Searching For A New Heart – part 2

(First posted on March 31, 2013)

Heart of Doubt

kablam_glossy_heartI am continuing to search scripture in order to understand my heart and how to fully allow God into my heart so his work can be done.  I closed my last post dealing with doubt and fear in my heart.  Today I begin my search with thoughts about how the heart is connected to our thoughts.  Doubt and Trouble come from our thoughts, and I found scripture on this in Mark 2:6,8.  Verse 6 reads, “And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,” followed up in verse 8 “But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?”  The scribes were full of pride, remember that for later, and in their hearts they reasoned that when Jesus healed other it was sinful.  In Matthew 9:4 Jesus even says on the same occasion, “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?”.  Evil comes from the heart into our thoughts, but there is good news!  Psalm 19:14 says “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”  We can ensure that our thoughts are good and acceptable to Go, but we must focus our heart toward good and God.

Pride

Looking back at the prideful scribes who allowed their pride to plant sin in their hearts and cloud their judgement on Jesus.  Pride evokes fear in me and my heart as it should after reading Proverbs 16:5 which reads “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.”  That is a powerful verse that makes you stop in your tracks.  How many times have we been overcome with pride. How often do we want things our way and fail to consider everything because of our pride.  How often do we want to be praised for what we do instead of serving for the Lord and him alone.  Pride an abomination to the Lord brings silence to me right now.  I wait for God to move.  Leviticus 19:17 mentions hate in the heart, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart.  You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.”  God commanded his people not to have hate in their heart.

Hope vs Wickedness

I tremble before the Lord as I read these verses because I know that God can withdraw himself from my heart if I do not keep my focus on him just as he did with Pharaoh first stating in Exodus 4:21 “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand,  But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.”  God allows hardening of the heart when he is not living in your heart.  When God is living in our hearts we have purpose.  2 Corinthians 9:7 says ” So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”  We have purpose we give from the heart which leads to rejoicing from the heart.  Acts 2:26 tells us ” Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.”  These verses give me hope that the wickedness of my heart will not win out over the Lord living in my heart.

Loving with the Heart

I hold several verses close to my heart and want to share.  Earlier I mentioned that God does not like hate in our heart and commanded it of his people.  Jesus brought a new commandment found in Mark 12: 30-31,33.  In verse 30 -31 Jesus says, ” And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength,” This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  This is finalized in verse 33 showing Jesus as the one true sacrifice where we can find such love in ourselves and our hearts.  Verse 33 reads, ” And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  These commandments and the love I want to hold for the Lord and others in my heart are summed up in Matthew 6: 19-21.  My focus is really on verse 21 but I feel the verses as a whole really shows me that I need to focus on the Lord so my heart is lead to my treasures.  Otherwise my treasures will be evil and sinful and of this world.  Beginning in verse 19, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where the moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; (20) but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Closing Verse:  Matthew 6: 21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Challenge:  Commit your heart to the Lord and your store treasures in heaven.  I pray God will help you and me focus on a new heart.

Searching For a New Heart

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Recently, I started looking back at some of my post and find this random 4 part series on the heart back in 2013.  I was not writing regularly back then so decided to repost this series over the next few weeks with some edits.  (First posted on March 13, 2013)

Open My Eyes to My Heart

kablam_glossy_heartSometimes I sit in awe of the Lord and how he leads us and draws us near to him.  Recently I have been praying and asking God to help me let go of some things which were causing me to become a person I did not want to be.    It is funny sometimes how something you have always known just really comes to light and you have to accept it for what it is.  I guess the finality of acceptance is something we as humans try to avoid.  I know that I have in many areas of my life.  As God recently opened my eyes to this ugly person I did not want to be, he sent me searching through scripture and everywhere I turned he introduced me to my heart.  Not this heart that I can be proud of but the real heart inside of me.  I will get to that.  I feel lead to share where God is leading me on this in-depth discovery of the heart.  I long for the new heart the scriptures speak of but to have that heart I must understand the heart as a whole.

