Dec 12, 2016

Less of me, more of Jesus.....

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"My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long" Psalm 71:8

I find this time of year brings more stress than rest for me.

Each year I declare to God and anyone who will listen "This year is going to be different! I am not getting caught up in the Christmas frenzy."

Then, by December 1st, I feel like I have been run over by an 18 wheeler with a Christmas wreath dangling from the front.

Whew.

Inevitably, God hits my heart with a thud to shake me loose from the Christmas crazy merry-go-round.

This year, He used the words of a dear friend.

She told me that the little girl she mentors dreads this time of year. The little girl told my friend that each year the kids come back from Christmas break showing off their new clothes, shoes, and toys.

Meanwhile, she comes back to school with the same old clothes and shoes.

Heaviness struck my heart.

How often we get caught up with our lists, our errands, our parties, our outfits...

While a weary world suffers.

Our busyness distracts us. We get lost in the flurry of "stuff", while so many around us are suffering.

Please don't get me wrong. I love Christmas parties, and shopping, and all the extra that comes with the Christmas season. However, it is easy to get lost in that. Blind to the suffering. The lonely. The hungry. The poor.

There is something we can do.

We can lift up praises to the Lord. [Psalm 7:17] We can let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our heart be pleasing to the Lord. [Psalm 19:14]

Why would we lift up praises?

Because it puts our hearts in tune with God's. It sets our hearts in proper order and enables our eyes to be opened to what He sees.

He sees all.

When we praise Him and worship Him, it rids our hearts of greed and selfishness. It cleanses out our spirit and washes it clean with His Glory.

Wanting to do the "right thing" doesn't give our soul a cleanse, it just strokes our egos. Only God can truly clean up our hearts and align them with His.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

When He purifies our hearts, we become blind to "self". We release any idol that has been placed before Him and we are set free to move about with His eyes and with His heart.

Suddenly, we aren't so bothered by the person that cut in front of us in line. Or the person at the register who is slower than molasses. Or the party we didn't get invited to. Or the family member we will see at Christmas that always rubs us like sandpaper.

Our flesh gets starved and our spirits get fed when we praise God.

Are you in need of some cleansing too? Let's jump right on into scripture, shall we?

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. Titus 3:1-2

 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:18-19

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful to him, and bless his name. Psalm 100:4

Therefore I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises to your name. 2 Samuel 22:50

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15

And, like a good Father, He will lead you. Be prepared to follow.

He will open your eyes to the needs around you, and He will equip you to help in a very unique way.


paying attention,


jill


Dec 5, 2016

Be still, Jill...

As I sit here staring at this blank computer screen, I haphazardly look over to my left. Our Christmas tree is standing there. Still. Warm. Inviting.

It's hard to look away. My eyes just want to engage in the beauty of this tree. No ornaments are even hung yet. But, it doesn't matter. She is glowing with colorful lights. Inviting anyone to come and sit next to her warmth. [yes, I do believe our tree is a "she".]

There is nothing really special about this tree. Average height, average breadth. Yet, it is hard to look away. She's just quite a breathtaking sight.

This verse quickly comes to mind, "Be still and know that I am God."  Psalm 46:10

Yes, still.

There's that word again.

Still .

Rhymes with Jill. You would think I would remember. It also rhymes with my last name, Hill. A double reminder. Still. Jill. Hill. 

[God really does have a sense of humor]

Yet, so often, stillness escapes me.

When worries pile on, my mind is not still.

When sickness is looming over a loved one, my heart refuses to be still.

When finances get crunchy, and anxiety rises, I forget about being still.

When my to-do list seems to never get done, frantic overcomes any sense of stillness.

When my children get on my ever last nerve for the 108th time in one day, my actions are anything but still.

Why is it so hard to be still?

Stillness takes surrender.

A heart surrendered to its proper authority.

Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer John 1:13-15

In this season of hustle and bustle, I want to be still. Really, I do.

I want to soak in the joy of Christmas.

I want to linger longer.

I want to live in this moment with my family and my children.

I want to be like our Christmas tree. Warm. Inviting. Still.

Yet, so often get I can caught up in the wrong things. Worry. Fear. Anxiety. Busy.

I need a reset. How about you?

Instead of doing the usual crazy we are so used to, let's be still.

I hear you laughing.

It's Christmas, how are we to be still??

Stillness begins in the heart.

When our hearts are still and at peace, our bodies will soon follow.

A heart at peace gives life to the body. Proverbs 14:30

When I had my first baby, I would go and sit at Lem's grandmother's house for hours with my newborn swaddle.

