Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Greatest Accomplishment

Today I want to share with you all a light bulb moment I had in church last Sunday. I can't even remember what the sermon was about, but I do remember that Philippians 3:7-11 was referenced.

           "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having fa righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."

The point the pastor made about the passage was that our greatest gain is Christ. There is nothing we can do or accomplish on this earth that can have greater value than knowing Christ. Wow, did I need to hear that! 
I have spent so much of my life discontent because I feel like I have nothing to brag about in the way of accomplishments. I have no college degree. I've never been on The Voice. I don't have some skill that people would pay to benefit from. I don't have a fancy blog that millions of people follow, etc...etc.... I've wasted a lot of time either trying to be somebody or wishing I was somebody important. But God in His mercy was kind enough to reveal to me last Sunday what I've never seen before when reading the passage from Philippians. I already have the greatest accomplishment! And it wasn't me who accomplished it. Christ accomplished my salvation on the cross. In view of that, I am to count all other things as rubbish. That means that even if I did have a popular blog, it couldn't compare to the value of knowing Christ. My worth does not come from me and what I do, but in Christ and what He did. 
Now I'm not saying all this to say that we shouldn't set out to accomplish anything. I'm just saying that what I think the point Paul was trying to make in Philippians was that it's not about us making much of ourselves but about us making much of Christ. Our purpose on this earth is not to see who can get the most trophies, but seeing to it that God gets all the glory. And He will get all the glory. Our trophies will be burned up, but our precious faith in Christ and his work on the cross will endure for all eternity. 
So whether you have accomplished all the goals you've set out to achieve, or you are "just" a wife and mom like me, let your greatest treasure be in knowing Christ. Find your worth and identity in Him and not in what you can or can't do. 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Man's rules vs. God's commands

Sorry for the lack of posts! I've been struggling to get anything out of my devotions for a while so I didn't have anything to write about. I've discovered that I don't care for read-through-your-Bible-in-a-year plans. I feel like I'm trying to just hurry up and read the 4 chapters so I can get it done rather than meditating on what I'm reading. I've discovered a lot of things about myself lately that I find myself doing because I feel that is what a good Christian does, without stopping to think about whether it is even something God Himself requires.
Last night I was reading Mark chapter 7 and Jesus was addressing the Pharisees about the very same thing. They had turned their own made up laws into God's laws. In fact, they were so caught up in their own created laws that they were neglecting to do the very things God actually required. He told them "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men." Mark 7:6-8  Some how I got the idea that I have to read through my Bible in a year or less. It's unholy not too! But then I realized that no where in the Bible does it tell me how much I am supposed to read at one time. This is a man made rule that I had made into Biblical one.
I found myself viewing my Bible reading as a duty I must get done. Quite frankly it sucked the joy out of it. I think that is one of the fundamental ways we can detect whether we are trying follow one of God's commands or one of our own. Pslam 19:10 tells us that God's word (laws) are "more to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of honeycomb." Psalm 19:8 tells us "the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes." Obeying God's word should bring us joy if we are truly obeying him out of love. God doesn't want our duty, He wants adoration. Just like we want our loved ones to show us affection out of love, not because they have to.
So now my goal is to develop a deeper love for God and His word by picking smaller passages to really study and meditate on.  I am tossing the yearly plan aside! This is what works for me. Whatever Bible reading plan you choose, make sure it produces joy in Him. After all, that is what we were made for!
How is your time in God's word going?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mercy




It is a bitter cold day here where I live, and I am enjoying an extra day off of work because of it. However, my patience with my three children, who are also home today because of the cold, is wearing thin. Therefor I am taking a mommy time out to be in the Word. I am crying out to God as David did in Psalm 5:6 "Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me." Not that my children are my enemies, but I desperately need God's guidance in knowing how to deal with them so that I don't give into my real enemy, sin.
This leads me to today's devotion:
                              Psalm 5:4-7 "For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. 5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. 6You destroy those who speak lies; The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.  7But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your temple in the fear of you."

