Last week’s church sermon was on Mark 10:13-16. This is the passage about Jesus blessing the little children. People were bringing children to Jesus just that He may touch them and the disciples rebuked these people for bringing them. Children in this culture were not viewed as precious. Most times they were used and disrespected. Some were raised solely for the job of becoming a prostitute or gladiator. They were seen as a possession, and sometimes as something to sacrifice to their many gods. In one sentence Jesus refutes the entire culture, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” He was greatly displeased that the disciples were rebuking those who were bringing these children to Him. Mark 10:15 Jesus states, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Think about this for a moment. At first we would assume He means that we should come with all the attributes of a child, including innocence and naiveté. But Jesus is speaking to the disciples here, to the adults who were beyond innocence, to the hardened hearts of many years of experience and trials. Jesus, rather, is referring to receiving the kingdom with all the attributes that a child LACKS. Children are dependent upon adults for survival. A 6 month old baby has nothing to contribute to its survival except an empty belly, a dirty diaper or a need for sleep. It has utter and complete NEED of a parent to give it the nourishment it needs to survive. Since I heard Pastor Steve present it like this, the gospel has taken on an entire new level of meaning to me. I keep picturing myself coming to the beloved feet of Jesus with nothing but a handful of dirty rags, my sin. And offering it to Him in exchange for the greatest gift ever, eternal life with Him in His kingdom. What a humbling image. Although I had absolutely nothing to contribute to my salvation except the sin that got me there, I am still loved and forgiven. And He died for that.
In His Love,
During the course of the past two years the Lord has taught me what it means to really, truly trust Him. He brought me through moments of heartache, loneliness, and uncertainty of what my future would look like. But no matter what season I was in, the Lord proved His faithfulness to me.
In January of 2015, my boyfriend of nearly 5 years ended our relationship. It wasn’t because we grew apart, he got bored, or was no longer interested. Rather, it was because he knew that I had allowed our relationship to become the most important thing in my life. I loved him more than anything else in or out of this world, including my Creator. Although this decision was very difficult, he loved me enough to end it so I could focus on the most important relationship I could ever have: my relationship with God.
In the beginning I was very heartbroken. I felt like the floor had been ripped out from under me. The future I had been so sure of for so many years was no longer certain. Despite my heartache and confusion, I pressed into the Lord. Through studying God’s word, spending time in prayer, and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, I found comfort, peace, and encouragement.
As time went on, God in His loving mercy revealed Himself to me in ways I had never experienced! For the first time in my life I began to understand what the Bible means when it says our God is a jealous God. As a child of God, I truly am His. He created me, sustains me, and loves me in ways that only He can. He deserves nothing less than my whole heart, as He is the One who created it. He is the ONLY Thing that can satisfy the longing I feel inside. The ONLY One who can love me unconditionally. The ONLY One who can bring me joy that lasts. Happiness is circumstantial, but true joy is found in the Lord!
Although it was hard to let go of the idea that I would one day marry the man I always planned to, God granted me peace. He allowed me to become content with the possibility that it would never happen, and through that I was able to trust that He would provide exactly what I needed.
Over a year passed from the time my relationship ended and I was experiencing joy in the Lord in a way I never had. I was content with where God had placed me and no longer felt lonely. I still desired to be married, but understood that God would provide things in His time. One verse I clung to was Psalm 37:4; “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” God knew my desire for a husband, and He knew I still desired to be with the man I first loved, Austin.
By His grace, God brought Austin and I back together after nearly 2 years of being apart. Throughout our time of singleness, the Lord worked in each of our hearts. He used this season to help us rely on Him and trust that He would lead us where He wanted, knowing what would be best through His sovereignty over us.
As I write this, I am reflecting back on just how amazing it has been to see God orchestrate everything in our lives. In just a few short weeks, I will be walking down the aisle to marry the man of my dreams. His love for the Lord is absolutely beautiful and I am so thankful that I will be blessed enough to call him my husband.
I have had people ask me if I wish things would have happened differently, in a way that was less painful. My answer is absolutely not! I know that without this experience, I would not have the relationship with God that I do now. I would not understand the freedom that comes from fully relying on Him. I wouldn’t know the joy that can only be found through true satisfaction in the Lord.
