"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Heavy Loads

In Luke 5 we read about "some men" carrying a paralytic on a mat.

It isn't clear in the passage how many men helped or who they were. Were they his friends? His neighbor? We have no idea.

No names and no descriptions are given. Who these men were is apparently immaterial. What we do know is why they carried this load, this sick man. We know that their faith propelled them to carry the man. We know that they had faith in Christ's power to heal.

Somewhere deep within they believed, and then acted on this belief. They knew that if only they could lay him at the feet of the Miracle Worker, this Bondage Breaker, this Savior He would do something wonderful. We know this belief infused them with amazing gumption and gusto. They pushed through a large crowd, climbed on top of a house (with the man, mind you!) and then dug through the roof... lowering him down.

I have known a bit of the load that these men knew. I haven't physically carried a man before... but my heart, my mind and my soul have carried many in prayer. Sometimes the load of sick men and "paralytics" feels too much for me to bear. I feel that my spiritual arms might give out. I feel that my spiritual feet might not be able to take one more step.

But, then faith kicks in! I know, more than I know anything else to be true, that my Lord, my Jesus can and will do miracles!! He is my Miracle Worker, my Bondage Breaker and my Savior. Miracles of heart, soul, mind and body I have seen. I have known Him to do miracles and break bondage in my own life!

And, so I plod on and carry these souls that He has given me. Are they all friends? No, some are just "neighbors". Does it matter my name or by what means I get them there? No! I will cry my prayers... I will sing my prayers..I will whisper them in the middle of the night or while washing dishes. All that matters is that that I carry them. I must carry them to the Christ and lay them down.

I wonder if these men themselves had been healed. Had they known the touch of the Master's hand on their eyes, their hands or their feet? Did this push them forward in their faith-filled task?

What is most beautiful to me about this story today is that it was some men... not just one. I need the "some men" around me while I carry some of these burdens. He has given me friends, comrades-in-arms, to carry the load and this does wonder for my soul. I don't have to carry him, her, them... on my own.

My "some men" friends, those that know the healing power of our Lord themselves too, are carrying the load with me on this leg of the journey. This does wonders. It is like I can see their striving faces across the mat, they are feeling the weight of the mat. But, the load is a bit lighter than if I had to carry it on my own... we both know that!

And, we know that when we get them to Jesus, we can lay them down. Ah! the release and relief that comes when we lay them down. I don't have to continually wear them on my back. All I must do is get them to Jesus. I must. They must be placed at His feet! I will do anything to get them there. And so I trod on, weary and heavy laden. I go to Him that can heal, lay them down with deep faith, and I find rest for my soul and deep hope for theirs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Control is STILL an Issue...

I read her honest post and was immediately convicted. Interestingly enough, God had been prodding this area just this morning before reading the post. He has a funny way of doing that! What a personal Father we have!

I posted a while ago about being "a control freak". Well, although I can't say there hasn't been any progress... it is slow going! I do often attempt to control my life, probably more than I am even aware.
I can honestly say that often when I am manipulating my circumstances or people, it is motivated by love; but, does that make it okay? 
Is it okay that I "remind" (read: nag) my husband about this-or-that? (I love him and want his best, right?) 
Is right that I plan and list-make in effort to feel at peace somewhere deep in my soul. (I am a "better" mother when I am organized, right?) ...As if calendar juggling and plan making will bring order to my soul. It doesn't really. Or if it does it is way-short lived. 
Is it okay that I call this person or write that person in the effort to assure that they like me or think well of me? (Motivated by love for them? or for me?) I know it sounds crazy and ugly... but I do it.

There has been growth and for that I testify to God's victory in my life. I am so very grateful that it doesn't consume my life or my thoughts; but, certainly I am far from free. 
So, what is the solution? What would be different in my heart that might free me from this.
Why can I remind my husband with such confidence what he should be doing with his time? Isn't this God's job, not mine. Why do I feel that I can or should plan my life (or my next week) to the every hour? Doesn't God have the right to order my day and do with my time as He pleases. Why do I feel it my job to assure people "I am okay and likeable"? Where is my hope lying when I function in this mindset? ... and am I entrusting my "okayness" to God alone. See, again the problem lies with making myself, me, the center of my thoughts and the world around me. Thus the problem.
As I sit here and dialogue with the Father, I get a sense that freedom would look like taking my eyes off myself. 
"Lose your life"... and "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?" 
I am promted to "look out and up" and to keep my eyes fixed on Him. The thoughts from Father aren't harsh, they feel spoken as gentle reminders. It is not all about you, Steph, he says. (And the words bring peace!) 
The world is bigger, much bigger, than you. My kingdom is beyond your thoughts, opinions, plans or imagination. If I could heart-remember that the world does not revolve around me and my perceptions are hopelessly flawed, I think I would attempt to control less.

