Archive for the ‘God’s Love’ Category

I Am Not Alone

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

I attend a Small Group of folks from my church who get together and talk about our journeys. We’re currently going through John Eldredge’s book, Waking the Dead. The book is talking about spiritual warfare and how demonic spirits try to get a foothold by getting you to make agreements with them.

Now, I think of myself as good at avoiding negative self-talk. But as I’ve become aware of this, I’ve noticed negative statements about myself which I’m tempted to believe.

I think one tip off that the suggestion might be of the devil? It often comes with the word, “See, . . .”

I’ve noticed lately, I keep getting the thought, “See, you’re all alone.”

It came when my toilet broke. It came when I had to call the police about a problem customer at work. It came when my oldest son had a birthday and I remembered really good times in my marriage. It comes when I think about that nice man I found on a dating site — who hasn’t been online since. It even came when my younger son told me he’s applied to graduate early.

How to fight this?

Being aware of these lies, I think, is the first step.

And the next step is rejecting the lies in the name of Jesus. And filling your mind with the opposing truth.

Deuteronomy 31:8 —

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged.

And what better way to get truth into your heart than to sing it? I’m going to have to order Kari Jobe’s CD that includes this song, “I am not alone.”

Delight

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Happy New Year!

I’m thinking about a Theme for 2015 and verses for 2015, and I’m coming up with “Delight.”

I want to especially remember to Delight in the Lord this year. But also remember that He’s said He delights in me.

How amazing is that?

My verses for 2015 were going to be Psalm 37:3-4 —

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

But after looking through all the verses I can find that use the word “Delight” (See below.), I think I will add Zephaniah 3:17 —

The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.

Using my handy-dandy Strong’s Concordance, I want to look at some other verses that use the word “delight.”

I Samuel 15:22 —

But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burn offerings and sacrifices
as much as obeying the voice of the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Psalm 1:1-3 —

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight ins in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

Psalm 16:5-6 —

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Psalm 18:19 —

He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 35:9 —

Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord
and delight in his salvation.

Psalm 35:27 —

May those who delight in my vindication
shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, “The Lord be exalted,
who delights in the well-being of his servant.”

Psalm 37:23-24 —

If the Lord delights in a man’s way,
he makes his steps firm;
though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Psalm 43:3-4 —

Send forth your light and your truth,
let them guide me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
Then will I go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.

Psalm 51:16-17 —

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 112:1 —

Praise the Lord.
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
who finds great delight in his commands.

Psalm 119:16 —

I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.

Psalm 119:24 —

Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.

Psalm 119:35 —

Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.

Psalm 119:47 —

for I delight in your commands
because I love them.

Psalm 119:77 —

Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.

Psalm 119:92 —

If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.

Psalm 119:143 —

Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands are my delight.

Psalm 119:174 —

I long for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.

Psalm 147:10-11 —

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of a man;
the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Proverbs 11:20 —

The Lord detests men of perverse heart
but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

Proverbs 12:22 —

The Lord detests lying lips,
but he delights in men who are truthful.

Isaiah 61:10-11 —

I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.

Isaiah 62:4 —

No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 —

This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 15:16 —

When your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
O Lord God Almighty.

Micah 7:18-19 —

Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Malachi 3:12 —

“Then all the nations will call you blessed,
for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

I Corinthians 13:6 —

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

What will I delight in this year?

And I hope to remember, through thick and thin, that the Lord delights in me.

What will my Father sing over me this year?

Sunday Songs

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Our pastor is doing a series on Finding Jesus, and today’s topic was Simplicity of Identity.

Alyssa got up and talked about all the different ways we find our identity — from our physical qualities, our job, our hobbies, what our friends say, to quizzes on Facebook. Then they showed this music video:

Pastor Ed’s sermon was from John 6. When we read John 6, we can see how secure Jesus was in his identity and how firm he was about it. And Jesus’ identity is firm and secure because of his connection with the Father.

But the point of John’s biography isn’t to help us identify Jesus. It’s to help us find our identity in Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t ask for us to understand him — He wants us to come to him, to eat and drink of him.

In our lives, we have identity indicators and identity anchors. My identity will be secure if my anchor is my connection to Jesus.

The only way to get free from the crippling identity messages that come at us is to find our anchor in Jesus.

I was especially touched by this sermon because before and after they sang a song that was sung at my wedding — “Take My Life, and Let It Be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.”

But my marriage ended badly, and many messages were flung at me that I was unlovable, a failure, and a cruel person.

But I had honestly prayed on my wedding day, “Take my love, my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure store.” Things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to, but what a nice reminder that God considers me His Beloved.

