Just Do It!!

Recently I came across an amazing blog called, Gracefullmama. It is written by a missionary wife in Indonesia. Her blogs are great and full of wonderful stories and lessons. As I was reading it the other day, one article in particular struck me. In this blog she spoke about how she gets up at 4:40 every morning, so she can have time with the Lord before her crew of 5 children arise. As I read this, I was amazed as well as convicted. For it seems I always have good intentions to get up earlier than everyone else, but most of the time, this just doesn’t happen. I applaud her for the discipline and determination she has to do this and I’m sure there are countless others out there who do the same. Yet, in the past few years of working with college students I know that this is not always a reality for all. Many like me have good intentions but a difficult time following through. On such days, it is easy to get down on oneself and think well I blew it, I guess I will try again tomorrow, instead of taking the time later in the day or before bed to have a quiet time. We have this mindset that if we didn’t do as we planned, then we will just not do it at all.

Now I am a firm believer that morning is best and that we do indeed need to start our days off with the Lord. The Bible tells us of Jesus who got up early to go and pray. If at all possible I do believe we should strive to follow His  example. Yet the reality for many is that because they failed to get up early, they forfeit their time with the Lord.

Years ago, I too fell into this scenario. With two small boys and a newborn, it was indeed my desire to get up early to have a quiet time, yet, after being up a couple of times in the night to feed Lauren or deal with a sick child, I just gave up. I was discouraged thinking, how am I suppose to have a quiet time. “Lord, I want to have time with you, but I don’t know how.” During this time, the Lord taught me a valuable lesson, one I have recently been reminded of. That He isn’t so much interested in what time I meet with Him, as He is with the fact that I just make the time that day to do it.

Since being in Korea, Lauren has never slept really well. It is a rare thing that she sleeps all through the night, she wakes up for one reason or another and wants me to come in her room until she falls back to sleep (a habit I began, shame on me). Needless to say, it is rare I get a solid night of sleep. So, getting up early isn’t always an easy thing for me. Yet, I have found other times that work great during the day when the boys are gone to their afternoon classes and Lauren has a bit of play time. Is it ideal? Not really, but the Lord meets with me anyway and I have time to rest in His presence and commune with Him.

Many I have met in Korea are discouraged with the concept of having a quiet time. They don’t know how, where to start, and many start with good plans for how they envision it to be. Yet, after a few failed attempts just give up. Again, I just want to stress the importance that you just do it. Make the time, take the effort to have your time with the Lord. If mornings work best, then do it in the am., if afternoons work best, then do it then, for some before bed is their best time, and again I say do it. God can and will meet with you morning, noon, or night. He loves you and wants to meet with you. Don’t be discouraged, don’t give up. Just do it!!!

Practical Tips:

1. Have a plan, when, where and how you plan to meet with the Lord (morning, noon, or night) *Remember if you fail to keep plan, don’t beat yourself up, pick another time that day. *The plan is not meant to be a burden, it’s meant to help.

2. Have a Bible reading plan. Again, if you are just reading here, there and everywhere, you will get discouraged or find times when you don’t know what to read, so you don’t read at all. Today, I use the Chronological One Year Bible, each day I know what I will be reading and it’s not too much to take in. The events are told in order of how they happened. There are many One Year Bibles out there or you can go online and find a one year Bible reading plan you can follow on your own. I find this helpful, b/c I always know what is next. Years ago, I would read 2 chapters out of old testament starting in Genesis and 2 out of the new testament starting in Mathew  and a Psalm. As I said, there are many good reading plans available, find one that works for you and just do it :-).

3. Before you begin reading, PRAY! Ask God to search your heart, confess any sin He brings to mind. *Remember, sin separates us from God, we must be right with the Lord to hear from Him. Ask Him to speak to you. After reading, close in prayer based on what God has shown you in reading time.

4. Start small, if at first you spend only 10-15 minutes, fine. Over time, the Lord will grow this time and show you how to make it work.

God desires an intimate relationship with us. Yet, to have that we must spend time with Him, both in prayer and in the study of His word. Whatever you do, don’t give into the temptation to forfeit your time with God. As you make time for Him, He will give your greater desires to study, to pray and He will always bless your efforts!

