Day 9 of Spiritual Journey

2 Corinthians 7:10

10For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Devotional
People watching is a hobby of mine. Don’t let that stir a panic in you. I’m not a weirdo or a stalker. I just enjoy the human race. What they say, what they don’t say, the color of their eyes, the length of their hair, how confident they are by the way they carry themselves, how nervous they are because they lack said confidence.

Not only do I like do sit and watch, I also like to sit and listen. I’ve grew a lot during my 30s. So much so that instead of monopolizing a conversation, I actually enjoyed listening to others more. No matter their age, demographic or intellect. I believe I can learn something from everyone…good or bad. In all of this, one of the things that I’ve learned about people is that some people are broken and some people are not. Allow me to unpack this for you.

Broken people don’t focus on the sins and issues of others. No, they are so aware of their need for a Savior that they work on themselves. Broken people don’t demand their rights. No, they often lay them down. Broken people don’t dodge responsibility for their actions. No, they are fully willing to accept the consequences of their sin.

I’ve heard more stories than I care to relate to you about people who can’t or won’t take responsibility for what they’ve done. They play the blame game and run like crazy until they are far from the situation. If you’ve fallen into sin, own it. Even if you feel like you did something because of someone or because that someone didn’t meet your needs.

Newsflash: You sinned. You made the choice to sin. You need to make it right. No matter what anyone else did first. You are still responsible for you!

Action Steps

Do you find that you dodge responsibility for your actions? Do you ever blame someone else for your sinful actions? Spend some time with the Father today and ask Him to reveal to you why you take this path so often.

Day 8 Spiritual Journey

Read Ezekiel 36:26

26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Devotional

We humans are a very misled group, aren’t we? We think we have some sort of divine power to change a person. We think that if we are nice enough or do the right things that maybe someone will “come to their senses” and change. I have met more people who think they can actually change someone by what they say or how they treat them. I have fallen into that trap in the past so please hear no judgment from me. However, today, I am fully aware that I am no match for the power of God. Yes, I believe in speaking the truth in someone’s life when prompted by the Spirit of God. But, even if I do that, it still doesn’t guarantee that they will change. Only God can change a person. And the best way for us to participate with Him is to pray.

So, for years now, I’ve been praying for people whose hearts seem to be a little on the hard side. For those people who seem to think they’ve got it all together and actually do no wrong, I pray for brokenness. For those people who still love their sin, I pray they develop a hatred for it. For those who have turned from their faith in God, I pray for a return to Him. I pray that God will give them a new heart and a new spirit and remove their hard heart and give them one that is pliable to the Master’s touch.

I’ve seen remarkable results in doing this. And quite frankly, am still waiting to see many hearts softened…even after praying for over a decade. Truth is, I may never see a transformation in some people, but I still pray. I still believe.

Action Steps

Do you find yourself always wanting to “fix” or change someone? Why do you think you do this? Spend some time asking God to show you the areas where you are trying to take over His job. Ask Him to show you how to love people where they are and how to pray them to where He wants them to be.

Day 7 Spiritual Journey

Read James 4:13-15

13Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

Devotional
When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to be a teenager. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to go to college. When I was single, I couldn’t wait to get married. When I was in college preparing to be a schoolteacher, I couldn’t wait to get in the classroom. Eventually, my husband and I wanted to have children. Four years later, we had our first son. Five years after that, our second son joined us. I couldn’t wait for them. During our days of trying to become debt-free, I thought ahead to days of being generous to our church and to others.

If I’m being completely honest with you, I’ve wished away many days in my life and in the lives of my sons. I’ve spent plenty of time complaining about the difficulties of life especially in regards to raising children. Oftentimes I have done my griping in the company of empty nesters. They graciously smile because they’ve been there. And because there is a part of each of them that would give anything to hold their children in their arms like they did years ago. They tell me, “Cindy, enjoy it. It goes by so quickly.”

