Yes, songs are speaking to me. To my heart. Enough said.
I’ve been MIA for a few weeks. I’ve been working on a special study that is very emotionally draining….things I cannot blog about at this time….and I have nothing left over in my energy or time to even read blog posts, much less write them. So until I come out of this, my “visits” here on WordPress will be irregular.
But I came across this article on Facebook the other day that was so encouraging to me that I wanted to pass it along to someone else who may need to hear it:
“If God wants us to be in His will and to do His will, then why is knowing His will so difficult?”
To read the rest, click here.
If you’ve never done the study (Knowing and Doing The Will Of God), I highly recommend it! I completed it about 15 years ago, and it impacted me. I’ve been working on it the past couple of months, and it’s impacted me even more. This time, He prompted me to start work on this study BEFORE I started another project He’s called me to do. And I understand why. You are Good, Lord!
I’ll admit that not everything in this study have been easy things to hear & understand. In fact, I didn’t particularly care nor like some of them. But I know that it’s all Truth…… God will definitely talk to you during this study no matter where you are in your journey with Him. I believe that.
I love that Blackaby & Claude V. King began with some basics that are vital to know & believe before we can do any Kingdom work, such as God pursues a love relationship with us.
Below are the Seven Realities of Experiencing God that Blackaby expounds on in the workbook, These were so powerful to me! I’ll write in maroon what I got out of each so far.
- God is always at work around you. Awesome to know that He never sleeps, never is at rest, always is working to accomplish His purposes…even when we don’t realize it or it doesn’t seem that way. And sometimes it doesn’t seem that way because His purposes and ways are NOT OURS.
- God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real & personal. I‘m so grateful that He PURSUES me. He’s the “HOUND OF HEAVEN.” And, in His patience, grace and mercy, He’s teaching me that He LOVES me. That He LOVES me. That He LOVES me. (that bears repeating over & over…He knows I NEED that repetition until I believe it with all my heart & soul. He’s also is gracious enough to keep showing me that He is trustworthy.
- God invites you to become involved with Him in His work. I’m going to highlight the word INVITE here. What a HUGE epiphany this was…instead of thinking what I can DO FOR HIM (and feeling in my heart that I usually fail Him) and/or viewing what He wants me to do as a chore or too hard or too inconvenient, etc. He REVEALS what He is going to do. That revelation becomes an INVITATION to join Him! And that it is NOT MINE to accomplish but His! He will do/accomplish His work with or without me, but I would miss out on a blessing if I don’t join Him! This was HUGE! HUGE! Such a fresh perspective for me.
- God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways. I’ve written many times about how God has spoken to me. My GC’s…and He is soooo good to confirm with me….when I doubt I’m hearing Him or doubt I can do what He asks or even when I “don’t want to.” He’s persistent. “Every experience must be controlled & understood by the Scriptures.” So thankfully, He almost always gives me Scripture in one of these confirmations/GC’s.
- God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith & action. This one really got to me. Sometimes I’m hesitant because I just can’t see how/why/when, etc. I either try to rush it or deny it because I don’t feel ready or capable (yes, I know….that goes back to #3) or something. One of the statements in the workbook was “Do not assume that the moment He calls you that you are ready for the assignment. (emphasis mine) That was a relief because it’s something I’ve felt – that I’ve failed Him. That I’ve waited too long or ignored His voice, etc. But at the same time, this is hard because it also said He was “developing my character to match the assignment He has for me.” And that always sends me back to my fall-back reaction – “What if developing my characters means something BAD will happen in my life?” Which #2 addresses!
- You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing. I just started working on this one right now. I’ll admit that I don’t like the sound of it. HA! I’ll let you know how it goes…
- You come to know God by experience as you obey Him & He accomplishes His work through you. This part sounds awesome!
The Truth About Guilt and Comparison
By Doug Fields
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,
Most Christians claim to want to connect with God regularly—or at least they want the benefits of the richer life that result from consistent connections. But when it comes to turning desire into discipline, most don’t. Failure gives birth to guilt.
The guilt can be crushing. Wonderful people limp through the Christian life marred by it. It’s guilt, guilt, guilt 24/7—I don’t pray enough. I’m not reading the Bible like I should. I haven’t witnessed to my neighbor. I don’t spend enough time with God…Guilty.
If guilt defines you, I’m so sorry. I pray that you’ll come to see that you’re not a “lousy Christian” if you don’t have a traditional quiet time. The Christian life is not about locks and chains. Jesus Christ came to set us free. Yes, some guilt may serve as God’s motivator, but too many Christians cower because of false guilt—aka condemnation—that they’ve heaped upon their own shoulders because they’ve compared themselves to an unrealistic model and come up short. That type of guilt is wrong and unfair, and it will weigh you down and wear you out.
Comparison is deadly, yet so natural. It’s easy to place ourselves next to someone we think has it together spiritually, constantly taking mental notes on how we don’t measure up. Yet, comparison only assumes that others are doing what we’re not, and so we end up contrasting what we know about ourselves (everything) with what we don’t really know about others (which is almost everything). Again, not fair.
