely the perfect moment to surrender ourselves to God; the time to do it is right now, right where we are, with whatever He has already given us.

One day we will stand before Jesus, our earthly lives far behind us. All that we have done, all that we have thought and said, will be shown for what it was—gold, silver, and costly stones, or wood, hay and stubble—as it is revealed in God’s purifying fire. What will remain? For what and whom have we lived? Will we be left with crumbs or a crown?

 

Take my life, and let it be,

Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

Take my moments and my days;

Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

 

Take my hands and let them move

At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet, and let them be

Swift and beautiful for Thee.

 

Take my voice, and let me sing

Always, only, for my King.

Take my lips, and let them be

Filled with messages for thee.

 

Take my silver and my gold;

Not a mite would I withhold.

Take my intellect, and use

Every power as Thou choose.

 

Take my will and make it thine;

It shall be no longer mine.

Take my heart, it is Thine own;

It shall be Thy royal throne.

 

Take my love, I pour

At Thy feet its treasure-store.

Take myself, and I will be

Ever, only, all for Thee.

— Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879)