everyone! I decided I needed to get up
and get at it today. Otherwise, I'll get
busy and it'll be bedtime before I get around to the blog and all I will really
want to do is go to bed
READ: This morning, SOLO takes us to the book of
Deuteronomy, chapter 24: verses 10-15 and 17-22
I've grown to like the idea of typing it out (that way I know if you
read this blog, you've read some Bible today), so I am going to share it with
(10-13) When you
make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, don't enter his house to claim his
pledge. Wait outside. Let the man to whom you made the pledge bring
the pledge to your outside. And if he is
destitute, don't use his cloak as a bedroll; return it to him at nightfall so
that he can sleep in his cloak and bless you.
In the sight of God, your God, that will be viewed as a righteous act.
(14-15) Don't abuse
a laborer who is destitute and needy, whether he is a fellow Israelite or
foreigner living in your land and your city.
Pay him at the end of each workday; he's living from hand to mouth and
needs it now. If you hold back his pay,
he'll protest to God and you'll have sin in your books…
(17-18) Make sure
foreigners and orphans get their just rights.
Don't take the cloak of a widow as security for a loan. Don't ever forget that you were once slaves
in Egypt and God, your God, got you out of there. I command you: Do what I'm telling you.
(18-22) When you
harvest your grain and forget a sheaf back in the field, don't go back and get
it; leave it for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that God, your
God, will bless you in all your work.
When you shake the olives off your trees, don't go back over the
branches and strip them bare--what's left is for the foreigner, the orphan, and
the widow. And when you cut the grapes
in your vineyard, don't take every last grape--leave a few for the foreigner,
the orphan, and the widow. Don't ever
forget that you were once a slave in Egypt.
I command you: Do what I'm
THINK: Here we are asked what 3 common themes link
the scenarios. If I were going to wrap
up this passage in a verse, it would have to be: "Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly
with your God." More than once in
this passage, God reminded the Israelites not to forget that they had once been
slaves in Egypt and God, Himself, had led them out. They were repeatedly reminded never to forget
what God had delivered them from and that they had done nothing to earn what
they would receive in the Promised Land, so they would be wise not to get
arrogant, thinking that they somehow earned what they had, and therefore were
under no obligation to share it. On the
contrary, God was always commanding them to share what they had and to not be
greedy or stingy.
passage is a bit humbling for me as I think back over the course of my life and
the current situation in America, with scores of people flooding over our
Southern border. I have frequently
extended a hand of friendship to people less fortunate than me and patted
myself on the back for it. I have, at
times, even left such encounters feeling somewhat superior. The truth of the matter is: those encounters have never cost me a
thing. They were meetings of convenience
in that, I never went looking for any of them.
I didn't run away from them. But,
I didn't have to go out hunting for someone with whom to share my friendship or
blessing that day.
the other hand, there have been plenty of times when I've been presented with
the opportunity to help someone less fortunate and I have found every excuse
not to because those times it would've been inconvenient or it would've cost me
something. I know I'm not the only one,
but as you can imagine, people are less apt to talk about those times.
Recently, Stephen King slammed Tea Party
conservatives with a quote:
Much easier to be a Christian when the little children aren't
in your back yard, isn't it?
Though he received plenty of backlash, my heart was pricked
by that comment. The truth is: Yes, it
is much easier when the little children aren't in your backyard. Though I am not strictly talking about this
situation, it does apply here too. I
have been guilt of saying "send them home" whenever I see the stories
on the news about our legal/justice system being so messed up that these mass
crossings could even occur. However, if
all they needed to do was get out of their own country, then they could've just
stopped at Mexico. All over the world,
when people leave their homeland and think about making a better life for
themselves, they do precisely what Simon and Garfunkle said: "They all
come to look for America." As a
nation, we have been blessed by God. The
issue comes down to the fact that far too many individuals have tried to pass
the buck of meeting these needs off onto the government. We have taken an individual mandate and tried
to nationalize it, not just for others, but for ourselves, as well. We have voted for someone who would take care
of us for years. We have been the
Israelites begging God for a king so that we can be obedient. Well, now, we have a king (though he does not
want to be called that) and we do not like the fact that we are now beholding
to a king whose rules we cannot stand, or who seems to have a "Do as I
say, not as I do" policy. We cannot
have it both ways.
I cannot have it both ways.
If I shirk my responsibility to be obedient because it feels
uncomfortable or because it's inconvenient, then I have a faith of convenience,
and that is no faith at all. What I have
done is usurped God's authority in my life by placing myself on my own
throne. I have done precisely what God
commanded the Israelites not to do: I
have forgotten that I was once a slave in Egypt.
PRAY: "Sit with your eyes closed. Think about a recent encounter with someone
who might relate to you like the neighbor, laborer, foreigner, or orphan
described in the passage. Perhaps you
spoke a few words to a homeless beggar, or you listened to someone at school or
work who was upset. When faced with the
person's need, what did you feel? What
thoughts popped into your head? What did
you do? Take a few moments to explore
with God what was going on in your heart during the encounter"
I have to tell you that the reason I went into counseling and
the reason that I love travel and exploring is because of people. My belief is:
Everyone has a story and they want to tell it. But they want to tell it to someone who is
willing to really listen to them and to let them talk until they are done. They don't want to be fixed. They just want to connect. There's a quote from one of my most favorite
movies, Crash, that I feel pretty adequately sums up the state our world is in
the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past
people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind
this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into
each other, just so we can feel something."
Could it be that, in this digital world, in all our
pseudo-connectedness, we've forgotten what it's like to really connect? In a world where kids can only communicate
with others through a text message, the art of conversation is
disappearing. People only listen to
respond, not to understand, and certainly not to really hear. And with so much text-messaging and chatting
and Facebooking and Twittering, over half of what is really said in a
conversation is missed because about 80% of all communication is
nonverbal. Generally speaking, people
are not really connecting anymore. So,
maybe, we just have to crash into someone just so we can feel something,
because nobody really sees us or listens to us anymore.
THAT is how I feel every time I get to have a conversation
with somebody who is not inside my little bubble! And I love it. I used to hate it. I hated the butterflies I would get in my
stomach any time it looked like someone was walking toward me that might want
to have a conversation. I would pretend
like I hadn't seen them, and turn around pretending like I had seen something
interesting, or like I had been lost in thought and was doing the
"thousand-yard stare." But, I
have come to make friends with those butterflies. They are my signal that I need to move, to be
the first to move, to say something, anything.
In fact, I've told several people that once I've made up my mind to know
you, you pretty much have no choice. You
can choose how far in you are going to let me.
But we are going to talk. And I
am not going to be ashamed for it.
Because if nothing else, you will leave me knowing that I heard you and
was genuinely interested in whatever it is you chose to talk about that
day. Then, the next time I see you, I am
going to ask you about that thing you told me.