Yes, it was difficult at times. But it was SO worth it. James 1:2-3 says “Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” This is absolutely true. I am so thankful that Austin loved me enough to want Christ to be first in my heart. I am grateful that God used this experience to draw me closer to Himself. And I am incredibly thankful for the testimony we now have through a relationship that has been redeemed. God’s timing truly is perfect.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:23-35
In Romans 9, Paul starts the chapter by speaking on his great sorrow and continual grief for his fellow Jews. He wants them to experience and know the gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans chapters 5-8 are rife with the Good News of the gospel. In his reflecting on the awesome power, knowledge and saving works of Jesus Christ in these 3 chapters, he reflects on the fact that his own relatives do not know or accept the saving power of the truth. His heart GRIEVES for them. Lord, my prayer today is that you burden all of your faithful servants with this same burden Paul experienced. I pray that through the Holy Spirit our hearts are grieved for the lost and that You use this grief and burden in us to become more passionate evangelists to glorify the name of Jesus. Amen.
As a Christian, we are commanded to share the gospel. In Mark 16:15 Jesus was speaking to the 11 disciples; “And He said to them, “”Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.””
We, as followers of Christ, are called to the very same order still today. I was reflecting on that today and it hit me: Bringing others the “good news” is not the only reason God wants us to share. We are to share the gospel everywhere we go to remind ourselves of what our Savior did for us every single day! I share the gospel with others because I care about them and want them to experience the joy that I know can only be found in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Every time I share the gospel with others though, I am hearing it again as well! Reminding myself of the gospel in turn reminds me to show God’s love to others. It encourages me to forgive others and to be sacrificial for them because God forgave me and sent the ultimate sacrifice to pay my sin debt in full. What an amazing gift the Lord has given us in that simple and encouraging fact! He wants us to be reminded of what He sent His Perfect Son to do on the cross for us. There is no more beautiful story than this!
In His Love,
I’m no longer a slave,
I knew I had to become brave.
He broke the chains,
And took away my shame.
He brought me to the light ,
He knew I was loosing sight.
He was there all along,
Singing in my ear a sweet, sweet song.
He has become my all,
With Him I will never fall.
He has saved me from my past,
I’m free at last.
Addiction no longer has me in its hold,
From now on I will stand tall and bold.
Finally I see,
Addiction and I were just not meant to be.
He has shed his grace,
And I know now this is the right place.
I found my true King,
To him I will sing.
Addiction takes you when you least expect it,
It drags you to a bottomless pit.
It takes what you love the most,
Sometimes I think just to boast.
It brings guilt and shame,
It’s far from a game.
You loose people you love,
Just to feel above.
It feels as though you have chains,
And you can’t break through all your pain.
It becomes your master,
And I’m here to tell you it’s a disaster.
I became a slave,
Knowing that it could send me to my grave.
It’s like a thief in the night,
Robbing you of all your sight.
You feel lost,
and at what cost?
This past weekend I was blessed with the ability to attend the True Woman 2016 conference “Cry Out!” in Indy. The first session I attended at the conference was taught by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She spoke on the topic of brokenness—my favorite study topic I have gone through so far. Needless to say, I was very excited the moment she shared what she would be speaking on.
I studied her book “Brokenness: the Heart God Revives” early last year with the ladies in my church. It was a book that changed my walk and my life, one that I will not ever forget. As Nancy began sharing the importance of being broken, humble before the Lord and those around us, she said we would be looking at three different stories in the book of Luke that displayed the characteristics of brokenness. These three stories were mentioned in her book, so I already knew what we would be covering. What I did not know was how God would use one of these stories to open my eyes.
The second story we read was in Luke 15:11-32; the parable of the prodigal son. I had read this story many times before, but this time was different. As we went through this parable and looked at the attitude of the prodigal, I noticed how similar his story was to mine, just not in a way I would normally think of.
The prodigal took his inheritance and went out into the world seeking pleasure, running away from his home to find enjoyment in a life of rebellion. But the fun came to an end, the money ran out, and he found himself at rock bottom. The son decided to humble himself and return home to repent and ask to become a servant in his father’s house. On his way back, while he was still a good distance away, his father saw him coming and ran to embrace him. Before the son could even get the words out to apologize, his father’s response was: “22 (speaking to his servants), ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Wow.
