Day 8 of 21
I have been sick for the past week and this weekend I took some time to sleep and rest but not without having to deal with issues. Satan is always trying to find ways to get in there and makes us doubt. I find that there are times when I am stronger against him than others but often times, fail and feel defeated. From day one to day five of this time of seeking, I have felt true contentment. My eyes have remained focused on truth and there has been peace in my heart from trusting God’s hand and not my own. Each day started with prayer and time in the word, which brought me comfort and confidence. Saturday morning, because I was in a hurry, I missed that time with God and was tested.
Here is one of the biggest things I have managed to learn in the past week. Satan is always looking for a moment of weakness. That doesn’t necessarily mean a moment when we’re down in the dumps and feeling weak but instead when we are at our most confident. That is when he strikes and oftentimes, strikes hard. Saturday morning my faith and confidence was shaken. Nothing traumatic actually happened. It was just the normal someone questioning what God was showing me. The problem arrived because I was unprepared. I was too confident. I had spent five days praying and in the word and felt strong. Though He was calling me to spend time with Him Saturday morning, I said “maybe later because I’m in a hurry”. Just the opportunity Satan was looking for and he pounced.
What came later that day was nothing short of pathetic. I spent the day in tears and feeling totally defeated. I began questioning everything God had confirmed to me over the week. I began to question His truth in my life. I began to question His sovereignty over my situation. I doubted again. Why do I allow this to happen? Here is one thing that I know and that is if I had just taken the time Saturday morning to pray and read I would not have been hit as hard. Though it was a crappy kind of day, God still spoke to me, even when I had my head under the covers and tears were streaming down my face. That is what a Father does. When He knows we’re hurting and scared, He is there loving us and wanting the best for us while reminding us of His truth.
Because of this three-week time of reflection, as you can imagine, I have encountered protest from some, mocking from others and those who just flat out don’t get it. As I lay in bed Saturday, God kept putting stories in my head, reminding me of all He had done for those who followed Him. He reminded me of Moses, Joshua, Noah and Abraham specifically. Out of those four, two were significant to me. Two of those stories left me thinking about what those two men experienced from those around them as they were dealing with what God was showing them.
The world will not always understand why we do what we do. Sometimes the choices we have to make in order to be obedient to God go against everything the world would say making us look foolish.
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Yesterday in church, I was reminded yet again that my purpose, the reason I was created was soley for the purpose of glorifying God. He created me to bring Him alone honor and glory. My people pleasing nature struggles with that purpose as I seek to make everyone happy but I am learning that I am truly content when I am serving my purpose of glorifying Him alone.
When I woke up this morning, I had an encouraging email filled with some beautiful verses that reminded me of where I need to turn when I am dealing with my weak places….
“26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
“31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Amazing what God’s word can do for the soul. His grace is truly sufficient and when we come to Him, He restores our faith and makes us strong. Please continue to pray. I have two weeks left and all I have asked for is that those who read this blog to pray with me and for me. No decision has been made. It is just a time of allowing God to move and show His plan for me. I beg that you do the same. Pray. Don’t think! Just pray J
More to Life
Hungry for Worship
Our faces, then, are not covered. We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like Him. This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18
We all are on the same journey, searching for our purpose and wondering what it is we are to accomplish in life. We were created with a purpose and it is easy to find that purpose if we just ask God to “direct my steps” each day and to “show me Your ways for my life”. In order for God to show us what He has for us, we have to be willing to give Him our time and be willing to hear what He has planned.
Some of us are looking for a certain kind of worship experience where we can walk away saying it was “good”. We exit the same way we entered, unchanged by what we heard or could have experienced. Expectations are not set high and so we sit and expect no surprises. Most are content with just good. Jesus promised, “Seek and you will find”. If good is all that we seek then that is all we will find.
However, there are the few that are longing for so much more. They enter into His presence with the zeal of a child eager to hear what God will speak to them on that day. They leave with the wide-eyed awe of just being in the presence of their heavenly Father.
Now, here is the question, which of these describe you? Do you prepare yourself each Sunday Morning for worship or for your daily quiet time? What path do you take to prepare your heart and mind for what God is going to reveal to you that day? My hunch is that most of us merely wake up and just show up because we are relatively laid-back when it comes to meeting with God. It is extremely sad and many blessings will be missed because of our lack of preparation. Jesus prepared Himself before meeting with His Father and so why do we not do the same?
