The Word Weaver
Inviting you to know & embrace Jesus Christ
Deb Weaver
by The Word Weaver, Deb on April 19th, 2018

​Don’t you just love Peter?   I do!  He was real and honest.  Bold.  Passionate.

He had a heart for God.  He risked uncertainty, ridicule, and failure.  When Jesus called him, he left his boat immediately and followed.  When he didn’t understand, he asked Jesus to clarify.  He jumped out of the boat more than once to rush toward Jesus.  When the Son of God explained that unless Peter let Him wash his feet, he could have no part of Him, the wholehearted disciple exclaimed, “Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well.” (John 13: 1-17, NIV) 

At a point in Jesus' life on earth when many disciples, in disappointment and disillusionment, turned away at the hard teachings, He asked the Twelve, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”  Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”  (John 6: 68-69, NIV)

Peter may not have completely understood the Kingdom of God before the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentacost, but he sought to follow and honor God with his entire being.  He was ALL IN.

And as a result, he experienced God in incredible, unique, intimate ways.  He had the privilege of proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  He witnessed the transfiguration and glory of the Lord, seeing revered prophets conferring with Him and hearing the affirmation of the Father from Heaven.  He witnessed mighty miracles.  He dined and walked and talked with Jesus.  He gave up everything for the Messiah.

I want to be like him.

​Oh, wait.  

​I am like Peter. 

**Peter wanted reachable righteous parameters“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?  (Matthew 18:21-22, NIV)

Haven’t I done the same?  I want to know when I can finally check my goodness off the list, skirt the harder issues, and still be justified.  I seek assurance that I’ve given sacrificially enough and proudly stand waiting for my golden sticker.  Religious rules are far easier and less costly than walking in the Lord’s righteous requirements.  Jesus doesn’t let me off the hook easily either.

**Peter slept when urgency in prayer was needed.  The Lord’s heart was breaking in anguish, but Peter and the other disciples could not rouse themselves from slumber. 

How many times have I intended to sit and pray only to awaken much later chilled in my chair? How many times has the heart of the Lord contracted in pain over a person’s life and He’s invited me to bear it with Him in prayer, but I have forgotten or have been too busy? 

**When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter sliced off someone’s ear in his determination to defend the Lord.

This shared characteristic stings a bit.  How many times have I been offensive in my rush to protect God? Perhaps I haven’t brandished a sword, but my tongue has sliced and stabbed.  And my tone of voice has pierced just as surely. God does not need my defense as much as my surrendered trust.    

**Shortly after Peter gloriously proclaimed who Jesus was, he then arrogantly and impetuously rebuked Jesus.  (Matthew 16) He did not understand God’s purpose for the Savior, and He spoke from His ignorance. 

When Jesus told him how to do his job, Peter dragged his feet before He dragged his nets.  He lectured God, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”  I can imagine him sighing as he said it!  When the nets began to break, so did Peter’s pride.  (Luke 5:4-8, NIV)

I, too, have arrogantly and ignorantly told the omniscient Lord how things work in my world before attempting them His way and realizing how little I really know.  I’ve also had the gall to repeatedly tell Him how to do (and how not to do) His job.  May I learn to live face-first before Him, trusting His sovereign knowledge, precepts, and purposes.

**After Jesus forgave and reinstated Peter to leadership, He warned him that discipleship would cost his life.  In that moment, Peter tried to change the difficult subject by pointing to another, asking, “Lord, what about him?” 

Jesus’ answer is the same to me when I try to compare myself or when I pout that another’s life is preferable.  He says (my paraphrase), “What business is it of yours?  You must follow Me.”   (John 21: 15-22) 

If you, like me, resemble Peter, there’s hope. 

​There’s good news.

​Once Jesus returned to Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell His people, this impetuous, unpredictable man became a Spirit-filled, gospel-freed disciple who went on to change the world and lead the Church with bold reliance upon the risen Lord.  He wrote the first and second books of the Bible that bear his name. 

In 1 Peter, he describes our living hope and new birth purchased for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus.  He lifts our eyes to our promised inheritance.  He assures us of our protection until that salvation is fully realized in the last day. 

Peter proceeds to encourage the saints who were undergoing horrific persecution, intense hardship, and painful daily realities.  He knew personally that pain blots vision and blurs perspective. He was, under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, helping to wipe their eyes and restore their spiritual sight. 

He wrote it also for us.  He reminds us that God has a greater purpose in our experiences than we now see or understand. 

He says, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  (1 Peter 1:6-9, NIV)

The words of Peter—this man who knew intimately and painfully of the Refiner’s fire—carry significant weight.  He spoke of great joy resulting from trials.  He knew this firsthand.  His own faith and life had been shattered, shaken, and melted down in the refining fire He experienced following his denial of Jesus.  

​We can’t skip over that.

​Imagine with me how long those hours and nights and days following Jesus’ arrest must have felt.  Peter was heartsick and humiliated; after all, he’d sworn his allegiance emphatically, boldly, publicly. Oh, so brashly.  

When Jesus had warned his disciples that every one of them would fall away at his death, Peter had declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”  Jesus then specifically predicted how thoroughly Peter would deny knowing Him.  Still Peter crowed, “Even if I have to die with You, I will never disown You.”  (Mark 14: 27-31)

Perhaps afterward nausea hurled hot when he thought about it. 

