Being the last day of 2018, one might care to sit and reflect on the last 365 days, but after such a great day in the Lord yesterday, I don’t want to look back to last year. Not because there weren’t some amazing things that took place, but because I am ready to harvest the blessings that are waiting on me in the upcoming year. My perspective has shifted somewhat, I suppose. There will always be regrets, there will always be things we wish we would have done differently and the devil is good at using them to remind us that we didn’t plant enough seeds or tend to our spiritual garden as we should. He loves to try and get us stuck in the mud and dwelling on the past. Why? Because if we are passing judgement on ourselves and wallowing in that mud of self-pity, we miss out on the blessings that God has laying before us, ready to be harvested! As I go into 2019, I refuse to allow my past rule over my blessings! I know that God loves me so much more than the devil is able to trip me up. I’m gonna spend my time in the orchard picking up all those blessings that have been lying on the ground, waiting on me to come in with my basket and pick them up. It’s the year of reaping the rewards, my friends. Grab your sickle and join me as the fields are ready. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t quit throwing out seeds, but eventually you have to swing the sickle, too. God’s blessings are all around you as you close the book on this year. Start 2019 with a harvest, not planting. In doing so, others see those blessings you are gleaning and want in on the harvest. God has a way of using the seeds just as much as the sickle. I’m claiming it now, how about you?
“Open you eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest.” John 4:35
I know there have been times I had to face some pretty harsh disappointments to radically encounter God. It took going down the mountain full speed and not stopping until I was completely shattered when I hit the bottom. It was going to take God to put me back together. Not self. Sometimes we have to be completely broken to dust to be remade into a different vessel that God can use. We can choose to let God be the glue or we can try to fix it ourselves. I can promise you, our glue is the cheap stuff. It won’t hold for long and you will be searching for a different way. How about reaching for God first? He IS the good stuff. He sticks closer than a brother. When He puts you back together, you may still remember being broken and feel the scars, but when others look at you, they will only see the miracle performed in your life and how God made you whole…new again.
God is the glue when disappointments leave you shattered.
“Yet You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)
This morning, I started back reading the next part of Lysa’s book. Y’all, I had to stop for a minute as I was reading it. Before I started, I whispered to God a short little prayer, “I want to see more of you, learn more about you.” Well, He revealed something that I probably should have already known being saved for so long, but then again probably not, ‘cause I never studied to understand. I kept going back and reading it over and over again!
I’m a perfectionist. I guess we are all at times, because we were created that way…but at times I let that perfection of what things should look like be a disappointment when it doesn’t go the way I had planned. I have always had the question of why did God create Adam and Eve if He knew they were going to sin? Well, today she asked the same question and gave amazing insight to my heart! This is awesome stuff, people:
“I mean, once Adam and Eve sinned, couldn’t God strip the awareness and craving for perfection out of their hearts before He vanished them from the garden? Yes, He certainly could have done that. But to strip out the cause of our disappointment would Also rob us of the glorious hope of where we are headed.”
You see, if there wasn’t that sin in the garden, we wouldn’t appreciate Jesus. We are living in a love story with our Creator. That disappointment, discontent and heartache puts an ache in our heart to long for God…because we want to get back to that perfection in which we were created. Read Revelation 21:3-5. We will get back there if we have put our trust in Him. We will be restored back to Eden….perfection.
Our hearts were created for perfection, but we don’t live there now. We need Jesus. He is our perfection. God always has a plan…even when we try to do things our way, His plan will happen. He knows the beginning and the end. We make the choices on how we choose to get there. Just remember, everything in this world will disappoint you eventually…but God never disappoints. His ways are higher…that’s why we don’t always understand them. Disappointments will come, but use them as a catalyst to dig deeper in your faith and trust the promise in Revelation 21 as we live in between the two gardens of perfection.
*this is not my drawing, but oh how it represents exactly what I read today!
