Today has begun before I even got out of bed. There was a text for me from a struggling man needing to talk. We spent time on the phone where he vented and I prayed for him. He is truly in the pit of despair regarding his life’s current status and rightfully so. I know God is only beginning to awaken him to HIM, but he is so low he isn’t seeing any Light at the moment. We have probably all been at this point, and can relate. It is at this point in my own life when a dear lady who is now in heaven, told me I must be loved dearly by God or else I wouldn’t be struggling like I was. She went on to say that it will be from this struggle that God will eventually give me tremendous use for Him. Little did I know then what she was talking about. That is where I find this young man today. But, today I know much better how to pray for him and trust completely for him in the God we serve. I’d ask you to join me in praying for him.
The other thing I wanted to put in this blog today is the continued Light God is shedding of late about His Faithfulness. Today’s message is all about GRACE. My learning is that Grace is abundant when we are surrendered. Whatever effort we make to control the day for our sake, the more we restrict God’s Grace from being known. The other thing is that Grace is known for the present day. Even the Lord’s Prayer tells us, “Give us this day our daily bread….” It is not given for the future. It is given for today. The torments of life and all it holds are given Grace in the present. So our faith/trust needs only to be for today. There’s an abundant amount to hang onto here. My personal learning need is to remember this part about “today”. God’s Grace is for today. How I love Him for this!
As I had gotten out of bed and dressed I did what I always do–go to the coffee pot and pour my first cup. Well, when I found it empty I thought for a moment I’d forgotten to prepare it the night before, yet the new grounds were in it and water was in the reservoir. It too had entered the gates of heaven leaving me without my Folgers! Kathy has a Keurig so I resorted to using it. Enough of that.
As I began to journal I seemed to be greeted not only by Jesus, but by a kind, kingly Father. I was taken back by this. I have journaled to Jesus for years but today it was as though God my Father was welcoming me also, so I greeted Him too. Then as I began my devotional reading I found them to be addressing the loving Father our God is. Even in Nehemiah, the book I’m now reading in my Bible reading, was talking about the peoples’ need to worship and give thanks to their Heavenly Father. They had just finished rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem and rebuilt all of the gates. It was time to rejoice and give thanks to their Father who had provided their needs and protected them during this time.
I didn’t know an earthly father who was kind and loving. However, God is certainly demonstrating what He wants me (us) to know about what it is like to have a Father who is kingly as well as kind, nurturing and loving. Leadership doesn’t need to be cruel. I lived so much of my life knowing what I didn’t want to be. God has done so much to show me (us) what being a father is to be like. Today I give praise and honor to my Heavenly Dad. Tears well up inside of me just writing this.
Last evening a dear saint entered the gates of heaven. She is the mother to dear friends–a lady as sweet and saintly as all of us kids thought about our own mom. Her name is Betty. She and her husband loved to party and create a party for everyone. As I journaled this morning thanking Jesus for Betty’s entrance, I realized they were likely still partying! Betty’s husband passed into heaven last May and so they are now gloriously and eternally dancing for Jesus!
Yesterday’s sermon by our pastor told a line for which I want to remember. It was, “Delayed obedience is instant disobedience.” As soon as I was writing it down on my bulletin I heard God’s nudge to go sing Betty’s song to her. Several months ago she had asked me to sing a certain song for her funeral service. We had just been to their home Saturday evening and had sung a few songs to her then but not this particular one. So, when I got home from step study I asked Kathy if she wanted to go and off we went. I could tell time was short when we arrived. This morning I sense so strongly the meaning of the statement I heard. I so often try to negotiate what to do and when to do it with God’s nudges. However, yesterday brought clarity to me about any negotiating with God. Instead, I want to simply be obedient at the moment.
Our God is so much more than our human mind can grasp. But, what I do grasp only inspires me to seek Him more and more. He is so interested in every detail of our lives. Getting to be a Light-bearer for Him is such a privilege!