Good vs Evil

The heart can be root of both Good and Evil, but more often the heart will lead us down the easiest road and usually that is not where we truly want to go.  As I read various scriptures, I decided to turn to Strong’s Commentary for some guidance and here I found a plethora of verses that speak of what is seeded in the heart.  I was lead to all this because I was not right and I quietly and silently began really listening to God.  He began to show me so many things about myself as I read the scripture.  Everything kept leading toward the heart and that caught my attention.  Specifically I began a 6 day devotional study on Love & Marriage I found and guess what Day 1 was on – you guess it – the Heart.  This first devotion is the initial cause of my digging.  I felt God calling me to the scriptures for more.  One of the verses shared in the study on day 1 was Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” I felt completely and utterly a failure because following my heart without God would always lead to wickedness because the heart is wicked.  Who can know our heart?  The simple answer is only God and he knows all our wickedness.  So begins this journey to know my heart.

Following Scripture

I have been visiting verses lately that speak of what is rooted in the heart.  These verses can sometimes seem good but if you really look at what can come from the heart you see the wickedness.  The first verse from Jesus in Matthew 5: 28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  So our sin before it is revealed has already been committed in our heart.  But what of lust as I noticed a verse was listed that spoke specifically to this word found in Romans 1:24 “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.”  So God pulled away and their hearts took over which lead back to Matthew 5:28.  What of our desires?  Romans 10:1 says “…my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”  At first read, this sounds good but looking deeper I see that we have to have control of what our heart desires.  Left alone we become the heart in Matthew 5 and Romans 1.  As I sit speechless and pray that the Lord will help me find my new heart with him.  I am almost afraid to continue on but the draw is powerful to read more.  What more words did Jesus have to say about the heart?

Mark 11:23 reads in the words of Jesus, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.”  This verse sounds so awesome, but to have this faith.  It is so easy to say yes Lord I have this much faith when really my heart doubts.  Jesus says in John 14:1 ” Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”  I must not let trouble and doubt fill my heart just the Lord so my faith can overcome the wickedness my heart desires.  These words are similar to those from Isaiah 35: 4 “Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with a vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”  With such words from our Lord why do I let me heart be my guide?

Time to meditate on these words from scripture.  Putting this puzzle together is encouraging but also brings me to my knees in need of prayer.  Before seeking more it is time for prayer.  Time to start seeking my new heart.

Closing Verse: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Challenge:  My prayer is that God will be my guide and work in my heart. May he also be yours.

 

 

Playing in God’s Creation

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God’s Creation

I have spent the last few weeks tasting a different type of living in God’s Creation.  This experience has prompted me back to the beginning and to the scriptures of Genesis 1.  As I study the scriptures again of how this world came to be, I think back to the memories I have from the past few weeks and the surreal and deep experience with all of God’s creation.  Genesis 1 begins with light, so I will begin there as well.

Light

God speaks of the light he created twice in Genesis 1.  First he spoke of light that became the first day in Genesis 1: 1-5,

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.

5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

The second time light is found in the scripture of God’s creation was on the fourth day where the sun and the moon specifically are mentioned in scripture in Genesis 1:14-19,

14And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,

15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.

16 And God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars.

17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,

18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

I have always loved to watch the sunset and watching the sunset is never more beautiful than over the water.  I was able to experience the rising of the sun and the setting of the sun over the water for about 6 days.  Each morning started with the sun peeking up over the horizon and ended as it drifted down below the water.  These are moments of great beauty.  Watching these events with only the rippling of the water, splashing of the fish, and songs of the birds is almost breathtaking.  Words nor pictures can explain how you feel when you leave the hectic pace and disconnect yourself from it all except the beauty of his creation surrounding you.  The stars of the night are spectacular, sparkling  and infinite.  God’s light will mean so much more as I watch it rise and set moving forward.

Water

Genesis 1: 6-8,

6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”

7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.

8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

Oh how I love water.  Sitting and watching the water move, waves roll, ripples on a lake or deep in the Gulf, all are music to my ears.  The sound is soothing and mesmerizing.  I find my peace by the water.  There is nothing more beautiful than watching the sunset with the crashing waves as the music.   There is something magical in God’s creation of the expanses of water for me and I am thankful that he chose to create such beauty for me to listen to, watch, and swim in.  This is my happy place and one I long for each time I am away.

Land 

Genesis 1: 9-13,

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.

10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so.

12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

Just as water was so important in God’s creation, so was the beauty of the land he created.  Maybe I viewed most it from the water, but finding the nature and beauty of God’s hand can be moments when you can find no words to say.  Even those standing around me just stood in awe and watched it pass.  What a masterpiece he has created?  I long to enjoy even more of his handiwork.

