Tag Archives: repentance

Worship in the Dark

What does your morning devotion look like this season? Is it like those “Perfect” Pinterest IMG_0723photos, a nice comfy chair with a cup of coffee, tea or water in hand? Do you have a quiet space to go?

In the past, my daily holy communion with God consisted of a prayer walk at dawn, followed by reading the Bible and journaling with a cup of coffee in hand reclined in my husband’s chair. That was my prime time with Jesus!

Of course it wasn’t always that way. When my children were preschoolers I could barely get up out of bed before they were tugging at me like baby birds aching to be fed. I remember those days now. I would pant and yearn for time alone with Jesus. My devotions were usually in a most ‘unholy’ place some would say–it was the bathroom! I stole whatever time I could until their little fingers and lips would sneak under the door calling my new first name: mama.

That season passed and I soon forgot what it was like to yearn and pant for that time. When people would say they struggled with having devotion time with God, inwardly I was self-righteous and unable to ‘relate’ to them because I didn’t have “that problem.” I see now I was struggling with spiritual pride. I’m thankful God loves me that He would lovingly reprove, sanctify and teach me His compassion. He reminded me everything I have, even faith…has been given.

The way God has offered this lesson in compassion began almost two years ago with our move to California. Immediately most of my familiar devotion time objects were eliminated or packed away. It began with my prayer walks…I was in a new neighborhood, which didn’t offer the same kind of solitude and light I once had—or that is what I thought, and I stopped walking. Instead I began praying in the flower garden, but after months I began to have a heart of ingratitude and stopped that too. I complained inwardly for many months that the only place I had in the morning was in a dimly lit cold room on the kitchen table. I missed my walks, recliner, and prayer closet where I could freely worship in quiet warmth.

I whined myself out of worship.

I made devotion about me.

I forgot so many truths:

I forgot to give thanks in all circumstances.

I forgot the Father seeks those who worship Him in spirit and truth.

I forgot we can have communion with God each moment.

I forgot where true worship resides…in Christ and not in circumstances.

With this realization, I repented and received the grace to return to the place of worship in Christ. I’m still in California and I’m still learning how to worship in the dark. This season of my life, I begin in prayer in the dark until the sunlight shines, and I read the Bible as the Holy Spirit illuminates the Word of God.

Dear reader,

Whether you are parents of young children, or older children taking care of elderly parents, I pray the lesson I am learning can help you remember: We can worship in the dark because of Jesus Christ. It is through the grace of God giving us His Spirit and Truth.

“…for through Him [Jesus Christ] we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” 

Ephesians 2:18

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

“For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7

 


{in}perfection

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His shoulders slump and his head is down in defeat as he shares with me a repeated sin he committed. He looks frustrated, weary and condemned. I too am frustrated ready to pile on condemning words, until I felt a tinge of compassion fill my heart. I was reminded of the confessing cleansing conversation I had with a friend about my sins just minutes before.

By God’s grace, I knew it was most important to share with my son the spiritual heart of the matter, to tell him the truth about the Truth-Jesus Christ.

To be transparent and share my genuine compassion for his sin struggle because I struggle too. It was a holy opportunity to share the Gospel. To share the gift of forgiveness and mercy that comes through repentance towards God and faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. To share the freedom that comes by power of the resurrected Christ. To walk him to God’s throne of grace.
It was a chance to remind us we’re not perfect and we need a Savior. Any righteousness we have comes from Jesus Christ in us. We are to practice righteousness, press on to maturity, but only God will perfect us until the day of Christ Jesus.
I write this stone of memorial to remind myself, we must practice patience–with ourselves…and one another.

***

When I was a new Christian I was naive to think I would no longer make a mistake. I read  that I was a “new creation” and given a “new heart,”and though I “knew” I was not perfect, I made an expectation for myself that I should be perfect or I was a hypocrite.

This led me to great frustration and even condemnation because I couldn’t understand the continual struggle against sin I was dealing with, let alone the number of times I failed. What I see now is any holiness I have is CHRIST IN me. I have seen my flesh and it’s ugliness to the point I’ve doubted my own salvation! The redeeming part is that my flesh and sin remind me of my need for a Savior. This gives me compassion for those that struggle, beginning in my own family.

A fruitful life comes by a daily walk of abiding in the one who is perfection: Christ.

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Glorify God. Magnify Christ. Edify the brethen.


The CROSSroad

 

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." Romans 8:1-2

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:1-2

Conviction is a pathway leading to the CROSSroad of condemnation or freedom.

The narrow road to freedom comes through Jesus Christ as we confess and repent of our sins.

Daily we get to choose whether we will walk in condemnation or freedom. The choice is ours but so are the consequences.

May we walk and live in faith by the Spirit.