We read in the first three verses about God's hatred for sin and how those who persist in it will be destroyed in His wrath. That's us apart from Christ! We are all evildoers doomed for destruction by a just and holy God. That's a hard pill for us to swallow, considering most of think of ourselves as fairly loveable and good. I know I do! All it takes though is to be trapped in a house with three crabby children on a bitterly cold day for one to realize that they aren't all that pretty on the inside after all.
 So is there any hope? Praise God there is! Read verse 7 again. Did you catch how David said he would enter God's house and worship Him? Was it because David was so sweet or clever? Nope. It was all because of God's abundant love being poured out through David. Anytime we draw near to God, it's because of His mercy and his mercy alone. It was God's mercy that drew me to His Word today when I felt like going crazy with my kids. It was His mercy that humbled me to ask my daughter for forgiveness for loosing my temper. Think about it, would you, left to yourself, be inclined to read God's word or repent of sin? Would you, apart from God's mercy in your life, apologize for loosing your temper with someone who was getting on your nerves? Probably not. Left to ourselves we can come up with a million excuses for our sin. They deserved it. I deserve better etc..
I am so thankful today for God's mercy. Without it I would have been an even bigger brute to my kids and not have even felt bad for it. Without it I would have read a book or watched TV instead of my Bible. Without God's mercy I wouldn't know I even needed mercy. I would be a lover of evil doomed to be destroyed by my own sin.

Thank you God for sending Jesus to die for me so your steadfast love could be poured out in me instead of your just deserved wrath. Help me Lord to never stop being captivated by your love and mercy for me! Please have mercy on my children and those reading this blog that they would draw near to you.



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Captivating

Wow it has been a long time since I've posted on this blog! Much has happened since then, but I haven't felt very inspired to write about it. I've been struggling to figure out the direction I want to take this blog. I feel very inadequate to be blogging about spiritual things. I feel like most of the time I am so absorbed with life that I rarely take time to sit and ponder the things of God. I don't want this blog to be full of fluff and plastic talk but real and from the heart.
Last night I was reading a post from Desiring God's blog on worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth and what that looks like. One sentence in the post captured my attention. "At bottom, it’s not what we do (or don’t do) with our hands (or what someone else is doing or not doing), but what we do with our hearts and minds — because the one who has captured our hearts and minds. Worship is in spirit and in truth." To be quite honest, it isn't God who captivates my heart and mind but rather myself. I am captivated by being fit, striving to cook or bake food others will ooh and ahh over, and making crafts that are Pinterest worthy. I want people to be captivated with me and all the wonderful things I can do. Trying to be captivating to myself and others is exhausting and unsatisfying quite frankly. For one, I am rather disappointing. I can never get my crafts to look as awesome as the ones I see on Pinterest. My body will probably never look like a Fitness magazine model, and I rarely make food that causes anyone to have a foodgasm!

Today in my Bible reading I came across these verses in Psalm 4:6-7 "There are many who say, "Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!" You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound." These people who wanted God to show them good, weren't interested in Him being their good, but rather the things of the world(abundance and prosperity). Like me, they were so captivated by the world that the only time they sought the Lord was to ask him for more stuff or make them more prosperous. I don't know about you, but I would rather say with David that God himself is my greatest joy, not the world. I am not captivating, and honestly, neither are you! We can never satisfy ourselves with ourselves. Only God can give us joy that is eternal and greater than any temporal happiness we experience here on earth.

These verses inspired me to start blogging my way through my devotions. I want to become more captivated by God and his beauty and experience the joy David was talking about in Psalm 4. So I guess the direction I am wanting to take this blog is use it to encourage myself and others to become captivated by our great and glorious God.