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
You see, Jesus did not just get up one day and head to a mountain. Instead, His ministry was delayed for that time. He thought about who would travel with Him, how He would get there and exactly which mountain He would be visiting. Once He finally reached the mountain top, His heart was ready for worship and He “shone like the sun” from being in the presence of God and His Father was “well pleased”.
It leads you to think about scenarios like this in our own life. I feel certain that if we knew that the President would be coming for a visit; there would be much to do to get prepared for his arrival. We women would probably be picking out a nice outfit for ourselves and our kids, making sure we all looked polished and pretty. We would probably even put together a list of things that we would want to ask. We would be prepared. Should we be any less prepared when it comes to meeting with God each day?
We should aspire to be like Jesus in all that we do and especially when it comes to meeting Him for a time of worship in which He is going to reveal to us what He has for our life. We should come prayed up and alert. We should have spent time in the Word so that our hearts are soft and open to what we will hear. When we come to worship, we should come hungry and expecting God to speak. We should come asking to see the One we came to worship.
The best part of all is that when we come prepared, we will discover the true purpose of worship. Our faces and our hearts will be changed and we will leave just as Jesus did and in that we will have brought honor and glory to God.
“His face became bright like the sun.” Matthew 17:2
God invites us to see His face, to meet with Him so that He can begin to change us from the inside out and it all takes place through our worship of Him. What should our worship of God look like? It is the act of magnifying God and extending our image of Him. As we draw closer to Him, we realize how big He really is and suddenly nothing seems too difficult for us to handle.
A radiant, shining face is the characteristic of one who has been in His presence. His objective is that of changing our faces and hearts if we allow Him and only He can do that in our lives. Make it your desire to come to worship with a hungry and prepared heart so that you may leave changed and shining for Him.
“Father, help to see the importance of coming to you prepared and hungry for Your Word so that my face and heart may be changed. Give me the desire to want more from my time spent with You and let walk away changed and radiant for You.”
A Heart that Listens
“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
These words are repeated over and over throughout the gospels and Revelations. It is a reminder that it is not enough to have ears but that it is pertinent that we use them as well. So many times, we hear the Word spoken to us but we do not truly hear it and allow it to take root in our hearts. We have to be ready to hear God’s voice and there are those things: hearts that have become hardened, shallow lives or fretful minds that are keeping us from missing the ultimate message.
How long has it been or have you ever let God actually have you? Have you ever given Him the opportunity to have uninterrupted time with you to speak where you were actually listening? Even Jesus knew that it was important to spend time with God.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed”.
Here is the obvious question but I will ask it anyway. IF Jesus, the Son of God, the sinless One thought it important to put everything else aside and spend time in prayer with His Father, why is it that we do not find it imperative to do the same? Jesus not only spent time praying but He also spent time in His Father’s Word. He found it important to spend time talking with God and studying the Word, why do we not also?
Here is where this gets a bit personal and toes may be stepped on. Many tune out when the suggestion of a quiet time is mentioned. Most of us spend time trying to find time to squeeze God into our busy schedules instead of making Him the priority. Some get frustrated with lack of understanding with what they are reading and others believe that they will gain from a Sunday morning sermon or the reading of some Christian book. The problem with all of this is that it is coming second hand. When you rely on these things, you are experiencing someone else’s personal time with God and you have missed your own special encounter with Him. God wants each of us to have our own first-hand experience with Him not a substitute because He longs to be with each of us every day. Our desire should be that He be the highlight of our life every day.
“Father, give me ears that listen and a heart that is receptive to Your Word. May I long to spend time with You daily and that You will always be the highlight of my day.”
The Heart of Christ
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
What if for one day, Jesus took over your life and lived it for that day? He took your schedule, your job, lived in your home and for twenty-four hours He lived your life as it is right now. What would that be like? At this exact moment, how does that idea make you feel knowing what you know about your own life? You and your heart would have the whole the day off and Jesus would run your household, your actions, and He would direct the decisions that you make for that day. Would people around you notice a difference? Your friends and family, would they see something new in you? What about your enemies? Would they experience forgiveness and love from Christ’s heart than they do from yours?
Think of the difference. How great of a change would there be in your life? Would your calendar still look the same? Would your obligations, the places you go and appointments change? Would you rewrite them all to make your day look more suitable to Him?