The sink is full of dishes, I have a “dead” panda in my living room, three baskets of laundry, two kids sleeping, one husband husband fishing, and one hiney sitting, drinking coffee on the couch! (That’s me)
I’m singing FA LA LA friends! My Christmas shopping is done and all my presents are wrapped! In my little merry, Jesus in a manger, ‘tis the season universe…
I started my girl Lysa’s new book today. I only got through the introduction and I wanted to keep reading, but I’m just gonna marinate all day on this scripture and the words I wrote down. The word that stuck out to me the most was victory…being victorious. That was the theme from the introduction, I suppose. So, I took a second and looked up the definition.
Victory: a win over an opponent or a difficult problem. Success over an enemy in battle.
Listen, I’ve been saved a long time, and I know there is “Victory in Jesus”…”there’s even a song about it, but what about victory in your life…in my life. What does victory look like to you? Often times, I have thought victory came when I was making enough money, all my bills were paid and my kids were making good grades and being well-behaved. I thought victory was owning my own business or competing in figure competitions striving to have the “perfect body”. Well, that wasn’t victory because I came in second for three straight years. Ha! But seriously, we have a skewed sense of victory in our lives. We are so focused on carnal (fleshly) desires…things of this world…to define our win over the enemy. Unfortunately, we let the enemy become ourselves. Remember, the only enemy is the devil. He’s good at making you think there is victory in the crap in this world. Sorry, I’ve used crap a lot, today.
Victory of course lies within Jesus. I didn’t have to tell you that. Life is always going to throw us curveballs and we can’t predict the outcome of day or week, but we can trust that victory isn’t found in this world. I want to live in the victory I have today…not how things “may” turn out or come to pass. We are going to be okay, because Jesus is victorious. It’s not about what is going to happen, it’s about what is happening right now! Often times I have to remind myself, God is in control, yes…but we have the ability (given by the Almighty) to be victorious! I’m going to pray that God would shift my viewpoint on victory…’cause honestly, the battle has already been won (on the cross), it’s just learning to live underneath it!
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
While at the Gatlinburg Christmas parade a couple weekends ago, there was a boy playing a horn in the marching band. He wasn’t marching on his own, but was being pushed in his wheelchair as he played. He was on the opposite side of the street from us, but I felt so compelled to take his picture as I watched the parade go by…all the while I was thinking to myself, “what a picture of determination by the young man in the wheelchair, but also one of camaraderie by his peer. I’m not sure if the person pushing the wheelchair actually played an instrument when he wasn’t doing the pushing, but it did get me thinking…
How often are we quick to stop tooting our own horn, long enough to allow someone else to shine? Do we encourage others…lift them up…or are we constantly looking for the next moment to leave them knocked down…”sitting”…because we are so focused on our own music…our own march? This world has a “ME” mentality. If something doesn’t benefit us or ours, we don’t have time for it. We usually expect someone else to push our neighbor up from the valley, but God may be calling us to get behind them and do the pushing! God wants us to be sensitive to the needs of those around us each day. Look for a reason to help someone today. Jesus isn’t just a Savior…He was a helper while he walked the earth…He was a miracle worker in the lives of many. You can be a miracle to someone, too. Don’t miss an opportunity to encourage those you come in contact with today. You may be their miracle.
Even better, the parade is actually named, “The Gatlinburg Festival of Lights Parade.” I went to the parade expecting a show. I didn’t expect a reminder from God to be the light to others through a high school marching band. Sometimes God speaks through a whisper that’s hard to discern, and then other times He likes to clang cymbals, blow the trumpet and precisely march a message into your heart that allows your soul to dance to the beat. When we look for ways to be Jesus to others, self is okay with taking place in the back. It’s not about how great we march, because we are going to misstep from time to time…it’s that our hearts are always marching toward honoring Him.
Hebrews 6:10 (NIV) “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
“There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.”