I am currently reading my way through the Book-at-a -Time Bible Reading Plan found at  www.discipleshipjournal.com if you would like to read along with me.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Good Enough

Well, it has finally happened. We sold our house in May, and a week ago we moved to Omaha. My life lately has been a lot of waiting and living out of suitcases and boxes. We can't move into our new home till next week so we have been living with my in-laws in the meantime. 
During this time of transition I have been learning some things about myself. I feel lacking in purpose and discontent with life a good portion of the time. Okay, maybe I already knew this, but I have had to stare it in the face and confront it in the past month or two. For some reason I thought that moving here would suddenly give me a sense of purpose. Finally giving me that satisfied feeling I have been searching for all these years. WRONG!! Turns out, contentment isn't based on where you live, it's a character flaw! Shocker. We had been here all of three days, and I was already starting to search for stuff to fill up my life here. I was even considering attending cosmetology school for heaven's sake! You see, I am not good at relaxing or just being. I feel that I constantly need to be doing something. Well here at my in-laws, I haven't had to cook, clean, fix my kids meals, or anything that I normally have to do at home. I have had the freedom to sit and paint my nails, take hour long runs, and talk to my in-laws and children.  Most of you would probably jump at the chance to have 2 weeks off from taking care of your kids and home, but I have a hard time enjoying it. I think God is trying to teach me to be still.  I know in my head that my worth as a person doesn't come from what I do, but my heart is constantly seeking something to make me feel worthwhile. Surely just being a stay at home mom isn't good enough. Surely I must need to do something great in order to have worth has a human being. If my life doesn't look like a Tampax commercial then I must be doing something wrong. If I am not out preaching the Gospel to the lost nations of the world or serving the homeless and poor in my community then I must not be worthwhile. Contentment to me has always been this elusive feeling that comes in the midst of doing something I feel is exciting enough, only to leave again when I go back to the mundane tasks of life. Somehow I got the idea that it is unbiblical and un-American to just live. Our culture seems to breed discontentment. True success is this high bar that only a few with enough spirit can achieve. The rest of us just don't quite cut it.
Then I had a revelation. I was spending sometime in my Bible asking God to please help me be content. He brought me to some verses that shone some light on my dilemma. Titus 3:4-7 says "But when the goodness and love for man appeared from God our Savior, He saved us- not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life."
My worth does not come from what I do, but in whom I trust. What matters is not how hopping my social calendar is or how many accomplishments I have under my belt, but that I have been justified by God's grace and I have eternal life with Him. Being reminded of this gave me a sense of peace I haven't felt in a long time. I can rest from my striving and be still in knowing that Jesus' work on the cross for me was enough. I am free to just live the life He has given me without the guilt of not being good enough. Jesus shed blood on the cross for our sin is the only thing that makes us good enough. That is a freeing concept to finally grasp. One I am sure I will have to continue to keep learning the rest of my life.
How about you? Do you ever feel "not good enough?"


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Everyday a Celebration


"This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Do you remember singing this song as a kid? I know I do. It's one of the first songs I sang to my girls when they were little. I've sung this song either out loud or in my head a thousand times or more, but until recently, I never really thought about what the words meant. The words come from the Bible in Psalm 118:24. This verse isn't a suggestion or a rosy contemplation but a command. Each day we have been given by God is a gift, something to be glad about.
 I tend to be a very negative, glass half empty kind of a person. I don't like discomfort, boredom, or bad weather. I like things to go MY way. Obviously this is completely unrealistic, but it doesn't stop me from grumbling anyways. I came across Psalm 118:24 in a devotional I've been reading, and the message spoke directly to my negative Nancy heart. The devotional is written as God speaking to you. Telling you what He is trying say to us through scripture. "Begin the day with open hands of faith, ready to receive all that I am pouring into this brief portion of your life. Be careful not to complain about anything, even the weather, since I am the Author of your circumstances.The best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank me for them." (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, pg.106) A light bulb went on in my heart when I read those words. Here I saw every unwanted situation as an excuse to grumble when, ironically, it was the exact time to be thankful! The devotion went on to say that when we receive each day in faith in God's control of it, then and only then will we see the good He will bring from it. This news rocked my world! How many good things have I been missing all these years by following my natural tendency to complain? When I love and trust Jesus, each day truly is a gift. It may not be the good that I want, like sunshine and roses, but it will be good. God is more interested in my heart fully belonging to Him than He is in whether I get to play outside in the sunshine. So if he has to use some gray skies to get me there, He'll do it. He has an eternity of sunshine waiting for me on the other side of this life. If I know an eternity of blissful joy in the presence of Jesus awaits me, I have reason to rejoice every day, even in the worst of circumstances.
Take time today to join me in meditating on how good God is and all the things He has given us to be thankful for today. If you don't yet know our awesome Lord, I encourage you to find a Bible and read the book of John or even the Psalms. I would love to tell you more about Him to if you are interested. 
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Whose in Control, Anyways?

