Just As I Am

without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me,  and that thou bidst me come to thee,  O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

healing

Just As I Am – a familiar old hymn to many. At the church I attended in my childhood we sang every verse during the closing each Sunday morning. It is more precious to me now than it was then, as I could never understand the full meaning in those words until walking a few decades on this planet.

Sadly, we diminish what God has done and all that we sing about when we call into question the working of Christ’s blood as redemption for the sin of any individual. Not me, you think? Have you ever looked at someone’s life and thought “Wow, they have made such a mess of their life. And they really need the grace of God“?

Christ is the Great Equalizer. Do we not each really need the grace of God? We live in a sin-ravaged world, one in which the enemy will take every opportunity – from regret and self-loathing to pride and self-sufficiency – to separate us from the Father’s love.

Once upon a time, there were two people. One person, feeling pain and despair from the wrong choices he had made in just a few short years of his very young life, cried out for God’s grace and healing from the depths of the miry pit, accepted His forgiveness and love, and walked with a grateful heart in close communion with Him.

The other person cried out to God from the alter of the church in which he grew up and had never strayed very far, and in which he now served. Having made good choices in life, he didn’t understand why this devastating circumstance had fallen upon him. It didn’t seem fair, but he knew he needed help from above.

Is one more worthy of God’s help? Aren’t we all unworthy? Which one has more richly experienced God’s grace? I will be bold and ask you to examine your heart. Have you ever needed the Physician? Do you need him still?

Do not be deceived by the enemy. Whatever you are facing and wherever you have been need not keep you from running to the One who cares for you. The perfect Lamb of God, born in the humblest of circumstances, left the glorious presence of the Father for 1 reason, 1 purpose – to bear our sin, our shame, our burdens. His blood poured out for us, Christ conquered death and lives victoriously, patiently, lovingly waiting for you to come. O Lamb of God.

Matthew 9:12, On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”. This important truth can also be found in Mark 2:17, and again Luke 5:31.

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Lifted

I sing praise to God for his faithfulness, compassion, gentle mercies and unending love! He carried me through the darkest valley, and renewed my strength and hope. I am grateful for my brothers and sisters who listened and prayed with me. For those who never stopped encouraging me: “Thank you” seems inadequate.

For any Believer who is still learning the charge we have been given within the Body, which I originally wrote about in a post entitled Humility (see below), this resource may be helpful. Brad Hambrick writes with far more eloquence and authority than I ever could.

Blessings.

What God is Teaching

“You act like you are the 1st person to go through a divorce”.

This was the chastisement I recently received from a fellow Believer. This friend has, by their own account, never experienced any major grief events in their life. This is a first for me.

I’ve discussed Encouragement from the Body of Christ in a previous post, and it is clear that God instructs us to carry the weak and be patient and longsuffering with one another. The “one another” are our brothers and sisters in Christ. As a Believer, my Hope rests in God’s faithfulness. I trust Him to provide for my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. There is no doubt in my mind of my salvation through Christ Jesus, or of God’s ability and desire to supply all my needs. My Father wants the best for me, not just the best from me.

This hope…

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Grace and Discipline

Godly discipline always involves grace. However, when we focus too much on grace, neglecting discipline, sin can go unchecked. That’s a slippery slope; one which often leads to misery and self-loathing.

Discipline and Grace are intermingled, working together. God’s laws are a blessing, given to protect us because He loves us. 1 John 5:3 Recently, someone shared with me the truth that if we will not self-discipline or receive godly discipline from others, we will be disciplined by God.

God has brought this point to the forefront of my mind lately as I have seen His will worked out in many areas of my life. I have also learned that there is a point when I must let go of my effort to correct rather than continue on a path that may destroy a relationship. I can choose to extend grace and simply give it over to God.

For the past three years I have pleaded and debated the reality of a loving God with someone who seemed to once love God but, after suffering heartache in life, grew angry, resentful and rebellious. I have prayed countless prayers.

