thoughts for tonight. I’m sitting here worshipping with music and as my thoughts are continually lifted higher, I’m thinking of how incredibly happy I am. I just feel so grateful. I’m grateful I know that even the best this world has to offer is nothing compared to what God has in store for us in heaven. think of how incredibly cruel it would be for God to force people who haven’t wanted to live for Him or accept Him in life to be with Him in heaven! Instead of forcing us, He’s given us the option to choose life..to choose Him. and I’m just reflecting on that and the incredible vision of my purpose that He gave me today. I mean..I’m just shocked at how much sense it makes. Literally everything I’ve ever done and everyone I’ve ever met as brought me to this point. And I’m so grateful for having a greater purpose than eating, drinking, sleeping, and hoping for the best. with Jesus, I have assurance of the best. I didn’t even mean to write all those things, but man, I’m just incredibly grateful 🌻and if you’re struggling with your purpose or you’re just unsure, this is from one I’m-not-always-happy-kid-at-heart straight to you: hold on. every puzzle piece will make sense soon…and you are here for a reason.
“The man who had been dead came out, his hands and feet wrapped in strips of linen and his face covered with a cloth. Yeshua said to them, “Unwrap him, and let him go!””
Yochanan (Jhn) 11:44 CJB
Jesus did what the people could not – he brought Lazarus to life.
I watched The Heart of Man last night on Netflix. It’s a powerful movie which left me inspired and peaceful. Afterwards, I started thinking – What should I do now?
And I got my answer which was more about being than doing. It’s much easier to do than to just be. We are human beings not human doings. It’s so tempting to do instead of be. God calls us to come to Him with a contrite heart. Contrition is something you are not something you do. He calls us to be still and know that He is God. Stillness is a state of being – example: you can run all over the place doing errands and rushing about and still have a stillness of being..a stillness of mind.
Jesus calls out Lazarus and raises him to life. Then He calls the people surrounding him to take off the burial cloths and linen. Jesus did what the people could not do. He alone did the hard work. He called the people to do what they could.
So often we rush ahead in ministries as our minds run a hundred miles per hour as we chase down and implement one idea after the next. God is calling us to relationship…to be still and know Him. Our ultimate purpose is to love God and love people. How can we learn to love a God we are never spending time with?
Everything we do as Christians, should be based on our relationship with and response to God. He’ll call us to do our part. He’ll call us to do what we can. But first, be still and know.
I’m sitting on my bed after hours of dozing off, napping, and all-out sleep. there isn’t much on my to-do list except a few dishes and vacuuming. it’s a new year but more importantly it’s a new day. I want to get excited every day at midnight. I want to get excited about the opportunity to experience a new day. but I don’t think anyone really views it that way. we don’t really measure the value we receive in one day. as I’m scrolling through Instagram posts about new year, new beginnings, and fresh start, I saw a theme – trust. I can’t believe this is a lesson I’m still learning. it’s a little frustrating. but nevertheless, it inspired me to write this small note about Thomas.
Read the story here.
When I’m reading something, especially the Bible, I like to know the meaning of all the words. I especially like to know the meaning behind a name of I’m reading Bible verses. A name in the Bible described that person’s character. John says Thomas is also called “Didymus”. Both of his names are uncommon. I went here to look up what’s in a name. His name is associated with two or double or twice and means Twin. I like one of the last few sentences on that page: “Our word…may denote…being forked.” So putting all these together, I have a mental picture of a guy who had multiple views heading in different directions. I want to use the word double-minded but I’m not 100% sure that’s the exact word I’m looking for. The point is, I see a guy with clashing viewpoints or views that follow different paths. I see a literal fork in the road (which reminds me of Amelia Bedelia) and someone whose viewpoint was able to go down any path or road. Split. Indecisive.
This the guy who needed physical evidence after Jesus was resurrected. His statement showed his personality:
24 And Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came;
25 the other disciples, therefore, said to him, `We have seen the Lord;’ and he said to them, `If I may not see in his hands the mark of the nails, and may put my finger to the mark of the nails, and may put my hand to his side, I will not believe.’
He wasn’t there, so he’s having a hard time believing it. Maybe there were many streams of thought flowing though his mind. Maybe his views were overwhelmingly conflicting and so he decided not to believe until he could see for himself and test the theory.
But I love Jesus’ response to Him. Jesus invites Thomas into direct contact with suffering and asks Thomas to believe. Jesus responds to Thomas’ fears and doubts with an invitation to be closer and more intimate. He doesn’t push Thomas away. Sure, it takes a few days for Jesus to respond to Thomas’ request, but the point is that Jesus answers him and in a way in which the other disciples did not experience!
Seeing the word “trust” repeatedly as I scrolled through got me thinking: people often ask “If there’s a God, why is there so much suffering?” In other words, God, how can you be real and not intervene? I understand that question. I get it.
And, Reader, here’s how it connects with our friend Thomas.