I don't know if I've mentioned this before or not, but one of my biggest fears is growing old and still having to battle anxiety or that it will be worse. One of my reasons for this fear is because my mom is a lot like me but worse, and in her opion, getting worse as the years go on. This reality has made me feel hopeless at times because, if my mom's anxiety and nervousness is getting worse, why won't the same be true for me?
But then this weekend, my mom made a comment that gave me a glimmer of hope that I might fare better than her after all. Some how we got to talking about how some people like to be home and don't feel like they need or even want to be out and about all the time, unlike us. We are both social creatures who thrive on being around others and being busy. We don't understand people like my husband and father who have no problem sitting around the house for a couple of days with nothing going on. My mom said "Like a few weeks ago when the power was out we couldn't go anywhere for a day or two and I thought I was going to go crazy." I said "Well that's one thing we both need to work on because it causes us anxiety," or something to that effect anyways. My mom replied "I wish I could."

Now before I explain how this comment made me feel hopeful, let me explain a change that has occured in me over this past year. Normally I would have never said or even recongnized that this was a problem that needed fixing but rather something I was stuck with and couldn't change. But God mercifully opened my eyes this year to see that this was a false belief. There is relatively very little I have control over, but the one thing I can control is how I react to things. I am not a helpless victim to my thoughts and attitudes but rather I can choose to be master over them. In fact one of my greatest sources of anxiety has been the very subject my mom and I were discussing. My security has been tied up in how busy my social calendar is or isn't. I often exhausted myself and girls constantly trying to keep us busy. Since I grew up being taught that who I am is tied up in how busy I am or am not, I thought that if we had to stay home because we had nothing going on that meant I was big loser with a capital "L" pasted on my forhead. Thankfully through the Bible and the wise words of my husband, friends, and counselor I learned that this wasn't true. It's o.k. to not have something going on all the time. It's o.k. to be at home with "nothing" to do. My identity is in Christ and what he did for me on the cross, not in my social calendar. I also learned that this is something I choose. I have to choose to be content at home. It doesn't come naturally for me like it does my husband or friends. I have to choose it. When we have nothing going on for a couple of days and my natural instinct is to rush to find some way to fill them, I have to stop and ask the Lord to help me be content and to show us how to spend our time at home. He never lets me down. I almost always get through what I feared might be a boring day not regretting having tried to fill it up. Again, I have to choose to look at the day on the bright side or otherwise I am in danger of feeling like I'm going to go crazy. I've also learned though that a little boredom now and then never hurt anyone. In fact, it reminds me to pray for those stuck in a prison cell with nothing to do but pace or look at the walls.
Anyways, back to my mom's comment. The reason I have hope is because unlike my mom, I have learned that I can control how I react. Like Paul, I too can be content in any and every situation because of Christ who strengthens me. My mom hasn't figured that out yet. She still thinks she's stuck with no hope of changing because it is up to the outside forces not her whether or not she goes crazy. This is the line that seperates us. If you remember from my previous post, I quoted John Piper who said this very attitude is anti Gospel. If we still see ourselves as helpless victims of our sin and incapable of change, then we haven't met Jesus. Or if we have, we don't believe Him.
I want to leave you with this encouragement. This is the Gospel message: In Christ, we are no longer enslaved to sin(bad habbits, bad thoughts, etc...) but we have been set free. By the power of His spirit, we no longer have to obey our flesh, but we have been set free to follow in Christ's footsteps and become a new person.

Here are some verses to check out and ponder.
Romans 6:6-7
Philippians 4:11-13
Romans 6:4
2Cor. 2:14