The Fountains of His Love

All my fountains are in you….(Ps 87:7).

Sometimes I get really thirsty. I remember while hiking throughout Israel in the hot desert sun. It felt like I couldn’t drink enough water. We carried loads and loads of water with us each day to quench our thirst.

When I was a teen I used boys, and the pursuit of beauty to quench my thirsty soul. I always felt dry inside. I’d take another sip from the same fountain of lies, only to find that my thirst quickly returned with insatiable desire. Nothing seemed to work. Everything I pursued only left me empty inside.

When I turned to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ I soon learned that the true source of life’s satisfaction is found in the well that never runs dry; the love of God in Jesus Christ. I came to embrace with my whole being that my insatiability came from my own desire to be king of my life. To provide for myself and to make my own way. I soon learned that God wanted to fill my life with HIs love and joy through forgiveness found only in Jesus.

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I finally learned that my fountains were not found in some outside source, no, but through an eternal being. I still struggle from time to time to sip from the old fountains of control and perfectionism in my life. They present themselves before me in moments when my buttons are pressed and my insecurities are stirred. They whisper their wares as if they had some sort of mystical power to release me from my present worry. However, their whispers are but tauntings. Their words are but wind. They hold no real sustenance but are merely contemptuous empty vessels full of false comforts.

There is no wishing upon a fountain to hope for something it cannot give. It is but only a fountain. It cannot control itself. We must go to the source to find fulfillment. The one who breathed life into existence and at His word spoke and the universe was created.

The source of His joy is our eternal hope and purpose. He comes not to only fill us halfway, but to bring us to a place of overflowing with His love and joy as we drink from the place of His provision. The fountain of His love.

Jesus, I desperately want all my fountains to be in you. I want to be so full of the love of God that I know nothing other than your hope. That I know nothing more than your peace and purpose for my life. Jesus, be the well I drink from. Be my eternal hope, life, and peace, in Jesus name, Amen!

Love: The Remedy For A Wounded Heart

the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart,…. (Mt 15:18).

How we treat people matters. It shows who we truly are underneath it all. Whatever our heart is full of is what we will give out. If our heart is full of jealousy and greed we will give to them what we feel that we lack. Since we speak from a place of emptiness, our words shoot from our mouths like arrows out of a quiver. Our words hold no real sustenance, but they can still cut like a knife to the soul of the hearer. The hearer wonders if what a person said in spite is actually true of them.

In my own unhealthiness, I have spoken cutting words to those I love, not because I was trying to hurt them. To my own admittance, my heart was not full of the love of God. Pride and fear still resided somewhere deep in my heart. That pride and fear caused me to say and do things, not out of love but based out of what I had wrongfully stored up in my heart.

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Why do we hurt people? I believe it’s because we are actually the ones who are hurting. As the old adage goes, “hurt people, hurt people.” Until we deal seriously with the wounds of our own souls we will never be able to freely and absolutely love another person well for who they are. We will try to manipulate them through our own emotionally bankruptcy convincing them they are the problem.

What each soul needs is a much greater understanding of the fullness of real love. Found only in the person of Jesus Christ. A laying down of the past, to take up a new future. A transformed heart and mind through the cross of Jesus Christ. Only then can we fully love another. Until we reach that point we will only love out of what we have poured into our hearts. Most likely what resides there is fear, anger, control, criticism, and pride. My own insecurities come rushing to the surface when I deal relationally with others. Then I wonder why I have such relational strife in my life.

Could it be that our relational stress comes from the insecurity stored up in our own hearts? I think so. Each individual has a part to play. They must let go of things like fear, anger, control, pride and the like. That’s the first step. The next step is to replace those unhealthy beliefs with right beliefs about God. A transformed heart comes only through the application of HIs word to our hurting souls. When we apply God’s word to the woundedness of our own souls the bleeding stops and the wound begins to heal. His love invades our souls in a new way so that now what we give to others comes from the newfound love stored up inside our hearts through faith in Christ alone.

Jesus, you know I have wounds. You know I have insecurities and fears. Yet, I want to live from the fullness of love. I want a transformed heart. Thank you that I can be free in you. Thank you, God, that the love you have for me is the love I can offer to others. I long to pour that out to others, in Jesus name, Amen!

Jesus, Where Are You?

“Jesus went out to them”…Matt 14:25

Have you ever felt abandoned by Jesus? Like maybe He wasn’t listening or that He didn’t care? Maybe this present storm your walking through feels lonely and you wonder if His presence is with you.

Feelings are a poor indicator of truth. Our feelings of Jesus have very little to do with what is true of Him. If I base my feelings on who He is for me, then He will come up woefully short of my expectations of Him.

As the disciples were caught in a storm, buffeted by the waves, out on the Sea of Galilee Jesus was not in the boat. Can you imagine their terror? I’m sure some were shouting, “Why has He left us? Where is our master? Why has He not come to rescue us from this storm?”