Then, the next time I see you, I’m going to ask you about the next thing
you told me. Then, the next time I see
you….well, you get the picture. I just
want to hear your story, and I want you to know that I've heard you. We don't have to have anything in common, at
first. But by the time we are done,
there will be something we share. Even
if it's just the 15 minutes we were talking.
That is 15 minutes you'll never be able to get back again because you've
lost it to someone who cared enough about you to listen to your story for those
15 minutes, and that I asked for whatever it is you told me.
LIVE: "Now look back at the theme you wrote
down from the passage and at the traits you noticed about God. How do you picture this God responding to you
as you think about the situation you faced?
Do you sense him speaking a personal message to you? What is it?
(If you have a tendency to assume what God's response would be, say,
something similar to what an authority figure in your life might say, resist
that.) If you feel clueless about what
God might be saying to you, offer this up to him and ask him to show in the coming
Looking back at the Crash quote, the idea that comes to me
is: We were created for
relationships. At the end of each day,
of each creation, God looked and said that it was good, except with Adam. With Adam, he looked and said that it was not
good for man to be alone. We are told
not to forsake the gathering together.
We are told that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens
another. These all testify to the fact
that we are not supposed to go through life alone, thinking that we can do
whatever we want and it will never affect anyone else; thinking that what goes
on in other countries will not affect us.
It cannot happen.
In other circles, this has been called the
began talking about something they called the Butterfly Effect. The idea was that if a
butterfly chances to flap his wings in Beijing in March, then, by August,
hurricane patterns in the Atlantic will be completely different.
happens in a vacuum. In fact, nature
abhors a vacuum. If a hole is created,
something will rush in to fill it. We
all have a hole in our hearts that we try to fill. It is only designed to be filled by God, but
that does not stop us from trying to fill it with everything else under the
sun. But we were also designed for
relationships. The problem is that sin crept into the world back in creation
and now our relationships are tainted by selfishness and
self-centeredness. We are all so
concerned with ourselves or with what others will think of us, that we are
paralyzed into inaction, unless and until we are acted upon by some outside
force. As my husband is fond of
saying: It's basic physics.
what if we stopped waiting for someone to crash into us before we started
moving. What if we used our own
discomfort to spur us into moving? What
if we stopped trying to fill that ache in our souls with food or pornography or
money or work and filled it with God, and then allowed our overflow to bubble
out around us, onto those who most desperately need it, instead of waiting,
hoping that others would bubble out onto us.
that, I am going to leave you. I am
going to go connect with people, rather than crash into them, and I am going to
pour into their lives, trusting that God will take care of what I need. The Son of Man had no home and no place to
lay his head, yet he poured into the lives of everyone he encountered. My prayer is that, by the end of the day, I
will be able to say the same thing. God
bless you all!
Today's passage is
Deuteronomy 10:12-21. Read along as I
share with you:
(12-13) So now
Israel, what do you think God expects from you?
Just this: Live in his presence
in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve God,
your God, with everything you have in you, obey the commandments and
regulations of God that I'm commanding you today--live a good life.
(14-18) Look around
you: Everything you see is God's--the
heavens above and beyond, the Earth, and everything on it. But it was your ancestors who God fell in
love with; he picked their children--that's you!--out of all the other
peoples. That's where we are right
now. So cut away the thick calluses from
your heart and stop being so willfully hardheaded. God, you God, is the God of all gods, he's
the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome. He doesn't play favorites, takes no bribes,
makes sure orphans and widows are treated fairly, takes loving care of
foreigners by seeing that they get food and clothing.
(19-21) You must
treat foreigners with the same loving care--remember, you were once foreigners
in Egypt. Reverently respect God, your
God, serve him, hold tight to him, back up your promises with the authority of
his name. He's your praise! He's your God! He did all these tremendous, these staggering
things that you saw with your own eyes.
THINK: Here we are asked to identify what phrase,
what quality of God, and what command stands out to us and why.
"God is my
praise!" really sticks out to me.
It's curious to me that the very thing God would have of his creation -
their praise - is what he is to me. I'm still trying to wrap my head around
The quality of God
that most strikes me is the passage: "it was your ancestors who God fell
in love with; he picked their children--that's you!--out of all the other
people. Because of the crucifixion and
resurrection, we can now be called citizens of the kingdom to which God called
the Israelites. And God knew me before
he formed me in my mother's womb.
Finally, the command
that sticks with me is: Cut away the
calluses from your heart and stop being so willfully hardheaded.
PRAY: Here are some ways to pray back the
passage. Use as many of these
suggestions as you wish:
Express to God your thoughts
about living in his presence. Has
living in his presence been important to you or not?
Express to God those areas in
which you would guess he considers you "hardheaded." (Pause and let this come to you. Don't necessarily go with the first
thing that comes to mind.)
Express to God your feelings
about the have-nots you know (widows, orphans, foreigners). Talk to God honestly about how willing
or unwilling you've been to include such people in your life.
LIVE: Experiment with living in God's presence
while caring for the rest of the world.
Relax. Quiet yourself. Just be.
I have to admit that
I have long been more concerned with paying lip service to the idea of living
in God's presence than I have actually doing it. Most of my life, I've been concerned with it
looking the way I think it ought to, more than just doing what I feel God's
calling me to do. I've put it off by
waiting until the time was right.
There's always some "until" that would make things "just
right" for me really get started.
I've even put it off thinking that maybe I was about to start for the
wrong motives and that would be a sin.
Regardless, what happens is that I never get around to starting what I
ought to. And it never fails that when I
decide it's time to start because it's time to stop making excuses, there are
always so many things that pop up that get in the way, or threaten to, that I
usually rationalize or justify stopping by saying that if God had really wanted
me to do "such-and-such," then everything would've fallen into
place. This is not always the case.
Abba Father, I thank
you for this gentle reminder that you love me and that I have been chosen. But I have not been chosen just for the
chance to go to Heaven. I have been chosen
so that I might live down here, in the world, but not of it, being Jesus with
skin on to the lost and hurting. Please
help me to quiet my mind enough that I can hear your still, small voice, and
then, help me to remember that I can do all things through Christ who
strengthens me, including anything you ask or require of me while I am here on
the face of the Earth. Help not to
disgrace your name as I try to act in your service.
All these things I
ask in Your Son's Precious and Holy Name, Amen.
I am going to handle
today's passage a little differently.
Instead of working through the Read, Think, Pray, Live sections of the
devotional. I am merely going to type
out the reading for today. I have a few
insights, based on what I've been living through this past year, but I don't
think those need to be the focus today.
The reading speaks for itself; since it's the Bible, it usually
does. But, I want to share just this
passage today because it cuts right to my core.