First he’d witnessed the unbelievable betrayal of their friend Judas and, then even more, how shocking and terrifying it must have been to face his own act of betrayal.  How isolated, lonely, and bereft he must have felt.  Did he hide and barricade himself into his home?  Did he wish it was he who had died?  Surely death and despair thickened through his own bones while hopelessness made breathing difficult. 

In the days before the empty tomb was discovered, Peter experienced a lifetime of self-recriminations, shame, horror, and regret.  And it shaped him.  For good.  For God.

Then in the death, resurrection, love, and grace of Jesus, Peter discovered an undying love, a life-transformational power, and eternal purpose.  
 
Scripture Quote 1 Peter 1:6-7 accompanying The Word Weaver blog post/ Refined faith
This man—who once denied Jesus and would later be martyred for His name—knew what he was talking about when he wrote that difficulties refine, test, and strengthen our precious faith.  The struggles formed an unshakeable, genuine, precious life of faith and intimate relationship with God. 

As with Peter and the saints of old, may God use our day-to-day struggles, our doubts, our fears, our bewildering questions, our brokenness, and our pain to firmly fasten our hearts to Him.  May our love and faith become an unquenchable fire and an unshakeable trust that results in unending glory to Jesus Christ. 

Let’s wholeheartedly echo Peter’s life of worship.  Jesus is trustworthy and true.  In joy and in hardship, when we understand and when we don’t.  Jesus is our great joy.   We are His, and He is ours.  Now and forevermore.  
May our love & faith become unquenchable fire & unshakeable trust resulting in unending glory to Jesus/ Quote from The Word Weaver blog post
Scriptures Knit Into an accompanying post by The Word Weaver
​Matthew 4:18-20, 14:28-30, 15:1-20, 16:15-23, 17:1-4, 18:21-35
Mark 5:35-43, 14:27-33, 61-77 
Luke 5:4-8
John 6:68-69, 13:6-17, 21:2-6, 21:15-21
1 Peter 1:6-9
 
Related resources for The Word Weaver post
Convenient Tweetable quotes for The Word Weaver blog post

by The Word Weaver, Deb on April 5th, 2018

​What do you think of when you hear the word worship?  Do you think of songs sung?  Does it bring to mind reverent actions in church? 

While singing songs to God and gathering with other believers are important and meaningful, worship is far, far more than that. 

Designating only a few activities as worship creates a narrow view of worship which results in a shallow view of our God.  A short-sighted view of worship short-changes our experience of Him.  

​A Paradigm shift is needed:

What if worshipping is not just something we do, but how we are to live? 

Jesus said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  God is spirit and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”  (John 4: 23-24, NIV)

Worshipping in spirit suggests a participatory interaction.  Real.  Sincere.  Honest.  Involved.  Not speaking words of rote nor merely going through the motions, but actively responding to our God personally.

Worshipping in truth intimates that we must recognize and respond to the unchanging nature of who God is, what He does, and what He says.  He is Holy Other; we must approach Him in awe, wonder, and reverence. God is not a spiritual buffet from which we get to choose our preferences. We must worship Him as He is and how He reveals Himself to be in His Word, not as we wish Him to be.  Otherwise it is not truly worship.  
​Dr. Richard A. Swenson, author of the book, More Than Meets the Eye, states:

“God’s power is undeniable; His precision is impressive; His sovereignty is on display.  Why then do we live in such a metaphysical stupor?  How can such power fail to dominate our every thought and action?
It is not that God has failed to clearly demonstrate His nature, or that He has been lax in instructing us. It is just that we are slow to understand. Our eyesight is dim. This world is too much with us.
What we need is a new vision of God. The real God. Not some vague image we fold up and stuff in the back drawer of life, but the kind of God who parts the Red Sea and shakes Mount Sinai. The kind of God who stuns the physicists with symmetry, the mathematicians with precision, the engineers with design, the politicians with power, and the poets with beauty.” 
 
​The apostle Paul tells us about this God who is worthy of our worship:

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.  For in Him we live and move and have our being . . .”  (Acts 17: 24-28a, NIV)

​Let’s stop and think about those verses.  

​God Almighty, Creator of all in heaven and on earth, knows us intimately.  He has purposed when and where we should live.  He desires that we reach out to Him because He formed us and, in Him, we live and move and have our being.  That sounds like everything.  He is our everything.

When we acknowledge—really grasp—this truth, we begin to live our worship. We offer Him more than a song or a pittance in the offering plate. 

We worship the Lord by living ever-aware of, fully present with, and lovingly responsive to Him.  We learn to see Him as He is, and we offer our whole selves fully to the One who gave Himself fully for us.

In wondrous moments when joy is effervescent and we easily see evidences of God’s work all around us, our souls sing loud and long.  We savor, thank, laugh, smile, sing, work, serve, and give seemingly without effort.  It’s a relentless, contagious worship as we receive God’s goodness and express thanks with our whole beings.  

And while this worship that flies unbidden from a happy heart is a special offering, many times our worship will be much harder.  A conscious, difficult choice.   