Little did the disciples know, Jesus was with them. The Scripture tells us that Jesus went up on a mountainside to pray. Sometimes the place we find Jesus in the midst of our storm is not out with us on the boat, but instead, on the mountainside, standing the gap for us in prayer. Until we look to the mountain, past our storm, past the raging wind and waves we will believe He is not with us. As our focus becomes our storm and not our Lord, our hearts become overwhelmed with fear.

In the Old Testament God instructed Moses to set up a bronze snake in the wilderness for the purpose of healing those who had been bitten by deadly, poisonous snakes. When their eyes gazed up in faith towards the bronze snake, they were healed. If their eyes remained downcast there was no healing for them.

Could it be that Jesus, in His infinite wisdom is not meeting us on the boat, because He’s waiting for us to “look up?” Could it be that He is awaiting us to meet with Him on the mountainside, in prayer? Jesus does not know storms, He only knows peace. In our flesh, we are quick to keep our gaze set on the storm that rages. Our fear grows as we watch the waves grow higher and higher.

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In those moments of fear, we must take our dismay to the healer and sit with Him there on the mountainside. Knowing that in His presence we are safe. No storm can overwhelm or overtake us, thanks to His love.

Jesus, I long to trust you with deep, abiding faith. To not fear the storm or the raging waters. Jesus, I want to sit with you on the mountainside today. To experience your grace and your love. I want to live in your peace today. For your glory, Amen.

The Brushstrokes of His Love

The journey I walk becomes colored with the paint of my heart. Whatever resides in my heart will be the song my heart sings to color the places my world touches.

If anger resides there, my heart will paint with a dark blackness of the soul. If pride lies there the same result finds its way into my world, inflicting darkness upon those who walk with me on my journey.

If my heart is full of joy, delight, and trust. Then, whatever comes my way, I can sing a song of peace, purpose, and hope. The colors of my heart welcome grace into my world that spreads the love of Christ. My world becomes attractive to others as I paint with the colors of God’s unending brushstroke of love and grace.

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“I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 89:1)

I think finding love is more about knowing love than attaining it. As if love was found in some outside source in this world that we could attain if just looked hard enough. Love is what set the world in motion. Love is what breathed life into your soul at your birth and love is what hung up on the cross to redeem mankind from sin and suffering. Love is not found in searching for it. As if it depends on us to find it. Love is found in embracing what is already there for us through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The colors of the cross are a deep scarlet red. The same color of the heart. It is no coincidence that love was colored red as it bled on the cross of Calvary for all of mankind.

When we embrace this love we find that it enters into our hearts, not because we looked hard enough, but because we simply received it by faith. God is not like some significant other we’re seeking to find who will hopefully fill and complete our lives.

God is the eternal being, that completes and fills the heart through faith. He forever fills us up with love and grace that is without limit. His love is unconditional. The brushstrokes of HIs grace pour the most beautiful colors into our hearts. Now, all we can do is allow our lives to be a canvas to the world of His perfection and peace. After all, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”- Eph 2:10

Jesus, use my life to paint with the colors of our love. I want to be a light to the world and a city on a hill for the world to see your truth. Let my heart sing of your love forever! Use me to point people to the truth of your love, in Jesus name, Amen!

Knowing Your Opponent

until an opportune time….(Luke 4:13)

Knowing how to win at nearly any sport requires an understanding of how to execute at the opportune time. When I coached basketball we used to scout our opponent. We would study their offense, defense, weaknesses, and strengths.
 
We wanted to know as much as we could about our opponent. Then, when our time came to meet them on the court we would be ready with anything they might throw at us. If the other team played zone we would emphasize all the coaching points that would break down the zone, so that our team could attack and score.
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The enemy of our souls has studied us too. We need not fear that but instead be keenly aware that He will be ready to strike at the opportune time. He knows our weaknesses. He knows where to push our buttons to send us into places of fear, insecurity, and defeat.
 
He is ready, poised for an attack. The purpose of his attack is to tear down our faith. He cannot destroy us so he will seek to destroy the very thing that gives us personal victory. He twists and distorts, he whispers and sings a song of deceit into our hearts. His purpose is to make us believe we have lost. However, the truth is, in Christ, we are always victorious. There is no battle plan of the enemy that can win against the truth of Christ.
 
The problem arises when the enemy has studied our playbook more than us. It is God’s word. Do we know it? Are we ready for when an attack of the enemy comes? He distorts scripture taking a little bit of truth and twisting it for his own personal gain.
 
As a coach, we would teach certain fundamentals and defensiveness drills that would prepare our players for things that might happen in a game. Therefore, if it did happen the girls knew how to respond, immediately, without putting much thought into it. Have we studied God’s word so intimately that it is written upon our hearts? Do we know it, not just intellectually but by way of personal application for our own lives? It is our only way towards victory. Any other strategy will leave us defeated and full of deceit.
 
Jesus, I want to know you. I want to be ready when the enemy comes to strike at the opportune time. I have the victory in your name. You have given me your word to fight against my adversary, the Devil. Jesus, fight with me, for your glory, Amen!