Stay focused: Glorify God. Magnify Christ. Edify the Brethren

*Galatians 5:16-26 *Romans 7:14-8:1-17


Unreceived Grace

Her effort to be perfect is destroyed by her sin
Paralyzing guilt sets in
She weeps, sadden by the loss of ‘perfection’
She hardens her heart and tries to justify her sin

Enter in grace…

The one she sinned against forgives her, but her hands are clenched
He pleads for her to return to him
She wants to return, but doesn’t forgive herself
She knows she does not deserve forgiveness
She runs away into the dark to hide
She doesn’t think she deserves to live, and wants death
She begins to numb herself

Messengers come, reminding her of grace…
One day the one sinned against speaks to her again
He invites her to reconcile
She dares to believe reconciliation is possible
She dares to believe she could be forgiven
She steps out of the darkness and towards the Light
She takes his hand and walks on the road of reconciliation

Through this journey her hands open and her heart softens
She weeps a different type of sorrow
She weeps in humility and gratitude
She experiences a spiritual death and is rewarded a new life

She lives because her hands opened to receive grace
She lives a new life because she walks in the Light
She lives a new life because she believes she is forgiven

Today she is hidden with Christ in God!

Hallelujah!

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It’s Hard To Believe…

It IS hard to believe…

It’s hard to believe I need a sacrifice for my sins.
It’s hard to believe God would come down in the flesh and save me.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been forgiven of my past sins.
It’s hard to believe I have the power to overcome future sins.
Its hard to believe I can speak to God Almighty.
It’s hard to believe God can hear me.
It’s hard to believe I can hear Him.
It’s hard to believe God lives in me.

It’s hard to believe God loves me.

It IS hard to believe.

That’s why it takes a working of GOD to save us:
To save us from this of doubt Him.
To save us from this division from Him.
To save us from this depression within.
To save us from this darkness around.
To save us from our sins.
Oh what GRACE is HARD to comprehend!

Please LORD,
Remind me again how Your grace and mercies are new each morning.
Remind me how the blood of Jesus still cleanses;
Remind me of Your faithfulness and righteousness to forgive;
Remind me of Your presence within.

 

***

God saves
When I was first born again six years ago I was overly zealous for Jesus Christ. Though I shared Christ with those around me, I was trying to make others believe. I had salvation ambition and I came across as a ‘Bible thumper.’ I wanted so badly for others to be rescued out of the darkness and depression I once knew.

But what I didn’t fully realize then that I do now is this…I can’t make anyone believe, not even myself. Saving faith is a work of God.

So today I sow the Word implanted in me…I sow with my mouth, I sow with my writing, I sow with my living and I sow with my tears.

I pray and wait as God causes a growth.

May this God Friday be the day of someone’s salvation.

*Read Titus 3


Light Shines @ The Vagabond Inn

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It was a cool dark morning when my kids and I walked toward the lobby of the Vagabond Inn. My eyes quickly darted away from the band of men in the dimly lit parking lot, whispering and staring at me with unlovely looks. Fear immediately gripped me, and the Holy Spirit reminded me,

“Perfect love casts out all fear…”

I was reminded I was not alone, God was with me, and I took my thoughts captive and asked Him to help me not to fear the men but allow God to love them through me.

As my children and I began fixing our breakfast, my husband walks in to tell me he had to leave for work and couldn’t stay to eat with us. He prays and hugs us good-bye.

Once he left the room, the silence was deafening and my heart was overwhelmed by the sadness, depression and darkness of the environment. I quickly took an inventory:

Five men outside, two men inside getting food, one sitting at a table eating….and in the far left corner was a young woman scribbling in a notebook. Her head was down and she was trying to be invisible. We sat at the table across from her and I prayed in my heart,

God, I know you have cleansed my heart, I know you have reminded me that while we were yet sinners You loved us by sending Jesus Christ…I know I have good news to share but I’m scared…can you help me to share Christ with a lost soul?”

Desperate for help, I looked through my phone for a song and find ‘Light of the World’ and I began to sing with my kids. We started worshiping softly and become progressively louder, drowning out the dark and depressing environment.

When the song finished, the silence returned but the atmosphere was different. A voice pierced through the silence,

“You have a beautiful voice.”

It was the voice of the young lady.

I want to disagree with her, but instead say, “Thank you.” I looked at the children and excused myself and they nodded knowing I was stepping out in obedience.

I walked into her sphere of life and introduced myself. She forced a smile and told me her name–J.

Her eyes are familiar to me…full of hurt, hopelessness, and shame, ready to burst.

I gently asked her,

“J, Do you have faith?”
“Oh yes, I do.” She responded defensively
“What do you have faith in?” I pressed.
“I believe in God, I talk to Him all the time. I gave my life to Christ when I was 11….”

