Devotions from Judy’s heart
In Eph 4:32 it says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” That is often easier to quote than to practice, even for little ones. While at Lily’s game, our grandson Grant was playing and accidently hit a little red headed girl with a stone he was throwing into the culvert. The girl’s daddy held her and moved her to a little chair and gave her a snack. Grant didn’t try to defend himself but immediately went over to the little girl and bent down to look into her eyes and asked if she was alright. He stayed around to make sure she was okay and was so sweet. Don’t we have a lot to learn from this example? Because we are human we hurt others even when we don’t mean to. Rather than rationalizing or defending ourselves, how much better to just go to the other person and ask them to forgive us and show that we care. It’s not about who is right and who is wrong but rather about who is expressing Christ’s love. Let us be tenderhearted and kind, and quick to forgive.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Have you had the experience of planning out your day and then finding that nothing goes as planned? Our times are in His hand and scripture is full of verses about time. Jesus said,” My time is not yet.” He was on His Father’s time table and not man’s or his own. When interruptions come into our lives, do we receive them as coming from His hand or do we buck them? I like to plan my day of things I want to accomplish even before I get up. I did that last Saturday and my plans were changed by 7 am. as I got a long distance call that lasted 2 hours. Then I had another call from a friend asking if she could come over. What I didn’t know was that she was bringing her lovely granddaughter and a delicious 3 layer birthday cake. Then in the afternoon 2 couples came over that we hadn’t planned to see until evening…but instead the afternoon was just perfect for sitting on the deck and enjoying the sun and breeze while we shared and ate. In the evening another neighbor stopped by with something important for Al and since our company had left he was free to receive. You get the picture, as the Lord perfectly orchestrated the day and had surprises for us all along the way.
What if I had told my friend that I was too busy for her to come over… I would have missed the most delicious cake ever! What things do we miss when we are so caught up on doing what is on our schedules that we miss the wonderful things the Lord has for us. Plans are good but let us hold them loosely so that when He interrupts them, we have openness to receive.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do you think that how we start our day may actually influence how the rest of our day goes? I read from Ps. 118 today, verse 24 which is so familiar, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” I thought back to when we were at Kurt’s a few days ago and how Paige and Lily woke up each morning. They would come bounding down the stairs into my arms knowing a big hug was waiting. Then they would know one of grandma’s sweet rolls was on the counter for them and a little prize for that day. Were they excited and “rejoicing”? Yes! Do we awaken to the day with the awareness that our Father is waiting for us and has good things for us to receive? Can we hardly wait to see what it might be? He wants to feed and nourish us with his Word and has surprises for us to open. He always has new things to teach us and new ways of showing us His love. But often we are lazy or negligent and go right into our day without receiving what He desires to give us. Now if Paige and Lily came downstairs and didn’t acknowledge me, and spurned the gifts on the counter etc, I would feel badly. I wonder how our Heavenly Father feels when we do that. Let us go into the day with anticipation and newness and with rejoicing!
Thomas Merton warns us when he states, “There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with reality.” I have found that facing the reality of my sinful nature has been the most difficult part of the spiritual journey To finally come to the place of accepting the good, bad and ugly found in my heart has not been easy. I have lived most of my life with an illusion of self rather then reality of self. Instead of accepting who I really am, I have denied my real self, trying to present an image of a “spiritual” man who has it together. That practice robbed me of authenticity, that is, living with others as I really am. I did not have freedom to be me and live in the joy of the present moment. My focus more often then not was on my image of self rather then who I truly was in God.
Men, we can in confidence and humility come to know and accept all the parts of our inner life, especially those parts that are most shameful and fearful. Why? Because God know all about who we are and yet loves us in our stink. “But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him” (Rom 5:8 – The Message). I can not stress to you the joy and freedom in coming to accept all aspects of who you really are before God. When you come to the inner knowing that God loves you with unconditional love, you are able finally to accept yourself as you are. Knowing God and knowing self are intimately related. As David Benner puts it, ” Knowing ourselves must therefore begin by knowing the self that is known by God. If God does not know us, we do not exist.” In other words, we can live with an illusion of self, rather in the reality of who we are.
Think about it for a moment. How is change going to come to a part of our self that we do not even accept? Living with an illusion of self takes a lot of work. We know that Jesus wants us to be crucified with him. But when we live in illusion we end up often crucifying part of our true self in God. Living in the reality of who I really am, means living in the light of God’s love and acceptance. Take it from a fellow traveler, there is grace and mercy to crucify, that is surrender and give up control, of those bad habits and diseased atttiudes when they are exposed to the light. In the clear, bright light of God’s grace I can then rejoice and be accepting of who I really am in Christ. This is the real authentic me, giving me energy to live in joy and freedom. Illusion simply is not an option once you taste the freedom and joy of living in your true self in Christ.
So here is a simply practice that has been very helpful for me. I learned this from David Benner. Spend time imaging God looking at you. All those negative feelings and images you have of yourself, allow to flow out of yourself into the presence of God. It might help to see them going into Jesus’ body as He died to healing you of your sinful condition. You can bring all your inner junk to him at the foot of the cross. Then visualize God the Father receiving you in love. “Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2 – The Message). Like a strong wind the Spirit clears to air of our inner life. “If you’re content with simply being yourself, you will become more than yourself” (Luke 18:14 – The Message).