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I believe that God will pursue us to the end. That He will bring us to our knees if we will not humble ourselves. I have prayed that this would happen sooner rather than later, and that there would be no missed opportunity for me to be used by God in this situation…that we will not run out of time whatever the cost. I continue to pray that the prideful spirit becomes broken and God is acknowledged, obeyed.

Submission to God’s will brings an abundance of blessing. God disciplines us out of love, just as a loving father disciplines his son, so that we may share in his holiness and live in peace. Hebrews 12:10 I am called Daughter of the King, blessed with Father’s relentless love.

Read more devotionals about God’s amazing love for us at #SheReadsTruth.

Unworthy

The Ninevites were the worst of the worst, an evil society that committed unspeakable crimes. I’ll be forthcoming in saying that I would have probably wanted the Ninevites to perish, too. In fact, I struggle with these emotions whenever I hear another news story about an abused child or woman.unworthy-reliance

Yet, all sin separates us from God; and Jesus died once for all who will accept His gift of salvation. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24

But passages in the Old Testament show us that there were different penalties for various sins. And in the New Testament it is pride that Jesus spoke out most strongly against. However, I am not writing to debate the degrees of sin or how God will judge. Others speak to this issue far better than I could ever hope to.

Instead, I want get to the heart of what seems to be the point. Jonah, who fled from God yet was given a second chance, was judging. The Ninevites weren’t his to judge.

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Jonah 3:10-4:4

In recent months, my eyes have been opened to how often we set ourselves up on higher ground and judge others – even amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ. Perhaps we are unaware that we are doing it. When your life is running smoothly, it is easy to become prideful and give yourself far too much credit. It is also easy to become judgmental toward those whose lives turn a bit messy. But there is no need for me to compare myself to anyone except Christ. I always fall short.

As my focus shifts away from myself and more fully onto God, I see how unworthy I am.

I am grateful for God’s amazing grace and immeasurable love. When we reach a place of total reliance on Him, we understand how truly needy we are. That is when we are most able to serve with humility and extend grace to others who are struggling.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. Romans 15:5

Read more Jonah 3&4 devotionals at #SheReadsTruth.

A Fork in the Road

Several years ago I traveled with a friend to the Keweenaw Peninsula – one of the most beautiful areas in the country. At that time, I had never been to Copper Harbor, but my traveling companion had. North of Hancock, there is only one main route, US-41, that will take you there. However, if you are so inclined, when you reach Eagle River you can turn off the main road onto State Route 26 which eases slowly up the shoreline offering breathtaking views of one of the most spectacular bodies of freshwater on Earth – Lake Superior.Keweenaw Peninsula

My friend, having been to the Keweenaw previously, was quite adamant about staying on the main route because it was faster, more direct, and that was the way they always went. But I remembered hearing something interesting about Eagle Harbor, which is along the lesser route, and really felt we should go that way.

Unfortunately I discovered that as I continued to suggest this, my friend went from mildly annoyed at my naivety to increasingly frustrated at me for questioning their wisdom in the matter. In no uncertain terms I was told that the main road was THE road leading directly to Copper Harbor and to take the turn-off would not only slow us down, but offered nothing that would make the time worthwhile.

For them, the issue boiled down to this: their experience trumped my opinion. They were right – I was wrong. I learned something about my friend that day. I also learned something personally beneficial, but it didn’t click until much later.

As I think back on this and similar situations, I remember feeling defeated. It’s disheartening when you try to convey your thoughts or opinion about something, and are met with hostility by people who have to be in control. Maybe I will discover that I am wrong, but at least be willing to listen to what I have to say. Discuss it with me and help me to understand your view as you try to understand mine. Healthy communication requires at least two people be engaged in an exchange of ideas and thoughts.

It can be even more disheartening when this happens among Believers. Respect grows when Godly authority and leadership is willing to listen and ready to pray about an issue together. But there is another lesson to be learned here; one that is becoming more glaringly obvious to me lately: Just let go.