Then, to make maters worse, we hear stories about people such as Martin Luther, who awoke each day at 4:00 a.m. and spent hours with God. “I have so much to do today that I should spend the first three hours in prayer,” he said. Now, that really piles on the guilt. I’m really happy for Martin Luther that he was able to pull that off. But, as for me, I’m not a morning person. I didn’t even know there was a 4:00 a.m. until I read his quote in seminary.
For me, I’d much rather hear something about how his early-morning prayer sessions made him extremely grumpy in the afternoons because of his lack of sleep. That would be something I could really relate to!
Here’s my encouragement: Please stop comparing. You aren’t Martin Luther. Neither am I. You’re you! God designed you to be you in your faith too. I’m not suggesting you can’t have an intimacy with God similar to that of other heroes of our faith; of course you can. But I’m asking you to quit comparing, and instead, be challenged to learn how to connect with God in realistic ways that fit with how you’re wired. You can do this! I know you can.
A while back, the workbook Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby & Claude King kept coming to mind, and I’d think “I should do that again. It was good.” Then I’d just go on with daily life and not do it. But the closer I got to working on a special project that I felt God calling me to do, the more pressing was the thought of re-reading Experiencing God BEFORE the special project.
And I now KNOW WHY! He is preparing me! I’ll be sharing some tidbits from the workbook over the next few posts. Wow…wow! Some amazing stuff in that workbook study!
As I started Experiencing God and realized WHY He wanted me to do that study again and WHAT He was doing, I felt totally guilty that I hadn’t started when He first prompted me. I started beating myself up. Thankfully, God spoke to me that I was doing it in His time….if I had done it earlier, I would have missed some vital revelations that are pertinent to NOW.
But my first self-condemning reaction was my usual M.O. It’s my DEFAULT reaction. My.Whole.Life. Feeling guilty. That I’ve done something wrong. Again. Feeling less than adequate. That I wasn’t measuring up. That my performance wasn’t up to par.
What an epiphany I had….Well, duh…
After hundreds of sermons, devotionals, journaling, prayer, Bible studies…..I’m STILL ranking myself in the “Christian Hall of Fame” and ending up waaaaay down at the bottom. I’m STILL trying to EARN God’s Love and acceptance. I’m STILL feeling guilty when I fail at MEASURING UP! I’m STILL trying to please the impossible-to-please God in my mind. I’m not talking about being convicted of my sinful ways here….it goes way beyond that.
I didn’t think I was doing that anymore. But He showed me that I was. You could read my journals & see exactly what I’m talking about…..always apologizing for not being who I think I should be. Who I try to be. Who I think God wants me to be.
One of many things He’s been revealing to me, especially through Experiencing God. More on that later…..
P.S. I had to add this onto what I had already written above but not published yet: I got an email devotional this morning. Guess what it was about? Yep. That’s right. Here’s an excerpt:
I carry shame and guilt over sins I have already confessed. I hold onto the guilt and work to make it up to God. I live as if I am really, really sorry, then He will forgive me. Or, if I do something for someone else today, then maybe I will make myself right before God. However, that is not what the Lord has for us. Christ has set us free. Not free to do whatever we please but free from the penalty of sin. In fact, we have freedom from having to earn His love and earn His forgiveness. He has already paid the price, and he has already forgiven us of our vices and shortfalls.
Actions in keeping with repentance are appropriate! But, all those extra “sorry’s” and all the things I do to try to make myself right with God are not about Him. Those things are all about the attempts I make to improve my “standing” in His eyes.SDG (Soli Deo Gloria which means, “To God alone glory”)
This was one of my email devotionals from a while back. I remember hearing about this a long time ago, and since my last post spoke about giving God the Glory, I thought I’d share this…and I think I shall include these letters in my posts from now on.
By Jim Liebelt
Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.
While searching on a website devoted to Johann Sebastian Bach, I found something interesting. It seems that Bach often wrote the letters “JJ” at the beginning of his scores and the letters “SDG” at the end. What did these letters mean? JJ stood for the Latin Jesu Juva, which means “Help o Jesus.” So, it seems that at the beginning of creating his music, Bach was requesting Divine help. SDG stood for the Latin Soli Deo Gloria, which means, “To God alone glory.” It seems that at the end of creating his music, Bach gave thanks to God.
Bach was an extremely gifted composer. Still, despite his talents, he had the habit of asking for Jesus’ help as he began his work and then giving thanks to God when he was finished. This plants within me the desire to be more intentional about including God in my day.
I would think that it would be easy for a person of Bach’s giftedness to take God’s role in their life for granted—to begin to rely on self and to take some time to pat oneself on the back for a job well done! If a person of Bach’s talent and giftedness made it a habit to ask for God’s help and to give God thanks, how much more should we do the same?
In the end, it is to our benefit to be reminded that we are all dependent upon the Lord for everything. We really do need His help! We also benefit from giving thanks to God. It gives us needed perspective to understand that all we accomplish is from God’s gracious hand.
