This afternoon we took our 1 1/2 year old son, Jack, to play in the park. He toddled around the monstrous pieces of equipment for a little while, but after a few minutes he made a bee-line for the street…
This past weekend was a holiday, as it would be difficult not to notice, with both religious and secular modes of celebration. I will be honest with you. I did not go to church. We did, however celebrate with a delightful brunch and lots of family.
Tonight, as I write this devotional, I do not feel worthy to share anything. You see, I messed up this weekend. Royally screwed up. I chose to overeat significantly even though it was what I knew I should not do. I sinned. I am not in question about that fact.
What I am struggling with now, is…what do I do now?
Sometimes, I immediately KNOW what to do. I say something in anger, my heart clenches up. I know I have sinned. I immediately regret the action. I pray for cleansing of the bad feeling, for forgiveness for my words, and I am forgiven. I don’t doubt the immediacy of God’s mercy and grace.
My tendency with this kind of sin, however, often termed a “stronghold”, is to beat myself up. To stay away from God. To hide in my shame. To wallow like the prodigal son with the pigs.
And that is pride. My big fat pride.
So tonight, as I study this topic to share with you, I have been overcome by God’s amazing grace.
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Ephesians 1:7
Oh Father, forgive me first and foremost for my pride. For thinking that any sin I am overcome by is larger than you are. That my worth as your child can ever be lessened by any action of my own. I am so sorry that I allowed this gap to be created between us. It was a gap of my own making, and I hope I never make it again. The gap may have been started by my choosing to indulge my sinful nature, but was made wider and deeper by my pride.
…Even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians
Thank you for making it clear to me that there is no “earning” I must do before you take me back. This remembrance of your sacrifice is also a celebration that the “work” has been done. The gift we receive is reconciliation.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16
Father, thank you for the gift of this group of women. If I were not involved with them, I might not have taken the time to explore your grace and receive it as I have this evening. The way you work is beyond my understanding. I am humbled and grateful, and amazingly, feel loved. I have had the knowledge of your love, but you have kindly allowed me to feel it tonight.
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews
Please, if there are any of you who read this devotional have something stuck between you and God…please, let him remove it! It is imperative that you receive the same grace that God has given me tonight. It does not matter how big or little your sin. None of it is bigger than the God we worship, the God we serve. The ultimate goal is that we are together with God — that we let nothing separate us from Him.
“The Tip-O-Meter sure is winding down!” I muttered as the waitress walked out of earshot. The restaurant was nearly empty. My husband, son and I were sitting in a local big-chain pancake house having our April Fool’s Day Dinner*. As we were waiting to be served, we were stunned at how rude the staff was to us and to each other.
What happened to “service with a smile”, “the customer is always right!” and “have it your way”? Isn’t it funny how service-oriented we want things to be when we are on the receiving end?
As a Christian, however, I am called to a different place. I am called to BE the servant, not to be served.
And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5
During this Holy Week, as we approach Easter, many of us are focusing on Christ’s sacrifice for us. This sacrifice is the ultimate example of servitude and obedience.
Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:43-45
In looking at Christ’s example, I’m compelled to understand more clearly what it means for me to truly serve. I spent some time researching, and I found a few verses that pointed me in some new directions.
A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 2 Timothy 2:24
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Romans 12:10-11
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13
May you have a blessed Easter!
*My husband and I choose to celebrate April Fool’s day in place of Valentine’s Day
Questions: What comes to mind for you when you hear the terms “servant” and “service”? Has God placed any new thoughts on your heart about serving others?
Back in November I joined in with some really wonderful Christian women participating in a challenge to document One Thousand Gifts. At the time it was leading up to the Christmas season and the challenge was to come up with the gifts that we already had.
I worked on them faithfully for a couple of months, but then hit a dry spell. About a week or so ago I combined a couple of blogs I had into one in a new location. This new location did not support the numbering method I was using and has required me to open each post and manually number all of my entries. When I first realized that all my record-keeping was lost, the perfectionist in me was screaming! “When am I going to have the time to go back through and put those numbers in?!?” “How ridiculous to not support those ordered list tags!!!” “I’m going to have to write in and complain!”
It’s funny. Whenever I get done having my mental temper tantrums, God quietly steps in and teaches me the next lesson He’s got waiting. And I feel ashamed. (My son, who is 18 months old has temper tantrums and I know only too well how silly and useless it is to throw a fit. Nothing is accomplished. But that doesn’t stop either one of us, I’m afraid.)
But back to my lesson. This afternoon I decided I would take the time to edit just two or three posts. It was amazing. I just took a few minutes and as I was editing the formatting of the HTML, I read through the things I was thankful for in that day. Suddenly the little disagreement I’d had with my husband an hour earlier faded into appreciation as I read little reminders of how good a guy he really is. And feeling that gratitude had this strange side-effect. I was humbled. My pride climbed off it’s ladder and I was able to face my husband lovingly instead of defensively.
Psalm 50:14-15, NLT
Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.
I think it’s time for me to get started again on those One Thousand Gifts. My “Gifts” posts are here. Would you consider joining us in taking a few minutes out of your day to make deliberate note of the wonders that God has placed in your life?