Grace upon grace

One story I have not liked in the Bible is David and Bathsheba.  How could God use someone who’s had an affair and then killed the lady’s husband.  I wrestle with this in my denial of my own sin sometimes.  Then David and Bathsheba are named in the lineage of Christ.  Jesus, Messiah, the Holy One.  They are named with countless others in Christ’s lineage that did not “earn” their way onto that genealogy, but they are used by God for a greater purpose even though they have many flaws and failures.  Their qualifications weren’t because they were good enough and did all the right things.

That is the God we serve.  A God who is willing to show us the worst of the worst and we say nah, He can’t use that.  And He does, every day.

His grace knows no bounds.  There is no sin we could produce that God has not already seen and forgiven in someone else.  He longs to give us grace.  But we settle for pride and try to work our way out of the bad situation.  When will we learn grace is always better and produces lasting fruit?

John 1:14-16 says,

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

Jesus came in grace and truth.  Maybe we believe if we come to God with our junk He’ll say, “Now I told you not to do that and you are bad.” But what He says is, I know.  I know what you do, how you spoke, or what you thought.  And my grace is here to meet you in that to help you.  Grace upon grace.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says,

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Paul boasts that He is weak because in that humility he receives what he ultimately needs, grace.  And God promises that His grace is enough for us in our weakness.  What are your weaknesses?  Yell at your kids?  Gossip about a friend?  Cheat?  Lie?   Grace will meet us in our weakness, if we seek Him.  Then, it will give us power to live in His power.

Finally, James 4:6 says,

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.””

All we need to do to get grace is to humble ourselves, and one of the best ways I know how is to pray.  Pray today and humble yourself before God, and before you get up and go, receive the grace that He promises.

 

Continually

Man, what if I told you our work isn’t done until we meet Jesus face to face.

You’d say, yeah I already know that, thanks.

But what about your heart? I know there are still issues there, because there are still issues in my heart.

What if I said God continually wants to work on you?

I’d say, whew I’m already exhausted from this whole being made new thing.

And guess what, I’m exhausted because deep down in my spirit I believe I can pull one over on God. I think yeah yeah, but watch me God, I’m gonna do this super fast and we will work this issue until it’s gone forever. Then something happens and that old way is triggered and I find myself working on it once again.

Guess what, He’s not proud of us if we do it faster. He’s proud because we are His and we did nothing to deserve it.

Because, we all have sin. We all have pain. We all have needs. We all have areas God is not done with yet. We all have suffered and if we haven’t, we will.

Jesus says in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.”

In this world, we will be wronged. We will feel hurt. We will experience pain. We will be rejected.

And because of all that, we need a deep ever present God to be with us. And if we are constantly seeking Him, repenting and asking for forgiveness, and truly crying out to Him for wisdom and mercy:

He will give it.

He will forgive us.

He will meet us where we are.

Over and over again.

And one day we will be in His Presence and we will know Him because we walked with Him through it all.

So keep soldiering on and know this is a good process of continually being made whole.

Is it enough?

We live in a culture and time when it is hard to believe we have enough.

Enough stuff.

Enough relationships.

Enough health.

Enough activities.

Enough time.

Enough healing.

Enough energy.

Enough intelligence.

We have so many things telling us what we are doing is not enough. And then someone near us is doing something new so we think we need to too.

Is what you’re doing enough?

How do we accurately access if it is truly enough?

1. Listen to your body. It tells you when you’re pushing it too much. It has a limit and it will yell when you’ve passed it. Ex. Sleep problems, knee problems, tension, or just being cranky.

2. Allow people to speak into your life. Sometimes we are totally unaware of ourselves because we’ve always done life this way. We tend to have a closed mind when we are wondering if we are doing enough. Ex. Am I doing enough for my kids? My friends? My diet? My workout? My faith?

3. Pray and seek. God has promised He will provide all our needs (Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:33, 2 Corinthians 12:9). He will never let you down. And while we may believe that intellectually, maybe like me you need that truth to go to your heart. Because our heart says I need more clothes, more food, more relationships, more energy. But sometimes it’s just resting in what God has already given us.

