He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40: 29)
For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. (Psalm 139: 13-14)
Other than the obvious “necessaries,” what’s the most important object in your bathroom? It’s your mirror.
The woman in the image above may be physically beautiful, but that’s not the deciding factor. What matters more is how she sees herself inside.
You pass by some form of a mirror many times a day. What you see there helps to determine the confidence with which you will go out into the world, what you will be willing to tackle, and the ease with which you will relate with others.I’m not just talking about how you perceive your looks, though that’s part of it..
Do you see a person you like and love to hang out with, or one who deep down, you’d love to avoid? Do you stay busy, busy, busy in order not to have time alone with yourself and your thoughts?
When you stare at that reflection, do you zero in on those physical features that feel like glaring flaws to you, and do you carry those out with you in your mind’s eye? Do you assume those are front and center in the views of everyone else? (They’re not!)
Do you see an individual who is worthwhile? Or have you carried the sneaking suspicion that the person staring back at you is inadequate, not on par with others?
Here’s an important one. When you look at you, do you see yourself through God’s eyes, or are you taking as your authority the opinions of others – or what you assume the opinions of others to be?
When you view yourself, do you a positive “real deal,” made in God’s image, not perfect but purposeful and in process? Or do you believe you see an imposter? Oh, you’ve achieved a few things, but you whisper to yourself, “If people knew the real me, they’d…”
This is getting deep…
When you look into the eyes of the person looking back at you in your bathroom mirror, is this a person you can respect? Are you living true to your values?
Are you stretching out of comfort and into the zones of imperfect learning curve performance, of reaching for God-given dreams, and of growing into all that God has called you to be?
If you answered more often on the negative side of these important questions, I invite you to one of the most important mirror exercises you will ever do.
- First, come to terms with the fact that what you are seeing may be distorted and skewed. Your eyes may well be playing demonic tricks on you. You may have bought the negative messages that have been hurled your way by imperfect others..
- Find out what God says about you. You know, “His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts.” Do your research. Go looking in the Bible for anything you can find about the worth God places on you, yes, YOU. It’s His opinion that counts. He knows you better than anyone. He created every part of you, and He has been with you through every one of your life experiences. He is not ill-informed.
- Engage yourself in the self-discovery process of learning about yourself in God’s view – then renewing your mind with God’s opinions. My dear friend, Ann, did this. She wrote every passage she could find about God’s thoughts about her on index cars, and she took these with her everywhere. Whenever she got a minute, she rehearsed them in her mind over and over. By learning, meditating on, and finally deeply affirming what God said about her, she changed the self-image she had carried since her abusive childhood.
That person you see in the mirror? A treasure in God’s sight. Imperfect, yes, but perfectly loved and accepted. Are you going to agree with the satanic accuser who wants to discourage, defeat, and destroy you? Or will you agree with the God Who loves you with a crazy, unconditional love and Who is longing for an intimate relationshp with His cherished child?
As you peer into that bathroom mirror, it’s your choice.
God, I want to see myself as You see me. You know my potential when I don’t. You feel my pain, but You know Your power that can push me through it to grow. You know all my weaknesses, but You also know the gifts You placed within me that You intend to use in Your plans. I surrender to YOUR views about me, O Lord!