Creatures of the Sea

Genesis 1: 20-23,

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”

21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”

23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

While cruising through the water and God’ creation the sea creatures and the birds of the air become your constant companions.  Osprey and sea gulls, and then a few unknown birds I need to look up.  Each spread their wings and share their sounds as they show their curiosity of us in their space.  The dolphins in the sea were constant companions either riding the bow of the boat or greeting us each evening as we set the anchor.  Their curiosity was even more than the birds and we knew we were safe as we traveled and saw our daily dolphin dose.  I could not get enough of the dolphins!

Creatures of the Land

Genesis 1: 24-25,

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds–livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.

25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

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Although this journey did not bring many creatures from the land our way, that we saw anyway.  It does not mean that we did not appreciate the environments we saw which we knew were full of God’s creatures of the land.  We do choose to spend each day with a little dog named Harley which I share just a bit with my readers each week.  She is my constant reminder that God made such companions for man.

Man

Genesis 1: 26-31,

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Sharing such an experience with my husband and good friends leave no words.  Thank you God for creating me and giving me this opportunity to see your creation up close.  I am hungry for more.

Closing Verse:  

Colossians 1:16, For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Challenge:

Chase your rainbow, I can promise you that you will not have any regrets.

 

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Sometimes There Are No Words…

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Mourning

This week has been a hard week and I know that I have words to write but they are just not ready to come, so I wait on God just as I have done this past week.  I have waited for God to call my mother in law home and into his glory.  I pause to mourn the woman who brought my best friend and life partner into this world.  She went home this week, and I am so happy that she with her Lord and Savior.  Yet, I am sad that she is gone from this earth.  So, I must take a moment to celebrate and mourn her.

Sherry Benfield Long – June 5, 2018

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Closing Verse:  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Challenge:  Spend each day loving others and living life because it is far too short.  We will miss you Sherry.

MY MOM

As I mourn the passing of Sherry, today I celebrate my Mom and her birthday.  I am blessed to have a Mom who has taught and loved me into the woman I am today.  Thank you for all you have done!  Happy Birthday!

 

#ITSPERSONAL

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Personal

My family is a family of educators.  Our history is full of educators, but I will not bore you with all the extended details.  “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Colossians 3:20.  I do want to share my direct line:

My Grandmother (Father’s Mother):  Swanee

My Father:  Alfred

Me:  Allie

My Daughter:  Hannah

We are a lineage of public educators and I can remember some of my parent’s struggles growing up, but I know there was nothing else my father should have been doing except loving students.  He  was a middle school physical education teacher, a coach, and an administrator at all levels.  People to this day continue to tell stories about his love for his job, other educators, and students.  I followed his footsteps as a high school English teacher and finally as a middle school school library media coordinator.  I found my passion!  I love this age!

Now, as I near the end of my career, I pass the passion torch to my daughter who chose a harder yet fulfilling path.  She loves her students deeply as she walks each day through the doors of a low performing school with low income students.  She loves and cares for sometimes their physical needs, sometimes their mental needs.  She celebrates their successes often and cries with them when they struggle.  So yes, Public Education is personal.

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#RedForEd

Last week the country watched a unified effort as North Carolina educators stood up for their students.  I am sad to see how others view educators.  I know the evening news shows the bad most of the time in education, but the majority of educators come to work and love their “kids”.

I have seen teachers:

  • Buy clothes and sew clothes for students
  • Buy formal wear
  • Buy food
  • Provide snacks, breakfast, and lunch money
  • Get students medical services
  • Tutor on their own time after school or at the public library
  • Buy school supplies not just for their classroom but individual students.
  • Be parent stand-ins
  • Travel to watch and support student’s passions

These are just a few of the things I know teachers have done for their students. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.  Honestly, schools nor educators are financially able to meet the needs of some of our students.  I firmly believe the majority of educators want better for their students and classroom before themselves, but even educators deserve better.  Yet, why don’t we want better for students and their teachers.  ”

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11.

I pray our “elected leaders” in both parties are doing more than listening because as our family motto goes, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”.  Act for our students and the educators who love them.”

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,”  Proverbs 1:5.

My Favorite Teacher

Jesus was our great teacher.  “This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”” John 3:2.  His example is one I see in so many teachers.  Think about your favorite teacher, I know that when I compare mine to Christ, I see clearly God’s work.  When I think of some of the great teachers who touched my life, I remember characteristics such as service, discipline, loving, passionate, and caring.  All of these are characteristics of Jesus Christ, My Savior and Great Teacher.  Yes, I believe teachers are the some of the strongest people I know.

