bye. grudges, part 2.

I wrote earlier this year about grudges (see Grudges make smudges. ) and the energy they can deplete from your being. A grudge will hold your joy hostage before you ever knew what happened. Now that I am (one year older. one year wiser.), I have learned even more about the long-term effects these grudging ailments will have on your health. They are not worth your time, only your goodbye!

The day will come, even after you have diligently “spring-cleaned” your heart of any known grudges, that an old grudge will bubble to the surface. It may be older than your grandma, but still feel as fresh as a new baby. DO NOT STRESS! This horrifying, and possibly embarrassing, moment of recollection is NOT a sign of early onset dementia or temporary insanity.

I struggle to identify the revealing source sometimes, but if it is the work of the enemy, I am certain that God can turn that evil to good. He can use the upsetting memory as a way to prune you, to cleanse your mind of hateful thoughts and shameful memories, and ultimately draw you closer to Him. These blasts-from-the-past may be brought to light because they are a barrier between you and God. Ouch! Let it go, sister!

There is a catch. He only heals what we reveal. Anywhere that our hearts have hardened, the LORD can renew and refurbish, but only if we are willing to acknowledge our wrongdoings and repent. God forgives all things. We must just ask Him.

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.” – Psalm: 103:8-11, ESV

Read these words of assurance again, and again. Know that God loves you and will forgive you. Know that his grace and his mercy extend further than your eye can see and your mind can comprehend. Know also that God only wants His best for His children. He corrects us in love, so that we can grow closer to Him and the perfection He planned for us.

Take heed of this spoiler alert: this is where the enemy enters the scene:

“Be sober-minded: be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8, ESV

What? Ole Pete just put “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” to shame! Total stalker status.

YOUR ADVERSARY (as in someone against you) is prowling around just looking for someone to destroy. In the words of my mother, “Horrors!” He is just watching and waiting for a chance to prance on you, to catch you when you are down and not on your guard. What better opportunity for his attack than when you are pouting about getting scolded?

Although it may feel like God is defining your impurity, He is actually refining your purity.

Hang in there, and remember that trials will come. We will be tempted and tested, and we will stumble and fall. By the grace of God, stand back up and seek His forgiveness. Repent and let it go! His love covers all things, even the dreadful grudges we may hold.

 ESV = English Standard Version Bible

 

 

autopilot.

Do you ever feel like you are on autopilot in life? Perhaps you are going through the motions without much thought to your actions? Maybe this lasts for a day or a week or even an entire season? Regardless of the length of time spent in this auto mode, the awakening results are the same. You realize that you have gotten from point A to point B with little recollection of your journey. What a strange feeling it is.

I have buzzed through many seasons on autopilot and hated the remorse for days past that ensue. This year during Lent, I have aimed to slow life down and focus my attention on Christ. I long to see more than ‘Fish Fridays’ and ’40 days without’ this year, to turn off autopilot and engage fully in the Lenten season. Who knows what all I have missed in years past?

I want to see the events of Holy Week come alive before my eyes and feel the nearness of Jesus along this journey. This season I have chosen to follow an adapted Lenten discipline suggested by my pastor, titled: Once a Day, Once a Week, and Once a Month.

  • Once a Day: take a few moments for prayer and devotion, quiet time spent with God
  • Once a Week: fast from a meal or a pastime and spend the time in the Word of God
  • Once a Month: fast from whatever forms of information or technology distract you from others for a whole day

Two weeks in, and I am loving this discipline so much that I may keep it going after Easter!

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:24, ESV

My “Once a Day” quiet time in the morning has been my favorite part of the day. I have come to crave that quiet and still moment before the day begins to just ‘be’ in God’s presence. Some days I have read an entire passage, some days just a verse. Some days I have journaled, and some days I have not. Most importantly, each day includes some form of prayer with praise and gratitude.

“My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God… Blessed are those who dwell in our house, ever singing your praise!… They go from strength to strength… No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:2,4,11b, ESV

“Once a Week” I have chosen to forego television. Instead of watching a beloved (nonsense) show, I have used the time to open my Bible and read. Honestly, it was strange at first, but not anymore! I have enjoyed the peaceful respite from the busyness of the social world and have found myself wanting to replace evening television with reading more often than once a week. The gospel of Mark has completely captivated my attention this Lenten season. I have seen God’s faithfulness and love light up off the pages, as the apostle’s recount of Jesus’ ministry comes to life right in front of me.

Jesus speaks to his disciples about his purpose and ministry on earth: “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” – Mark 4:22-23, ESV

I have learned this Lenten season that God is faithful. God is just. He keeps His Word. He never forgets us. He never loses sight of us. He who loves us can be trusted wholly. 

“The works of His hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.” – Psalm 111:7, ESV

“He who calls you is faithful…” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24, ESV

ESV = English Standard Version Bible

 

lovers gonna love.

This post is inspired by one of my new tanks from the light blonde shop. I am borderline obsessed with all these super cute tees and tanks hand-made by a fellow Jesus-loving lady. You absolutely must check it out!

Lovers gonna love. Haters gonna hate. Most of us prefer to be called lovers, although we are often tempted to behave as haters. It is so easy to be selfish, yet so difficult to be selfless. God knew when he created us that we would struggle to love others. The flesh innately knows how to hate, so we must depend on God to teach us to love.

“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.” – Psalm 32:10, ESV

God pours his spirit of love into our hearts when we accept Christ as our Savior. Don’t miss that. His perfect love POURS directly into our hearts… no filters, no rations, just pure love.

God promises to the Israelite captives in Babylon: “I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” – Isaiah 44:3b, ESV

Paul reminds the church: “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:5, ESV

This outpouring of love is available for us anytime and anywhere. Faith in God offers us a limitless supply of His perfect love, pure and holy, and all we must do is ask. His love is like a well that never runs dry and never quits providing.

“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear … We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:18a-19, HCSB

God’s love is steadfast, as in, it is not subject to change. He promises us that his mercies will never run out, they will never expire, and He will renew them for us each and every morning. Yes! Every single morning.. not just Monday mornings.. and they are never-ending. I find great comfort in knowing that when I ‘run out’ of love, God can refill my tank and send me back on my way to do his work.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV

We must remember that, as Christians, we are not only called to love those of OUR choosing, but to love everyone. Loving others takes on different forms in different situations. Sometimes we show love from afar with our prayers, sometimes we show love up close with our compassion, and sometimes we show love by not showing hate. Refraining from hating requires us to let go of our judgements and trying to look at the person as Jesus does. It is hardest for me when the other person is showing hatred to me or someone close to me; however, there is no “unless scenario” in the following passage. [Translation = we still are called to love!]

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen. And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother.– 1 John 4:20-21, HCSB

Seriously, John? The beloved disciple did not pen this letter from a luxurious yacht on the Mediterranean. He had walked with Jesus in his earthly ministry and had survived the subsequent condemnation, repression, hatred, and violence shown to the known followers of Christ in those early days. He relocated to Ephesus after the Romans destroyed his church in Jerusalem around A.D. 70, where he most likely wrote this letter.

The man had every reason to hate! (I would have!) Instead, John looked to Christ for his strength of heart and source of love. Faith gave John the ability to look beyond all the haters and still be willing and able to trust God and His Word whole-heartedly.

Lovers gonna love. Haters gonna hate. Faith will do the same for us as it did for John when we focus our eyes on Jesus instead of our surroundings. Choose God. His love is PERFECT!

ESV = English Standard Version. HCSB = Holman Christian Standard Bible