30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

His Mercy

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” Proverbs 25:2

Heavenly Father, King above all kings, you know my sinful heart and yet you love me.  You know my sinful ways yet you love me.  You know my idolatries that I struggle to get out from under yet somehow you forgive me and love me.  I reach out to you Lord in all your mystery and glory and thank you for the mercy only you can give.  Amen

I was asked in a study to write down all the reasons why I pray.  I listed thankfulness, requests, intercession, praise and repentance.  I was then asked to circle the reason that comes up most in my prayer life.  I have to admit “repentance” wasn’t one of them.  Thankfulness is probably the most frequent expression I find in my prayer life.  And it’s usually related to blessings – not for keeping me from the fires of my sinful ways.

A few years ago, I finally grasped the concept of God’s mercy with this helpful saying, “Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve and grace is when you get something you don’t deserve.”  Boy, should I be constantly thanking God for His mercy!  

"Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions." Psalms 51:1

The problem is we sometimes lack of awareness of our destructive swaths we create through sin.  Realizing that, we should find it even more amazing that God gives us believers His mercy.  He doesn’t always save us from earthly consequences but we know that when Jesus returns to judge the earth we won’t be thrown into the fire.  What a glorious and loving God!

God has not asked us to wander bewildered by our transgressions and consequences.  From beginning to end He has set the stage for our success.  Through first giving us the Law, therefore defining sin, then sending Christ to teach us about God, how to live the Christian life and best of all, cleansing us of eternal punishment, He has taught us how to align ourselves with His ways.  The Holy Spirit, which He left to dwell in us, provides us a daily conduit to keep us on track.  

Friend, He thought of everything because He is our Glorious God!  His mercy is our safety net.  He knew we would struggle, and boy do we ever!  Maybe you, like me need to tune in better to the Holy Spirit before we pray today.  Ask Him to search our hearts and minds, like only the King of Kings can do.  Have Him show us those corners of our life that seem blind to us.  Let His glorious light shine to cleanse you.

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, Uncategorized

The Bible

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Luke 24:44

As I’ve progressed in the study of the Bible, I’ve learned that the entire Bible teaches us about one subject – Jesus.  From beginning to end Jesus appears.  He is part of the creation team, the angel of the Lord speaking to Hagar, the prophecy of Isaiah, and so much more.  So, when Jesus, after His resurrection, reminds the disciples that His death fulfilled all that the Old Testament taught us we should be spurred to investigate further.

He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:46-47

You can buy a Bible that only includes the New Testament.  But that would be like getting dropped into the middle of a battle not knowing why it started and which side you should be on!  And while there are so many great lessons and the message of salvation in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John the full weight of those gifts lies in the cornerstones set in Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah and more.

It’s believed the first book of the Bible written was Job, around 2000 BC. After that the 10 Commandments and then the Book of the Law were placed in the Ark of the Covenant around 1000 BC.  The New Testament books were written about 50 AD.   Emperor Constantine commissioned the Codex Vaticanus, considered the original entire Bible, in 312 AD.  And in 1381, John Wycliffe defied church authority and began translating the Bible into English and distributing handwritten books to laypeople.  With the advent of the printing press in 1455, the Bible began its journey to being one of the most popular books ever printed.

I’m so thankful God took His Word and through man put it in this book we call the Bible.  With it we can learn about His character, His promises and fulfillment of them, His expectations, His plans for us.  My Bible sat for years gathering dust, not respecting its long history and those who died to make it accessible to all.  It seemed unwieldy and confusing.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, teachers and the fellowship of Christians I’ve come to see the beautiful story, the amazing truth of Jesus, Son of God.  The Bible is a living document, one which grows with us as we dig deeper into our faith.

Today on this great day of Thanksgiving in the United States I want to spur you to open your Bible.  To read the history of our broken world.  To read the entire, true story of a God who loves us.  Of a God who never leaves us.  Of a God who promises to deliver us from our sins.  Of a God who sent His son to be sacrificed so that we will be brought home, cleaned and forgiven.

30daysofpraise, Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, Transformation Prayer, Uncategorized

God’s Guardrails

For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. Deuteronomy 30:16

I grew up not wanting to have children.  In my isolated world I experienced a parenting style that used harsh, physical, anger-fueled discipline.  I didn’t know there was any other way and knew it wasn’t what I wanted impose on any children.  So often as we become our own people, cleaved from our parents, we take the elements of parenting we don’t like and try to do the exact opposite.  However, I also acknowledged as a new adult that the harsh discipline kept me from a lot of dangerous behavior.  So where was the balance?

If you take a brief walk through the history of parenting you’ll see a modern conflict similar to the one I was having.  The harsh disciplinary view of old was met face on with Dr. Spock and his more “loosey goosey” style.  But as the Spock kids became the radical children of the 60s and 70s parents searched for a middle ground.  One psychologist, Dr. James Dobson took up the challenge.  He brought parents back into the position of authority but done with love.

Discipline isn’t, by definition, a bad thing. Studies have shown that the most effective way to foster healthy relationships with children and give them the ability to learn and utilize self-control is through positive discipline. 

Lauren Steele, Fatherly.com

We humans need fatherly guardrails.  It’s a proven fact since the beginning of time.  We need to remember that when Moses came down the mountain with the 10 commandments they were NEW rules.  New guardrails of how to worship God, how to treat other people, how to be respectful within our families, and how to protect ourselves from well, ourselves.  