Closing Verse:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”  Matthew 28:19.

Challenge: Volunteer in your local school.  They really need you in the coming weeks.  Go and see God’s work.  There is nothing better than touching a child’s life.

#WatchGod

God continues to show his grace.  God continues to bless.  God continues to allow this person to shine.  My prayers continue for God to bless and show his love in this person’s life.

All Creatures Great and Small…

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Fear

Harley is a beggar because she is so afraid of missing a meal.  We have cared for her for 9 years now, yet each morning and afternoon she prepares to remind us to feed her.  Harley lives with the constant fear that she will not be fed, and no matter what I don’t think I will ever ease this fear.  Watching her fear and anxiety is a strong reminder that I need to believe that my Father in heaven will care for me and not be fearful of the future.  He will provide for my needs.  “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4.

I experienced another example of fear this past week, and I am not sure who was more fearful the baby bluebirds, the babies parents, or me!  I came home from work to find our bluebird house on the ground practically upside down.  Apparently, one of the men mowing our yard hit the fence and caused the house to fall.  I knew baby birds had recently hatched because the Mommy and Daddy bluebirds had been working non-stop to feed their young.  “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26.

Caring

My husband found me in tears and jumped into action.  His caring not just for me but the babies was touching and appreciated as I struggled not to just fall apart.  His love for both reminded me of my Father who cares for me like the birds of the air.  ” He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry.”  Psalm 147:9

After he put the house back up and even checked and knew the babies were alive, he consoled me while sharing the reality that the mom and dad might abandon the nest.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13: 34-35.

Praying and Singing

I watch the rest of the evening only to see no activity.  I laid in bed that night thinking about the babies in the nest and knew that sometimes this is the cycle of life, but how lonely and frightened the little ones must be.  I prayed for the Lord to care for the babies.  ” “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

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The next morning sitting on the back patio sipping my first cup of coffee, momma bluebird arrives to feed her babies.  Soon daddy bluebird follows and the chirping fills my heart.  All is right with the world again.  “Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. ”  Psalm 104:12.

Spread Your Wings

Two days later – early in the morning mommy and daddy bluebird are still hard at work, and the chirping is growing louder and stronger.  I know that they will soon be spreading their wings to fly.  “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.

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I will be sad to see the babies go but happy that more bluebirds will soon fly and sing upon our earth.

Closing Verse: “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7.

Challenge:  Live your life knowing that God is in charge and will care for you just as he does the birds of the air.

#WatchGod

Another week and I continue to see smiles across the face of the person I am praying for daily.  I know that life is not great at times, but I can see areas where happiness and success are claiming her life.  Praise God!

#WatchGod

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Loving Others

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34.  I am beginning a May Challenge that I read about recently,  and will be sharing my journey each week in my blog post.  I am sharing the challenge now hoping that readers will join me and share their experiences with me and others.  I want to hear what happens!  So……

Challenge

Here is the Challenge:

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Choosing Someone to Love

As a sidenote, I keep prayer cards one for each person that I pray for each day.  This is a tip I learned in a life group reading and discussing the book, A Praying Life by Paul L. Miller.  I feel lead to choose someone not on my prayer cards.  This might have been the greater challenge because I have a lot of prayer cards!

I looked around me at others who touch my life for that person that God was calling me towards.  That person who needed something, and then God place him/her in front of me.  “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24.

Challenge Begins

I begin my 30 days of prayer for this person today.  “Pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  I can not wait to share what I see God doing in his/her life each week!  If you accept this challenge please share what God is doing through your prayer life for this person.  Join Me in #WatchGod.

Closing Verse:   1 John 4:19-21 “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Challenge: Ask God to provide someone for you to spend 30 days praying for.  #WatchGod

Life Happens and God Draws Near

Brokenness

Coffee is brewing and the warm smell fills the room and I want to linger here in the presence of my Father.  He is calling me and I have not been listening.  I have been avoiding, living my own life, believing I was still in relationship with him only to find myself afraid, alone, and on my knees.  “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18.  I know I have not been listening, but God has my attention.  I know that he held my life before me and called me back to him.  I am here in your presence once again, not pretending to be whole, but broken and needy.  “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3.  I am binding my wounds.