If Jesus took over your heart, would anything change? We are to have the heart and the mind of Christ. We are to act like Christ. We are to be His reflection.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
God’s plan for you when you accept Christ into your life is to take on a new life, a changed heart, with new priorities.
“to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
God wants us to be like Jesus and to have a heart like His. One of my favorite authors says, “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.” God loves us just as we are but He desires for our hearts to change. He does not want to leave us with our pathetic statements of “Worrying is who I am” or “I’m pessimistic. I’ve always been that way” because Jesus can change our hearts if we let Him.
Jesus’ heart is a heart full of pureness and peace and He refused to be directed by anything other than the calling of His Father. His heart was purposeful where many of us aspire to nothing at all and end up accomplishing just that in our lives. Jesus had one ambition, one priority and that was to save all humanity.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Though His purpose was inexpressible in our words, His attitude never reflected its unpleasantness. He still found beauty in His Father’s creation, joy in the laughter and smiles of children and the possibilities in the problems of this world. This all reflected His greatest attribute, which was that of His spiritual heart. All He did reflected the intimate relationship He had with His Father. Jesus took all direction and instruction from God and He spent His time in worship, memorizing scripture and in prayer. The hand of His Father, the unseen hand, led him.
I read once the differences between His heart and ours and it looked like this:
“His heart is pure and ours is greedy; His is peaceful, ours is hassled; His is purposeful and ours is distracted. He is pleasant and we are cranky. He is spiritual and we are earthbound.” There is such a distinct difference between our heart and the heart of Christ that it is hard to believe that we could ever hope to have a heart like His? Are you ready for the kicker; you already have the heart of Christ. If you are in Christ and have given your life to Christ, you have been given the heart of Christ. Your heart is His home. He has moved in and is ready to change you. The question that remains is; will you let Him?
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Do you ever wonder why it is that if we have His mind, we still end up thinking so much like ourselves? We trust Him for salvation but resist the transformation? What would happen if we turned it all over to Him and allowed Him control of our lives, which would change our heart? God is willing and able to change us if we accept His invitation. All we have to do is fix our eyes upon Him and the attributes of His heart will become our own.
“Father, may my life reflect You in all I do. May my priorities and my schedule be purposeful and committed to You and the calling You have for my life. May my attitude always honor You and I may always find the true joy in life that comes from having You live within me.”
Values or Relationship
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Have you ever noticed that some people know something you do not about Christianity? That there is this whole inside story that you have yet to figure out or discover? Sometimes, we do not all have the same understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Some think it means a commitment to a set of Christian values or a task that we do for God while others know that there is so much more. They know that it involves a commitment to Jesus Christ, to a person and involves a relationship based on what God has done for us and not based on a set of “rules”.
We are not Christians because we follow certain rituals or have certain values or because we go to church. Sitting in church will not make you a Christian nor will it allow you into heaven. In fact, churches are full of well-intentioned people who are very confused about what it means to know God.
A Christian is one who acknowledges their sin and the need for a Savior and knows that they need forgiveness for their sins. Once their faith is placed in Jesus Christ a desire develops to live a life that is different from that of the world and a choice is made to live a life of values that will glorify and honor God. A desire also develops to spend time in church and in fellowship with other believers because that is how we grow in Christ. These things all come as the result of our transformation in Christ and our personal relationship with Him, not because it is the cause of it.
The question that is raised is not one of “what will I do with my religion?” because Jesus is not a religion. Instead the question should be, “what will I do with Jesus?” Once the distinction is finally made that our life in Him is about following Him, not following a set of values, our life meaning becomes clearer, and the frustrations of a wasted life begin to melt away.
Knowing Jesus means confessing that we are sinners and that we have a need for a Savior in order to enter into the presence of a Holy God. It means acknowledging who Jesus is and what He did for each of us on the cross because of our sins. It is about a relationship with our Heavenly Father, the One who loves us and who gave the life of His only Son so that we may one day spend eternity with Him.
“Father, I love You and thank You for wanting me as Your child. I thank You for sending Your Son to die for my sins so that one day I can stand in Your presence and spend eternity with You. Help my focus to remain on You and loving and sharing You with the world. May I never become wrapped up in rituals or rules but remember that it is all about You and my walk with You.”