In the mundane, tiresome activities that make up much of our days, we must awaken to His presence, purpose, and power.  We reject the temptation to treat our moments with dread or drudgery or hopelessness.  We choose joy and gratitude as we seek to do all things as if we were doing them for Jesus, recognizing that His loving eye is upon us and His strength is within us. Then, rather than being a chore to be avoided or complained about, making lunches for our loved ones becomes a holy act of love and service to those we love and a holy act of worship to our God.

And in the harsher seasons that dash our spirits against the rugged shores, could we offer costly worship through our tears?

Nancy Guthrie says, "Trusting God when the miracle does not come, when the urgent prayer gets no answer, when there is only darkness--this is the kind of faith God values perhaps most of all.  This is the kind of faith that can be developed and displayed only in the midst of difficult circumstances. This is the kind of faith that cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken."  Holding on to Hope
 
The sacrificial worship we lift to God as we experience the holy hard is a unique, fragile, precious gift.  It is treasured by Him when we:
  • Refuse to give in to our fears, our doubts, and our failings.  When we fall at His feet, lamenting and clinging to Him even when it seems like there is no hope. 
  • Fight our flesh with an excruciating awareness of our weaknesses and an exquisite understanding of Christ’s sufficiency in the midst of them. Repenting, confessing, surrendering, committing, trusting. 
  • Take the difficult step He asks us to do, relying not upon ourselves but upon His abundant stores of forgiveness, love, and strength. When we reject the temptation to simmer bitterness or to self-soothe and instead submit our thoughts and actions to Him.
  • When we trust and treasure His goodness even more than we beg for His greatness. 
Scripture quote/ In Him we live & move & have our being/ quoted in The Word Weaver blog post
​Living in His loving gaze.  Gazing back in spirit and in truth.  This is worship.  This is life.  What a privilege! 

This invitation—worshipping and growing in a relationship with the God of the universe—is offered to every person who believes in Jesus, the Holy Son of God who lived, died, and rose again in our places. 


Opening Our Hearts/ Ideas to stir the soul toward worship of God/ Included in The Word Weaver blog post
How do we deepen this relationship? 

We tend it as our most important priority. 

We daily devote our time, attention, and thoughts to God—in larger chunks of time as well as in smaller moments of companionship, comfort, and communion.  We believe and trust in more deeply.

We increasingly engage our faith in Him through truth, grace, and love.  

Do you desire this, too?

​Sometimes the most significant changes begin with a small step. We start where we are. 

Perhaps we could pick 1-2 actions to practice daily that awaken our notice of God and increase our worship of Him:
  • Ask God to sensitize us to His presence, voice, character, and gifts of grace.  As we begin to notice how God is at work, let’s begin to talk with Him about it.  Thank Him.  Praise Him.  Embrace who He is with wonder and gratitude.
  • Open our Bibles and prayerfully read His Word.  Ask the Spirit to help us understand and receive it.  Read a small portion every day.  Think about it.  Imagine ourselves there as a participant. Ponder it.  Talk with God about it.  Ask Him to reveal Himself through it and to show us how to apply it to our lives.
  • As we are involved in our favorite activities during the day (whether it’s playing with children or grands, running, planning an event, working, drinking coffee, singing, writing, breathing slowly at the beach—whatever they are!), savor them fully before God.  Communicate our pleasure and gratitude to Him.  Recognize that He is there with us and that He delights in our joy.
  • When we awaken and stretch in our beds, let’s remind ourselves of truth.  God’s Word tells us that, in Christ, we are chosen, adopted, holy, precious, and beloved.  Ask God to enable us to grasp His love, to see His perspective, and to rely upon His unchanging truth more than our fleeting feelings.
  • List five things (small and large) for which we are grateful.  This intentional, repetitive activity of grace naming rewires our brain muscles and the eyes of our spirits.  We will increasingly see through the windows of grace, gratitude, and glory.  But when we do struggle with depression, fear, or anxiety, this practice will enable us to battle back and stand our ground with perseverance and hope.
  • Speak God’s Word aloud.  Write it down on index cards and place them where we will read them often.  Say verses over and over as we think about them.  Praise God with Scripture.  We may pray for ourselves and others using His Words.  Let’s ask Him to help us to believe it more deeply. 
  • In the hardest moments, may we draw near to the God who weeps and walks with us.  Let’s allow Him to listen and comfort us in His embrace.  May we run toward Him and not hide from Him. 

​Let’s worship together:

​Heavenly Father,

You are holy, righteous, and mighty.  There is no other God but You.  We lift our hearts and our hands to You alone. 

Thank You for being our good, good Father.  You love us with an unending, never failing, unconditional, unrelenting love.  You lavish us with mercy and grace.  You sent Jesus to die in our place that we might live with You, now and forever.  Despite our betrayal of Your Son, You offer us forgiveness and life. How amazing is that?  Your sovereignty and Your goodness are beyond our comprehension. 

Open our eyes that we may more clearly see You at work in our world and in our lives.  Enable us to hear Your voice clearly and to understand Your Word.  Train us to live in worship—enjoying, seeking, abiding, listening, and heeding You.  Consume any competing idols for our attention.  May we desire You more than anything.  You and You alone are worthy.  You and You alone are more than enough for us. 

