Week 39 – Find Mercy

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Mercy - Proverbs 28The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy. Proverbs 28:13

From the Garden of Eden, when Adam first confesses to God they had eaten from the Tree of Life, all through the Bible to the book of Revelation at the final judgment; the acknowledgment of our actions and confession of one’s sin is talked about in scripture. It’s a vital part of the Christian faith.

As I pondered over this verse for the week, I considered how much time Christians spend confessing their sins to God (1 John 1:9) or others (James 5:16). I remember as a child laying in bed at night and talking to God. As I got to the confessional part of the prayer, I would say, “And God, please forgive me of all my sins. I don’t think I did much that was bad today but forgive me just in case.”

From attending church as a child, I knew that confession was important, but what sin was didn’t seem as clear. I would focus on those big Ten Commandments and what I knew of them. In my mind I would go through them with God and say, “I didn’t kill, or steal, adultery was off the list (since I was 10 years old), I didn’t take your name in vain or even cuss, I don’t have any little golden statues to worship and I did what my parents asked me to today.”

It’s interesting, these conversations with God are still so clear in my mind and memory. I can even picture myself in my bedroom with pink walls struggling with this part of my prayer time as a child. As I’ve grown older and spent more and more time in the Word of God, I no longer have this problem. I’m able to write a daily list of all things I need to confess, and actions I should have taken that I felt like the Holy Spirit was prompting me to take, but didn’t.  The words that were said that shouldn’t have been and words that should have been said, but weren’t. Thoughts that raced through my mind I would never want to be played out publicly.  We have to go beyond the Ten Commandments when it comes to confession.

I don’t think the church always does a great job of explaining this to the body of Christ. They say we should confess, but often when we first begin our walk with God, the “what” we should confess, isn’t laid out so clearly.  This proves a VERY important point. We can’t just count on the church and our pastor’s to guide and teach us. It’s imperative that we each open the Word of God and seek His truth, mercy, and love for ourselves.

And the good news is, that any sins, from stealing and killing to disobedient thoughts, are always forgiven by our Creator if we ask with a humble heart that seeks Him. His mercy and grace are never-ending and Satan’s hands are tied when we put all the unspoken sin out into God’s healing light and glory.  Today, my prayer for all of us is that God will make known our sin so that we may confess it and live in the glorious freedom He offers.

 

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

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Week 38 – Your Attention, Please

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Deuteronomy 6-Image 2

“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Deuteronomy means “the second law” and although the name of the book includes the word “law”, the overall theme of the book could be summed up in two words: love and obey. I always tell our children to “listen and obey.” I think love and obey is much better and such a sweet reminder of our Heavenly Father.

He [God] revealed His ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel. Psalm 103:7

Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy. I feel as if this is very important to consider because he actually spoke to God. I’m not sure how you feel, but that makes Moses pretty credible in my mind. This wasn’t simply a good biography someone decided to write based off of research and interviews of others who knew God. Moses knew God personally and had a face-to-face meeting with Him on Mount Sinai. That gives Moses some “street cred” in my book! So, let’s dig into these verses from Deuteronomy 6.

This first word grabs my attention, just as it was meant to when these words were spoken so long ago to the Israelites. When I’m speaking to my children, a group I’m leading or sharing with and I need a statement to stand out from all the rest I’ve said, I say, “Ok, Listen up! Pay attention! This is important! If you don’t hear anything else I’ve said today, hear this.”

The first word (Listen) is our first clue to pay close attention to these two verses because they hold significant value and truth to be learned. Our second clue is that this same truth is repeated in scripture and was spoken by Jesus Himself. He told a scribe (Mark 12:28-31) that to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength” is the first and greatest commandment with “love your neighbor as yourself” coming in second.

I know many of us have heard this verse over and over again in our days of church and Bible study. Sometimes, when we have heard scriptures repeated over and over again they can lose their power and depth. I feel as if this verse is one of those. So let’s sit and pick it apart a little.

Verse 4: “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.”

Israel was full of idol worship at the time and needed a little attention grabber, a reminder of who the One, true God was. This is still very relevant for us today. Although we don’t make little golden statues to worship, sometimes we begin to place other desires and self before God. This is also idol worship. Anything we put a priority on above God is an idol. Even if it’s our children, worry, money, career, friends, etc. No matter how long you have been a Christian, as long as we are in this flesh, we will struggle with keeping God front and center in all we think, do and say. Staying in the Word of God and in communication with Him through prayer is the way to tackle the weakness of our flesh.