(1-2) This is the
commandment, the rules and regulations, that God, your God commanded me to
teach you to live out in the land you're about to cross into to possess. This is so that you'll live in deep reverence
before God lifelong, observing all his rules and regulations that I'm
commanding you, you and your children and your grandchildren, living good long
obediently, Israel. Do what you're told
so that you'll have a good life, a life of abundance and bounty, just as God
promised, in a land abounding in milk and honey.
Israel! God, our God! God the one and only!
(5) Love God, your God, with your whole heart:
love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got!
(6-9) Write these
commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them
inside your children. Talk about them
wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them
from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at
night. Tie them on your hands and
foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on
your city gates.
Abba Father, I don't
know into what land you are about to guide my family, but I pray that you help
us to remember that you are the one leading us there, preparing us for that
land, and I pray that you would always be before us and that we would never forget
that you are the one guiding us. I pray
that we would not forget the lessons we are being taught in the midst of our
current storm. I pray that we would not
falter in disbelief the next time troubles hit our lives because we remember
that you have brought us through this one and through every other trial in our
lives, and that we have become stronger and better able to serve you because of
them. Help us to always live in deep
reverence before you, never forgetting that all we have is a gift from you and
not of our own hands. Thank you for your
mercy that has spared us what we deserve and thank you for your grace that has
granted us what we do not deserve.
Obviously, I got off
on my date just a little bit. But I am
okay with that. There is always room for
grace. Right? Besides, I much prefer the idea of Sunday
being my reflection day, because that's when I do the bulk of my reflecting
There are so many
things I have to think about for this week, and reflect upon. But I want to start with today's sermon. Our pastor, Ryan Cox, continued his sermon
series on James. Today we covered James
1, verses 5-8. My take-aways were pretty
poignant. The first point he made was
that wisdom turns to God first. Far too
many times in my life, I have turned to God as my last resort, rather than as
my first response. He even made mention
of the fact that, far too often, people are heard saying that the only thing
they have left to do is pray. Man alive,
have I been there so many times this past year.
point: Wisdom trusts God. Over this past year, I've found myself
saying: "well, we trusted God and
then, it feels like he dropped us on our heads." I know the reality is that he did not drop us
on our heads; just like he didn't lead the Israelites into the desert to let
them die. Jesus also did not lead the
disciples out onto the water to let them drown in a storm. Why does it seem like God dropped the ball on
this? Well, because I stopped trusting
Him when He didn't answer my prayers the way I wanted Him to.
If I could wrap this
week up with just one thing, I think it would have to be how amazing I think it
is the way God works. A year ago, I was
going to our pastor at sermons he would preach, tears streaming down my face,
telling him how what he had just preached about was exactly what I had been
reading or dealing with this past week.
This week was no different. I've
just made a standing appointment with him, for after church, every Sunday we
are doing James, because I just have a feeling that this book is going to be
hitting some tender spots. The neat
thing about the spots that it's hitting:
this time last year, if this message series had been preached, it
would've reached an entirely different person and I would've heard a completely
I've sat through
church the last two weeks amazed at how well God can judge a situation. Don’t get me wrong, I don't think that the
messages are geared toward me and what I’m going through. But I am dumbfounded, blown away, bowled over
by the fact that God knew exactly when I would be ready to hear a message the
likes of which I heard today, or last week.
I am in awe of His timing.
The kids and I just
finished watching Man of Steel. There was a line in it about trust that I will
paraphrase and pass along to you because it so aptly applies to what I've been
dealing with. Sometimes you just have to
act, and the trust will come later. God
doesn't need me to agree with Him to be right.
God doesn't need me to trust Him to be right. And sometimes, you may not trust what God is
asking you to do, or that it will turn out right, but you still have to trust
the one who's asking you. God is many
things. He has many names. One of the most important names is Abba. Father.
Or, if you know your Hebrew, Daddy.
It is a term of endearment. It
signifies a personal relationship. A
Daddy cares about His children. And
while he doesn't want anything bad to happen to them, he knows he must prepare
them for the day that it will because we live in a world where bad things
happen all the time. To not prepare
one's children for the day that things might not go their way is neglect, and
God is not capable of that because He has said He will never leave us nor
forsake us. If that's the case, then
when it looks like God is nowhere to be found, we can trust that is just our
perception of our situation, and not the reality because God cannot lie. And what kind of Daddy would God be if He
allowed us to be spared from everything that ever came our way that way
hard. We would all end up like
butterflies that people tried to help out of their cocoons. We would look like butterflies. We would have all the necessary requirements
to qualify, on the surface, as a butterfly.
But without the ability to fly.
And without the ability to fly, we would not be able to eat. If we don't eat, we die. A good father, a Daddy, would never do that
to his children. No. Rather, he would let them suffer their way
out of their cocoon, knowing that the hard work will have its reward. He knows that His Children will come out of
their cocoons stronger than they could ever imagine and that strength will
enable them to fly just the way they were designed to.
READ: Today's reading comes from Numbers 35, with a
specific focus on verses 9-15. Here God
is advising Moses to set up 6 asylum-cities that would be used to house
suspected murderers until they could be tried, so that those who might want to
exact vengeance upon them would not be able to hunt them down. It was God's will that justice be done, but
he wanted it done properly, and without malice.
THINK: Here we are encouraged to spend time thinking
about the God who is making himself known here and to jot down a few words to
Justice, Grace and
Mercy all rolled into one.
PRAY: "For a moment, set aside this
passage. Check in with yourself--explore
recent thoughts, feelings, events in your life and how you've responded to
them. What's primarily on your heart
today? Is anything troubling you? Bring your thoughts to the God who created
asylum-cities. Read the verses
again. As you do, picture God entering
the room. How do you relate to his
presence? Share with him what you've
been thinking, if you can. Does doing so
make you uncomfortable? Why or why not?"
There are so many
places I could go with this, but where to begin?
What really troubles
me today is just the amount of injustice in the world. My husband sits in jail for a crime he didn't
commit. A friend of mine is living
through a divorce and watching the effect it is having on her children. I know that this kind of justice is not what
God intended because this is not justice.
And I have frequently spent time wondering where our justice was that
one troubled girl from a troubled family would be so readily believed over so
many people offering testimony to the contrary.
And as I listened to my friend, I was wondering why it is that people
find themselves thinking that they ought to be able to do whatever they want
and never have to suffer any consequences for their actions, and why they will
summarily subtract everybody from their lives that may try to remind them of
the hard they are inflicting. How is
that justice? Well, the answer is: it's not.
And I know that. But it tends to
make me question the goodness of God when He is supposed to be just but there
seems to be no justice for me and my kids, or for my friend and hers.
