Some Ramblings ...
Lately I've been lacking in my devotionals. I know it happens to a lot of people. It is something that we tend to do living in a world filled with distractions. I look at these distractions as something getting in the way of my time with the Lord and I feel bad for making time for friends, school, crossfit and relax time etc.. but I truly don't believe that is the Lords intention- to make us feel bad for what we do. He just wants to be a part of each aspect of our lives. Once he is the center of each part of our lives then he becomes the focus of our lives which I believe is the true desire of the Christian heart.
So I began to think to myself, how can I get in the word more and incorporate God into my life more throughout the day. Last night as I was reading through Mark I chose to just read what was in red (the words of Jesus). I have been reading in Mark lately and also reading a couple books on Jesus- just studying him, his words, his character/personality etc. There is no greater person to study in the bible than him. Over the past year I have learned so much about him from doing this. My thoughts about the kind of person he was has greatly changed. I grew up with this image in my mind that Jesus walked around angry at the world throwing tables over (Mark 11) yelling at people telling them all they are sinners and they need to repent or they will spend eternity in hell. I think a lot of people probably think this about him and unfortunately that is the issue with religion these days.
I hear so many people say they don't go to church and are not Christians simply because Christians are hypocrites. I'm not going to sit here and say that they are wrong because of course Christians are hypocrites. I'll fully admit that I am but Isn't everyone? Just because you are a Christian doesn't mean you get to by pass being a human and being a sinner just like the rest of the world. Being a Christian doesn't make you better than anyone else it just simply means that you understand that you have been given grace and have received it. Your life is no longer just about you and what you want. Your life purpose is not fulfilled in relationships, jobs, school, status or any other type of identity. Your identity is solely for the purpose of Christ. Every day that goes by you are actively seeking the Lord for wisdom and guidance through prayer and through his word (the Bible) learning more about the God that he is and the person that he created you to be. So yes going back to church and hypocrites. Yes they are there and I'm there and I am one of them. I've judged people when I shouldn't. I've preached and not practiced. I've messed up a lot and I'll continue to.
As I've been studying the character of Christ it's really made me more sensitive to this subject because my desire is not to ever be hypocritical and turn people away from the most important decision of their lives. The more I study Christ the more I see that he had personality. Ya he did get angry but at the religious people who should know better. You can have all the knowledge of the Bible in the world but if you don't actively live through the words it is meaningless knowledge. Jesus often got angry at the Pharisees and with his disciples he got frustrated with many times. He would respond to their questions in smart alack ways. I'm a pretty sarcastic person and I tend to enjoy other people that are too. Its a character quality that many possess. The bible does say that God created us in his image.(Genesis 1) Humor and sarcasm is not something we created but that He did because I believe that is a quality he has. We love to laugh and joke with one another and the more I study Jesus the more I see that he did too.
The more I study Jesus the more I fall in love with him. The more I desire to know because the more I know him the more I know my own heart. Every day is a battle. Just when I feel like I finally have it all together I somehow trip and fall off of a cliff. As true as that is, the reality is that God is there no matter how much we have it together or don't. He is love.
Its all about Jesus <3
I'm going through Galatians slowly on my own and just studying it for what it is. I've never studied a book in the bible intricately on my own before. I have through sermons and studies with groups etc. I'm not a bible scholar. I've not gone to bible school for this so of course I'm sure I may be missing quite a few things but it's always awesome to see what the Lord opens my eyes to.
Galatians Chapter 1 Versus 1 & 2
1- Paul, an apostle- sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. 2- and all the brothers and sisters with me, To the churches in Galatia.
