I found out yesterday that one of the teachers who had taught for me for 20+ years has died. Then this morning I had a prayer request that a gentleman I’ve known and sang for their wedding has passed during the night. This always makes me realize just how fragile our life truly is. The hope of Jesus Christ and eternity becomes extremely real the older we get and I am there.
Today our quartet is singing for worship in the first church service. We are also singing a special number entitled: God Doesn’t Care. I’m asked to introduce the song to the congregation. I had introduced it to our quartet a couple of years ago. The words are so powerful. The title makes one think that God doesn’t give a rip! However, the words of the song make it clear that it is the darkest, deepest sin secrets we carry are all covered by the blood of Jesus. God doesn’t care how awful we feel about our sins, He has forgiven them if we only turn to His Son Jesus asking Him to forgive us.
Today I also bring to our step study the introduction to writing one’s testimony. We are about to conclude this study and so it is time to give them the opportunity to give back to the ministry by writing their testimony and giving it on a Thursday night. There is nothing that brings more anxiety than the thought of doing this, but, once one had done it, one realizes how much God will use our mess as His message when we give Him the opportunity to do so. God Doesn’t Care–He takes all of our messes and turns them into hope for another struggler when we allow Him to do this.
Listen to this verse in Psalms 68:28–“Your God has commanded your strength [your might in His service and impenetrable hardness to temptation]; O God, display Your might and strengthen what You have wrought for us!” Even though I’d read this yesterday and had underlined it, I didn’t catch the significance of it until I reread it this morning asking God to let me hear Him as I read His Word. This time I heard Him. The truth that God has commanded my strength in His service and commanded my strength in all the impenetrable hardness to temptation just makes me feel empowered. This morning God has completed this within me. I can’t explain it other than this. God’s Work is miraculous–one just knows when it is done. I thank You Father God!
Yesterday I was able to spend an hour+ with my prayer warrior. She is going to be 90 years old in a couple of weeks. I truly enjoy being with her. She always has just the right message. God keeps using her to give more and more insights into living fully for Him. I was telling her about my current scripture reading in Psalms and what Joyce Meyers had written. (My prayer warrior is the one who gave me this particular bible about 5 years ago). I told her that God was teaching me that my past doesn’t need to be my present. She told me that was a great quote which she wanted to remember. I love her encouragement!
I don’t think I’ve mentioned that John Baker, founder of Celebrate Recovery passed away last Wednesday. He was 72 and this was not expected. This ministry has spread across the world and it is now led by his son and ministry team. I thank God that John was one of His kids who listened well and the world has profited immensely because of his obedience to God. I am one of millions who have found freedom because of this man’s obedience. John’s mess became a message for the world. I always find it amazing to pause and reflect on the ways God takes each one of our messes and turns them into His message as we give all of it over to Him. How I love this God of ours!
I’m back on schedule today. A couple days ago I wrote about digging out the last of a root system which has been remnants of a past life yet it still wants to infiltrate my current life. Every once in a while it rears its ugly head and it takes me awhile to get it back in its place–surrendered and given to Jesus so it doesn’t take root again. This morning as I was reading my bible I came across an insert which Joyce Meyers writes in regards to what David had written in Psalms 62:8. The verse says, “Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us.”
After reading the chapter I read what Joyce had written. She says in part, “It is easy to trust God when things are going well. But when things are not going well, we develop character by trusting God in our difficult situations. And the more character we develop, the more our ability can be released. That is why I say that stability releases ability. The more stable we become, the more our ability will be released because God will know that He can trust us.”
I love this message Joyce writes–stability releases ability. Stability doesn’t mean that all trials and temptations are gone. It means we know what to do with them and we do it. These old torments of mine want to have me believing old lies. Well, I know what to do with them and I Praise God for providing us the confidence in Him at all times regardless of what the day brings.
Mercy and Grace–what spiritually powerful and loving terms. All of my devotional tools were hitting on this topic today. I am running late this morning and yet the day has already begun with mercy and grace. How I love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I have to admit that what I’ve been writing about the last couple days just doesn’t go away. I actually hoped that writing about it would cause it to be done. I have written earlier that I didn’t like so much reading the Psalms. They were too full of emotions. It didn’t matter who was writing each one of them, they were always pleading, praising, confessing, begging. I never wanted to be like this. I wanted to be a solid follower of Jesus who didn’t need to do all these emotional acts. The emotional acts reminded me always of my dad. I’ve also written many times that I’ve learned that dad cannot be my barometer for my walk with God, my “not being sinful”. If I thought I was doing better than dad I hoped I was pleasing God.
All of this is pretty much behind me now. However, in reading the Psalms now I find myself realizing all these emotions are also mine. I’m no longer in denial to them. My barometer for living each day has become Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit lets me know when I’m needing to “step away” or “turn away”. In my inner heart, as David talks about, I’ve had a belief that I just couldn’t be good enough or clean enough for God’s Presence within me–His Holy Spirit. I didn’t want to read the Psalms for they talked too much about what I wanted to be in denial to. “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right Spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10. As I was reading this I had a picture come to my mind of me digging out the last of an old root system. The soil is now fertile and I was planting a healthy, vigorous plant in this new garden–my inner heart. This plant was replacing the deep roots of disbelief with the plant of self-love, self-appreciation and self-confidence. These were the very things my prayer warrior had prayed last summer for me. This is what “the right spirit within me” is. This is what God originally created in you and me at the beginning. Wow! Our God is so AMAZING!
