Devotion

Three Steps to Take Towards God

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Have you ever been in one of those seasons when you so desperately wanted, needed to hear from God? You have prayed persistently and nothing, no word, no feeling of His presence. Heck you have even gone to church every Sunday, took dinner to a sick friend, visited your great-uncle in the nursing home, and fed the homeless’  Of course He should be answering your calls today, right now…Right?

John 8:47 tells us, ” Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

I have to be quite honest, I struggled with this verse for some time.  At the age of 8 when I was in second grade I chose Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I felt like I belonged to Him then, and I did, and so do you when you accept Him has your Lord and Savior.  We do belong.

So why is it then, that we have these seasons of feeling like God is not present or He is not hearing us in our desperate times when we belong to him?  Like I said earlier, we have done all of these good works this month.  Why aren’t we getting our prayers answered?

Let’s dig a little deeper shall we.  Anyone can do a good deed from time to time.  I know quite of few people who do amazing service work in their communities that are not followers of Christ.  Putting good works a side for a minute, because they are important but they aren’t the end all be all, let’s look at what else we are up to in our daily lives.

In John 8:47, Jesus was speaking to the Jews who were not following Gods commandments.  I love how Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains this,

           “Listens to, or attends to the doctrines or commandments of God, as a child who loves his parent will regard and obey his commandments. This is an evidence of true piety. A willingness to receive all that God teaches us and to obey all his commandments, is an undoubted proof that we are his friends”

There are many verses in scripture that tell us we need to follow God’s commands to belong to Him.  John 14:21 reiterates this by saying,” Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”  and 1 John 2:3: By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.

The Ten Commandments are in Exodus 20:1-17 (click the link below it will take you to Bible Gateway to read this Scripture.)  Take a minute, click, read, and come back, I’ll wait.

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The Ten Commandments

What else are we doing in our daily lives?  Anything on this list ring a bell?  And I mean Thou has done (you name the commandment). I have to be quite honest that when I have gone through seasons when I haven’t felt the presence or heard from God, I can for sure say I have been able to check of a few off the list I have not followed to the “T”, Like Jane Ann has gossiped at work, or Jane Ann has reacted poorly when she should have paused, and Jane Ann had not granted a friend forgiveness when God has granted it to her over and over and over again.

But the good news is we have such a loving God who wants to grant us forgiveness and grace.  When we recognize that we haven’t been obeying God’s commands, we can come before Him and ask for His mercy and forgiveness.

1 John 1:9 Confirms this: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

We are human and we aren’t going to do anything perfectly like Jesus. However, I do have three steps we can take to help us along our journey to becoming more Christ-like, and help us stay close to Him.  Because my friend, it’s not God who goes anywhere when we don’t hear him, it’s us!

We need to pray for God’s wisdom, strength, and discernment to obey so we can belong.

Pray to obey to belong.

When we mess up, and we will, we need to ask for God’s forgiveness and grace.

Ask to bask in His grace.

Stay in His word daily.  God’s word is living truth we can rely and depend on everyday.

Read to heed His commands.

Join me this month for a series on hearing from God through prayer, His Word, and others.

What topics do you enjoy reading and gaining new insight? I’d love to know, leave a comment.

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Mustard!

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Eating out with my husband last week at a little pizza joint in a quaint neighborhood with golf cart lined streets (It’s like Mayberry, without Barney Fife!) the unthinkable happened.  Mustard, of all the condiments! Seriously, the mustard, why was it on my veggie sub?  Taking the first mouth-watering bite of  my Italian sandwich, oozing out the back-end, the yellow substance  drizzled down my front. I am sure the words are already sliding off your tongue, “She was wearing white.”  You guessed correctly.  Lovely.  No, not really, it was mess!

Paul and I do not let our kids use their phones at the dinner table, however this was an emergency. I grabbed my phone from my purse.  Google came to my rescue. “How to remove a mustard stain” I have to give credit here to “The Spruce” for their first instructions, “Use a dull knife or a spoon to gently scrape away as much mustard as possible. Be careful not to scrape so forcefully that you damage the fibers of the clothing.”

Our lives on a daily basis are messy with sin. The little white lies. Speeding down the highway. Gossip at the kids’ ballgames. Judgments made about the homeless couple on the corner. Making a commitment to volunteer and deciding not to show up.   Embezzling from a company. Failing to pay taxes.  Big or little, a sin is a sin, which causes mayhem in our lives.