Paul is identified as an apostle here which is a chosen follower of Christ. If you are not familiar with who Paul is and how he was chosen by God, you can find his transformation story in Acts Chapter 9. I love the fact that God chose Paul to be an apostle and used him drastically in the spreading of the news of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote almost half of the new testament (13 out of 27 books). Before he met Christ, he was nothing but a sinner in this world heading straight for eternal destruction. He was a murderer and of Christians for that matter. It still astonishes me that God used an unwilling man to further and better his kingdom. Just stopping for a second and thinking about that gives me the chills.. That is one of my favorite things about the Lord is he chooses to use us for his good even we are unwilling or even with little or no desire to be used. This is a great example of not only his power to be able to transform a heart instantly but also a direct reflection of his heart as he doesn't look upon us with hatred and worthlessness but with love and value to himself. He wants to rescue us and wants us to come to him and allow him to change our hearts. I do not believe that love ever stops. He loves his people in whom he created. He wants our attention and wants us to reach our full potential as his creation. Ephesians 1:4 says, "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." Even though we are sinners God will continue to transform our hearts to be like his- which is how he created us to be. The next part says that he was not sent from men or by man but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead. I think this is a good imagery of the trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Since God the Father, raised Jesus Christ from the dead we are now able to have the Holy Spirit working in us as a transformer and mediator. The holy spirit is what works in and through us to guide and direct us as well as change us internally. In verse two he says "and all the brothers and sisters with me, to the churches in Galatia" he is speaking of all the men and women who share in the acceptance and joy of the gospel that is Jesus Christ. He is writing this book in particular to the churches in Galatia.
Regarding the Churches of Galatia in this time:
"His readers knew the gospel. Yet they had willingly accepted a false gospel of human effort. So Paul looked in some detail at what the law can and cannot do. It cannot save. It cannot bring righteousness. It cannot provide any power at all, just a list of dos and don'ts. Only the Holy Spirit provides the power to keep the law." - quoted directly from my Zondervan bible.
It's crazy to think how even as Christians we still struggle with this mind set at times. We don't always get it that it's by grace that we have been saved. There is absolutely nothing we can do to win God's favor. We just need to rest in the truth that it's by his love and grace alone that we are able to have a relationship with him and be a part of his eternal promise. I'm just humbled by the fact that God chooses to love me each day no matter how much of a sucky daughter I am. His love will never fail us.
Just Me Blabbing... May 2013...
Looking around my house trying to picture the next year to two years is starting to scare me. I look around at all my things I've acquired throughout the years. I've been on my own since I was barely 18 and have always felt as if I was in control and independent so to speak.. the first half of the years on my own were horrible and difficult while the last half so far have been absolutely great. As I always say, God has blessed me greatly- more than I deserve. But I think he pushing me in a direction that not only scares me but is basically requiring me to just rely on him and his plan for me. I'm always praying to the Lord asking for his will to be done in my life and for him to show me the direction he wants me to go, but if i'm at all honest, my feet don't move as fast as they probably should after I pray these prayers. It is very hard for me to make major decisions in my life- not that I do not want to but I guess sometimes I get a bit scared with the "not knowing"- probably makes me sound a bit boring with no adventure at all. In my defense.. I have plenty of adventure.. I just like to be smart about it if that makes sense..lol
I'll admit, I definitely need to practice "letting go and letting God" more and I really truly think that over the next year he is going to be making me be more like that. I'm nearly 24 years old and sometimes I feel way older. I feel as if i'm set in this life somehow- this comfortable living of work, school, play, repeat. Nothing wrong with that of course but I think the Lord is nudging that it's time for a change. It's time for adventure. It's time to let go and "go with the flow" for once. It's time for new memories, new experiences, new phases. And I think he is right.
As I've stated before in my other posts, i'm a big journal-er I love to write about my random thoughts even if no one is reading. It helps me think and evaluate my life and myself. It somewhat slows me down to reality and gets my focus in line. As I stair at my book shelf I have several old journals I have written in just over the past 6 years. I dare not open and read them afraid some crazy stuff might fly out of there... I've walked down some heavy roads, dark ones- emotionally. I look back and feel as if i'm in another lifetime sometimes. Like those pages are just a story i'm reading. Like that was never my life before. I never thought or felt those things- those things never happened to me. But they did. They may not be a part of my life now but they are a direct reason of why I am who I am right now.