So, thank you my friend who posted yesterday. Thank you for your honesty, which propels me to question my heart, my thoughts and my actions.

Father, make me keenly aware of this issue in my life. Show it to me the minute it creeps up. Make me about You, Your glory alone, and Your kingdom. Invade me, Lord and turn my face toward you!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ever hear God sing?

Early this morning I had a horrible dream. I knew that it was a dream while in it, but could not “make” myself wake up. It was torturous. So, I fought as I have learned to fight in dreams like these. In these dreams, I have learned to call on the name of Jesus with persistence until I am delivered. Early in the dark morning and in the dark dream, I did fight this way. Hard and long, or so it felt, I screamed the name of Jesus.

When finally I broke free from the dream and awoke to the light of morning, I immediately heard a song in my head. The song has been “singing” in my head ever since.

“The Lord you God is with you, He is mighty to save!
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save!
He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing! The Lord your God is with you!”

This song that is playing in my mind is a beautiful rendition of Zephaniah 3:17. Recently, I have been listening to it and other Scripture songs on the
Seed’s Worship Album (a fabulous resource for children or adults!). The beauty of Scripture is being sung to me even as I write this blog. What a sweet message to wake up to after a rough dream!

As I ponder the words of this verse/song, I am amazed afresh at their meaning.

The Lord your God is with you.

The truth of God’s presence alone does wonders for my soul.

I was just reading a prayer written by St. Patrick in AD 433…
“Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left…”
(*As quoted in Intimate Intercession by Tricia Rhodes)

What might my life be like if I would always remember “my” God, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, is with me?! I believe I would know more joy, peace and power if I walked in this truth more often.

He is mighty to save!

I love that this is the song that played directly after my dream. When I couldn't “save” myself in my dream, it was His name that delivered me! Did He watch me dream, remind my mind to fight in His name and then whisper “awake” and then ... sing to me, “I am with you! I will save you”. What a beautiful thought! We can find perfect rest in God, His presence and his strength to save us!

He will take great delight in you.

What a mind-blowing thought! The God of the Universe delights, great delight, in you! What?!! Me? This one seems to be the most difficult one for me to swallow and believe, truly believe. Do I believe that God loves me dearly and that His love is unfailing and without bounds? YES! I could preach a 40 minute sermon on it! (smile) But, somewhere in my depths, I do have this inkling of wonder at how He could possibly “delight” in me. I believe it fully with one part of my being and question it somewhere else deep within.

Does He delight in my husband? Can I see it? Absolutely! My daughter? Without a doubt! My son? Certainly! My teammate or best friend… ? I have no problem “seeing” that! But, Stephanie? Hmm… still somewhere deep within there is a hesitation. He has brought much healing to that hesitation, to be sure! Deep, deep within I believe it more than I did say…10 years ago, … 5 years ago, even. But, I have some healing steps still to take in walking in this wondrous truth that He delights in Stephanie.

And yet…, I can see just a glimpse of this truth as I imagine this loving Father … around me, within me, beside me, beneath me… knowing my dream, watching me fight with His name and His armor. I can almost see the smile across His face and His “well done” or “good job, sweet heart” look on His delighted face. I can almost see it clearly.

He will quiet you with His love.

Quieted with His love... this love, God’s love, …so perfect, so unexplainable and unfathomable. This is where we find rest for our souls. This love can cast out all fear and guard our hearts and minds from all anxiety. He speaks His love over us and we are at rest, we are quiet. Can't you just see a loving mother, holding her well-loved child in her lap. This mother’s presence and love is all this child needs to find peace, rest and quiet.

He will rejoice over you with singing.

