Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lifter of Mine Head

Although the phrase we are using as the subject of our focus today is rather obscure, the concept is prominent throughout scripture. In Psalm 3, David says “But thou, O LORD, art…the ‘lifter up of mine head.’ And therein is our title, “Lifter of mine head.” It is a glorious thing to consider the love of the Father which reaches down and gently redirects our gaze toward His own power and provision. I have been most blessed as I contemplated this designation of God and pray you will be as well.

There is much in life to slump our heads and droop our eyes…sorrow, shame, disappointments. Grueling experiences of life afflict all of us at one time or another. Our eyes drift toward the heartache or circumstance at hand. Our faith seems to fail to produce the promised victory; we wonder if faith is only a fantasy. Or perhaps we have rooted our past triumphs in our own accomplishments and power; sooner or later we will face a challenge beyond our ability to overcome. The beauty of God as the ‘Lifter of our Head’ is most glorious in just those times.

In scripture, ‘lifting the head’ is often associated with pride. It is our natural inclination to ‘take care of things’ ourselves…to go our own way. Yet, Jesus revealed the doorway to blessing as a humble spirit. The difficulties of life which extinguish glimmers of hope outside of Christ move us toward that humility—they lead us to the door of His presence. Disheartening challenges quiet us so that we allow God to reach down and lift our faces ever so gently. His touch is compassionate and perfectly timed. All of the problems of life can be resolved in His light; let Him direct your eyes to the way He longs to resolve your pain!

As David penned that phrase, he was in the midst of great heartache and danger, yet he trusted God to direct him as God had so faithfully done through the years. God has been faithful to each of us as well. Check out the rest of the Psalm—it’s only eight verses. Perhaps you will want to jot a note of the ways God has lifted your eyes to Him in the past—and carried you on to victory.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Greetings, friends. Just a brief stop on our journey today. I have had the joy of attending a youth conference today with nine teens from our church and about 490 other teens from around the area. My mind is a bit mushy and my heart overflowing with delight for the ways many of our teens met with Jesus! Today we will look at how Jesus ‘keeps’ each one of us--protecting and providing for us as only He can do.

There are many things we are charged by God’s Word ‘to keep.’ We are to keep: our lives free of the love of money, our tongues under a tight rein, our hearts pure, our unity with the Holy Spirit and the Sabbath holy. In fact, scripture tells us our love for God is revealed in our efforts to ‘keep His commands.‘ God desires for us to accept responsibilities but praise His glorious wisdom, He holds the most critical responsibility for Himself. Though He gives us tasks to do, His Word teaches us that God alone has the job of our ‘Keeper.’ Our eternal souls are in the hands of the only One who is worthy: Jesus Christ.

I am comforted to know that my faith, my life is kept by God not me. Though I am growing and learning to find my strength in Him, I am vulnerable to drifting, lazy eyes, to stubbornness and selfishness, to fear and discouragement. But God is not and I am secure in Him. I rejoice that I can declare with Paul that my God is able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him. I have entrusted myself--my desires, my loved ones, my work and my destiny to Jesus alone. It wasn't always that way. It was Motherhood which revealed to me the depths of my own inadequacies. My first baby revealed to me that what I most cared about was beyond my knowledge and power…the struggles my child would face, his dangers and heartaches were in large part out of my control. Before Motherhood, I had felt able to make a way to meet my desires (or ignore them). Facing my inadequacy as a mother, drove me to Jesus--just as He no doubt intended.

God is the keeper of our souls and knows what each one needs. He is keeping us...protecting and providing for us--and for those we love. May we all learn the blessedness of living this truth--of having our minds kept in perfect peace by our Keeper. He is able and willing. Are we?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jesus, the Just One

Fair. Right. Just. The desire for equity is threaded deeply in the human heart. We see the desire everywhere! Toddlers almost seem to be born looking at the size of their cookie compared to another’s. Teens often decry homework as an unfair burden. The founders of America labored to establish a ‘fair government’ on the premise that all men are created equal. Every nation, every community establishes a system for regulating human activities in a fair manner. The list of places we seek ‘fairness’ and ‘justness’ is endless—fair wages, just punishments, fair regulations, just settlements. We have a major problem, though. The human execution of justice is irreparably damaged by deceptive hearts. Every human attempt for ‘justice’ is doomed.

Our view of justice is narrow and deficient. It is as complex and beautiful as Christ Himself. Justice is a concept entwined throughout scripture. As I contemplated this title of Christ, I was awed by the contrast of the breadth of the term and our typical view of it. In scripture, justice is the standard for dispensing blessing and discipline. We tend to see justice as equivalent to punishment. God gives what is needed. We focus on giving what is ‘deserved.’ In God’s economy, He alone is in a position to see and dispense justice. He calls us to walk humbly, love mercy and do justly. In a world broken by sin and filled with unfairness, Jesus sees our needs and meets them. Jesus, the Just One, alone can fulfill our longing for what is right.

The longing for ‘right’ is God-given and leads us to Him! Like every deep desire of the heart, fulfillment is found ONLY in Jesus Christ. Pursuit of justice instead of pursuit of the Just One will lead to heartache. The ultimate example of such a pursuit is the crucifixion of Christ. The religious leaders of the day dispensed ‘justice’ from hearts deceived by self-centered desires. Like those religious leaders, we, too, turn away from Jesus—betraying Him—to pursue our own idea of what is right. We determine what ‘needs’ to be done and proceed with our own ideas and power. Without the “Just One” instructing and leading us in our desire for right can never be fulfilled. Jesus alone is “Just” and able to mete out justice. Embrace the Just One and trust Him to bring about the best for you. He is able. He is willing.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Praise brings us into His presence

We have a beautiful ‘word picture’ to consider today from Psalm 24:3…our God inhabits the praises of His people! Farther along in the Psalms (100:4), we are told we enter in His gates with thanksgiving. Isn’t that exciting? Our great and mighty God has provided us an audience with Him through the simple act of praise. Far too often, though, we fail to enter into the Lord’s presence. We mouth words that give us a little hint of pleasure but when difficulties come, the truths are not deep in our hearts. We think we have worshipped but we have only gone through the motions.

The presence of God brings peace in the midst of storms; entering into His presence is a privilege and a necessity for living victoriously. Praise lifts us above our circumstances and reminds us of the nature of our awesome God. Often we equate worship and praise with songs; we must not forget singing is simply a tool to use in worship. Often the words we sing were born in hearts that knew great pain; the writer’s poured out their hearts in worship. That does not mean we worship as we sing. We must learn to discipline our hearts to hear the words we sing; we must teach our own hearts to pour out truths when we are facing troubles.

Our hearts can not pour out what they do not know. Throughout scripture God encourages ‘deep knowing. True knowing means allowing truths to penetrate our very being and be a part of our essence. We must seek Him all the time and seek to know Him more. Then we are to be disciples who put into practice the facts we have learned. True heart worship, truly praising God, is an ultimate act of knowing God and will bring us into His presence. The words of truth about the character and nature of God flowing from our hearts will bring us into His transforming light. Even with heartache facing us, knowing who God is will allow us to enjoy the love that casts out all fear. He is in control; He is all-powerful and He is loving us at every moment. We need to practice praise all the time so that it will be our first reaction in a storm. Try it today…look at the greatness all around and offer praise to God. Dig into His Word, learn more truths to store in your heart. Enjoy His presence…don’t settle for anything less!