We are image bearers of Christ; therefore, the same passion that He had should reside inside of us. Not only should it reside inside of us, but it should be overflowing. Everyone we meet should recognize that spark within us.
Others should see Him in our eyes.
They should hear Him in our voice.
They should feel Him when we walk in a room.
I hope you’re that passionate about Christ.
I hope I am, too.
Spread it like wildfire.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthian
In this life I have messed up, fallen down, and allowed sin to get a grip on my life. I say things I shouldn’t to others, then kick my self around with regret and guilt. I will have a whole conversation in my head about how I should apologize, what I should or shouldn’t say, and how they will respond.
A few things I never expect is for that person to hug me or throw me a party. Yet, as we look at the prodigal son this is exactly what his father did when he returned home. (Luke 15:17-24)
The world beyond the prodigal’s home beckoned for him to come take a look around. Much like today, the world paints a beautiful picture of ‘fun’. It doesn’t show us the reality behind the scenes – the pigpens or the plan the enemy has to wrap us up so tightly in the bondage of sin that freedom feels impossible.
As we look further into the life of the prodigal son, we find him broke and in a pigpen. While feeding the pigs he thinks about how he would gladly eat the same things they were eating. During this time he came to his senses and thought about how even his fathers servants ate better than this. He starts home with many thoughts about what he would say to his father, never imagining his father would still be waiting and watching for him to return. His father saw him while he was still a long ways off, and runs to his son – hugging him even though he was dirty with the smell of pigpen still on him. The son had taken the money his father had given him, spent it on all sorts of wasteful ways, living it up with friends he thought he had, until he was broke.
Not only did his father hug him, he had the very best robe brought out to put on him. Then he had the servants kill a calf and not just any calf, but the best calf in honor of the return of his son.
I am so thankful that we also have a Father that never gives up on us – no matter how many times we fall. He is always there to pick us up, hug us, and dust us off. Just like the prodigal son’s father, He allows us to make our own choices – even the bad ones – and yet He is always waiting with arms open wide because He loves us so much more than we can imagine.
The prodigal son left to pursue the best the world had to offer only to find the world’s best was lacking. Our best life will always be found in the arms of our loving Father.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:2-3
The definition of transformation is: a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
Transformation has to be thorough, which causes it to take time.
I’ve entered into a time of waiting. Waiting to hear hidden words in normal conversations, and waiting to become enlightened with what the next piece to the puzzle of my life will be.
While waiting on God’s time has proved time and time again to grow and groom God’s people for their future ministry, waiting isn’t easy.
I have always struggled with being impatient. By living in a world of immediacy, I think it has become way too easy to grow impatient.
“What do you mean my package won’t get here until Tuesday?”
“Why am I having to wait in line at the grocery store?”
” Why won’t the internet connect already?”
Even when I was just simply waiting for my sibling to get out of the restroom, I find myself growing more and more impatient. I find myself wanting instant gratification in everything.
The Bible speaks of seasons of waiting as seeds that will grow overtime. As Christians we use the word “growth” a lot. We might even pray that God would cause us to grow, but not many of us are willing to take the time to actually grow.
From seed to tree transformation occurs, but the tree does not appear suddenly after the seed is planted. The seed has to endure weather of all kinds, it has to dig through layers of dirt and rock to stay connected to its water source, and most importantly, it has to go through the process of growth.
Transformation takes time.
Most everything in the Bible always took waiting for the perfect time to occur.
When God told Abraham he was to have a son, Abraham was 75 years old. Abraham would only receive his son Isaac 25 years later. God promised the Isrialites that they would find The Promised Land, but before they did they wandered in the desert for 40 years. Even when God sent his Son to save us all from our sin, His son spent 30 years growing up so that he could complete His father’s will.
Yet, we still expect change and transformation should happen right after we ask. Sometimes I find myself wanting the fruit-bearing tree right after I planted the seed, but it doesn’t work that way. That is not the process.
Hebrews 6:12 states that through faith and patience we can inherit God’s promises.