May we pour ourselves out in extravagant worship all the days of our lives.  May every moment become a fragrant offering as we live and abide in worship, in awe, and in dependence upon You.   

We bow before You, in the powerful name of our resurrected, reigning King, Jesus.

Amen.  
Gazing at God in Worship is Life/ The Word Weaver Blog Post
Recommended resources and related posts to this blog by The Word Weaver
Recommended Resources:
More Than Meets the Eye by Dr. Richard A. Swenson
A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
Unseen Unseen by Sara Hagerty
Holding Onto Hope by Nancy Guthrie
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
The Drama of Scripture by Craig G. Bartholomew & Michael Goheen
 
Related Blog Posts:
Antidote to Worry
The Art of Rain
Beauty in the Shadows
Transplanted
Worship is More Than a Verb
Convenient Tweetable quotes from The Word Weaver blog post

by The Word Weaver, Deb on March 15th, 2018

​As I sat before my open Bible one day, I felt the whisper of God asking, “Do you know that you’re beautiful?” 

It was an uncomfortable question, one that I kinda wanted to brush off and avoid. 

Over the past several years, I’ve come to increasingly believe, savor, and rest in the personal, passionate love of God.  He’s helping me to grasp that He delights in and rejoices over me—Me!—of all people, at all times, whether I’m a mess or not.  And it’s true for you too; you are the special apple of His eye!  It’s an amazing, life-altering, wondrous truth. 

But this—being considered beautiful by God—I wasn’t so sure about that.  

​And yet…

Psalm 45:11 is an Old Testament wedding song and also a foreshadowing reference to Christ the King.  Jesus calls His followers—the Church, corporately and individually—His bride.  So let’s accept that He’s saying these words to us:  “The King is enthralled by Your beauty; honor Him, for He is your Lord.”  (NIV)

My heart beat a little faster as I reread the verse.  God really thinks I’m beautiful. He doesn’t think I’m just okay.  Or that some days I look good.  No, God sees me right now as I am, and He is enthralled by my beauty.  What?! Doesn’t that almost shatter your mind? 

Think about it.

Our Savior Jesus Christ is staring at us passionately.  Picture the look on His face.  He is not bored, angry, or indifferent.  He’s not looking past us watching for someone more interesting and beautiful.  He’s gazing at us with unabashed, unabated, unrelenting love.  A smile is playing around His lips.  His breath is caught.  His intensely personal look radiates His esteem.  He’s trying to catch our eye.  He wants us to know that we reside in His view and that He wants what is best for us.  He’s waiting, willing us to look up at Him. Captivated.  Enthralled.   

Overwhelming, right?  Personal.  Passionate.  Vulnerable.  Unnerving.

My response was to drop my eyes.  To duck my head in insecurity or deflect His gaze in shame. The intensity of God’s passion for me felt too much.  In those moments, my view of myself and my sin eclipsed my view of Him. 

But as I sat in His presence over the next few weeks, He reminded me of Scriptural truths: 
  • “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 8:1 NIV)
  • NOTHING separates me from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  (See Romans 8:31-39)
  • His love is wider, deeper, higher, longer, better than I can currently grasp.  (See Ephesians 3: 16-19)
  • “His words evoke her beauty.  Everything He does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.”  (Ephesians 5: 26-27 MSG) 
  • I am chosen, holy, belonging to God (See 1 Peter 2: 9)
  • He cherishes the unfading beauty of my inner self (See 1 Peter 3:4)
Journaling helps me process life with God/ Excerpts used in The Word Weaver blog post
​Increasingly, I’ve begun to ask Him to enable me to believe and receive the truth that He is enthralled by my beauty and that our deepening relationship makes me even more beautiful. 

This is an excerpt from my journal:

“Help me to truly, deeply grasp Your love, desires, and perspective.  I am Yours.  I am beautiful in Your eyes.  Open my heart and eyes to how personally You enjoy, appreciate, see, and hold me.  May I sense and experience the passion of Your gaze and Your care. 

By Your grace, may I not:
  • Duck my head out of insecurity
  • Deny it out of false pride or worry over what others might think
  • Reject it from unbelief
  • Ignore it out of shame. 

As I humbly live in You and nakedly lift my eyes to You, Your Word, Your Spirit, and Your loving graces, may I:
  • Accept, embrace, and believe the wonder of Your unconditional love, unending grace, and unrelenting passion. 
  • Recognize and return Your look in increasing vulnerability, unabashed gratitude, and wholehearted surrender.

May this passionate communion with You mark my life with absolute joy and humble confidence—regardless of circumstances.  May it radiate Your Son as I awaken each day to bask in the radiance of Jesus’ loving gaze of truth and grace.

May it not be marred by my efforts and striving, perfectionism or people-pleasing.  Instead, may it spotlight the inner transformation that You are accomplishing within me. 

