Sing: Find You on my Knees by Kari Jobe
Pray: Come Holy Spirit, fill me with Your fire so that I can be more like You; help me, I trust You. Father open my eyes so that I may see clearly, open my ears so that I may hear soundly, open my mind so that I may understand fully, open my heart so that I may love more, open my hands so that I may give generously and receive humbly, in Jesus‘ name, Amen.
Read: 1 Chronicles 23:21-27:15
And they were to stand every morning thanking and praising the LORD, and likewise at evening, and whenever burnt offerings were offered to the LORD on Sabbaths, new moons, and feast days, according to the number required of them, regularly before the LORD. 1 Chronicles 23:30-31
Well yesterday was different for me! For the last month I‘ve been writing every day and adding a few pictures here and there for fun, not yesterday! It was the funniest thing; I went to bed with a picture, just a single picture in my head of what God had given me to say yesterday. I jotted it down on a note card before I went to sleep so that I would remember it in the morning. Then when I sat down to start working on it, it wasn‘t very long before I realized that one single picture just wasn‘t going to work because all the verses that God was giving me simply wouldn‘t fit on one photo! So I added a second photo-pairing to make more room, no big deal. But then He gave me even more scripture! I‘m not sure how many hours I worked on that project, but I spent the entire afternoon and evening on it! The more I tweaked them the closer they got to looking “right“. The more I added and moved and subtracted the more I could feel the Spirit resounding within me that they were the way He wanted them to look. It was very exciting! The truths that those few verses convey are so huge to me. Jesus came and everything changed!
If you have kids you know what I mean when I say a baby changes everything. Sure people tell you that when you‘re pregnant, and you believe them too, but until that baby is in your arms and living in your house you don‘t realize how much “everything“ really means. That child, that new life, changes EVERY-THING! There is no way to easily describe what that everything encompasses, you just have to have lived it to understand what I mean. Two thousand years ago, a baby was born, but not just any baby that would change everything in the lives of its parents. No, this baby came to change EVERYTHING. Everything this world has ever known since the fall of Adam and Eve changed when that baby was born. But some things are still catching up to the changes that Jesus brought with Him. See, YOU don‘t change until you accept Him, until you let Him into those secret places in your heart where your darkest feelings and regrets are stored. If you‘re not being intimate with Jesus on a regular basis, then you are missing out on the EVERYTHING that He offers.
In our reading today the passage that jumped out to me this morning was about how the Levites were to stand every morning and evening and praise God with thanksgiving in their hearts. How often do we as Christians stand up for the one and specific purpose of praising and thanking God for the blessings He has placed into our lives? I‘ll be the first to admit that I don‘t do a great job of this, which is one of the specific purposes of this blog to be honest! It gives me a platform on which to stand and proclaim God‘s goodness in my life. If no one chooses to listen to my proclamations, so be it, but at least I‘m standing up for what I believe in on a daily basis right?
I woke up this morning with the Holy Spirit singing Britt Nicole‘s song All This Time. The line that He kept singing over and over again was: “I‘m not the same me, that‘s all the proof I need“. Isn‘t that what being in a relationship with Christ is all about? Becoming someone and doing something that you never could have been or done before. When we allow Christ to come in and clean all the junk out of our hearts we change! I tell ya, I‘ve always had a relationship with Christ. For as far back as I can remember my family has attended church regularly. I remember reading my Bible in high school, I would pray sometimes, you know me and God, we were tight. Or at least I thought we were anyway! But then about four years ago something changed in our relationship. I can‘t really tell you what the inciting incident was, because I myself am not really sure. All I know is that it was as if something inside me clicked for the first time. I was doing the Beth Moore Bible study “A Woman‘s Heart“ on the Tabernacle and I was enjoying the study a lot, the women I was doing it with were AMAZING, when we got to the end of the study we were watching the very last video and Beth took all the strands that she had been weaving together throughout the study and gave them one last tug. It was one of those “Aha!“ moments where it was as if we had been watching her weave a tapestry throughout the entire study and it was so beautiful and then she finished it and turned it around and we realized that we had been watching her weave from the back of the tapestry and not the front! Suddenly we were able to see the whole picture clearly, we were able to see the message that she had been telling us for the last several weeks in a multitude of ways, GOD IS AWESOME! (There‘s a lot more detail to it, but I‘m not going to give it away because I highly recommend that study!) The moral of that story was that Jesus came and changed everything, in ways that we never could have expected. When Adam and Eve sinned they turned the world that God created upside down, and when Jesus came, died and rose from the dead He turned the world right side up again; at least that‘s what happens in our lives when we choose to follow Him. Bit by bit He turns our upside down thinking right side up.
