Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Turning My Eyes

During the past six months,  God has asked me the same question over and over again.

"Sue, what are you focusing on?"  

Every time He asks me this question, it is because the answer has been not Him.

Whenever I feel myself getting anxious, fearful, frustrated, angry, confused, stressed or insecure, the source can always be traced back to my focus being misplaced.

Often times my focus has been on my circumstances or myself.  Both of these are cause for doubt and unbelief to fester like an ugly bacteria tainting my vision from seeing the Truth of what God says about both my circumstances and me.

This week, in Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor, we have been reading Chapter 5 "A Confident Heart" by Renee Swope.  The following echoed loudly to me as I read it (it is starred about 10 times and underlined!)

"When we focus on our insecurities we cast a shadow of doubt in our minds by blocking the light of God's truth in our hearts. We were not created to block the light or be the light...

We find ourselves in the shadow of doubt many times because our thoughts are mostly about ourselves: how we're performing and what others are thinking about us....

It's just that when we focus our attention on ourselves, we turn our attention away from God.  We leave no room in our thoughts to listen to what He is thinking about us, because we have given that place away to be occupied by other people's opinions....

...Eyes off myself and turn them toward the Light."  pg. 86-87

Last week, I shared in "The Well is Deep", a breakthrough I had regarding the root of something I struggled with for more than thirty years of my life--fear of rejection.  If something has had thirty years to root, you can bet the root is deep and strong.

However, Jesus is stronger.

In that post, I shared how God had revealed the lies at the root of the fear of rejection for me.  Identifying the lies was HUGE.  When we know the specific lies we are believing, we can then look for specific Truth to replace those lies.

This week, I looked up scriptures to counteract those lies.  The lies I believed could be summed up as:

“You are not worthy of love.  What you have to say isn't important.  You are not accepted.  You are not approved of.  You are unloved.”

I believed the rejection I perceived or experienced was my fault.  That was a lie. It had nothing to do with me.  

Thinking it was "about me" is actually a major part of the root of insecurity.  As I stated above, when my eyes are on me, they are not on Jesus.  I need to recognize that when I am thinking about myself or what others think of me too much, it is an indicator that my focus is way off target. 

Whenever I start to feel insecure or rejected, I need to remember to turn my focus to the Light and off myself.  

These are the verses I have found so far that will help to replace the lies with the Truth of God's Word: 

When I start to feel unloved, I will remember: 

"The Lord my God is in [my] midst, the mighty One will save; He [rejoices] over [me] with gladness, He [quiets] me with His love, He [rejoices] over [me] with singing." (Zeph 3:17)

When I start to feel rejected, I will remember:

 "[I] am a chosen [woman], a royal priest, a holy daughter, God's special possession, that [I] may declare the praises of Him who called [me] out of the darkness in to His wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)

When I doubt that what I have to say is important, I will remember: 

"The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.  He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to hear as the learned." (Isaiah 50:4) 

When I question that I am accepted in relationships, I will remember:  

"He chose [me] in Him before the foundation of the world, that [I] should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined [me] to adoption as a [daughter] by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will to praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1:46)

I actually have more verses that I have in my ammunition pile to shoot down the lies lodged in those roots.  I plan on doing some major target practice shooting up those roots and annihilating the lies!  

Here are some other power verses:  

"Rise up, my love, my fair one and come away! O my dove, in the clefts of the rock.  In the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face.  Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely." Songs 2:13-14

"For this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you--for whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye.'" Zech 2:8

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine."  Is 43:1

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for [me], who can be against [me]? Romans 8: 31

It is time to turn my eyes off myself and onto the Light of Truth.  It is time to quiet the critical voices that beg my attention and listen only to the Truth of God's Word and what He says about me.   It is only when I keep my eyes on the Light and my ears on His Truth that I can be sure to stay out of the shadow of doubt and insecurity.

Father, thank You for Your truth.  Thank You that You are for us.  Thank You that Your love is unfailing and everlasting.  Father, forgive me for doubting.  Forgive me for being stuck in the muck of caring what others think of me and if they approve of me.  Help me to focus only on You and what You think of me.  I pray for Your voice of approval to ring so loudly that it hushes the voices of criticism and condemnation.  Let Your Truth echo in my heart and destroy the lies of doubt and insecurity.  I love you Lord.  I pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Well is Deep

Last week I wrote a post centered around John 4 and the Samaritan woman at the well.  I expressed how my conversation at the well might have transpired.  Click here to read it.  

As I was reading John 4 again, the Lord rested my eyes on verse 11.  

Just to recap, the Samaritan woman was at the well.  Jews didn't normally talk to Samaritans in that day, but Jesus stopped to talk to this woman.  Not only did He talk to her, He asked her for a drink.  Then He says...