I bow before You and honor You, My God, My King, My Love.  Speak; Your servant, Your child, Your bride listens.”
Scripture Psalm 45:11/ The King is Enthralled with Your Beauty
​The second part of that verse urges us to honor our King.  How do we do that?  I’m sure there are many ways to do so.  These are the ones that come to my mind (not in any order):
  • Spend time reading His Word
  • Believe what He says
  • Listen for His voice
  • Grow in gratitude for every thing
  • Slow down and savor His presence
  • Delight in Him!
  • Journal our thoughts in conversation with Him
  • Accept and ponder His goodness and love
  • Love Him back
  • Respond to His truth
  • Obey Him
  • Talk with Him throughout the day
  • Love those around us just like He loves us
  • Worship the King!
Opening our hearts/ Questions for the soul in this Word Weaver blog post

​What about you?  

Do you know that you’re beautiful? 

It is my hope that you’ll prayerfully read Psalm 139 and then consider the following questions.  Reject shame in this space.  Just answer before the Lord who loves you and who is enthralled by your beauty. 

May it be an open, honest, sacred interaction:
  • Do I understand that Jesus Christ not only knows and loves me, but He likes me too?  He delights in my uniqueness and personality.  He loves being with me.  *If you struggle with believing this, ask Him to help you to accept it, believe it, relish in it.
  • Do I know that He is enthralled by me, by my beauty?  *Ask Him to show You what He sees.  Listen for His answers that reveal truth.
  • What is one way I could honor Him?  What small thing would show Him that I am reveling in His thoughts toward me?  How could I express my love back to Him?
  • What if I dared to take God at His Word?  What if I truly believed it?  What if I grasped it with every fiber of my being?  
What if I met my Savior
​Let’s walk forward in the eternal light of His love, secure in our beauty and utterly satisfied by Jesus.  We are His!  He is ours!
 
Related and recommended resources to The Word Weaver blog post
If this post resonates with you, you may appreciate the following related posts from The Word Weaver blog:

Only Jesus Satisfies

I NEED Jesus.  You NEED Jesus.

Grasping Love

Unwrapping Grace

You may also enjoy checking out other previous posts from the Archive page.
Tweetables/ Quotes from The Word Weaver blog post in convenient tweets.

by The Word Weaver, Deb on March 1st, 2018

​At times, I am an emotional eater.  If I’m not cognizant of what is stirring deep within me, I live inside the pantry.  I park between the microwave popcorn & the Triscuit crackers.  Sometimes I party with the Thin Mint cookies on the upper shelf or embark on a road trip to the freezer for ice cream sandwiches. 

Turbulent emotions play a large determining factor in my use of time as well.  If I haven’t processed strong conflict or the deep pain of someone close to me, I dive into self-soothing activities.  It’s one thing to watch an episode or two of a favorite show to relax; it’s quite another thing altogether to binge-watch an entire season of it. 

I can’t handle myself on days like this.  But God can.  He knows me completely and loves me utterly.  He knows when I want to run and hide from life.  He doesn’t shake His head in disgust when I’m drowning in emotion or when I’m tempted to self-soothe.  I’m not too much for God.  He welcomes my sensitive nature and delights in me. He invites me closer and reminds me of another way.  
Taste & see that the Lord is good/ Scripture accompanying blog post by The Word Weaver
​Daily, we who believe in Jesus are invited to the banquet of God.  Imagine this huge table filled with the finest of cuisine.  Fragrant and filling.  Platters brimming with everything we need and that which we might truly desire.  We’re urged to step up and partake repeatedly, fully, joyfully.

Jesus declares in John 6, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and He who believes in Me will never be thirsty. . . Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” 

This feast is symbolized in communion, but it is an even more beautiful picture of what abiding in Jesus looks like.  The Bread of Life gives us His life.  He is enough for us.  He satisfies.  We need Him more and more.
Jesus is the Bread of Life/ Do we want More of Him? / Blog post of The Word Weaver
If you are like me, there are days it’s simple to feast at the table of God.  I meet with Him over His Word.  We walk through the day together.  My thoughts return repeatedly to Him.  I gasp with wonder and gaze with gratitude during small moments.  I run to Him with hurts and requests, fully assured of His goodness and greatness.  Rich, satisfying, delightful relationship.

Other days I’m blindsided by doubt, worry, or fear.  I forget that God is with me.  I blindly charge through the packed hours as if the world rested on my shoulders.  These days—the ones I am in most need of divine refreshment—tend to be the ones when I shy away from the table.  I quickly nibble and dash off.  Or I pick up crumbs from the floor in an effort to comfort myself.  I hide from God instead of pouring out my honest lament at His feet.  Cold, empty, nagging hunger.

And then there are many days that include both.  I’m learning on the worst of my days—when I want to bury myself under a blanket and not feel anything—to return to the table.  Jesus never turns me away.  He embraces me in welcome and delight each time I return to Him.  God continually beckons me close.  I reach out to Him again and again, and He satisfies me.
Quote by Author Sara Hagerty from Unseen/ quoted in blog post by The Word Weaver
​Author Sara Hagerty, in her book Unseen, expresses her heart’s desire: “As Mary did with her fragrant oil, I want to spend myself on Jesus. I want to move His heart with an extravagant outpouring. The world changes from an exchange such as this.  Instead of frantically scurrying to meet the latest need, I slowly pattern my life toward pouring myself out at His feet—toward giving Him the best of my affection, sometimes in a hundred small glances a day.  It’s from that place of connection that I hear His heartbeat for the needs around me and see His perspective on my role.  It’s from there, that place of carrying His heart, that I learn how and when to respond to others’ cries.”
​I, too, desire for my life to be poured out in extravagant, lavish love, trust, and worship.  It starts in the small moments and slowly increases as my appetite for Jesus increases.  Could I start small?  Could I spend 10 more minutes poring over His Word, savoring His Presence?  When I’m hurting, could I take a walk and tell Him all about it?  Could I accept His comfort instead of stuffing myself with other things?  Could I praise and thank Him in the midst of this holy hard?