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do we always hear what the Lord is saying to us? I’m sure I miss what He is saying to me far more times than I will ever know. One day I was in the garden with a friend and we were picking green beans and lettuce etc. She said I could pull up the weeds by the onions and I thought she was telling me to pull up the green bean plants when I was done picking. ( We have already pulled up the spinach etc) I went over the next day and picked more beans but wondered if I heard her correctly so I called her to double check. And sure enough she said, No, No, they will produce more and are not done for the season yet. I was so glad I checked again as I did not hear her rightly. Sometimes we are not quiet enough to hear the Lord and we take off doing things He has not asked us to do. Other times we may need to check with someone we respect spiritually to see if we are “off the wall” in something we believe the Lord is saying to us. There have actually been gals that have said the Lord told them to divorce their hubby to marry someone else in the Body that was more spiritual etc. You get the picture….we don’t hear 100% of the time and I believe the Lord looks at the intention of our heart, even when we misread Him and take detours. I know I need to be more attentive and take more time to be quiet so I don’t miss what He has to say to me.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I am reminded so often how everything goes back to God’s grace. We are more aware of it when we disobey and know how much we need forgiveness and grace. But how many times do we make mistakes and need to forgive ourselves. We wish we could take back something we said or wish we had done something differently. While at Kurt’s he was going to visit Lily at her 11:30 lunch time and bring her McDonalds. But he got a call from the office wondering where he was at 11:15 as Lily’s lunch was really at 11:05. ( not as he had been told) Big mistake for a little girl waiting for her daddy with nothing to eat. And today when we left so early in the morning, I forgot the blueberries I had cleaned for my dad and it was too late when I remembered. I told dad my mistake and he forgave me just as Lily forgave her daddy. These are just small things but in the big things we mustn’t hang on to our mistakes and “beat” ourselves but receive His grace. As Paul said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” II Cor. 12:9-10. May we constantly know how much we need His grace and be quick to receive.
Devotions from Judy’s heart.
All of us can attest to the difficulty of waiting. When we were little as the grandkids, it seemed like time stood still as we waited for Christmas to come. Or like Kurt as an adult, waits to hear if he has the job in Chicago. Or like a spouse who waits to hear the report of the recent MRI. It is not easy to wait but I believe God does something deep in us as we are in that waiting time. We realize in a new way we are not in control. In Is. 30:18 it says we are blessed as we wait for the Lord, as He is gracious to us and shows us compassion. For me it becomes a matter of trust for even though we don’t know the outcome, we know He is loving and so worthy of our trust. Often it is later that we realize that our very hearts have been changed in that time of waiting. David says in Ps. 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Let us be courageous and trust and not fear for all is in His hands.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”.” James 1:17
God’s gifts to us are good, even when we may not realize they are at the time. When we go to visit the grandkids, I usually have little wrapped prizes so they can open one each morning. The girls were delighted with theirs yesterday morning but when Grant opened his stuffed pirate he was not thrilled. In fact he threw it on the floor. Later in the day he appreciated it more and we used it when we played school. His room theme is pirates so the prize was to fit in with his room decor. But at first he never gave it a chance and threw it away. I wonder how many gifts the Lord sends to us that we discard or just plain ignore. We would rather have something else and so we put it aside. Maybe he sends us something that is wrapped up in a way we refuse to open. Inside is a precious gift if we would be willing to look beneath. Sometimes we go through hard circumstances and we just want to get out of them as quick as possible, when He is forming His character in us. Or maybe we wish for the gift our neighbor has and believe we are short changed. The apostle Paul learned the secret of contentment (Phil 4;11) and may we receive what the Lord sends, giving thanks in all things.
Today I read the scripture from Ps. 149:4, “For the Lord takes delight in his people.” How many times have I heard Al say to the congregation, “The Lord delights in you!” Do we really believe that and live in the awareness of that?
As you know we are seeing our grandkids now and how we delight in each of them. All 7 of our grandkids are so different from one another but we love each of them in an individual way. It gives us great joy when they are responsive as they were on Monday night when we arrived. They were waiting for us and jumped up and down and gave us hugs and xxx and spent time with us. One of their favorite things to do is at night is to come into our bed and snuggle under the covers as I read to them. Paige also wanted to show me all her treasures and took out 2 treasure boxes, her holy water, and some beautiful dolls etc and we talked about them all in private. I can only imagine how it makes the heart of our Father glad when we tell Him everything that is on our hearts, spend time with Him in secret, share Him with others, and just love Him with all our heart, soul, and strength.” Deut. 6:5. Someone has said the opposite of love is not hate but apathy. Let us respond to the Lord with joy and love that springs up from hearts that know we are delighted in!
8-23Devotions from Judy’s heart
Have you noticed how one size does not fit all? I remember when Al’s mom (who was quite large at the time) went shopping with her good friend (who was just a little slip of a thing), they were tempted to test that one out with tights. For one it would be stretched out to its limit and for the other it would bag. Likewise, even though Al and I are close on the spiritual journey, what works for him may not work for me. He recently got a new office chair and told me to sit in it any time I want when he is gone. So one day I did and it was not the right height or setting for me at all. I did a Bible study at his desk but felt like a little kid sitting up to a table that was too high for her. Also, when I get in the car and move the seat forward, I find that where Al has the mirrors set is not right for me. I miss much of what is behind me. It doesn’t mean he is wrong or I am wrong but it just isn’t the same for me. I have to reset the mirrors. That may apply to spiritual disciplines or many things on the spiritual journey. We have to be where the Lord wants us, individually, and not the place that someone else is at. At the same time we give others the freedom to be in the place God has for them, without judging. Let us remember that our Heavenly Father knows us so well, even our thoughts, and we can trust Him on the journey!