Pretense!

I don’t know about you, but many times during my Christian walk, I have found myself just going through the motions. I get up in the morning, have my quiet time, check! Pray, check! Talk with kids about Bible story we read in school, check! Work on Bible memory verses, check! Yet, in spite of all these good things, without a real connection to the King of Kings, it’s just that, going through the motions.

I’m learning that just as good works don’t save us, good works don’t make my walk with the Lord grow. Yet, how easy it is to slip into pretense.  Most of us have enough Bible knowledge to be dangerous. We know all the right answers, we know how we are supposed to act and what to avoid. Yet, apart from intimacy with the Lord, none of this matters!

Have you ever noticed that on Sundays at church, most everyone has a smile on their face. Yet, if we could only see into their hearts most of these same people are carrying burdens, are struggling with sin and have fallen into the trap of pretense. People fear going forward during the invitation because they don’t want anyone to know what is really going on below the surface. How tragic this is. For church should be the one place we can be 100% real. It should be the place where we can lay our burdens down. Yet, it should also be a place where the Lord deals with our hearts, we are broken over sin and we come falling on our faces before God.

I’m quick to say I hate pretense, yet to be honest I fall into these same traps. The enemy longs to convince us that this is how it should be. That we have to somehow be perfect. Yet, the Bible teaches us an entirely different scenario. The Bible tells us we will have trouble, we will go through problems and that apart from Him we can do nothing!

How crazy we are to think we can pretend with God, He will not be fooled and is not pleased when we just go through the motions of worship, of Bible study or of attending church. We serve a jealous God, a God who desires our entire heart, our entire lives.

We may fool others, but never the Lord.  The Bible says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength. Luke 10:27 If you notice, He wants ALL of your heart, He wants ALL of your mind, ALL of your soul, and ALL strength to be focused upon Him.  He will not accept second place in your life. He wants to be first!

If your like me, you have definite room to grow. As I think upon how often I pretend, I am ashamed. It is my desire to truly love the Lord, to truly serve and worship Him and not to go through the motions. How about you???

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Prone to Wander Lord I feel it…..

Have you ever just had one of those days. A day when you started out ready to serve the Lord, ready to do His work. Yet, as the day progressed, as the problems arose, your heart drifted away and before you knew it, you had fallen flat on your face? If we are honest, we all have these days. Days when our hearts wander away from the Lord and sin takes the reign. Such days can be quite discouraging and if we aren’t careful the enemy rubs our noses in it and tells us to just give up trying.

As I was reading in my quiet time I came upon a verse in Deuteronomy that struck me. The Lord is getting ready to bring His people into the promised land. He has given them instructions to follow telling them that if they follow Him, He will pour out His blessings upon them. However, if they turn aside, He will rain down curses upon them until they repent and return. In Deut. 31:21, He says this, “I know what they are disposed to do.” As I read this I was reminded that God knew before He ever led them into the Promised Land that they would turn to other gods, that they would reject Him. Yet, in His infinite mercy He allows them to enter in. The same was true of Jesus the night of His arrest. That night two of His very own would betray and deny Him. This did not take Him by surprise and yet He still called them and loved them.

As I thought upon this, I was reminded how this too applies to me. The Lord knew before He saved me that I would betray Him, deny Him,and turn from Him. Yet, He saved me, called me, choses to use me and loves me. Each day the Lord knows how I will fail Him, He knows how many times I will sin. Yet, in His infinite mercy He loves me anyway. The Lord knows that my heart is prone to wander, He knows how fickle I can be. He knows how my emotions can determine my entire day and yet He loves me!!

This of course by no means gives me liberty to just go out and sin and live my own way. Yet, what encouragement is to be found in this. For despite all our short comings. Despite what the enemy wants us to believe. God still loves us when we fail, in fact, He’s there waiting to pick us up.

What a gracious, marvelous God He is! How I praise Him for His unending grace, His relentless mercy and His enormous love for a sinner such as me!

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Remember!!!

