Lord, I Need You!

Do you know the desperation of the words, “Lord, I need you?”

A few years ago my dad was suffering with Alzheimer’s and my mom was trying to care for him. I would drive up to their house a couple of times each week to give my mom help or give her a break whenever I could. It was a 70 mile drive one way and I remember feeling exhausted from working full-time as I drove. I was feeling very overwhelmed because of all that needed to be done at home, as well as the expectations of work and others.

It was as I was driving along thinking about all of this, feeling at the end of my rope, that Plumb’s song came on the radio, it is titled, “Lord, I Need You.” It’s words spoke to me. I screamed the words as tears streamed down my face. I told the Lord, I can’t keep doing this. I felt desperate.

  • I was exhausted, needy for peace and rest.
  • I felt alone in being needed and depended on and it felt way too stressful.
  • I felt afraid of what was happening to my dad.
  • I was grieving while he was still living because he was being ripped away little by little as his mind and abilities deteriorated.
  • I felt empty– it seemed like I was constantly running and doing, I didn’t have anymore to give.
  • I felt like my life was totally our of control and I was on a nonstop treadmill as things flew at me 90 miles an hour.
  • I felt incredibly helpless, because I couldn’t fix the situation. I couldn’t make dad better, and give mom her husband back,

It was with each of these feelings and emotions that my heart cried out “LORD I NEED YOU!”

I was in a place that I didn’t want to be. It was an extremely difficult place.

I want to share hope in the midst of difficult times. I know I am not alone in these feelings. Each of us go through these wilderness places of desperation, but there is hope in knowing that the Lord meets us in our neediness.

For the summer months of June through August I will be posting blogs only on Friday’s.

During June and July my blogs will be about needing the Lord in the midst of:

  • Exhaustion
  • Helplessness
  • Sadness or Depression
  • Fear
  • Emptiness
  • Loneliness
  • Feeling as if everything in life is out of control.

The Lord sees where we are and knows our hearts deepest needs. He is there to help us. Our souls can be refreshed in the midst of weariness and desperation as the Lord holds us in His love. It is my prayer that your soul will find refreshment as you read the posts.

Freedom in Grace

Romans 6:14-18 “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace. What then” Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means… But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient form the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having even set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Do you know the freedom you have in the grace of God?

Grace frees us from the bondage of sin. When we are chained to a sinful life we are slaves to unrighteousness. But when Jesus died on the cross, He offered each of us robes of righteousness. His blood washes away our sin as we confess Him as Lord and Savior. We can be cleansed.

So if we are covered by Jesus righteousness, what does that mean for us? It means freedom, not freedom to do whatever we please but instead it means freedom from slavery to a life of sin. Instead we no have become saves to righteousness. Righteousness meaning rightness with God. When we live in sinfulness, we are not right with God, because God is a holy God and does not tolerate sin. but grace through Jesus blood covers us in righteousness.

Galatians 5: 13 says, “For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve on another through love.”

So, we aren’t to use our freedom to just satisfy our flesh or satisfy our selfish desires. Instead we are to use our freedom to serve each other out of love.

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:16, “As God’s slaves, Live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil.”

We are to use our freedom to serve God. Bother of these verse are saying that we should allow our faith to be the diving force to holy living, to loving others.

It sees that we can see an important correlation here; to the level we understand and know the gracious heart of God is the same level to which we know how our sinful ways measure up against His holiness. And, in knowing that, our hearts should be prompted to live a life that pleases God. Not because we can earn our way to heaven, but because we love Him so much that we desire to please Him by living for Him.

It is in this freedom through grace that we find permission to stop striving.

We have freedom from condemnation. 

Romans 5:1 give us this hope: “Therefore there is now no condemnation from those who are in Christ Jesus.”

We have freedom from sin.

Romans’ 1:22 tells us: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God the benefit you reap leads to holiness and the result is eternal life.”

We have freedom from fear.

Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the Spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry, Abba! Father!”

We have freedom from the fear of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15 explains: “Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death–that is, the Devil– and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”

This is our hope: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

We no longer have to live in fear. we are free to rest and trust in God’s love for all of life.

Yer, we so easily become entangled and become slaves to shame, to expectations, and to self-doubt. Do you find yourself in any of those? We are so easily enticed by what we see and want. We have been set free for the purpose of focusing on God’s grace, His love, and His Son Jesus.

 

Are you living free in the grace Christ bought with His blood? Where do you find yourself enslaved? Take time to talk with the Lord about this and ask Him to help you know your freedom in Him.