Couldn't I daily, over and over, declare this truth?  “Taste and see that the LORD is good; oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!”  (Psalm 34:8, NLT)

He beckons us again and again, Come.  Will we?  

​Let’s consider our hearts before the Lord: 

Important soul-searching questions to consider in the blog post by The Word Weaver
In gentle honesty, please consider with me the following questions concerning the soul:  

​​Am I rejecting His offer of salvation and of everlasting life?  Do I only think I know what He tastes like?  If this is so for you, please carefully reconsider.  This is the most important choice we make in this life. Take a real taste.

Am I nibbling or am I feasting?  Am I settling for a crust when Jesus offers the whole loaf?  There’s a tremendous difference.

What empty calories am I consuming instead of The Bread of Life?  Is my plate filled with too many other—perhaps tasty but less important—things?  How could I begin to grant Jesus more of me, of my time?

What if I don’t want more of Him?  What if I’m satisfied with the dessert plate-sized portion? Could I ask Him to change my desires?

Do I really believe that Jesus satisfies?  Do I trust Him to satisfy my deepest longings and hopes?  He is God. Nothing is too difficult for Him.

Do I want to allow Him to transform my desires so that I want Him more? Will I pray for willingness, desire, and change of heart?  

​Let’s consider these urgings:

​We will not live abundantly in this day and age if we are not absolutely filled and satisfied by Jesus Christ.  Our love will grow cold.  Let’s feast on the Bread of Life!

We will not be able to flee from the overwhelmingly, flesh-satisfying succulent temptations of this world.  None of us are strong enough to forgo temptation without inner strength and satisfaction and perspective.  Let’s rely upon the Bread of Life.

If we’re standing here, pointing out someone else who has stumbled headlong into sin, and we’re not looking within, we’re probably stuffing ourselves with pride.  Regardless of what tempts us, we need Jesus.  Only He transforms our lives from the inside out.  Let’s confess our own sin before the Bread of Life.

We must want Jesus Christ, and we must feast on Him more than anything else.  More than anything we desire: comfort, happiness, ease, favorite pastimes, friends, romance, or even holiness.  He is the connection, the source of all we actually need and want.  Let’s refuse anything less than the Bread of Life’s best.

Paradoxically, the more I eat of that which does not satisfy, the less I want that which does.  And also, if I really know how good the main course is, why would I fill my plate with excess junk?

You see, the more we look to Him, the more we receive of Him.  The more we have of Him, the more we give of ourselves to Him.  The more we grasp His love, the more we can trust Him.  The more we can trust Him, the more we love Him.  The more we love Him, the more we have of Him.  This extravagant cycle of worship and surrender transforms us and our lives. 

And when we embrace more of Him, we actually receive more of the other important gifts we need:  healing, freedom, strength, happiness, holiness, and help.  

​What if?

​We have been given the infinitely fulfilling, surpassingly glorious gift of Jesus Christ.  He is everything! 

What if we lived with a growing, ravenous appetite for Jesus?  Imagine refusing to be pacified by anything else.  Not caring what others think anymore.  Pursuing and spending time daily in the Presence and Word of God, in small moments and in larger chunks.  Thinking about and enjoying Him.  Listening to His voice.  Watching Him.  Believing His promises.  Savoring His Presence.  Surrendering to His ways.  Following in obedience.  Worshipping Him in wonder.  Desperate for Him.

Imagine being joyfully, humbly, wholly satisfied by Jesus.  I want that kind of life!  Don’t you?

​Let’s pray:

​Heavenly Father,

We are grateful.  You have given us Your Son, Jesus, the Bread of Life.  Everything we need is found in Him.  What a precious, priceless gift!

We confess that we gorge ourselves on things that do not and cannot satisfy our souls.  We ignore Your outstretched arms and grasp idols in our efforts to comfort ourselves.  In pride we assure ourselves that we can fix the holes in our hearts by our own efforts and in our own ways.  This is sin.  It is folly. 

Only You can heal our hearts and lives.  Only You can meet our deepest cravings.  Only You can fill us with abundance, joy, and satisfaction.  Please forgive us for turning anywhere, everywhere but to You.  Please change us.

O God, grant us a ravenous, righteous, willing appetite for more.  Create in us a deeper desire to know who You are, what You are like, what You say, & what You do.  May we increasingly recognize and respond to Your voice of truth.  May we hunger for, accept, and extend more of Your grace.  Draw us more to Your Word, and enable us to deeply believe it. Lead our thoughts back to You and to Your truth more and more throughout our days.  May we reject anything that leads us away from You and Your purposes.  May we press into Your embrace of love, perspective, and peace.  More and more, we want to know, love, and embrace You back.  Oh, that we may taste, see, and declare that You are good! 
 
