It Matters

What matters you ask? It is whatever or whoever you are ushering into the throne room of God during prayer. It does not have to be a prayer where you try to figure out what someone needs, because God knows the need, better than you or the person you are praying for. And better yet, He has a plan, a perfect plan.

Matthew 6:6-8
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

When you pray for someone God hears. Whether it is a whispered prayer, just a name, or a prayer that comes from the depths of your soul, with groans and sobs that you cannot know, God hears.
1 John 5:14
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything to his will, he hears us.”

We are encouraged to ask, we are encouraged to speak a name. God knows what we have need of, but he still says to come, to ask.
Luke 11:9
“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.”

If you tell someone you are going to pray for them, sometimes it needs to be done right then. No waiting. You say, ” well I was at the store and it just seemed weird to pray right there in the aisle.”
Never be ashamed to lay a hand on a person in need and simply say, “Jesus, help my friend”. It does not have to be a long drawn out thing, all prayer from your heart matters!

Many people have good intentions, they say, “yes, I will pray for you”, and at that moment they truly believe they will remember and pray, but all too often we get busy and it just slips our minds especially if prayer is not a daily thing we do. So, if you prayed at that moment of contact, at least there is one. Our prayers matter, not because God doesn’t already know their need, it isn’t that he needs our ideas on how to answer, or a plan for later. It grows us, it stretches our faith, it causes us to stop and really connect with God. It shows him we have faith.

If we are prayerless it gives the enemy a hole to jump through. He sees that we are weak in faith, in spirit, maybe even in our minds and bodies. If we choose not to prayer we are leaving ourselves open to attack. Prayer strengthens us for our daily tasks, it helps strengthen us in overcoming temptations.
Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

It matters. It matters for our minds to keep them focused on things above. It matters to our faith to grow it. It matters to God or he would not have told us to do it!

Prayer is a gift that we too often neglect to open. We never tap into the power that can be found in prayer. Prayer not only changes things, but prayer also changes us.

Many years ago I was in a season where I was spiritually, mentally and physically depleted. I had just had it. I felt beat up by life. Instead of running to the throne room of heaven and seeking help from my Father, I got withdrawn, I stopped asking, I stopped searching, I stopped reaching for that peace that passes understanding. What a mistake that was. The enemy had been prowling around looking for a way in and he found it. Keep her from seeking God and let her lean on her own devices and see where it gets her. I will not go into it, but needless to say, life unraveled.

My already heavy heart could not bear the weight of anything. My tired body just wanted rest. My spirit felt numb…isolated I was. My enemy pounced…it took a very long time to recover.

See, we were not made to go it alone in our Christian walk. We are in a relationship with Jesus, we need to sit and have a little talk with him, daily. We need the council of the Holy Spirit to direct our paths. We need the fellowship of other believers and those willing to intercede and stand in the gap for us. Do not ever think that the prayers you pray over others fall on deaf ears. No, I believe that when we utter a name, God leans close and listen intently. Jesus himself intercedes for them and for us.

No, it is no small matter this thing called prayer. Do it often and while you are there, say thank you for all those times he has heard and answered. Even if it was a no, you can believe it was for your good and His glory.

Peek A Boo And Hide and Seek

I used to love playing peek a boo and hide and seek with my babies and toddlers and each new grandchild that came along. To see the delight on their faces when you cover your face with your hands or something else and say “peek a boo” to them elicits the delightful squeal of laughter and pure joy, or jumping out as they toddled around and saying “gotcha.” All in good fun, everyone laughing and having a good time.

Later when babies become toddlers, they love to play peek a boo or hide and seek. Toddlers think that if they cover their faces we cannot see them. They are hiding plain sight, all the while thinking they are totally hidden from us. Of course, we allow them to think that way by looking for them, saying things like ” where are you?” “I can’t find you.”

I think we Christian’s are carrying that same mentality with us as we go through life. We try very hard at times to hide from God. We are almost like the toddler with their hands over their faces thinking they are hidden when in reality they are not and neither are we. Often times we want to disguise ourselves as someone else thinking that if we look different or act different God won’t know who we are or where we are.