If you’re a gardener, you know that weeds come up faster than we can pull them up, choking out the good plants….just as “weeds” in our spiritual lives, such as our worries, struggles, etc. keep coming back, threatening to choke out the good work that God has started in our lives. Judy Peterson says: “Weeding…get used to it. It’s never going to be a project you finish. It’s just something you’re going to keep ahead. Because new “weeds” keep popping up in place of the ones you just pulled….when I focus on one bad habit, then I notice another one has grown to 6 feet tall.”
She advises to ask the Holy Spirit to let you know when He sees a weed and for you to pull it up immediately. You may think you have time before the “good stuff” gets choked out but remember WEEDS GROW FAST. Also to ask the Spirit to point out the “sneaky” weeds that mimic the good plants. For example she says, “Bitterness grows in the same part of my garden as righteous anger, and I can’t always tell the subtle difference. But the Holy Spirit can.”
“The only thing that stands between you and producing 30, 60, 100 fold is how you deal with your dirt.”
And the good news is WE don’t have to produce the fruit….we just deal with our dirt and let the expert Gardener take care of the rest.
As I recommended in my earlier posts: This is just a little teaser about a really great message. If you want to hear it in its entirety, go to this site and listen to Judy Peterson’s talk. It’s a little long BUT SO WELL WORTH IT! Not only does she speak truth, she’s funny. YOU WILL NOT BE SORRY YOU LISTENED TO THE WHOLE THING.
Yep. That’s what I did on Sunday. Gave God a “way out.” Oh, and in case you’re not sure which definition I mean, it’s this one:
|Noun||1.||way out – an opening that permits escape or release; “|
Wasn’t that incredibly generous of me?!?!? To give the Creator and Master of the Universe an excuse…in my mind…..to NOT answer my prayer?!?!?
Let me back up…
I had BOLDLY prayed the last couple of days for a very specific answer, well actually a very specific way of the answer. I guess I “put out the fleece.” Oh, I did ask Him to forgive me if doing that was inappropriate. Because I obviously know that it’s presumptuous for me to expect Him to ‘jump through hoops’ for me. I know that Scripture tells me not to test God. I know that asking for a sign or “putting out the fleece” is a sign of weak faith. Of doubt. Of unbelief. Of not trusting Him.
But because He is a a patient and loving Abba, Daddy, He knows me and my heart and my struggle to trust Him completely and wholeheartedly. He knew I NEEDED to pray what I did, that I NEEDED Him to answer that specific way. He knew I NEEDED that assurance that He loves me. That He hears me. I NEEDED to know I mattered to Him. I NEEDED to know for absolute certain that I was doing what He wanted. I had prayed “Help me in my unbelief” earlier.
And He knew that I could give Him all the GLORY because I would have NOTHING to do with how it was answered. Or making it happen that exact way.
However…….although I prayed right before church “Be the God Who Answers Prayers, Be the God Who Provides,” AND although one of the songs we sang actually had the phrase “the God Who Provides” (yes, quite a GC, isn’t it?) AND although the sermon touched on some of the things I had journaled about this past week, I STILL gave God a “way out”….but not really.
My head-thought process went something like this….imagine a Eeyore-type voice: “Oh, I’m sure God probably won’t answer my prayer EXACTLY in the way I asked. I need to be prepared. He probably will not want to answer it the way I expect….that’s not the way He works. Sigh… It’s all in His timing, not mine….”
Then…unbidden….came my HEART-thought process: “But I REALLY NEED Him to answer it that way. If He doesn’t, it won’t help my faith…” And that does not make me proud to admit that my NEED for the exact answer to prayer was something so strong and dramatic.
But my Abba, Daddy, in His faithfulness, patience, mercy, kindness, love and abundant GRACE delighted to give me the cry of my heart. Me. His beloved child.
He didn’t need a “way out.” He answered my prayer EXACTLY as I needed. And His timing was IMMEDIATE. I was overwhelmed and humbled.
And my faith is strengthened.
Glory Be to God. Praise His Holy Name.
Yesterday, within a couple of hours, I heard David Crowder’s song “How He Loves Us” twice from different sources. It’s a very stirring song to me, and I actually wondered about hearing it twice in such a short time period. Coincidence or God Coincidence? Was He sending it to me for some reason?
Due to God’s prompting, I am re-reading Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. Today I was shaken by this morning’s reading.
The verse was Matthew 22:37-38:
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Then the question: If you were standing before God, could you describe your relationship to Him by saying, “I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART AND ALL MY SOUL AND ALL MIND AND ALL MY STRENGTH?”
That cut me to the quick.
Could I? Or would I say the same as this man when asked that question in the example:
“Nobody has ever asked me that. No, I could not describe my relationship with God that way. I could say I obey Him, I serve Him, I worship Him, and I fear Him. But I cannot say that I love Him.”
My heart broke. And I had to ask myself, “Do I love God this way?”
I know it’s still hard for me sometimes to really believe that He loves me….I mean in my heart, truly and firmly and with no doubt. And that affects my trust in Him. God and I had have many discussions about that over the years.
He pursues me with His Love. He continually assures me – the needy child who seems to ask her Daddy over and over “Do You love me?” – with patience and faithfulness and…yes, LOVE.
How could I not love Him with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind and all my strength? Help me Holy Spirit to have a whole-hearted love relationship with the One who created me for that very purpose.