Author Archives: Lory Demshar

Risk:Living by Faith-2

In the previous “blog study” we looked at David as an example of a person who had faith in God and lived out that faith in his everyday life. At times David took great risks of faith with God. The key is “with God” and from his “relationship” with God.
Keys that characterize David’s faith:

  • David knew God through the scriptures. David discerned God’s character and heart for men as he read the word of God. David believed what he read about God and took that into his heart and mind. David spoke these truths to himself and integrated these truths into his life. It is knowing and believing truths about God that made David able to take risks of faith.
  • David valued and esteemed God. David was in absolute awe of God. David’s heart was set to honor God. Read Psalms 63:1-3 and 27:4 to get a glimpse of David’s genuine heart for God.
  • David had an acute awareness of God’s presence in his life. David was able to discern God helping him, supporting him, training him and protecting him in various situations in his life. David took these things to heart, remembered them and connected them to his present circumstances. These experiences fueled David’s faith.
    An example of this is in 1 Samuel 17:34-37, David tells Saul that God helped him to kill a lion and a bear when they went after the sheep. He connects that experience with facing Goliath and believes God will do the same with Goliath.

Risks – Living Faith
David had a deep relationship with God. He valued God. He esteemed God. He feared God and was devoted to “do life with God.” Because of the strength of David’s heart for God, he lived out of his faith in God and took risks that honored God and helped others.

A Personal Reflection: I have to stop here and think about my life and my relationship with God. Is my relationship with God really a “relationship?” Or am I going through a series of “spiritual activities” that give me a false sense of a relationship with God?  Do I know truths about God’s character? Do I believe those truths and bring them into my daily consciousness and use those truths to uphold me in difficult situations?

Risking Life – Come from Personal Connection
In 1 Samuel 17, we read of the encounter between David and Philistine giant, Goliath.

1 Samuel 17: 10, Goliath brazenly, with no fear, states that he “defies” the armies of Israel. It seems he postured and railed thus for 40 days (v.16).  David’s heart picked up on the fact that this man was railing against God, as well as His people. David personally felt the insult and disrespect of Goliath for God and God’s people.

  • A Personal Reflection: I have to ask myself: Do I personally connect with God, am I insulted on behalf of God by the “railing” of the world against God and truth? Or is my faith more just in my head, but not my heart?

Goliath defied God and Israel. In this context the word “defy” means: to hold in contempt, to scorn, to belittle, to denigrate, to shame and to blaspheme.

David was insulted on behalf of God. He took a stand and asked, “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway that he should be allowed to defy the armies of the living God,” 1 Sam. 17:26

To David, Goliath was not a giant, but a man without faith or fear of God. David steps forward in faith, without armor or supporting troops. Looking at David in that moment, he is mismatched, vulnerable, outnumbered, alone, and exposed.

Fighting Words – Faith Words
David knows God. He has truths embedded in his heart that he learned from the scriptures and from his experience with God. David spoke these truths about God to himself, to all the people watching from a distance, and to Goliath as he stepped forward to encounter him.

“…I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)

David was not alone, God was with him. David’s armor and shield was God. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we see so many references in David’s psalms to God as his Shield, his Champion, his Rock, his Strong Tower, and so on.

A Relatable Faith
I read this account of the faith of David and I am in awe. I am enamored and star struck by David’s faith.

Then I think: I can’t relate to this. David is a super spiritual hero in the scriptures. I cannot have this faith. I have struggles and serious flaws in my character. I have made many mistakes in my life.

As I read further in the life of David, I see he was not a perfect man. He did not do everything right. God described him as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14), yet David was flawed; he sinned. One might say that David made a royal mess of things. He lusted. He committed adultery (2 Sam. 11:2-5). He arranged for the death of a man who was loyal to him, and then tried to cover up both the adultery and the murder (2 Sam. 11:6-17).

David’s track record with parenting his children was not the best. His son Amnon forced himself on his sister (2 Sam. 13:1-15).  His other son Absalom killed Amnon. (2 Sam. 13:20-32).  Absalom then rose up in insurrection against King David his father and attempted to take the throne. (2 Sam. 15:1-14).

God Sees Something I Don’t
Even many years after the truth of David’s life is known, God continued to describe David in the scriptures as a “man after God’s heart,” Acts 13:22.

  • After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22

While I am impressed with the stand David took for God with Goliath, I am honestly more drawn to the type of intimate relationship that David had with God. This relationship was born of God’s love for David as well as David’s love for God. It is a mutual relationship.

As I read further in 1 and 2 Samuel and the Psalms, I see that I can have a relationship with God like David had. It is a matter of the heart, not of perfect performance. I don’t have to be perfect, just faithful.

I can, like David, make my heart’s home in God and let my life flow from that. The Message version states this in an impressive way.

  • “God, the one and only—I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him,  so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet,    breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life. My help and glory are in God  —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—so trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.” Psalm 62:5-8

Jesus – Makes It Reality
Jesus, the ultimate hero in the story of God has made it possible for me and you to have a deep personal relationship with God. In fact, such an intimate relationship has always been God’s heart and will for us and Him.

“In Christ, he chose us before the world was made. In his love he chose us to be his holy people—people without blame before him.  And before the world was made, God decided to make us his own children (relationship) through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him.” Ephesians 1:4-5 (NCV)

Risk – Another Word for Faith

Within the spiritual community that I am a part of we have been talking about God’s dream that is that everyone would have a deep personal relationship with God. That this is God’s desire; it is his will, his design.

