Out of the Depths.

Tonight I was reading some wonderful insights on how to cope with anxiety through a spiritual sense when I read within the article this verse: With you [God] there is true forgiveness, so that you may be held in awe,” says Psalm 130:4. I was drawn into that verse deeply so I wanted to look more into it and the title of this beautiful song is called, “Out of the Depths.” I started to tear up a bit because that is exactly how I have felt the last through days. God has led into some deep waters, just watching me treading and freaking out basically. I have developed an irrational amount of anxiety and I have felt like there has been no escape.

I really would like to break this psalm down piece by piece so I can vividly express to you exactly how my life, and maybe even yours relates back to it.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
    O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

So I can imagine you must have read this with a stabbing feeling straight to the gut, right? This is kind of  what happens when we allow sin to overlap the presence of our Lord. Sin lures us deeper and deeper into dark waters; our eyes are not even paying attention to what our feet are cutting on as we shed our Saviors’ love he willingly poured out into our dying souls. Then once we realize we have ventured off too deep, we begin to panic. Our hearts become weak, our minds begin to wander off into millions of directions.

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    that you may be feared.

We lose sight of God, when in reality He never leaves our sides. EVER. I had this happen to me….I had to allow so much pain and fear fester into my heart, so I could completely surrender it over to God and allow the proper healing to start in my life. I needed His relentless mercy.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

I love this imagery used by the psalmist about how our souls earnestly wait for the Lord as the watchmen wait for the morning. This is an example from the Elliot Commentaries for English Readers about watchmen waiting for dawn:Watch for the morning.—Comp. Psalm 123:2 for another figure of the same earnest upward gaze. In the “watcher for the dawn” there may be an allusion to the Levite-sentinel whose duty it was to signal the first ray of dawn, and the moment for commencing the sacred rites of the Temple (Psalm 134:1), but the figure if general, as marking the impatience of a deeply agitated soul—a sufferer waiting for relief, a contrite sinner for forgiveness—is as striking as graceful. (See Deuteronomy 28:67.)”  

We all go through the season of waiting. Our souls long for the things we think we desperately need in this EXACT moment, when in reality God’s timing is higher, better, and will last forever. Take heart my friend, God is carrying you out of the depths.

 

 

“Submit To God.”

Hey guys! So…. I totally get that I am jumping ahead just a tad bit in James, but James 4 was laid out completely by God into my heart, so I need to share with you all what I took from it.

I have been in such a dark place these past 5 months total. I’m going to be straight up: I have been consumed with sexual sin. It almost got the best of me and destroyed me, but God prevailed and is saving me daily. I have to die to my flesh every morning/night, but I am on the road to recovery. It’s been so comforting knowing God doesn’t just walk away when we chose to deny Him, instead of submitting to His presence. Hey… kind of what today’s topic is? Well, now that I have settled that, let’s get started!

James 4:1: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

Okay, so when I first read that, something within me struck like lightning in my chest. Basically what James is discussing with us here is that the “quarreling” we sometimes enter into with one another does not necessarily mean that other person did us wrong, it’s our flesh that’s blinding our eyes. We live in a narcissistic place where it’s all about me, me, and me. A envious life is a lonely life, my friend. It will leave you always feeling unsatisfactorily and deprived of the lack of “materialistic” pleasures that seem so spectacular. My friend, we need to grasp that fighting against our brother because they have what we have been praying for is not only wrong, but it can cause a void between you and God. Ouch!

James 4:3: “You ask, but do not receive because you ask God with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”.

Friendship with the world is hatred towards God! Our hands were created to work for God’s kingdom! We are his craftsmanship! What good is it that the beautiful gifts He has given us be thrown away for flesh, sinful desires? Why drink from the mud when God offers eternal, spiritual waters that will let us be thirsty no more?

Let’s all take away this: God is a jealous God, meaning NOTHING shall separate Him from us. He cannot stand the fact of anything keeping us from His presence! So when He countlessly rescues you and I from sin, it’s because He wants to! He loves us that much! Wow….

Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

I Will Let the World Reject Me.”

This, by far, has been one of the most painful, eye opening, and raw gutting seasons God has lead me through. Every single morning since December I have awoken to feel inadequacy, guilt, and depression. It’s been exhausting trying on different emotional masks that can cover only a small percentage of my exposed weaknesses. I have, regretfully, shunned God and allowed a dark hole suck me dry. I feel as though a light within me has almost gone completely dim; drowning in my own agony.

But…. a voice calls to me, so softly.

A voice that sees my despair, yet can still reach into my cracked soul.

A light that outshines the deep trenches my own sin had created, pulling me out piece by piece.

A love that shows me that I am a sinner, but I’m also deeply treasured. A love that saw me from my mother’s womb and calls me by name. A love that knows my inner thoughts more than anything, and still called me “chosen.”