D.L. Moody was correct in his statement many years ago. Often we are motivated by praise or recognition. We want to be loved and appreciated and so we try to find “big things” to do for the Lord. We want to be the brains of the operation, when God has called us to be the fingernail or toenail. When I looked up the purpose of fingernails/toenails online, Google wasn’t much help…couldn’t believe it! Apparently, there isn’t really much of a purpose (according to scientists). Protection to the end of our fingers, help with diagnosis of health issues by paramedics, scratch an itch, maybe? It’s just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to most of us in our daily lives, but I must say I am glad we have them, because our hands would not only look weird without them, we wouldn’t be able to do so many things like scratch our backs, pick our nose (don’t act like you ain’t never 🤣), open a soda can, peel an orange or pick up a penny on heads. The worst part, we wouldn’t be able to get a pedicure…which is just absolutely wonderful, my friends! The same goes for the little things we do for the Lord. Sometimes the smallest things have the biggest impact for someone who just needs to see a little bit of Jesus. The big things wouldn’t happen, without someone doing the small stuff. I don’t want to be motivated by praise from the fellow man or recognition…I want to put a smile on someone’s face, be a living example of Jesus and pay it forward somehow. God doesn’t always call you to be the “brains” and do the big things. That’s been a little hard for me in the last few years as I have been in a transition period in life/ministry/church. I have done the big things…directed VBS, taught classes and sang in the choir on Sunday. All that is great and extremely important in ministry, but I want to be more sensitive to the little things…the fingernails…those things that are overlooked, forgotten and taken for granted that God can use to further His Kingdom. God can use you in the most unexpected ways. Who would have thought that some dead cells could be so pretty when covered with some polish? That’s just like the sinner. We are dead in sin and covered in the blood…beautiful in God’s sight! You may think you are insignificant and not very useful, but God always has a purpose for where you are and how He can use you! He did say we are the body…fingernails and toenails included!
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27
I heard someone last week say, “Whatever you look at the most gets in you.” Meaning, whatever we watch, read or see the most gets ingrained in our brains…in our spirit…in our soul. Oh, how true! We fill our spiritual tanks with so much garbage most days. By the end of the day, we are sputtering and if you are like me, ready to crash! I know how easy it is to get wrapped up in other peoples lives on Facebook that we miss out on living our own. We can focus on not missing an episode of “This is Us” that we forget who we really are! How many times have you read a book and couldn’t put it down? The plot was so thick you just couldn’t wait to finish…or if you hate reading, what about binge-watching entire seasons on Netflix.
Yep. We all fall somewhere in one of the scenarios I described. We are surrounded by so many distractions from technology. Oh it’s wonderful…I can attest to it being a blessing at times…and not having power for a few days from recent snowstorms and seeing some friends and family about lose their Jesus, shows we are so spoiled. We got to have it. We need it.
Well, I pose a few questions. What if we needed God’s Word like we needed Facebook? What if we couldn’t put down the Bible because the plot was so thick we couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter? What is we binge-watched God-inspired sermons to strengthen our walk with God and fortify our soul? Why don’t we want to saturate our lives with the things of the Lord? We can spend hours watching online makeup tutorials, but concealer doesn’t work with God. I’m not saying we should not read other books, watch television or have social media…but I am saying we should always keep our priorities in check. What we put our energy into becomes us. God sees our hearts. He knows where our priorities lie and he wants us to put Him first. Everything else should be second to Him. Is putting God first easy? No. It requires dying to self, which if I am being honest, isn’t always fun. It can suck sometimes, because we are selfish. But remember, if you are a follower of Christ, this life isn’t about you…it’s about Him. Jesus. I say, “Fill ‘er up, Lord”!
In the last week, I have talked with three women who are on the brink of divorce or are in the process of divorce. My heart breaks for them. Many times in the last couple of years I have felt as though God was telling me, “You are going to be an encouragement to others that will walk this road.” I didn’t exactly know what God meant by it at the time, but I have seen those words from Him come to fruition in more ways than one.
Am I perfect? Heck, no!
Am I qualified to give someone relationship advice? Absolutely not!