  • “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Eph. 1:4-5 NLT
  • “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:2-3

Partners in God’s Dream
We have been reflecting on how God has invited us into being a part of his dream and working with him to complete this. The term “risk” came up, as in thinking about what risks can we take in order to be fellow workers with God to advance his dream by sharing God’s invitation to a relationship with him through Jesus.

Risk can be an intimidating term to some people, because in some way it means that we are doing something that has an element of stretching our limits. Risk involves going above what we normally would do, and it has the potential to result in a negative consequence of some type.

Risk involves vulnerability and possible exposure, or a pushing beyond our comfort zone. It involves a certain factor of the unknown. There is not a specific guaranteed structure or outcome. Sounds like faith to me.  

Risk – Another Word for Faith
As I pondered the term risk I thought, God has been talking about risks since day 1 of creation. When we assert faith, we do not physically see the outcome or sometimes even the process. The scriptures in Hebrews 11: 1 say that; “Faith if the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen.”  Therefore, faith involves risk.

Faith and Risk are inherent in many scriptures, such as: Romans 8:28 and Psalms 46:1-3.

  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

We may not see “the good” at the time, but we trust – we take the risk to believe that God is moving and working on our behalf.

Psalm 46:1-3 implies a risk to trust God in the midst of trouble, doubt, and when it seems our world is coming apart. These verses are a poetic and symbolic rendering of God’s unchanging heart and faithful character.

  • “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”Ps. 46:1-3

Risk Takers- Faith Walkers
If you are still unconvinced that you can become a risk taker read Hebrews 11 and become inspired by ordinary men and women who took risks of faith and deepened their knowledge and experience with God.

  • “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead…” Heb. 11:32-35

Relationship – Heart- Risk
Faith and risks flow from a deep relationship with God that is characterized by:

  • knowing and believing truths about God,
  • valuing God, and
  • cultivating a heart that cannot live without God.

King David, a risk taker, was described by the Spirit of God in the scriptures as being just such a man. The Spirit says David was a man after the heart of God. We read this characterization in Acts 13:22  

  • “And when He (God) had removed him (Saul), He raised up David to be their king, of whom He testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after My heart, who will do all My will.” Acts 13: 22

David was known to have a relationship with God even before he became famous for his mighty deed of slaying the giant.

  • “One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.” 1 Samuel 16:18

I have to stop here and reflect: What am I known for: my education; my titles; my appearance; my various skills and talents or even for my vices? Or, am I known for loving God and my fellow man; for walking humbly with God and man?  What are you known for?

Develop a Heart for God
Having a heart for God involves: seeking to know God personally; trusting in God and developing righteous character as you do what pleases God.

The words of David in the Psalms he wrote, reveal his heart for God.

David valued God and actively sought after knowing God and relating to God.

  • One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple…My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Ps. 27 4, 8

David sought to know and to do God’s will:

  • Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” Psalm 86:11
  • “Show me your ways, Lord,teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

It is through developing this knowledge of God and heart for Him that David could take risks for God.

It is the same for us. We can only live out our relationship with God, rise to challenges and difficulties, and do His will, if we are seeking daily to know Him and to do His will.

More to Come
This study has caused me to think more deeply about cultivating my heart for God and relationship with God. My faith is only as strong as the truths I know about God and choose to believe.  

In the next blog we will look closer at the various risks that David took to do great things that honored God, helped other people and caused David to grow in faith and love for God.

A New Look at an Old Truth for a New Year- 2

“I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or  riches or fame, and I choose it above all things on Earth or in Heaven.” A. W. Tozer

When talking about the will of God we generally don’t hear such a forthright proclamation of love for the will of God. When we think of the will of God, we may think of the commands of God and begin to feel all those “I am not enough,” and “I can’t do that,” or “It’s too hard” kinds of feelings and thoughts.  

As I begin this new year, I am hoping that my study of God’s will and gaining greater understanding of how it fits into my relationship with God will help me to “love” and “treasure” the will of God much like Tozer or the psalmist who said:  

“ I delight to do your will, O God, your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8

God’s Will = Intimacy with God
When I read passages about God’s will, I see how intertwined His will is in a relationship with us. Jesus addressed this.

In Matthew 7:21-25 – Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you.

In that little word “knew” we see a world of relationship, a deep knowing, trusting, believing, interacting with and doing what pleases our Lord. In this kind of relationship with God, doing His will is embedded in that love. I believe that is why in Psalm 40:8, the psalmist can say, “Your law is in my heart.”

When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, He strongly reminds them, and us, that it is more than trying to live up to a standard in isolation from relationship with God and others.

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” Luke 11:42

What is missing in what these men were doing? Justice, which I believe, is associated with doing right in relationship to their fellow man, and love for God. 

That is what happens when I think the “will of God is equivalent solely to keeping the law of God.” It then becomes a focus on performance and self. That is when I get scattered, running about, doing this and that resulting in my feeling “not enough,” “not making the grade,” “judged,” and eventually a dissatisfied feeling leading to trying to prove myself to prove myself to God and others.  Ever been there?

The Bottom Line
In the previous blog study, we saw that the will of God is his desire, intent, and design to draw us into a relationship with Him, through that relationship He gives us the ability to be with Him, to stand in His presence, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. Clearly and undeniably encapsulated in Ephesians 1:4-5.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love He predestined (pre-planned) us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One …” Eph. 1:4-5 (BSB)

The bottom line of God’s will is His love and desire to draw us close to Him. Everything about His will is directed towards that end. Within that interactive relationship God’s will encompasses Him delighting in and actively loving us, and us responding by pleasing Him.