Illustrations of Grace: The Lost Son or The Prodigal Son

The Father’s love is so inviting, generous, forgiving, and comforting.

Forgiveness can be very difficult when you feel taken advantage of, it is much easier to want to take revenge and have an “I’ll show them” attitude. But this is not so with our Heavenly Father.

Luke 15 ends with the Parable of the prodigal son. It is another familiar Bible story that beautifully demonstrate God’s amazing grace.

Jesus tells this parable to show how much the Lord really does care for human beings and to share the truth of our Heavenly Father’s delight in rescuing us. God takes joy in granting us deliverance. Jesus uses this parable to reveal our Heavenly Father’s heart. He desires for us to come to repentance. He wants us to know we can have the hope of eternal life.

How often do we find our eyes selfishly glued to getting what we want so we can have our way? The younger son in this parable wants his inheritance from the father before the father even dies. Such impatience, such an attitude of entitlement, and such a demanding way. Yet, I can see all of these attitude come about in my life at different times. How about you?

The father gives in and the son takes the inheritance money and leaves. He parties and enjoys life with others who just want a good time. He lives like this till he has squandered away all of the money. And when the money is gone so are his so-called friends. No big surprise there. Humans use others and get used by others.

When the son finally finds himself in a pig pen starving, he realizes that even his fathers’ servants have it better than what he is dealing with. It takes us coming to the end of ourselves and everything we thought could satisfy us to recognize what we really need.

The son heads home and all the way he rehearses in his mind what he will say to his father. He has it all planned out.

Little does he realize how much his father’s heart is still filled with love for him. His father has been wanting him to come home, he has been looking for him, waiting for him. His heart is tender toward his son.

So that day when the father looks down the road and sees the son, he is thrilled and he runs to meet him. This was a very dishonorable way for a man of this culture to respond. But this is such a beautiful picture of love and grace. The father running to meet his filthy, smelly son who had been so rude and ungrateful.

Jesus tells this parable to show the Pharisees and us the heart of God. God welcomes the sinful. The Pharisees were stuck in the concrete of legalism, missing God’s love, God’s grace, God’s open forgiveness. They did not see any need to repent. They didn’t see how they too had taken the Father’s gifts and used them to gain standing in their lives.

Jesus wanted them to see that it wasn’t about what they could do,  it wasn’t about them keeping the laws, and looking perfect on the outside.

It is all about knowing God’s heart. And in recognizing God’s love, humbling ourselves and repenting. We must realize our sinfulness and our need for forgiveness. The lost son realizes he has sinned against heaven and before his father as well. He sees the truth of what he has done and calls himself unworthy to be his father’s son.

We too are unworthy to be called sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father apart from the grace of Jesus taking away our sins and then covering us in His own righteousness, making us worthy before God.

The Father welcomes the Son with hugs and kisses and calls for a robe, and a party. We who have come to know our Heavenly Father through Jesus are given Christ’s robe of righteousness and look forward to a wonderful reunion in heaven. The party of all parties, I can’t even imagine how much rejoicing there will be there.

The lost was once again found. Holy God reaches to sinful humans with love and grace.

Do we see it?

Do we accept it?

Do we acknowledge its cost?

How valuable and precious we are to our Heavenly Father.

The older brother in this story is not so pleased with the party for his younger brother who left with the money. We may think, he is right, we may have felt the same way. He has after all stayed with the father and has been taking care of everything. Isn’t that unjust? But, if that is all we see, we miss how this older son was also lost. He did not recognize his father’s love for him. This older son worked to feed his own self-righteousness. He worked to prove himself. He wanted his father to see how great he was. He missed all that the father had for him. He refused to be a part of the receiving grace, or giving grace.

Where do you find yourself in this story? Do you see yourself in the attitudes of either of the sons? Do you know God’s welcoming lavish grace and love for you? Are you trying to take all you can get from the Father for your own selfish ways? Or are you somehow trying to earn your place with Him?

We may know the right answers to these questions but the way we live our lives day-to-day before God shows the reality of what is in our hearts.

The Father’s arms are open wide, ready to welcome us. Come humbly to Him and find His love. Be found in Him. His grace is amazing.

Illustrations of Grace: The Lost Coin

The parable of the lost coin is found in Luke 15:8-10. Jesus tells this parable to illustrate another facet of God’s grace. Jesus explains that a woman loses a coin in her home. You may think it must be very valuable to matter so much. And it was to her.