Yesterday was one of those days for which I’d like all days to be. Everything that I wanted to get done got done and in so doing, it was fun. Much of that had to do with the fact that gardening played a big part in a couple of the activities. This morning as I was thanking God for the day and praising Jesus for being so good, I heard that still small voice saying, “It is one thing to thank me for tasks, it is altogether another thing to thank me for who I made you to be.” I get overly involved daily in the tasks of the day and at the end of the day I rate my worthwhileness by the quality of the tasks done. I know not to find value (worth) in this, but I find myself doing it even without realizing it. God was pointing out to me that I can be joyful for a good, nice day; but, first and foremost, be joyful and thankful for who I am in Him–Jesus Christ. That is the value I have in God. What a blessed thought–knowing God is proud of us because–first, He created us and we choose to worship Him. I sure love this God of ours!
My humanness drifts back into the old ways of thinking and doing, but God is faithful to remind (me) us of Himself and who we are to Him. Praise God!
Have you ever thought about graveyard thinking? This hit me squarely in the face this morning. I was journaling about some mindsets (beliefs) that didn’t fit into the category of a new creation, but fit squarely with the old self. Things like, “I can’t do that Jesus, you know I can’t. I’ve failed every time I’ve tried.” “No matter what I do or say, they go right back to what they were doing.” I could write a hundred of these right now. As I was journaling about dealing with this kind of thinking, Jesus reminded me of Him raising Lazarus from the dead. Even though Lazarus’ sisters knew Jesus well and knew He loved them and their brother, Jesus delayed His coming until Lazarus had been dead 3 days. When Jesus arrived He found them mourning soulfully. Their belief was in the tomb, graveyard.
As I was journaling this morning about some beliefs and habits we come up against I was feeling helpless to know how to address them–move forward giving any kind of sage advice. It was then that Jesus reminded me that my thinking (beliefs) were in the graveyard. I’d buried the hope that “nothing is impossible with God” when one butts up against “these kind of things”. He was right too. For a moment I couldn’t believe anything would change what I was journaling about. However, as soon as I realized where I was coming from (my old self thinking) I surrendered it and will choose once again to believe.
God didn’t raise the old self that we were before Jesus Christ entered our life and leave us with it. He gave us a new life when He raised us from the death of sin! Satan never wants me (us) to live in our new life. I had a moment, but I’m not staying there. Thank you Jesus for reminding me to not live in the graveyard of of my old self. You have given me a new life which is filled with HOPE!
I was looking forward to sleeping a little longer this morning since I didn’t have to be at a school site. I have a lengthy list of things to do today in preparation for the coming week, but I also get to plant some seeds for the greenhouse which makes me happy. For whatever reason, I was fully awake at 5:00 am so I figured God had something He wanted me to learn from Him.
As I began reading my devotions I found a passage standing out to me. It said, “The source of our inspiration in our service for God is behind us, not ahead of us. The tendency today is to put the inspiration out in front–to sweep everything together in front of us and make it conform to our definition of success. But in the New Testament the inspiration is put behind us, and is the Lord Jesus Himself. The goal is to be true to Him–to carry out His plans.” (My Upmost For His Highest)
What stood out to me about this paragraph is the source of the inspiration. I’ve unfortunately always looked at what God had me to do as the source of the inspiration. I knew God was with me but I hadn’t truly recognized Him as the only source of inspiration. The work is to be done, but the inspiration to do it comes from Him. I have always gotten up in the morning to “go do”, that being the inspiration. God is wanting me to be up in the morning “to be” with Him. He is to be my inspiration and what I do He will guide. It is somewhat like He takes me there instead of me going there and meeting Him. I’m not sure I’m making myself very clear but I am needing to be much more cognizant of God within. It is there I find my inspiration to complete His Work for the day.
I love how patient and yet thorough our God is. When we commit to Him He begins a work which will never stop until we walk through death’s door. The work has so much to do with helping us get beyond our own selves in order to enable us to become more and more like His Son Jesus.
