The air I breathe

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The LORD God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. ~ Ezekiel37:5 (CEB)

There was a time in my life that I struggled just to breathe. I carried such burdens inside of me I felt that there was no more space left for my lungs to fill with air. My breathing actually felt shallow. Breathing is essential but unless there is something wrong we never pay attention to the act of breathing. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit being the breath of God, breathing in us. The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma, which means “breath.”

There is a song by Mercy Me, “Breathe”. At times when I was almost gasping for air, I would say in my heart, “You are the air I breathe; You are the air I breathe”. This was my prayer when no other words would form. Ezekiel 37:9 says, “Breathe into these dead bodies and let them live.” I feel that God has done that in my life. Every time I reached out to Him, He breathed life back into this dead heart bit by bit.

When I don’t have words to pray, Romans 8:36 assures me “In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans.” It is the Holy Spirit of God who prays in us, who offers us the gifts of love, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, peace, and joy. Lamentations 3:25 tells me “The Lord is good to those who hope in Him, to the person who seeks Him”, so I hope in God with my whole heart. Psalm 130:5 says, “I hope, LORD. My whole being hopes, and I wait for God’s promise.” What is God’s promise to me? “Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1Co 3:16) As long as I let Him live in me I can have life because it is His breath that breathes through me. When it is God’s breath flowing through my lungs it is not a struggle to breathe.

Lord, You are the air I breathe. I thank You for your Holy Presence that lives in me. I thank You that You give me words every day to tuck deep in my heart. I would be lost without You. May I always be desperate for Your love. Amen.

God fights our giants

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“The LORD, “David added, “who rescued me from the power of both lions and bears, will rescue me from the power of this Philistine.” “Go!” Saul replied to David. “And may the LORD be with you!” ~1 Samuel 17:37(CEB)

I like the story of David and Goliath. A boy versus the giant and the boy wins. It isn’t the underdog theme that I love. It is the confidence that David shows us in the story. He had such an intimate relationship with God that he KNEW that God would take care of him. How did he know? David knew God would take care of him because they had a history together. David tells us some of this history. “The Lord, who rescued me from the power of both lions and bears, will rescue me from the power of this Philistine.” David had the confidence to fight the giant because he had a history with God where God had delivered him from the lions and bears. To him, it was a natural assumption that God would take care of him in this situation as well.

It is important for us to be aware of the times that God has worked in our lives. Even the small things He has done for us. Recalling the small things He has done bolsters our confidence for the big things in life. If God only came waltzing through our lives at the big events we might not have the faith we need to believe that he will show up in great times of need. I think he blesses us even in small things so that we can learn to trust him and as our trust grows and our relationship blossoms we gain the confidence that we need for the big battles in life.

The challenge for us is to look for those small blessings that God bestows on us. Sometimes they might be easy to overlook or to say that it is just coincidence. When we learn to look for God in the small moments of our lives we will gain the knowledge we need to see him in the crucial times as well. God is always with us. We have to train our eyes to see him at work in our lives.

Heavenly Father, I know the Bible tells me that you are always with me. Open my eyes to see you in the small ordinary moments so that I will be confident to find you in the trials of life. Amen.

Taking life as it comes

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Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 (CEB)

Sometimes I think I hold the market on worry. I get so pulled into all the possibilities all the” what ifs” that I sometimes just wear myself out. As a child, I would almost make it a game. If I could think of all the “what ifs” then maybe I could keep them from happening. Even though I know the odds of really being able to control things in that way I still find myself in my old habit of worry. Maybe that is part of the key to the problem. I have let worry become a habit. I do it without even thinking. It has become part of a thought process that I need to unlearn.

Just before verse 34 in Chapter 6 of Matthew, we are told that God knows what we need. He dresses the earth in splendor, He feeds the sparrows, He knows the number of hairs on my head. Can’t I trust Him to know what I need as well? How I can learn to set aside my worry is to just deal with things as they come. God has equipped me to do this which is why He tells us to focus only on today. Worry only brings frustration and frustration is the first clue that God isn’t in my situation.

Lord help me to practice this day the art of taking life as it comes. You know what I need and I am assured by your Word that you will meet my every need for this day. Amen.

Waiting on hope

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I am hunched over, completely down; I wander around all day long, sad. My insides are burning up; there’s nothing in my body that isn’t broken. I’m worn out, completely crushed; I groan because of my miserable heart. Everything I long for is laid out before you, my Lord; my sighs aren’t hidden from you. My heart pounds; my strength abandons me. Even the light of my eyes is gone. My loved ones and friends keep their distance from me in my sickness; those who were near me now stay far away. ~Psa 38:6-11 (CEB)

Have you ever felt like you have been run over by a semi-truck and then drug behind it for a few miles? These words from Psalms reach out to me in those times that I feel like I have been beaten up by life. You know the kind of beat up where even your friends avoid you because they just don’t know what to do or say to you anymore.

In those times I see these words in Psalms and I say, Yes Lord! This is how I feel! Completely broken, my spirit is crushed and my heart is in pieces. But you know my heart Lord, so you know all that is within me, my sighing, and my groaning you know it all. Strength has abandoned me Lord and my eyes can’t find the light. Then as I continue to read through Psalm 38 I see in Verse 15, “But I wait for you, LORD! You will answer, my Lord, my God!” Here is assurance that God will be there for me and He will answer the cries of my heart.