That sounds easier than it really is, but I think if we use all three in our lives we can really access what is a need and what is a want. Do we have enough? We know the answer is yes, but why do we live like it’s no?

Asking for a friend.

What is your not enough?

New seasons

New seasons bring excitement, change, grow, rest, nerves, and the list can go on.

You might hear someone say, “I’m in a new season.” And with that brings all sorts of things to my mind. So, I think “are they doing okay?” “Ooo, Are they pregnant?” “Are they working on something?” “Are they hoping for something to come to fruition?”

And for some it might be all of the above (except for us pregnant=we done).

When I begin a new season I feel totally inadequate, wobbly, and unsure of myself and what I’m doing.

Isn’t this life though. The circling back through, changing the season so we can look at something in a different way. And if we are off balance that might be good so we can learn something new and go deeper. Deeper into who God is and what He wants for us.

Our world cycles through its seasons and God created it and us. He cycles us through things too and that’s okay.

The other night we were reading a book about how leaves change throughout the seasons. Leaves have all the colors for fall even in summer, but the green outshines the oranges, reds, browns, and yellows. And with each season something new is revealed.

So in this season, what is God revealing to you?

He’s revealing to me:

He is all I could ever want.

He will never condemn me and he wants healing, redemption and freedom in my life.

He loves me on my good and bad days.

He sees something in me I cannot see yet.

He is good.

Go into a new season with hope, because with Christ it will be good.

God can be trusted.

A few weeks ago we began our morning, we got up and were running around all day.  I was tired and feeling overwhelmed because I hadn’t slept great from a storm the night before.  My husband was out of town, and we were in survival mode for the week.  I know myself enough to know that on weeks like this I need space and time to reset even during the day, not just at bedtime.  But I forgot in all the chaos.

So we made it to bedtime and I realized I hadn’t read my devotional.  And thought, “it’s okay I will just read it tomorrow, there’s grace.”  And there was and is grace for me missing my devotional (and you too if today was one of those days for you!).  But I felt a nudge to go ahead and read it that night.  So I did, and the title was “Medicine for the Midnight Moments” and it was on rest.  (Secret Strength: For Those who Search by Joni Erikson Tada)

How beautiful these words were on rest. Salve to my tired soul that night. Resting in His Sovereignty: He is in fact in control.  Webster defines rest this way: “to remain based or founded to cause to be firmly fixed.”  Many nights my thoughts can bounce all over, which happened that night after those storms.  And I forgot a phrase I like to say out loud before bed, “I can rest, because my God can be trusted.”  Might sound silly, but when I say it out loud it reminds my brain I can rest with the truth: the world is not resting on my shoulders, but His. In these moments I realize I do have what I need.  It is here if I will slow, stop, and listen. 

My youngest did a project at school, a Bible stop sign.  Red is stop and pray, yellow is listen to God, and green is go where He tells you.  The simplicity of God is amazing to me.  How he just speaks so slow and kind to us.  It is not condemning or controlling.  Its a wooing voice that calls us to rest and sit with Him.  So He can reteach us.  

I love these sweet moments, where God steps in and says yes!  Don’t despair daughter, I’m not done with you yet.   I’ll keep showing up, you don’t have to doubt for a second if I will be there, and then He does, shows up again for me and for you.

He is faithful, Sovereign, and true.  

How is God showing up for you?

Abba, help us to rest here, without having all the answers.  Help us to rest in Your Sovereignty.  You are great and mighty, help us to see how big You are so we are not overwhelmed with our present state.  We need you and ask that You guide us in the path of peace and rest.  In Jesus name.

Amen.

I can change my mind.

The mind.

It’s beautifully complex but sometimes doesn’t feel so beautiful. Oppressive thoughts, low self worth, and speaking defeated words over ourselves make us feel less than.

I fall into bad thinking patterns when I feel stuck and unsure what the right decision is to make. I feel guilty if I make a wrong decision and unsure if I make the decision because I’m unsure how’s it’s going to turn out.

Whew. Feel better about yourself?

I found some wisdom from this crappy thought life yesterday.