Relationship Words
If we look closely in the scriptures at various words that are associated with the will of God. In these words we see God’s good intent and His love for us.

Desire:
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hos, 6:6 (ESV)

God’s will is founded in the word “desire,” not “demand.” What is it that He desires? Love and knowing God.

Esteem:
Isaiah 66:6 uses a different word to show that those who live in a close loving relationship with God are “esteemed” by God.

“Has not My hand made all these things? And so they came into being,” declares the LORD. “This is the one I will esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at My word.” Is. 66:2 (BSB)

The word esteem indicates God’s will is meshed with His valuing us. He is pleased with and highly values a person who is humble/contrite in his/her relationship with God and one who respects God’s word.

Desirable:
“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more desirable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Prov. 21:2-3 (BSB)

The emphasis is on what God desires is about heart and relationship, not necessarily performance. Righteousness involves our thoughts and actions in relationship to God, but also to others. Again, the will of God is relational, involving both God and man..

Delights –Pleasure – Pleased – Devoted:
“He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legpower of the man. The LORD is pleased with those who fear Him, who hope in His loving devotion.” Psalm 147:10-11 (BSB)

These words are associated with the will of God in relationship with us. The “will of God” expresses God’s devotion to us. What an awesome truth- the almighty, sovereign and loving God is devoted to you and me. That gives me a clear perspective on the will of God in my life and moves me to respond with devotion to God and to delight to do His will.

Reflections on the Will of God
Throughout this study of the will of God, I am asking myself some questions. I will share them with you and perhaps they will help you in your walk with God.

  • Do I know what the will of God is? Have I taken time to know him so that I know what pleases Him?
  • Am I doing many good things because they are what everyone else is doing, and or because they seem to be expected of me? Or, am I doing these things as an intentional loving response to God in my relationship with Him?
  • Do I esteem, treasure, delight in God in response to how He esteems, treasures and delights in me?

When I feel stressed by performance, or other’s opinions, judgments and expectations, I meditate on Ephesians 1:4-5 and remember God’s will is to draw me close to Him and that He is transforming me into His image.

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The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear Him.
Psalm 25:14

A New Look at an Old Truth in a New Year

Do you ever wonder if you are attuned to God and His will; if you really understand what God’s will is, and if you are following it?  I do, even though I have been a disciple of Jesus for many years and have read the Bible through several times.  I feel led to seriously re-consider, study anew the idea of “God’s will” and “doing God’s will,” if doing is even the accurate expression.  

The concept of the “will of God” is often used in a generic way, in that all good activities are lumped together and referred to as doing the “will of God.” Most people would think that my choice of knowing and doing the will of God is a rather basic focus. After all, a friend of mine said, “You have been a disciple of Jesus for many years; surely you know and are doing the will of God.”

As believers in God, we tend to automatically assume we are doing the will of God. We attend and participate in church services; we do good works; we live a relatively “clean” life style, so we think we are doing the will of God, but are we? Or, are we doing someone’s idea of “God’s will,” or our own version of “God’s will.” So at the start of this New Year I want to take a new look at God’s will and my connection to His will.

What is the “will” of God?
Simply put someone might say, “That’s easy the will of God are the commands of God; and almost immediately another pipes up and says, ”Uh, oh, be careful you don’t get legalistic.” Putting my fears of legalism aside I want to look at this idea of doing the will of God as embodied within my relationship with God, not the keeping of a code or fulfilling certain expectations so that I feel good about myself, or sense of spiritual security, which may be false.
What does it mean to live out the will of God in my life?

The word for “will” in the Greek New Testament is thelema, or a form thereof, and refers to: will, desire, intention, design, or plan.

We see this word spoken by Jesus in the prayer he taught his disciples: “Your (God’s) kingdom come, Your will (thelema) be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10

Again, Jesus refers to “doing the will of God” as recorded in Mt. 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will (thelema) of my Father who is in heaven.”

The Will of God and Relationship
I am thinking the “will” of God has more to do with His intention, His desire, His design, or His plan to draw us close into a relationship with Him and to transform us more and more into His image. Clearly this has been God’s plan for me all along. Let’s take a close look at Ephesians 1:3-6 while defining and emphasizing some words.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will (thelematos). to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the Beloved One..” (BSB)

 Here are the things that stand out in this passage about the will of God:

  • “chose” – God made a deliberate “willful choice” to draw us into a relationship with Him through Jesus
  • “in His presence” – The expression in His presence signifies a close personal relationship. God’s intention, his will/his design was to bring us into an intimate relationship with him
  • “predestined” – This meaning of this word is more closely associated with the understanding of “pre-planning.”  God planned in advance to send His Son Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins (our self-willed-ness) so that we could be personally connected to Him.
  • “the good pleasure of His will” – God’s will, His intention, His design, His plan to initiate this and bring this about through Jesus was His pleasure. Pleasure has several meanings among those meanings is delight, good favor, beneficence towards man. God’s will to draw us close to Him was not done with a heavy heart or out of some kind of divine obligation. It was God’s pleasure to design, to plan in advance for us to be in an intimate relationship with Him.