If you are anything like me, you are forgetful. If I don’t make a list of what I need to do, most likely it won’t get done. If I don’t write out a grocery list, I will come home having forgotten to get what I needed. As I get older, I find that this has become a real trial, forgetfulness! This plagues us all I’m sure, but I’m learning that this forgetfulness affects me spiritually as well.

Over and over again in God’s Word, we find the Lord telling His children to “remember”. He instructs them to build alters, to observe feast and to teach their children less they forget all the things the Lord has done. More and more I’m finding out how true and how great a need it is to do these things. Why? Because humanly speaking we are all forgetful!

When we are going through a trial, how easy it is to forget the Lord’s faithfulness, how easy to forget how He delivered us the last time, how quick we are to forget that the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the same Lord who carried us through a few years ago. He is the same Lord who brought us through the flames and delivered us. He has not changed, He is still on His throne and nothing is too much for Him to handle.

To be honest, I have had a few discouraging days. How tempting it is to just give into despair. To hold a pity party and despair over all the problems. Then I was reading in my quiet time and I came across Psalm 77. It was just what I needed and the Lord ministered unto my heart through the living Word.

11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.  What god is as great as our God?

The writer of the Psalm, Asaph, seems to be in despair as you read the beginning, then you come across verse 11 and it’s as if he says, you know what, things are bad, but instead of giving into despair, I will remember the Lord. I will think upon all He has done and praise Him.  As I read this, God spoke to my heart and said, remember!!! Remember how I have taken care of you all these years, remember how I have always provided for you! Remember how I have opened doors only I could open and taken care of all of your problems. Remember!! Then He said (not audibly) I’m still Lord! I haven’t changed, just as I took care of everything the last 100 times you had trials, I will take care of you now! Just as I met your needs in the past, I will meet them again!

Wow, awesome! Just what my discouraged heart needed to hear! I challenge you to search out God’s Word, only here will you find the strength to carry on. Only here can God speak to your heart as He did unto mine. I also challenge you to remember all God has done. Even when times are good, remember and praise Him. When times are hard, remember and find your strength in Him!

“What god is as great as our God!!!!” Ps. 77:13

Hopelessly Devoted to…………

Take a step back in time with me and you will remember a song on the movie Grease sung by Olivia Newton John entitled Hopelessly Devoted To You. When I was little I knew every song in the movie Grease and loved to sing along while watching the movie. One of my favorite songs of course was this song, which I would act out with great emotion :-).

This past week in Ladies Bible study we were studying Act 2 and the early church. I know you’re wondering what this song and Acts 2 have in common, just bear with me and I will explain. The early church saw amazing growth, it says daily the Lord added to their number. As we were studying this passage, we discussed this phenomenal growth and if it could happen again and if it could, why did we not see it occurring today. We had great discussion and all believed that of course God is able to do this even today. So then why do most churches see little to none of this? Well, if you look back up in the chapter, Luke tells us about this early church. He list four things that they were devoted to; the apostles teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer.

The word devoted means faithful, constant, loyal, devout or zealous (fervent, passionate, intense). Therefore the early church was passionate, constant, faithful to learn from the teaching of others, to fellowshipping together, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. We must remember that this group was made up of many new believers, therefore, they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching. Why, because they were hungry for God’s Word, they wanted to know what was right and wrong, how to live, how not to live….they wanted to know more! They devoted themselves to fellowship. They were living in a perilous time, Jesus has just been crucified and many were afraid what that meant for them once others knew they followed Christ. Therefore, they understood the need for fellowship with others who were like-minded, that they might find the encouragement and strength they needed. They devoted themselves to the breaking of bread. The night before the crucifixion, Jesus broke the bread and told them to do this in remembrance of Him. Thus, they were devoted to remembering the sacrifice of Christ and to giving thanks for His broken body and blood. Finally, they were devoted to prayer, for they realized apart from the Lord they could do nothing!

