Thursday, August 18, 2011

Learning then living.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will direct your path."
Proverbs 3:5

I think the first part of this verse means two very important, very different things. And these principles have grabbed my attention for the past few weeks.

The first way I take it is the typical way that most people translate this passage; we should trust in the Lord with everything that we have. He is sovereign and knows the plans he has for us, so we should leverage everything for this perfect plan. Being devoted is giving everything. Being devoted is trusting Him for everything and with everything we are, do and own. Our understanding of life, love, and the future is so flawed-literally unable to comprehend the infinite and totally perfect ways of God. This is why we are so often drawn to base our idea about God on the doubts and confusion we have about the Bible with all its seemingly contradicting statements. In His mind and with His knowledge they all make perfect sense, and I firmly believe that seeking Him, or "acknowledging" Him, in everything we do will help us to understand and trust Him with our whole heart.

Secondly, I think Jesus, Abba Father, Lover of our souls, is trying to tell us to trust Him with our HEARTS. In the day we live in, people tend to praise dating, marriage, and relationships more than they promote guarding the heart, even though our divorce rate in America is close to 50 percent. In fact, 1 Corinthians 7 tells us the Bible's view on singleness and marriage. It tells us that it is a gift to be single, because that provides undivided devotion to the Lord. So many of us see singleness as deprived of something that will make us whole. Media tells us that marriage is the key to a fulfilled life. Everyone who is happy is "in love". Have we ever thought that maybe loneliness is put in our hearts for us to draw near to the only thing that can satisfy them? The Bible tells us that marriage will bring many troubles and hardships, and even though one day hopefully He will call us to a life of marriage, why do we long for it so immediately? Why can't we embrace our life of undivided devotion to the Lord and seek His face with no distractions? Because when we lean on our own understanding, satan makes us think more and more like the world we live in. We must trust the Lord with our heart. This is the difference in being in the world and not of the world. We must be able to live life pursuing the love, character, and heart of our Creator-not a sinful representation of the Lover of our souls. Then one day, as two people are delighting themselves in the Lord, He will give them both the desire of their hearts- to love and be loved in return by someone who loves Him more than us. How wonderful that day will be! We must guard our hearts and wait patiently. If we place this precious part of us in the palm of God's hand, we can trust that no matter what our hearts go through in the depravity of this world-disappointment, brokenness, sorrow, or simply a lack of joy-He will direct it into the correct path of love.

Check this out. It'll do your heart some good.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We never walk alone. And this is our hope.

I have honestly thought about blogging every week since I left for the summer. The amount of information and knowledge about Jesus, myself, and others that I learned and am still learning is so incredible-words cannot describe it well enough. Laziness was not the issue in my lack of writing, but prioritizing. My body constantly needed rest, my coworkers constantly needed encouragement, and my mind constantly needed refreshment that didn't come often enough. So after time of debriefing, I decided to take one huge thing that the Lord taught me this summer and share. Much of this is inspired by various pastors, friends, and personal revelations that the Lord has used to change my heart and mind, and I am still learning what it looks like to live all this out. The first reason I write this is so that I will never forget what I've learned, and the second that maybe Jesus might speak to you individually through my broken words.

The title of this blog is that our only hope is in the fact that we do not walk alone. More than ever, this summer I realized how we have an advocate-Jesus Christ- but how we also have an adversary-satan. As hard as God is working for us in His will, the devil is constantly working against us in destroying God's will for our lives. So many times this summer I was digging deep into the Word, asking the hard questions to other staff, and seeking the Lord in prayer and deep thought, and the closer I got to the Lord, the more satan clouded my mind with insecurities and distractions to keep me away from my only true Help. Several times I felt so easily attacked mentally and emotionally that I could barely focus on everyday life. Hardships were also happening at home, and the "here and now" was the last thing on my mind. The more responsibility I had, the more my weaknesses and flaws became apparent, pushing me into attention-based actions and selfish thoughts. "In my weakness, Your strength is made complete" became my theme verse.

I had always heard the importance of memorizing scripture and had begun to memorize the book of James for a challenge of Ecclesia. Little did I know how the mind can truly be transformed by the very Word of God. Every thought I took captive and I began to seek ye first the kingdom, begging God to replace these distractions of the devil. He began showing me practical applications of his Living Word that I could not stop thinking about, and through that He saved me day by day out of the devil's traps. He showed me 1 Corinthians 10 where Paul tells us that we do not use earthly weapons, but we fight with divine power to demolish strongholds-physically and mentally.

Every action begins with a belief, every belief with a thought, perfectly explaining that our thought life is so crucial to how we live. Every thought that said I wasn't good enough, Christ replaced it with 1 John 3:1, "How great is the love the Father lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!..." Any thought that said I needed to have it all together was fought with 2 Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness'". The more I tried to be impressive and perfect, the less I allowed Christ's grace to show through me. It's okay for us to be broken-God likes to use broken pieces to make masterpieces. Any time I became anxious or consumed by the future, Christ said, "Trust in [me] with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge [me] and [I] will direct your path." How comforting and assuring are those words. I trusted the Lord with the salvation of my soul, how much more should I trust him with the simplistic things in life.

This tiny article cannot even measure up to the work Jesus did this summer, but one thing I know for sure, God is so good to us. He is so good. And He will never leave us. He walks with us through the valley and on the mountain tops. Hide His words in your heart, trust Him, and run after Him. Because if we go after Jesus and we get everything, Jesus is still better, and if we go after Jesus and it costs us everything, Jesus is still worth it.