Philippians 4:9

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

After seeing another just awful paycheck this morning, I felt the need to go to Phil 4:8. To remind myself of God’s goodness, His faithfulness. Then I came to this verse. You do not hear it quoted regularly. I find that a lot with what I consider a power verse like Phil 4:8. They tend to be attached to something so much greater.

I believe wholeheartedly that the Lord speaks to His children. I don’t go around telling people the Lord spoke to me about so and so because that is the quickest way to be labeled a religious fanatic, but He does in fact speak to me. Sometimes, it is through a tugging at my heart. A lot of times it is through His word…the one sure way I know to hear from Him.

This morning-this was my word. I have been on a journey lately. I am learning about so many things here lately…my brain is probably on overload from all the thinking and reading I have been doing. I read an entire book in two days…inhaled its message, and I have been wrestling ever since. I say I now know what it means to wrestle with God because normally I have one of two responses: run and hide or immediately obey. If I do have a wrestling moment, it typically leads rather quickly to the former. But I have been wrestling now for days, and I am not backing down. This time I know there is too much to lose.

The book was 7 by Jen Hatmaker. The tagline indicated a mutiny against excess. I don’t know about you, but I have it good. I don’t feel like I have much money and I don’t live extravagantly, but I have clutter. I consistenty feel like I do not want anything in my pantry for dinner (even with all those options) and decide to grab food elsewhere. I can somehow turn a want into a need. I. Am. Spoiled.

And now I am being called to change that. Insert wrestling match. I think it is good to wrestle with God…I am not saying no to Him…I am slowly determining what it is that He wants in my specific situation. She ate 7 foods for a month. I want a lifelong change…how do I make that happen? Thus far the answer is to empty my pantry by using everything I have in there until it is gone. So why did I eat out last night? I still have so very far to go.

So when I got to this verse I was hit right between the eyes. Putting into practice what the Lord has revealed to me personally is NOT easy. If I am going to cook, I so want to be able to go buy fresh food to make beautiful culinary creations. But I have perfectly good food IN MY PANTRY. And no one has to tell me this, but there are people starving in this country and all over the world. How selfish and ungrateful I have become.

I believe God is a loving God full of grace and forgiveness, but I cannot omit that he disciplines His sons and daughters. I am screwing up. Just because I am still wrestling over some of the concepts he has touched my heart over, doesn’t mean I can skirt the ones I know how to handle right now. So when I saw that measly amount (where were the bonuses that he should have made?), I thought this:

My God is good. He is faithful. He called us to this place. There is something we are missing.

I cannot blame God for not providing. He is providing. Our savings are disappearing because we are making bad choices. We don’t spend much, but is any of it necessary? Are we living like there are no bonuses or are we trying to live like we used to when there were and then getting upset. Why do I have cable/internet? I say all the time I don’t need cable but I have to have it for the internet. And 75% of the last couple of days it has been out! Some messages are just harder for me to get.

I don’t know if putting the things God has revealed to me into practice is going to affect my husband’s success at work so that his pay can get better, but I do know that if we walk faithfully with the Lord, we will have His peace. And that is better than anything this world has to offer.

What is the Lord asking of you?

Isaiah 25:1

O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.

Rhema words from God…revelations through the Holy Spirit as we read God’s word. (Thank you Priscilla Shirer for teaching us this through your Bible studies.)

This is one of my “rhema” words. Has been for a couple of years. It has gotten me through anxious moments as well as been on my heart in moments of sheer joy. The fact that the Lord has a plan for my life is both comforting and exciting. I tend to focus on the exaltment and praise of the Lord and the marvelous things he planned long ago.

But, today, something totally different spoke to me. A tiny prepositional phrase: in perfect faithfulness. As a believer, I (and I hope I’m not the only one who can admit this) struggle to walk with my God in a way that glorifies Him. Even with Christ within me, my sin shines through like the noon-day sun on occassion, and, when it doesn’t, I can find myself a bit prideful, which is sin shining like the noon-day sun. Viscious circles. A battle wages over every decision I make. (“Did God really say?” cries the devil.) Not to mention the voices in our culture that block out the sound of His voice, but it is when I am in His word that I can hear more clearly. Sometimes it takes a little time (like when you taste something to cleanse your palate before tasting it again to know if it is good). But eventually, when focused on Him, our eyes are opened.