God sees it all. I often wonder if he laughs at our attempts to hide from him or play peek a boo as though trying to distract him. We are so quick to forget that the God who made us, knows us, and is with us at all times. We are never, ever alone. Whatever our choices, whatever we do, wherever we go, he is there.

Some people go to the trouble of changing their names thinking they are hiding away, but you cannot change your DNA. You are who you are, the person knit together by God in your mother’s womb and he knows you more intimately than anyone ever has or ever will.

Often it is shame and regret that motivate us to try to hide. We want to run from who we have been rather than face our reality.
Sin causes us to try to play peek a boo with God to distract him from our actions. Trust me it does not work!

God knows where you are and even if you are hidden in a cave, another state, in a house or where-ever…he knows. Stop trying to hide, stop trying to distract God, your efforts are futile. I was reading the other day in 1 Kings and I came across the story about the king Ahab, the king of Israel. He thought he could escape the death sentence that had been put upon him by God because of his sin and disobedience, and spoken of by a prophet named Micaiah.

Here it is: 1 Kings 22:29-38
“So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth-Gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ” I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.
31Now the king of Aram had ordered his thirty-two chariot commanders, “Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.” 32 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, “Surely this is the king of Israel.” So they turned to attack him, but when Jehoshaphat cried out, 33 the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel and stopped pursuing him. 34 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told his chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded. 35 All-day long the battle raged, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran onto the floor of the chariot, and that evening he died. 36 As the sun was setting, a cry spread through the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there. 38 They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared.

The king thought that if he was disguised during the battle that God could not find him and kill him. But if you look, God did not need to even let the person shooting the arrow know it was the king or even take aim at him. It says in verse 34 “But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor.” This random guy, shooting a random arrow managed not only to hit the king but hit him between the sections of his armor in a place that would kill him. Wow!

We can disguise ourselves, we can play “hide and seek”, or we can try the “peek a boo” game out with God, but it will not matter. He is with us wherever we go and whatever we do. Even if we are the only person on an island in the middle of the ocean, God is with us and whatever he has planned for us will still come to fruition.

Maybe you find yourself in a place of shame and regret. You have been trying to hide from God, not owning your sin. Come to him, he is right there with you waiting for you to surrender the weight of this shame are regret to him. He longs to forgive you, grow you and move you past this place that you are stuck in. God’s word says this: 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Your enemy wants to keep you bound up in shame and regret. If he can keep you where​ he knows you are not being an effective​ witness for Jesus Christ. He can make you a sad miserable Christian whose lamp is just barely shining in this dark world.
Why would you want to stay there? God knows what you did, with whom you did it, how many times you did it. He knows it all. Just come, bend your knee and your pride and cry out to God, His mercy is new every morning, and He is longsuffering and kind. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I am going to leave you with some scriptures to think on.

Psalm 103:10-14 “He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, for His mercy toward those who fear and honor him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.”

Hebrews 8:12 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrar3es his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

He is waiting…take off that garment of shame and regret…surrender it to the Lord…He will forgive the sincere heart of repentance. No more trying to hide, no more games of peek a boo, it doesn’t work anyway!

Lean In

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

When we lean into Christ we are saying we believe that God is in control, God has a plan, God will see us through, God will give us the strength, peace, help and so on as we need it in life. We rest and trust in his good plan for us even when we do not understand it or it hurts us or confuses us.

When we have decisions to make and cannot trust the advice of others we need only to lean into Christ, seek his counsel and wait for his answer. We know we can trust God, after all, he is the one who knit us together has put a plan in action on the day we were born and will know better than even we the right answer and direction to take. He knows our deepest hearts desires we don’t. We think we know, but there are God-breathed things inside of us that we sometimes cannot see. Our circumstances or opinions of ourselves keeps us from seeing the whole picture.

If we take everything to God in prayer, read his word and listen closely he will say yes, no or wait. His desire for us is so much greater than our own. If you belong to Christ then our heavenly Father sees us through the blood of his son Jesus. He sees the finished product the holiness and righteousness that we have because of Jesus. We see only what greets us in the mirror, the mistakes that have defined us, the words that have hurt us, the actions of others that have crippled us in some way. So, because of that, we cannot trust ourselves to really know what is best.

