Today is the second day of the professional development which has been adjusted as I wrote about yesterday. Today, I get to stay home and zoom into it. That’s even nicer yet! It’s a 2.5 hour drive to go there and return so being able to stay home is very nice.
As I am rereading the three books of John there is a major emphasis on love–God’s Love. God is Love and He has created us in love. How much man and flesh have distorted the meaning of love and the gift it is. No matter how much I meditate on this topic I find myself tremendously short in giving it and receiving it. However, the faithfulness of God doesn’t let up on His part. He continues to love His creation. How grateful I am. He also continues to show ways we can love others and even receive love. I don’t want to quit on this either for there is no finer way to live than in God’s Love.
Today and tomorrow were going to be grueling days. I needed to be up quite early to get to the district after having done this three days in a row and each evening being occupied with ministry work. However, I was informed yesterday that the district was keeping kids home today due to an outbreak of illness and so the professional development time would adjust to mid morning and end earlier in the afternoon. With Celebrate Recovery tonight I was very pleased with this news. What is a tragedy in the larger sense–the impact of this pandemic on education–God creates little blessings. He is such a Kind and Gracious Father. Look for the little things He does in response to us which we may overlook otherwise. God is so good!
There is something to be said about this God we are invited to serve–He is AMAZING! Not only does He give to us the opportunity to invite His Son into our hearts and lives, but He gives to us His Holy Spirit to inspire, nudge and guide us to a fullness in understanding about Who He is. I’ve never understood the Love of God before because I could not accept a Love like God’s–I was condemning myself. There was no way I was worthy of such love.
Now that I know the difference between conviction and condemnation I experience the Light given to us in conviction vs the darkness given from condemnation. Satan deals with darkness making us think it is light. My self-condemnation coupled with Satan’s caused me to live in the darkness of my past as I tried my best to keep it hidden. Now I realize how much God wanted my past to be used to shed His Light not only for others, but for me. His healing has removed the condemnation and helped me see what I’ve written many times separating sins done to me from sins I’ve committed. Along with this there is a Light which continuously shines as we allow Him to speak through His Word and simply calm our very spirit with His Presence. Wow, God is so AMAZING!
Back in 2008 when our small group first started Celebrate Recovery at our church, God began to build into me a longing to be entirely free from the shackles of my past. It led me into the years of therapy/counseling and to the restoration classes we now offer. In all of this I have found tremendous freedom. Yet, what I didn’t expect to find was that the flesh of “Earnie” is just like every human. I measured my worth comparing my sins to those of dad and my brother. Accepting the truth of being a new creation has allowed my mind to be opened to real TRUTH. Being able to see dad and my brother as sinners saved by Grace just as I am has been so freeing. My sins are no longer connected to the sins done to me. They are mine just as dad’s and my brother’s sins were theirs.
The other reality is finding who God truly is. Read this excerpt from today’s devotional: “I long to teach you what it means to be a son or daughter of the living God…. If memories of childhood bring pain and prevent you from knowing me fully, I will heal that pain and give you a new history in me. Together we will write a new story of love, patience, encouragement, and safety….” This is exactly what God is doing for me as He more and more awakens me to the fullness of Himself, His Son Jesus and His Holy Spirit. What a glorious God we get to serve! If this reality is not yet yours, know that it is going to be if you stay the course with Him. He loves us dearly!
When I’d finished my Bible reading yesterday I had ended the book of Revelation. I have ordered The Passion, which is a Bible translation for the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. It is written by the author of the devotional I’m now using. The bible hasn’t yet arrived so I was nudged to go back to I John and read through these three books. As I began this reading today I was reawakened to two truths about our Savior, Jesus Christ. First, He is Love. This Love of His has cleansed us from our sins and continues to do so as, and if, we step into sinfulness. When this happens we confess it and ask for forgiveness. Secondly, He is Light.
As we walk with Jesus once He becomes our Savior, we have this opportunity to make Him Lord. When we realize areas of our lives which haven’t been surrendered for Jesus’ control we can then surrender them making Him Lord of more and more of our everyday living. This is His Light working within us. Being a new creation at the point of Christ becoming my Savior has taken 60 years for me to finally awaken to what His Light has been exposing. There is so much I could put here as bullets of what has been exposed, but here are a few:
–My sins aren’t measured against my brother’s or my dad’s but against God’s definition.
–My brain is the home of most temptations and I can ask Jesus to cleanse it and bring His Light into those areas where I had/have no control in my own strength.
–The strength of a new creation is found in surrender and obedience. Surrender to Jesus and obey His nudges by walking away, closing my eyes to something, engaging in something else which is healthy, and so much more.
God’s Love and Light never quit working in and within us. How amazing He is and how fortunate I/we are that He gave us His Son and His Spirit!