For the longest time I felt as if I was going down down down.. then the Lord came in and lifted me up and brought me higher than I could ever imagine. These days - I feel as if i'm just soaring through life trying to get through school which is one of my main focuses right now for myself. I do complain yet in reality I have nothing to complain about. I have a home, nice things, a job, a great big family whom I love, friendships that I know will be everlasting and good health along with many other things. One of my favorite pastors - Matt Chandler once said "If your not coming out of a storm or currently in one, get ready because your heading for one". ((PURE WISDOM!!-love it!)) - Because it is so true isn't it? And right now I'd have to say, i'm past a storm, i'm not currently in one so I know there is one ahead. So how do I- me prepare for this storm? It's not do what I have been doing which is- not reading my bible which is filled with amazing truth and real armor of protection for the mind and heart. No I need to be clinging to the cross, clinging to the word and saturating myself in it's truth so that when this storm arises I will be ready to withstand it- however long it lasts.
Maybe this storm isn't in the near future and i'll be here soaring for while longer.. whatever it may be- I need to learn how to trust the Lord and rely on him for direction in my life instead of trying to create a comfortable nest for myself. That is exactly what I believe the Lord is up to. If I wont move voluntarily he's going to make me- because he is in control and he knows best. So I sit here yes very scared of the unknown and how different life is going to look. But like I said before- I'm overly blessed because I have an amazing navigator- Even though I have absolutely no idea where i'm going and what i'll be doing- he does and he will never ever navigate me in the wrong direction- he will never send me somewhere without him being there with me and he will never put me in a place without fully equipping me with the abilities to follow through. I may be weak, but he is strong- I may not have this, but He does. Man oh man am I glad he does..
I was really feeling like I needed some solid time with the Lord last night so I decided to skip Crossfit and just go on a coffee date with Jesus! I grabbed my Starbucks and sat in my car and slowly read through Ephesians. I've done this a couple times the past month or two as it is encouraged with the book and sermon series I am currently reading/listening to:
Mark Driscoll- Ephesians- Who Do You Think You Are?
I was super encouraged by part 4 of this series- I AM BLESSED. Pastor Mark talked about how much God loves us and how he lavishes his blessing on us. As I read through Ephesians this time I did it with that mindset remembering how much God loves me and how much he has done for me just by calling my name and making me His. When you read scripture with that mindset the words of true love and sacrifice illuminate off the pages!
"He chose us....In Him we have redemption...He lavished on us all wisdom and understanding... He works out everything for His will... He raised us with Christ.... He brought us near through the blood of Christ... We can approach Him with freedom and confidence...His love surpasses all knowledge...There is no favoritism with Him...."
He is a great God. I'm so humbled and amazed by just how much he gives me each day. How much of himself he poors on me to make me more like him. I want to encourage you to read through Ephesians with that truth reigning in your heart.
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (2:4-7)
Obviously I am not going to blast my prayers on my blog, but I would like to blog about my devotionals at least every once and a while and hopefully encourage anyone reading. With my devotionals I've always thought I needed to buy one from the store to do them effectively. There is nothing wrong with store bought devotionals. I actually just ordered Kelly Minters "No Other Gods" study and I cannot wait to start it! But we do not need an organized study in order to study God's word and understand it. Sometimes the best devotionals are where I just pick up my journal and read a passage of scripture and allow it to speak to me personally thus making notes and writing down the verses that really grasp my heart. Whenever reading the bible always read it as if it is a personal letter written just for you. BECAUSE IT IS.
One great way to study scripture through journalism is to use the S-O-A-P method.
-SCRIPTURE (Read a portion of scripture and write down any verses that you feel are speaking to you).
-OBSERVATION (Try to make sense of why those particular verses hit home for you and try to hear what God is trying to say to you through those verses of scripture).
-APPLY (After you have recognized what God is trying to say- start being OBEDIENT! It may be hard but is promised to be worth it!).
-PRAYER (Pray over this passage and these new incites the Lord has brought to your attention. Pray for strength and accountability and perseverance to obey. Pray and thank the Lord for his word and his love and desire he has for you).
His word is an amazing gift that we often take for granted. I know I do...