But, there is
Though our joint
situations are less than desirable, for the most part, whenever somebody asks
me how the kids and I are doing, the answer is fine. Not the "I know you are only asking to
be nice, so I'm going to say 'fine'" kind of fine. But, all things considered, we are doing
well. Yes, our current set of
circumstances bite. But, in His Infinite
Wisdom, God knew that we would be able to tolerate this separation because
we've been through deployments before.
The kids and I are all used to being without the man of our house. This part is no great shock. The reason why we have to be apart
notwithstanding, this is just another deployment, except that this time we are
living in someone else's house. That's
truly been the hardest part of the adjustment, and even that has not been
terrible because we've also lived in someone else's house before. So, while I could find plenty to complain
about, when you get right down to it, I would just be complaining to
complain. And, in my humble opinion,
there's enough of that in the world.
And there is also
Several years ago,
my husband and I had a couple of hard years during our marriage. There were some growing pains and some
adjustments we needed to make. We had
brought baggage with us from our previous lives at home with our families that
was weighing down our marriage. The
patch we hit had us looking at the other person, unsure if they were going to
stick it out. I knew I wasn't going
anywhere. My husband knew he wasn't
going anywhere. But neither one of us
could look at the other person and really believe in our hearts that they/we
were going to stick around. It took us 5
years to get past that hump and during that time, I clung to a promise he and I
had made early in our marriage. He clung
to the fact that he had made a promise to God.
We came through that struggle closer than ever and with absolutely no
doubts that we were going to be married until death do us part.
That was grace for
our current situation because had we not had to live through that first, I
cannot even imagine what this part of our lives together would look like. I do not know how we would've made it through
to the point we have, if either one of us was worried that the other was about
to call it quits.
Of course, our
situation is sad. It is unthinkable and
we should not be sitting where we are (the civilian world wouldn't even touch
our case). But, we are here. The mercy of God has spared me many things I
have not deserved in this life. The
grace of God has given me many things I could never have hoped to deserve. And as for justice, well….the only true
justice will come when we stand before our Creator on Judgment Day. Until then, I have faith that God will use
this trial to strengthen me and my faith for the next trial, and that I will
come out better and more prepared for everything that comes after this time in
my life. It may hurt in the meantime,
but pruning always hurts. The thing
about pruning is: it is always done to help the plant grow into the shape it
needs to, to cut away the dead parts and to ensure that the plant is producing
the best fruit possible. But, there is
still cutting involved and cutting is still painful. So, I will mourn that I had parts that needed
to be cut away, but I will live.
And I will come out
better for it…
…because God is a God of justice, grace
and mercy all rolled into one.
LIVE: Think about what it's been like for you to be
with the God who is both a God of justice and a God of refuge. Has it left you with questions or with new
thoughts on how you want to deal with your sin in the future? Make a note of anything that seems
So far, I've covered
what it's been like for me to be with the God of justice and a the God of
refuge. But, I have not covered how this
makes me think about my own sin and how I want to deal with it in the future.
To say that I have
been humbled through this entire process would be putting it mildly. To humble me, I had to be knocked down off my
pedestal. Truth be told, I was not aware
that I was on a pedestal until all this happened. I had no idea that I had spent a big part of
my life thinking that, as far as sinners go, surely I was the least
sinful. I thought that surely God got a
pretty good deal when He got me, that there wasn't a whole lot of work He
needed to do to get me ready for Heaven.
What a joke! In God's economy,
ugly is ugly and dirty is dirty. There
is no such thing as a little dirty or a little sinful. Sin is sin; dirt is dirt; ugly is ugly; and
it all must be dealt with, even mine.
And I have been made to see my own sin, dirt, and ugliness and to
realize that I need a Savior as badly as my husband's accuser. God will not wink at sin. He will deal with all of it, and He will do
so justly. But not just the sins of the
people who have wronged me. Mine too. The only way to be spared from the harshest
of those consequences is to throw myself at God's mercy, at the foot of the
cross, and claim the blood of Christ as the covering for my sins. And I need to do it each and every time I
sin, keeping short accounts with God, lest I forget or come to think that maybe
"it's not so bad."
My prayer for you
today is that if you do not have a personal relationship with the Savior and
Lord Jesus Christ, you would make it your task today to get one. All sin will be judged, and because God is
Good and Sin is not, it will be dealt with justly, and that justice states that
God will not coexist with sin. You
cannot harbor sin in your heart and hope to offer it as a home to His Son Jesus
Christ. I pray that you would take care
of that today if you feel God is prompting you.
If not, I pray I have planted a seed, or watered one that's already been
everyone. Technically, this is Day
14. Yesterday, I spent the day with
friends swimming and then, had to "move into" the home where I will
be house-sitting for the next few weeks; so, it was a full day. As I sat in the living room of said house
this morning, listening to birds, thinking about this devotional, I realized
that if I don't start getting up in the morning and taking care of this, I will
continue to let a day or two slip away, until - before I know it or realize it
- I will be so far behind, I'll just have to scrap it or start over. So…without further delay:
READ: The passage, today, takes us to Numbers
14:1-24. The passage includes a prayer
by Moses, asking forgiveness for the Israelites (once again). The party of 12 had just went to scout out
the Promised Land and ten of the returning men decided that the giants in the
land were too big and that there was no way they could move in and take it from
them. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, said
that God would give the land over to them and that they should be
obedient. God did forgive the
Israelites, but still, a whole generation had to pass away before He would
allow them to enter into the Promised Land.
Joshua and Caleb would lead them in, but not before Moses himself passed
away. Take a look at verse 24:
"But my servant
Caleb--this is a different story. He has
a different spirit; he follows me passionately.
I'll bring him into the land that he scouted and his children will
This is what God
said about Caleb. How I would love it if
God could say that about me and my family!
THINK: Could you imagine, knowing that God thought
as highly of you as He thought of Caleb?
In this section, we
are asked: (1) What impresses you most
about God? Why? And (2) What impresses you most about Caleb? Why?
What impresses me most about God is the way he speaks about Caleb. He is confident that Caleb will be able to
move into the land and take it over the way God has commanded them to. I would love knowing that God could be that
confident in me. What impresses me most
about Caleb is that he trusted God.
There were giants in the land but God said He would deliver the land
into their hands, so all they had to do was be obedient, go in, and take
it. None of their victories ever came
without a fight, but God went before them every time and there was not an enemy
the Israelites encountered that they did not overcome when they handled things
the way God told them to. Caleb and
Joshua saw the lay of the land. No doubt
they saw exactly the same thing the other 10 members of the party saw, but they
knew their God was faithful and would do for them what he had done for them all
PRAY: Ask God to show you where you fit in this
passage. How might you be tempted to
"[turn] a deaf ear"? How might
God be calling you to live a different story--to be one who has "a
different spirit" from others, who follows God passionately even though it
might involve risks (for example, loving the unlovely, pursuing a career that
makes less money, admitting to others the mistakes you've made)?