Yet when they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, the Lord brought them out of their distress. He calmed the storm and its waves quieted down. So they rejoiced that the waves became quiet, and He led them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His gracious love and for His awesome deeds on behalf of mankind. (Psalm 107: 28)
And I say, “If only I had wings like a dove, I would fly away and be at rest. Yes, I would go far away. I would live in the desert. I would hurry to my safe place, away from the wild wind and storm.” (Psalm 55: 6-8)
The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him. (Nahum 1: 7)
For You have been a strong-place for those who could not help themselves and for those in need because of much trouble. You have been a safe place from the storm and a shadow from the heat. For the breath of the one who shows no pity is like a storm against a wall. Like heat in a dry place, You quiet the noise of the strangers. Like heat by the shadow of a cloud, the song of the one who shows no pity is made quiet. (Isaiah 25: 4-5)
We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God Who is above all gods. This I declare, that He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I am trusting Him. For He rescues you from every trap and protects you from the fatal plague. He will shield you with His wings! They will shelter you. His faithful promises are your armor. Now you don’t need to be afraid of the dark anymore, nor fear the dangers of the day. (Psalm 91:1-5)
I ask only one thing from the Lord. This is what I want: Let me live in the Lord’s house all my life. Let me see the Lord’s beauty and look with my own eyes at His Temple. During danger he will keep me safe in His shelter. He will hide me in his Holy Tent, or He will keep me safe on a high mountain. My head is higher than my enemies around me. I will offer joyful sacrifices in his Holy Tent. I will sing and praise the Lord. (Psalm 27: 4-6)
There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain. (Isaiah 4: 6)
The Biblical writers struggle to find enough metaphors to communicate a game-changing principle. No matter what you are going through, you can run into God’s open arms for safety and comfort.
I wrote yesterday about the ark, and I suggested at the end of the message that when God shuts you in to a situation that seems frightening, it just may be for your protection. If you trust and depend desperately on Him, He will show Himself to you in a total and unconditional Love you never knew existed.
The Word speaks this truth so clearly. I don’t feel a need to elaborate much. Hear His insistent and Loving call. Like the Loving father in the Prodigal Son story, God is watching and waiting for you, and He even runs toward you with outstretched arms – no matter where you’ve been or how much stinking pig muck covers you. Further, God isn’t filled with anxiety as you are about your situation, for He sees the beginning from the end, and He has a plan. Storms, mistakes, threats – none are matches for God!
The shelter of His embrace awaits you. It’s a very safe place.
God, I’m tired. I’m stressed over things about which I have no control. I’ve overloaded myself – again. I run to You, Lord, and I cling to You. Wrap me in Your strong embrace, God. You are always there for me. I am in You, and You are in me. Nothing can penetrate that. Thank You, my Lord!
On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind,everything with wings…Then the Lord shut him in. (Genesis 7: 13-14, 16)
I taught yesterday in the Rooted and Grounded Bible study about Noah and the flood. I tell you, the Bible has such treasures hidden up for us, and they’re just waiting for us to go digging. Such spiritual archeology is highly addictive, I warn you! But I will also tell you that renewing your mind through His Word is one of the most “worth it” pursuits you can ever embrace. I need to get to the point of this particular message this morning, but first I cannot issue the invitation strongly enough to begin to go beyond covering enough Bible reading ground to make it through the Bible in a year and to completely forsake the repeated mantra, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Anyway, as I taught yesterday and in reflection afterward, I can’t shake the phrase, “Then the Lord shut him in.” Holy smoke, if anyone ever had a challenge on hand, it was Noah. God had given Noah specific instructions, which he had carried out to the letter. He’d endured ridicule and years of hard work to built the ginormous ark that would be his home for over a year and that space would be “shared.” God had brought the animals to him, and now the day had finally come. The earth-changing chaos began, and if you think it was just some rain, go read again.
Then the Lord shut him in. What a soul-shaking bang that must have been! Have you ever had that moment like Noah must have had when you know you’ve reached the point of no return? You are about to embark on a journey from which there is no exit road. You are way in over your head, and it’s God and you. If He doesn’t come through (and He will), you’re sunk.
Then the Lord shut him in. It’s not the way you planned it or dreamed it. But you are where you are, and you have what you have. You can either become a “victim,” or you can throw yourself on God and gain His wisdom for doing what He wants you to with what you have.
Then the Lord shut him in. You’re overwhelmed, and you don’t see a way out. There’s no human way you can figure it out. You feel trapped in your circumstances.
I’ve found myself in every one of those situations.
For Noah, the whole world was literally turned upside down. Our personal worlds can feel that way, too. But God has a plan, and His power far exceeds our imaginations. His ability to provide when there seems no way is limitless. His provision of endurance and strength when you feel you can’t take another breath in that stench is nothing short of amazing.