God is the final Authority. Just as God handled the situation on the Keweenaw, He will handle the important issues in life. In fact, He already has. He has plans for our life that are for our good, and no matter who comes along to tell us “It’s my way or no way”, God will work things out for our good when we seek His will.

“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

I have certainly been wrong before. I’ve made bad decisions. I will not hesitate to admit that I have been heading down the wrong path, stubbornly running into road block after road block before God can get my attention. As I learn to let go of the issues I cannot control anyway, it frees my spirit to say: Your will, Lord, not mine.

And if the other person needs to learn some things then God will take care of that, too…

Giving up, I closed my mouth. We took US-41. Then we came to a dead stop 8 miles in. Cars were not getting through and we were forced to turn around. We went back to the turn-off at Eagle River and meandered up the shore.

As you pass through Eagle Harbor you will come to Jacob’s Falls and a turn-off where there is a small bakery called The Jampot. This bakery is operated by monks of The Society of St. John Monastery. They mix it, make it, and bake it…and it is amazing! Trust me when I say you have not experienced anything like this.

I am still learning what God is teaching, and what I have learned lately is to let go and let God take care of me. 

Humility

“You act like you are the 1st person to go through a divorce”.

This was the chastisement I recently received from a fellow Believer, and like a knife driven in deep it cut to the quick. This friend has, by their own account, never experienced any major grief events in their life. This is a first for me.

I’ve discussed Encouragement from the Body of Christ in a previous post, and it is clear that God instructs us to carry the weak and be patient and longsuffering with one another. The “one another” are our brothers and sisters in Christ. As a Believer, my Hope rests in God’s faithfulness. I trust Him to provide for my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. There is no doubt in my mind of my salvation through Christ Jesus, or of God’s ability and desire to supply all my needs. My Father wants the best for me, not just the best from me.

This hope, trust, and faith is what ties us together as Believers. The fact that we are truly brothers and sisters in Christ, “God’s kids”, gives us a connection that cannot be broken, cannot be matched, and should be revered.

At this point you may be wondering where all this is leading since I began with “Humility“.

Here is the thing: no one has walked in my shoes. I am doing the best I can each day, hour by hour. I know I have been unlovable at times, and I know I have been angry and spoken harshly; and this genuinely grieves me and adds to my sorrow. When this has happened I was truly at a place of such despair – filled with fear and loss of hope – that I could not move past it. Often times, in the midst of this darkness, I have felt the physical presence of Holy Spirit bring peace, relief and comfort that instantly washed over me.

But God works through people, too, and there have been times when whatever issue had brought on this panic needed to be resolved in my mind. This might be as simple as clarification of a miscommunication, because the enemy attacks us where we are most vulnerable. Once the resolution took place, so that my mind could process the facts and the facts led back to a “safe place”, my entire perspective was changed.

I’m not in any way excusing myself from owning my offenses. I am deeply remorseful and have sought forgiveness from God and from the offended. But I cannot emphasize this enough: the valley of grief is not a familiar road, nor is it filled with predictable circumstances; therefore, “normal” behavior and response to situations get temporarily redefined. Just Google “Stages of Grief” to see what I am talking about.

In this most fragile state, every bump in the road is amplified and devastating. When too many bumps come in rapid succession, the resulting panic may not be understandable to the ones not on that road. As I became more aware of the waves of grief that would overtake me, this too raised my anxiety because I feared it happening again. I have spent more time on my knees in prayer and in Scripture. I have and will continue to take these things to the Lord.

For me there is new-found wisdom in this. I have learned that this is the nature of grief, yet God loves me through it. For those who have not walked this road of sorrow, I am truly glad – I don’t wish this for anyone. But please be mindful of the very real pain that those who are on that road must endure. Empathize, encourage and support them in every way. Do not deal harshly with them and be ready to forgive. Remember that this is a lesson best learned by observation rather than through experience.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

I am still learning what God is teaching, and what I have learned lately is that God wants us to be gentle with those whose spirits are crushed.