Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why Do You Care?

You give me all I need
Your best, your grace, your heart
You give me everything
Your heart desires for me

And I say why, why do you care
About me way down here
And you say, My child, I am near
I see, I know, I care

On my own I am but dust
So frail, so prone to doubt
But you are patient, you are always
Ready to lift me up

And I say why, why do you care
About me even now
And you say, My child, I'm still here
I'll never leave your side

You give me grace
You give me hope
You give me love like I've never known
You give me peace
You restore my soul
And I am your delight

And I say why, why do you care
So unconditionally
And you say, My child, from where I stand
You're beautiful and you're mine

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Guard your heart always, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

I came across this verse the other day, and something about it really stirred my soul. The next day one of my friends posted this same verse on Facebook  and I felt like God wanted me to think on it more, and so I have been. And I've come up with a few thoughts I'd like to share.

What does it mean to guard your heart? When we think of guarding something, we think of protecting it, and I think that's the idea here. We need to protect our hearts, but that can be a tricky thing. When we want to protect our home, we put a lock on the door. When a nation wants to defend itself, it might build a wall around the borders. And sometimes guarding our heart means that we must do the same. We don't let things in that can steal our peace and joy.

But walls and locks can be detrimental too. A heart that is shut down and closed off from everything around it becomes a lifeless heart.

God says that life flows from the heart. It must be guarded, but not shut down. In a world where people, things, and even the heart itself can bring a great deal of harm, how is this accomplished? How can we guard our heart and have it open at the same time?

I believe the secret lies with keeping the heart fully open to God. Letting Him fill it with His love. We don't guard our heart with locks and walls. We guard it with the truth.

How have you left your heart unprotected? What lies are you believing that are damaging your heart? That you're worthless and never good enough? That happiness comes from material possessions and perfect circumstances? That harboring bitterness is better than forgiveness?

I encourage you to take a serious look at your heart. What's there? God's love for you, or shame and regret? Peace or worry? Joy or despair? Thankfulness or discontentment?

Be honest with Him about it, and ask Him to fill it with what needs to be there, including Himself, for Jesus said, "Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst. It will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Powerful Prayer

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but you can also say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:21-22

The words of Jesus are powerful words. They speak the truth. Truth that we can fully believe in. Truth that can radically change our thinking and our lives.

But His words are often taken out of context, misinterpreted, and used to teach false truths. "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer," is a perfect example of this. Just reading that sentence alone makes it sound like whatever we ask for, God will give to us, but how dangerous would that be! If you've ever seen the movie, "Bruce Almighty", you know what I mean by that. Having a god who gives us whatever we want and we think is best is a very weak and unloving god. And thankfully, our God is not like that.

So, what is Jesus saying here? What kinds of prayers have that much power behind them? What should we pray for when faced with situations that are difficult and heartbreaking? To answer those questions we must look at the context that Jesus spoke these words.

Going back to verse 12 of Matthew 21, we see Jesus is upset and angry about several things, all of which have the common thread of corruption in the religious system of the day. People were being forced to "buy" their forgiveness, nothing good was happening for the chosen people of Israel, and Jerusalem (this mountain) had become nothing more than a hill of religious and political power run amuck. And Jesus has had it! Enough is enough, and it was time to do something about it.

And He did. Later that week He allowed Himself to be captured by the Powers That Be and be crucified. He became the "sacrificial lamb" that would set us all free from our sins through nothing more than His mercy, and He rose to life to conquer the grave for us all. And in doing so, He showed us something: His great love. He didn't want to leave doubt in anyone's mind. He loved us enough to pay the ultimate price. And because He was God, He was able to put an exclamation point on the truth that God is love!!!

So what does all of this have to do with prayer? Here's what I think He's saying. "If your belief is rooted in My love for you, in the mercy and grace of God, you can ask Me to do whatever is best for you, and I will do it." And similarly, "If your belief is rooted in my love for your brother, neighbor, child, friend, etc., you can ask Me to do whatever is best for them, and I will do it!"

We often don't know what is best for us or for someone else, but Jesus knows. Leave it all in His hands, and He will give you His very best. Believe in His great love and know that you and your loved-ones are safe there. Always.