I remember,  a few years back,  my diamond fell out of my wedding ring and I didn’t realize that it had happened. I was so upset and frantic to find it once I realized it was missing.  I thought it would be nearly impossible, but I found it in the carpet in our living room. I can’t tell you how happy and relieved I was. It turns out that the prongs that were to hold it in had gotten broken somehow.

Commentators explain that the coin the woman lost was really only valued at about 16 cents. But it had real value for a different reason. According to ancient customs, a married woman would take the money she had accumulated through her life and sew it in a headdress that she wore on her wedding day, The coins represented all she had contributed to her marriage. So, when this woman realized that one of the coins had fallen out, she, too, was frantic to find it, just as I was regarding my diamond.

It is suggested by some commentators that the purpose of this parable may be to lead us to consider if we ourselves have someone who is lost in our home. Is there someone going through the motions of religion? Or maybe one who just goes to church or Sunday school, but has not come to know the Lord in a personal way. Or maybe there is someone who adamantly refuses to go to church or even listen to anything about God. These lost people are precious to the Lord, just as they are precious to us.

Jesus wants us to be aware of the lost and to be as diligent in finding them and helping them as the woman was in finding her lost coin. All have great value in the Lord’s eyes. We need to talk with those in our homes and gain a good understanding of where they are at spiritually. 

Transparency and authenticity are important in helping others to see Christ. We need to be real as we talk about the truth of our own sinfulness and be open about seeking forgiveness from those we have wronged as well as confessing our sinfulness to the Lord. We need to share the reality of God’s grace to us as sinners.

Our attitude needs to be one of humility as we share. It is all about Jesus. No one is drawn to the realness of a loving, gracious Savior by a prideful attitude that says “I’m better than you.” Our salvation had nothing to do with what we have done, but is all about what Jesus has done for us, taking our place on the cross.

Sometimes, we come to a place where words only cause arguments, and any situation that brings Jesus to the forefront causes animosity in our loved ones. It is in those cases that prayer becomes even more important. When we feel that all doors of opportunity are shut off to us, we still always have hope in what the Lord might do. So we must pray for the Lord to lead us in wisdom to know when to share and to know how not to be nagging. We need to ask Him to be at work in the heart of our loved one.

We also need the Lord to help us to learn how to demonstrate love and compassion as Jesus did. It can be difficult, and frustration can fill us, but we must hold tight to our hope in Christ. The Lord can work in the hearts in ways that we cannot even imagine. He looks into the depths of our hearts and knows where we are in our relationship with Him. He knows what needs to change within us and what needs to change in the hearts of our loved ones. He is able to take hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. Prayer needs to be our lifeline, through the struggle, disappointment, and frustration as we wait for that lost one to be drawn to faith.

The parable of the lost coin shows us a woman who doesn’t give up but is persistent in making the lost to be found. Let’s strive to have our determination match hers. And when that one is found in faith, let’s rejoice with heaven, let’s praise the Lord for His amazing grace to each one of us.

Illustrations of Grace: The Lost Sheep

Grace is one of the most important concepts in the Bible. Jesus helps us to understand the importance of grace for our lives and how it should make a difference in our lives. One way He does this is through His teaching of various parables.

Jesus tells a parable about the lost sheep in Luke 15:3-7. He has just been criticized by the Pharisee’s for socializing with sinners. This parable is a way for Jesus to illustrate His grace to a people who are blind to Him and why He came to earth.

It can be difficult for us to relate to the parables in the Bible, because our times are so different from back then. But Jesus used object lessons that were relevant to the people. They understood the value of their sheep, and the importance of being a good shepherd to the herd. They understood how easily sheep can be distracted and how they might choose to wander off. They also knew how dangerous it was for a sheep to wander off on its own, because of their defenseless nature. They can be attacked easily by other animals or can get caught in the thicket and not be able to untangle themselves. Without the protection of the shepherd, a sheep could end up hurt or even dead.

Jesus begins to tell the people the story of a straying sheep. He uses this example because He recognized the state of the people’s needs for a shepherd, He sees how very lost they are. Jesus has a heart to restore the lost. He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

Jesus asks those gathered around Him a question, He asks, if they had 100 sheep and ones wandered off wouldn’t they try to go find it? Wouldn’t they keep looking until they found it? He drew the people in, making them think about what they would do or maybe about what they have had to do in the past. Jesus wanted them to hear Him, as He wants us to hear Him.

He goes on to tell the how, of course, a shepherd would go search for the lost sheep. He explains the impact that finding the sheep would have on the shepherd’s heart. The shepherd would be filled with joy, a joy that he simply would not be able to contain. He would want to share his good news with his friends and his neighbors.