What does it look like or sound like when God sings!? If the Welsh coast line, the snow covered mountains, the newly budded flowers of spring or the newborn baby is any indication, it must be phenomenal! He rejoices… God, the Father, rejoices over you. Over me. And when He rejoices over you, He sings! He breaks forth in a song. What a thought?! I can hardly even write the words. Oh! May they sink into my soul.

I believe I could live the rest of my life just feasting on these words alone…
“The Lord you God is with you, He is mighty to save!
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save!
He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing! The Lord your God is with you!”

Thank you, Lord for your Word. I praise you Father for your Presence and I worship you, claiming that your are Almighty… the Mighty One who saves. Thank you Lord for Your love and the depths of it… thank you that your love includes delight over me and singing! Oh Lord, my Father, my sweet God, would you sink this truth deep into my heart, mind and soul. May I walk as one loved in this way, believing it fully!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Block to Intercession

I am still shocked by his behavior and sin. I am hurt by his deception and I am angry with him for the sins he has committed against his wife. This friend... this one "in the fold" that has lied to his friends and his wife for years.

If I am honest, I am just too angry to intercede for him. Not that I want him to be in pain or for bad things to happen to him, I truly don't. But, my heart is not turned toward him and I certainly don't feel mercy, grace or compassion. According to a fabulous
book I am reading, Tricia Rhodes assures her readers that without these thing... without mercy, compassion and grace... without a heart that is for the person..., real intercession cannot happen. She believes that supplication and request can happen in my state; but, not intercession. I was struck with this convicting idea just this afternoon as the heady-book knowledge clashed with my heart-world.

Intercession is "to act or interpose in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition"(Random House Dictionary). Rhodes talks about intercession as being a stance of gap-filling (standing in the gap for someone). Intercession is a role of advocate and proponent. A true intercessor is one like Moses pleading God's mercy on behalf of the Israelites or Jesus begging the Father for mercy for his murderers... "for they don't know what they are doing!"

Rhodes also shows from Scripture that our role as believers is to be intercessors. We are all intercessors, she states and argues with persuasion. We are called to be ministers of reconciliation. We are called to hold the hand of Almighty God, our kind and loving Father, and plead the case of the lost, the hurting, the broken and the wayward. Our Father has invited us all to this work.

An important key, though, is that our heart actually needs to believe it. Intercession requires a heart-felt appeal to God for mercy. Like an attorney that doesn't believe his client is innocent... how is he to plead his case with integrity? An intercessor can not plead grace before God without being full of grace and love for the accused.

In this book, Rhodes states that we are never more like Christ than when we are interceding. He ever lives to intercede. (Hebrews 7:25) This is what He does full time! This is salvation and the work that the blood does on our behalf. We rely upon His intercession (His blood sacrifice!) when we stand before a holy Father and are welcomed in. Christ is the great intercessor!

Ah! but my heart is still hard toward this man. Not hateful... for I can request good things for him. But, can I intercede? Can I be like Christ in this manner? I don't have trouble interceding on behalf of his wife, his children and those he has hurt along the way. But, mercy must well up in my soul before true intercession can take place. Can I plead his case before God? Can I be an advocate for him?

My heart fights it as if interceding for him would make his sin less sinful or "okay". Does Christ's blood and intercession make my sin okay? Doesn't asking for mercy acknowledge the need for mercy... and mercy is only needed when sin is present. In my head somewhere, I know that I have done enough to anger Christ! Certainly, I have been as rebellious and my heart more wayward. Certainly Christ has every right to be angry at me! And, yet, my Savior-Brother stand in the gap for me. His anger does not get in the way of genuine and effective intercession for me. So, from my head the old saying... "there but for the grace of God go I" needs to make its way down to the depths my heart. This is what I have begun to ask for today.

For, "If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?" 1 Samuel 2:25

Will I join Christ in this work?