When the angels announced the birth of Jesus they were revealing this truth about God’s good will, His good plan for us. The NKJV translates “God’s pleasure” as “His good will or good intent” to man.
          “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14

There are many passages of scripture from Genesis to Revelations that reveal this same aspect of God’s will, His good intention, His design to gather us into Him.

Facets of the Divine Will
The will of God is like a large sparkling diamond. It has many facets. Like a diamond, each facet shines in a different way as you hold it up to the light. Once we see the whole of the diamond, we can then begin to examine the facets and get a better understanding of its beauty and value.

So it is with the will of God. The more I understand about the facets of the divine will, the more I can appreciate the will of God and the more likely I am to be in sync with God’s will.

Some words that need to be considered as facets of the will of God include:  surrender, submission, Lordship, exchanging yokes, denying self; abiding in God; refuging in God; knowing the eternal God and rejoicing in His presence. I am sure after a little thought you will see more facets to the will of God.

Some of the facets mentioned above may bring back a tinge of fear or maybe even a sense of burden or insecurity, but when I consider the will of God as His choosing to design a plan for me to come into a forever friendship with Him  through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, I can give up all fear and lean into Him.

Reflection for a New Year
I would ask you to reread Ephesians 1:3-6 and re-consider your ideas about the will of God in your life.

Do you know what the will of God is? How does doing the will of God fit in with having a personal relationship with God? How can you grow in sync with God’s will? What will that look like in your life?

I intend to continue my quest for comprehending and taking in the will of God in my life this year. I invite you to join me.

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“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

God Became a Speck for You!

As a young child during the Christmas season there was an elaborate and very beautiful manger scene that took up a whole corner of the church I attended. To my child eyes it was beautiful, really, a thing of awe. I have never seen anything like it since.

Every year during the Christmas season the children would line up and stroll past this scene singing a song of triumph. I think the song is entitled “Strains of Triumph.”  My family lived in a multi-ethnic community, we were among the Polish group, so I should clarify that we sang this song in Polish. I hear it in my head, with only snatches of remembered words, but I clearly remember the word for triumph.

It was a song about the triumph that came from God becoming a man! And there, encapsulated in that procession of children and their worship song, you have the true cause for celebration – the incarnation.

 God With Us – Immanuel
Immanuel is a name given to Jesus by God. This name encapsulates the incarnation. When Joseph heard the name spoken by the angel, he believed and obeyed.

“Behold, the virgin will hold in womb, and will bring forth a son, and they will call His name Immanuel” which is, being translated, “God with us.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife.”  Matthew 1:23 BLB Matthew 1:24 NASB

Sometimes we can be as confused as Joseph was in regards to who Jesus is.  At times I may even wonder what is God’s intent towards me and purpose for me. I think meditating on this truth of Immanuel, God becoming man, will strengthen my faith in the love of God for man, and His desire to know me and have a relationship with me.

God went through great lengths to show us that He desires to be with us and have a relationship with us.  

God, the majestic, all powerful, the Creator and king of the universe, the source of all life and light, the all sovereign God became a “speck,” a single cell zygote in a human womb for you and me. 

Love Detailed
There are numerous passages of scripture that confirm this truth and define the purpose of God becoming man. These passages reveal in detail the deep love of God for us and His desire to be in a relationship with us. Let’s review some of these passages.

Immanuel, God in the flesh, purchased us with His blood.

  • Keep watch over yourselves and the entire flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20:28
  • He (God) is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Ephesians 1:7

 Immanuel, God in the flesh, had a physical body that could bleed, die and then be resurrected.

  • Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Hebrews 2:14
  • For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the spirit 1 Peter 3:18
  • But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy, unblemished, and blameless in His presence—Col. 1:22
  • By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also. 1 Cor. 6:14

Immanuel, God with us, had a body that could suffer on our behalf.

  • He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
  • But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Why Immanuel?
Jesus is God in the flesh, Immanuel.  Why did God come down in the flesh? Why was He born as a man so many years ago? The answer is throughout the scriptures but is very clear in Ephesians 3:12

  • In Him (Jesus) and through faith in Him we may enter God’s presence with boldness and confidence. Ephesians 3:12

God became man and did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Immanuel became the “sin offering” for us, His blood atoned for our sin. He did this so that we could be in a relationship with God and enjoy fellowship with Him.

This truth of “God with us” is carefully documented for us. 1 John 1:1-4 describes the documentation of the Word become flesh- Immanuel, and it clearly states the purpose of God becoming a man.

“We proclaim to you the One who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw Him with our own eyes and touched Him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. 

 This One who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen Him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us.

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.”

So What?
Whether you know the exact month or day that Jesus was born is not so important. Whether you follow those who think Jesus was born in a lean to stable or whether he was born in the lower floor of a house which was reserved for the animals is not so important. Whether you understand the origins of the “Christ-mass” holiday is not so important.

What is important is the truth that God became man in Immanuel. God became man for the explicit purpose of suffering, bleeding, dying, being buried and raised from the dead. He became the sin offering for us, so that we could have access to fellowship with God.

God went through great lengths to draw me to Him. Will I value and appreciate the humility and love of God? Will I choose to die to my “self” and live in friendship with God? What about you?

God in the Coffee Shop

We sat in the coffee shop talking about the disappointing turn her life had taken. She thought she had what she wanted in life but within the time it took to make one decision everything was turned upside down.

It had been six months since he left and her feelings are tangled in a ball of confusion. She is trying to cobble together a life by herself. We talked about her connection to God and where she is with Him now.

