Guest Post - Gabi Kelley

Microcosm Moment - By Gabi Kelley

I have come here to declare the faithfulness of God.

These past few weeks have been crazy as we’ve moved out of our home in Colorado and brought our family to a new home in Texas. I don’t think I’ve ever done something so HUGE, and I’m still in the center of the hugeness of it right now. I see the wind flying around me in circles, but I’m sitting here at a table in Starbucks in the stillness right in the middle of it.

This is where Jesus is.

I don’t mean here at Starbucks (although I’m pretty sure He hangs out at every single one – praise the Name of the Lord:D. I mean here, right here in the stillness and in the middle of the tornado of upheaval caused by a cross-country move. Just like He was there in the middle of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, He’s here in the middle of this chaos I’ve landed in.

And He’s faithful to keep me here in the stillness, despite what winds blow 6 inches in front of me.

What a good God. What a faithful Shepherd. What a beautiful Savior.

Honestly, this was the moment I was dreading. This moment when my husband started going to the office to his dream job and my kids started preschool and I was left adrift, left to fend for myself and to find my own way.

But that’s not how it is. That’s never how it really is, is it? Maybe it feels that way sometimes but never, not once, have I been left to fend for myself. It’s in these moments of seeming aloneness, these hours of unsure footing, that we have a choice. We can either give in to discouragement, feeling as though we are unseen, or we can look up into the eyes of our King, say, “Ok, I’m ready!” and let Him take us on the adventure of the unknown.

Why oh why would I choose discouragement? No, I will not accept it. I drop it by the side of the road, I pick up my suitcase full of hope instead, and I go on this adventure with my Jesus. He has never let me down and He has never left me alone.

This moment in this season is like a microcosm of this life I have chosen to live. In this life, I have known with surety what He has planted in my heart. I have clung to the dreams and the promises of God with everything in me. I have waited…and waited…and waited…and cried, and fought, and prayed, and bowed down with whispers of “When, God, when?” but I have never let go of the promises. I can’t. I mean, how could I? When the God of the Universe bends low to whisper a secret into your life, you can’t just let it go, can you? I mean, I guess you could, but that would be an utter denial of the life change caused by the whisper, even if the change is only visible on the inside. For me, to let it go would be like losing a limb. So instead, I hold tight through it all; all the joys, trials, pains, hopes, betrayals, struggles, victories, discipline, and questioning.

This move to Texas is technically due to Benj’s new job. And I’m so happy for him – so happy. But in my heart, from the very moment I knew we would be moving (and I knew before anyone else…remember those God-whispers I was talking about?), I knew so much of this was going to lead to the fruition of 20+ years of prayers and dreams, the things planted inside me as a small girl. I know a little about how it’s actually going to look – but only a little. The rest is just expectation and belief lighting up like fireworks inside my soul. I know it’s coming…and I know it’s going to be beyond what I could even ask or imagine. But right now, right in this moment, the circumstances are tempting me to feel alone, forgotten, and overlooked.

But really, honestly, I know that’s just smoke. I know these are just shadows. Because I know the reality: My God SEES ME. My God KNOWS ME. My God REMEMBERS me every single moment. My God is the Dream Giver and the Dream Fulfiller. And He is holding my hand and telling me to keep holding tight because soon, so so soon, we will be running.

Like I said, it’s a microcosm of my life; this little moment in the middle of the tornado. I’ve learned how to wait and wait well, to wait actively, with faith as my guide and hope as my anchor. I understand that what I learn in between seasons and in the middle of unforeseen moments are the exact tools that I need for the next season and the next moment. Nothing is meaningless when I walk with Christ. So I know, I KNOW, that this time of waiting is just a chance to breathe before I’m swept up completely in the dreams of God’s heart, in the story that He’s written over my life, the story of rescue and compassion and mission and hands reached out and heart broken open for the world.

And so I rejoice. I choose joy. I tear off the heaviness and the gray and fight to the light and the color.

Here I am, God. Let’s do this. I am so so excited.


Gabi Kelley

Jesus Lover, wife, mommy of two, writer, God-dreamer, and adventurer. Host of Monday Morning Espresso podcast and gatherer of those who dream at GabiRuth.com.

* Microcosm Moment was originally published at gabiruth.com.