This is what I will cling to. I will let the world reject me. I will let myself be thrown into the streets, left physically naked and cold. But… I will not reject my Father’s love. I will not turn away from the cross that set me free. The cross has the final word, I will listen to that voice, even if the world’s deceiving tongue shouts lies into my bleeding ears.

“No Partiality.”

I absolutely love James 2 because this chapter is basically about one main thing: FAVORITISM! I do not know about you, but I cannot stand favoritism! Even if I am the one being favored! There is no joy in it! I’ll explain why I feel this way.

A few years back I was extremely involved in my youth group. I was very close to my youth leaders and a bunch of the girls in the same group I considered my best friends. Every Wednesday our youth leader put us on a rotation on who would open up the night, pick the worship music, or even do the lesson. He would sometimes ask for the following week and my hand seemed to always be raised. I did not think much of it. I have always had a passionate heart for serving. It brings me great joy to serve and bring others joy. Week after week though, less volunteering hands were raised and it began to become repetitive of me being in the spotlight. My mind slowly realized that I was being “favored.” After I left that youth group, I completely stepped down from serving. I was doing it out of self ambition, and reputation. Like, a slap on the back or a “good job!” I wasn’t really giving back to the One who deserved all the praise. James talks about favoritism in all levels, as well as faith with works. We cannot possibly

Another story I have is when I was getting back from working out at the walking trail I usually went every evening, I noticed this family of 4 was standing on the curb right outside a Subway, while holding a sign that said a dialogue of hopelessness. I began to feel led to serve them. I went inside Subway and bought two plain subs. As I walked outside to greet the family, I witnessed them all getting into their car and driving away. I began to feel a little angry because I realized that they mostly likely con people into thinking they’re dirt poor or just want “handouts”. I stated to walk back to my car when I glanced over at a nearby trash can and an old man was digging desperately through the trash. My heart felt heavy for this man. I looked down at my subs and immediately knew what I had to do. I bravely walked over to the man and said, “I’m not hungry. Please take these”. The man graciously took them and said a prayer for me. I knew in that moment God was acknowledged, and I served the humbled heart.

“You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.” James‬ ‭2:22-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When.

Sometimes we just crave the “when’s” in life.

“When I get this job…”

“When I find the right man/woman…”

“When I pray this specific prayer…”

I will be honest with you, I’m in the guilty party of wanting the when’s. Sometimes though, those “when’s” are more like selfish “wants”.

I often catch myself feeling some heavy negative emotions that cause a selfish stir in my heart. I even get angry at God in my “seasons of waiting.” Which again, I have been lead into. My heart yearns constantly for things my own mind thinks I’m ready for. As always though, our thoughts processes are outweighed by the promises of God. He knows our hearts so much more than we do! So how could we even begin to question his ways or become a little impatient if I may be so blunt? That’s just how the human mind is. We live in a incredibly narcissistic society. A high percentage of people will do anything to get what they desire, especially with the usage of manipulation and fear. That’s not how God wants it! I love the stories of Abraham, Sarah and Hannah. Both sets of people desired a baby! With the gnashing of teeth and screaming cries of prayer, they both obtained a child. The more honoring and inspirational part though is, they gave back to God. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son to show his heart still belonged completely to God. Hannah, gave her son back to the temple, only seeing him once a year at festivals. How unselfish that is, right? So that’s how we should be. Our “when’s” need to align with God’s “thy will be done.” His ways are better, higher, and faithful to the last.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;” Psalms‬ ‭130:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Perseverance”.

This past month has been a whirlwind of changes and growth. God has revealed so much to me in what my flesh is still desiring and what my spirit needs to desire. This morning I read this powerful “sticky statement” (a statement that sticks out the most in an author’s piece or work) and it struck the rift I have been feeling in my spirit right out: “God leads us all into situations, circumstances, and experiences that break me, but mold me into a better version of myself.” We all can agree trials and tribulations are down right awful. None of us like the feeling of disappointment, failure, or my favorite word this week: perseverance. Today, I want to write to you what I have learned from our friend of the bible James, and how trials should be counted as “great joy” in our personal walk with God.

I entered into the dating arena again with hope in my heart and excitement in my brain. The last relationship I had been in was almost 2 years ago! I have been fresh out of the game for quite some time. I will tell you on a personal note that the last 2 years of being single were the best couple years of my life. I grew so intimately with God, learned heavily about forgiveness, and I found a love for myself I never knew I had instilled within me. I prayed for months to share what I learned with the opposite sex (of course, a relationship). God eventually did lead me to someone who was incredible. His mind, body, and soul attracted me so profoundly. I desired to be in this persons’ presence, sadly, more than I did with God. The relationship abruptly ended, and I surprisingly did not leave the relationship empty or broken. I felt two things I have never felt in my life over a break up: hope and peace. I quickly began to understand and truly see how much work God has done within my heart when I had to endure multiple trials of perseverance. James, incredible book of the bible, teaches us that very thing.