The love I started to write about yesterday is just one example. Today, Joyce Meyers wrote about the Israelites who were sent back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. They encountered problem after problem as you read the small book of Ezra. At one point they even had to stop completely. If we encounter problems like this today we often think we are doing so because we are out of alignment with God’s plan (or I do). Joyce brings out the point that Jesus Christ came with one purpose in mind. Did He encounter problems completing God’s plan? We all know the answer to this! The confidence Jesus had to always move forward was directly connected to His relationship with His Father. I loved reading this and bringing this back to life today. Problems need to be brought by us to God, but then we need to let God speak to us about them. Only He can let us know if we are out of alignment or if we are simply having problems because the world doesn’t understand yet. God’s Voice is often faint, yet it is there when we quiet our own voice in order to hear Him. I’ll keep working on this.
It is inauguration day. Let us together lift our new president and our country to the throne of God our Father. Our president is new, our country is fragile, but, God is not any of these for He is eternal, mighty and Lord of all. Let us never forget this.
Yesterday I wrote about God teaching me/us about living the life of the new creation He made us to be once we accept His Son Jesus into our heart. I have written several times about my prayer warrior introducing me to the 3-R’s (recognize, reject and replace) and the 3-S’s (self-love, self-appreciation and self-confidence). I tremendously struggled to believe I was a new creation until I could finally replace this abused person with the righteous person Jesus Christ made me to be through His sacrifice. Finally believing all of this to be real for me I could begin to love myself. I thought I had arrived until today’s devotional time.
In today’s devotional time God began to address with me the immensity of His Love for us and how limited my capacity of love has presently been. Yes, I have begun to believe I can love and be loved, but thus far the capacity of this “love tank” is man size. God is opening my eyes to my need to see love through His capacity. It is this capacity (which is limitless), He wants me to have for my own understanding. God doesn’t give us love, He gives us Himself which is LOVE. Within this love we live life. My capacity to grasp this is only beginning but today my eyes are starting to open to this very real truth about God our Father.
Celebrate Recovery has each of its participants choose a sponsor when they are working through their inventory so the sponsor can complete the scripture, James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” This has recently happened with me sponsoring a young man in his 20’s. I’ve know this man since he started kindergarten in the school where I was principal. An unexpected discovery for him in working through this process was the amount of abuse he’d had but didn’t want to face. He’d tried all of his short life to call it something else. Last night he called in tears realizing some important people in his life didn’t necessarily have his best interest in mind. Their actions and decisions were showing they had themselves in mind.
One of the things I’m learning about being the new creation God makes us to be when we accept Christ into our lives is our need to go back to those haunting places and stay there until we see Christ in them. This took almost three years of PTSD therapy for me, but the end result now is my freedom to be the person God created me to be without the shackles I carried for over 60 years. Even today, God shows me areas that show up where I need to pause and find Christ. If I don’t, I quickly must stop, go back and allow Christ to shed Light which He always does. The Light of Jesus does penetrate the darkness of man’s ways and certainly the evil of Satan’s ways.
It is painful and very difficult to face these giants in our lives, but living on the other side of them is something one can never know until he does this. The young man I mentioned is grieving right now the false reality he has carried. However, once he is able to let this go, he will walk with tremendous freedom. God is amazingly GOOD, PATIENT and FAITHFUL!
It may sound silly, but I am so glad I get to be back with the schools today in person. I’m sure there is work that can be done virtually just as effectively as when it is done in the traditional setting. But, teaching is so much more than providing information for students to know. The relationship one has with them inspires learning, the mode of instruction can give clarity when one can see that misunderstanding is in the way of learning, and so much more. On-line, it is so difficult for all of this to take place for the many students who are not motivated sitting behind a computer screen. So, I’m glad to be back.
Oswald Chamber’s devotional: My Utmost for the Highest, said something today which I needed to be reminded and it tied to yesterday’s message. Obedience to God’s leadership is a must for us Christians if our relationship is to grow. Along with this, Oswald clarifies that God’s Holy Spirit within us cannot do His Work if our will is not surrendered to God’s leadership. We may want to serve God, but we want to define how that is done far too often. God, on the other hand, has a determined plan for our service to Him. It is through The Holy Spirit that we know this as He speaks to us. He is silent however until we surrender our will. This is the genuine meaning of sanctification–surrender of our will each and every day and each and every moment within the day. When we are fully surrendered, God then speaks to His Spirit within us as they know each other well and we get to be part of it. Wow, what a privilege!