LIVE: Imagine what it would feel like to have such
trust in God that you would be willing to take whatever next steps God presents
to you. Imagine what it would be like to
be so different from others that you might be excluded because of it.
There are easy
routes and there are hard routes. I've
taken both in my life time. When I've
taken the easy route, I've come out pretty, unscathed, paint unscratched,
looking none the worse for wear. But, I
was untested and, most definitely, unprepared for any future fight. Also, I was not inclined to go looking for
the next test either. The times when I
have been most gratified is when I did the hard thing and came out on the other
side of it. Maybe a little battered or
bruised, with a few dings and scratches.
Maybe even by the skin of my teeth.
But I made it. And I was stronger
because of it. And more prepared for the
next battle. Not just that, but I was
almost looking for the next thing I could tackle.
Over the course of
the last few years, I have found myself wanting to take a few steps back from
the fight. I've felt like I've had so
many battles on so many fronts that I've wanted to dial back on one of them in
particular. My schooling takes so much
time and energy that I've found myself saying:
"I've got 7 years to complete it.
I could take some time off and go do something else for a while. The only person saying that I need to keep
pushing through is me." Yet, every
time I've said that or felt that, I've gotten this feeling in the pit of my
stomach telling me to just keep going. I
even had those thoughts when I was in Lynchburg for my counseling classes. There were people all around me who had taken
a much less intense route than I had and I found myself wondering why in the
world I hadn't done a little more research to find an easier route. Or at least a shorter one. Why did I have to be in a program that was
requiring so much of me, and at a time in my life when things seemed to be
falling apart everywhere else? What was
The truth is: I wasn't "thinking" when I took
this route. It kinda fell into my lap
and it just felt "right". I
didn't question whether or not it was the right thing to do because everything
I was learning was meeting me right where I was and kept propelling me
forward. Even when I was in Lynchburg
and people asking me why I chose the Marriage and Family Therapy route instead
of the Licensed Professional Counselor route, which is a shorter program, it
never occurred to me that I had chosen the wrong route, but it did get me to
thinking: "You mean, I could've
been done by now? Why did I choose
this?" I've come to the conclusion
that I didn't choose this. It must've
been chosen for me. Why? Well, because, had I known what I was getting
myself into, I would not have chosen this.
And with our current situation, I could've dropped this at any time and
just went to work at Wal-Mart. Or
Starbucks. But faith propelled me to
keep going. I just had this sense that
there was something better waiting on the other side, so I had to keep
going. Even now, when things get tough
and I just want to run back home and go live a simple life in the country, I
feel like I would be running away from my life.
Only instead of the Israelites who just WANTED to run back to Egypt, I
would actually be doing it.
Come to think of it,
when I do stop and "think" about what I'm doing, none of it makes any
sense. Who on earth would take a
backseat on the running of their lives?
Why would you entrust your life to God when He seems to have dropped you
on your head? Why wouldn't I just take
control of my life back?
I don't know what my
next steps will look like; God has those hidden from me, right now. And I am well aware of why. If I knew what He was going to require of me
next - if any of us did - we would turn tail and run for the hills because of
what it would entail, and how much he wants to stretch us out of our comfort
zone. And, honestly, I don't want to try
to imagine what it would be like to be so different from others that I might be
excluded. I would rather just cross that
bridge when I come to it. One thing I
have discovered to be true for my life, however, is that even when I am being
excluded by some (hurtful though it may be), I am being included by
others. I have never been truly alone
regardless of how pressing my circumstances were. Even when I have been smack in the middle of
a set of choices that has made some people roll their eyes or shake their
heads, I have never been alone!
I don't know what
God is calling me to, but I know that - based on my current set of
circumstances and how much it is stretching me and prodding me to go deeper in
my walk with the Lord - whatever is next is going to be something that requires
the faith and strength I have earned on this leg of my journey. And I know that for every scar I have gotten
while on this walk, I have earned a story that I will be able to share with
others who are in the midst of making their own scars, or who have already had
their fair share of scars and who will be there to remind me that those scars
were not, and are not EVER wasted.
So…at the beginning
I asked the question: "What would
you do if you knew you couldn't fail?"
I've heard that many times and every time, up until now, I've been left
thinking: but I can fail. Well, the
truth of the matter is: if nothing is wasted, then I haven't failed. So long as I keep going and keep trying, I
haven't failed. So long as I trust that
God will deliver into my hands the victory He has promised, I can't fail
because the results are not actually up to me.
All he needs is my obedience and for me to trust Him when he says that
the outcome is in His hands.
This post is a day
late, I realize. Last night, there was a
congregational meeting at our church that ran a little late. So, today, you get 2 for the price of 1.
Day Eleven's reading
comes from Numbers.
READ: Numbers 9:4-5, 9-12. This particular passage begins with Moses
telling the Israelites to celebrate Passover in the wilderness of Sinai, which
they did. Then, it lays out instructions
regarding their cleanliness in regards to the keeping of the Passover.
humans, we are forgetful people, and as forgetful people we need tangible
reminders--symbols--of who God is and what He's done…..Under what circumstances
are you most prone to forget who God is and what He's done for you?"
convicts me. Many times over the course
of the current situation my family is living through I have forgotten God, who
He is and what He's done for us. I've
been so busy being mad over my circumstances, feeling like God had forsaken me,
whining about how He had let this happen, that I had neglected to keep in mind,
and thank Him for all the things that He was doing and had done in my life,
that would prove He hadn't actually forsaken me/us. Sadly, once you start down the road of
"poor, pitiful me," it's easy to just keep going. This is not the first time I've found myself
needing the prompting from these scriptures.
PRAY: "Take a stroll down memory lane. Think about the times when God was evident
and at work. Allow your memories to
guide your prayers of gratitude for all He has done."
This is the one
thing that has been one of my biggest weaknesses, especially over the past
year. How easy it is to forget how good
God has been when He has refused to give me my way. Or when things have gone my way, but because
they were going well, I decided to take the credit for myself.
When I left home, I
mistakenly thought that I could have exactly the life I wanted because I said
so. For most of my life, things went
pretty well like I thought they would.
When I made good choices, things went well. When I didn't choose so well, there were
consequences. Everything was a fair game
of give and take that always seemed to end with my coming out about where I
figured I would, and at least where I aimed for, because I had aimed. That was just the way life was supposed to
be. Right? You make a plan. You work the plan. Just like they say in recovery programs. "It works if you work it, so work
it." Granted, I would slack
sometimes and not get what I thought I wanted, but if I had really wanted
whatever that thing was, then I'd have worked hard enough to get it.