Oh Father, would you fill my heart with mercy and grace. Make me more like you, Lord Jesus. May I grow in my ability to forgive. May I grow in my ability to walk in mercy and compassion. Change my heart, O God. Jesus, teach me to pray.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fresh Wind

Past experience is like the old manna, it breeds worms and stinks if it be relied upon. The moment a man begins to pride himself on the grace he used to have six years ago you may depend upon it he has very little now. - Charles Spurgeon

We do this I think... often. Recently I had talked with a mom about her faith, her heart. She talked about her college years... those sweet years when she was close to the Lord. With light in her eyes she talked about the challenge that she had known from the Word, the closeness of His voice and the sweetness of worship during that stage in her life. In the same conversations, she told me with sadness of her current dryness (she is now in her late 20's...) Oh!, too many years of dryness!!

It isn't that she isn't a believer (she certainly hasn't lost her status as a loved daughter of the faithful King!). It isn't that she doesn't attend church or once-in-a while read her Bible and pray. She does. She loves God and is dearly loved by Him. She just maybe loves a memory of the Father more than a current person. She is relying on day old--- year old--- manna.

We look back at what God has done in our lives. We relish in our memory those special moments of worship, those sweet times of fellowship or those periods in our lives when we "had" great times with the Lord. We look back and rely on those experiences.

We need new, now, and fresh experiences with God and His word. Today. Yes, it is important to look back and remember WHO God is and all that He has done... this aids in our hope for today. But, we can not rely on these times in our lives. We can't say... I used to walk with God. We must be able to say, "I am walking with God. I know Him today, I talked with Him this morning..." This real, genuine, today-fresh faith will bring fruit for this season. We can't eat from old, rotten and moldy fruit... it won't last.

I just talked with this mom this week and she is running back to Him daily. She is ready to get to know Him again! She told me of times this week when she was challenged by His word and she told of a heart looking for Him through her day. This mom is now getting fresh manna. Does it look different than it did in college? Absolutely! and that is okay!... This part of the journey, the scenery, has changed dramatically. But, He is the same and I can just see His smile over this daughter. I can just sense His delight as His dearly loved daughter is looking for Him today. No more looking back at the Red Sea of life... but instead looking, feeling, watching for the fresh wind coming through her bedroom window.

Oh, sweet Lord that we would run to you each day! Thank you for your faithful character and your steadfast love that allows us to come back each day, mercies new! Oh, dear loving Father, that we would know You more and more each day. I want to see you afresh today!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another Mary

I just had the privilege to pray with a dear woman. She is processing a very difficult circumstance and grieving deeply. Toward the end of our prayer, she began to cry out to Jesus, "You didn't protect me! You didn't show up! Where were you?".

In my mind's eye, I felt I was back a few thousand years ago watching sweet Mary falling to the ground, dirt stained dress. I could just see her grasping the Lord's feet, weeping and crying out, "If you had come, he wouldn't have died!" (John 11) And, then I could see Him troubled. His face contorted with compassion, sorrow and grief. I could see Him weeping as she wept.

Mary needed to say it to Jesus. She had to be honest with Him and she was not punished for it. In fact, she saw His Glory on the heels of that real grief and honesty! She needed to see Him deeply troubled by her circumstances and she needed Him to enter into her grief with her. Mary needed this 2000 years ago.

And so did this other Mary today.

This sweet woman who sat with me this afternoon had to say it to Jesus. She needed to ask Him "why?" and cry at his feet, in accusation, like Mary... you didn't come, Lord!! Why!!??!!

Oh, the beauty of genuine, heart-deep interactions with our Lord! Can we trust Him enough? Can we believe that He will enter in to our grief and not punish us for honesty? Can we know His shoulders are big enough to handle the questions and to take our accusations?

Thank you, my sweet brother, Jesus for being a man well acquainted with grief and sorrow. Thank you for being able to take our ranting and raving! Thank you for showing forth Your glory and allowing the fire of pain to strengthen us. Thank you that suffering produces growth, perseverance and character! Suffering produces glory.

But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The "why" in pain

Why would she fail to meet Him when He comes? Was Mary so discouraged... so distraught that she fails to welcome Jesus when He finally comes? Was it sadness and despair alone? Or was it disappointment, anger or despondency that makes her ignore the teacher's arrival (John 11)?

Lazarus, her brother, had just died. She had walked the path of sickness that brings death. She had been sitting in mourning for days. Had she been stewing in her sadness? Had she been wondering? Had she been questioning Jesus and His friendship, this One she had grown to love? Had her heart been asking about His love for her, His love for her brother? Did the "Why!?" swell within her like a flood as the days went by and she had watched her brother dying? They had sent word to Him(v.3). He knew! ...she might have thought. He knew, He must have known!, but He didn't come? Why, Jesus? Why? Can you feel the mounting of frustration, confusion and despair that can come and compound grief?

