Keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus helps keep me steady. Knowing that He goes before me and hems me in gives me peace on the path.
If I focus on the ugly and let it suck me in and under, I will soon be gasping under the weight of oppression and the discouragement of defeat. Lord knows, there is ugliness. We have all been in it. But to focus on it is where the mistake is. God’s beauty and light can turn ugliness and darkness upside down and inside out.
Not focusing on the ugly is not the same as ignoring it. We can be in the thick of something ugly and also see God’s pure and beautiful, redeeming grace. Eyes on Jesus is not about pretending the darkness isn’t around us. It is about looking for where God is and where He is working. When I see Him at work then I know that is the place to be. Things might not be pretty at that point but there will certainly be glimpses of beauty, hope, and restoration.
May we fix our eyes on Jesus!
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8 (New International Version)
In some ways, it feels like it has been a year of Saturdays. Our youngest two have been staying with us and we have not been traveling. Our schedule is not at all the same. And we continue to wait for what is next. New things have become regular and many “regular” things have disappeared from my day/week.
It is hard to predict what will be next. How differently will things look? How differently will my life look? And, in the midst of all of the changes and disruptions, can I still give praise and honor to my Creator?
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6
Everyone has some changes to adapt to and that means everyone is expending energy getting used to them. We are all a bit depleted — and maybe not accomplishing as much as normal. We will all need some extra patience in the days to come.
But, as long as we are breathing, we can give praise. The circumstances of the day may change but Jesus does not:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.Hebrews 13:8
Thank you, Lord, for being the constant in these crazy days! Praise you for all you are doing! Amen!
Silent night! Holy night! Son of God, love’s pure light Radiant beams from Thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth. Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth. *
In a world (and sometimes my heart) where resentment, discontent, anger, frustration, and ugly attitudes can abound, redeeming grace is an amazing gift that soothes my soul.
He redeems, renews, and refreshes …. God does it and then does it again.
and again and again.
God’s well does not run dry. He sent Jesus to restore, renew, redeem, remove, reveal, renovate, refresh, repair, reclaim, and replenish.
Some days I feel like I am a full time job for God! Of course, He is bigger than me and my flailings. He holds onto me while I argue and complain. He restores my soul. His redeeming grace is steadfast and true.
Yea, yea, yea….some of it may have to do with the choices we made and all that, but sometimes we have done some of the exact same things and yet one of us is living out some challenging consequences and the other is not.
Sometimes where we are has nothing to do with our own choices. In fact, many times it has nothing to do with what we have done. We might experience the benefit or the consequence of someone else’s doing.
We didn’t choose the family or circumstances we were born into nor did we choose our ethnicity or our race. We had no choice about whether we were born into poverty or crazy wealth or a barely functioning family. We didn’t even choose the country we were born in.
And yet all these factors play into our early years, which, in turn, can create a path for our lives.
Life is hard and it definitely isn’t fair.
Some “advantages” aren’t actually advantages but it takes some time to sort that out. And sometimes what we think we see isn’t accurate at all… our own perspectives are often skewed.
Good deeds go unrecognized. Bad behavior appears to be rewarded. Illness doesn’t care if you have the sweetest heart or the most meager of bank accounts or even if you live in a remote village, away from any modern medical services.
I can’t dwell there.
Loss and death and disease are universal and trusting in God’s provision and comfort is the only way I survive. Sharing God’s love and compassion in practical ways is one of the ways I cope and move forward in a positive direction. If I think too much about the injustices of life on Earth without a plan to give and serve, I dwell. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by your situation, I have included some Bible verses that are good to memorize. If you are going to dwell anywhere, God’s Word is the place to do it:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.” Psalm 39:4-5
Life is fleeting.
My life is fleeting.
What am I doing with my time? Is what I am doing valuable? Lasting? Important? Are there better choices I can make with…
While it is always important to be mindful of what I am doing, Holy Week is a natural time for reflection and contemplation of my sin, Jesus’ suffering and death for my fleeting life, and God’s many provisions for His people.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1
Let them give thanks…
Let them give thanks….
Let them give thanks…
Let them give thanks…
There seems to be a bit of a theme here in Psalm 107. Do you see it? There is quite a listing of the things that God had done for His people throughout this Psalm but I think it is most important to remember the very first verse — we give thanks to the Lord because He is good…
…even if our circumstances seem to stink at the moment.
Blessings on your day as you ponder the goodness of God!
Sometimes I walk around the kitchen wondering what sounds good to eat and while there are multiple options at home, I am not “in the mood” for any of them and I think about where I can go buy what sounds good.
Really now? There are people starving and I am considering what I am in the mood to eat?
Sometimes I have so many things I need to do but I am not “in the mood” to do any of them. Should I really let whether I am “in the mood” to do something or not have an impact on what I choose to do? Chances are high that if I am not “in the mood” for something it might be exactly what I am supposed to be doing but I am just announcing (in an acceptable way) how I really feel about it. Most people I know aren’t ever in the mood for taxes, a huge pile of dishes or laundry, dealing with debt or _______________ (you fill in the blank) but they are all things in need of attention and focus.
Our attitude towards a task or requirement is important. I have been trying to watch how often I claim to be in the mood or not in the mood for something. I’ll admit, it seems whether I am “in the mood” for something or not likely means that I am being selfish but how often do I say that out-loud? Selfishness or looking-out-for-number-one is very acceptable and sometimes we hide behind the phrase in the mood because it is readily understood and socially acceptable and it has plagued us for thousands of years.
Here is what Paul writes in Romans 7:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:14-25 NIV]
Lord, transform my thinking and my doing. Help me to not pause and consider whether I am in the mood or not when something needs to be done. Help me to have the desire to get it done and with a pleasant attitude. Thank You for Your transforming work in my life. Help me to have Your attitude! Amen!
I speak up when I shouldn’t and don’t when I should. When really frustrated or angry I have used words like weapons. I am guilty of saying things that are true, but not helpful or necessary. And if I have really blown it, I relive my verbal sin in the dark of the night and feel sick in the pit of my stomach.
Just because I think it doesn’t mean I should say it.
We have all been hurt by someone else’s words. And intentionally or not, we have all wounded others. I try to give a lot of grace to others in this department because I know just how often I make mistakes myself. I find if I just take some extra time before I respond in an unkind way, the moment often passes, I say nothing and I have retained my integrity. I sleep better on those nights.
Heavenly Father, My words can tear down and they can also build-up. Help me to think more soberly before I speak and measure my words carefully. Let the words that come out of my mouth be encouraging and edifying. May my words be praise for You and the works You have done in my life! In Jesus’ Name…
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8 NIV
When I was younger, I loved to push the limit and see how close to the line I could come. I used to resent boundaries and consider them a challenge to overtake. Can you relate? Amazingly enough, I have kids who do the very same thing. It must be a part of that sinful, human nature.
I have learned many difficult lessons in life because I overstepped boundaries, didn’t enforce boundaries, and ignored boundaries. I am still learning, often the hard way. Boundaries are important in marriage, parenting, friendships, work relationships and are more than just a benefit.
Boundaries are a blessing.
Consider that God has placed boundaries around you for your protection–He tells you to stay away from certain things so you will be pure. God wants you to be safe from sin and danger and He helps you to do that by telling you things to avoid. He wants you to heed His words, for your blessing and benefit.
And wouldn’t it be great if we had no boundaries for God?
Allowed Him access to every dark corner of our lives?
Recognized that He supersedes physical boundaries by being omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent?
1 Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” 3 I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” 4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.
5 LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. 6The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.