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Peace

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My mother-in-law gave me a devotional called Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young. Sarah writes from Jesus’ perspective, as if He were talking to the reader.  She bases her writing on biblical principles.

Her writing on February 10th, I find to be true time and time again in my life: “Because I am omnipotent, I am able to bend time and events in your favor. You will find that you can accomplish more in less time, after you have given yourself to Me in rich communion.”

When I take time to spend with the Lord, I find myself getting so much done in so little time. When I don’t spend this time “in rich communion,” I find myself anxious and getting frustrated as it seems nothing goes my way. There have been many times that I have skipped my daily bible reading or neglected to spend time with God, only to realize later on that my day was a total waste.

Today I got back into my Jesus the One and Only Beth Moore study, and I felt overwhelming peace. The previous two days, I had skipped it. Those days I found myself anxious, worried, and short-termpered. Today, after spending time with the Lord, I took things as they came, wasn’t anxious, and felt true peace.  It also felt good to catch up with my best friend.

I realized two things today.  The first is that God does and has bent time in my favor before (on many occasions actually).  The other is this:  On the days when I take the time to spend with the Lord, I notice a difference.  The difference is that while I am spending time with Him, He is equipping me for all I need and all that will come my way.  By tuning into the Author of my faith, I am able to focus on what is important for me to do that moment, that day, and not worry about anything else.

“. . . man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” –Deuteronomy 8:3

::God, help me to always put a higher importance on spending time with You and Your Word than anything else in life. I find myself logging time on social media networks eagerly, yet I scimp when it comes to spending time with you. Ignite a passion in me for your word. Thank you for the peace you have given me today::

~Michelle

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Bacon

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I am currently reading Leviticus in my One Year Chronological Bible. Pretty hefty stuff. Leviticus is the book discussing laws set before the Israelites, as spoken through Moses. I am on the part where God was telling the Israelites, through Moses, what they could eat (like sheep), and what they could not eat (like pigs). It also discusses what kinds of skin diseases required separation from the camp. This was taking place after the Israelites were led from Egypt, and Moses had been given the 10 commandments.

Now I loooove bacon! And eat it often too. We no longer are commanded not to eat it either, because Jesus fulfilled the law, which we couldn’t do alone (Galatians 3 and Romans 7). But I imagine that God was telling the Israelites not to eat certain foods for their own health, not because He didn’t want them to enjoy bacon. I mean times were different back then, and perhaps they would have gotten an illness from eating pig. Along the same lines, I think God thought it best if people with diseases remained outside the camp walls so they couldn’t spread their illness to others. Again, God setting boundaries to protect His people, not to keep good things from them. Of course bacon being “good” is all relative.

But I just want to take today to say “thank you God.” Thank you for having rules for us, as any good parent would. I know you do not want to keep any good thing from me. What you really want is to give me the best. And you know that I am the safest and happiest when I follow your laws. Francis Chan explains this a bit in his Just Stop and Think video if you start watching at 3:40. (The whole video is amazing if you have the time to check it out though. You won’t be sorry you did! His book Crazy Love is amazing too!)

I mean you made me! You would know what’s best for me. You know every beat of my heart, everything that saddens me, everything I long for, and it is your desire to fulfill these longings. It wasn’t until I entered into this relationship with you, that I realized this can only be done through your son Jesus. I had stepped way outside of your boundaries. I looked every place but up to satisfy that deep longing for “something more.”  I get it now, and I know that deep longing for something more is part of your plan, because there is something more–Heaven. We get there through Jesus (John 14:6).

But back to the point though. What kind of parent would I be without setting boundaries for my children? Not a very good one. Without your boundaries, it would be hard to know you really cared for me. Chip Ingram paints a beautiful picture of this in his study Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships. He talks about a Dad that lives in an apartment complex near a busy highway. The dad set boundaries for his son–where he could ride his bike and where he couldn’t– not to be mean, but to keep him safe. And yes that dad also had to discipline his child when he tried to go outside of those boundaries. Imagine if he didn’t do that. It wouldn’t be long before his child ended up seriously injured or even dead.

In the same way, God, you have set boundaries that keep me safe and happy. The bible is full of commands for us, and I have broken many! I will probably break many more! But I thank You that your son paid the price for my transgressions. And I know, with your help, I will get better at keeping your commands and be better off for it. For You that started a good work in me will complete it (Philippians 1:6).

::Lord, help me also to set God-honoring boundaries for my children. This is so tough to do, especially when the discipline that comes alongside can be painful for them. No mother wants their children to hurt, for any reason. But like that little boy on the bike had to feel the sting of discipline, and I have had to feel the sting of your discipline, and my children have felt the sting of mine, I know in the end, like you, I only want what is best for my children. And it is always done out of love.  Thank you for disciplining me out of love::

THANK YOU for a little more time

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Luke 13:6-8 says:

Then [Jesus] told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'”

I came across this while going through my Beth Moore study, Jesus the One and Only, and it was my understanding that the one asking for more time on behalf of the tree was Jesus. I believe that tree to be me!

I feel like the best way to begin is, well, at the very beginning. . .

When I was 15, I heard God calling to me. I was attending a non-denomenational Christian church in the small(ish) town where I grew up. At that time I professed (and believed) that I was indeed a sinner in need of saving. I was soon after baptized (with the permission of my parents, who did not attend this church), started to read my bible, and began my walk of faith, alone. Therein lied the problem. At such an impressionable stage in life, it did not take long until I put that bible on the shelf along with my uncultivated relationship with God. I was to be a tree not producing fruit for more than a decade!

God continued to pull at my heart strings through the years, but I claimed I was not ready. Someday I would go back to church, maybe when I had a family. Perhaps God wanted to test this theory, because he gave me Noah. Instant family. Still I refused a relationship. I didn’t have the time. I was a busy, single mother. Surely He understood–I would get to Him when I was ready. There were some things I needed to get situated, clean up if you will, in my life before committing. A wise friend even said, “You know Michelle, you should seek God first, and you will be amazed how He will help you put things in order.” I believe God was talking to me through her that day. I didn’t listen.

All the while, I was running from what I needed the most. The lover of my soul, Jesus Christ. The one saying to God, “Give her time, I know she will produce fruit.” Jesus, who would fill the void that had become so large in my life, I thought I would remain lost inside it forever. The void I had tried filling on my own, outside of God’s will, more than 101 unhealthy ways. One destructive decision after the next guided my life, and I had no joy.

Until one day, I listened. It started with a book; The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, which led to me reading the bible, which led to attending a church, which led to the beginning of the relationship that has brought joy and so much more into my life. A relationship that led this tree to producing fruit. I am glad that I was given a little more time.