Tag Archives: past

Mirrors

Today is hard. I sit in the middle of the shop by myself writing this. Frankly, I have many days like today. As I’m sure many others do too. From the outside, and to many degrees from the inside, life is going well. But so often we can let what’s going on today get you down hard. That desire you’ve been asking God for, but He’s teaching you to wait. The expectation you had for the day up in smoke. Maybe your normal has been shaken up. Or today you just feel alone like me in the shop. Whatever it may be, today is hard. It’s days like these when temptation is strongest. “You know coming to me will make you feel better…” your shame will tell you. Most would that shame comes from sin, but it’s only shame that would suggest it. It’s what you look into that will give you an answer. Like a mirror. You go look at it to reflect back what you can’t see. On hard days you look into the mirror to see what’s going on. The mirror of shame looks back at you saying “You’ll always look this way and you’ll never change. You may as well go to whatever you’ve done in the past, it’ll feel good this time.” But the mirror of Grace says “Look at me, reflect what you see in me not what you see in yourself.” Grace knows today is hard but there’s hope for tomorrow, even for the next hour. Shame knows today is hard but wants you to think yesterday was easier. The only difference between yesterday and today is perspective. Yesterday you didn’t know today would be this way. Maybe you thought yesterday was hard. But Grace got you through it, or maybe you failed entirely. Shame will highlight that is was easier to sin yesterday, it’ll feel good today. But Grace knows sinning today will only make tomorrow harder. Resist the enemy and he will flee(Matt. 5:39). If you keep looking into the mirror of shame you’re only making room for the enemy to linger. Put it down, drop it, destroy it, leave no more room for shame in your life. Put a big ole fat mirror of Grace in your every moment.

“Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:19‬ ‭MSG‬‬

What is it that reflects upon your face, Grace or shame? Even in your hardest day, you have to go to Grace. If it was the darkest night of your life, Grace still only reflects who you are and not how dark your night was. Keep Him in the middle. “This is my day and this is my Grace.” That’s what we need to be saying. He alone allows me to even breath. Even in the midst of hard days, if I’m breathing Grace is with me. And He knows just how tough your day is. I warn you not to put on the pseudo joy of grinning your way through. That will only lead to bitterness, both for you and those that experience your mask. Find real Joy and place it before you. The only way through in to truly experience Grace.

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:15-21‬ ‭MSG‬‬

We go through exactly what Christ goes through? So if today is hard, Christ is right there too. The key is going through it with Him. Not just going through and seeing Him on the other side. The promise is not a good or easy time, but Christ with you through it all. What use would a good time be without Christ? Better to have one bad day with Christ, than a thousand good ones without Him. God is reigning you in until you are completely ready for the release of the glorious times. Let it be joyful anticipation that builds in you and not resentment.

“….Do you remember that time Elijah was agonizing over this same Israel and cried out in prayer? God, they murdered your prophets, They trashed your altars; I’m the only one left and now they’re after me! And do you remember God’s answer? I still have seven thousand who haven’t quit, Seven thousand who are loyal to the finish. It’s the same today. There’s a fiercely loyal minority still—not many, perhaps, but probably more than you think. They’re holding on, not because of what they think they’re going to get out of it, but because they’re convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago.And then what happened? Well, when Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn’t succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy. The “self-interest Israel” became thick-skinned toward God. Moses and Isaiah both commented on this: Fed up with their quarrelsome, self-centered ways, God blurred their eyes and dulled their ears, Shut them in on themselves in a hall of mirrors, and they’re there to this day. David was upset about the same thing: I hope they get sick eating self-serving meals, break a leg walking their self-serving ways. I hope they go blind staring in their mirrors, get ulcers from playing at god.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭11:2-10‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Your loyalty to God cannot be based on what He can get you out of, but the purpose He has put in you. Your awareness of His purpose in you will be the key to getting through today. If your loyalty is based on what He can get you out of, you will become loyal to getting out. Who or what you’re comfortable with, you’re loyal to. Therefore what you go to for comfort will determine your loyalty. Is escaping reality what you’re loyal to? Whether that’s a substance, porn or unhealthy relationships. We can’t say “God get me out of this day.” We have to go through it good or bad. The challenge is to dive into reality and take it head-on. That doesn’t mean we can’t ask for help through it. This is where healthy relationships come in. How often we think we’re alone? If only we would look around. Beyond our problem to its purpose. What is it teaching? Many times I lay my problem down to engage with someone, only to find that encounter held the answer I was looking for.  Another perspective on my situation. A good friend will tell you who you are and that you’ve got what it takes. Maybe not in so many words, but God will use them to bring context and truth. If we will be open and not self-consumed. When we search for the solution to our problem out of our own self-interest we get into a hall of mirrors. Looking back at each other only reflecting the problem back on us. Where all you see is the problem and not who you’ve been called to be. The mirror of Grace says “Look into me and become like me.”

“Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:25-28‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Are you convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing you? Do you see the attention He is giving you today? Pruning and cutting back the lies that you’re believing. Yes, today is hard, but not without reason. Maybe today God is teaching you through your pain. Let there be more purpose than just a hard day. He is loyal to those He calls His own. He is tender to your pain but fierce toward the lies you believe. Look into Grace and remember who you are (James 1:23). Lean on Grace today, because tomorrow is coming.

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Daddy Is Strong Enough

I was on the plane from Naples, Italy to Athens, Greece. I had the pleasure to sit next to a couple and their daughter who was about two years old. In the few minutes around take off she was a bit fussy. Her parents tried many things to calm her down. Soft words, toys, and whatever else they could think of. Finally, her dad said the, “I’m going wrestle you down (for the sake of her safety) and I don’t mind doing it because I am significantly stronger than you.” Thank you, Holy Spirit. This is what Daddy says to you, “I don’t mind loving you even if it is wrestling you because I am significantly stronger than you.” Papa doesn’t steer away from Love even at its hardest. Keeping you from what you want, to protect you from what is best for you. You may want to wander about the cabin, but when turbulence comes He knows you need to be in His lap.
 