And when His time is right, He will open that big door again. Learning to live in utter dependence will have changed you. You just have to trust Him.
And oh, by the way, that entrapment may actually be God’s protective ark.
God, I want to live desperately dependent on You every day, not just in times of crisis. As I walk in covenant relationship with You, teach me not to panic when You shut me in to a situation that is way above my ability to handle. It’s not above Yours, and I trust You.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8: 12)
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our world seems to be in a dark place. School shootings, crimes of all kinds, natural disasters, political divisions, and plots of terrorism litter our cultural landscape. In my office and maybe between your four walls, family members are at odds with each other; they have a very strange way of showing “love.” Kids are acting out (they always have), and parents question their own competence. Deep losses cut through the hearts of millions. Suicide is rampant. Individuals spend their lives looking back at their mistakes and condemning themselves while feeling condemned by others.
OK, enough! It’s true. Many of the circumstances in which we live are way less than ideal. However, as believers in Christ, our circumstances do not define our experience. I’ve heard folks respond to the question, “How are you doing?” with, “Pretty good, under the circumstances.” If that responder were a follower of Christ, the very next question might be, “What are you doing under your circumstances?”
External events may tempt us to discouragement. However, internal events determine the attitudes with which we live.
Jesus Christ spoke to that fact when He addressed the crowd right after the incident in which the woman was caught (alone?) in adultery. Jesus had held up a spiritual mirror to the accusers: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, they hung their heads and walked away. Then he turned to the woman, asking, “Well, where are they, those who pointed their fingers and jeered at you in condemnation?” The woman stated the obvious: “None are here now.”
It was at that point that Jesus turned to the onlookers and spoke. The context of what people say is critical to understanding what they mean. Within the scenario just described, He reassured the people who had just witnessed this unforgettable scene, “When you follow Me, you won’t live in darkness. I am Light, and when I am inside you, you’ll be living in the light – no matter what’s happening around you or what a mess you’ve made of things.” He was explaining what He had just demonstrated. This woman’s situation was really bad. She was jerked right out of a sinful act and brought out in shame to be humiliated and exposed. The only One Who had any room to talk walked right into that situation, was Light to her, and not only shielded her from their judgment but offered her a new life.
Jesus offers the same to you and me in this dark world – either the dark circumstances created by others or by the oppressive darkness of the consequences of our own bad choices. And Jesus says, “Darkness begone! I, the Light, have come!”
If you have said yes to Christ in your life, then Light lives within you. When you turn on the Light, darkness has no choice but to flee. You walk into your dark home and flip on that light switch, darkness is gone immediately.
The implications of Jesus’ bold statement are much greater than a sweet little metaphor or children’s song that Jesus is the Light of the world. Whether the frame of reference is this darkness-filled world or whether the application is more individual and personal to you, this Light is a game-changer. The situation may remain the same, but YOU are different in it!.
Wow, what a gift – to carry The Light inside you! Amazing!
Lord, please make Yourself at home in me. I open every door of my heart and of my life so that Your Light may permeate me. I give You full control. Then, O God, may I please reflect Your Light into the dark situations experienced by others as I reach out in Love to them?
Regarding the death of her father, Billy Graham
My Father’s legacy is one that encompasses the world…and engulfs my own life. When I think of him, I don’t think of Billy Graham, the public figure. I think of my Daddy. The one who was always a farmer at heart. Who loved his dogs and his cat. Who followed the weather patterns almost as closely as he did world events. Who wore old blue jeans, comfortable sweaters, and a baseball cap. Who loved lukewarm coffee, sweet ice tea, one scoop of ice cream, and a plain hamburger from McDonald’s. Who was interested in everything and everyone, from the small to the great. Whose mind remembered details that even a computer would have trouble recalling.