My son woke up with a sore throat, he’s gotten strep before, so I wanted to see how he felt once he was up for a bit. Not seeing much change, I decided to keep him home.

Thirty minutes later it was pretty clear he had a little cough, but was feeling fine, no fever. He confirmed he felt fine.

So we decided to get him to school even though he was thirty minutes late.

As I was driving home from dropping my son off late, I realized I didn’t feel guilty. Confirming how I felt, truth came: This was not a pattern for my kid faking sick or crying because he didn’t want to go to school. He’s pretty tough. And it really wasn’t a big deal for him to miss one day.

NEW THOUGHTS! Truthful thoughts.

Shocked.

Ah-ha!

I thought, hey I can change my mind!

We can change our minds. Turning this into a spiritual truth, we can take our crappy thoughts captive and make them obey Christ. We can change.

(Note: see Jen Wilkins book “None like Him.” She writes a whole chapter on how this.)

This simple reality of changing my mind to take my son to school opened wide the lie: this won’t work for you, you can’t change your mind, you are stuck.

I can’t do this on my own, but with Christ I will.

The weapons I get to use aren’t more strength on my own part, but trusting in a mighty God who never gets tired helping me to do His part!

He will never fail us.

Masterpiece

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More than a decade ago my husband spoke this verse over me.  He was my boyfriend at the time and I’ll never forget that moment.  I was doubting my worth, my purpose.  I was so unsure of myself and if God could use me.  Timid, fearful.  I still struggle with some of those same identity issues.  However, when I struggle and I hear this verse I am able to go back to that suspended memory of my sweet man pointing my eyes up when all I wanted to do was look at my feet in discouragement.  Yesterday I looked up at the sky and saw a masterpiece.  Sun shining and the clouds were painted beautifully, I was reminded again of this verse.

Workmanship.  Poetry.  Masterpiece.

I’m not sure where you are in life.  Wondering what your purpose is?  Unsure if God is even doing anything in your life?  Maybe you are not sure you “deserve” for God to use you.

If it’s yes, me too.

Today I heard the song “Symphony” by Switch.  “Through all of this chaos, YOU are writing a symphony.”  A symphony.  God already knows the end of your masterpiece, He knows the notes, the details, the highs and lows.  He knows the notes that will be hit and the ones that will be missed.  Maybe, life with Christ is letting Him teach us the song He wrote for us or the masterpiece He is revealing one brush stroke at a time.  He is making us aware of the masterpiece we are in Him.  Maybe the masterpiece is us learning and growing and unlearning and regrowing.  The undoing of our old ways and allowing Him to make us new.

Being made into a masterpiece doesn’t always feel beautiful.  But I bet anyone who has laid paint to a canvas isn’t sure what the end product will look like, but at the end they step back and say, “Yes!  This is it!  I didn’t even know it would look this beautiful.”  Or someone sitting down to write a song, the words begin to flow, the lyrics fall together, and the rhythm makes you tap your feet.  It all comes together.

As we learn to walk in this truth that we are God’s masterpiece, a work He is proud of.  It’s ugly at first, we miss terribly.  Our dance moves are less than.  But all the sudden we start putting one step to the next.  Seeing connections, feeling His presence more and more.  Healing.  We begin to lean more into Him, trusting He is who He says He is.  We can trust this process of becoming.  Becoming His masterpiece.  It’s worth every step.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.  And telling you too.  It is worth it.

 

Sometimes

Sometimes it’s hard to walk this faith thing out.

I was praying last night and telling God how frustrated I was.  I have been trying to memorize verses to have a more “positive” mindset, and it just felt like a lot of work, reading books, listening to podcasts, and feeling tired.

I realized I have so much head knowledge, and now I need it to connect to my heart.  Those broken places in my heart need God’s love and redemption too.

Then, in my human dust like state, I realized that I did not have the ability to change my heart.  I could think new things and do more Bible study, but if it wasn’t sinking in to the deepest part of me it was just work with no heart.

And work with no heart is not pretty.  It shows up as pride, self-righteousness, anger, frustration, and the list goes on.  It looks like having all the right answers, but no victory to back it up.