Though I’d heard this many times before, the grace the father showed his rebellious son really hit me. I began to cry when I realized that I am a prodigal child. I can find myself relying on things in the world to satisfy my desires instead of running to my Heavenly Father who is the only One that can satisfy all of my needs. Yet when I humble myself and repent, my Father is faithful to extend His grace, love, and mercy on me, even though I do not deserve it. This is such an incredibly humbling blessing.
I am so thankful that God used this message to speak to my heart in this way. Through this story I saw just a glimpse of how truly loving and gracious my God is. No matter how I fail, my Father is faithful to forgive when I repent and embrace me as I run into His loving arms.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” – 1 John 3:1
One of the biggest things I have battled with is thinking before I speak. I used to just say whatever popped into my head, no matter how rude or insensitive it was, without thinking of how my words could affect those around me.
Ephesians 4 verse 29 says; “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” When reading this verse it is hard not to feel convicted about how I use my words. I should be speaking in a way that is kind, encouraging, and ultimately glorifying to God.
In James chapter 3 we read of how powerful our tongue truly is. “7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” In the book of Proverbs the author tells us that words can speak life or death; “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Prov. 18:21). These verses show us just how difficult it can be to watch what we say and “tame our tongue.”
In the psalms we read of David calling out to the Lord for help with this very thing; “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Ps. 141:3). It is so important that we ask for the Lord’s help with this in our own lives. On our own we cannot successfully conquer this struggle, yet by God’s grace through the righteousness of Christ we are able to overcome. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).
When we take time to think before we speak, we are able to consider how our words can affect others—whether that is in a positive or negative way. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Prov. 16:24), “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 16:1). One of the biggest blessings I have experienced through trying to choose my words carefully is seeing the way that I can encourage others through words of affirmation. It is so wonderful to be able to encourage others through the words we speak!
As believers, our goal in life should be to bring glory to God in everything that we do—including how we speak. Though this can be hard at times, through prayer, studying the Word, and leaning on Christ, we can use our words to speak life into others and glorify God’s name.
One verse that is great to use when we pray is Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” It is simple, yet powerful. We should take time each day to ask God for His help to guide our speech and shape our hearts and minds to reflect Him.
How will you use your words today?
Today was the LAST DAY of our 31 days through the book of Psalms! We of course finished out the book, reading chapters 148-150.
Psalm 148 is beautiful, as it calls for literally every single thing to praise the Lord. I especially liked how the author called for even the weather to praise Him. I just think that is such a neat picture to imagine!
In Psalm 149 I like the command to praise the Lord using various ways to do so. I personally love to dance and sing as ways of worshiping God, so reading the author speak of using those very means of worship is awesome. David is calling us to worship Him in song, in dance, with our words and hearts. By using our gifts that we have been given, we are praising Him with the very talents He has given us to use to bring Him glory.
Psalm 150 is really awesome in how it uses the phrase “Praise the Lord” 13 times in just 6 verses! What a great reminder as we close out this study in the Psalms that we are to use the breath given to us to praise the One who gave us life so abundantly.
Throughout this study in the book of Psalms I gained a new appreciation for praising the name of the Lord. I found so much encouragement in each and every chapter as I read multiple authors experience hardships, feel alone, cry out in distress, seek God, find hope, and ultimately put their trust in Him. Each chapter offered something I was able to relate to, as I experience many of the emotions the authors write about in my own life. The most encouraging thing I found was that even though they suffered, they still chose to rejoice in the hope of our Lord and trust that He would deliver them because of His steadfast love. The steadfast love of our God endures forever!
For day 30 of 31, we read Psalms 145-147.
In Psalm 145 we read “one generation shall commend Your works to another…” This is what we should be doing today—sharing the glorious works of God with the coming generations. My favorite verse in the chapter is 19; “He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them.” That has to be one of the most encouraging texts to read in all of the book of Psalms! God truly does fulfill the desires of our hearts when we earnestly seek Him above all else.
Psalm 146 is a wonderful reminder that God is in control. He alone created heaven and earth and everything in and above it. Why would we even want to put our trust in something that was created instead of trusting the Creator?
Psalm 147 shows David praising all of the works of the Lord. He describes creation and what it takes to uphold that creation. He discusses how God can change nature just by speaking it into existence. It truly is awe-inspiring to think about the greatness and power of our King.