The only way we can truly discern what is right and good is to spend time with the Lord. To lean in close to him and allow him to hold us up through this life. Life is hard and trying to do it on your own can cause us to have great failures. Been there done that!

When we do what verse six says: “in all your ways acknowledge him,” it says that “he will make your paths straight.” When we try to restrict or ignore the nudging’s of the Holy Spirit and go it alone it almost always goes wrong, or at least that is my findings. Christ needs to be in all we do, every aspect of our lives surrendered to him. His desire for us is good, his plan is perfect. That is what the word says, so why do we ignore it?

Does this mean life will be a bowl of cherries? No, you will have struggles, disappointments, sadness, pain, guilt, etc in just the right amounts that are needed to refine you, grow you, stretch you, change you, and move you closer to Jesus.

I would rather lean in close and listen hard than to go it alone and find myself in the pig’s pen with a stench that is hard to shake or run home with my head down and my shoulders carrying a weight that should not be there and know that discipline is coming. Why? Because God disciplines those he loves. Proverbs 3 11-12 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

Trust me when I say I have gone it alone. I made up my mind I was going to ignore what I knew God was saying and plow ahead. He let me, He never left me, but trust me also when I say the cost to self and others was high. The discipline God gave was hard to take, the time needed to recover and move ahead long. Was I alone, no. Did God pile on condemnation, no. Was the long road back easy, no. Did God still love me, yes! Was doing it my way the best way, NO! Do I still have moments where my actions cause me to feel sad and ashamed, yes! Not because God makes me feel that way, but because I knew I was wrong, and as a child of God I knew I had trampled on the grace given to me.

I am so far from perfect and my flesh at times wants what it wants, but as I have grown in Christ, and continued to read and pray my flesh gets its way less and less. My desire is to please God in all I do, think and say. I want to hear him say “well done” not only when I reach heaven, but when I lay my head on my pillow at night. I want to rest easy knowing I did my best to “lean in” to “acknowledge him” in all my ways.

I want God’s best while I trudge through this dry land. I want to listen to my Father’s wisdom so I do not have to go over the roughest part of the path. I want a straight way. My eyes looking to him, my body and soul leaning close, resting in his arms, letting him call the shots!

I will leave you with these verses from Proverbs 3. Verses 7-8 say: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Sounds good to me!!

If You Accept My Words…

Proverbs 2:1-6 “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

The first step in gaining knowledge and understanding is to “accept God’s word.” Take it as the absolute truth, read it, study it, apply it. His word contains the answers we need to make the right choices, to live our lives in a way that pleases Him. It reveals God’s heart and character to us. It gives us examples of those who are long gone, and the choices they made whether good or bad and the consequences of those choices.

God has already put in us a knowledge of right and wrong if you do not believe that go visit a pre-school and watch toddlers interact. When one child takes the toy of another they instinctively know they have been wronged and will try to get it back, they automatically know it is not right for the other child to take what they had. We are born with that wisdom, but to gain deeper wisdom and understanding about any subject you have to dig deeper, you need to study that particular subject and as you do your understanding increases, well it is the same when it comes to knowing God, gaining understanding, and knowledge about Him and this life we are to live for him.

We go on to read in verses 9, 10 and 11 these words: “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”

When we read and pray and pray and read (the Bible) we begin to understand the truths of God’s word. We begin to see how sinful we truly are and we understand what we must do to be saved, to live a good life before Christ. We begin to see that we need not fear even death when it comes and so much more. His word is our roadmap for this life. Let’s face it life is hard, sometimes very hard. Often times we are caught up in our own selves and we make bad choices. What do we do then? We remember what we have been taught: “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us.” (1 John 1:19) But after we do that we need to take stock of what got us into that mess in the first place and learn from it. Yes, even our sin, our mistakes can give us a greater understanding of God, of grace and mercy. It can be a stepping stone to a greater understanding of God when we allow him to move us through it and teach us in it. Yes, we may still have the consequences of our sin to live with, but God’s grace can use it to refine us and mold us.