So I cried out to God, “I can’t change my heart!”  And He reminded me of a verse.

Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart…”

What?!?!?!

This y’all is what I have craved all along.

Then another Matthew 11:28, “COME to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”  It DOES NOT say “come to me when you have it all figured out and it looks pretty with a bow on it.”  It says come to me with it even when its messy and you are exhausted from trying to fight and make things right.  And I will give you rest.  Beautiful rest for your soul that is tired and weary.  Oh the promise.

Another verse, Philippians 2:3 “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Ephesians 2:9, “…not by works, so that no one can boast.”

I had been working, checking things off, but I was doing it in my own strength.  I’ve come to the end of myself, realizing that this battle for my heart belongs to Him.  And He will work this out for good.  He will do a mighty thing.  Because He loves me, and He loves you.

Maybe your saying, wow that sounds great, but how does this look.

Reaching out is essential.  We get lost thinking we are the only ones fighting when there are believers right beside us who are saying the same thing.  Pray and ask God for friends who you can trust and let them love on you.

Support and encouragement go hand and hand in this battle, even Jesus didn’t do life alone.  Having others around you allows God to use people to encourage you and for you to encourage them.

None of this is to be done alone.

We may be the one swinging the sword in our personal battles, but is there any army behind you-praying for you, encouraging you, and speaking verses to you when you’re lost.

No man is an island.  Reach out.

Right where He wants me…

Sitting outside, it’s winter but it’s sunny and mild out today.

My kids are eating lunch at a kid painted picnic table in our driveway. They are happy to be together and with me.

The sun feels good. Warm. Inviting me to sit a while and take a deep breath.

Sometimes life comes rushing in and I’m ready to be out of that phase and onto the next. Ready to heal, to be well, and sometimes God just has more for me to learn. It’s not a step back but it’s a deeper stretch. Like when you workout, typically when you do the exercise again you should be able to do more reps, sink a little deeper into the squat, or run an extra half a mile.

And sometimes are just harder than others. So for right now I sit knowing I am exactly where God has me, where He knew I’d be. He is not surprised by my feelings. He is present. With me right now.

So I know I’m with Him and He is with me. So I can be okay, right here, right now.

Are you in a season of joy? Praise him.

Struggle? Pray and praise him.

Both? Praise and pray and praise and dance…

Know God is not surprised at where you are.

Psalm 139 says that every day of ours is already written down. He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Go check out Psalm 139-sometimes it is scary to be this known, but we are known by a God who loves us and never puts us to shame. Hallelujah.

In awe

Driving home from dropping my son off at school, and the song “In Awe” by Hollyn came on.

I hadn’t heard this song yet, and a line that jumped out at me was “‘Cause Your Love is overwhelming…”.

His love is overwhelming.

Now, I like to use the word overwhelmed, but that’s normally when I feel overwhelmed by life.

In this new season of waiting, I’m learning I’ve had a hard time understanding God’s Love, I tend to feel overwhelmed by all the things I need to do. My days get clouded and I end the day with “wow God that was rough.”

And I repeat trying to do more things to feel good, to ultimately feel loved.

Have you ever tried to earn love? Exhausting right? The list to do gets longer, the amount of people to love gets bigger, and if all we have is our love to give-it’s not enough. We become exhausted from the race that never ends. Discouraged. Defeated.

Maybe God has a new way for us. Mmm…I am making everything new…” (revelations 21:5) is a verse on repeat for me.

Back to the song. The last line says “I’m livin in awe…’cause you don’t need me at all…BUT You couldn’t love me more…You couldn’t love me more…”

As is, doing nothing. He couldn’t love you more.

Even though it might be painful, think of your lowest moment in life, He couldn’t love you more.

Think of your best moment in life, He couldn’t love you more.

His Love is the only unchanging thing in this life. Lean in and let Him whisper that truth to you. As is, He couldn’t love you more.

Oh Father, speak to is. Help us to feel Your love today. Overwhelm us with Your Love in a new way. We need to hear from you. Break through our walls we’ve built. So our hearts can open up to Your Love. In Jesus name, amen 💙