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The plans of the Lord

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

This has been a theme verse for me these last few weeks. As our family has been seeking the Lord to know His plans for us. At this time, these plans are still unknown by us, yet I rest in knowing He knows and that whatever He has for us is good. Many want to know and understand what God’s will is for their lives. Most of us wish God would be as obvious as the “fire by night and cloud by day” We want the Lord to make it easy, but what God wants is for us to truly seek Him. We may not have the fire by night or cloud by day, but we do have His Word, as Christians we have the Holy Spirit within us and through the blood of Jesus we have access to the throne of grace through prayer. Sadly to say, most of us just want God to show us and expect Him to just do it. I too am guilty of this. Yet, I’m learning it is in such times the Lord wants to see  if I will truly seek Him and trust Him.

If you have been on your Christian journey for any length of time, I’m sure the Lord has brought you to numerous cross roads, points in your life when you had to make a decision, times of unknown, times of uncertainty. It is for sure a difficult place to be. However, at such times I am reminded of the verse that says, “My times are in your hands.” We may not know what the Lord has, our future may seem as clear as muddy waters, yet in such times, God is there and He says, “Trust Me! I know the plans I have for you! They are for good and not for harm!”

Being in a place where all you can do is trust the Lord is often difficult, for most of us long for security, we long to be in control. Funny thing is even when we think we are in control, we are not, for our lives are in His hands, not our own. I am learning I must take each day one at a time, it does no good to look back with regret to the past, nor any good to strive to see into the future. The Bible says, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” We must live for now, serve Him now, enjoy life now. Only God knows what tomorrow will bring, but whatever it is, it is good and it is exactly what the Lord had planned for us since the foundation of the world.

So as we await God to make known unto us His will for our family, I rest in the fact that He knows and whatever it is will be good. Whatever He has is to give us hope and future. Many years ago, I heard a lady give this illustration, if you look at the back of a quilt, all you see is the different colored strings, weaving in and out, not seeming to make any sense. It really looks like a big mess. Yet, when you flip it over, you see the beautiful design the quilter made. Our Christian journey is a lot like this. Many times, it seems our lives are weaving all over, that God has brought about things in our lives that do not make any sense, yet like the quilter, God sees and knows the beautiful plans and future He has for us. We may not understand, it may seem He doesn’t even care, yet God sees and is using each circumstance, each situation in our lives for good, to make us more like Christ and to use us for His glory. We can trust Him, for He is always faithful!

He is faithful and just to forgive!

In my quiet time I am in the book of Judges. A line that you read again and again is this. “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord….” It seems they just don’t get it. One minute they are on their faces begging God to have mercy on them, the next they have returned to their wicked ways. It seems they have a continuous cycle that can’t be broken. If your like me, as you read your thinking what is wrong with these people. They have seen God do great things and heard the stories of old and yet as soon as life is going good, they forsake God and go their own way.

Yet, as I pondered this I realized how much like them I am. Now, I may not bow down to other gods, I may not sin in such wicked ways, however, how easy it is to put God on a shelf when life is going good. Like the Israelites we are all given to sin. We are prone towards pride that says, “I can do it myself!” We try and try to go our own way and think we are doing pretty good until tragedy strikes or problems arise and then like the Israelites we beg God to intervene.

Another thing that is striking is that God who is rich in mercy knew they would sin, He allowed them to have their way, to endure the consequences and then when they cried out to Him, He forgave them. I am reminded of  I John 1:9. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The book of Judges proves how true this is. Though they continually turned away, when they came before the Lord and repented, He always forgave.

Now truth be told, I don’t want to be anything like the Israelites, but I also know that my heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. I know that each day I’m going to fall down. Yet, how thankful I am that God is rich in mercy not only towards the Israelites but towards all of His children. How thankful I am that when I fail, He is faithful to forgive me and to cleanse me.

As I think upon Easter this week, I am reminded of the precious blood of Jesus. For without His blood there would be no forgiveness of sin. Without His blood we would be forever separated from the Father. Apart from the blood we would have no access to the Holy of Holies to present our prayers to God.  For on that cross Jesus died for every sin I would commit, He has already paid the price, “It is finished!!” Therefore, now in my daily life each time I sin, I can confess it and know God forgives me. Why? Not because I did anything, but because Jesus has already paid it all!!

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.