"If you had only known and had recognized God's gift and Who this is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink', you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you living water."  John 4:10

Then she said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with [no drawing bucket] and the well is deep; how then can You provide living water?" v. 11 

The Lord drew my attention to the word “deep.”

I prayed, “Lord, you know my well is deep.  Lord, I am asking you to go there and draw up everything that needs to be uncovered and bring forth Living Water.” 

Immediately questions formed in my thoughts.  These were questions that have haunted me for years, yet were unspoken and unheard.  These were questions that I had never been consciously aware existed in my mind until this day. 

The questions came and tears fell. 

The water from the deep was being drawn up so the Giver of Living Water could replace the water I had grown accustomed to with His Water of Truth.  The old water was all I had ever known.  I didn’t know it was bitter.  I didn’t know of its stench.  Once the old is removed, new Living Water can begin to fill and refresh what the darkness had tainted.

I love my mom, but from an early age I didn’t receive the love I desperately desired in a way I could receive it from her.  I didn’t feel accepted.  I didn’t feel like she approved of me.  I think every little girl desires her mother’s love, acceptance and approval.  I still desire it. 

These are the questions that were hidden in my subconscious until last week when the Lord drew them out of the deep:

“What was it about me that made my mom not want to listen to me?”
“What was it about me that made my mom yell at me?”
“What was it about me that she can’t approve of? “
“What is it about me that won’t allow her to get close?”
“What was it about me that caused her not to show love?”

As an adult, I can look back and I know that my mom loved me.  She just didn’t show it in ways I received it.  If you have ever read “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, her love language is different than mine.  Hers is gifts and quality time.  Mine is words of affirmation.  For a little girl whose love language is words of affirmation, yelling is like sticking a knife in my heart.
However, all this was internalized and generalized into a lie that read, “You are not worthy of love.  You are not accepted.  You are not approved of. You are unloved.”
And those questions above lead up to the big question, the question that is at the root of rejection:
“Whatever my mom saw in me that seem to cause her to reject me, surely others will see it and reject me also.”

I was also rejected by friends at school growing up which further sealed this lie into my cortex.
The Lord and I made some major gains in this area a couple of years ago and I thought I was doing fine.  That is until I again experienced some painful rejection this summer due to nothing I did wrong.  And again, the lies started…

“What was it about me that caused them to reject me?”
“I thought they loved me. Wasn’t I enough, just the way I am. I must not be enough. ”

But, as I write this I am thankful for the rejection because it revealed that I needed a deeper healing in this area.  When we think we are fine, we won’t pursue healing.  We only go to the doctor when we know we are sick.   It is only when we know of the hurt or ailment, we seek out the healing we desperately need to be whole. 
I am currently reading “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor.  I am determined to uncover the lies that have locked me in fear of rejection and replace them with the Truth of God’s Word.  It is my mission to sear that Truth in my conscious so the enemy will no longer be able to use those lies against me
I believe these questions were a big breakthrough.
The questions unveil the lie.  The lie is that it was me.  

The truth is it wasn't me.  It had NOTHING to do with me.
I am enough.  The Lord accepts me and if He accepts me, I am accepted and worthy of love.  The Lord approves of me.  He thinks I am lovely and beautiful and desires me.  ME!  He has given me a voice and He says that what I have to say is important and worthy of an audience.  So, I will speak boldy as I ought to speak and loudly proclaim the mystery of the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

Isn’t it ironic and such beautiful redemption that God is using this medium as the very means in which to squash the lies of the enemy that tried to whisper that my voice was unimportant and no one cared about what I had to say.
God is so good.  I want to encourage you today to ask the Lord the same question I did.
Father, the well is deep.  Lord, will you draw out the roots of whatever is holding us captive and bring forth the Living Water that will fill us completely and make us whole.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A New Name

In John 4, we meet a Samaritan woman.  I encourage you to go and read John 4 now if you haven’t read it recently. 

Samaritans were considered outcasts to Jews, especially religious Jews.  Every day this woman would go to the well to draw water.  Every day was the same.  She would go get the water and come back on her own.  Alone. No conversation.  No friendly faces.  No one to help carry her load…. Until one day, Jesus.

Isn’t that the story of us all?  Mmmm…”Until…Jesus.” 

Let’s look at parts of the story…

“A woman of Samaria came to draw water.  Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
I want you to notice that Jesus asked her to give Him what was in her hands.  He didn’t ask for more than she could give.  He didn’t ask her to give anything other than what He knew she could give.  Listen to her answer…

“Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?  For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” 

Oh sweet one, I hear myself in that question the Samaritan asked.  Only mine might read…

“How is it that You ask me to lead that small group?”
“How is it that You ask me to write this post or book?”
“How is it that You want me to share Your Word in front of that group?”  
“How is it that You want me to be a part of that ministry?”
“How is it that You want me to pray for that person?”