He is Risen, A Special Easter Message

The two women didn't expect to find the stone pulled away, two angels before them, and certainly not the resurrected Jesus on this very early morning. No; they expected to find the body of a man they loved very deeply lying in a tomb. But now Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James, were amazed at what they saw before them. The tomb stone was rolled away by one heavenly angel while another was in the tomb.

The two women hurried into the tomb looking for Jesus, but all they found were the outer garments he had been buried in. This, a symbol that Jesus had left his earthly boundaries behind and was now risen [as he proclaimed he would]. The angel proceeds to speak some of the most powerful words ever uttered,

He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.

Jesus, the man they knew as the Son of God now gone from his grave. A declaration not only to them and the Roman guards that stood by speechless, but to all that he was indeed God, resurrected from death. This...this was the very moment that changed everything for humanity! 

This weekend we celebrate what has become Easter, but more than any Easter basket or Sunday lunch with the family, we highlight this event. Easter weekend is all about him and what he did. Jesus didn't have to wrap himself in flesh and come to Earth, but he did. He didn't have to live in obscurity for 30 years, but he did. He didn't have to carry each of our sins and take our punishment of death at calvary, but he did. Jesus did--for you and for me! He temporarily gave up the beauty of heaven to carry the sins of men from Earth, into death, and free of it all victoriously back into Heaven. Now we get this incredible gift of grace, salvation, and eternal security with the Father if we put our faith in him. There is no greater gift or love you could ever receive than this.

When you wake up tomorrow morning, you don't have to worry about the fate of Christ and carry any mourning. You get to wake up with eager anticipation that Jesus is alive and reigns victoriously, on Earth, in Heaven, and in your life. That is the hope you have and I pray you'll carry it like a flag you wave proudly in the streets of victory.

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 150

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!

Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
— Psalm 150

This is it--the end of the series on psalms. And of course, we must end it in praise! Throughout this journey, we've explored so many seasons of life and emotions: depression, thanksgiving, betrayal, trials, and praise. No matter where you are in life and what you are going through, there is something in the book of Psalms that will speak to your heart.

Let's end it with praise! And I think this is so important because praise and thanksgiving is so vital to our way of life and everyday walk. If we miss this, we miss the mark big time.

God is worthy of all glory and honor and praise, no matter what you are going through. Take this to heart and make it a priority. Don't let a day go by without doing this with passion and sincerity.

God is an good Father who gives good things, and every good and perfect gift comes from Him.  Even the hard and heavy has value in His plans. He is worthy of praise! Will you give him honor and praise, the One who redeems and satisfies you?

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 142

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit faints within me, you know my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul.

I cry to you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.’ Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me!

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me.
— Psalm 142

Psalm 142 is a prayer of David's while hiding in a cave. David's was physical, but perhaps you've been in a proverbial cave before. Maybe even now. Because we all have our caves in life. That place in the darkness where we fell alone and afraid. David shows us how to respond when we find ourself in such a place.

In my Bible, I wrote out a progression I found in the Psalm a long time ago in my own cave. The progression goes like this:

  1. Prayed
  2. Cried Aloud
  3. Poured Out
  4. Trusted God
  5. Longed for God's Presence
  6. Confessed Need
  7. Asked for Deliverance
  8. Hoped

When in a cave, we often turn to prayer. This is, of course, a great place to turn to. Cry out to God, for He alone has the ability to turn your situation from turning to joy. He can bind up your broken heart! Don't be afraid to pour it all out to Him. God is a safe place--a refuge in time of trouble--that you can trust. Long to be in that safe place with Him--in His presence.

Once there, in that safe place in His sweet presence, confess your need and what you're going through. He's listening. And this is where it's ok to ask for deliverance from your situation. He probably won't create a shortcut or make it all go away, but if you ask Him to show up in your cave, He'll be there. And He will also get you through it. Have hope that He will come through for you!

NEW Article Contributions // Marriage & Calling

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Hey all! I've recently contributed articles to 2 websites on the web I've not shared with before and I hope you'll check out!

I shared with foreverymom.com 10 Things Your Wife Hates for all the husbands out there wanting to know what might really be bothering their wife. You can check it out using the button below!

This week I spoke to calling by sharing my story as a writer with Still Waters Publishing Co. In it, I give 4 Tips for Pursuing Your Calling and it's for all the dreamers out there wanting to put some action to their calling! Check it out using the button below.