It is in our troubled times that we learn to lean on God and not on ourselves. Each trouble we go through we gain more and more knowledge of God and these moments add up to build trust in Him. 2 Cor 1:10 says “God rescued us from a terrible death, and He will rescue us. We have set our hope on Him that He will rescue us again.” No matter how beat up I feel. No matter how near death I am sure my heart has come, I have knowledge from God’s word that He will be there and that I can set my hope on Him.

Mender of hearts, I put my heart in Your hands. I trust you to help me keep it whole no matter what life may throw at me. In You, I know that my eyes will find the light that they seek and that I can have hope for this day. I thank You that I can trust in You. Amen

Armor

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Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his powerful strength. Put on God’s armor so that you can make a stand against the tricks of the devil. ~Eph 6:10-11 (CEB)

Verses 14-17 continue to tell us to fasten truth around our waist, put on the breastplate of righteousness, to put on shoes of proclamation so that we can spread the good news wherever we may go, to take up the shield of faith in defense of Satan, to place the helmet of salvation on our head and to carry with us the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Finally, verse 18 says to pray in the Spirit at all times, to keep alert and to always persevere.

How does this translate into some everyday actions that I can do? The armor of God is what we do to act healthy and to stay in touch with God. So that when life attacks we have something to battle back with. Armor is music, scriptures, prayer Christian fellowship, worship. All these things help us stand firm in our faith so that we can withstand the “evil of the day” as verse 13 says.

If I want to have strength, I need to look to the Source that is above all other sources. I need to look outside myself for that Source of strength. I need to fasten tight the truth of who I am in Christ. Not hold onto what others might think of me. I need to carry in my heart God’s love for me and be willing to share His love with others.

May I not leave my house today O Lord, without being fully dressed so that I will not be destroyed as I go out into the world doing your service. Help me to hold onto truth and give me strength to do Your will in everything I do.

Fishy business

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When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? Simon replied, Yes, Lord, you know I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my lambs. Jesus asked a second time, Simon son of John, do you love me? Simon replied, Yes, Lord, you know I love you. Jesus said to him, Take care of my sheep. He asked a third time, Simon son of John, do you love me? Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, Do you love me? He replied, Lord, you know everything; you know I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep. ~John 21:15-17

Just before verses 15-17, we find that after Christ’s resurrection, Peter is a little lost and has gone back to his old life of fishing. It had confused the Disciples that things had not gone the way they thought they should go. They kind of felt lost. That happens to me, I think I understand what it is God wants me to do and before I have all the information I am making my plans, organizing things in the way I think they should go. When I look up I realize I have gotten lost again. I took my eyes off God’s plans and started making my own plans thinking I knew just what God wanted. Sometimes I get it so wrong that I almost feel that I have lost faith for a little while. Maybe I even lose faith so much that I go back to my old way of living.

I feel in this scene that Peter lost his way for a little while. So he went back to what he knew best, the fishing business. But this story is such a story of hope. Christ didn’t give up on Peter. He didn’t say “I can’t believe after ALL I have shown this man he goes back to his old way of life?” No. Jesus went out and met Peter where he was. He never judged Peter at this moment. He knew he was lost so Jesus brought him back to the simple truth. “Peter do you love me?” Yes Lord, You know I do.” “Peter do you love me” Yes Lord, You know I do… and Jesus asks him a third time. “Peter, do you LOVE me?” Jesus knew Peter loved Him, but Peter had forgotten that Peter loved Him.

Just like Peter, I have doubts some days and I find myself back in my old life. Jesus comes out to where I am looking for me. He calmly reminds me of the truths I have in my heart. The love I have for Jesus gives me strength that can get me through even the tough times of getting back on track.

Lord, when I find that I have muddied life up again, I can be confident that you will find me in the cloudiest of waters. You patiently remind me of the truths I have stored in my heart. May I answer your call with a clear, Yes Lord, you know I love you. Amen.

Wandering, again.

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Jesus answered, “Whoever loves me will keep my word. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. ~John 14:23 (CEB)

This time of year it seems that I just run, run, run. My schedule is changing moving from the school year into the summer months. Classes are ending, year-end programs, plays, and award ceremonies are crowding into the schedule. Sometimes I look at my calendar and wonder just how I can be three places at once. Truth is I can’t but I still will stand there hoping for a miracle so I won’t have to choose between all of the seemingly equally important commitments that I have gotten myself into. On paper, my schedule always works, until May (or December.)

On a regular basis, I am easily distracted. So easily I can get lost, wander off in my thinking. It is even worse during hectic times. All of a sudden I realize that God is not with me. Did He leave me? No, He didn’t go anywhere. I am the one who wandered off.

Have you ever noticed that it is much easier to get lost than it is sometimes to find your way back? If I am paying attention I may only stray just a little and within a couple of turns, I can find my way back to the road I am supposed to be on. Sometimes though I am so busy with life, talking with my children, running them places, doing laundry or working that I don’t notice that I haven’t only missed one road but several turns. By the time I look up, I am hopelessly lost once again. Being lost physically or spiritually is a very scary feeling.

Often when I have found myself lost again, I take a deep breath and realize I am really okay. I know what to do. Put time with God back in my day. John 14:23 tells me if I love God I will keep His word. When I keep God’s word in my heart He will find me. He will make his home with me. Once I stop panicking, I realize God will never leave me I just need to be still for a moment, take a deep breath and look up.

Heavenly Father, save me from myself. Rein me in when I wander off. Help me to keep my eyes on you and not my circumstances. Amen.

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