I believe that because of this great devotion they had unto the Lord, they saw the hand of God do amazing things in their midst. I have spent much time contemplating this verse this past week.Could it be that our churches today are not devoted to these things, truly?  As I have thought on this I’ve had to go one step further and ask myself am I devoted to these things? For I believe we too could see and experience maybe not the exact same growth, but the same power of God in our churches today and in our own lives. God hasn’t changed so the problem lies not with Him, but with our churches and our own lives. What are we devoted to? I believe we can learn a lot from the early church. No matter how long we have been saved, we should be devoted to learning more and growing in Christ. We need to be devoted to fellowshipping with other believer, for none of us are immune to discouragement. Every day we should give thanks for the sacrifice of Christ and remember the grace of God extended to us. Finally, we too must be devoted unto prayer.

Which leads me back to the song, as I thought about the word devoted, I couldn’t help but remember this song. Nor could I help but ask myself what am I devoted to? Am I like the early church truly devoted to the things of God. I’d like to say yes and believe I do strive for this, yet I am also aware of the many distractions in my life that deter me from these things. To be devoted to something or someone means putting that person/thing first, it means sacrifice, it means discipline. I realize I have much more growing to do, need much more discipline before I can say I’m truly devoted to the Lord and His work.

How about you, I challenge you to examine your own life. What are you devoted to? Here’s a hint, that which you spend the most time doing or whom you spend the most of your time with is a good indicator of where your devotion lies. You may be thinking well, certainly it’s okay to be devoted to my family, my job etc. The answerer is yes! Yet, another question remains, are you more devoted to these things/people than the Lord? I believe how we answer that question will show us where we need to grow and what we need to improve upon.

This was a very humbling lesson to learn, a very convicting thing to have to teach upon. Yet, if your like me, I’m thankful for the Lord’s kindness that leads me to repentance and the opportunity to repent and change.

Prayer with Thanksgiving

Have you ever been woke up during the night and no matter how hard you tried, you could not go back to sleep. Your mind was running on overdrive as you thought about the future or just went through your list of all you needed to do the next day. Saturday this happened to me. I had been sleeping good until Lauren woke up, after getting her settled back to bed, I laid back down thinking I’d go right back to sleep. Yet, the opposite happened. Instead of going back to sleep, I was wide awake and my mind went to work. I began trying to figure out what the Lord has for our family, I began contemplating the how, where and when. As I sat thinking of all the things needed to happen, my heart was overwhelmed.

One of my favorite verses in Psalms says, “When I am overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Ps. 61:2).” This verse began flooding through my mind. Which then led me to prayer. I know being anxious is sin, I know worry doesn’t please the Lord, so I began by confessing this sin. Then, I began to pray with thanksgiving. Thanking God that although I don’t know what He has for us, He does. I began thanking Him that He know exactly how everything will work out and thanked Him that He has it all under control. Every aspect that was overwhelming to my heart, I began to cast at His feet in thanksgiving. As I did this, the peace of God that transcends all understanding (Phil. 4:7) flooded my soul and before long I was fast asleep.

This week, the kids and I are working on memorizing Phil. 4:6-7 which states, “Do not be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and petition with THANKSGIVING present your request to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I believe many of us have no problem presenting our request to God, we know how to cry out to Him with our cares. Yet, I believe a huge aspect of this is to do it with thanksgiving. Why does this matter you might be asking? This matters because when we began to pray and thank God in advance for how He can and will work things out, how He can and will take care of everything, we are praying in faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” In the same manner praying in faith is huge.

In James 1, James is instructing the people that if they lack wisdom to pray and ask for wisdom. Yet, he goes on to explain how they should ask. He says, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

When we pray, we must pray in faith believing that God is able. That nothing is impossible for Him. When we do this, He can replace all the anxiety, all the worries with a peace unexplainable. Yet, if we doubt, if we pray in anxiety and don’t really believe He can handle it, we will walk away carrying the same burdens we had when we entered into prayer.

So this week as you pray and spend time in the throne room of grace, I encourage you to pray with thanksgiving and allow the supernatural peace of God to cover you! Remember no matter what, nothing is too much for the Lord!