Jesus parable had a greater purpose, He wanted the people to recognize that they are lost as sinners. He wanted them to see their need for a Shepherd in their lives.  He wanted them to know their value in His heart. And how just as they would be so overjoyed to find a lost sheep, He told them that all of heaven rejoices when one sinner repents.

Jesus wanted the Pharisees, especially, to see that He was sitting with sinners and spending time talking with them to lead them to repentance. He cares about their bondage to sin. It is all about His grace. Jesus illustrated God’s grace in parables for the purpose of drawing men to Him.

Jesus’ heart is full of grace for both the lost and also for the believer who strays into sinful choices. His love is so great for us, He wants nothing more than to bring us to Him, or bring us back to Him.

Jesus’ love for us led Him to die on the cross. He sacrificed it all for us. Such a gracious heart is shown here. Every person is that important to Him. Can we even take in a portion of that love into our hearts? Can we live out of that kind of love in our lives?

Jesus wanted the people to be drawn in by His love. And He wanted the Pharisee’s, especially, to understand that their self-righteousness didn’t cut it with God. God is disgusted with self-righteousness. And the same is true in our lives when we live in self-righteousness, He is always disgusted by such an attitude. The Pharisee’s did not see their need to repent. They didn’t see their need for a Savior. They felt they were above that, they followed the laws. They followed the laws in a legalistic way and missed the truth of what God’s heart is like.

Jesus is demonstrating the heart of God and sharing His own personal mission. He is showing us too how we should be moved with compassion to reach the lost by sharing the hope we have in Christ. His mission should be our mission. Matthew 28:18-20 tells us, “Then Jesus came to them and said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus wants our lives to be sacrificial and our love to be sacrificial. He was willing to leave heaven behind to come to earth to fulfill God’s purpose. How are you moved to share the truth of God’s grace? Are their lessons in your own life that you can use to share with others about the reality of Jesus and His works of grace in your life?

Lord, help us to have tender hearts for those who do not know You. Lead us in wisdom to have words to share and truths to tell. Make each one of us available to be a servant at work in Your mission field. Help us to spread the message of Your amazing grace. Amen

The Throne of Grace

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Doesn’t that verse just make you sigh a breath of relief? It’s like you have been walking around carrying a boulder on your back and then God tells you that He can take that boulder off. And beyond that, He offers to help you with whatever else you need. So you dump it off and breathe. Thank you Lord.

We can come to God’s throne. Really! How awesome is that.

“A throne is the seat of a sovereign; a throne of grace is designed to represent a Sovereign seat to dispense mercy and pardon.”

God is sovereign, He is in absolute control. So if it were just any throne, we should not be able to approach without invitation. And I can’t imagine why any king would call me to his throne. But we as believers have access, and it isn’t just any throne, it is a throne of grace. Jesus has given us access to our Creator God.

We come to the throne “not depending on our own merits but we come where a sufficient sacrifice has been offered for human guilt, and where we are assured God is merciful.”

We can come to the throne boldly, with confidence because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

“It is easy to be forgiven. All that needs to be done is to plead the merits of our Great High Priest and God is ready to pardon.”

Jesus is our Great High Priest. A priest in the Old Testament would make sacrifice for the sins of the people. But Jesus changed all of that. Jesus became the sacrifice for all of our sins. A sacrifice does not have to be done again and again. Jesus did it once and for all.

So we come to God’s throne of grace with confidence because of Jesus. And there at the throne “we received mercy and find grace.”

We are sinful people. There isn’t a day that goes by that we live without sin in our lives. We are in desperate need of forgiveness of sins.

1 John 1:9 tells us that “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” So we come to the throne and tell the Lord of our sin.

We come with a deep realization of our deep need for forgiveness whenever we come to the throne because we are approaching a Holy God. We remember what Jesus did for us and in humility stand before God desiring His mercy on us.

Our Sovereign God grants us mercy out of His amazing love for us, the love that gave us Jesus (John 3:16).

Then, once we are pardoned, we stand there before God in our desperation and we find grace for all of life. We find “strength, help, counsel, direction, support” and so much more.

How reassuring it is to know that we have this lifeline in prayer. The Lord offers us grace to help us in time of need.