Verse 5:Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

I want to look at this from a little different angle. It’s my heart’s desire, in life, to be ALL in for God, but often I’m not using all my heart, soul and strength to love God. However, it is usually easier to love God than it is some of His children. Am I alone here? Sometimes, people make it so difficult to love them. God is growing and strengthening this muscle in me. I strive to offer everyone, despite their actions or words, the grace, and acceptance that God grants me because we can’t love God and hate His children.

“And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:40

Our son came home from school the other day and told me about a child in one of his classes that has been working hard to grab the attention of the others in the class. “Mom, he’s so annoying and I try to talk to him some, but he interrupts my conversations and it’s so distracting.” I used this opportunity to continue growing my own “love others” muscle as I explained to him the young man was probably feeling left out and just wanted to make new friends but wasn’t sure how to do it.  And then I told him my secret for loving God’s people when they make it so difficult. When I’m struggling to love another child of God, I say to myself, “Jesus died for _[insert name of challenging person to love]___ on the cross, just like He did for me.” Sometimes, it’s all about perspective!

May God richly bless you this week as you seek Him and His glorious ways.

Deuteronomy 6 - Image 1

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

Week 37 – The Days are Evil

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Eph 5

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17

Maybe it’s because we have one child who just started high school and another one that started middle school a few weeks ago, but the phrase, “make the most of time, because the days are evil” really stood out to me as I read this verse from Ephesians.

I understand that Paul wasn’t talking about how fast our kids grow up and reminding us to enjoy every minute with them because it goes by in the blink of an eye. Today diapers and tomorrow college orientation. However, he was reminding us of something just as important (maybe even more). As Christians, we are not to waste any of our time here Earth. It will go by fast and we should make every effort to follow God’s will for our lives and walk through each day showing others that we belong to Christ. No one should have to question who we serve.

If a woman walked through Target with her golf clothes on and a golf bag over her shoulder, we assume she was a golfer without having to ask. It should be the same for us all as Christians. I will admit that as I type those words, I’m very convicted. I know that there are many times when I don’t respond in a way that points others to Christ.

My amazing Dad will be 89 this year. He is a hard-working, praying, stubborn, honorable, and generous man. I know he understands and appreciates the fact that the days are evil, moving fast and time is running out. Since his 80th birthday, he has said, “Well, Allison. . . I’m just circling the drain at this point in my life.” He says that and most certainly feels it, but he has never stopped living, fighting, giving generously, praying and spreading the good news to others and he’s still going!

I pray we all make the most out of our time here for the Lord and His will because as that old Steve Miller Band songs says, “Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping . . . ”

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, N.C. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.

Week 36 – Your Life-Breath

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Instead, you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven. The vessels from His house were brought to you, and as you and your nobles, wives, and concubines drank wine from them, you praised the gods made of silver and gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or understand. But you have not glorified the God who holds your life-breath in His hand and who controls the whole course of your lifeDaniel 5:23

In this verse, Daniel is in the middle of giving Belshazzar (the young and prideful king) a little lecture and history lesson about his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar. He reminded him of how God caused the downfall and ruin of Nebuchadnezzar when he became prideful and points out that he is headed in the same direction because of his own pride. When we know better, when we know the truth, and still choose the path away from God it causes our destruction.

However, the reason I chose to have this verse as part of my 2017 Scripture challenge was really just for the last 19 words in this long verse.

. . . the God who holds your life-breath in His hand and who controls the whole course of your life. Daniel 5:23

This is one of my favorite descriptions of our Heavenly Father. We call Him many things: Counselor, King, Redeemer, Savior, Warrior, etc. but there is something about imaging God holding my breath in His hand and controlling the course of my life. It brings me to my knees in awe of His great power and love.

I wanted to read more about life-breath and found it right at the beginning in Genesis 2:7.

Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

and then again when Jesus has risen from the dead and commissions the disciples. .  .

After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

and then again in Revelation when the witnesses are resurrected at Christ’s return.

But after three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet. So great fear fell on those who saw them. Revelation 11:11

That’s our God!!! The breath of life is even woven into His written Word (the Bible) for us from start to finish. The hand of our Heavenly Father and Creator is in every detail, every breath and every moment of our lives. The One who loves, adores, and created each of us is in control. May we give thanks every day for His love and promises and keep our eyes on Him as we anticipate and trust His great plan with joy and courage.

 

Blog Art is provided by my friend and sister in Christ Polly Jo Green.  She is an artist based in Cary, North Carolina. Visit her website at pollyjogreen.com.Her art ranges from doodle creations to mixed media pieces. In addition to commissioned original art, her art is available on notecards.