In verse 11 we read: “Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” Reading God’s word, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us gives us a greater ability to discern right and wrong and as we gain that knowledge it protects us. How? Discretion can give us insight into other’s motives towards us whether good or bad. It can help us to determine if the thing we are thinking of doing is right or wrong and in so doing it guards us, keeps us from having to live out those consequences of sin.

We are never going to live completely sinless lives, if you think you are, trust me, you are deceived! But reading God’s word, studying it, letting it fill us and teach us can keep us from sinning so much…or at least it should. It moves us into a deeper relationship with our Lord and gives us a greater desire to live as he did, to love as he did. Gaining knowledge for the sake of seeing yourself more righteous and holy is not what I am talking about. I am saying “know him” “learn of him” “seek him” who is this him? Jesus, our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Help, our Counselor, our Protector… and the list just keeps on going. Whatever you need, He is.

I am blessed to sit under a pastor who preaches the word like no one I have ever heard. It is the best orator of God’s word I have had the privilege of hearing, but even though I learn from him every time I hear him speak I must dig into scripture on my own to be sure that I understand and also to make sure I am being lead correctly. I cannot know if he is speaking the truth unless I myself search it out.

So, I guess I say all this to say: “READ YOUR BIBLE, PRAY AND ASK FOR WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING!”​

Psalm 118:9

Psalm 118:9 “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”

David found this out the hard way, he put his confidence in Saul his King, another time in Achish, the Philistine and there were others. He learned that he could not depend on men no matter how noble and wise they were, they were still just mere men.

I know how David felt, I have experienced those moments where I had turned to someone for help only to find myself hurt because of their betrayal. My confidence was misguided and I was left with hurt and feeling betrayed. There were a few times when I was not the only one hurt by the betrayal.

When we put our trust in men/woman instead of God we often get what you would expect from a man/woman. We have to remember that God is mighty, men are weak. God is faithful, men are not always, God is all knowing, men are limited. God is giving, men tend to be selfish. God knows your heart, men know only what you share. God is everpresent in our daily lives, helping us through his spirit with grief, disappointment, and questions, men cannot fill those places inside us when tragedy or disappointment come. Even on our best days as humans, we fall so far short.

Our faith, hope, and trust need to be centered on Jesus. He is our ever-present help in time of trouble. (Psalm 46:1) He is Sovereign over everything. (Isaiah 46:10) “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” (Daniel 4:35) “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

We need to first run to Jesus. As the old song says: “Tell him all about it, He will hear your faintest cry and He will answer by and by.” He needs to be our first line of defense. When David went to the Lord he was not disappointed, he knew he could trust God.

Friends are great, especially spirit-filled friends and there are times when their council is just what you need. You know that God has spoken through them, but we need to weigh what we say and keep our expectations at a place of understanding, remembering that friends, Kings, Princes, Presidents and so on are not God. They cannot fix it all. There is a chance you will be disappointed, hurt and used.

When I shared with someone I was confident I could trust it broke my heart. I love and have forgiven this person for their betrayal, however, I no longer share my deepest heart with them. I learned the hard way I couldn’t.

Be sure of who you trust and remember you can always trust the one who formed you, holds you, fills you, knows you and died for you. He really is the smartest one, EVER!

Hemmed In

Psalm 139:5-6 says: “You hem me in behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”

What does it meaning of being hemmed in? A dictionary will tell you it means to fold back and sew down the edge of (cloth, a garment, etc); form an edge or border on or around. To enclose or confine (usually followed by in, around, or about.)

These words “you hem me in” should give us great comfort God our Creator, and our Savior has hemmed us in he surrounds us at every moment of the day or night, it is like being in a perpetual hug from God. We are never alone. No matter what comes our way God is with us.

The knowledge that God thinks we are so important that he surrounds us at all times is so much more than words can say.
If the enemy comes at us, he has to ask permission from the one standing guard. Does that not make even our trials seem easier. God watches our every move and hears our every word.

There is protection in this as well. While he is hemming us in, we get to go about doing our daily lives with an assurance that if we start to make a wrong turn in our life His sweet Holy Spirit will quicken us, and warn us of the choices we are making.

