Seriously

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This summer, my daughter joined the swim team for the first time. I haven’t been ready to make the commitment before now and less than a month into it I’m already wondering what I was thinking. After the orientation meeting, I was visiting with a friend whose son has been on the team for several years. I told her about the look I got when I asked a question in the meeting and she told me that many of the parents take it “VERY seriously”. I quickly responded and said, “I don’t take anything that seriously except for Jesus!”

I was convicted when I thought more about my statement.  Do I really take Jesus seriously everyday? Do I live every minute dying to self and letting Him guide my thoughts and ways? One of my greatest fears is being a false disciple. Many of us have read and even studied the book of Matthew. We have probably read Matthew 7:21-27 over a dozen times, but recently God opened my eyes and heart to the reality and importance of these verses by reading it in The Message translation.

Matthew 7:21-27 – The Message Translation

“Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance— isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

His words are “foundational words, words to build a life on.” Let that sink in. I pray we cement these words in our hearts as we live our lives daily for His glory! Let’s take Him seriously!

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Covenience

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If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,  no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. Psalm 91:9-12

We were rushing out the door (shocker) so I asked Culli to please put on his flip-flops because we didn’t have time to wrestle, find and tie his shoes. He wasn’t interested in that at all. “I don’t like flip-flops!”, he said. To which I replied, “Come on honey, it’s summer. Everyone wears flip-flops in the summer.”

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart— they do no wrong but follow his ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.  Psalm 119:1-4

“Mommy, just because everyone else does it doesn’t mean I should.”, he said proudly as he threw my own words (he had heard so often) back at me.  I’m just as quick to encourage my daughter to practice her piano without fussing because her friend Molly doesn’t fuss as I am to tell my children that just because Billy drinks soda doesn’t mean we should. “Just because someone else does it – doesn’t make it right.”, I tell them. Please tell me I’m not the only mom guilty of using persuasion when it’s convenient for me.

My point in this “confessions from a mom” story is that to often we look to God’s word, His laws and His power when it’s convenient for us. Real, lasting relationships are not built on convenience. Did you ever have a friend that just called you when she couldn’t reach anyone else? How did it make you feel? Think of our God, the creator of all we see and don’t see, the healer, the comforter, the Great I AM . . . . When I remind myself of the God I serve and all that He is and it’s embarrassing and very disappointing to think that I have taken His Word so casually. Our God is not here for our convenience. He is here to be our Prince of Peace, our protector, our mighty fortress . . . He IS all we need. But, not just when it’s convenient for us.

You blew with all your might and the sea covered them. They sank like a lead weight in the majestic waters. Who compares with you among gods, O God? Who compares with you in power, in holy majesty, In awesome praises, wonder-working God? Exodus 15:10 (The Message)

But, God . . .

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I have written before on how the word “but” can drive me nutty when used as an excuse or as a disclaimer that basically means I am only accountable unless this happens, except for when, contrary to what you think.
But today I want to look at it from another angle. Let’s look at “but” not as an excuse, but as a blessing.

When I was studying Romans 5:8, the “but, God” stood out to me. I decided to research more “but, God” references in scripture and found they are everywhere.

Synonyms for but include: however, nevertheless, still, yet. When you are reading the “but, God” part replace it with one of these synonyms for emphasis. Let’s take a look.

I am a willful, disobedient sinner and will never come close to measuring up . . . “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I put God on a shelf for so long and was scared to return because of what He would think of me. . .
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

I should never be forgiven for past sins . . . But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, Ephesians 2:4

I feel all alone, like no one cares and everyone has forgotten me . . .
But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. Psalm 9:18

Some days I feel like things are to overwhelming to go on and I wonder how I can . . .
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

I encourage you to search for more of these during your devotional time this week. There are many, many more. I pray these “but, God” scriptures bring you encouragement, strength, courage and peace.


Admission

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Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

I have to admit, I recently got so tired of hearing my children say “Mommy” a hundred times a day that I took an idea from a sweet friend I have recently met and had them pick a new name to call me that day. (I’m not sure I will offer them this option when they are teenagers) So, for an entire day they called me GodChick instead of Mommy. It was wonderful. Instead of hearing my name and ignoring it or becoming frustrated, I would smile when they called out GodChick to get my attention or ask a question. It was such a welcome break.

I am so thankful our God never changes, never tires and never sleeps. I am thankful he never grows weary of hearing me call out to Him and asking for the same thing over and over. . . grace, peace, forgiveness, direction.
I praise Him for knowing my heart, knowing that I am trying to live as Jesus calls us to and understanding my daily struggle with the flesh. I’m thankful for the protection He offers if we are dwelling in His word and abiding in Him and thankful that he is all that I need and will never turn His back on

There are hundreds of descriptions of who God is, what He provides and what He has promised in the Bible. This week, I have listed a few that mean a lot to me and given you the scripture reference. I hope you will find time in your week to look up these verses and read them as a reminder of all He wants to offer you.
Praise God! He is our:

Guide (Psalm 48:14)
Defender (Psalm 68:5)
Giver (James 1:17)
Comforter (II Cor. 1:4)
Fortress (Psalm 18:2; 91:2 )
Foundation (I Cor. 3:11)
Living water (John 7:38)
Peace (Ephesians 2:14)
Perfecter (Hebrews 12:2)
Physician (Luke 4:23)
Portion (Psalm 119:57)
Strength (Psalm 18:1; 28:7; 46:1;73:26)

“Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting” “Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. Nehemiah 9:5

Warning! Flammable

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Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Isaiah 8:20

We went to check on our daughter who had been the shower for an extended period of time and quickly noticed she was reaching for the shaving cream. “You don’t need that!”, we told her. “No, you don’t understand. I’m trying to cool it off. I have been in t shower for a long time and it says not to put it in extreme heat or it could explode.” You could see the sincere worry on her face that the long hot shower might make that flammable shaving cream explode!

Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”  Bind up this testimony of warning and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples. Isaiah 8:15-16

What if we read God’s word and took His warnings and laws that seriously? What if we took his Word to heart and approached it with care and careful consideration. What if we trusted He knew best and there was a reason He is the creator of the Universe and we aren’t. How different would our lives, our communities and our world look if we listened and obeyed God’s Word – maybe with a hint of fear?

He gives instructions and guidance to live our lives in a Christ-like way. For every challenge, He has a solution. For every battle, a weapon. For every trial, an advocate. Our world is quick to disregard the warnings and place the blame, but slow to seek wise counsel and rectify the problems.

John Ortberg said, “Most Christians are trying, rather than training to live the Christian life”. If you try to run a 5K without the training you will surly fail, but if you start training in advance, when the day comes to conquer the race you will have the endurance face the 5K challenge. If we are only trying to do the right thing, we will fail. We can’t give up. We must start training to live a life that looks more like Christ by digging deeper into His word, finding Him in the ordinary and seeking Him first in all we do.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Deuteronomy 11:18