This thinking had
even crept into my walk with the Lord. I
figured if I was obedient, like the Bible says I am to be, then I will be
rewarded. How is it that I had managed
to miss all those pesky little passages about being guaranteed to suffer if I
am identified with Christ? Somewhere
along the way, the messages that said that if they hated Christ, they would
surely hate me, had become just something that I would hear in church every
once in a while, or something that happened in countries where Christians were
really persecuted every day. In China,
of course, this would happen. In Muslim
countries, naturally, people should expect that their obedience to the Word of
God would be met with hatred and disdain and even outright violence. But, this is not China. And this is not a Iraq or Syria. So, I should've been fine.
Then, one day, I
spoke with a lady at church who told me something (2 things, really) that
really stuck with me. The first
thing: God wants us to come to with for
everything and with everything, and if the only way He can get us to do that is
to keep us desperate for Him, because we cannot help ourselves, He will. In fact, during one particularly rough time
in her life, she prayed that she would always be desperate for God. My family's current situation was only in its
infancy and all I could think to say to her is:
"But, I never prayed that prayer." But all I could think was: "Why in the name of all that is holy
would anybody ever pray that prayer?"
Then, about a year
ago, this same woman said to me, "The thing about God is, what He wants is
for our insides to match our outsides."
Look back at that prayer I said people would have to be crazy to pray. What I realized shortly after this precious
woman shared this second thing with me was that I had, in fact, prayed prayers
of desperation. I had sat in the pews at
the church I attended in high school, a church I attended for 5 years and never
once felt like I fit in, begging God to show me what this thing called
Christianity was all about. Surely there
had to be more to being a Christian than just saying some prayer and then
sitting in a church pew for the rest of my life. I mean, if this is it, then why not just take
me now. Otherwise, why else am I here? There has to be more to it than this. Please, show me what it is.
Then, as I got
older, and had kids, and felt like I had kind of stagnated, I would pray that
God would let me make a difference in the world, that He would
"really" use me. I was hung up
on doing something "big" for God.
What I didn't realize, at the time, was that I was more concerned about
doing something for God than I was about having a relationship with Him. I figured that if I could "really do
something for God," - something good enough or big enough or that nobody
else had ever thought of or done - then He would have to accept me. I just couldn't or wouldn't or didn't trust that He would
accept me as I was and then equip me for the position He wanted me to
fill. And even that, He wouldn't do
until I had totally submitted to Him: my
plans, my will, my husband, my kids, my life.
Then, our desperate
situation hit. To say that my world was
turned on its head would be an understatement.
I don't know that it's necessarily true to say that I forgot about God,
but I felt like He had forgotten about me.
I felt betrayed because He didn't answer my prayers (and those of MANY
other people) the way I wanted them answered.
I felt like I had entrusted my heart to Him and He had taken it, threw
it on the ground, and stomped on it.
Yet, I am surrounded by people who kept telling me that I could trust
Him. "All things work together for
good for those that love the Lord."
"Yes, I know," I would say.
But, in my head, all I could think was, "Is it gonna happen this
side of Heaven, because, if not, then I don't know if I want this."
Then, I went to
Lynchburg for my intensives. As I
mentioned in previous posts, I went with just one prayer: God, please show up. Please reveal yourself to me. I don't care if it hurts, or if I don't hear
what I want to hear. Just show up and
show me something.
I had faith enough
to pray that and I hoped (probably more than I actually believed) that He would
answer it and not leave me sitting in silence wondering what in the world I was
doing. And some of what He showed me was
painful. There were some ingrained
thought patterns I had come to accept over the years - thoughts about God,
thoughts about myself, thoughts about my self-worth - that were simply not
true, that I am going to have to work to overcome. There were also things God showed me that let
me see that He had not forgotten about me, things that He had done for me
and/or my family over the course of our situation, that could only have come
from Him. THOSE things, I was not
thinking about when I was complaining. I
was too busy being ungrateful and indignant that He had put me in the position
to be thankful for things I had never even wanted. And to top it all off, I kept trying to run
away from the circumstances I found myself in because I just wanted so
desperately to try to regain some semblance of control over my life. But every time I tried, something would
happen, and I would fall flat on my face again or be told "no"
again. I was actively trying to forget
God because I felt like He had just abandoned me.
But the truth
is: God had not abandoned me. No, instead, He was being faithful to answer
the desperate prayers of a teenager, tired of not fitting in, who prayed that
God would show her that there was so much more to being a Christian than just
getting dressed up, playing church, and filling a pew every Sunday for the rest
of my life. Granted, He hasn't answered
the way I wanted, but He has been answering it the way He has for
generations. How is that, you ask? Well,
for example, there is only one disciple (John) who died of old age. ONE.
And even that one was boiled in a huge basin of oil, but survived.
What I have
discovered (or what I have been shown) is that the only way that I can possibly
grasp the gravity of what Christ did for me is to be put in the position to see
how desperately I need Him. If I am
honest, that is a position I have desperately tried to avoid my entire
life. My prayers did not reflect that
though. Come on! Tell me, when was the last time you heard
someone pray that God would make them a mediocre Christian, or that their walk
with the Lord would be mediocre? Don't
most people pray that they would be "on fire" for the Lord? Yet, once the fire's lit, how often do we
start praying for rain? How often do we
start telling God that the fire's too hot, that we can't stand the heat, or
that THIS is not what we actually wanted.
All of a sudden, we forget just how God has blessed us and delivered us
before, and now…we just want out. Or
maybe that's just me.
When God started
answering the prayers I had prayed years ago, I had forgotten that I had prayed
them. Then, over the years, I had
forgotten the scriptures that remind us to count it all joy when we suffer all
kinds of trials because they are testing our faith, which builds our endurance,
with then ensures that we have everything we need, that we are perfected -
complete and lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).
Finally, I had forgotten just how God goes about preparing His people to
walk with Him in a world that will grow increasingly more hostile toward
Christians as the world progresses.
So, let me wrap this
up, by sharing the final section with you.
LIVE: "Create a symbol that will remind you of
God's faithfulness in your life. Maybe
it's a photograph of your close friends or a rock you picked up during a hike. Put this symbol in a place where you will see
it often. When you look at it, be
reminded and thank God for his blessings."
I don't have a
symbol yet. I have not created one
yet. But I keep thinking about how so
many Old Testament figures built altars so that future generations would
remember what God had done for them on that particular occasion. I believe that this is definitely something
that would be helpful to me, for the next time that I forget how God has met
all my needs according to His riches in glory.
For now, what I do is write. In a
way, this devotional is my altar. And
every day, I add another stone to remind me of how God is continuing the good
work He began in my nearly 32 years ago, and of how I can be confident that He
will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.
READ: Today's reading is Leviticus 22:1-8, but the
extended passage is chapters 19-22.