I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him. Hosea 11:4 NLT
 
You might look back on your year with frustration. Have you gotten all that you desired out of the year? Maybe you got more turbulence than you expected. Though when you look back, you can’t help but see His faithfulness. What He has kept you from or brought you through, has it not been for your good? You have been lead by the ropes of His kindness and love. Even when it felt like you were being held back for no reason. We too often mistake His kindness for suffering. When we are being wrestled into the place where He wants us, rather than where we want to be. You can’t have it because He loves you too much. Either you’re not ready for it or it is not ready for you. This is why God requires faithfulness in little things before there is trust in greater things. Little things are made great through faithfulness. When something is placed in your hand it always feels small, because it fits in your hand. We mistakenly drop what is in our hands to go after the greater things, but miss the greatness already in our hands. Complaining about what is placed before you will keep you from seeing God’s faithfulness through it. He works everything out for the good of those called according to His purpose. (paraphrase Romans 8:28) We must not forget if we are walking according to His purpose for our lives. What is happening to us is good. His plans are for good. Whether it is to teach you something new or to help you align your desires with His. What happens to you is good, no matter how bad the world says it is. Yes, it sucks to go through, but the results are what matters. What He is doing in you is to draw you closer to Him. Closeness to God is the greatest good there is. Paul was made blind that he may see, the persecutor became that which he persecuted. Your perceived hindrance just may be your deliverance.
 
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10 NLT
 
What you are going through or have gone through, is not painful for the sake of knowing pain alone. It is so God might be glorified in your restoration. To help you find where your support comes from. Ultimately it is from the Lord, but practically it is from the community. Those that stick with you through pain, will be the most cherished in the celebration. It is to strengthen you. Faithfulness in the small things is a principle for what you desire and the trail. Remember the next trail may be more difficult, but our God never changes. Neither does His faithfulness. Lean on Him now in this trail, and do the same in the next. When you lean on the faithfulness of God, He places you on a firm foundation. One that cannot be shaken. Suffer for this little while, and share in His eternal glory. Being with Jesus is what makes suffering worth while, it is not suffering that makes being with Jesus worth while. Suffering sucks, let it be what it is. But go through it with the hope of being with Jesus as your anchor. Suffering is not to glorify one’s self. It is to bring greater dependence on the sovereignty of Christ. Knowing that the majesty of being present with Christ will far outweigh your present suffering. You will stay in your suffering so long as you see it as greater than the sovereignty of God. When the glory of God becomes greater than your pain, you will have been faithful in much. Turbulence alway seems more dangerous to those that haven’t experienced it. Daddy is strong enough to get through any storm. Don’t wait for Him to wrestle you into His lap, rest there for the entire journey.
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Yesterday

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin… (‭Zechariah‬ ‭4‬:‭10‬ NLT) 

This is just the beginning for those who trust in me. There is more than just what I let you see. While you see only horizons, I lay out open seas. More than just one opportunity to walk in what I have for thee. 

The Father loves fresh starts, even if it’s for the 1000th time. Have you ever felt behind? That you have to read 10 chapters then yesterday’s devotional and the one for the day just to get back where you were. Playing constant catch up. Like you’re the fat kid in p.e. that’s hyperventilating in the back, God is in the front saying “Why you breathing so hard?” and all you can say is “Cause I wanna live!” While ememy is in behind you on a skooter trying feed you Little Debbie’s. The reality is God is not way out in front of you getting further by the day. He is right beside you laying out what’s before for you, not what’s behind you. He is saying “You know that ground you lost yesterday? I’ve made up for it already. Also, all your shortfalls today, I made up for those too.” God doesn’t use the past to motivate your future. Start at square one daily. If you build on the success of yesterday, you’ll stumble on the failures of yesterday. Build on the success of enternity. 

Have you had the feeling like it just happened yesterday? That because it did. It’s just as easy to get to the beginning of time as it is to get to yesterday. All memories are out of reach, no matter how hard you try they will always be yesterday. If you want your day to go to crap spend it thinking about the past. Yes, there are good memories to think of, but it is physically impossible to do so without finding pain, regret or loss. Let us look fondly on the not try to live in it. Let us look to the future. Who’s future though? Let’s face it, the future you’ve chalked up is based on past results. If I do this, then that will happen. That’s not really living, that’s forecasting. Forecasts are never right anyway. It’s a very uncertain way to live. True living comes in the risk, I don’t know how but I will. Laying your plans down for what the Father has. When we look to the future, let us look to the future He has for us. His future for you is brighter than your future for you. Your plans are based on past experience and present circumstances, His plans a based on future experiences and eternal circumstances. Learn from the past, look to the future, live in the present. 

How do we live in today? Then he said to me, “This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’ ”
(Zechariah 4:6-7 NLT) Live in the Spirit. Not deterred by the past and unafaid of the future. Face the day not like a mountain, but like a plain for you to walk straight across. Trusting the Lord, that everything will fall in its place. Live your days in such a way, that when people watch you they praise the Lord. 

Bonus thoughts: Have you ever tried to fathom eternity? How long exactly is forever? How long is the present? In heaven the world as we know it will pass away. (1 Cor 7:31) So that means past is gone, leaving the future and the present. From our current perspective, the future doesn’t exist. We know it’s will happen, but we don’t know what it will be. What if past and future are concepts merely to comprehend the present? What if the place where I Am dwells simply is? What if eternity is not a stretch of time? Is living in the present living in eternity? Not sure where I thought that would land, but there it is.

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