My encouragement to you is to make the most of everyday. Don’t allow the discouragement of regret to rob you of today’s joy. Press on and receive God’s grace over any regret you may have in your life. And live today as a new day.

Enjoy every belly laugh from those who are around you. Enjoy carefree days outside soaking in God’s creation. Because if you do, I can guarantee that the amount of regret that you live with will decrease each day.

Action Steps

What are you wishing away? Do you live with regret over anything in your life? Spend some time asking God what He would have you to do redeem or “buy back” some of those days where you wish you could go back. Going forth, allow Him to help you make the most of each day you are given.Day 87

Day 6 of Spiritual Journey

Romans 12:12

12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

 

Devotional
After being married about 18 months, my husband and I decided that we wanted to have a child. Once we made that decision, we figured that we’d be pregnant in no time. That was in 1994. Our first son was not born until 1999.

Those years of waiting, negative pregnancy tests, watching my girlfriends having their 1st, 2nd and 3rd children when I could not even get pregnant with one child were excruciating. It was a great desire in my heart to be a mom. Why did God make me wait so long? Better yet, why don’t some women ever get to become a mom?

During those arduous years, I didn’t know why I had to wait. However, since his arrival all those years ago, God has revealed to me over and over again that He is sovereign and I am not.

I believe that God developed some character traits in me during that season of life that otherwise might not have been developed. My intimacy with God is deeper than ever because He truly became everything to me. He knew every thought and feeling I had during this painful time. I wasn’t afraid to be real with Him and cast all of the hurts I had onto him. After all, the Bible says in 1 Peter 5 to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I did just that. You can, too.

Exercising patience is not a lot of fun. I am fairly certain that I have never heard anyone say, “Man, I am so excited about what God is going to show me and how I’m going to change during this time of waiting. Woo hoo!” No, not so much. But, as I’ve talked with countless people over the years after their seasons of waiting, every single person has said that he/she wouldn’t trade the life lessons learned for the comfortable life they had before. You see, it’s in those days, months and years of waiting where we start to look a lot more like Christ. A good friend of mine describes patience as “waiting without complaining.”

I think we could all stand to stop complaining during the waiting. Join me!

Action Steps

Are you in a waiting room right now? How well are you waiting on God? The next time you begin to feel impatient, ask God, “What do you want me to learn from this?”

Day 5 of Spiritual Journey

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Devotional
Several years ago a friend of mine approached me at church with a question. “Will you do me a favor?” she asked.

“I’ll certainly try,” was my reply. She began to tell me how her oldest friend had a newborn grandson who weighed less than 2 pounds. She said that there wasn’t a lot they could do for him except to hope he would grow and gain weight.

“I wanted to know if you would pray for this baby when you pray for your son. The baby’s name is Noah, just like your son.”

My heart sank and sank deep. Will I pray for this baby when I pray for my oldest son, Noah? I was very aware at this moment that I couldn’t remember when the last time was that I prayed for Noah or my other sons, for that matter, except for the occasional plea when their behavior was bad. But, I mustered up enough composure and managed to say, “I’d be glad to.”

In your eyes, my confession above has either disqualified me from even embarking on the topic of prayer or it’s made you identify with me and want to know where to go from here. After what I’ve just shared, you might find it odd to know that years ago people used to call me a “prayer warrior.” What happened? Life happened. Husband. Kids. Jobs. Housework. Exhaustion. Ministry. Demands. Did I mention exhaustion? Can you relate?

The King James Version of the Bible says to “pray without ceasing.” I decided to look up the word “ceasing” in the original Greek text and found that it meant “without intermission.” Don’t let that make you feel defeated. I believe that we can have ongoing communication with the Creator of the universe if we will seek Him with our whole hearts.

Thankfully, that interaction with my friend recharged my prayer life. In fact, I am very aware of the power of prayer. I spent years on my knees in prayer over my once near death, yet now restored marriage. It’s now time for us to take what we believe, add some discipline and get on our knees.