In the name of Jesus,
Amen.
Related Resources in the blog post by The Word Weaver
Photo credit and gratitude to a Savannah Grandfather for the sweet girl with a peach.

Recommended Resources:
How to Keep Your Heart Alive, blog post by Sara Hagerty
Unseen by Sara Hagerty

Related Posts on The Word Weaver website:
We Are Not Alone, Even in the Dark
I NEED Jesus.  You NEED Jesus.  Let’s Fix Our Eyes on Him
Prayer Focus:  Allowing God to Quench Our Thirst
Prayer Focus:  Grasping Love
Tweetables/ Convenient quotes from The Word Weaver blog post to tweet

by The Word Weaver, Deb on February 15th, 2018

​If there was an urgent, life-altering message, wouldn’t you want to know? 

Wouldn’t you want to investigate its veracity? 

Wouldn’t you want to respond aright?

​Here it is:  

​We NEED Jesus.  Every single one of us need Him, regardless of our differences:  
  • age 
  • background 
  • choices we’ve made 
  • the color of our skin 
  • gender 
  • interests 
  • I.Q.
  • nationality 
  • religious beliefs 
  • socio-economic status 
  • titles we bear
  • what’s been done by us or to us

We share this one absolute need.  We NEED Jesus. 

This universal truth has not been hidden from us.  It has been proclaimed fiercely, relentlessly, passionately.

Stop a moment and look for its message:
  • Revealed in the deepening blush of the afternoon sky
  • Declared on the blood-stained cross
  • Exploded from the empty tomb
  • Whispered in the sprout of joy that unfurls in a quiet moment
  • Highlighted throughout our Bibles
  • Echoed in the black, empty cells of our darkest sin
  • Experienced in the excruciating crucible of hurt, loss, need, or fear
  • Demonstrated in the lives of the faithful throughout history

God repeats this truth over and over. 

But maybe you’ve missed it.

Or perhaps you’re nodding your heard in mental ascent that Jesus is important, but you’re failing to embrace this real, resurrected God in the grit, grime, and grunt of your daily life.
Quote by David G. Benner from his book The Gift of Being Yourself/ Used in The Word Weaver blog post
​Dr. David G. Benner, in his book, The Gift of Being Yourself, says:
 
“Too often we have not allowed the initial introduction to deepen into a deep, intimate knowing.  Though we glibly talk about a personal relationship with God, many of us know God less well than we know our casual acquaintances.  Too easily we have settled for knowing about God.  Too easily our actual relationship with God is remarkably superficial…

If this is your experience, don’t allow yourself to be distracted by guilt. Hear God’s call to a deep personal encounter as an invitation, not a reprimand.  It is an invitation to step out of the security of your boat and meet Jesus in the vulnerability and chaos of your inner storms.  It is an invitation to move beyond objective knowledge to personal knowing.  It is an invitation to truly know God.”
Heart to heart conversation on The Word Weaver blog
​Friend, there’s no shame here. 

Just let me lean in closer to you and gently reiterate how important it is that we get this truth. 

Personally.  Deeply.  Experientially. 

There is no greater priority than our relationship with Jesus. 

You and I need Jesus.  Yes, we absolutely need Him for the salvation and new life that was purchased for us by Christ’s sacrificial death and victorious resurrection. 

We also need Him in the now moments of our everyday lives.  
For the person who staggers in confusion, there is no greater priority.  The Bible tells us the truth about who we are and what we are like, and who God is and what He is like.  We are deeply loved and deeply flawed.  We are in desperate need of a Savior.  There is one way to God the Father, and we will only find it in Jesus Christ.  Seek Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  Lucidity expands as we discover truth. 

For the person who has recently held out her hands and accepted the gift of salvation, there is no greater priority.  Love grows us as we embrace the God delights in us just as we are.

For the person imprisoned and bound by his sin, there is no greater priority. Jesus transforms us from the inside out as we look to and respond to Him.  Liberty resides in the resurrection power of the Living God. 

For the person who is walking with Jesus through a painful, piercing season, there is no greater priority.  Perspective and peace descend in the presence of Christ.

For the person whose hope has drained through life’s sieve of pace and pain, there is no greater priority.  When we realize that He is not only with us but for us and when we rely upon His power within us, perseverance reshapes and strengthens us.

We need Jesus.  There is no greater priority than leaning on and learning from Him.
 
In John 5: 19-20 (NIV): “Jesus gave them this answer: I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.  Yes, to your amazement He will show Him even greater things than these.” 

If the Savior of the world could not do anything of eternal value without focusing on and following the Father, how can we? 

We can’t. 

Jesus spelled it out in John 15:5 (NIV):  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” 

Without Jesus Christ in the center, I can do nothing.  You can do nothing.  

​So how do we live?  

​The apostle Paul gives us instructions:  

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12: 1-2 (NIV)

Surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses—countless numbers of real people, (many of whom were noted in the previous chapter of Hebrews), surround us.  These ordinary individuals walked this dusty orb too.  They:
  • lived extraordinary lives by faith
  • heard, believed, and heeded the voice of the Living God
  • continue to live forever in the glorious, radiant presence of God
  • stand and testify to us that our God is trustworthy, able, enough, worthy
  • cheer us on toward the finish line  

​Listen!  Can you hear them?  

