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.