That is the beautiful thing about our Savior. We get off track. We sin. We walk our own way. And yet, in perfect faithfulness, He is always with us. He doesn’t turn His back on us. Now I don’t think that God waits around on me or let’s me live however I want without discipline. But I do believe that He knows my path, and rather than destroying me as he often should, he knows I’m on my way, and He calls to me. I don’t deserve marvelous things, but He provides them. They were planned a long time ago, and I can only hope that I can learn to live more fully with Him so I can more fully recognize and enjoy them.

I encourage you to dive into the Word. If nothing else, read Isaiah 24 and 25 to get the context of this verse. While “rhema” words from God mean oh so much, it is very important to read His word as it is. There is much to be learned about the reasons for this verse. My greatest desire is for you to be able to receive your own Word from the Lord. No matter how hard we pray and expect answers, the one way I can say for certain that God can speak to us is through what He already said.

Know that he has marvelous plans for you as well, and He isn’t going to walk away anytime soon…

Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassion never fails. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.

This is a very powerful chapter in the Bible. Jeremiah tells of all sorts of afflictions he is facing, but this is what he says gives him hope.

The dictionary defines the word consumed as follows:

                expended, used up, purchased for direct use or ownership, wasted, squandered, destroyed totally, ravaged, absorbed, engrossed               

Can you feel the weight of what is being said here?

If it weren’t for God’s love, we would be all of these things. Sin wastes our life, destroys our joy. And we would be so easily used by Satan, directly owned by our own evil desires. But the Lord loves us…he protects us from all of this. He has pardoned our sin as we believe on His Son. Our homes in heaven have been purchased by His blood.

But we make mistakes. Or at least I do. I lose my focus. I screw up. I forget to trust. This verse is a lifeline of sorts. All is not lost. His compassion, his mercies are new every morning. How different He is from us. If you have hurt or shamed me, the next morning I am likely to still be steaming or replaying or in the process of forgiving. But our God…He is extending mercy and compassion. He knows who we are. He knows His plan for us. I wonder how many times I should have been consumed by His righteous anger or how many times I should have been consumed by the outcome of my own flirtation with sin. But no. Compassion. Mercy. That is what greets me every morning.

The trick is living according to this word. It requires us to acknowledge our sin. We also have to acknowledge that without Him, we aren’t going to be able to “get it right” today. Then we have to accept the sweet gift of His compassion and mercy, shifting our focus off of us and onto Him and His will for our lives.

He is faithful, friends. He won’t one morning forget to extend that compassion. He won’t get mad and walk away. He is faithful, and His compassion never fails.

My prayer for you today is that you will remember His compassion each morning. I pray that you can see your sin as sin so that you know the need for His compassion. I pray that you desire to walk with Him and see your journey in the light of His mercy. Hold onto His promises, friend. He has made us for so much more…

Jeremiah 17:7

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.”

This was the first verse that I said was “my verse.” I was a new Christian at age 17, and I wasn’t in church…but I came across this verse as I read the Bible, and I learned it. I wrote it as the ending of my emails. I put it on papers. I’m not sure now why I chose this instead of the many ones we hear all the time like Phil 4:13, but I knew that I now had confidence that my God was in control of my life, and I wanted to remind myself that because I trusted in Him, I was blessed. Now, I have many verses I stand on, but oh the joy of that first one…

My prayer for you today is that you would spend some time remembering where you have come from. Sometimes we get so caught up in our “here and now” or our “what comes next” that we forget we have a story…we have a history…and that history, hopefully, involves a new faith that came in our lives. Some of the things we learned way back then are still applicable today…who knows but that this was where it all began and where it is all going…for I am, though now further along in my faith, still blessed because I trust in the LORD. This verse isn’t underlined in my Bible like so many others, but boy can I remember it. So I pray that God will remind you of His first words…his first callings to your heart, and I pray you will take joy in that.