God has really been speaking to me about hearing His Voice. Separating HIs Voice from the voices of man, the voices heard in my head, and the voices of emotions. No matter what is going on in our day, we have nudges to respond to them and God is wanting me to better hear Him in all of this. In my devotions this morning He was speaking to me about this as I journaled, then as I read my devotional the message was there.
As I began my bible reading in Psalms, David was confessing his sins about Bathsheba and the death of her husband. This is in Psalms 51 and in verse 6 it says: “Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.” As I read this and then read an insert Joyce Meyers wrote, I was prompted to look at the distinction of what God desires–TRUTH in our inner being–my heart. It is one thing to do something outwardly and desire something else on the inside. God wants my inner self to desire Him and what I do on the outside to model this.
The 3-R’s I’ve written about came to mind in all of this. I can recognize the desire to please selfishness, I can reject it, but replacing it was my question to Jesus this morning. He said to replace it with a desire for Him. I can use yesterday’s message to do this: “God (my heavenly Dad) has said to have no other gods before me, so I replace this evil desire with His Son–Jesus and a desire to yearn for Him, to be like Him.” Just writing this makes my heart smile and tears come to my eyes.
“God has said,” This was the title and start of my devotional reading this morning. Charles Spurgeon, author, had written about the importance of these three words and I loved it. God has done so much in the past couple years to remove any stigma I’ve had about Him being anything like my own father. So, as I read these three words this morning I was prompted to remove the word God and replace it with Dad–my Heavenly Father. Just fathom for a minute confronting any ill thought, any temptation, any judgmental thought, any poor me idea with the statement: “God has said….” For me, I wanted to say, “Dad has said.”
For much of my adult life I’ve heard speakers talk about God as our Heavenly Dad. Every time I heard this I cringed. There was no way I’d ever think of God has my dad. However, as I’ve already said, God has done so much to separate my memories of my earthly dad from those of God Himself. In doing so I can easily think of God as my Heavenly Dad and I can now think far more forgivingly about my own dad.
The Bible is filled with our Heavenly Dad’s Voice with wisdom and leadership for all of His children. I just want to start thinking, “Dad has said we can’t do that. It won’t be good for us.” “I don’t want to say that, it will only hurt them and not help them.” I could add a long list of these here. The point is that I truly want to be the son of my Heavenly Dad who uses His Wisdom to live my life and help others with their own as Dad nudges or they might ask.
This morning is the funeral service for a lady who was married to my nephew for, I believe, 23 years. They had two daughters together and there is one older brother. I was asked by one of the grandnieces to read a couple of things at the service for them (scripture and poem). They knew they couldn’t get through them so they asked if I’d be willing and of course I said yes. The nephew who was married to her is only a couple years younger than me so we had grown up together almost as cousins. God’s presence is always one of healing. It is simply a part of God so if we are in His Presence and we allow ourselves to take in God’s Presence, healing can happen. There is this need today. I hadn’t known this, but there are some rough edges still in the family which God, I know, would love to heal. This is my prayer today.
When I get home today my brothers and their wives will be at our home. We are hosting the monthly get-together. I had a text from my niece in California with a picture of our oldest living sis taken yesterday morning when my niece was with her. My sis is struggling with dementia, but yesterday she was bright. The picture looked so much like my mom that I had to catch my breath for a moment. My sis wanted my niece to send the picture to us so we could see she is doing fine!
My family has had many times when God’s Presence brought healing. I have witnessed many, many of them. Today, I pray for another one of these moments when God’s Rich Presence softens hearts and souls to see Him and let Him do His Miraculous Healing starting this morning.
I have truly been amazed this week watching God work. The lesson for last night’s Celebrate Recovery really challenged those present to not only pray about what is on their minds which brought them to CR, but also to obey what God is nudging them to do. The story I said I’d read was a perfect fit for the lesson. In share group time the men were seemingly challenged to open their hearts to God and trust Him rather than make excuses why they wouldn’t be obedient to a nudge from God.
I’ve needed wisdom in knowing how to work with a couple situations in the school districts for which I spend time. Yesterday was one of those days. We needed to tackle a couple of issues which turned out extremely well. Not only was the problem able to be discussed, but a solid plan of action was developed. I do love watching God work.
One of our men who came last night to CR was one who had come for a couple years, but then dropped out. In coming last night he shared why he had dropped out. It is so easy to get our eyes off of God and to measure any progress from what we see in others. We will even judge ourselves and others in so doing. How amazing God is and how faithful He is at relentlessly bringing us back to the points in our lives we didn’t want to see the first times He brought us to them.
The song we sang last night right before our lesson was, “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord” I want to see you. That was the start of the lesson. We ended the lesson with the statement, “open the eyes of my heart Lord, I not only want to see you, but then I want to obey You”. Pray and Obey, that is God’s challenge for each of us as we walk with Him each and every day.