He will help us :

  • in the good times when we want to believe we can do it all in our self-sufficiency, but find we can’t. We only need to recognize our neediness and call on Him in humility.
  • in the mundane, doldrums of life. He is present. we can turn to HIm and He will help us through. He knows our feelings. He can lead us to know our significance in Him if we only call to Him. He knows our worth in Jesus.
  • in the painful times of loss and grief. He knows the grief and pain we bear. we can bring our tears to Him and share our sorrows. He will give comfort and wrap us in His love. We must only come to the throne.
  • in difficult, troublesome times. He knows those days that nothing goes right and your frustration level is higher than the roof. We can come to the throne and ask for help. He knows our weakness, and can give us strength and counsel.
  • in the moments of desperation, where you don’t know which way to turn. He can lead us in wisdom to help us move forward encouraged.

The Lord is always available. We can come to Him at any time. He listens to the cry of our hearts and will respond with grace to help us. He welcomes our neediness and desires our dependence on Him.

Are you struggling today? You can go to Him right now. He will meet you where you are.  He is faithful and true to His promises. Let’s approach His throne with confidence, He has all we need for life. He gives us the rest we need.

Take your struggle to the throne of grace today.

(All quotes are taken from Albert Barnes Notes on the Whole Bible – public domain.)

While We Wait

Our time is in our hands. We choose how we live each day.  Jesus came and died for us. He left this earth to go and prepare a place for us. The reality and truth of God’s grace should make a difference in how we live while we wait for Jesus to return. 

Titus 2:11-14 NIV “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

The apostle Paul tells us that this grace teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions. John in 1 John 1:15-17 MSG expands on this, he says:

“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world – wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important – has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out – but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.”

We can’t have it both ways, loving the world and loving God. Matthew 6:24 says “You cannot have two masters. You will love one and hate the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Yet, it seems that we are pulled, as if by a magnet, to the things of this world and away from God. We grow distracted.

Our own selfishness leads us to:

  1. – wanting our own way in life; in our homes, in our relationships, and in our work places, even on the road. We want things to go our way. We don’t want anyone or anything to disrupt us on our way.
  2. – wanting everything for ourselves, we get greedy, we covet what others have, we can’t get enough stuff, and if our stuff gets old it isn’t good enough, we must have the newest option. There often isn’t just one t.v. in the house but two and three, even four or more, so that everyone can watch what they want when they want to.
  3. – the need to appear important. I think it is out of this attitude that so much striving comes. We strive to make our homes and lives look perfect, isn’t that what Facebook so often ends up being about? We want others to know we are on our way, we are getting ahead, we are fighting for the American dream, finding a way to have it all. We pull out all the stops. We hide the imperfections, the struggles, the problems, the maxxed-out credit cards, the bills, and the desperate pain of loneliness.

But all of this has nothing to do with the Father, in fact all of this only isolates us from Him. We become so wrapped up in self; getting things to go our way, getting all that we want, and getting others to see how very important we are, that in all the busyness and wanting, we lose sight of the Lord.

Paul tells us in Titus that we need to say “No” to all of this. He tells us that we need to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. It seems that we get so wrapped up in the temporal and worldly that we forget about the eternal and spiritual.

So, how can we keep our minds set on the spiritual, eternal realm? We can find help in God’s Word, as it gives us specific guidelines for living in this world.

  • Colossians 3:2 AMP tells us to “set your mind and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not at things that are on the earth.” (Other parts of scripture give us more detailed help, look up these verses for further study: Philippians 4:8-9, Romans 12;2, Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Psalm 16:8, Colossians 3:5-9, and 2 Corinthian 10:4-5.)  Ask yourself: What can I do to help my mind to be stayed on the Lord and the things of Him? Take time to write your answers in a journal.
  • Hebrews 12:1-2 AMP “…let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight)) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us. Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus...”  We are enticed and pulled into sin, Satan knows just what to dangle in front of us. What is entangling you? Ask yourself: What do I need to throw off or set aside that is distracting and entangling me in this world?
  • Galatians 5:22-23 We need to be guided by the Holy Spirit. “…the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy, (gladness), peace, patience, (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control, (self-restraint, continence).” How are you opening yourself to the Spirit’s guidance? Are you yielded to Him? Can you see growth in your heart? Consider where you were spiritually a year ago; your attitudes and responses to people, conditions, life itself. Compare those to what they are like now, do you see Christ-likeness developing within? How much of a deadlock-grip does the world have on you and how you live your life?

Paul tell us that the Lord saved us for His purposes to redeem us from wickedness and to purify us to be His own, so that we would be eager to do what is good. God’s grace bought us redemption and eternal life through Jesus, what will we do while we wait for Him?

I know I am convicted by Paul’s words. I get so distracted by the temporal. It is hard to live in this world and not get lost in it’s ways. What about you?

Oh Lord, help us, we are so easily led astray. Help us wait wisely.