As we are being hemmed in on all sides we can almost hear the heartbeat of God, He is so close to us; it is never meant to be a scary thing, or make us feel like we are being confined. No, my friends, there is freedom in this hemming in.

We have freedom in Christ. The boundaries he gives us are for our protection not to make us feel like we cannot live and experience life. God wants us to enjoy life. He has given us numerable pleasure to see and do. He is not an uptight task master trying to spoil all our fun, but he is, however, a God who desires to see us grow in our walk daily, listening to the Holy Spirit, studying his word and obeying his laws.

When we tell our children not to do something it is usually because we have “been there done that” and we know the consequences of those actions and want to help our children avoid the same or worse consequences, and sometimes age itself brings its own wisdom of the do’s and don’ts. What kind of parents would we be if we did not “hem in” our children to a certain degree? Especially as they are growing and maturing. We want to guide them along their way for their own protection. Unlike parents, God never stops hemming us in. He continues to surround us all the way to heaven. Isn’t that awesome! We do not even have to worry about what will happen when we die, God is with us and has promised to see us all the way home.

Usually, if we are feeling claustrophobic it is because we are doing something outside of the will of God, or we are caught up in some kind of sin or decision that in our heart of hearts we know is wrong. Our conscience gets the best of us and we try to fight against this “hug of God” that before was bringing us comfort. Been there done that, learned my lesson. You?

So, in conclusion, I would encourage you to lean in close, listen to his heart, enjoy is constant embrace and live with the joyous knowledge of just how special you are to God!

Watch Your Enthusiasm

All of us at one time or another get very excited; we rush into something without much thought. Most of the time it is not such a big deal. However, there are times when enthusiasm is not such a great idea. One of these times occurred in 2 Samuel 6:7 where we read these words: “The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.” Now, I am sure you are wondering the “why” of it.

God had given detailed instructions on the handling of the Ark of God. They were to be followed exactly. You can read all about it in the book of Exodus. The Levites were selected to be the ones to carry the ark of God, they were never to touch it and it was to be carried by the poles. (Numbers 4:5-15) Touching the ark was a capital offense under Hebrew law. (Numbers 4:15)
“And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the work of the Lord.” (1Chronicles 15:15)

So, what was it that made God so angry that he killed Uzzah as soon as he touched it. I think several things. God was angry at David for getting too overzealous in his desire to move the ark to another place. David placed the ark on a cart according to the Philistines example rather than God’s commands. Uzzah was sincere in his desire to protect the ark. When the oxen stumbled ( 2 Samuel 6:6) he reached out to steady it. That doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to do, but according to what God had instructed it turned out to have irreparable consequences. It was sin and the consequences of his sin was death! Also, it is thought that Uzzah was not a Levite.

David’s desire to bring Israel back into relationship with God was not wrong in and of itself, but when he disregarded the law on how to handle the ark, he sinned. Our enthusiasm always must be accompanied by obedience to God’s laws. Uzzah paid with his life, there was no second chance for him. The next time David tried to bring the ark to Jerusalem, he was very careful to handle it correctly. (1 Chronicles15:1-5)

After Uzzah died, David was angry with himself. He decided to put the ark in temporary storage while he waited to see if the Lord would allow him to bring it to Jerusalem. David needed time to consider the right way to transport the ark.

We all need to be careful when dealing with the things of God. We cannot let our enthusiasm run away with us without first consulting with the Lord on the matter. We seem to constantly forget that God is Holy. We water down the holiness of God when we put God on our level. When we think that God thinks and acts as we do. Our sense of right and wrong is nowhere near that of our Lord. He is holy…the only holiness and righteousness we have are because of the shed blood of Jesus that has been applied to a believers life.

Get excited, get enthusiastic about something…just put prayer ahead of it and see where God leads. When your plans have God’s blessings, things will go well. David did eventually get the ark where he wanted it, he just did it the right way. (2 Samuel 6:12-19)

In everything we do we need to inquire of the Lord. Too often we pray after the fact and when we are dealing with the consequences of our actions. Yes, God is good and he is faithful to forgive us when we sin, but should we really be living and doing presuming upon the grace of God or should we do our best to live an obedient life?