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 133

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
— Psalm 133

Unity is vital to a flourishing life. Forget prospering at work if you cannot get along with your co-workers. And don't think marriage can be healthy unless both are on the same page. Psalm 133 declares that unity with others is good and pleasant; refreshing like the oil or the dew. WHo doesn't want that?!

My favorite passage to break down in regards to unity is Ephesians 4:1-3. In fact, I recite it to myself daily because I believe it to be that powerful and that valuable!

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Love

These 4 words, if embraced and lived out, can foster intimacy and ignite unity at all levels of your life. Furthermore, these attributes have the power to radically change your heart. I don’t know about you but there are a few of these I struggle to live out and diving deep into their meanings is reshaping my heart to be more like His. So not only is this a journey to unity, but it is a journey to be more like Christ.

  • Humility - Putting others before yourself is hard and requires sacrifice. It means stepping back and allowing others to take the credit. It manifests in celebrating the success of others when they are recognized. It’s this very practice that cultivates unity. When you begin to put others first and to serve the people around you, you are fostering an environment of connectivity.
  • Gentleness - When you interact with someone, Colossians 4 says we should do it in grace; that how we speak to them should bring out the best in them. Particularly in a tense moment or one with an unbeliever. Being kind to someone when your instinct is to lash out or correct is gentleness in action. Therefore, when anger begins to brew in you and in the other person, it’s our responsibility to diffuse the tension. Choose to turn the table by responding in kindness and gentleness.
  • Patience - Focus on patience as you go through your day today. Catch yourself in the moments it is tested and embrace how you can grow in that moment.
  • Love - When we commit to love others--to show them brotherly affection--we are doing one of the most important things we can be doing on this earth. It’s not an afterthought or something meant only for those closest to us; love is your highest calling. In fact, Romans says you should outdo one another in showing kindness. Imagine if everyone aimed to go above and beyond in loving each other.

Unity is incredibly desired by God, for His people. He longs to see His children live out humility, gentleness, patience, and love among each other and in a broken world. Begin to take steps in growing in these areas and living them out, and you’ll certainly honor Him.

Seek unity in your relationships, among other believers, and in your church, and watch as they flourish in ways you’ve never witnessed before. Unity is very important, so be a carrier of it today. Bring unity into your world!

If you would like to dive into this a bit more, check out my YouVersion reading called "Cultivating Unity" using the link below!

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Coming in 2018 is...

The Untouchable Myth!

By the absolute goodness and grace of God, I recently signed a book deal with Baker Publishing/Chosen Books and my first will release in 2018. In The Untouchable Myth, I share my story of moral failure in ministry as a mid 20-something and what I learned through that journey--that to truly flourish in life you must be willing to admit weakness.

Although I know He's always good, God's faithfulness continues to blow me away! To take what I thought was the end of my story and journey, and to turn it into something beautiful and redemptive is both humbling and overwhelming. Now I get to share what He's done in my life and perhaps one of the most valuable lessons I've learned along the way to hopefully help others.

If you have a minute, please say a prayer. I've never felt such a burden for people, or a desire to honor God, or unqualified for what He's called me to. Prayers are much needed throughout this process! ;) 

I have this to say to anyone out there with a dream in their heart--don't give up! This dream to love on and minister to people through writing was birthed as a midwest 20-year-old girl, new to ministry, 12 years ago. When I was 25 years old and at rock bottom after my moral failure, I honestly thought my dream was dead, along with any real purpose in the Kingdom. But He saw me and still had a plan for my life, buried under all the mess I had created. He redeemed me and that dream, beyond what I ever could have imagined! And finally, I've been on this book writing journey for 3 years now, working away in the hiddenness not knowing if it would ever produce anything. 

Don't be discouraged by the timeline, haha! I share that to say that a dream is worth investing in and waiting for. God worked in my life and He wants to in yours! I believe with all my heart that if He would choose to use someone like me, He will use anyone willing to say "yes, Lord."

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
— Psalm 121

When I open up my Bible to Psalm 121, there are literally tears stains and makeup covering the page. This psalm has been a source of great comfort and encouragement in very difficult times in my life. I would literally hold this psalm to my face and proclaim it over my situation; crying out to God from the depths of my soul.

If you're going through a hard time, this is certainly a psalm you can turn to. It reflects on the source of your help and how God is there for you in your trials.