Her eyes began to light up and she invited me to reminisce with her the goodness and grace of God in her life as a child. She shared how she completed the entire AWANA program and memorized a lot of Scripture.

I was so excited and pointed to my children and told her they too were in AWANA hiding God’s Word in their hearts just as she did. My children take this as a cue to come over, and she smiles at them. She shared with us the other things God did through her, like the time she went on a mission trip to build houses. She was coming alive as she spoke of God. My next question broke her,

“J, What are you doing here?”

Her lip quivers and she darts her eyes at the kids and back at me. My children sense the seriousness of the moment and return to their seats to finish their meal. She casts her face down and quietly mumbles that she came down to the lobby because the man she was with is still sleeping.

I didn’t mean to ask her why she was at the Vagabond Inn, but why she was in this town. I saw my question caused her to want to hide and I felt compassion for her. I reached my hand to hers and squeezed it tightly hoping love would flow through me to her. I opened my mouth,

“J, God’s Word is in you…all those years of memorizing in AWANA and God’s word does not return to Him void. You have given your life to Christ when you were 11 years old. You must remember nothing….’nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus? NOTHING. Not even what you did five minutes ago.”

I continued,

“…do you mind if I pray with you?”

“Sure, I’ll pray with you….”

We hold hands and pray aloud.

When we finished our eyes locked on each other and I said,

“The Bible teaches us, “If we confess our sins God is faithful and righteous to forgive us and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” He has taken us out of the darkness into His marvelous light and we need to come back to the Light. God still LOVES you.”

Her eyes lit up with excitement and she bends down to grab two pieces of paper. As she unfolds them she tells me,

“I drew these last night and this morning as I was talking to God….”

I look at them as she gets water. They are drawn from a tortured and torn heart. It was evident she was in a spiritual battle.

She drew a line of demarcation and had light and dark contrasted. On one side she listed all her struggles and sins with a picture of satan and she’s crying.

On the other side there was light and beauty with flowers and a butterfly with words like love and happiness. She was smiling and happy and her hearts goals and dreams were listed in order.  Number one on her list was to have a lasting relationship with God and her family. She had the words “Get back” written in several places indicating she knew she was off the path and wanted to get back on it.

Suddenly I hear another woman’s voice ask her a question,

“Hey, was that you praying? Will you do me a favor, I want you to pray for me and my friend….”

I turn to look at her response. Her eyes widen and she looks astonished that someone would ask her for prayer, but she slowly nods and begins to walk away.

I walked over and stood next to J and saw two women and after introducing myself I tell them we will pray for them right now. One of them asks curiously,

“So that’s what you do? You pray? You sit here in the lobby and ask people if they need prayer?”

I smiled full of joy and said, “Well I’m not always here but I’m available to pray for, and with anyone willing. Jesus is the one that is always interceding for the saints.”

We held hands going to the throne of grace together. We cry out to God clothed in the righteousness of Christ, thankful for His forgiveness and grace and we ask for His help, His wisdom, His strength to be obedient daughters and walk in the Light.

When we finished one of them says, “AMEN! I became a Christian when I was eight and I have strayed far into the dark but someone has been inviting me to Church and I’m going back today!”

Like a giddy little girl, I lift my hands and praise God!!

As the two ladies left, J and I discussed her confessional drawings. She told me she wanted to get out of there. I admitted to her that I wanted to take her out of there. She asked if I would take her to L.A.

I told her I was going to Church and she could come with me and afterwards I could take her….but I stopped and looked into her eyes and asked,

“J, if I take you to L.A. what will you be doing there? Who do you know there?”

She drew back and casted her eyes down and says, ‘I know lots of people’ and if you don’t take me I will take the bus to get there anyway.”

I told her, “Thank you for being honest with me, I understand. But do you understand why I won’t take you?”

“Yes. You don’t want to be the one responsible for taking me into the darkness and if something happens to me you would be upset.”

“That’s correct. J, if I had my own place I would take you home with me. I have to pray and ask God for wisdom, I need to ask Him my role in this situation right now, and I need to be content with the role He has given me.”

‘I understand.’

We sit in silence for a moment and I remember I have some more ‘Bread of life’ to leave with her so I run to my car and write her a note and hand it to her. Before we say good-bye I reminded her of more Truth,

“J, God loves you so much, you are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works He has prepared for you to walk out. Your salvation is not just for you but for the building up of the Church. Didn’t you see that when the woman asked you for prayer? There are lost souls out there that need us to remain in Christ so we can encourage them to come back on the path of Light. We must continue to go to Church so that we can come together to stir one another to love and good deeds just as we did today.”

She smiles and her eyes show she understands. She says thank you, we hug and exchange contact information in hopes to keep in touch.

We had Church before we went to Church that day, and Light shined brightly in that Vagabond Inn: To. God. Be. The. Glory.