He Wants To

We have a loving and kind God, but this loving and kind God is also a very Holy God. He hates sin! By sin, I mean anything that goes against his holy nature and that he has warned us against. We are told in the Ten Commandments how to live and act, but there is not one of us who has not at least committed these sins in our hearts if not in our physical bodies.

King David, a man after God’s own heart sinned greatly. He was looking out and saw Bathsheba bathing and burned with lust. He desired her, sent for her, slept with her, got her pregnant and then had her husband murdered. Wow! Talk about digressing, he did not count the cost, just acted on his own selfish wants. God had not withheld anything from him and blessed him greatly. Chose him to be King above others.

Nathan came along and spilled it out to him. God was not pleased, He saw it and disliked it. David burned with shame and sorrow. The next thing he did was the right thing to do. David repented. He knew not to ignore this thing he had done but went to the very one he had sinned against. God. He knew that God loved him and wanted to forgive him. He was not afraid of God. He understood that his sin although it hurt many, the one it hurt the most was God. No one else could forgive him and cleanse him and restore him, just God.

That is still true today, we need the forgiveness of God. We need to always keep in mind that our sins are against a Holy God who sees and hears everything. There is no hidden sin from God. There may be things we do that we are not aware of that are sinful, hidden sins, but they are very evident to God. He is still kind and loving and He still desires to cleanse us and set us right. God won’t push us to repentance. He wants it to come because we are truly sorrowful for our actions. As Christian’s when we do not seek forgiveness, we are forcing God’s hand of punishment. It does not mean we are unsaved, but it means we chose to hold onto our rebellion and not seek His forgiveness and restoration.

He is still God and He is still in the business of forgiving us. When we hold onto our sin, it will begin to rob us of our joy. It eats away at our conscience and we begin to try and hide from God. He is not fooled, He patiently waits for us to bend the knee and bow the head and seek him.

Psalm 32 opens with these words. “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven. 2 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” As we read on down through the passage we see these words and how true they are. 3 “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night, your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” This next thing is what David realized he needed to do, and it is what we need to do. 5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”-and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

David understood that his days were only going to get harder and the weight of his sin heavier. He needed to be made right with God and the only one who could make him right was the one he had sinned against. So, down on his knees he went, sorrowful and needy. God did not turn away, he did for David what he will do for you. He restored his joy. We find this in Psalm 51. David asked that his joy would be restored. Psalm 51:12 “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” David understood that he could not buy forgiveness, he could not give an offering or a sacrifice, there was nothing in and of himself that would cleanse him and restore him..Just true repentance. Psalm 5:15-17 “O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

God is still the same today as He was way back then. He is still as Holy although too many forget that. He is still longsuffering and kind and desires to right our wrongs and forgive us. He won’t force us to repentance if we come willingly to him. He does not always remove the consequences of our sin, but sometimes he does.

Maybe you have some sin hanging over you, you have held onto the shame for a long time…it is never too late to say I am sorry. And unlike some people, God will not refuse a sincere apology. He tells us that when we repent and ask for forgiveness he is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sin and to cleanse us. 1 John 1:9.

Go, my friend, run fast to Jesus, pour out your forgiveness and experience the healing balm that washes over you as God leans in listens and cleanses you and restores your joy as he takes your shame. He still wants to and he still will.

Surrendered…Forward

Surrendered Forward, What in the world could I mean by that, bear with me and I will share.

The Lord desires our surrender. He waits for us to give him our hurts, our dreams, our failures, our insecurities. He wants our thoughts and our hearts. No matter the circumstance his desire is that we give it to him, trust him and move forward. Sounds easy enough, but sometimes it is so hard to do, especially when it cost us something and it hurts to let go.

I have had many times in my life when I have found surrender hard. I did not want to let go or face my own failure. As I drove home from a lovely baby shower I was thinking about my second baby, the one I never got to rock to sleep or hear its first cry. In my mind, I was taken back in time over thirty years ago when the doctor said we can no longer hear a heartbeat, I feel you will lose this baby. My heart sank, it actually felt like I couldn’t breathe, No I screamed in my head to God, No!