Was it late at night, beside her brother's bed... that she wondered why this Miracle maker, her friend, wasn't coming? Why wasn't her Savior responding to her? Is that why when the house heard of His arrival (v.20), Martha went out to greet Him... but, Mary stayed at home? I don't know. Maybe she was too upset to even hear of His arrival. We don't know.

I do know that when I pray for something earnestly and hear "no response", I can begin to wonder and question. I can even question His love for me. I can find myself pondering the sin in my life and wonder after His silence. I can get upset... maybe even angry... at God for not "showing up". My night time, sleep deprived, moments can be filled with doubt and fear, frustration and accusation. "If you had been here!!!... he would not have died!"

What Mary doesn't know is the heart of Jesus. She doesn't know what we get to hear, in John 11, that Jesus knew the beginning from the end of this event. He knew what would happen to Lazarus and He knew what their hearts would learn from this. What Mary doesn't know is that her sweet friend, Jesus, is allowing all this for a deeper, greater, more significant good in her life! What she doesn't get is that His love propels Him to stay away! He knows that GLORY will be seen. He knows that this will bring life to their hearts.

She couldn't know this, no. Or could she? Maybe, just maybe, she could have trusted Him more. Maybe she could have known that if He wasn't coming it was for their good... it was because of His love for them that He allowed this pain. Maybe, just maybe, she could have assumed the best. Maybe she could have trusted this One she had watched, followed and loved. I certainly can't imagine myself in the same situation without seeing myself in the very same state of mourning and with the very same questions swirling!

Her sister, Martha, is just as confused and bewildered by Christ's slowness in response... "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died" and yet, in a fascinating statement of profound faith she says, "but,... But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask!" What was Martha hoping for? She was confused, "He wouldn't have died if you had been here!"... but, ... But, she says to Him... I know you! I know WHO you are and I trust that even now God will do what you ask! There is a sweetness of faith that accompanies Martha's response to Jesus. She is upset, yes. She is confused, yes. But, she there is an inkling of hope in her words and her subsequent confession in this verse.

I love that Jesus doesn't get his feelings hurt but Mary's ignorance of His arrival. Culturally, yes, this may have been a slap... but He doesn't seem to care. In fact, He seeks her out. Oh! How He is so faithful to keep seeking us out even when we hide away from Him in frustration, guilt or anger. "The teacher is here and is asking for you", her sister says to Mary. And, Mary's response is classic. She takes off running and falls at his feet! Can't you just see the scene? Weeping and clutching his feet... why? why, didn't you come?! If you had only been here? Oh, Jesus... why didn't you come?

It says that when he sees Mary's weeping he is deeply troubled. He is agitated, it says. He is upset. A bit further in the passage it says He wept. Why did Jesus cry like this? We don't really know why. Certainly it wasn't mourning he loss of Lazarus, for He knew Lazarus would be alive in only a few moments. Did He get upset and agitated because He saw her lack of hope? Did He get upset simply because He entered into Her grief. Did it pain Him so much to see her weeping that He, Himself, wept? Certainly God is the God of all comfort, mercy and compassion!

What we do know is that Jesus purposefully allowed this suffering and pain because He loved them so much! He knew that His glory, the glory of His Father, was the very best thing... and so He waited and didn't respond--- on purpose! He let them hurt, mourn and watch a sick man die because He wanted to teach their hearts more about Him and His Father.

Our God is certainly not opposed to using suffering and pain in our lives to bring about a better good... And, He is okay with the "why" we ask in the midst of it--- this didn't stop Him from showing forth His Glory that day. He still brought Lazarus back to life... He had intended it all along. His plans were not thwarted by their faith or their questions!

Will I fail to meet Him when He shows up and finally answers my prayers? Will I allow the "why" that swirls around my head and heart swallow up hope or faith... or will I say, "but, you are the Son of God and I know that God will do whatever you ask!" Will I trust His faithfulness as a friend even when He doesn't come...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ask for suffering

Who ever asks for suffering? Who utters the words, "Lord bring pain in my life". Who, in love, would ask, "bring suffering to my friend's life!"? Who ever asks God for pain? Who, in the world, would ask the Lord to bring famine, heart ache or death?