The Old Testament has a shadow story woven throughout.  Yes, we follow the woeful Israelites through trials, tribulations and successes.  But put in context God is constantly showing them how to live differently than all the other nations around them.  Nations that He created as well but saw how they overwhelmingly desired to live outside His guardrails – rampant sexual exploits, child sacrifice and more.  He was testing them all, just like today.  Free self-reign or accepting governance by God.

I praise God today for His guardrails.  For the 10 Commandments He gave us to live within.  Because just like our children we prove over and over that without them we can get ourselves into a lot of trouble.  Without His guidance, His narrow path, we wander off into parts unknown, get lost, live in fear and despair, and ruin not just our lives but the ones we love.

When I met my husband and told him why I didn’t want children he assured me we’d figure it out.  He wouldn’t let my past keep me from a full future.  Thankfully as we took the journey, we met God along the way.  I may have pushed up against those guardrails a few times but He always calls me back to the center of the road.  


Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Christian women, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

A Tiny Message #4

Therefore, since we have these 
promises,dear friends, let us 
purify ourselves from everything 
that contaminates body and spirit, 
perfecting holiness out of 
reverence for God. 
2 Corinthians 7:1

When you think of the word “holy” the most likely target of our thoughts is God or Jesus. But the pursuit of holiness is what is required of us upon professing our faith. The word “sanctification” may be more aligned to what we think that process entails.

The ancient Israelites were tasked with bringing complicated offerings to God in order to work on their path toward holiness. Not only were the 10 commandments expected to be obeyed but many detailed animal sacrifices were to take place for the cleansing of sin. But the Israelites only could receive a shadow of complete forgiveness. As Christians, Jesus has taken the place of all those rituals. The rituals and forgiveness yes, but not the task of working toward holiness through obedience. I read this quote the other day while studying Leviticus that might help to spur us on toward right thinking about holiness.

Happiness, not holiness, is the chief pursuit of most people today, including many professed Christians. They want Jesus to solve their problems and carry their burdens but they don’t want Him to control their lives and change their character. It doesn’t disturb them that eight times in the Bible, God said to His people, “Be holy, for I am holy,” and He means it.

Warren Wiersbe on Leviticus

Let’s work together offering ourselves as living sacrifices so that our sanctification process brings us closer to God’s desire of holiness for us.

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

Always With Us

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you 
are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:1-3

Around the holidays we inevitably start seeing helpful news stories on how to deal with our families at social gatherings. How to handle the uncle who drinks too much.  What topics not to bring up around your opposite political leaning parents.  And yet we still attend these family events.  Why? Because they are our family and we still love them.  It’s amazing what we will put up with when it comes to family.  

That idea of “blood being thicker than water” keeps us closely tethered to our loved ones.  It reminds me of those pre-school ropes with little fabric rings the children hold on to so they don’t wander off and get lost.  The teacher admonishes the children to grab hold of their ring tightly so the little family stays together.  And if Jimmy gets distracted and starts to head in a different direction, the group pulls him back in.

Now imagine God as our head of household.  He provided the roof over your head, the food for the feast and the gifts about to be received.  He created that uncle, your parents, and even that really weird cousin.  And He calls you His child.  He calls us to grab hold of our place on His family rope so we don’t get lost.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, 
neither slave nor free, nor is there 
male and female, for you are all 
one in Christ Jesus. If you belong 
to Christ, then you are Abraham’s 
seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:28-29

We drink too much.  We gossip.  We steal.  We withhold forgiveness and mercy.  We look to the world for guidance.  We work so hard to let go of God’s tether and yet He sticks with us.  He still shows up.  He never leaves us.  We are his. He is Immanuel — God is with us.

I was reading a prayer by Charles Spurgeon called “The Presence of the Word.”  He describes God’s Holy Word as always being with us.  The divine teachings through the Bible are at our fingertips, on our mind and at the ready whenever we need Him.  

“Oh, let it (Your Word) be in us a living seed that will produce in us a life acceptable before God…..Lord, we ask that your Word may chasten us whenever we go astray.  May it enlighten us whenever for a moment we get into darkness.”

Charles Spurgeon

If we make the mistake that the Bible was written long ago and has little or no connection to our life, we have attempted to untethered ourselves from God.  He is always with us through His living Word.  The Bible is meant for us right now — to be His constant voice and sense of being part of His family.  

My son, keep your father’s command
and do not forsake your mother’s 
teaching.
Bind them always on your heart;
fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch 
over you;
when you awake, they will speak 
to you.
For this command is a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
are the way to life.
Proverbs 6:20-23

When we keep the Word of God tethered to our heart and mind, He is sure to be always with us.  You might say, “I’m not good about memorizing scripture.”  But here’s a little secret: So much of our lives are already seeped in God’s Words and commandments.  We can all probably list a few of the 10 commandments right here and now.  And if we were to stick with those the rest of our lives and truly follow them, we’d be closely tethered through eternity.

But His Word has so much more wisdom and comfort available to us.  The first verse I truly memorized was:

Be still and know that I am God.
Proverbs 46:10 

And it’s funny.  As soon as I decided to try and remember that verse it started popping up everywhere!  God was with me, guiding me, encouraging me to remember.  Like a parent cheering on a baby taking her first steps.

He promises to never leave us.  We were called to Him by name.  We are His.  And when we feel the pull of that blood to bring us back home, we need to show up — be the other half of the covenant.  Our family is not complete without you.

Therefore go and make disciples 
of all nations,baptizing them 
in the name of the Father and 
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 
and teaching them to obey everything 
I have commanded you. And surely I 
am with you always, to the very end 
of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20