The psalmist starts out by asking (and answering) where his help comes from. His help--your help--doesn't come from men, resources, or things accessed in this world. God can certainly work through such means but when you're up against it, God is your help. We wage battles not against flesh but against principalities in the spiritual world. Certainly, the spiritual battle waging around you can manifest in the physical world but you need to know today that God is in control of both worlds and He alone has the power to bring victory into your situation!

Once the psalmist establishes where his help comes from--and now that you can be confident in the same--he describes how God shows up for His people.

  1. God is always alert. Even when you sleep, God is alert and ready to battle on your behalf You can be confident that He never takes a break but is right there, ready to act on your behalf.
  2. God always protects you. To shade your right hand, He cannot be far off. God is with you and will protect you, whether it be in the desert or in the dark. It doesn't mean challenging things won't happen to you but it does mean that He will watch over you and protect you.
  3. God is always with you. You can be sure that God will not walk away from you. In your comings and goings, God is with His people. You can call out to Him and know that He is right there, ready to respond.

If you're going through a difficult season, tap into this psalm and lean on God!

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 101

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.

No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.

Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.
— Psalm 101 (ESV)

What kind of person are you when no one is looking?

When kings were often prone to self-indulgence and corruption in their hearts, David stepped into the role with a fierce determination to walk in integrity and purity. He penned Psalm 101 to declare his intentions to walk in such a manner.

Are you as convicted as I am by the question: "what kind of person are you when no one is looking?" It's easy to put on a show for others and to play the part of a good person. But...

  • Who are you at home?
  • Who are you with your spouse, kids, parents, siblings, etc?
  • Who are you when everyone's in bed, darkness covers the land, and you're all alone with the tv remote?
  • Who are you when the accounts are getting double checked at work and the buck stops with you?

What kind of person are you when no one is looking? 

Today, it's time to take a self-examination in integrity and purity. It's time to stop leaving hidden sin in the shadows and to expose it in the light. It's time to stop operating out of an act and start being the real deal. How do you do that? Psalm 101 gives us a pretty good idea.

  • Be pure in your own home.
  • Put away the things that waste your time and lead into temptation.
  • Stay away from those whose sins and impurity could rub off on you.
  • Flee from what is evil.
  • Do not slander those around you.
  • Do not walk in pride or arrogance.
  • Be around those who do have integrity.
  • DO not lie or deceive. 

I know this sounds like a laundry list impossible to accomplish. But I hope you'll see it more as a mirror into your own heart. Do you struggle with one or a few of these? Take one and start there. Focus on your greatest struggle.

One step in the right direction is always the right move.

NEW YouVersion Reading Plan // Fear & Anxiety

Do you struggle with moments of fear and anxiety? The Bible has may tools that can help you throw off these shackles and live in freedom. This 7-day journey with YouVersion will help you navigate such a journey!

You can find the reading plan on your phone using the YouVersion Bible App by searching "Fear & Anxiety" or by clicking the button below.

Epic Fails Podcast Launch!

Have you checked out my NEW Epic Fails Podcast? It released this past Wednesday with 2 episodes and you should definitely check it out!

The Epic Fails podcast contains powerful stories of God's redemption in people's lives. Every other Wednesday, I'll share stories of people who were radically transformed by Christ in spite of their reckless attempt to do life on their own.

Be inspired and encouraged by these stories and the power God has to transform any life, no matter where you come from or what you've been through!

In episode 01, I share my own story of redemption on the heels of a moral failure in ministry. In episode 2, I interview Coleman & Kellie Thimmes-they were drug addicts that met on the streets before separately going to prison. What God has done in their life is incredible!

You can listen to both on iTunes, Google Music, Stitcher, or on the podcast page here on my website!

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 92

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep! The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever; but you, O Lord, are on high forever. For behold, your enemies, O Lord, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered.

But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; you have poured over me fresh oil. My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies; my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
— Psalm 92

Palm trees are one of the few trees that can grow in the desert; in fact, they not only grow but they flourish in the dry condition. Their roots dig deep to find a water source that can sustain them when the conditions are rough.

Cedar trees in Lebanon can grow up to 130 feet tall-- the height of the Christ the Redeemer Statue.

Both are incredibly strong. The palm tree is the only tree that will break anything that tries to bind it. The cedar is incredibly resilient to insects and its wood is often used for building structures and ships.

Psalm 92 describes the righteous and those who plant themselves in the house of God as people who will flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar. These people are strong, resilient, bear fruit in old age, and above all, find a source that will sustain them.