Thoughts of failure and unworthiness were swirling in her head. She wondered where God is; did He too walk away from her? Can God and His people be trusted? There must be something really bad about me that this happened?

Listen for Truth
In times of difficulty and pain, many fears and insecurities vie for center stage in our mind. When we are attacked by swarming life draining thoughts the best place to go is to the source of truth, the Word of God. If you are not strong enough to go there by yourself, call a friend and seek these truths together.

Knowing truths about God that we can sink our faith into is like firmly embedded pegs in a slick rock wall that you can grasp onto to keep your balance and use to pull yourself up as you move forward.

So God’s peace entered the coffee shop as we read some truths about Him.

God Cares
One of the stand out truths we needed that morning was to know that God cares about us and He is with us in our hurts.  God is very personal.  He does not disappear when we are going through difficulties. Here are a few verses that reveal the truth of God’s heart for us.

“Cast all your anxieties on Him for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

This truth of God’s care and concern for us stands out within a passage from the letter of Peter to the disciples scattered abroad due to persecutions. The disciples had to move away to escape the threats to their life, their faith, their families, their livelihood, etc. They probably left behind much and were in emotional distress, and physical need. It is possible that they did not feel the care of God. Yet, in the midst of their troubles, Peter tells them this truth – “… God cares for you.”

The word translated “cares for you” is defined as: to pay special attention to; to take an interest in.

The truth about God always stands in direct opposition to the circumstances we are in.
Our circumstances seem to shout out: “God does not care.”

These disciples to whom Peter wrote had to make a choice to believe that God cares.
This truth is the same today, and we receive the benefits of this truth the same way they did. In the midst of the pain and chaos of our lives, we choose to believe that God cares. This truth is found over and over again in God’s Word. Truth leads us out of hopelessness and fear.

God Knows the Details
The scripture 1 Peter 1:5:7 literally means God cares about every little detail of your life. “Surely not,” you say. But yes that is the truth; a description of this very truth is in Psalm 56:8:

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (ESV)

Some translations say “wanderings” instead of tossings, which makes sense in light of all Israel’s wanderings and missteps. But the truth about God is He knows our wanderings, our tossings. He records our tossings of confusion, distress, despair, hurt, fear, betrayal, etc., in His book.

It’s like God keeps a journal of our difficult and painful times much like a parent might journal the growth of their child. God tenderly stores our tears in a bottle, as a parent might keep their child’s first tooth to come out, or store away a lock of baby hair.

A loving parent is attuned to all good growth as well as difficulties in their child’s life. In fact many parents can sense even a nuance of difficulty in their child’s life.  God is the perfect parent, the ultimate shepherd; and He sees, He knows, He records our laments, and He responds.

I Don’t Know
Well, you say, “If God cares so much and He knows so much why doesn’t He change my situation, in fact, why did He allow this to happen in the first place?

I have thought these thoughts and asked these questions. I have thought that if God really cared, He would magically pluck me up out of the difficulty.

It has been my experience that in general, God does not do this. But true to His faithfulness and love, God walks with us in all these things. We see Him with us through our faith.

For example, consider the account in the book of Daniel in which Daniel is falsely accused, of sedition against the king by jealous men. God does not rush in and punish these men; He does not send an angel to tell the king to overturn the ruling; and He doesn’t mysteriously remove Daniel from the situation.

Daniel still has to walk into the den where there are lions, hungry ones. Imagine that!

Daniel does not have an insider tip that God will shut the mouths of the lions. Daniel moves forward perhaps with some fear, and is willing to be attacked by hungry lions for honoring God. Yet God was there and shut the mouths of the lions. (Read Daniel 6) Think about what it might have been like for Daniel in that den that night. Could it be similar to you in your troubles?

God Is in It
A similar account is in Daniel 3 regarding an account of three young men who refuse to dishonor God by engaging in an act of worship that would betray their loyalty to God. These men knew the punishment for this crime against the king – death in a fiery furnace.

I hate fire and would do almost anything to avoid being burned by fire, let alone death by fire.

These three men professed their faith in God and their knowledge of His faithful care and powerful ability to save them, but also they were aware that God might not save them from this fiery death.

Again, we do not see God swooping to the rescue like a modern super hero; righting every wrong; huffing out the fire; rebuking the king; exposing the accusers or picking up the three men and flying away with them. No! The three young men stand firm in trusting and honoring God and walk into the fire.

Do you think they did not have any fear of the flames? Any second thoughts? Any tossings in their minds?

Where was God?In the flames with them!
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”  He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:24-25

As a result of their faith in God; in your face loyalty to God and God’s presence with them, these three young men came out of the fire unsinged.

“ … So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,  and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Dan. 3:26b-27

The Result of Trusting God
What was the result of the fiery trial of these three young men? They saw the glory of God. The king and all his people believed and praised God. (See Daniel 3:28-28)

Choose Truth
In the midst of our troubles; our anxieties; our tossings; our pain we need to ignore the lying voices about God, and deliberately hang onto truths we know about Him. The truth is God cares about us and our lives, and God is with us in the big and small troubles.

So what will you and I choose to believe about God when we are in the fire? Will we trust that He cares, that He is there walking with us? Will we choose truth and see His glory?

As you reflect on these questions, consider this truth about God.

“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him freely give us all things?!”  Romans 8:32

No Parking!

Park your mind in a better place!  Don’t keep backing your thoughts into the negative spaces.