Action Steps

I’ve shared my excuses for not praying. What are yours? What keeps you from spending time on your knees on behalf of others? Or better yet, when was the last time you just spent time praising God because He is worthy of it? Spend time today asking God to make you a person of prayer. Our very existence depends on our communication with our Heavenly Father.

Day 4 of Spiritual Journey

Day 4 of Spiritual Journey

Read Phillipians 4:11-12
11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Devotional
So what’s the secret that the author of Philippians, Paul, learned that would allow him to be content in any circumstance?

I mean, for me, being content…STAYING content is a daily battle, sometimes an hourly battle. Some days I can barely stand to look in the mirror at the body that has changed dramatically since my wedding day. Other days I find myself wishing I had more money to buy things for my home. At times, I want to have the gifts that others do instead of the way God has gifted me. So, why is it that I fluctuate so much in this area? After giving this question some thought, I’m pretty sure I have the answer.

Gratitude.

Yep, I believe it’s really that simple. Oh, it may not be what Paul was thinking when he wrote what he wrote. But for me, it’s the very mindset that is the catalyst to contentment in my life.

On days when I wish I could buy something new for my home, I stop and realize that I have a home. There is devastation all over our world everyday and many would love to have the “little” that I have. On days when I wish I could drop an extra 10 pounds, I stop and remember that there are probably plenty of people who struggle with obesity who wouldn’t mind residing in my body for a while. On days when I wish my kids would give me some space, I remember that these days are fleeting and one day I’ll wish they were little again.

Today, you have a decision to make. I do, too. We can choose either to be content and grateful or we can choose not to. And we must choose before we are placed in a situation where we are comparing or complaining or wanting. During temptation is not the time to decide whether or not we are content.

Action Steps

Is there a particular area of your life where you don’t feel grateful? What is it that you think would help you be more grateful? Spend time in honest, open dialogue with God about these areas. He can handle it. Your lack of gratitude Is no secret to Him. From this day forward, begin each day naming ten people/things for which you are thankful. If ten is to small a number, do more!

Day 3 of Spiritual Journey

Day 3 of Spiritual Journey

Read Acts 1:23-26

23So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

Devotional
The three verses above finish off the first chapter of Acts. This is the chapter where Jesus ascends in to Heaven and the disciples have to decide who will replace Judas, the ex-disciple who chose to betray Jesus for a few coins.

Apparently, the remaining 11 disciples are deciding between two men: Joseph (called Barsabbas) and Matthias. We read in verse 26 that they made their decision and chose Matthias, not Joseph. He was left out. Put out to pasture, if you will. I can only assume this because the next chapter goes on to talk about a completely different subject: Pentecost. There is no “and the disciples comforted and encouraged Joseph to continue to pursue the things of Christ” speech after he wasn’t chosen. As I read that passage, I couldn’t help but wonder how Joseph must have felt.

Rejection isn’t fun. It doesn’t matter if you know to the very core of your being that what you were rejected for isn’t God’s best for you. It still hurts. It can cause you to doubt who you are, what you’re doing and even at times, how you look to others.

I have been in the place where you truly believe God is leading you, guiding you and even prompting you to say a certain thing or move in a certain direction and them BAM! The wall comes up and you are standing there dizzy from the proverbial slam against something you didn’t see coming. Oftentimes our tendency is to run from the pain of the rejection. We become incredibly great stonemasons who construct walls of brick around our hearts to protect them from pain of further rejection.

The pain of rejection is intense. But as good as we think our plans are, His are always better, always filled with more peace and will always reap more rewards than we could ever fathom. We just have to surrender our feelings of rejection to Him.

Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world knows all too well how it feels to be rejected (1 Peter 2:4). Rest in His everlasting arms as you allow Him to heal you from the inside out.

Action Steps

Are there areas of your life where you are still holding onto rejection? What is causing you to harbor any feelings of resentment or bitterness about this situation? Speak the truth to yourself that Philippians 1:6 offers you.