James 1:2-3:

Take Hope When Tests Come

My Christian brothers, you should be happy when you have all kinds of tests. You know these prove your faith. It helps you not to give up. 

What a bold statement, right? “Be happy when you have all kinds of tests”. I am currently enrolled in school, and I can gladly tell you I do not find any joy in tests. In fact, I LOATHE tests! But… what would be the point if we did not have tests? How would I be able to see if I understand what I am learning and able to retain it if I do not endure tests of learning? The same exact principle is used when it comes to our faith. We are commanded by our Lord to read His word and apply to our lives so that when we do enter into “trials of tribulation” we can have a hope that surpasses all worldly understanding. We can have joy in knowing that we can endure all attacks because of the living Spirit inside of us.

James 1:4

Learn well how to wait so you will be strong and complete and in need of nothing.

Patience is one of the most used words in the bible. We are called many, many times to be patient. I sometimes like to explore many different versions of the bible, and one version replaced patience with “long suffering.” Wow! My mind immediately went to the cross. Jesus endure an immense amount of long suffering. He was so faithful to God’s will, even though He was in great anguish. That powerful, loving example is what Jesus expects of us. Waiting is an act of obedience; trusting God to do the possible when contradictions around us say impossible.

James 1:6

You must have faith as you ask Him. You must not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like a wave which is pushed around by the sea.

Trials are stepping stones in our faith. We must endure pain and tribulation, so that we will rely on God more and more. Just like the butterfly must complete the whole stage of metamorphosis, we must endure the whole trial of perseverance. We must allow God to mold us into His perfect character!

Growing Your Soul Garden.

I have not written in almost a month, which that does bring a sting of sadness to my heart. I read a quote today that said, “our hearts wither when we love ourselves more than we love God.” Now, I am not stating that we should not love or focus on ourselves. That is vital. What I am saying is when we withdraw ourselves from a daily dosage of precious time with Jesus and we focus on our own plight, we begin to lose sight of the bigger picture. I have been in the pit of the valley my friend. It has been emotionally challenging and painful, but seeds have to root up out of the dirt before they can become beautiful flowers.

Today I want us to focus on this amazing Proverb. It is found in Chapter 8 of this book and the whole topic is on the word wisdom. I am going to go backwards just a tad bit to Proverbs 7. This chapter is all about the “Immoral Woman”. It depicts a woman who is seductive and full of sin and lures a married man into the darkness, knowing well the consequences and the damage he is leaving behind him. (All at once he follows her, as an ox goes into the slaughter or as a stag is caught fast. Proverbs 7:22). I was this man. I was attracted to the lust sin creates. I craved the taste of deception. My heart raced with the adrenaline of enticement. It was blinding and I slowly drifted into the wilderness. I searched and searched for ways to fill the void and pain I felt in my heart. I was reluctantly surprised that I let myself fall that hard. So here I am, laying on the cold, damp soil. But the goodness out of all of this, I am beginning to grow.

Now, back to Proverbs 8. This chapter is labeled in my New Living Translation bible as “Wisdom Calls for Hearing”. What a profound title! Wisdom calls for absolute quietness, seeking, and openness that God does provide. Wisdom in this chapter is portrayed as a woman who was present at the creation and works with the Creator. God is close to those who desire wisdom in their daily lives. Those who loathe wisdom are filled with deception and only crave death. Wisdom should affect every aspect of our entire life, beginning to end. Be sure to open corners of your life to God’s never ending direction and guidance.

The more a individual, especially a follower of Christ, fears and respects God, the more they will despise evil. Here is an important statement to keep close: “Love for God and sin CANNOT co-exist.” This is called a lukewarm faith. I fell deep into this entrapment. I picked up my bible, I rose my hands in prayer, but my mind was filled with lustful thoughts. My eyes were dimmed by the darkness sin instills. The hard thing I had to do was make a clean break with sin and commit myself completely to God. God states that wisdom has to be primary and fundamental in our present souls.

Jesus says, “Happy are those who listen to me, waiting for me outside my home. For whoever finds me finds life and wins approval from the Lord. Today, if you are examining your soul garden and all you see is weeds, do not rip them out. Weeds need proper digging and pruning. It is painful, tedious, and a long process. Just remember though, a seed starts out small. With the proper watering and fertilizing of wisdom, love, joy, self control, and perseverance, your seeds with sprout into your life. Every person you encounter will become attracted to your soul garden, and you can help re-plant their’s as well.