My thoughts can undo me, seriously. If my husband is late returning from an appointment I already have created a scenario of him bleeding in a wreck by the side of the road. If my friend rushes by me without stopping to acknowledge me, or if she says something offensive, I have created all manner of accusations in my mind. The problem deepens when I choose to park there. I am more likely to somehow end up thinking bad things about God or myself, or both.

It is true there are difficulties in my life, people say and do things that hurt me. There are character weaknesses and other challenges that seem insurmountable to me. Not to mention past hurts and difficulties that replay in my head and lead me to park overtime in the negative space.

I have found that if I keep thinking I cannot overcome my weaknesses; or, that I am not good enough/smart enough/ strong enough; or why don’t they acknowledge my worth, then I am trapped in the dark spaces. The longer I park there the more difficult it becomes to heal and move out.

Park in the Light
Changing the way I think about myself, others, and life is called repentance. I need to repent of dark, hopeless regurgitation of thoughts that usually are not true and instead fill my mind with truths about God, His love and His power.

Such As . . .
When I question God’s goodness, the truth is God has good intentions towards me.

  • Psalm 86:5 – For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in loving kindness to all who call on you.
  • James 1:17- Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.

When I feel that God does not care, the truth is He is deeply aware of my hurts.

  • Psalm 56:8 – You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
  • Matthew 11:28-29 -Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

When I think my situation or someone else’s is impossible, I read the truth about God’s love and power.

  • Matthew 19:25- 26 – When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • Jeremiah 32:17 – “Ah Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for you.”

When I think I am not important and don’t matter, the truth is God values me so much that He let Jesus die for me.

  • Romans 5:6-8 – Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people. Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare. Maybe someone would have the courage to die for a good person. Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.
  • 1 Peter 1:18-19 – Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ.

Bank Truth
I do not advocate being a “Polly Anna,” who thinks everything is “ok,” or the proverbial ostrich with his head in the sand, who ignores everything. At times, there may be wrongs we need to set right. But for the most part, I think God wants us to focus on the light because he is in the light. His truth is light. So I need to refuse to park my thoughts in the dark with falsehoods and half-truths.

Search the scriptures and find truths that will help you park your mind in the light. Bank these truths, keep them handy. Use them to lead you out of dark spaces.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

Invisible

A little boy walked to the side of the playground, shoulders slumped and face cast down; feeling unwanted, disregarded, and invisible. You see the kids from his class had just picked teams for a game, and again, he was not chosen.

Feeling invisible or unchosen is not restricted to children’s play yards. A friend of mine, a very intelligent woman with a high ranking position, told me how she at times feels invisible, at work, sometimes at home and even at times in her church community.

She relayed a humorous analogy from her work place.  In a rest room there are three sinks with automated sensors, so as one puts their hands near the sensor the water turns on. One of the sensors is temperamental, sometimes it works and sometimes not. You put your hands there for water; you wait and get nothing. You feel invisible, not even weighty enough to trigger a sensor.

Maybe you feel invisible. You may be within a group, yet are overlooked, not regarded and “unchosen.”

Relocate Your Value Source
When I am feeling overlooked, disregarded and not chosen I withdraw. I respond this way to protect myself, however my response does not help me. The truth is I need to relocate the source of value.  I am looking in the wrong place for my identity, value and approval.

We are social beings, created for relationship and community. That is true, and we do indeed build into one another. However, I am learning that my basic value and identity is not determined by other people’s response to me or approval of me, but rather I need to go to my Creator for value and purpose.

There are truths in God’s word that can lift up our countenance and help us live loved and with a sense of true value. God knows us, sees us and has chosen us.

God Sees
God is the God who sees. Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, calls God by the name EL Roi which means “the God who sees,” Genesis 16:13.

Hagar has been cast out into the desert with her young son. Alone! Surely she is feeling despair and fear, maybe even invisible. But she was not invisible to God. He was aware of her situation; he saw her and delivered her, so as a result she calls him, El Roi, the God who sees.

God’s character is that he is ever alert to us. We are ever the center of his vision and awareness.

In fact God has intimate knowledge of us. God knows the very number of hairs on my head, Luke 12:7.  God knows every tear you have cried: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Ps. 56:8

God knows when I sit and when I stand. He discerns my thoughts before I think them. He knows a word that is on my tongue before I even speak it.

  • “You know when I sit and when I rise;you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you. Lord, Lord, know it completely.” Psalm 139:4-5

While I do not understand God having such knowledge of me, I feel secure in it.

Visible and Chosen
God sees us and deliberately chooses to draw us near to him.

At times in my life I have felt “unchosen,” and I have been “unchosen.” The most confusing thing is when you are not chosen by those from whom it is natural to expect being chosen.

There are many ways we expect to be chosen or included but are not. There is no need to list them here, I am sure you have experienced a few of these stinging disappointments in your life. The truth is – you are chosen by God.

Being chosen by God is not a consolation prize. It is a truth that grounds us and directs our life. It is from his choosing us that we begin to know our true value.

The word chosen in the scriptures, both Old and New Testament references means: to be selected; to be loved; to be valued; to be delighted in; to be preferred or wanted.

Read some of these passages and let the truth speak to you about how deeply and intentionally God values us. God is telling us we matter to him. He welcomes and desires us. He wants to include us in his presence.