Their source is God.

The key to flourishing and growing strong lies in where we plant our roots. Some plant their roots in work, in financial security, or in relationships. But the wise plant them in the House of God. They plant them in a relationship with God, intimacy with Christ, reliability in the Holy Spirit, and in community with the body of Christ.

Are you feeling tapped out? Like a withering plant in the desert--parched and weak? Where are your roots drawing strength from? If an honest examination proves to be anything outside of the four sources above, then pick up those shallow roots and plant them deep in the eternal source.

People planted deep know to praise God in the good and the bad; the easy and the hard. It's resilience. Those who don't plant deep wither away like the grass.

What kind of person do you want to be today? What kind of roots are you planting and where? 

The Cry of a Heart // Selah

Selah is a term in the book of Psalms often thought to mean a pause or interlude. Now that we're about half way through the book--next week we'll jump into Psalm 92--it seems fitting to take our own selah. To look back over the topics, seasons, and cries of a heart we've explored thus far.

This is a great time to go over any that you missed! Or perhaps, to take notice of the ones that fit your particular season. Below I've listed topics and categories that might fit what you're going through and added the psalms we've explored that would fit your season.

Take some time to pause and reflect on what God is wanting to speak into your specific situation and season!

NEW Crosswalk Article // 5 Important Things the Bible Teaches about Heaven That We Often Forget

What’s Heaven like?

A question or thought many people have. Some might think we become angels and spend our days playing a harp on a cloud. Or that good deeds get you there on merit. But what does the Bible really have to say about Heaven? A lot, actually. In my latest article for Crosswalk, I explore five of those truths today!

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 69

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God...

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. Hide not your face from your servant, for I am in distress; make haste to answer me. Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my enemies!...

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it; the offspring of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall dwell in it.
— Psalm 69:1-3,13-18,30-36 (ESV)

Sometimes life can feel like your drowning. You fight to keep your head above the waves but as exhaustion sets in, the water envelopes you even more. I've been there and felt claustrophobic in my season; pleading for God to get me out. Chances are you've been there and perhaps are today.

These are the hardest days you'll encounter. These are the seasons that make you want to give up and stop trying. It's here you question more than ever and wrestle with God to new degrees. 

But it's also where you find greater intimacy with God. When you grow as a person and mature into who God sees you to be. They are the hardest days but also the most giving in your growth.

How do you get through a season where you feel like your drowning? When you've cried out to God so much that words are a loss and tears are abundant?

  1. Cry Out to God. When you're in distress, cry out God! Perhaps you're in turmoil from a decision you made and feel too guilty to come to Him? Maybe you're afraid He won't answer? It's imperative that you don't shy away from calling out to Him. Be honest--let your Father know the emotions and distress that you are in. He cares so deeply about you and wants you to share your innermost thoughts and feelings with Him. He can take, and furthermore, will listen no matter what got you to this point. He's always available and eager to help.
  2. Don't Give Up. David, who wrote this psalm, was to the point that his voice was hoarse from crying out. But he didn't let his exhaustion from crying out stop him from continuing to do so. There might be moments you want to give up, but don't! Be like the persistent widow who wouldn't stop asking until her request was answered! 
  3. Have Boldness in Your Faith. Three times in verses 13-17 David says, "answer me." There's a confidence there, knowing that God hears and responds. David had witnessed God showing up before and believed He would do it again. When you pray, believe that God is on your side and will take up your cause.  
  4. Lift Up Praise & Thanksgiving. Always give God praise, no matter what season or situation you're in. This is vital to your relationship with God, the condition of your spirit, and the magnitude of the outcome. God is good, all the time!

If you can have this kind of perspective in your distress, you'll come out on the other end better than without. Keep the faith--don't give up--and keep your eyes on God!

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
— Psalm 51

Ever read a verse and fill instantly convicted and deeply challenged? I did reading this psalm! Verse 17, in particular, struck a chord in my spirit.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

David is penning these words on the heels of a great failure. At one time his heart was incredibly sensitive to the things of God, but over time he has drifted from this place and now finds himself broken, after many months of refusing to repent.

David mourns the sin committed and pleads with God to forgive him--to show him grace. His heart is truly broken and his spirit crushed by what he has done. He took a while to get there but it shows us the attitude we must all have to our sin.

