Sunday, March 20, 2011
How high, how wide
No matter where I am, healing is in Your hands
How deep, How strong,
And now by Your grace I stand, healing is in Your hands
I love that God uses the lessons that I teach in Elementary Kids, on Sunday, to teach me. I am blessed by this opportunity to serve, and humbled by what God shows me. We learned about God being “understanding”. Not an intellectual, but a compassionate, caring God.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame;heremembers that we are dust.
I got to demonstrate to the kids how because of Adam and Eve, we are separated from God, that we are sinful, and cannot come to Him. But that He draws us, because He is “understanding”.
I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, andI bent down to them and fed them.
He draws us to Him because He is a loving and kind God, and does not exact on us the punishment we deserve. Instead, He heals us from the wounds of our own sin. He lifts the burdens that weigh us down, and feeds us with the Bread of Life, His son Jesus.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
But my question is this: What happens if you forget, or give in to temptation? Does that mean that Lent is over for you? Do you beat yourself up?
Caeli, my oldest daughter, decided to participate along with me, and gave up sodas for Lent. On Sunday, last week, she enjoyed her Root Beer, but when Monday rolled around, she had forgotten about Lent. She came to me, “Momma, I forgot about Lent, and I drank a soda! What do I do?”
Lent is about remembering, remembering that we are fallen, in desperate need of a savior. It’s about being mindful of what Jesus did, the sacrifice that paid our debt. So, you’ve failed. You gave in to temptation. You forgot for a brief moment. Do you think this surprises God? Is He put off by your weakness? All of this makes the season even more beautiful! When we are weak, God is strong, stronger!
I encourage, don’t quit because of your weakness. Confess your weakness, rely on His strength. Don’t condemn yourself for falling short, remember that you were redeemed because you could not pay the debt yourself.
Monday, March 14, 2011
For those unaccustomed to Lent, Sundays are celebration days, as one devotional called it, mini-Easter, and therefore you do not fast or abstain on Sunday. Praise God for Sundays!
As I was laying in bed on Saturday night thinking about all the caffeine I was gonna drink on Sunday, I felt guilty. Should I be rejoicing so much in this freedom?
The sacrifice makes the freedom sweeter! When we understand the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, it should cause us to cherish the freedom we now have because of Him. I think my joy in being free, and my celebration is a meager example of how we should rejoice because of our freedom in Christ! Because He died and was resurrected, He defeated sin and death! What joy we should have in that knowledge!
Sunday was a great “mini” celebration of the victory that Jesus has won, and given to us who believe.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
I think most people will not understand why me, a non-catholic, would participate in Lent. Even my own daughter exclaimed “But we aren’t Catholic”, as I tried to explain it to her. But reading today’s devotion solidified in my heart the need to understand sacrifice. Most of my life has been focused on me. Even my spiritual walk tends to circle around what God is doing in, around, and for me. I want my eyes, and my heart to be opened and awakened to God’s will. Not God’s will for my life, just what God is doing all over. Jesus was here, as He said, doing His father’s business. He didn’t seem concerned with “Is this God’s will for me”, His view was always on the end result.
Matthew 6:33a But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
So last year, I decided that when Lent rolled around again, I was going to participate. I’m excited about preparing for Easter Sunday, the celebration of The Resurrection.
So today marks the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday. What does that mean? How do you participate in something like that? So I did some researching.
To me, it seems that today is about remembering why Jesus endured the cross. Most priests will say, as they are crossing foreheads with ashes, “Remember, O man that you are dust, and to dust you will return”. We are sinful, and today, Ash Wednesday, is about remembering that, and asking God to show you your sins, on order that you may confess them. God’s word clearly states that when we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us.
Mark 1:15 is also quoted, “Repent, and hear the good news.”. So it's not just a somber guilt filled day, but it is a reminder that though we are sinful, Jesus bore our punishment. On of my favorite hymns says this:
Because the sinless Savior died My sinful soul is counted free. For God the just is satisfied To look on Him and pardon me.
So, I begin the season of Lent. Yes, I am giving something up. I’m actually giving up a few things.
Caffeine, because I am so dependent on it to just get through the day. I want to be more dependent on God and His word to get me through the day. Probably gonna switch to decaf coffee to see if I can trick my brain!
Carbonated drinks, and anyone who knows me, knows that I am addicted to diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper. And I think giving up something that has so much control in my life is fitting. My life should be controlled by the Spirit, not by the desires of my flesh.
Psalm 139:1 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.
Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Monday, March 07, 2011
I used to say I was the product of a broken home. My real parents divorced when I was young, and I always felt rejected by my dad, for leaving and for never being around. I blamed myself, there had to be something wrong with me. But I was young, and didn’t know how to say these things.