Great news friend, the mustard came out! Just as Isaiah 43:25 tells us how God will “blot out our transgressions” when we ask Him to forgive us. Just like the directions to remove the mustard explained to gently scrape away the mustard, God eases his holy hand on us and gingerly wipes away the stain of sin.  Now let me fill you in on the best part; just like my mustard splotch is now erased, the stain of our sin is totally forgotten by our Heavenly Father.

When I have recognized I have done wrong I can be my own worst critic, how about you? I can honestly beat myself up for days, sometimes longer depending on the sin.  Why do I do that?  All I need to do is humble myself and remember the beautiful words of Isaiah 1:18  “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” God wants us to talk out our problems and sins with him. Amazing Grace.

I love the lyrics in For King and Country’s song “Priceless”, These words paint such a magnificent picture for me of how God truly sees us after he forgives and forgets our sins.

“Sisters, we can start again
Give honor ’til the end Love, we can start again

Brothers, we can start again
Give honor ’til the end
Yeah, we can start again

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you
Oh, so priceless
You’re irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you
Oh, so priceless

Yes, sisters, brothers, we pick up and move forward, start again clean giving God all the praise and honor!

Thank you God for your overwhelming love, mercy, and grace!  Thank you for so calmly and gently removing the mess we bring on ourselves daily.  Heavenly Father, direct and guide us in our choices each day. Help us to share your love with others that we may forgive others as you forgive our transgressions and remember them no more.

I know I need to have a little chat with Jesus daily, how about you?  Tell him your mustard story, He is happy to listen, love you, and forgive you.

 

 

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A New Motto

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My motto used to be, “Cross me and I’m done with you!”  Yes as difficult  and sorrowful  as it is to admit today those harsh, judgmental words were my mantra   “just a minute ago.” (My kids use that phrase all the time referring to the distant past, so crazy what technology has done to their attention spans, but that is another blog.)  There was no hope of forgiveness coming from this girl.  Back then, when my feelings were hurt or my heart was broken, I didn’t know I would be healed by forgiving those that I was casting off.

You see what I have learned and still learning, because I am no scholar of the bible here friend,  or expert in relationships, just a girl who knows that she has a loving savior and wants to follow His will for her life, is that when I forgive others it is to rescue me from the bruised spirit within so I can find peace, joy and contentment again.

Oh, sorry, it’s not all about me.  It’s about you too!  Forgiving others as God has forgiven us is the point.  Sure we believe, and when I say, “believe”, we conclude that those other imperfect beings who scarred us or our loved ones don’t deserve OUR forgiveness.  We shout it to the mountain tops and tell everyone we run into on the streets, subway, grocery store, anyone who will listen, and of course, post it on every social media outlet what that person did to harm us.

Now I am going to shed some light on you that might be hard to hear ( I did give you a hint in the previous paragraph this was coming) , but dear friend in all of our cuteness, and beauty, and style, and all that we THINK we are some times, the truth in Matthew 7:3 reminds us, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”  Yes, we are sinners too.  We have no rights or privileges as followers of Christ to place judgement, blame, persecute, or sentence those who wrong us.  I understand, this is difficult to do, remember I was the one with the motto, “Cross me and I’m done with you!”

So not to be a Debbie Downer on Monday, the Good News when we choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior, “WE have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7 (emphasis added by me)  God sacrificed his only son  on Calvary so our sins would be forgiven.  That is huge! We did nothing to deserve His unconditional love for us.  He just loves us. 

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I  do not know what or who has caused your pain toady,  I have been through a season or two of immense suffering, and the only way I have learned to break free is by granting the same grace and pardon God has freely given me.

By the way if you were wondering, I did ditch that old motto for a new one, it is Matthew 6:14 “That is how My Heavenly Father will treat each of you, unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”  I don’t do this perfectly, who does, practice not perfection!

My prayer today is for you to hear Jesus calling to you to soften your heart to know He feels your pain and hears your cries.  I pray, Heavenly Father bless us with courage and strength and a love that surpasses all understanding to forgive those who have trespassed against us.  Father I pray that you will come and fill us with Joy and Gladness that through our forgiveness of others we will be healed.

Are you going through a season of pain?  Do you need to forgive someone in order to break free from the chains that bind you?  Or Maybe you have been freed by forgiving, how did you feel after you forgave the person who harmed you?