Why would you ever pray for drought? What a crazy prayer... Lord, please stop the rain and bring drought. Why in the world would you pray for it to stop raining?! Who would do such a thing?! In most of the world, drought is an unrivaled curse. A plague or a curse, right? Not a prayer...

"Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years." (James 5) Why would he have done this? And, why so earnestly? It says he prayed earnestly... he labored in prayer, he fought in prayer, he begged God that it would not rain. Why?

We get a clue as to why Elijah prayed this way in I Kings 19... after the three years of drought, he explains himself. He was zealous, or jealous, for God's glory! He was sick with what he saw the people of God doing, their lives sickened him. He watched in agony as the Israelites continued to disregard God's name and glory. He watched as they fervently disobeyed and dishonored his God, the Lord Almighty. And, his response... jealousy! He was jealous for God's glory.

He knew that God's desire was relationship with his people. He knew that God had warned them time and time again regarding disobedience... and he knew that God cared more about their hearts, His glory and His name than He did about their comfort...

Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord's anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. (Duet. 11)

He knew that what the people needed was to turn back to God. He watched as they were comfortable in their disobedience. They were wayward with no real consequences. He knew that the best thing for the people was pain and suffering. He was desperate to see God get the glory, the honor and the worship he deserved.

And, if pain would do it, this is exactly what Elijah would pray. God's glory was more important to him than rain, than crops or livelihood. God's deserved worship was more important to him than those that might die because of drought. He was zealous for God and it deeply pained him to see the people turning their backs on their God.

And so he prayed. He prayed earnestly for no rain. He prayed for suffering and pain (for himself and others... for he lived in the land with them).

When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and confess your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance. 1 Kings 8

God is not opposed to difficulties in our lives if it will turn our hearts toward Him. He wants our hearts... He is jealous for our hearts. And, He deserves our obedience and worship.
When we pray, maybe we should be more like Elijah and ask for no rain... Maybe, just maybe, then those we are fighting for in prayer will turn their hearts toward God Almighty and give Him the glory He is due.

Would you pray for me?... we ask each other over and over again... "prayer requests" come in frequently.

Yes, I will pray for you--- but I might just be asking for pain.

Affliction is a bitter root, but it bears sweet fruit.

- Thomas Watson

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy Hope Year

"Happy New Year" we say to each other... This sweet greeting, that often comes with a hug, a kiss or a hand shake, is a blessing. Whether we know it or not, we are speaking blessing into each other's lives as we say, "Happy New Year". We are saying to each other,"May this next year, this new year, be happy for you!"

We had a sweet celebration last night and wished each other happiness in the new year as we feasted, played games, laughed and talked late into the night.

Reflecting and reading this morning I was struck with the simplest of phrases... a verse you might see 100 times or more in Scripture. "Blessed is he whose hope is in the Lord" (Psalm 146). The word we translate "Blessed" from Hebrew simply means happy or happiness. Happy is the one whose hope is in the Lord... it could be written.

Hope is about looking forward toward the future, or toward the New Year in my case this morning. What an appropriate scripture for all new year celebrations! Happy New Year translated--- Happy are you who hope in the Lord this next year!! Even more simply put, "Happy Hope Year". May you be happy as you hope in Him.

What is it I hope in 2010? What do I want this next year? This was the discussion I started with my Father (or better said, He started with me...) this morning. What do I want with 2010?

I want to put my hope and my trust in Him more this New Year.

I want to strip off that which hinders me and to run with perseverance toward life in Him, my goal, my prize.

I want to listen and to obey with joy and freedom.

I want to eagerly watch, to look, to expect Him and be aware of His presence, His voice and His will.

I want to live a life of thanksgiving, praise, worship and gratefulness. I want to see everything as a gift from Him and await His surprises for me around every corner of life.

I want more of Him this New Year. My hope is in Him, for He himself, as my happiness this new year.

I want a Happy New Year! I want a blessed new year... a happy future, hoping in Him!

Happy are you who hope in the Lord this next year! Happy Hope Year!
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