In this passage, God
informs Moses that he needs to tell Aaron that he and his sons need to remember
to treat the holy offerings the Israelites consecrated to Him with reverence so
they won't desecrate God's holy name, because He is God. Then, He proceeds to lay out a series of
rules that tell what all could make them unclean and what they must to do avoid
becoming unclean, as well as what they will need to do to become clean again.
THINK: In this section we are asked to read the
passage again, noticing our reactions toward God about what we've read. It asks if we feel drawn closer to God or
repelled from Him, and then, we are encouraged to talk with Him about it,
exploring what could be the possible causes for our response. Then, the challenge comes to ask God to show
us more of ourselves -- "the memories, opinions, and feelings you bring to
him on this day."
This is where I
began to wonder just what holy actually meant.
So, I looked it up. I had what I
thought was a rudimentary idea, but I wanted to make sure I knew for sure. It means consecrated, set apart,
separated. Another definition is
"set apart for a special purpose."
That definition I could grasp.
But then: why the urge to be holy
as God is holy?
I know how to set
apart a thing or a person for a special purpose. But how does that apply to God? How does one define God as holy, when He is
the one who does the defining? If he is
above all things, and has created all things, and therefore, has dominion over
all things…is that what makes Him HOLY?
Is He holy because He is unchangeable?
Because He is omniscient?
Omnipresent? Omnipotent? I think I've discovered that the answer to
all of these questions is: YES.
But what really
struck me about that passage is just how unattainable true holiness really is
apart from Christ. With all the rules
the Levites had for being able to approach the Holy of Holies, it was no wonder
they had to enter with a rope tied around their wastes. If they forgot even one thing, the Holy and
Just God would have to punish their sin.
Therefore, the only way that person was going to get out was by being
dragged out. But, because of Christ, the
veil to the Holy of Holies has been rent from top to bottom and, now, we are
all free to enter in, to have a personal relationship with God, because
Christ's death and the shedding of the blood of the perfectly pure, sinless
sacrifice paid the price for every sin for the rest of eternity. So long as we accept it. We no longer have to worry about whether or
not we have asked forgiveness for every single one of our sins before we can go
to God. We can come to Him with those
sins, known and unknown, and ask Him to show us where we need to ask
forgiveness and He will tell us, and then we can ask forgiveness for all of
them and repent.
That is the only way
that we can be holy as God is holy.
Because, without Christ, we can never be seen as sinless. Without Christ, the best we could do is hope
we hadn't forgotten any of the rules, and had covered all of our bases, before
we approached God.
You see with the God
of the Bible and Christianity, there is no such thing as "good
enough" or a balanced scale. You
can never attain a state where the scales tip heavier on the side of your good
works because as long as there is even a speck of dirt on the other side, you
are all bad and deserving of an eternity in Hell, because a Holy and Righteous
and Just God cannot and will not wink at sin.
The wages of sin is death. Plain
and simple. That is the holiness of
God. And that is why we need
Christ. Because of His sacrifice on the
cross at Calvary, the debt of our sins has been paid. If we accept Christ, God will look at us and
only see His Son standing in our place, saying: "His sins are paid for. I took care of that bill. He can come in." Without Christ as our vouchsafe, we would all
be doomed to Hell.
But as harsh as that
sounds, it was God who provided that way out.
God, who cared so deeply about His creation that He said, "He is
not willing that any should perish" and that "whosoever believeth in
Him should not perish but have everlasting life." God must punish sin because He is Holy, but
He doesn't want to because He loves His creation.
PRAY: This section challenges us to (maybe) ask God
to help us increase our belief that He is holy, and then to ask Him to show us
how this truth interacts with our first reaction.
LIVE: "Use this silent time to rest in the
presence of the holy God, who has just made himself known to you. Let go of your own words and let yourself
enjoy the experience."
And with that, I
will leave you. Take some time and let
the weight of what the word HOLY means to you.
See what God wants to show you.
Then, if you'd like, drop on back by and share, if you'd like. I'd love to hear from you.
READ: Today's passage comes from Leviticus 16
(verses 20-22, specifically, though they recommend reading through to verse
30). This passage talks about the
scapegoat. The scapegoat was the goat
upon whose head the nation's sins were placed.
Then, this goat was sent out into the wilderness, taking those sins with
THINK: Here we are given a list of activities to
consider performing. I will list them
Picture yourself laying your
hands on this precious animal's head.
Even better, hold a stuffed animal, figurine, or even your pet, and
put your hands on its head.
Confess to God your acts of
rebellion, your bad attitudes, and your harsh thoughts about others.
Experience the feeling of
transferring your sin to this animal.
(Don't feel sorry for the animal.
God didn't give it the capacity to take on hurt or guilt from your
See yourself sending it off
as it takes your sin far away from you.
PRAY: What do you wish to say to God about having
sent your sins off without you?
Now, that's a
powerful question. To be perfectly
honest, I don't know how to respond to that question. God says that this is good enough, but my
mind questions: "Is that really all
there is to it? Surely, that can't be
it. What else do I have to
do?" I can also say that just that
response right there would be enough for me to not want to take that step, if I
didn't already know better. Even so,
it was hard to actually do that activity in faith. I kept getting this nagging voice in the back
of my head telling me that there's no way this could be good enough, because,
what if the goat comes back? How do we
get so good at rationalizing away everything?
But, even more important to ask, if that's all there is to it, then why
not do it and trust what God says? What
do we have to lose but our sins?
LIVE: Quiet your mind and wait on God to show you
situations in which you need to remember what you just did. Practice resting assured of God's love in
those situations as you are resting assured now.
Father, thank you for the gift of the scapegoat. Thank you that you have made it just that
easy for us to be separated from our sins, since we cannot ever hope to make
atonement for them ourselves. Thank you
that You came after us when we were lost, and for continuing to chase after us
until we are retrieved. Forgive me,
Lord, when I have cheapened the sacrifice of Your Son by refusing to believe
that it is enough. Help me to remember,
when I am having the hardest time forgiving myself, that I cannot withhold from
myself that which you have so freely given.
And when I am hurting and tempted to seek vengeance on those who have
wronged me or my family, remind me that you withhold your forgiveness from
nobody and that I will only be forgiven the measure I am willing to forgive. Give me strength to walk in faith, resting in
this forgiveness, claiming it for myself as my victory over sin. Every.
takes us back to the basics of the Gospel but we begin by reading back in
READ: Leviticus 4:32-35. This passage covers the rules for bringing a
sacrifice to the altar for an Absolution-Offering. Absolution for sin.
THINK: "Each (sacrifice) served a specific
purpose for interaction with God. For
example, a sin offering was given for confession, forgiveness, and cleansing. Why does God take sin so seriously? When we sin, what sort of sacrifices are we
required to bring to God?"