Beloved. We are beloved by God. He will never let us go.

Sunday Songs – Forgiveness, by Matthew West, with Jonah 4

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

This song, Forgiveness, by Matthew West, has reached out and grabbed me when it plays on the radio lately. I do believe that Forgiveness is the key to living a joyful life. It’s the opposite of bitterness, which eats away your life. I believe that forgiveness is for the person doing the forgiving more than anything. As he says in this song, “The prisoner that it really frees is you.”

Here’s the song:

Today’s sermon was on Jonah 4, and it struck me that Jonah 4 is a story of unforgiveness.

When Jonah tried to run from God, God went after him. Jonah repented and did what God told him to do — but his heart was still bitter.

Jonah preached to the Ninevites, and they repented. He should be happy, right? Instead, he tells God, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

What do you suppose Jonah had against the Ninevites to hate them so much? We know they were barbaric conquerors, and we also know that they conquered Israel’s northern kingdom. We know they fully deserved total destruction from God.

No mention is made of Jonah’s family. What if Assyrian soldiers killed his children? What if they raped and murdered his wife? That would certainly explain his bitterness, hatred, and anger.

My first reaction to those “what ifs” is to think, God would never send Jonah to the Ninevites if that had happened.

Wouldn’t He?

Jonah was so angry with the Ninevites, when God forgave them, he wanted to die. He sat outside the city, hoping God would change His mind and blast them after all.

What if, besides wanting the Ninevites to repent, what if God wanted to free Jonah from his bitterness?

You know, it’s easier to be forgiving when the person in question is suffering for their sin. If everything you hear from them sounds like complete misery, what’s to be angry about? They’re suffering as they deserve. But what if they repent and God forgives them? What if things start going well for them? Why do we feel like it’s up to us to remember how awful they are and all the punishment they deserve? Why do we feel we have to carry the torch for their wrong-ness, to make sure it’s never forgotten?

God put Jonah into the belly of a whale. Jonah had to beg for God’s mercy and face his own need for forgiveness. In chapter 4, with the vine, God tries to make Jonah see those he hates as people, too.

God asks Jonah, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

I love this quotation from George MacDonald about why God cannot forgive those who don’t forgive:

“When we forgive our neighbor, in flows the forgiveness of God’s forgiveness to us. For God to withhold his forgiveness from the one who will not forgive his neighbor is love as well as necessity. If God said, ‘I forgive you,’ to a man who hated his brother, what would it mean to him? How would the man interpret it? Would it not mean to him, ‘You may go on hating. I do not mind it. You have had great provocation, and are justified in your hate.’ No, the hater must be delivered from the hell of his hate, that God’s child should be made the loving child that he meant him to be.” (Wisdom to Live By, p. 162)

What if this is why God specifically sent Jonah to the Ninevites?

I’d like to think Jonah indeed learned from this, that the message of God got through in the end. And I do have reason to hope that: After all, how else did that chapter get into Scripture? Jonah and God were the only ones who were there. I’d like to think Jonah was the one who told people about the aftermath of his preaching. He had some time to think about it, and he added to the story, “Here’s what God taught me in the end.”

And in the process, I’d like to think Jonah stepped out of his prison of bitterness.

And maybe that’s a greater miracle even than God sending the great fish.

Sunday Songs – Stronger

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

I know, I haven’t been posting on Sonderjourneys much lately at all. Today, I’m participating in Mother Reader‘s 48-Hour Book Challenge. How does that relate to this blog post? Well, reading and blogging is allowed to contribute to your time. Now, since most of my daily Quiet Times consist of reading various books, I have no problem counting that in my time.

But I also usually write in my journal about what I’m learning, talking to God.

So I’m going to cheat just a tiny bit and blog about what I’m learning. The appropriate place is this Sonderjourneys blog.

And I’d been meaning to start a series on songs that have blessed me. I’m going to call it Sunday Songs because I love alliteration (gosh, could you tell?) and I’d like to be reminded about this weekly. However, I will feel free to post in this series on other days of the week, and I think the heading will tip people off that these are Christian songs.

Yes, I listen to Christian radio. Yes, I listen to Christian music on CDs. To me, there’s no better way to affirm what I know in my mind and start on the journey of knowing it in my heart.

That’s why I chose “Stronger,” sung by Mandisa. I’ve loved this song for awhile. It makes me want to dance. And it’s so true — but the message is so easy to forget.