  • For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Peter 1:18-19
  • Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to! Ephesians 1:4-5 (TLB)
  • But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 2 Thess. 2:13
  • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 (We are God’s beloved and are treasured by God.)
  • Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Col. 312
  • Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35,37-39 (NLT)

Believe It
We could fill pages and pages with truths from God’s Word that describe God’s love and valuing of us. However, these truths about God have little power to change our thoughts, feelings and understandings about ourselves if we do not believe them.

I encourage you to read these passages again and insert your name in them, turn the third person pronouns into first person ones. Make these verses personal to you and God, because that is how he intends them.

Let these truths change your thinking about who you are, and your value. The next time you feel invisible – think about these truths.

 *************************************************
“And so we know and rely (depend) on the love God has for us. God is love…”
1 John 4:16a Live in His love!

God Loves Pink Monkeys

There is a legend about a “pink monkey” which describes a behavioral experiment involving a group of monkeys. Supposedly, some behaviorists dyed one monkey pink and returned it to the monkey group. After a brief perusal of the pink monkey, the other monkeys attacked it so viciously that the researchers had to rescue the pink monkey.

This “Pink Monkey” experiment is not true, but rather a social parable about how human beings tend to treat those who are different. More often than not we tend to push off to the side those who are different; those who don’t readily fit into our picture of the norm.

Differences can include physical appearance, intellectual ability, physical ability or disability, personality, emotional states, mental health challenges and the like.  The “pink monkey” in the parable was different. He no longer blended in with the tribe. Therefore, he was suspect, he was isolated and attacked.

The sad part of this “pink monkey” story is that I learned about it through a high school girl. She read about the “Pink Monkey” experiment and likened it to in her peer group  – feeling the attack of disapproval, rejection and indifference. She believes herself to be a “Pink Monkey” rather that a wondrous creation of God reflecting His image.

This may be an extreme conclusion for her to draw, and may not totally reflect the whole reality of her situation, but it is how this young woman feels. I was deeply moved by this girl’s feelings and had to ask myself, “How am I doing at loving and accepting those who are different from the norm or from my expectations and standards?”

God Created “Pink Monkeys*” (*Please note I am in no way saying that man is a monkey, or that people who are different are monkeys. I am using this term to refer to all those who stand out from the norm like the “pink monkey in the story.)

I want to advocate that we see beyond the “pink” to the beauty of God in each person. “Pink Monkeys” are created in the image of God just as is everyone else.

  • “These are the family records of the descendants of Adam. On the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God…” Genesis 5:1
  • “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:17
  • “But now, O Lord, you are our Father;we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

God creates us to reflect Him, His intelligence, creativity, capacity for love, mercy and so on. Each person in some way reflects God. People will look very different; have differing degrees of intellectual ability, different personalities, and contrasting emotional states. The type or amount of these qualities does not change the image of God within that person.

We, as God’s creations, are called to respect and respond to His image in others. I believe that is why “to love one another” is the second priority in God’s commands. By loving one another we demonstrate that we are in God’s image, and we bring out His image in others.

God Champions “Pink Monkeys”
In the scriptures we see that God has a heart for all people and He seems to especially seek out those who are marked as different in some way: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. God has no partiality for those whom man deems as beautiful, whole, charismatic, successful, and so on. Scripture testifies to this.

  • “… who (God) shows no partiality to princes,nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?” Job 34:19
  • “For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality …” Deuteronomy 10:17
  • “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” James 2:1

Let’s look more closely at God’s love for those that man often finds wanting.

The Withered
There was a man in the synagogue who had a withered hand. It was physically distracting to others and useless to him. Performing daily tasks and earning a living with the use of only one hand was indeed challenging, especially in the age and society in which he lived.

Jesus had a heart to help this man by healing him. But the leaders in the synagogue did not care about this man’s life or his feelings. In fact, it seems they used him to trap Jesus by accusing Him of doing work (healing) on the Sabbath.

Jesus was grieved in his heart at their “coldness of heart,” their lack of regard and care that these men had for the condition of the man with the withered hand. Yet, Jesus had compassion on him and healed the man, risking the wrath of the religious leaders. (Read:Mark. 3:1-6)

As I reflect on Jesus’ character in this situation, I ask myself: “What is my heart towards people whose appearance is unusual maybe from burns, an accident, a birth defect, an amputation, skin lesions from a disease, or other physical issues? Am I willing to reach out and touch them, welcome them into my group, befriend them? Serve them? Look past their appearance, disability or behavior and see the person within? Am I willing to put myself in their shoes? Do I give them the value God does, or do I consider them somehow less important, or less valuable?”

The Cast Out
On a busy pathway a man with a dreaded disease approached Jesus. This man had leprosy a disease that in those days marred physical appearance, brought isolation to its victim and fear to others around him/her. The leper was literally “cast out,” forced to keep a designated distance from others,  and to label and identify him/herself as unclean, unacceptable.

Jesus’ response was amazing. He did not turn away from this man, reject him or follow the accepted protocol. Jesus reached out in compassion and touched this man, who had probably not had an affirming touch in a long time.

  • “Then a man with a serious skin disease came to Him … Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him. “I am willing,”he told him. “Be made clean.”  Immediately the disease left him, and he was healed.” Mark 1:40-41

As I read this account in the life of Jesus I ask myself who do I hold at a distance and why?

The Out of Control
There are many reasons as to why a person’s emotions, thought processes and or behaviors may be out of control. Jesus reached out to just such a man. In fact this man was so out of control that people had chained him in a graveyard. (Wow, how is that for acceptance and affirmation from your peers)?