​They shout truth!  They urge us to believe and to trust Him regardless of what happens or what we face.  They declare that whatever He asks of us is worth it, that He is worthy, that He can transform our lives.  They encourage us to take the next step and to keep at it till we get Home. Victory is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.

They were ordinary men and women like us.  They didn’t have it easier.  It wasn’t easier for them.  They didn’t possess skills or qualities that made it possible for them to do amazing things.

No, what these faithful men and women of the past had—and what is also available to us—is the presence and power of the Living God for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  

This overcoming power is from the Gospel of grace.  The work of God in our lives changes us, and it changes the world. 

Jesus offers this life of power to all of us in His nail-scarred hands.  When we believe in Him, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who enables us to live with extraordinary faith and obedience.

Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles—We can’t run in a heavy, flapping robe.  The extra weight and excess fabric gets in the way.  The same is for us in this life.  If we are to follow Jesus, there are things we need to throw off in order to race well.  We need to discard whatever hinders us regardless of how small or seemingly insignificant.  What this entails—what habits, attitudes, or actions—may be different for you and for me. 

It’s important to daily inventory our lives.  May we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal: 
  • What does God say about this?  Does it line up with His Word?
  • What gets in the way of God’s purposes in me? 
  • What distracts me? 
  • What moves my attention from the things above to earthly things? 
  • What sins repeatedly trip me up? 
  • How may I flee them? 
  • What boundaries and safety nets does God want me to employ so that I may circumvent these traps? 

We do this in order to run well during this pilgrimage of faith.

Run with perseverance the race marked out for us—without looking to the left or to the right. 

No comparing ourselves with others or our tasks with theirs.  No pouting over how hard our life is compared to how easy theirs looks.  No complaining that they’re doing it wrong.  No wishing that we had their calling, their life, or their gifts. We resolutely refuse the bitter seeds of jealousy.

Rather than looking around at others and what God seems to be doing in their lives, we must narrow our field of vision and, instead, focus on how God is calling us. 

It’s essential to get our individual instructions from the One who marked the map of our races before the foundations of the world (see Ephesians 1:4, 2: 10, Psalm 139:16, John 10: 1-5)

Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith

Where our gaze lingers, our lives follow.   

If our heads are whipping around trying to attend to everything, we will miss the mark. 

If we’re not concentrating on the Word and Spirit of God, we will miss important information. 

If we’re enthralled by anything other than Jesus, we are headed for disaster.

MacMillan Dictionary notes that if you fix your eyes on someone or something, you “look straight at them and at nothing else.” 

We are not just to fix our eyes anywhere, but to fix our eyes on Jesus. 

He initiated our faith, and He will complete it.  He is the One to whom we must pay attention.  His opinion matters most.  His voice is vital.  His direction is necessary.  Heeding His call is vital.

​This call is costly.   

​It requires tuning out the cacophony of competing calls: The seductive whisper of personal desire and ease. The subtle insinuation of selfishness and personal rights.  The driving beat of ambition and desire.  The bitter traps of envy and entitlement.  The clamor of fear and lies. The relentless temptation to waste moments. 

The distractions we face are endless.

Though God is able to speak loudly, He most often chooses to speak in a still, small voice.  It’s easy to miss it, especially in a world screaming as if its hair is on fire, in a media-conscious society that notifies us whenever anyone breathes, and in a culture that rewards our shallow attention spans.  We must focus in the midst of this noise.

I often have trouble hearing when there’s ambient noise in the background.  Sounds bounce off and collide with one another, and I can’t hear clearly. It takes more concentration and effort to interpret the message.   When it’s loud, I find myself leaning in, paying closer attention.  I watch the lips of the person speaking.  It helps if I know them and their thoughts well.

Likewise, we must lean in closer to Jesus to listen and to train our attention on His face so that we hear His voice.  We ask Him to show us:  How do you see me?  What do You think?  What is most important?  What is most needed?   What do You want me to do? 

We redirect our roots into the nourishing soil of His love and grace.  We soak ourselves in His truth.  We study His character, His ways, His words, His works. We worship and converse with Him continually. We learn to accept and savor His love, and we learn to love Him back in every small moment of our lives.

Writer Jessica Van Roekel  reminds us, “If we want to be held by the anchor, then we must behold the anchor.”

So, how do we run with perseverance? 
How do we throw off everything that hinders our steps? 
How do we cut free from the entrapment of our own sin? 
How do we quiet the clamoring of our own hearts? 
How do we know where to go or what to say? 
How do we successfully complete this race of faith?

This is how we live: we fix our eyes on Jesus.  We behold Him in every moment.

There’s no other way.
Scripture Hebrews 12:2 Fix Our Eyes on Jesus/ The Word Weaver blog post

 
Related posts & resources on The Word Weaver blog
​“The Hope Series”, Welcome Grace blog posts by Jessica Van Roekel
Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman
 
The Word Weaver blog:
Praying For God’s Strength in My Weakness
Led by Love
Take My Hand
Tweetable quotes from The Word Weaver blog post