God continues to impress upon me the reality of His Love which cannot be adequately defined with man’s words. One of the realities of being a new creation that never stops growing is the significance of His Love for each one of us–that includes me. How much I have yearned for this and worked for this only to now find it was my own belief about myself that kept me from it.
This new devotional (author of the Passion Bible) has a means of describing God’s intent like I’ve never understood. It’s title is I Hear His Whisper. I’m sure that much of my understanding centers more around my mind, soul and spirit finally awakening more to realize the worthiness of being a new creation. There is nothing we can do except accept it though accepting Jesus Christ into our lives as Savior and then Lord. I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was a child. I have worked so hard to be worthy of His Saving Grace only to fall short with all effort never realizing I was using my own measuring stick. Surrender is a key word here. Surrender all the effort and accept all His Love. It is then we begin to understand His being Lord of our lives. Within God’s Love is a desire, a passion which grows and grows to honor Him with our living. How much I love this Father of mine and yours!
The trip to Montana seemed to be a big step in the right direction. So many needs seen last August are now being recognized and prioritized as to when they will be directly addressed. It is so easy to see how God is working and His Work is being recognized as His Leading.
Every day since the first day of January I’ve read the devotion in my new devotional. It is one that my 90 year old prayer warrior wanted to me get. She had told me about it last July and I had ordered it for each of us in our quartet. It is perfectly aligned daily with the very message God has given me for my goal of this year. Today’s message outlined the truth that keeping God in the lead of our lives 24/7 takes total surrender. It is only then that Trust becomes complete. It is also then that Belief is evidenced in our every action and that Faith in God, that He is the One and only True God. is actualized. As this truth becomes more and more apparent I see much more clearly where I still rely too heavily on my own resources. God is wanting me to not only see these but to surrender them and begin my Trust at these places.
Being a new creation doesn’t mean I am now able to do all that God wants me to do on my own. It is a total shift to living in Faith, Believing that God is Almighty and why would I even want to do this on my own? Lastly, it is Trusting God’s outcome to be so far superior to anything I would be able to do on my own. I truly want to be at this place in my life, but I know better than ever to do this “one day at a time, one moment at a time….”
As I begin today’s entry I am checked by the difficulty of my goal for this year: keeping Jesus in the forefront of every step I take during the day. Even though I’ve put the reminders in my phone and I do hear them and respond to them at the moment, I find myself right back at the level of Earnie. As I work with the district here in Montana I see and hear many “needs” for which I want to step in and correct right now. However, I know better and I wouldn’t do that. Yet, the wisdom they need to hear doesn’t always come. I am finding that taking the time to reflect on these issues with God is a far better approach. My emotions are the first thing I sense as I’m in the midst of the issues. I know better than to respond from that level, but hearing God’s Voice in my head isn’t at the forefront of my mind either. This comes more naturally after I leave and reflect.
The characteristic of God we call patience is a miracle when it happens in human form. So often we want to jump into an issue to “fix it”. This jump usually adds fuel to a fire we never wanted. Taking the time to hear God’s Wisdom and allow Him to lead always removes the fuel feeding the fire and it then dies. This is truly something God wants learned by man–by me. It is a bigger lesson than I thought, however, I know God is bigger than I ever thought too so staying with Him to learn to live out this goal will be worth all the effort.
Yesterday was one of the smoothest traveling days I’ve had. All my concerns about coming to Montana in January quickly dissipated. Even though there are a couple of feet of snow, the temperature was above freezing so the roads were in great shape for the distance driving for which I thank God!
God is introducing me to a new level of trust in Him. I’ve begun to give myself phone reminders during the day so I can remember to keep Christ at the forefront of my work and daily living. However, this morning in my journaling it seemed God was wanting me to do more than a quick check. He wants me to check to see if the work reflects Him? I can know this when listening is for understanding and my comments are above human wisdom. It is a new level of keeping Christ and The Holy Spirit in the lead of my day’s work. I want to do this, but I have some habits to change/adjust. God is amazing. I’ve always wanted God in the lead, now He is showing me how this is done by changing me. The work of a new creation is never done.
The time is short this morning as I have to be at the airport at 5:00 am heading to Montana for my monthly visit to the school district there. God is emphasizing and clarifying each day what living for Him 24/7 is like. The important lesson for now is that living for Him each day doesn’t allow for yesterday’s regrets. Let Him have any regrets. Simply do the part, if any, I have in them, and then He can take it from there. Along with this, surrender any concern for tomorrow. Live fully in today trusting God in the day and keeping Him consciously in the lead of the day.
My last important part is thanking Him now for the day’s events not even knowing how they will come together. When I see God fully in charge I can let go of my concerns and instead of worry I can Thank Him!