PRAY: Ask God to help you understand the severity
of your own sin. Thank God that he sent
Jesus, the Lamb of God, to come and be the sacrifice for your sins.
LIVE: Knowing that God has provided the ultimate
sacrifice through his Son, Jesus, consider sharing this great truth with
someone today. As you drive, walk, work,
and relax, whisper under your breath, "Thank you, Jesus," each time
you remember the sacrifice he made for your sins.
I wish there was
something I could add to this. Honestly,
I'm coming down off of a really good message at church that was the capstone
for my entire last two weeks. It was
breakfast Sunday, so I got there early and ate with a man that I've not had a
chance to really talk to yet. We swapped
an abridged version of our life stories and talked at length about suffering
and what it has looked like in our lives.
The man (I will call him "Joe") told me about where he was in
his life at the moment, and how he thanked God every day that he got a second
chance at life, and did not intend to do anything to mess it up. As for me, I shared with Joe, just how I had
spent my last couple of weeks and the necessity for it. Joe proceeded to tell me just to stay strong. It was a really good chance to be able to
extend my two weeks of devotional time.
After that, we went
into the service. Worship was
phenomenal. Honestly, I cannot recall
the last time I actually worshipped. And
I know that, within the last year, I haven't truly worshipped at all. I haven't even been able to sing at the top
of my voice this past year, and probably not for the past 3 years. Before that, the memory gets fuzzy. I've been so consumed by the drama that was
our lives at the time, that I simply can't remember what my worship life was
like. However, I believe I was too
concerned with how I looked in worship to actually do it. NOT TODAY!!
Don't get me wrong,
I have participated in worship every Sunday I've been there. However, most of the time, I was standing
there saying, "I am singing to you because you deserve this. You are God and I am not." But today was different. I was feeling worshipful. Now, I realize that worship is not about the
feeling. But today, I didn't have to try
to force something that felt like a lie.
I was worshiping. Praising God
because He deserves to be praised and singing the words, and meaning it, and
basking in it. I can't describe it, but
if you've felt it, I don't have to.
Then, the preaching
started. We started a new series this
week on the book of James. We started at
the beginning and we are going to work our way through. So, today, we read Chapter 1, verses 1-4,
concentrating primarily on 2-4. Let me
all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the
testing of your faith produces endurance (or steadfastness). And let endurance have its perfect result, so
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
I wish I could share
with you everything that our preacher said because it was JUST THAT GOOD. But, what was so amazing was that it was
almost like he had been eavesdropping on my past two weeks and my conversation with
Joe. Over the past year, he has shared
many services that have hit my right where I was living, but most of the time,
I've been sitting there, crying, trying not to keep sniffing through his entire
sermon. This time, I was rejoicing. It was like God was continuing to smile down
on me after having been there for me all week.
So…how do I bring
this back around and tie it into today's devotional?
I guess it all comes
down to grace. God's grace is why we are
on the Earth, and God's grace provided the first sacrifice that covered Adam
and Eve's sin. That sacrifice and every
other atoning sacrifice in the Old Testament pointed to Jesus Christ, the last
sacrifice that would ever need to be made for the whole of mankind's sins. And that sacrifice made it possible for me to
have the devotional time I had the last two weeks. God has always actively sought out His
creation in hopes of redeeming them and bringing us back to Himself. Most of the time, we spend our lives running
the other way. But when, like the
prodigal son, we make our way home, even just part of the way, Our Father comes
running out to us, and orders the fatted calf slain in order that He might
throw us a party, in celebration that we have returned to the fold! For me, that is what today - in worship -
How could I not go
out into the world and share that with people.
That freedom. That relief. That grace that taught my heart to fear. The grace my fears relieved. The grace that has brought me safe thus
far. And the grace that leads me home.
everyone. Technically, this would be Day
Eight, but I spent the bulk of yesterday driving and, when I arrived home, the
people I live with were hosting a small get-together. Needless to say, by the end of the day, and
after the last couple of weeks, I was pretty much wiped out. But, I am back home from Liberty (Lynchburg,
Day Seven of the
SOLO devotional is different than the preceding six days. On the seventh day,
we are asked to review and reflect on all we read during the week and to revel
in the ways we've encountered God in the past six days.
REVIEW: This week, we have read about reconciliation
in Genesis 3 and about wrestling with God until we get a blessing in Genesis
32. Genesis 50 (verses 15-21) gave us a
picture of forgiveness by looking at the story of Joseph and his brothers. Day Four asked us to read Exodus 3 and the
story about Moses and the burning bush and the holy ground. We were challenged to pay attention to our
lives in a way that might help us to notice God and His Holiness. On Day Five, we read about the Israelites
begging for meat; so, God gave them quail and manna. This was in Exodus 16 (9-16). Then, on Day Six, we read about God shielding
Moses from the full effects of His Glory, but that God did allow Moses to see
His Back, while they were on Mount Sinai (right before God wrote the Ten
Commandments). This message was from
Exodus 33 and 34.
REFLECT: As I reflect on all that's been covered this
week, it's amazing to me that what I wrote and shared with you all, does not
sound like it would've had anything to do with what we were asked to read. But, then, is that not the grace and glory of
God to take us places we don't realize we need to go using means that would
baffle other people?
Let me share about
where God led me this week.
Every prayer is an
act of faith. If you don't believe that
the entity you are praying to will answer your prayers, would you pray? I began my period of the last 2 weeks just begging
God to reveal Himself to me. I didn't
know what I needed, but I knew I needed something, and I knew that only God
could provide it. I didn't know how He
would show up (or if, for that matter) but I took a leap of faith based on what
I'd read in Scripture. I figured,
"if the Bible is true, He surely has to honor this request." But to make doubly sure, I didn't miss
anything He might try to say to me, I made sure that I had as quiet an
atmosphere as possible for Him to work in, or speak to me.
So, without further
ado, here are some of the things God showed me this past week.
1. The hardest
fought battles bring the sweetest victories.
2. I CAN live a
victorious life in the midst of horrific circumstances.
3. I truly must work
out my salvation with fear and trembling.
4. I hear best from
God when I’m writing (this is a personal revelation, not a global one.) :)
5. Nothing I put
inside my body will fill a deep ache in my soul.
6. The strength God
gave me is a gift I CAN use it to
overcome. I WILL use it to
overcome. And I WILL do what He has
called me to do. Regardless of how much
7. There is a reason God made me strong. There is a reason my husband keeps saying I
"just keep coming." I will
never be able to move into God's perfect will for my life if I am too afraid to
deal with my baggage from the past.
All this, and it's
just the first week. I can't wait to see
what the rest of the year reveals.
If you worked
through the devotional this week, or followed along with the passages I posted
and what I was doing, and felt God was speaking to you, and would like to
share, I would love to hear from you.