This man had self destructive tendencies; he was obviously in turmoil and pain. Everyone feared him and ran away from him, but Jesus reached out to him, drew him in, helped him and had a vision for this man that went beyond the grave yard.

  • “As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, He was met by a man with an unclean spirit, who was coming from the tombs. This man had been living in the tombs and could no longer be restrained, even with chains. Though he was often bound with chains and shackles, he had broken the chains and shattered the shackles. Now there was no one with the strength to subdue him. Night and day in the tombs and in the mountains he kept crying out and cutting himself with stones.” Read: Mark 5:1-20

Jesus did not bind this man, which surely He could have done. Jesus did not ignore this man. Jesus looked at this man, took time to hear his story and then helped him. In the end, we see Jesus and the man sitting together talking and then Jesus gives the man a new purpose.

  • “Jesus said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” Mk. 5:19-20

You, Me and “Pink Monkeys”
What does this say to you and me? If you profess faith in Jesus and claim to follow Him, then it says a lot.

We are recipients of the grace and abundant love of God, and are called to love as Jesus loved.  Some questions I am asking myself about my love for others:

  • Do I love others beyond those who include me in a familiar circle?
  • Do I pull in those who for whatever reason are on the fringes?
  • Do I consider and value those who have a different personality type than me?
  • Do I fellowship those who have a physical or a mental challenge?
  • Am I emulating God’s love?
  • Am I teaching my children and others how to see and love other people?

Jesus stopped. Jesus looked deeply. Jesus listened. Jesus acted in compassion and love!
Let us follow His example.

 

 

Nuclear Prayers

“Where is God when I need Him?” This is a question many of us think, but we do not often ask God for fear of sounding disrespectful.

A friend of mine who has had a significantly rough life journey was asking this question. Over the past several years she has been walking closer with God, working on healing from the scars caused by her own negative thinking, words and actions; and from traumas delivered by others.

She has acknowledged negative actions, words and attitudes that she has been responsible for, and has sought professional help in working through the toxic actions and words of others. These are all important steps in the healing process.

She has sought answers not only in counseling but also in truths in God’s word, in prayer and in her relationship with God.  In viewing this from a “Christian” perspective one might say she is a Jesus girl seeking a deeper more genuine walk with God. Yet, she feels her prayers are unanswered and wonders why she does not feel God’s support. Maybe she needs to ask God this very question, “Where are you, Father?”

God Welcomes Laments!
Sometimes praying what we think are standard, acceptable, safe prayers may not be enough. Such “standard” prayers may indicate that we need to get down deeper in trusting God.

Perhaps we need to follow the example of the prophets and psalmists of old and pray risky prayers. Maybe, we need to risk sounding brazen and disrespectful. Sometimes we need to “dump it” on God, lament and moan to God from the depths of our heart. Such prayers may sound scandalous. They may sound disrespectful to God, but in truth such prayers show absolute trust in the love and goodness of God.

Lamenting to God is a true pouring out of your heart, and shows an authentic engagement with God.

The Israelites knew how to lament to God. In fact when the Israelites began moving away from God, breaking their covenant with Him, God literally asks, “Hey, why aren’t you guys trusting me, lamenting to me and asking me where I am?”

Jeremiah 2: 1-8 reveals that God accuses His people of not trusting Him enough to lament. This is apparent in verses 6 and 8.

 5 This is what the Lord says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols   and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord,  who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness,  through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’7 I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable. The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’

Dumping It!
True faith is childlike and just dumps it out. Lamenting is pouring out our heart to God. It is risking sounding like a spoiled child or an offended wife in order to seek God’s help. Shallow “religious” faith bottles it all up. In a sense, it is hypocritical because we are in our minds saying, “Well, God, you are the sovereign God and it is your fault that these things are happening.”

The prophets and the psalmists in their lamenting reveal a true faith in God, a real dependence on His love, faithfulness and power.

David, a man after God’s heart, often lamented to God. David cried out to God in desperation and in faith. Psalm 142:1-2 carries the tone of a lament.
“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.  I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.”

Laments Recorded by God
Below are examples of prayers of lament found in the scriptures. As you read them you may feel uncomfortable with the raw openness of these prayers, but listen for the faith. What are they really saying?

Blaming God for their Sinful State

  • Why, Lord, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. Isaiah 63:17

Charging God with Forgetting, Rejecting; Neglecting…

  • Wake up, O Lord! Why are You sleeping? Arise! Do not reject us forever. Why do You hide Your face and forget our misery and oppression? For our soul has sunk to the dust; our bodies cling to the earth. Psalm 44:24-25 (BSB)
  • Do not hide your face from me,do not turn your servant away in anger;you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Psalm 27:9
  • How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?How long will you hide your face from me?How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? Psalm 13:1-2
  • “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9

Charging God with Anger and Abandonment

  • Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair. 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me.17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me.18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—  darkness is my closest friend. Psalm 88:14-18

Nuclear Faith
Laments are like nuclear prayers that express radical faith. They are not the tantrums of a child, but rather cries coming from hearts that know God. Laments are the vulnerable, desperate outpouring of our need to God. When we lament we are grieving about our life, we are proclaiming our trust in a God who is faithful; compassionate; involved and powerful.

Laments come out of faith and lead us to greater faith. They remind us who God is and how much we need Him. With humility and out of your deep need for God, begin a journal of your own authentic laments to God.