Yesterday, this song played on WGTS 91.9 when I was driving to work. And it was a timely reminder. I’m currently on the 23rd day of what was diagnosed as a vestibular migraine. But is it really a vestibular migraine? Everything fits — except the 23 days part. And the last time I had such a long headache, it didn’t stop until I went to the hospital with a stroke.

So, yes, I’m keeping my eyes wide open for any stroke symptoms (and I definitely know what those are) and I’m communicating with neurologists. But in the meantime, it’s easy to get discouraged. That’s where this song comes in.

I do believe that the pain won’t last forever. I do believe that this experience, like so many others, will definitely make me stronger. And especially, I believe that God is right there, that even if it’s hard to see Him, I know that he still cares.

And that is worth dancing and singing about.

Words of Comfort

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

This weekend, I’m doing Mother Reader‘s 48-Hour Book Challenge.  The Challenge is to spend as much time as possible in a 48-hour period reading and blogging.  Though the challenge is targeted to book bloggers, I didn’t see anything in the rules that declared you had to confine your blogging to blogging about books.  So I think this will be a good time to blog about my last eventful few weeks.

On Tuesday, May 11, what I feared happened — I got a RIF notice.  Due to the library budget cuts, they were having a “Reduction in Force.”  The people who got notices were determined by seniority.  I knew that I was right around the cut-off of who would get RIF’d.  And, sure enough, when they gave me the RIF packet, I was told that I was the most senior Librarian I to get RIF’d.  That’s actually rather a good thing — it gives me a better chance of getting placed somewhere else in the county, since placement is also done in order of seniority.

I half-expected it, but there was no denying that I was sad.  I loved my job as a youth services manager — a children’s librarian.  My co-workers at Herndon Fortnightly Library were wonderful.  I worked there more than two years, and it was a wonderful job.  I had a Mother Goose program with babies a few days later, and it dawned on me how much I will miss those sweet babies.

But God provided me with three most gracious things in the day after I got the notice.

First, on the morning of the day I got the notice, when I strongly suspected that my boss had gotten a call from Library Human Resources, and I was going to get a notice that day, a song I’d heard on the radio kept going through my head.  Here’s the song:

One of the primary emotions I was feeling was fear. How would I pay my rent? What if I didn’t find a job? Would I have to give up having work that was so meaningful to me, that did good for the community, that helped people, including small children and families?

When I was driving home from work after getting the RIF notice, I was listening to a book on CD. When the book finished, the radio came on — and they were playing that exact same song, right at the start.

With words like “Be strong in the Lord.  Don’t give up hope,” “Don’t live life in fear,” and “God’s got his hand on you,” “You’re gonna do great things,” and “Take your time and pray,” the song was just exactly what I needed to hear. God was still in control, I was still in His plan, and things were going to be okay.

The second comforting message from God was in a card from my boss, which showed up on my desk after she left work.  The Sunday before was Mother’s Day, and our pastor had three women from the church give the message.  One of them, a friend of mine, has gone through similar things to what God’s been bringing me through.  She talked about how her life fell completely apart, but God found a way to tell her:  Be still.  Listen to me.  That part of the message truly resonated for me.

Then, on the card from my boss, it said: 

“All the truth and beauty,
all the peace and strength you are seeking
are right there in your heart…
Be still and listen.
Be brave and believe.”

The “Be still and listen” resonated with Sunday’s message, and the next line, “Be brave and believe” reminded me that the reason I do not need to fear is that I truly believe that God can work even this out for good.

A third thing truly touched my heart and felt like it was coming straight to my heart from God.  That was in an e-mail from my friend Mabel who is in my Life Group (a small group from my church that meets weekly to share our lives together).

I read her e-mail the day after I got the RIF notice.  I had been having a low-grade headache since I got the news.  I hadn’t been able to sleep much at all that night, and I was feeling tired and sad and beaten down.

She gave me the verse Revelation 3:8 — “I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

She talked about the verse in the e-mail, and how encouraging that was!  Yes, I felt that I had absolutely no strength left.  I had applied to 18 different places, and hadn’t heard anything back except a few rejections.  I had a job that I felt was following God’s calling for me — but now I was losing it.

As God reminded me through Mabel — I am still in God’s hands.

I was a little proud that, after my husband left me, I got my Master’s in Library and Information Science and landed a good job as a librarian.  Now this RIF notice reminded me that this job, was a gift from God, coming exactly when I needed it.  Losing my job felt like a door closing, and I was applying for some jobs that simply didn’t sound as inspiring.  But God was going to open a door for me that no one can shut.  I am safe in His hands.

How good to be reminded of that!

So, God allowed me to go through a dark valley, but He sent me three special words of comfort at the same time.  He is good, and He is loving.