Then, we label ourselves.  Only our labels are not as blatant as “Samaritan”.  Our labels might be:  Inadequate. Ill-equipped. Weak. Insecure. Insignificant. Less-than.
What would I have said to Jesus if it would have been me at the well?  What do I say to Jesus now as He meets me and asks for “a drink”.
Do I say, “How is it that You ask me to lead, don’t you know that I am not as qualified as others.  There are so many others who could do that better than I could.” 

Sadly, at times, that is my answer to my Creator, the King of Kings.  He asks me to do something and HELLO, if He is asking it of me, He knows I can do it!!  He would not ask me to give something He hasn’t given me.  

Jesus knew everything about the woman at the well.  He knew her past mistakes.  He knew her failures and insecurities.  He knew her deepest longing and greatest fears.  He knew her weaknesses and strengths.  He knew it all and yet, He still asked for a drink.

God knows everything about me as well.  My talk with God at the well is something like this:

Sue, I know the rejection you felt growing up.  I know you felt like no one ever listened to you and what you had to say wasn’t important.  I know how you never felt good enough.  I know it hurt when you were teased.  I know how you failed and turned your back on me.  I saw you when you cried out to me in desperation.  I know it hurt when those whom you love rejected you recently.  But Sue, none of that defines who you are.  I will never leave you.  I am for you.  You have never lived one unloved moment in your life.  Even if others do reject you, I never will.  I accept you just the way you are.  You are enough because I AM enough.  Come, let me satisfy you with the Living Water that fills in all the empty places.  I have anointed you.  I have appointed you.  I approve of you. You are adorable.  You are Mine, daughter of the Most High.

Dear friends, God knows your weaknesses, He knows your strengths.  He knows your mess-ups. He knows your insecurities and doubts.  He knows the desires of your heart and the fears deep within you.  He knows it all and yet, He still comes and asks for you to pour out your life as a drink offering unto Him.   He fills in the gaps where we are weak and provides us with the strength we need to fulfill the requirements He asks.  He doesn’t put the same label on us that we do. 

The only label He brands on us is:

“Righteous, Worthy, Beautiful, Redeemed, Equipped, Annointed, Appointed, Approved, Beloved, Adored, Lovely, Loved.” (2 Cor 5:21, John 3:16, Songs 7:1, Ps 31:5, 2 Tim 1:11, Matt 26:19, Is 61, 2 Cor 10:18)

 It is time I stop agreeing with the lies of the enemy and start believing what the Most High God, my Daddy, says about me!!  What do you say?  Who is with me?! 

No more will we label ourselves: Inadequate, Ill-equipped, Insignificant or Insecure. 

Today we toss those old names down the well!  

We have been given a new name.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Is My Heart Green?

"Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty."  
Psalms 32:1-2 NLT

Sarah and I walked hand in hand by a pond at a local park.  The stagnant pond was covered in a green mucky moss except there was one part of the pond that was clear, clean and beautiful.  The contrast captured my daughter's attention and she inquired as to why part of the water was green.  

I explained to her that the green on top of the water was due to the water not moving, and as a result, the yuck just stayed there.  The water that was around the fountain was clean because the fountain moved the yuck, allowing the water to be purified.  (I know not very scientific, but she is only six and I'm not sure I know all the science anyway.)  

Fast forward.  We left the park and now it is bedtime.  I read the verse above to her and we talked about the importance of honesty.  I explained to her that it is important to keep our hearts pure.  When we tell a lie, it makes our hearts yucky (again 6 year old terms).  When we are honest and truthful, we can be full of the joy of the Lord.  I told her how important it is to live in the light and when we lie, we are living in darkness.  

Then, she said something that absolutely amazed me!  She said, 
"Mommy, it is like the green water and clear water we saw tonight. When we lie, our hearts are yucky like the green water." 


She was right on!  When we sin (no matter what sin it is), our hearts become stagnant and well,...yucky.

However, when we ask for forgiveness, it is just like the verse says above, "sin is put out of sight."  The sin is moved and just like when the water was moved, it was made clean, our hearts are purified when the sin is moved!  It is only when we allow sin to stay that our hearts begin to grow green gunky goo.  

We need the Fountain of Living Water to come into our hearts and make us pure!  

We don't want a science experiment growing inside our hearts.  Let's move that sin out and live with pure hands and a clean heart.  We want a clean heart, not a green heart.  All it takes is one sincere prayer...