Self-Righteous

Who have I been?  I have been a selfish, self-righteous person, yet Romans 3:10 reads, “As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;”   I have not put others first, I have failed to not just be strong in myself, but allowed myself to wallow in self-pity.  I see all the ugliness inside of me.  Who did I think I was?  Did I feel I was better than others?  Did I forget to walk in others shoes?  How did I find my way back to this place?  I know I have allowed Satan a crack into my life and he encouraged me to think only about myself.  Why did God choose to bring me out of this pit?  I feel the weight of my selfishness lifting off of me as God is showing me my lack of relationship with him and begins to heal the brokenness.  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17.

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Broken Vessel

Walking along in my selfish life, I suddenly found myself in a situation that was like deja vu deep from my past.  Where did that ugly person come from?  This person that I thought was lost suddenly emerged like a monster from the dark.  Yet, probably not as suddenly as it seemed.  Recently, I have been a “Debbie Downer”.  I have been a self-righteous pompous person.  So finding myself selfishly raising my ugly head like a monster in the dark may have seemed sudden, but now I see that I was racing down a path of destruction. The humiliation means I want to hide, but I know that I have to move forward.  Although, the pain that comes with seeing my selfishness hurts deeply, it has been nothing like facing the emptiness where God should be in my life.  It is nothing like knowing he could choose to take my life with each breath, but has chosen to hold my beating heart in his hands.

My heart is broken because I have broken the most important person in my life.  I alone have created deep pain and sorrow that is hard to forgive.  I have hurt my husband deeply and that pain is like no other pain.  I imagine that the pain God has felt is much the same, watching his son hang upon the cross for my sins.   Words and sometimes even actions can not repair such damage, but I pray that our relationship can weather the storm.  Romans 5:1-5 promises me, “Father, we feel the burden of our sin, and it is exhausting to try and make ourselves whole.  Our hearts long for your presence.  We rejoice in our sufferings, know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”  I am a broken vessel… (a few lyrics from a powerful song)

Broken Vessels

You take our failures, You take our weakness
You set Your treasure in jars of clay
So take this heart Lord, I’ll be your vessel
The world to see Your life in me

Oh, I can see You now
Oh, I can see the love in Your eyes.
Laying Yourself down
Raising up the broken to life

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”  Corinthians 4:7

(1° Broken Vessels – 00:00 2° Touch The Sky – 09:32 3° Say The Word – 13:55 4° Heart Like Heaven – 18:19 5° Closer Than You Know – 24:49 6° Even When It Hurts – 33:34 7° Oceans – 39:52 8° Love Is War – 48:48 9° Captain – 56:05)

Worthy

As I contemplate my sin and move toward Christ, I realize that I am worthy in God’s eyes.  I feel God drawing near to me and feeling his strength now I can see where my focus should be.  First and foremost I need to focus on him and ensure he is the priority in my life.  “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  James 4:8.  So I seek his presence in prayer and in my daily walk.  I think of others before myself.  I smile so others might smile.  I seek the happiness in my life that is my choice and no one else.  I trust in God.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6.  I am focusing on my heart once again in order to put my Father first in my life.

My Worth Is Not What I Own 

Two wonders here that I confess
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed – my ransom paid
At the cross

I rejoice in my Redeemer,
Greatest Treasure,
Wellspring of my soul

Closing Verse: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Challenge:  Protect Your Heart.

Loss of Innocence

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Loss of Innocence: 

Today is Valentine’s Day and a day that should be filled with loving those you have been blessed to live life with,  but I sit and watch the sadness of another school shooting.  Deep down in my soul I ache and cry for the innocent lives lost and the innocent lives scarred once again.  As a public school educator, my heart is breaking.  I hold the tears back and just wish that I could make the world a better place for every child.  I look back on this year and the loss of two young lives in my community who chose to take their own life to end the pain deep in their soul that could not be filled.  I find myself once again praying hard for the students that I love each day who just need someone to say good morning, call their name, and make them feel important, put clothes on their back, and food in their bellies.  I pray as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 teaches, “Pray without ceasing,”  God has blessed me with  the privilege of watching children struggle and bloom, yet either way I walk in a world where children just have different lives.  I ask the questions Why?  But I already know the answers.