God responds to our doubt with an invitation to know Him even more deeply. He invites us to get close to suffering and not to run away from it. He invites us to experience it face to face and not be apart from it. He invites us to see how closely connected He is to suffering and how much He truly understands it. He doesn’t push us away because we have questions or can’t see His plan or don’t understand everything He’s doing. He invites me and you not to ignore suffering but to be a part of it so that it can transform our minds and then transform our lives. Because you can never be unchanged when you experience suffering. You can never be unchanged when you reach out and touch and realize that it’s a real part of the human experience.
And change is exactly what Thomas experiences. After he realizes how intimately the Savior understands suffering, Thomas has a revelation. Thomas realizes and acknowledges that Jesus..is..God.
Thomas could only see his current situation: Jesus isn’t here and he’s left us emotionally empty while we’re struggling to handle our suffering.
Thomas doubts and makes a declaration: I won’t believe until I see.
Jesus enters the scene and extends an invitation.
Thomas believes and has a revelation.
And I guess that’s just it. If we only look at the current circumstances, we’ll only see part of the picture. But if we acknowledge our doubts and wait for Jesus to reveal Himself, we won’t be able to resist the revelation. As you continue to respond to His invitation to be closer, He’ll reveal Himself as not only being aware of suffering and understanding it, but also being in control.
28 And Thomas answered and said to him, `My Lord and my God;’
for the past few days, my go-to song has been “Traveling Light“.
I noticed that when I move further from God/don’t do His will, I start to get burdened down by insecurities.
I remember when I was little, my mom would wait till I got home to spank me if I hadn’t behaved that day. I started cutting to the chase: I wanted to know what to expect when I got home. I started asking her if I had been good before we even made it home. I thought it was some recent poor habit I’d developed but I’m realizing I’ve always wanted to know what lies ahead.
Verse & Prayer
this morning’s verse of the day is 2 Corinthians 3:17 –
“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
that verse got me thinking about freedom. this morning I prayed for a sign and I got it. I wanted to be free from thoughts that often blind me and weigh me down. I just longed for freedom.
and I’ve been working on just talking openly to God about things. so that’s what I did when I prayed today. the point of prayer is to seek God’s Spirit – to look for it, to submit to it. and I found out today that when I prayed, I truly found God’s Spirit…I found freedom.
on a morning call, God led me to focus on the story of the thief on the cross. I love how Jesus doesn’t force the 2nd thief to go through a bunch of rituals and traditions. all He gives him is assurance. assurance that not only will he be remembered, but that he’s received the most important thing that there is to receive in life – paradise. he immediately receives an assurance of salvation.
remember when I said earlier that when I don’t do God’s will, I start to get really insecure? Jesus’ words to this undeserving criminal can assure us that when we cry out to Him, He will save us. He gives us assurance. assurance is the opposite of insecurity.
remember when I said earlier that I love to know the future/what lies ahead? Jesus’ words to this believer gave him an assurance of the future.
look at this verse from Romans 8:28:
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
“we know“. I like that. not “we think“.
knowing something is assurance, not insecurity. no matter what you’re afraid of/what your situation is/what your hopes and dreams are – you know that God will cause everything to work together for the good. so even if your life doesn’t look exactly the way you want it to look right now – be patient. our futures are set when we entrust our lives to Jesus. we don’t have to worry about any aspect of our lives – money, food, clothing, education, careers, etc. even the things we consider bad or negative events will be worked out for good because God chooses to do that for people who love Him.
that verse can give us so much freedom if we accept it and live it today.
freedom from fear and anxiety – especially about the future.
freedom from insecurity.
freedom from burdens.
freedom from sin.
It seems like when I’m losing focus, God sends the right word…passage…song…friend. This time around God sent a friend. A friend who encourages me and points my thoughts to Jesus. I keep editing and re-editing because I’m wondering if I’m talking about God too much. I’m wondering about how to reach you, Reader. How do I connect? I didn’t start this page or this blog for the followers. But that’s always in the back of my mind: I wonder if they’d like me more if I…
I don’t like doing things without purpose. I like to do things and see results. I think that’s why I love cleaning so much. Well, that and the fresh, clean air smell.
Sometimes it’s difficult to maintain our sight of purpose. We can get stuck in routine and wonder what it all means. We wonder whether we’ll ever get out of this rut or that situation.
Maybe that’s how the Israelites felt when they were enslaved in Egypt. Century after century they woke up to the same old limited freedom. Unable to worship the one true God perhaps because they had lost their sense of hope…and their identity.
6 “Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. 7 I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. 8 I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!’”
9 So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.
If you’re a little discouraged because life seems stagnant, I encourage you to take on a new perspective. You’ve never experienced today, tomorrow, or even the next moment. Each day brings new opportunity even if you’re doing the same old thing. Your identity is rooted in who you are in Jesus. Your identity is first and foremost (I really don’t like that phrase; feel free to suggest another one) in Jesus. That means that even when we’ve got nothing in life, we still have everything because our every thing is based on Jesus. If our identities are based in our achievements, friends, family, jobs, education, or anything but God, then we’ll find that our emotions go up and down like an unpredictable roller coaster because those things (achievements, friends, family, etc.) are always changing. But when we put our hope, faith, foundation in Jesus, we’ll find that even when we’ve got nothing, we have everything.