Freedom From Shame

only Jesus was left….(John 8:9)

Have you ever felt like you stood in a room full of accusers?

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Each time you turned around a new voice was there to speak venomous words of incrimination against you. You feel trapped by their persecution. You are surrounded. How will you ever find victory over their words that always cut to the heart of your fears and insecurities?

Most recently, the room I’ve been entering into is one that says, “Heather, you are of little value. This was your last chance. You are defined by your past and what has happened to you.”

The teacher’s of the law brought a woman caught in adultery before Jesus. They were ready to stone her and put her to death for her sin. To them she was guilty, and there was no chance of redemption over her past sins.

As the woman caught in adultery was forced to stand before the crowd I can only picture her with head hanging in shame and despair. It seemed as though her fate was death and her sin irredeemable. Some commentators even believe its possible this woman was being raped while she was “caught in the act of adultery.” Therefore, if that’s the case this sin was no fault of her own but was inflicted upon her. Sometimes, the enemy loves to shout into our soul that the sin that was caused against us is OUR fault. He whispers into our hearts that we have been tainted and we will now carry the burden of our shame everywhere we go.

In cases of abuse, it is easy for the victim to feel like it was their fault. If this woman was indeed being raped I can only imagine how she must have been feeling at this moment. The shame would have sung a song of guilt into her soul. She would have believed that, after all, she could have stopped it. She should have. Therefore, it wasn’t done to her, it was because of her failures. Such lies, but shame has a way of singing those lies deep within our hearts.

Even if this woman wasn’t being raped, Jesus saw into her heart. I believe if she was indeed caught in the act of adultery He saw within her a broken and contrite heart. He says, “if anyone is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” (vs. 7)

All of the sudden, the room full of accusers, one by one walk away. I can picture the scene now. The woman, head still hanging in shame and despair begins to hear the stones fall to the ground. Jesus stands up. Is it possible He approaches her to lift her head? Maybe, either way, He says to her as she lifts her head to take in the scene before her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said.”

Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11)

Can you imagine the liberation this woman must have felt in this moment? The freedom that must have sung in her heart the moment she received grace must have been overwhelming.

The same grace remains for us too. When the room full of accusers start to shout their venomous and malevolent accusations at us we need not fear. With broken and contrite hearts, we can approach the throne of grace, taking every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. As we give Him our shame, He lifts our head. We lock eyes with Him and see the room is now empty. Now there remains only us and our Lord, the lifter of our heads. Our joy, delight, and victory stand before us with grace.

Do not become overwhelmed by the words of the accuser, but rest in the grace of God. Invite Jesus into your heart and mind and understand that you can rest safe and secure in His grace. As you do this, the accusers all walk away, one at a time, and you are left with your Lord and His love that dances over you.

Jesus, you sing over me. You love me. You dance over me. You lift my head away from shame and towards the light of your grace. Thank you for setting me free. Today, I want to live in the place of victory, for your namesake and power, in Jesus name, amen!

Letting Go of Control

Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?…(Ga 3:2).

I’m a lot more like Saul than I’d care to admit. I have wrongfully tried to control my situations believing that I can dictate my desired outcome through my piety and hard work. Saul made sacrifices to God out of disobedience and fear. I have foolishly acted the same way.

Sometimes our Christian piety is not birthed out of righteousness, but instead, out of a desire to control. Saul wished to usher in military victory by taking matters into his own hands. Going before God with a sacrifice that God was not pleased with. Saul was supposed to wait for Samuel, but he couldn’t. He let fear become the driving force for his actions. He suffered the consequences of his decisions by having the kingdom stripped from him.

Why would we believe that our lives would not suffer the same consequences through our own omission of faith? Thankfully, God is gracious to those who repent, but we must still deal seriously with our need for control. It is simple faith He desires. The kind of faith that sits quietly in His shade. The kind of faith that awaits Him to bring the bounty, not for us to depend upon our self-sufficiency.

Control Key on Computer Keyboard

For one of the first times in my life, I do not know what the future holds. I have lived nearly my whole life with a plan. The plan made me feel comfortable because I knew what the future was going to hold. Now, I have no idea what even 4 weeks from now holds. Anxiety begins to stir within me. I hear the master say, “Be still, and know that I am God.” I hear Him say, “the righteous will live by faith.”

I have been asking God about faith recently. I thought faith was something I had, but I’m learning that faith is actually something that I lack. I’m learning that faith is growing in me as I let go of my desire to be in control. The what if’s, and I shoulda, woulda, coulda have been running ferociously through my heart and mind. I hear the master say, “You of little faith… “why did you doubt?

I’m learning to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. I’m learning what it really means to trust in God for the manna I need for TODAY. I’m a slow learner, but God is faithful.

Jesus, when I say you are all I need I want that to be true. I do not need to know the plan. I only need to know you. Thank you that in 3,4, or 5 weeks from now you are going to continue to be faithful. I want to receive from your hand. Jesus, be my joy! My heart longs to trust you alone! Amen!