Loving thru the Darkness:

I watch the news coverage of the shooting, and again I ask Why?  Why God is there so much darkness in the world?  Then I remember that Man made the choice that brought sin into this world, and no one is immune from the darkness and pain that sin brings not even an innocent child.  Genesis 2:17 explains, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  It is hard, so hard to watch the lives of so many children, and it is hard to accept the loss of young lives cut so short in their prime.  To know their dreams, their families dreams are shattered in one brief moment, yet I feel so blessed each day to go to work and serve children.  My prayer has always been that I am a catalyst that brings some hope, love, and joy to their lives.  I pray to God that I am an example of your love for these children you have placed in my life and that I am able to touch their lives each day, each month, each year.  As 1 John 2:6 reads, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” May my walk show Christ.

Walking in the Light

“Walking in the light may sting a little, but it is far preferable to life in the dark.  And on top of that, it is the only way to healing.”   -Jared Wilson.  I read this quote at church on Sunday morning and it just resonated with me.  I have been searching the scriptures this week and seeking the light in the darkness of our world because scripture is clear in 1 John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”  To walk in the light is to walk with the Lord.  God’s light is the one true light that can bring healing into my life, my students lives, and our world.  A world that is hurting and in need of so much healing light.  “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”Psalm 147:3.  I know that seeking the light will bring healing in the darkness.   2 Corinthians 4:6, ‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’

Following the Light.

When my heart is broken from the darkness of the world, I seek healing in the light and I find comfort in his word.  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Psalm 119:105.  These words of light written so long ago in such a different time, but yet so relevant today because God knew that the darkness would never leave and his people would need to continue to seek the light.  Comfort is what his word brings to my life.  I pray for a country that will heal in the words of 2 Corinthians  1:3-4 and bring comfort to others, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  I pray that I can bring comfort into the world or at least the lives of the children I love each day.  Ephesians 5:8, “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”

Closing Verse:  ‘Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”‘ John 8:12

Challenge:  Do you find yourself in the darkness?  Does the pain of the world seem hard?  Seek the light of Christ for your life, so you can Be the Light for someone else who needs to find their way out of the darkness.

 

Seeing Sin Through Rose-Colored Glasses

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Life of Sin

I know I want to write this post but my mind and fingers just can’t find the words to type what I feel deep down inside.  Although, I know that I am born a sinner and will die a sinner, as a Christian, I do strive to be an example of Christ’s love to others.  This means not letting sin shine from me but allowing Christ to shine the brightest in my life. But, sometimes sin can really bring me down into the trenches of life.  I know that my flesh is sin as Galatians 5: 19-21 states, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  I want to shine, but I find myself buried in the guilt of sin, and in need of some time with my Father to seek myself again.  To know that I am loved and forgiven.  This is hard when I feel like unconditional love should not belong to me anymore.  I don’t want to deceive myself, but recognize my sins, cleanse myself, and as 1 John 1: 8-10 reads not believe that I am not a sinner, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Rose-Colored Sin  

Knowing that I am a sinner and a Christian, my eyes are open to my sin.  I can not be a Christian who appears better than others, who does not understand others, and one who believes less of others.  Galatians 5:16 reminds me, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  I know that I am blessed to walk with my Lord and Savior through life and I pray that I am an example to others, but I can’t do that if I am looking at my sin through rose-colored glasses.  I can’t compare my sin and believe it is less than others.  Sin is sin.  My sin can not be sugar-coated or viewed differently than others.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  Romans 3:23.  I know wearing rose-colored glasses to look at my life is easy to do.  I want to see how good I am and not the sin.  It is easy to compare myself to others and believe the lie that I am better, but I know deep inside that I am not.

God’s Word

So what does one do, dig and dig and dig into God’s Word and know that He is my Father.  Yes, He is a Father of wrath, but his is also a Father of forgiveness.  God provided me a gift through the sacrifice of his Son.  A gift of forgiveness that I can not even fathom.  Just thinking of this sacrifice makes my eyes water and tears fall.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23.  and “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.  I search scripture to cleanse myself of unrighteousness and seek the comfort of His word for forgiveness.  I find myself on my knees with head bowed praying and begging for the forgiveness and love of my Father.  Thank you Lord for your gift, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

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Sin Scriptures for Study

Closing Verse:  “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  James 4:17

Challenge: Look closely at your life and ensure that you don’t perceive your sin differently from others.  Sin is Sin and the rose-colored glasses will not change it in God’s eyes.