If you, like myself, are entering or are already in that process of waiting, be patient with the process and be open to inherit God’s promises in 2021.
I was a runner. As a young girl, if I saw my mother going for the paddle, I was outta there, instantly engaged in a game of cat and mouse. My impulsive, little brain could not see through to the end result of my actions (more punishment). I only knew in that moment, it didn’t make sense to me to stand there and take the discipline I deserved.
Hebrews 12:10 says, “Our parents corrected us for the short time of our childhood as it seemed good to them. But God corrects us throughout our lives for our own good, giving us an invitation to share his holiness.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but this past year has brought me my fair share of discipline from the Lord. I’ve become aware of things that I valued more than His presence: busy-ness, plans, conveniences. I’ve allowed discontent with my circumstances to take root in my heart, and I’ve been convicted of pride in my own ability to get things done. But God did not leave me in my sin.
Our holy God can’t be in the presence of sin, but because of His faithful love, He is constantly inviting us into His presence. As we move closer to Him, we must be willing to become more disciplined. His embrace is waiting on the other side.
“Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it.” Hebrews 12:11 TPT
I’m not running anymore. If discipline means that I get to be pulled closer into the arms of Jesus, then Lord, here I am. Though this past year was sown in difficulty, the Lord promises that a harvest of righteousness and peace are coming for those willing to yield to Him. Because of this promise, we can look with anticipation and excitement at the coming year, no matter what may come!
I am a list making – big note taking – kinda gal. I think it’s a good habit. It keeps me organized and productive – nothing wrong with that. And nothing makes me feel more accomplished than seeing those little checks all up and down my paper.
However, I have to be very careful not to make every single thing in my life merely a check mark.
God is not a check mark. God is not a Bible study.
God is not a praise and worship service.
God is not Sunday morning church.
God is God.
He is a relationship.
And when you’re in a relationship you work at it – because you want to. Not because you have to.
Don’t just study the Bible to check it off your list. Study the Bible because you are so in love with God that you want to learn everything about Him that you can.
Don’t just go to church on Sunday morning because that’s how you were raised. Go to church on Sunday morning because you get to. Because you want to see God. Because you want to fellowship with other believers. Because you want to soak in every bit of God that you can.
God is not a check mark. Don’t make Him into one.
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
I think we can all agree that 2020 was a rough one. As I ponder what 2021 might hold, I’m hit with conflicting feelings— excitement for the new, anxiety for the unknown. And if I’m honest, sometimes the fear of the unknown can crush any desire to dream of the goodness that this new year could hold. Perhaps it’s a guard I’ve put up in effort to block the blows that may come. As I wade between my conflicting feelings, I feel the Lord gently whisper just one word: “Remember.”
This year throughout my study, it’s come to my attention how many times scripture calls God’s people to remember. In Joshua 3, we find the Israelites in the home stretch of their journey to the Promise Land. They found themselves standing before the Jordan River, where God, once again, split the waters as the priests stood with the ark of the covenant in the center. He was leading them out of the wilderness and onward toward promise.
In chapter 4, the Lord gave one final instruction as they transitioned from one season into the next. He commanded Joshua to choose twelve men, one from each tribe, to take twelve stones from the very place where the priests had stood, the place where the Lord delivered them safely across the river. The Lord commanded them to carry them with them. These stones would serve as a symbol of their deliverance from the wilderness, as well as the fruition of God’s promise.
Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until they had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you will always fear the Lord” (Joshua 4:21-24).
You see, God, in His kindness, knew His people would need reminders of His faithfulness. Why? Because life is hard. And just like the Israelites, we also need to be reminded of His faithfulness in our own lives. We will not always be on the mountaintops, and when we find ourselves in trial, we, too, must remember the countless times God has delivered us. It keeps us focused, trusting that the God of the universe and God of our hearts can do all things. And just like those stones, carry them with you–those moments He’s already shown himself faithful to you. Because it’s those moments that will also carry you. Write them down. Memorialize them however you choose, but remember.
So, if you find yourself discouraged or afraid to hope or dream this new year, recall these three words: Remember the Lord.