I experienced a lot of sadness at an early age, with my parents divorce, my grandparents dying, then my mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was in the 5th grade. She had remarried, and life seemed great for once, till then. After a short battle, she passed the week of Mother’s Day. I remember because we had been working on Mother’s Day presents at school. The teacher held mine till the end of the year. It was a knitted string with potpourri attached.
Her husband, my step-dad, offered to adopt my sister and me. And so we were a family of hurting people, a widow and orphans. While he did, what I believe was his best, his best was out pain and hurt, and often times would spill out to us in his words. I became lazy, immature, and selfish in his eyes, and I began to feel rejected again. This continued for years. And I hid it all. Never talking about the rejection, or the feeling that I didn’t deserve to be loved. And the more things happened, the more I hid my feelings. My life was always out of my control, the things I wanted (a home, a family, love) always seemed just out of reach.
It started my junior year of high school. I was sitting in Physics, turned in my desk, when I tried to get up, my hips got stuck. Of course, I was in front of a row of guys who burst into laughter. I know they didn’t mean anything, but that was something that stuck in me. I knew I had to take control of something, so I stopped eating, and prom coming up, only fueled that fire. I bought my dress, that I was going to be wearing to two events. It fit perfect for the 1st event, and then 2 weeks later I had lost so much weight that it had to be taken in 2” on both sides. I was getting compliments on my looks, people were taking notice of me. It felt great! I loved it! But I began to fear that if I ate anything, I would lose all control.
Then it happened. People started acting concerned. A friend of mine got me alone and said I looked like death warmed over. I hadn’t realized how much weight I had lost, but I was going down in sizes every week almost. But at that moment I, realized that something was wrong and I needed to fix it. But when I started eating, I still had no control, and now instead of feeling light, I felt burdened and weighted down with everything. How could I change that? And the bulimia began.
That was my senior year. Half the time eating, the other half purging. I battled for years, into college, marriage, children. I was 26, and at the end of my rope. I was one step away from just ending the pain all together. I didn’t realize why I was hurting emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically. There wasn’t a part of me that was ever truly happy or at peace. I hated myself, I felt unlovable, rejected, I was an orphan. I had no real family, and why was it that the husband and children I had didn’t satisfy?
God led me to a dear woman who has become a great friend. All she did, was make herself available to me, to listen. I spent 2 years telling my story to her. At first things were worse, but then, I started to see a light. God put me on a path to show me how much He loved me. That I belonged to Him. I wasn’t an orphan I belonged to Him. I was His child. He was all the family I ever needed. He was all I needed.
The road has been long, and riddled with stumbling, but He has held me. His word is true when it says that He holds us up, I have felt that in my life when I have fallen flat on my face, He was still holding me. “In Christ Alone” has become one of my favorite hymns. I love where it says, “I am His and He is mine.” It sums up the feeling of belonging. I belong to Christ, He has not rejected me, He has loved me before I was even born. He has given His life as my ransom. I love Him for all that He did, that I did not deserve.
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
and Christ will shine on you."
I love this verse! One of my favorite types of contrast is dark and light, and I think this verse is a great example of that. In the darkness things remain cloaked, hidden. But in the light they are exposed. But this passage goes a little farther, and says that those things that become visible are light! I've been meditating on this for a few weeks now, and today I read a passage from C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity.
"...Just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is light, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it."
God is moving me to areas where my life will be exposed. This scares me. I am a flawed person, and knowing that being in the light and being a light will most likely reveal those flaws, I want to just stay hidden.
But God wants us to come to Him, to be in His light, to reflect His light. He is not drawn to us because we have no flaws, but because He loves us, and wants to heal us, to make us like Him.
Lord, I love Your light! I love that it reveals my flaws, my sins. Knowing and seeing my sins in Your light brings truth, and truth, Your truth, sets me free. Your truth saves me.
Psalm 36:9For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, James 1:26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
Wow! Talk about convicting! How many times do we allow our actions, because we are angry, to get out of control. Or when we are angry, we do not control our tongues! Just think of the last time you were on the phone with customer service!
James goes on in chapter 2 to say that while we are saved by faith, our actions are a result of that faith. So if our tongues are flames setting the whole forest ablaze, what does that say about our faith? What are we demonstrating to the world? Is our faith truly in Jesus or in our circumstances?
It’s amazing how powerful that tiny muscle is! Proverbs even says, that life and death are in the power of the tongue. I think it stands to reason that a demonstration of our faith, life in Christ Jesus, should come through our words.
Lord forgive me for not being slow to speak. Forgive the hurtful words I have said. I ask for the Holy Spirit to help me in this weakness, that my faith would be evident!
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