Holding on to the Promises part 1

When I got married I thought traditional vows were so over-used and held no real meaning anymore so I wanted something a little more original.  After doing some digging, I found some that were beautiful…they said things like, “I promise to love you as an act of my will…and will respect you as the leader of our home, I promise to never belittle you.” My groom promised to lead family devotions. Seriously.  We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and man have they been hard to live up to! I remember Matthew’s dad telling him, “You sure promised her a lot.” Yes he did.

Hebrews 11 says

Now FAITH is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see…Hebrews 11

Couples have no idea what the future holds and yet they make promises. GREAT BIG FAT PROMISES in front of a church full of people and document the whole thing with pictures. We have no idea.

A few months ago the Holy Spirit began to whisper “Just hold on” in my spirit. “Just hold on to what?” is what I kept asking. I’ll admit, I’ve been assuming something bad is going to happen. Perhaps it’s the Eeyore in me who’s lost her tail one too many times that has a hard time believing that something wonderful could be on the horizon.

At the time I was feeling discouraged because the plans I thought God and I had made together were not exactly working out like I planned. I know I’ve heard the Lord very specifically about certain things and I was tired of waiting for the grand finale.  I mean, good grief…I was about to turn 40 and I really thought we’d have some things settled by then. Then I began to experience some health issues I thought were long gone.  Again. I also know some people who have been living lives of great faith and I felt frustrated for them because they weren’t seeing a breakthrough in their circumstances either.

When your issue or a loved one’s issue doesn’t wrap itself up nice and neat with a bow on top in a reasonable amount of time…what do you do? What have you done?

Today I want you to think back to when your faith was new…or revived. Do you remember? Do you remember how you were willing to follow Him anywhere and do whatever he asked you to do?  How about that time he healed something you never thought could be healed? Remember how he restored that relationship you thought couldn’t be salvaged? Or provided for your needs beyond any reasonable explanation? Do you remember?

It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.  Hebrews 11:6 The Message

Do you believe that he cares enough about you to JUST HOLD ON?

Heavenly Father, I don’t know what kind of situation my friend is in today, but I do know without any doubts whatsoever that you want them to trust you and HOLD ON. You know the future. We don’t. We have a past that constantly berates us with our mistakes. We have an enemy who lies to us and tells us that You won’t hold on to us and that we have to make everything happen on our own. Forgive us for believing the lies. We receive precious grace and mercy today to do what is beyond normal for us. Thank You for loving us beyond what we’ve dared to imagine. Open our eyes to the Truth today. In Jesus’ name.

 

 

Mercy’s Mess

Sometimes the mess I’m in seems too big to ever get out of. It’s overwhelming and I don’t know where to even start. Defeat sets in and before I know it, one day melts into the next and I don’t know if I even care anymore. I remember feeling that way when I hit what would finally be known as the ‘rock bottom’ in my depression.

I had been home schooling my kindergartener. My grade as a teacher? A big fat F every single day. I mean, I couldn’t even get him to remember the letters in his name. (Many years later I would learn that he had a learning disability) My three year old was pretty sure he already knew more than I did. (Not much has changed) I vividly remember him telling me from his car seat one morning, “Mom, you don’t know everything.” I responded, “Who told you that?” and cried for rest of the day. If I couldn’t manage to convince a three year old that I knew more than him, I was screwed.

Sometimes we don’t want mercy. Sometimes we just want to be put out of our misery.

During the ‘rock bottom’ phase I fantasized about being divorced. My marriage couldn’t possibly last much longer and I was starting to look forward to it. Having the boys every other weekend sounded like a trip to the spa. Of course, I knew I would need to get a job and would probably be homeless, but I didn’t care. Living in my mess had become more of a burden than I wanted to bear.

Have you been there? Do you know someone who’s there right now?

Friend, if you were sitting across from me at my kitchen table where my fingers are typing this right now, I’d look straight into your eyes and tell you this:

The fact that you were allowed to open your eyes and take a breath this morning is proof enough that it’s not over for you. I don’t care if you’re face down flat on the floor, mercy is keeping you from falling through the floor.  It is because of the Lord’s great love for you that you haven’t been consumed by your mess.

Mercy says, “I see your mess. I know how you got there and I love you too much to leave you there. Please let me help you clean it up.”

Mercy arrests us in our mess, ushers in peace, and empowers us to change. Mercy saves us. One step at a time.

Trust me, you didn’t make your mess overnight. If I were to take a good guess, you’re probably not totally responsible for the mess you’re in. I know because it’s part of my story too. Regardless of who did what, we are responsible for the choices from here on out. We are not victims. We are more than conquerors. We are entrusted with the next generation. Mercy matters more than ever.