For a week I prayed with everything I had in me, begging God to please let me keep my baby. I couldn’t sleep, I did not want to eat, I felt broken. So, pray and beg I did, I probably even made lots of promises to God if I could just keep my baby. This underlying request was going through my heart and mind; it was like the incessant waves on the shore and the roar of the ocean, constant in my mind and heart “surrender this child to me.” I could hear the faint words, but still did not want to “give in.” So, finally I was ready, I was alone, crying feeling uncertain, yet I spoke these words to God aloud, “Lord, if it is not your will for me to have this baby, then I ask you to take it now, because every minute I carry it, I love and want it more. I surrender my will to your will.” There was no angel harps, not a sound, just me laying it down, giving this child up to God’s will. I walked no more than thirty paces and “it” happened, I felt the gush, I knew it was over. My baby would never see this side of heaven. I actually held my sweet baby in my hands, marveling at how it was forming, wondering if it was a boy or girl, softly crying, yet with peace, I cannot explain, knowing that God’s perfect will had just been done, my soul was a rest.

God did not need my surrender to have his way, he could have allowed me to lose my baby all while fighting him for possession, but God is a gentleman, He allowed me to wrestle and hold on until I was spent, until I allowed my faith to catch my wants and I rested in his perfect will, no matter the outcome. Did it stop me from being sad, from missing the smell of a newborn, no, I had to plod through life each day knowing that my sweet angel was in heaven and trusting that I will one day see my baby who is safe with Jesus, untouched and unspoiled by this world.

There have been times when I have had to surrender my own failures to the Lord. I have held onto my disappointment and had it make me feel trapped and unworthy. I have spat in the face of grace deeming myself too unworthy of forgiveness. And at those time I have been reminded that it was not me who saved me and called me to Christ Jesus, it was him and the work and salvation he is doing in my heart and life are all by him. He chose to forgive me long before I failed. With each insult that was hurled, each strike of the whip and every spike that was driven into his hands and feet had my name on them. He chose to forgive me and call me before I was ever born. So, being reminded of this great grace, I made the decision to surrender my failures, big and small; I have chosen to surrender my imperfections and fumblings. Knowing that I can never do any good to make up for them, I simply fall on the grace of God, knowing it is enough and that when the Father looks at me He sees Jesus, his perfection, his righteousness. He sees me as I was meant to be and as I will one day be when I am finally with him. I no longer hold onto my hurts and failures like a toddler who does not want to open its hands and show you what is inside.

There is such freedom in surrender, such a peace, and assurance that comes from knowing “God has it, He can handle it, He will use it.” Nothing that touches us is meant to keep us bogged down, stopped in our tracks reliving it over and over. It is meant to “move us forward” in our walk and relationship with Christ Jesus. It is meant to smooth those areas of our lives that still need to be molded and made to look more like Jesus. He can handle our pain, He can handle our anger, He can handle our disappointment when we give it to him. There is nothing the devil likes better than to see a Christian wallering in self- pity, defeat and self- loathing. He cannot steal our salvation, but he can sure try to keep us weighted down and self-focused; allowing him to steal our joy and peace of mind, keeping us from moving forward in our relationship with Jesus.

Jesus surrendered his will for the Father’s in the Garden. Not my will, but thine be done. He knew the cost, He knew the pain yet he surrendered trusting his Father to work it out for his good for his glory. It did not mean he would not be sad for a time, he would not feel disappointment, fear, and pain. Afterall he was a man, he had friends, he loved being with them. So, he understands when we are reluctant, yet says, give it to me, trust me. We have to give up our right to be hurt and offended. We must walk knowing God’s Got It! And remember Jesus is praying for you…always before the Father.

Here are a few scriptures to bless you and help you along your way.

Isaiah 45:9 “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker, An earthen vessel among the vessels of Earth! Will the clay say to the potter, What are you doing? Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands?’

Isaiah 64:8 “But now, O Lord, You are our Father, WE are the clay, and You are our potter; all of us are the work of your hand.”

Mark 8:35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whosoever loses his life for My sake and the gospels will save it.”

Job 11:13-15 “Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins-even those you do in secret. Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless.”

Matthew 16:24-27 “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”

Psalm 9:10 “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”