Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Won't Be Long Now


Do you get the feeling time is short? Believers understand Jesus is just about to fulfill His promise of John 14:1-3.

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

Last year, our church’s women’s cell groups (small groups) began a study by Shannon Ethridge called Completely His. This weekend will be the culmination of that study—a wedding ceremony.

I’m getting married.

To Jesus.

We’ll physically walk the aisle at our church and receive a ring and celebrate with a reception following.

Really looking forward to this “dress rehearsal,” if you will.

But one day, we will stand with Jesus in the ultimate wedding—the ceremony of the ages.

"Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." (Rev. 19:7)

Are you ready?

Are you ready to see Him? Are you ready for His return to catch us away? (see 1 Thess 4:17)

Are you ready to wed the King of kings?

Perhaps considering this idea of divine romance is a little odd for you, a little foreign. I assure you, it’s biblical. Bridal themes run throughout the Bible.

He specifically led me to consider a romance with Him in new light about twelve years ago. In wonder, I discovered He wanted intimacy with me. Then, as I pondered this new adventure, this new tenderizing in my heart, I asked Him for confirmation that my new prayer experiences were of Him.

As I searched my Bible for a passage related to something entirely different (just studying my Bible as I often do), I found the following verse:

"And it shall be, in that day," Says the LORD, "That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’ ” (Hosea 2:16)

And

"I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the LORD.” (Hosea 2:18-19)

That’s when I knew. This idea of a divine romance is real.

It’s powerful.

Knowing Jesus in this way has removed walls in my heart, healed painful places, helped me minister to others and helped set me free.

How wonderful to know Him as Bridegroom. Both here while on earth, but also soon when we see Him face to face.

"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." (1 Cor. 13:12)

Friday, July 23, 2010

He is Jealous For Me


You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you. (Exodus 34:14, NLT)

He is jealous for me . . .

Recognize that phrase? It’s the first line from a Kim Walker Smith worship song called “How He Loves.”

That lyric’s been running through my mind today.

Like a lover, God is jealous for us.

He’s jealous of the lesser lovers we're tempted to occupy my thoughts with, or idols which want to occupy our hearts.

Where do you turn when your heart aches?

I’ve discovered there are two achiness levels:

The first is an obvious, once-in-a-while, somebody-just-died or I-got-bad-news kind of heartache. This kind of ache is universal in tough situations. Those are times our appetites dim, our vision narrows to survival, our plans shift. It’s about mourning or grieving and it can happen in any number of situations. When I have that kind of deep heart ache, it's more first nature for me to turn to God, even when I don’t understand what He’s doing.

Then, there’s the second kind of achiness. This one is much more subtle. This kind of heart achiness happens daily for me. It’s a general sense that all is not as good as it could be. It’s a nagging temptation toward discontent. It’s called Melancholy on the Oneishy temperament charts. It’s what I do during those times that’s trickier.

Anyone can spot an obvious ache and address it. It’s the subtle aches which can tempt believers to turn to lesser gods.

But God is calling us from behind the aches to run to Him and learn how to draw what our hearts need from Him. It’s not easy. You have to press in. You have to patiently wait. If the first time you attempt to have your heart satisfied through prayer and worship/communion with God doesn’t satisfy you, just keep coming back for more of His presence. He will reward those who diligently seek Him. That’s faith’s requirement.

He is jealous for me.

What will you do with that truth?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

God's Wooing Me


God’s wooing me lately. I can feel it. That nudge in the middle of the day to stop and just worship Him. That overwhelming sense of His presence and love during corporate worship as He pours out His Spirit. The ways He speaks to me and ministers to Me through His Word.

He’s answering my prayer to draw me closer to Him.

He’s at work to open my heart through tenderness. Did you know that’s one of God’s secret weapons against cynicism and cold-heartedness? He closes the distance via tenderness. He speaks tenderly to me, reminding me of His love and that we have a bridal relationship.

Last night, I pulled out my guitar (it’s been a while) and just ran through some tunes. A few of them were from years ago. Didn’t matter how old, though, if they were bridal—related to knowing Jesus as the Bridegroom God and recognizing my position as His bride—I was drawn to them. For over an hour I pressed through the zinging pain of tender fingertips and experienced Him in those lyrics.

Before that, I’d spent some time worshiping to tunes on my iPod while reading the Word. Over and over again I was drawn to Scriptures which speak of knowing God and His love. This doesn’t always happen, but it’s definitely a welcome occurrence.

There’s a new tenderness in my heart and a new awareness of God’s nearness and His pursuit of me.

I’m glad He never stops, and I’m very thankful He has sensitized my heart once again to experience Him this way.

He honors prayers for more of Him. If you’re hungry, ask for more. If you’re not hungry, ask Him to make you hungry—to enlarge your heart, and then fill it up with Him.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

God's Personal Words


Aren’t you glad God speaks to us today?

The other morning, I sat with my Bible and journal, hoping to read of God's love, but instead going from passage to passage of God’s judgment against His adulterous people. Eeek! What have I done? Is God trying to tell me something here?

Uh . . . no. He was very clear that those pages weren’t His personal heart toward me in that moment. So, I voiced my desire to hear kind words from Him. And here’s what He said: “If you want to hear from me directly to you, second person (and in kindness), you know where to look.”

I immediately flipped to the Song of Solomon where King Solomon represents Jesus and His heart for His bride. Here’s where my gaze landed:

Song of Songs 2:10-14

Get up, my dear friend,
fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Look around you: Winter is over;
the winter rains are over, gone!
Spring flowers are in blossom all over.
The whole world's a choir—and singing!
Spring warblers are filling the forest
with sweet arpeggios.
Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed,
and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms.
Oh, get up, dear friend,
my fair and beautiful lover—come to me!
Come, my shy and modest dove—
leave your seclusion, come out in the open.
Let me see your face,
let me hear your voice.
For your voice is soothing
and your face is ravishing.

His phrases wooed me and my heart melted.

Then, a couple days later, I sat down and opened directly to this delicious passage:

5-6 God's love is meteoric,
his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness
nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
slips through the cracks.

7-9 How exquisite your love, O God!
How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread
as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
You're a fountain of cascading light,
and you open our eyes to light.

10-12 Keep on loving your friends;
do your work in welcoming hearts.

(Psalm 36, MSG)

Oh, I’m glad God uses His Word to encourage us. And for His personal words in my life. What a gift!