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If there is one clear message in the Bible, it is that God loves us. And yet, in spite of the clarity of the message, we still wrestle with believing it. Lauren Daigle’s song – You Say – has this opening line. “I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough; every single lie that tells me I will never measure up”.

We need a dose of what Paul had. In his letter to the Corinthian church he said this: “For I am the least of the apostles, and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church.”

Do you think Paul “measured up”? He had Christians killed. If anyone had room to think they didn’t “measure up”, it was Paul. And yet somehow he got past that and was able to write this next line. “But by God’s grace, I am what I am and HIS GRACE TO ME WAS NOT WITHOUT EFFECT.”

We can all write a similar line. “For I am the least of Christians and do not even deserve to be called a Christian because . . .“ We all have our ‘becauses’. Yet in spite of them, God offers to us the same grace He offered Paul. It’s not a matter of ‘measuring up”; it’s a matter of grasping the grace. Grasping the grace helps you to believe that God loves you. And believing you are loved, helps you to love – both yourself and others.

If your focus is on measuring up, and time after time after time you fail miserably at doing so, you will have difficulty loving yourself. If your focus is on measuring up, you will have difficulty loving others when you see that they, as well, do not measure up.

One last little dig: if you have difficulty loving your own self, you will doubt that others love you. Maybe someone wasn’t as friendly one day as you think they should have been – as you wish they would’ve been – your first inclination is that they do not like you.

James Dobson line is so incredibly true, “We live our lives not according to what people think about us, but according to what we think people think about us.” What we think people think about us, dictates how we live. What we think God thinks about us, dictates how we live.

If the greatest truth in the Bible is that God loves us, doesn’t it make sense that they greatest lie is that He doesn’t? If God’s greatest command to us is that we should love one another, doesn’t it make sense that it would be the prime target of Satan at which to aim? And where does it all start? It all hinges on our ability to believe first that God loves us. Believe you are loved and you will be able to love. Miss it and you will forever be . . . measuring.

Luke records the story that Jesus told to a Pharisee (who, BTW, thought it was all about measuring up); anyway, the Pharisee had invited Jesus in for a meal. And while He was there, a woman fell at Jesus’ feet crying. The Pharisee criticized the woman before Jesus because he knew she did not measure up; to which Jesus said, ‘She loves because she knows her sins have been forgiven. You do not love because your sins have not been forgiven. To you it is still about measuring up.’

It is not on us to measure up that we might then get close to God; it is on us to get close to God that we might then measure up. God is not as much after your perfection as He is your affection. I think the same is true regarding others. People will not like you because you ‘measure up’; they will like you because you love them.

So in this season where love is celebrated, love and don’t hold back. Don’t let Satan rob you – and others – of what God knows we need the most.

 

Remember the Change

I remember when I saw your light
and the change that came to be.
A whole new hope in life arose –
the thought of you with me.

Former things lost appeal.
My thoughts were all of you.
In a moment’s time, my heart was changed.
The old gave way to new.

A honeymoon in every sense,
where nothing can distract.
But life sets in; the new wears off;
and you try to get it back.

This is where the work begins.
It’s where we have to choose,
to fall back on the former things
or press so not to lose.

The change sets us on our way –
it points to what can be.
To have it is a gift at first;
to keep it is on me.

Remember what you saw at first
and the change in you it made.
Remember what you saw at first
when the change begins to fade.

Remember what you did at first
when love first changed your heart.
“Do the things you did at first”
and from them don’t depart.

 

From Strength to Strength

It is a cool image here as the psalmist refers to those, “who have set their hearts on pilgrimage”. Possibly from captivity back to the Promise Land, they would travel through the desert to get there. They would make the journey in the fall when the, “autumn rains would cover it with pools”. And so, “They go from strength to strength” – from pool to refreshing pool – “till each appears before God in Zion.”

What a picture of our own pilgrimage toward God. From strength to strength, whether from Sunday message to Sunday message or our own daily time with God, in them we get what we need to keep us going. Can you imagine trekking through the desert and passing up these pools? Or making the journey at a time when the pools would not be there? They were critical to the success of the journey. They are critical to the success of our own.

These posts are an example of the strengths I get in my daily time with God – the things I see that help me in my pilgrimage. I put what I see in writing because I enjoy writing. I put what I have written in these posts, in hopes that it will be one source of strength in a string of other strengths that some would find helpful in their own pilgrimage.

 

From John 13

Do the circumstances of life ever cause you to question whether God even is? Do you ever wonder if you have just conjured it all up?

Would you believe that even Jesus probably faced those same thoughts? It is easy to believe you’re the Son of God when you’re performing miracles and walking on water; but what about when you’re facing the cross?

If Satan, on the front end of Jesus’ ministry, would try to trip Him up, you can bet at this critical point at the end, he would not set idly by. On the front end he used this line: “If You’re the Son of God.” But here at the end, he has one last chance and I think chooses another. “Are You sure You are the Son of God? What if You’re wrong? What if You’ve conjured all this up?”

Maybe privy to some behind the scenes stuff that nobody records, I think John gives us this little tidbit in 13:3 that implies that even Jesus faced these same tempting thoughts. Tempted in all points like us, it would make sense that if He would ever face this temptation, it would be here.

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God.”

Count on Satan to come at your lowest moment. It’s what he does; anything to “steal and kill and destroy”.

 

 

 

 

From Psalm 77

“Your path led through the sea; Your way through the mighty waters, though Your footprints were not seen. You led Your people like a flock.” 

Obstacles, maybe by design, mark the end of our ability to find our way; they bring us to the edge, where, if we are looking, we can see God’s.

 

From Psalm 74

Israel had been invaded and overrun. The enemy had entered the sanctuary and destroyed it.  

“All this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary. Your foes roared in the place where you met with us.” 

Has the place where you used to meet with God been destroyed; so much so that you can look back on years since the time you met with Him regularly?  

Maybe you just find it hard, currently, to maintain that meeting place. Distractions are by design. It is the most strategic place that our enemy can hit. 

Lord help us all to guard our sanctuary; so that our enemy will not be able to occupy and “roar in the place you met with us”.

 

 

 

 

 

Cleared Paths

This year, instead of burning, I decided to spread my leaves under the natural areas that we do not mow. In addition to getting the leaves off our yard, I also raked a few of the paths that I had cleared so the grandgirls could explore . . . safely.  

As I was raking the leaves to one side or the other in these paths, it occurred to me that I was encouraging the grandgirls even more to use the paths that I had cleared for them. I was ‘training them in the way they should go’.  

There is no guarantee that they will not venture off the paths; in fact, that very day, one cut across a corner – through the leaves – from one cleared area to another. And the smallest, at 2 years old, actually darted beneath the low lying cedar tree branches from one cleared area to another – because she could – and looked back at us with a grin as if she new she was able to do something that we couldn’t. 

Parents have their work cut out for them – raising their kids. There’s no guarantee that the paths they try to established will be chosen. But even when there is a venturing off the path, they usually venture back to them. The paths are familiar to them. They know where the paths lead. They become the sure ways from which their venturing begins as they set out to establish and clear their own paths.