The revelation that I received at the Winter Jam concert is something that God has been trying to drill into my brain for YEARS now. Up to that point I was allowing way too many voices to have a say on how I defined myself as a Christian. And even though the majority of those voices were Christian voices, many of them famous pastors and speakers, I was allowing them to speak the word of God into my life without filtering it through THE Word of God first. I was allowing them to tell me what the Bible says instead of reading it for myself! Which to a point is OK, but if you‘re not reading the Word on your own then you will be MUCH more susceptible to believing things that may or may not be true for YOUR life. That is one of the major things that I have learned through this writing through the Bible in a year project, while some things may work for some people, they might not work for me or my family.
Before I was reading and writing daily I was listening to a really good Christian talk radio and I was watching quite a few Christian preachers on our Satellite TV too; all good things. Except there was one major result that I kept getting over and over again, condemnation and judgment. The overwhelming message I was receiving was “thou shalt not _____“. The teachings I was listening to were all focused on the Law. And following the Law brings glory and some transformation yes, but it doesn‘t bring you liberation. And that‘s what I was finding.
In that Aha moment from “A Woman‘s Heart“ I had a moment of realization, I love God. Not like, “hey You‘re my god and I love you because I‘m supposed to“. It was like, “HEY! You‘re GOD, I LOVE YOU!!!!!“ It was in that moment, through my dedication to studying God‘s word on my own, that I realized that God loves ME enough to die for ME. I came to understand that God loves me so much that He would rather die than live without me! That kind of radical love changes people! But that kind of love can get tangled up in the rules of men. I was so in love with Christ and was so grateful for the changes He had made in my life, but I was still so tangled up in the rules of men and the standards that Christians hold each other to, that I wasn‘t able to serve God the way that He was calling me to serve. When God‘s love first really came to life in my heart I changed A LOT! If there was a verse in the Original Testament that said “Thou shalt not wear men‘s clothing“ (in our culture pants) then OK, I won‘t wear pants any more Lord! All for You! I love You! If I read a verse saying that a woman‘s long hair was her glory and that short hair is shameful, OK Lord! I won‘t cut my hair anymore! I did absolutely EVERYTHING I could to follow every letter of the Law verbatim and was leaning on the Lord to help me follow it. Except, you know what happened? I failed. Big time! The more I focused on following the Law, the more I failed it! I found myself feeling more and more like a failure every day. I was trying so hard to be perfect and follow the Law perfectly, never thinking bad thoughts about anybody, never saying anything against anyone, never rounding the corners of the Law. And the more I tried to follow the Law out of an intense Love for my Savior, the more I found myself tied up in absolute knots!!! I was failing to remember that the purpose of the Law was to take us to the end of ourselves and show us just how much we need God. Not just to live in heaven either, we need His GRACE to live an ABUNDANT life in the here and NOW!
I have learned that God has called each and every one of us to something different in this life. He has called us to be who HE made us to be. But how can we know what that is if we‘re always listening to those voices out there telling us that we‘re all supposed to be skinny and blonde with perfect skin and no gray hair, no wrinkles or age spots, perfect. Guess what my friend, there is no perfect human being. Period. But you know what… THAT‘S how God made us! He didn‘t make us to be perfect. He made us to be imperfect so that it would be through our imperfections that His perfection could shine! I mean really, what is light with no darkness to shine in? What is white without black? What is hot without cold? What is a perfect sunny day when we‘ve never experienced a rainy cloudy one? Because of our imperfections God perfection seems even more radiant and awesome. It is because of our imperfection that we are inclined to seek perfection. But it is IMPOSSIBLE to find it within ourselves, because it‘s not there! But it can be. God created each and every one of us with a desire to seek perfection, HIS perfection. But all too often we look for it in all the wrong places. Personally, I‘ve looked for it in myself and in my life. I‘ve striven to keep a perfectly clean house, cook perfectly yummy meals from scratch, keep my kids looking perfect all the time (just in case someone sees them), keep my hair looking perfect and my clothes; and all that‘s done is drive me CRAZY! I was seeking perfection in all the wrong places!!! And now, through this challenge that God has issued me, I get up every morning and I seek God‘s perfection in His word. I pray for Him to open my eyes, ears, mind, heart and hands and for Him to come and fill them with HIMSELF and His perfection, His Holy Fire. The key is being open to God and His Spirit moving within you and your life. To be open to accepting His plan for your life no matter what that might be. Be open to His grace and forgiveness and allow them to seep into your soul and transform EVERYTHING in you that might be upside down still. God can change EVERYTHING in an instant IF you will let Him.