Something about her house made everything better. It was still.

Lem's grandmother was never rushed. I never felt like I was a burden to her. I always felt welcome.

She was still.

I think the elderly get it.

They see the other side of this life in a whole new way.

Time is a precious thing to the elderly. They know how short life really is.

What if we slowed time down a bit this season.

What if we created a space for us to be still and be with Jesus. Not because we want to "squeeze" our quiet time in, but because we want to be still with Jesus.

Jesus stills our hearts. He pours peace into our worn-down souls.

Do you know what would happen to my beautiful tree if I didn't water her daily? She would die.

Her green branches would turn brown, and slowly she would wilt.

The same happens to our souls when we don't take the time to be nourished with God's word.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. Psalm 42:1

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35

Let's be still.

And, just like our Christmas trees, let's invite a weary world to soak up some peace, warmth, and stillness.


being still,

jill hill ;)










Dec 4, 2016

Do you remember?

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Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. Psalm 116:7

I remember it like it was yesterday. A precious lady sat in my living room and whispered these words to me: "You are experiencing the mountain top with God right now. Enjoy it, soak it up as much as you can. There will be a day when you will be in the valley. When you are, look back on this time and remember how faithful God is."

She spoke those words to me four 1/2 years ago. Little did I know the wisdom she was sharing with my younger heart.

Friends, if you are a Christian, you have probably had some amazing mountain top experiences with God at some point or another. There is nothing like it. Everything seems like it's rimmed with gold and silver. Life seems incredibly full of wonder and joy.

Then, some time passes. Life happens. People hurt us. People leave us. The weight comes back. Our bodies age. Children leave. Finances change. Old strongholds come back with a vengeance.

Oh, hello there valley.

Let me tell you a secret treasure that I discovered in the valley....

God is still as close as ever.
 
He never left.
 
Nothing about Him has changed. NOTHING.

We tend to think we are alone. Or He has forgotten us.

Oh, but just the contrary. He is ever so close.

Without the valley, we would not be able to cling tightly to the hem of His cloak. The valley makes us desperate for Him. As our souls were created to long for Him, they long. We pant for a taste of the Living Water of His Word. Living day by breathless day dependent on a glimpse of His goodness.

The mountain top is good but we don't cling to Him like we do in the valley. We soar on the mountain top. But, in the valley we hold on tight to His word and His truth and we never let it leave our sight.

These times grow us by leaps and bounds. They equip our hearts for a desire for Him, and not what He can give us. They chisel out anything that gets in the way of a heart devoted to Him and Him alone.

We can choose to rest as the chiseling takes place, or we can fight it and pull away from Him in the valley.

This reminds me of when my daughter had a loose tooth. That bloody tooth was dangling from her little slobbery mouth. I told her that one little pull and the tooth would be out and her new beautiful permanent tooth would come in. She resisted stubbornly, and would run when we tried to pull her tooth. Little did she know that the one second of pain would lead to being free from that silly looking tooth.

We do the same at times. We pull away from Him when things are not going well. We resist the pain and try to escape to the nearest exit. We question His faithfulness. And even doubt His love for us.

If we could only remember His faithfulness in these times.

The Israelites in the Old Testament constantly forgot God's faithfulness. They complained. They turned their back on God. They constantly questioned His existence.

If they would only have remembered what God had already done for them. How He had rescued them from slavery and oppression. How He had parted the waters for them to go through to escape the enemy.

So many miracles. Yet, no recollection.

God was constantly telling them to remember.

Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Deuteronomy 6:12

And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. Deuteronomy 8:2

We are so prone to forget, sweet friends. So prone to dwell on our circumstances instead of His faithfulness.

Perhaps our valleys would be much sweeter if we remembered.

Maybe this is why Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:8 "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

How quickly we forget God, yet He never ever forgets us.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me." Isaiah 49:15-16

Maybe your valley has been a long and excruciating one. Maybe it's just too much to try to remember God's faithfulness after being so long in the valley.

Oh, friend. I urge you to remember. Recall. Look back on His faithfulness.

That same faithful God is still being faithful. He has not stopped being faithful.

I do believe He takes us through the valley to draw us closer. It is something we cannot wrap our brains around until we get to our home in Heaven. But, we can rest in that valley and recall His great and many miracles. The times when we were soaring on the mountain with Him.

These recollections refuel us and direct our hearts back on the path of believing and trusting in His plan.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

There is a promised land coming. He gives us His Word.

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16


remembering,


jill