Father, I ask you to forgive my sins and put my sins out of sight.  I ask for you to give me clean hands and a pure heart.  I thank you that you remove my sins as far as the east is from the west.  Father, I don't want any green goo in my heart and I don't want to be stagnant.  I pray that I would be on fire for you and move for you.  Lord, please show me if I ever get stagnant or my heart ever needs a change.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Religious Outcast and a Vision Test

The other day I was reading in John 9 about Jesus healing a blind man.  What really struck me about this passage this time around was the pharisees response to the blind man at the end of the passage.

I encourage you to go to John 9 and read this whole passage.  It is fascinating.  To summarize, here is the scene...

Jesus just performed a miracle and opened the eyes of a man who had been blind since birth!  However, the pharisees were outraged because Jesus performed this miracle on the Sabbath.  How dare he heal on the Lord's day!  Right?  These pharisees were more blind than the man who was healed!  Their self-righteousness and pride blinded them from seeing the truth.  Their hearts were hardened.  Compassion was calloused and their only concern was protecting their "religion" and selves.

The pharisees claimed that Jesus was a sinner and could not have healed this man and opened his eyes.  I love the healed man's reply...

"Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know.  One thing I know; that though I was blind, now I see."

Then this man went on and began preaching to the pharisees, the religious priests who thought they had it all figured out.

"Why, this is a marvelous thing that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!  Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.  Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.  If this man were not from God, He could do nothing."  John 9:30-33

This man who was once blind could preach!  I am sure he was just as stunned as we are that these pharisees were so missing the miracle!  Hello!!!  I WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE!!!

The pharisees did not like this nobody preaching to them.  After all, who is this man?  He is just a man that Jesus touched and healed.  They were the religious elite.  How dare he presume to preach to them.

You can hear the pharisees' hard heart as they answer the man:

"They answered and said to him, 'You were completely born in sin and are you teaching us?' And they cast him out."  John 9:34

The pharisees forgot that they too were born in sin.  They forgot that they too needed a Savior.  This man who was just healed, and had just experienced God's miracle working power firsthand was "cast out".

The pharisees just flat out missed it.  They too could have rejoiced and experienced the glory of the Lord. Their blindness narrowed their sight to only focusing on who was at fault for this man being healed on the Sabbath.  Then, in their arrogance and pride they cast him aside.

Today, we have pharisees too.  They are more concerned with legalities being followed, protecting themselves and their "religion" or religious circles, than they are about people and what the Lord is doing in the hearts and lives of His people.  These people do not know they are blind.  They think they are fine and even work hard serving the Lord.  However, their hearts are void of compassion for the blind sinners of this world.

It is just as baffling today as it was 2,000 years ago that there would be people who would "cast out" one who once was blind but now can see.  

Many people don't go to church today because a pharisee cast them out or treated them as a second class citizen.  Friends, please hear me from the bottom of my heart.  If that is you, forgive them.  They are blinded by self-righteousness and spiritual pride. Self-righteousness and spiritual pride are sin and some of the ugliest and yuckiest because they are often hidden and unknown to those trapped in them.

Don't allow yourself to stay blind because their heart was hard and they could not see the hurt they caused you.   By holding onto that hurt, you are keeping yourself from being able to step fully into the light and see clearly.

The story doesn't end with the man being cast out.  In John 9:35, Jesus went searching for the man when he heard he had been cast out and found him.

Jesus is searching for you today too.

Jesus asked the man this question when he found him:  "Do you believe in the Son of God?"

"The man replied, 'Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped Him." v. 38

Today, I want to ask you the same question.  "Do you believe in the Son of God?"

Do you believe in this God, Jesus, who opened your eyes and caused you to see?  He is real.  He longs to have a closer relationship with you.  Don't let anyone who has hurt you or cast you out keep you from experiencing all the joy He had for you.

Come and worship Him.  Experience His presence.

And if you think you may be guilty of playing the pharisee in this story.  If your heart of compassion has grown cold or you have been more concerned with protecting your own interests than showing love to others, ask the Lord to open your eyes so you can see.

The pharisees didn't think they needed their eyes opened.  They thought their eyes were already open.  That is where they were deceived.  We must always be willing to ask the Lord to open our eyes and examine our hearts to see if there is anything unpleasing to Him.  It is when we think we see perfectly that we are truly blind (John 9: 41).  

Oh Father, we thank you for opening our eyes.  Thank you that you heal us and that you pursue those who have been hurt or cast out by religious people.  Father, I ask you to heal every heart and open every blind eye reading this today.  Oh, how we need you.  Lead us to a more intimate place with you and open our eyes so we can see. We love you.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.    

Related posts:  Foggy Sunglasses