Most ladies that I have talked to had this one question…”How did you get through it?” My response has always simply been, “God.” When there was hope of falling back in love with my spouse, I made the decision to fall back in love with my Creator. I absorbed myself in the Word and in journals of prayer. I received this Bible a couple of years before my divorce and it was fairly still in good shape, but now, the cover is falling off and some pages are so worn/torn from the hours of study and meditation on God’s Word. These journals represent a multitude of prayers of frustrations, praises and pains. I’m not showing these to say, “I’m so holy and I read my Bible and pray.” I’m showing you because it is the evidence of a hard fought battle. It is my sword. It may be chipped, worn down and seen some hard wars, but it is still sharp. It still has the power to comfort me, because even though the papers have been signed, the days are not always easy. That’s when I go back to that sword and I start swinging Scripture the devil’s way.
It may not be divorce that you are facing…we each have different wars around us or within us. How do you handle them? God. Every answer you need you can find within the holy pages of the Bible. Did I want to do a lot of the things God asked of me after reading His Word?…not always, because surrendering your life to Him is tough. It requires you to walk away from things that are comfortable and react in ways that oppose the flesh. But in the end, I am so thankful for always trusting God through it all…He never failed me once and He renewed my faith in Him.
In your battles, just go to God. Dive in His Word. Soak up everything you can. You are going to need to hide those words within your heart when your soul is parched. Don’t rely on your own strength, because sister you are weak. You got this…but not on your own. You must have God, too.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130
Ever had one of those days when you just cry? Well, yesterday was my day. The devil was riding piggyback all weekend long and yesterday was my breaking point, but I got to tell you how God works.
Yesterday morning, we couldn’t seem to get it together, so we ended up missing Sunday School, but we made it to worship service. I ended up having to work on Sunday, which didn’t seem to help my frustration I was already having with the devil. You see, I believe that when the devil is up to something, God is up to something even greater. When I got back from the studio, i was in tears and I just had to go in the bathroom, close the lid of the toilet, plop down qand cry it out. You know how it is…maybe? The devil has used my past regrets and failures against me all weekend. Kevin came in the bathroom and crouched down beside me. He wanted to help me as I dealt with the regrets and heartache over past failures in my life. God already knows (cause I’ve given them to God and then taken them back on more than on occasion) and so does Kevin, but the devil likes to throw them in my face. We sat in the bathroom with him ministering to me, loving on me and just helping me to see that God has forgiven me a long time ago and I needed to forgive myself. You see, the devil likes to prey on us when we are weak…when we have worked too much and we are physically tired, our spirit is susceptible to attacks from Satan. Before we knew it, it was time for us to get ready to go back to church. I mentioned this to him and he said, “Why don’t we just stay home? It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go, he seen that I needed rest. I said, “Let’s go to church….I need it, the boys need it and then we can come home and spend some time together.”
We get to church and the message was titled, “Disconnecting from Past Regrets.” Oh dear, Jesus. Here goes my tears again. Long story short (well, its already gotten long, but you know what I mean). This message was for me! As the altar call came, I couldn’t quit crying. As I stood there, it was like, I was saying to myself…”I got to get down there”, but I just stood there holding Kevin’s hand. Before I knew it, he was pulling me to the altar. He already knew I needed to be there. Gah lay, I love this man. He knew that I needed to fully lay those regrets at the altar and get up and walk away from them once and for all. Honestly, I haven’t been to an altar in over two years because I haven’t felt comfortable enough…insecurities, I guess. Sometimes just standing in the pews isn’t enough. Last night was one of those nights, where the pew wasn’t gonna do….I needed to lay it at the feet of Jesus for good.
I don’t know why, but I felt so compelled to write this down. Maybe just for me, because it helps me to write…but maybe it’s for someone else in “Facebookland” that is living with regrets that the devil enjoys throwing in your face. Let them go. Give them to God. It’s so hard to connect to God and live in the present when you are still connected to past regrets. God wants to live in today. Yesterday is gone, today is here and tomorrow may never come. Live in the now and do everything you can to be better than the person you were yesterday. God’s will is in the present, not the past. Of course, we all have a past, but we don’t have to drag it around with us. Sometimes we need a good cry, but then there are other times when we need a reminder that the grace of God has already fallen over those regrets and the devil isn’t allowed to use them against us anymore.
Disconnecting from past regrets to connect closer to my Jesus….that’s worth shedding some happy tears!
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”