But when I think of him, I also think of his message because he was immersed in it. Saturated in it. He was his message…a simple man who had responded to God’s love by placing his faith in Jesus, receiving the assurance that his sins were forgiven, that he would not perish, but would have everlasting life. Simple faith. Faith that now matters more than anything else.
For years, over his head as he preached was the banner that quoted the words of Jesus: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus completed that sentence by saying that no one comes to the Father but by Me. Based on what Jesus said, Daddy is safely with the Father. In Heaven. Daddy not only claimed Jesus as the only Way to God, he lived by the Truth publicly on platforms and privately behind closed doors, and is now enjoying real Life.
I have often stated that I was raised by a single parent because ministry took my father away from our family—for weeks and months at a time. Daddy estimated that he was gone from home approximately 60 percent of his children’s growing-up years. Now, he has left again. This time, he will not be coming back. At least, not until Jesus does, too.
While he may be physically absent and his voice silent, I am confident that his message will continue to reverberate throughout the generations to come. My prayer on this day of his move to Our Father’s House is that his death will be a rallying cry. That tens of thousands of pastors, teachers, evangelists, and ordinary men and women will rise up to take his place. That they will take up his message like a baton being passed in a relay race and faithfully pass it on to those with whom they come in contact. Because Daddy’s message is God’s message. And it’s a message of genuine hope for the future, of love for the present, of forgiveness for the past.
It’s a message, when received, that brings a fresh beginning, unshakable joy, unexplainable peace, eternal significance, meaning and purpose to life, and opens Heaven’s door.
It was this message, which Daddy carried to the world, that penetrated my own heart as a young girl and has created in me a personal, passionate resolve to communicate it myself to as many people as possible. And so, even as my tears seem to be unending, I silently rededicate my life to picking up and passing on the baton. Would you do the same?
Yes, I will, God. I will. Empower me, Holy Spirit, to use to serve others every gift and every experience You’ve given me and even those happenings by which the devil meant to harm me. Lord, I desire so deeply to be Your instrument to make a difference to every person You’ve entrusted me to influence for You.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss. (James 4: 3)
You’ve prayed for it, dreamed of it, and put in the work for it. But it just doesn’t happen. How could that be? What did you miss?
You’re sure that he’s the perfect one or that she’s your soul mate – but you’re left alone, reeling, wondering how God could have let this happen.
You believe you have a fabulous business idea. You pray, and you pray hard, but every door on which you knock seems to be locked.
You bemoan that your prayers have not been answered. Or have they? Whatever gave us the fanciful idea that all of our prayers would be answered with a big divine, “Yes?” Often God is telling us “no,” and we don’t like it. Through limited, here-and-now-bound eyes, what we see certainly seems like what we need.
Have you ever had the experience of looking back into an old prayer journal, reading your musings on what you were sure was God’s will and plan for you, but the fulfillment of that desire was like the elusive mirage that kept moving? And now you shake your head in hindsight, saying, “Thank You, God?”
Or, have you been in Walmart and bumped into the old boyfriend who left you for someone else? And his ruddy cheeks, bulbous nose, and pot belly produce for you a flash of insight about what God may have been seeing while you were crying about it? Is it likely that God was actually giving a thumbs-up to that break-up because He Loves you?
Or, you may have been denied a yes to a persistent prayer that was consistent with God’s Word, and you just don’t understand. Listen, our perceptions of what is needed in a given season are limited. God’s timing is more perfect that our timing. His long-view ways are higher than our short-sighted ways.
The real question I must face in all these scenarios is, “Do I trust Him? Do I really? Trust His wisdom; His sytematic, step-wise approach that I may not see; His heart of Love? With my entire being, do I rely on His yes’s and no’s as being best for me? Or His “wait’s?”
I saw a graphic that pointed to an important thing to remember.
“When a door does not open, it’s not mine.”
And in that, I trust You, Lord! You see my beginning from my end on this earth, and time is nothing to You. You know what’s best for me. If one door is closed, a better one will open in Your Your will, Your purpose, and Your timing. I am Yours, God.