We’re not really at a loss at all.
And you know, Reader?
There is really no such thing as having absolutely nothing. It’s just a matter of perspective.
There is always something to be grateful for.
But you might need more.
So here it is.
This morning’s Bible verse from Isaiah 40:28
Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
The God we serve doesn’t get tired of hearing from us. Further proof here.
The God we serve cares about every detail of our lives.
While you’re waiting for the next thing, change your perspective about the current thing, whether it’s a person, place, or situation.
Find God’s purpose for you. Find out what He wants you to do in the meantime. Use the talents you have in ways you never thought of.
ridiculously early mini devotional time ☺️
“Then ADONAI will be king over the whole world. On that day ADONAI will be the only one, and his name will be the only name.”
Z'kharyah (Zec) 14:9 CJB
this verse inspires me to make God the Lord/Master of my heart.
3 verses that talk about hearts stand out to me:
Psalm 119:36,Bend my heart toward your instructions and not toward selfish gain.
Proverbs 3:5-6,Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
2 Thessalonians 3:5May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.
From these we see that we should allow God to direct our hearts, which makes sense because our hearts are deceitful (Jer. 17:9). And if our hearts are deceitful and we want to be live truthfully and not live a lie, then we need to ask God to lead our hearts.
what does this mean in real life (application/why should we care)? it means that we shouldn't be led by the emotions our hearts create: insecurity, guilt, fear, anger, distrust, etc. because we know our hearts lie and because Proverbs 23:7a tells us
"As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."
"As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."
Jesus also emphasizes this in Matthew 15:18-20.
We act out what we believe to be true and these beliefs come from our hearts. (if we believe we aren't valuable, then our actions will reflect our inner insecurity; if we believe we aren't forgiven, we'll drown in guilt; if we fear, it reflects our inner distrust of God & His plan & His promises to us; etc.)
let's allow God to be King 👑 over our hearts today so we can do His will and be led by the truth.
Song for meditation:
a few days ago, one of my exes called. there's so much that could be said about the past calling.
you know the usual – you're supposed to be asleep but you get that text that reads
hey, are you awake?
I guess old habits die hard. you know the usual – flirting, temptation, pictures. but this time it was unusual. this time it was different. this time it was one-sided. and I don't know what it was. maybe, like he described later, it was maturity. finally. or maybe I was just bored…
I'm just so tired of being that girl. always a bridesmaid, never a bride. only this time it's always a…I dunno…well I know what I want to say but it doesn't flow as nicely. it's just not nice to not make it to full-fledged wife status with all the frills it comes with. I don't want to settle for anything less than the dream – the vision- that I believe God has whispered to my heart. and something within me just stood up and firmly said no. and I'm not writing about this to brag. I'm typing this out because I've never felt this feeling before. I feel as confident as I felt before I was an awkward, pimply teenager. I feel confident. I feel strong.
I just said no. I feel like I just can't live the same way anymore. Like the Woman at the Well, I'm looking to experience something new. I'm tired of the same old water that continually leaves me thirsty. I really can't do this anymore. Within a few moments of texting and talking, I realized I had grown. I couldn't believe what I was saying. I couldn't believe what I was refusing. And it didn't mean I'd be perfect – no I definitely slip every day, but thank God for grace through Jesus. I don't have to do it all on my own. I don't have to constantly fear slipping up. I can live and walk confidently knowing that my sins are forgiven and that God will help me to live life loved and to live life new. I don't need to return to the past. It doesn't fill me up anymore. And the truth is, it never has.
"In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall." Psalm 18:29
I am stronger. I am goal-oriented. I am focused on the benefits ahead and not on momentary pleasure.
Could you please pray for me? Pray for deliverance. I'm praying for you too. Even if you're not there yet – have faith. You will be. This God I serve is so great. So powerful. His love is endless. There's nothing too embarrassing, dirty, or unworthy.
"Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies;"
"There's nothing too dirty
That You can't make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean
There's nothing too dirty
That You can't make worthy
You wash me in mercy
I am clean" – Natalie Grant, "Clean"
Thank God that we serve a God who's perfect; who loves us even though we don't deserve it. He fights our battles for us. We are never alone.
"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14
Sometimes we don't think of our bad habits as addictions. Or worse, we think that our bad habit is not as bad as his or hers. But praise God for deliverance. Have there been bad things that have happened this week? Life is filled with mess-ups, slip-ups, and breakups, but today let's make our minds up – we won't live life with a victim mindset. We can make it. We can overcome.
Today let's celebrate the progress we've made. Lets give credit where credit is due instead of focusing on our failures. Let's replace fear of failure with faith in the future: hope. A hope that can only be conceived through a continual trust in Jesus.
Let's say thank you to God as we recognize how far he's brought us from our past. And let's look forward to the future.