I believe that having this kind of heart--one that breaks at the sorrow of sin and quickly asks for forgiveness--is one of the most necessary things you or I could carry with us daily. If we can be the kind of people sensitive enough to know when we've failed and can humble ourselves before God to repent, there's no bounds to how God will use us for His purposes. Humility is the kind of thing God loves to respond to and use.

Carrying a broken heart daily is incredibly valuable and here's why. Matthew Henry shares this perspective about the broken heart,

"His heart is broken, but in necessary humiliation and sorrow for sin. It is a heart breaking with itself, and breaking from its sin; it is a heart pliable to the word of God, and patient under the rod of God, a heart subdued and brought into obedience; it is a heart that is tender, like Josiah’s, and trembles at God’s word. Oh that there were such a heart in us! How graciously God is pleased to accept of this."

Carrying this same spirit every day is a walk of humility. It's a heart that recognizes sin and mourns it. It's a heart that is open and teachable. It's a heart that is patient in the correction. It's a heart that is tender.

Who wouldn't want that kind of heart? I know I CRAVE it! Having read this Psalm and felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit to respond, my prayer moving forward is that my heart would become more like this each day. That it would soften and tender towards the things of God. That it would feel sorrow for anything contrary to God; eager to repent at it's misleading.

Will you pray for this same heart?

Some of you reading this can sense the Holy Spirit convicting your heart towards repentance. Don't hesitate as David did; confess your sin with a crushed heart and lay it all out for God. He has both the power and desire to free you of your guilt and shame; to wipe the slate clean and make you white as snow.

If there isn't a sin poking to be confessed, carry this attitude with you daily. Ask God to help you be sensitive to your failings; that even if a negative thought crosses your mind you would be sensitive enough to the Holy Spirit to immediately repent.

Just as David repented from a great failure and went on to continue great works in God's name, you are still a vessel God can and wants to use. 

Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
— Psalm 51:16-17 (MSG)

The Cry of a Heart // Psalm 42

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’ These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God, my rock: ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?’ As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God’

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
— Psalm 42

Have you ever been in one of those seasons that feels incredibly heavy and lonely? Where your soul longs for nourishment and relief? These seasons are our hardest and can cause deep reflection on both who we are and who God is.

David is in one of these seasons in Psalm 42. In all honesty, he's depressed. He's been exiled and is on the run, in hiding, and mourning what has been left behind. Can you imagine being driven from your home, away from your family, with people looking to harm you? It was a very hard season for David and we get a glimpse into that as he shares with great vulnerability.

David opens the psalm with perhaps some of the most quoted words from the entire book. He's recounting his days of being in the house of God and worshipping, and reflecting on where he is now. He misses being in God's presence and craves it with such intensity that he relates it to a beer panting for water.

What I want us to really focus on today are the words that follow. I pray verses 1-2 over you; that you would crave the presence of God! And not just in the difficult times, but in the good. I pray that kind of thirst would be evident in your life in every season!

In what follows, David begins to do something very important and it's a lesson I hope we all take in. David gets a hold of himself.

It's easy when going through a hard time to get caught up in the emotions and sit in the unlovely. I've definitely been there! The trouble with sitting in the unlovely is that your view becomes narrow and hope begins to diminish. It focuses on what's going wrong and not in what God can do.

That's why David gets a hold of himself here. He knew that sitting in the unlovely wouldn't do him any good, and furthermore, that hope in God is a much better place to sit in.

No doubt you're going to need this tucked away in your head for some hard time down the road. Perhaps your season isn't hard now but it will be. And if it is hard now, take this in.

When you're downcast and sad, perhaps depressed, get a hold of yourself. David begins to talk to himself, asking his soul why he's downcast. Why are you downcast when God will act! That's cause for hope!

When you're in your hard seasons, it's okay to be sad or to struggle with what's going on. But there comes a point--and it can happen even while you're sad--that you begin to remind yourself of who God is. Remember when He's shown up for you before and encourage yourself with the hope that God will show up for you again.

Hope is powerful. Hope can keep you going. Hope can get you through the season. Hope is faith--faith that God is who He says He is and will be the good Father who takes good care of His children. A good parent--and indeed our God is--doesn't forsake His children. He might seem silent but He's always there.

Again, in closing, David tells himself to hope. If you're wanting to get a perspective shift in your difficult season, take notice of David's response in this psalm. Getting a hold of yourself is purposefully placing your perspective in hope. Hope in God.