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.-Ephesians 2:1-6 The Message

Allow his immense mercy to pick you up off the floor, out of your mess and embrace you with his incredible love. Tell Him that you need His mercy and allow Him to respond.

Thanks for joining me here. I’m asking the Lord to remind you of the ways he’s been merciful to you this weekend. See you Monday.

His mercies are new every morning and He gives good things. He gives Peanut Butter and Jelly Grace.

Arrested by Mercy

When I was nineteen I had the privilege of working in a small publishing office. We didn’t deal with the public at all. I got paid pretty good money to sit and chat with my bosses or watch movies while sorting checks. Most days the company bought lunch and I was out of there by 2pm. Being spoiled like that pretty much ruined me for the dog days of early child rearing.

The company never took any taxes out of my paychecks. I was paid like someone self-employed and was supposed to put money aside for when taxes were due. However, at nineteen, the idea of squirreling money away for taxes was soooooo inconvenient. I needed every penny to cover the bills. Well, tax time rolled around and I filed like a good girl…like I had for the previous couple of years expecting some money back like before. Much to my surprise, the tax man said that this time I owed him. Hundreds of dollars. Gulp. I was in a panic. I didn’t have that money and couldn’t see any way of making it any time soon. All I knew was that the IRS was coming after me and I was in big trouble.

Though I was embarrassed, I shared my drama with my boss. She was so. very. patient. with my daily nineteen year old drama. After I explained my woes she pulled out her checkbook and wrote a check for the entire amount that I owed the IRS. My boss wasn’t obligated to pay any of my taxes. I knew full well that I hadn’t been responsible with my paychecks. I deserved to be in debt to the IRS. She wasn’t my mother or related to me in anyway. She owed me nothing. And yet, out of compassion and Lord only knows what else (maybe to have some peace for just one day in the office) she paid my debt and I will never forget it.

Her single act of mercy arrested me and left a mark.

Jesus told a story In about a king who had a servant who owed him money. One day the king decided it was time for the servant to pay up. The servant didn’t have the money so the king ordered that the servant, along with his wife and children be auctioned off as a slave to pay the debt. The man threw himself at the king’s feet and begged for mercy and a chance to repay the debt. The king took pity on him and decided to cancel his debt entirely.

As soon as the servant left the king’s room, he ran into someone who owed him money. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded that he “pay up”. The debtor threw himself at the servant’s feet begging for mercy, but the servant wouldn’t hear him. He had the man arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. Well, the other servants in the neighborhood were outraged and decided to report him to the king.

Then the king called the servant in “You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?” The kind was furious and made the man pay back every penny he owed. Jesus went on to say this:

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” -Matthew 18:35 NIV

It’s not enough for me to receive mercy when I’m begging for it, no matter how grateful I am. Mercy must be extended to those who are begging for it from me. My sons, my husband, my dogs, my extended family, bad drivers, the flustered cashier at Target, my co-workers, my friends. Mercy knows no bounds.

Who is begging you and I for mercy?

Heavenly Father, thank you for your mercy. Open our eyes to see who desperately needs the mercy that you’ve shown to us. Your mercy has caught our attention and we will not forget. You’ve marked us forever yours. We want to live worthy of it. In Jesus’ name.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.-Matthew 5:7 NIV

I’d love to hear your mercy story in the comments.

 

 

Good Morning

Good morning.

Have you ever wanted to ask, “What’s so good about this morning?” I know I have.

When my boys were little I pretty much lived in a constant state of defeat. If they were awake, you could bet that I’d already blown it. How in the world was I supposed to wake up feeling happy when my waking was their fault in the first place? If they’d just let me sleep a little longer, I just know I could be a nice mom. It’s what I believed day after day.

What made matters worse was that I held on to the previous day’s failures. And the day before that. My failures piled higher than the laundry and it stunk. Man, did it ever stink and I didn’t know how to change. It seemed like the parenting books worked for everyone but me.

My boys and I both needed a fresh start every day. We needed mercy.

Mercy is a powerful gift if you’re able to receive it.

Mercy empowers us to forgive and to be kind. Mercy allows us to have compassion on another human being. Mercy is a life-saving gift from God. Mercy is required to love others well. Mercy isn’t forced on us. Mercy is Jesus himself.

Mercy is a soothing balm for this irritated, overwhelmed, and just plain tired mother. Sometimes simply whispering the word mercy is enough to calm my spirit. Mercy ushers peace into the chaos.

His mercies are new every morning.

Today you and I get to start fresh. And tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that…

…This I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”–Lamentations 3:21-24 NIV

 

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