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******
I share this to encourage you. I am not perfect, there have been many times I’ve missed opportunities to share truth with the suffering because of my pride and self-righteousness.

The day before I met ‘J’ I was tested and sifted. I confessed to my husband my ugly thoughts about the residents of his temporary ‘home.’ I told him I was scorning them, looking down on them for the bondage they allowed themselves to be in….as I confessed, my heart was pierced with God’s sWORD:

“But God demonstrated his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

I meditated on ‘while we were YET SINNERS…”

That was me too. The only reason I was different was because of God’s grace. Instead of scorning them I chose to mourn for them. All of this was necessary to prepare me for the good work God would do through me this March morning.

There are a lot of hurting people in the world. They do a lot of things to escape the pain by numbing themselves with drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy relationships.

Some of these souls have never met Jesus Christ, and some have known Him and are prodigal children. They have tasted and seen The Lord is good but they have walked in the darkness so long they actually believe the lies of satan, “that God no longer loves them.”

Someone in your sphere of life needs to hear TRUTH: that God loves them, someone in the environment you are placed in needs to be encouraged to walk in the Light. Someone near you needs you to SHINE the LOVE and LIGHT of Christ to help them turn back to Him.

I have two questions for the children of God:

Will you scorn the lost or will you mourn for them?
Are you ready to share the hope that is within you?


A Change of Heart

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You begin life with a selfish heart.

Everything you say is right and everyone else is wrong. It needs to be your way, you hurt people with the things you say and do but don’t care. If they hurt you, you harden your heart and cut them out of your life pretending they don’t exist.

But one day after making another selfish decision it doesn’t “feel” right. You wonder what this “feeling” is about…maybe your conscience? You shrug your shoulders and ignore the “feeling,” sometimes escaping and using things of the world to numb your heart.

This “feeling” happens often enough you begin to see other things, like how your selfishness hurts others. At first you react indifferent as if you don’t care, but deep inside you do. You begin to see “ugly” in you. It comes to the point when you can’t handle it anymore and you wonder, “Can I ever change?”

You strive to succeed. You try to be nicer to people, try to say nice things, but your thoughts reveal the authenticity of your heart…”ugly.” You still press forward and begin to do charitable deeds to feel good about yourself but it never lasts.

But one day you’re introduced to perfection—Jesus Christ. You don’t know Him but you know about Him and You want to be like Him. He’s so loving, patient and kind, all the things you know you are not. You begin going to Church, reading the Bible and you try to be like Him but fail every time. In fact, the more you read the Bible, the more you learn about the Holiness of God and the more you see your “ugly” heart and your inability to love God and others.

You “pour” out your ugly heart and begin to “mourn” and weep about the “ugly” in you. You feel hopeless and doubt there could ever be a change in your “ugly” heart. and you want a new heart. You are overwhelmed on where to begin in this change…then one day you meet Jesus for yourself and are invited into a reconciled relationship to KNOW the One that heals hurts and hearts…the scales fall of your eyes and you see:

  • The only One that can change your heart is the one who created you–God the Father
  • The only Way to get to God the Father is to be reconciled to Him for all those times you cherished your “ugly” heart and hurt Him and others
  • The only Way to be reconciled to the Father is through Jesus Christ
  • The only Way to get a new heart is to be born again
  • The only Way to keep this new heart unstained by the world is to walk in the Light

The only Way to walk in the Light and be Revived is to place your faith in Jesus Christ:

  • Believe Jesus came to save you from your “ugly” not condemn you
  • Believe Jesus took the sacrifice for your “ugly” and it is finished
  • Believe Jesus reconciled you to God the Father
  • Believe you have been given the resurrection power to abstain from “ugliness”
  • Believe Jesus is praying for you
  • Believe God is faithful and righteous and will continue to forgive you of your “ugly” and cleanse you

So one day you give your “ugly” dark heart to God and He takes your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh and puts His Spirit in you, telling you the way to go and you begin to walk in the Light.

You know you are not perfect but believe God will complete the work He began you until the day Christ returns.

As you walk in the Light with your new heart you sometimes experience that same “feeling” and see “ugly” but now you don’t ignore this “feeling” and instead you daily pour out your heart to God and turn to Him and experience a new feeling a “burning.”

This “burning” is God refining you, making you more like Christ….isn’t that what you wanted? To be like Jesus Christ?  That is what our Creator, your Father wills.

***
*The “ugly” is sin

*That “feeling” about sin is conviction

*That “pouring” about sin is confession

*That “mourning” about sin is godly sorrow

*That “turning” from sin is repentance

*That “burning” of sinful flesh is sanctification making you more like Christ

A change of heart only comes through God by turning from your sinful ways to God and placing your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Repentance towards God and faith in The Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith…is the lifestyle of a child of God.

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“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22

‘”For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-21


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