The Gift of Closeness with God [Day 31: CLOSE]

My husband/our pastor recently preached through has preached through both Romans and Hebrews in the two years of our little church plant’s existence. It seems he is forever drawing parallels between the believer’s relationship to God and the union between a man and a woman in marriage. In some ways, it’s sort of humorous because the majority of our congregants are unmarried. But I think it’s safe to say that we all have an innate idea of how a healthy marriage should look and operate.

For instance, I think we would agree that it would be a tragedy for me to tell everyone how great my husband is but not experience true intimacy with him. I could work myself to death in efforts to please him, but if I do not take the same efforts to know his heart, I have failed in my marriage. If there is no love in my marriage, my efforts are in vain. I am failing my husband and myself because we don’t get to experience the fullness of what marriage is intended to be.

In Romans 10:1-4 the apostle Paul expresses his longing for certain Jewish people to be saved. He says they have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. They work for God and even strive to make His name known — but the tragedy is, they do not know Him. They do not experience closeness and intimacy with God. Their hearts remain far from Him even as their lips proclaim His name.

I fear that, too often, something like this could be said of me. Efforts to teach and disciple are acts worthy of devotion, but if my devotion is misplaced then my service is meaningless. My devotion first and foremost must be to the Lord. I must devote myself to drawing close to Him each and every day of my life — even moment to moment. I can do this because of the work of Christ that abolished my sin and made a way for me to experience closeness with God. It is the most precious of gifts yet one I take for granted to much of the time.

I’ve said it throughout this series — He wants my heart. He has proven it. With the same zeal I serve Him, I must express thankfulness for the opportunity to be close to God by taking advantage of it. I can approach each day with the goal to know God more and draw ever more near to Him.

I want that closeness. I don’t want to suffer the tragedy of a lost opportunity to experience the relationship God longs to have with me. So, I will work at knowing Him for the rest of my days.

I “make” God big in my life when I practice more zeal to know Him than I do to serve Him. He wants my heart.

How do you practice zeal to know God?

Talk to me in the comment section below?

 

My Whole Life is a Song of Worship [Day 27: WHOLE]

I tend to see my life in fractured segments — one part mommy, one part wife, one part Sunday school teacher, church-planter’s wife, etc. All these roles come with different tasks and I am defined by those tasks at the time I am doing them. It’s tough for me to see my life in Christ as one whole offering to God, but that’s the way He sees it. The truth is, He already owns every part of me and gives me each work I get to do for Him.

I want my whole life to be a song of worship to Jesus. Whether I am reading the 12th book in a row to my toddler or teaching Bible truths to a roomful of rowdy kids, I want my heart to be completely in tune to the will of God in my life. I desire for my marriage to be sweet and loving — the kind that shows the love of Christ to a world suffering from the consequences of selfish sins. I long for my testimony as a mother to be that of one gently leading her family and teaching Christ’s ways from a patient and pure heart (long way to go on this one, I know!). I want my efforts in ministry to be characterized by single-minded devotion to Christ and a true heart to make him known.

There aren’t just bits and pieces of my life that are sacred and the other inconsequential. God is with me in every moment and calls me to honor Him in each seemingly insignificant segment of my life. This is why He tells me in His word how to live as a wife, mother, friend, and child of God. I am instructed to both care for my home and for the widows and orphans. I’m taught how to handle my money and treat people ranging from my enemies to my authority in the workplace. There are few issues of life the Bible does not address, and the general wisdom we find in its pages can be applied to those. Moreover, God gives His followers guidance and discretion through the Holy Spirit. He does not leave us guessing how to live.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 10:31-33 gives instruction about eating and drinking but also gives further instruction on how to live our whole lives.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

My whole life should be an offering to God. Whatever I find to do, I should do it like I’m doing it directly to the Lord — because I am according to Colossians 3:23. I don’t seek first to please men, but I seek to honor God by blessing others and not giving cause to blaspheme the name of Christ. I resist the urge to serve myself in all that I do because a follower of Jesus is set apart for something better. Serving Christ and serving others with my whole life. I don’t have to wonder what God wants from me. This is it.

I’m so pleased I can honor God while drinking my coffee and eating a donut on Sunday morning while my kids buzz around me.  Loving Him and dwelling on His goodness is something I can do in my pajamas. That’s something I can get on board with!

I “make” God big in my life when I choose to see my entire life as an offering to Him. I trust Him to use even the smallest bits of my life to bring glory to His great name.

In what ways can you serve Christ with your WHOLE life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Making God Big in my Small Moments [Day 25: MOMENT]

An enduring temptation

There’s a heavy temptation to make each moment count. Not only that, we feel like we need to make those moments BIG. In life or ministry, we feel this immense pressure to always be on — always performing at top ability in order to see the results we wish for. I’ve fallen for this so many times in marriage, motherhood, and missional living. I think if do grand enough gestures, I will earn favor with my husband. If yield the rod of discipline and drill the Bible into my kids, they will behave like I want them to. And if badger my friends and acquaintances with the Gospel message, they will finally see their need for a Savior.

But I’ve gotten this so wrong. I am not the secret formula in any of these areas I strive to succeed in, and big isn’t always better. Rather than putting the world’s message in my pocket, I want to take Gospel truths to heart. Rather than making my moments big in my life, I want to make God big in my moments.

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

The reality I don’t want to accept that comes with this is, often, in order to make God big in my moments, I have to make myself small. The apostle Paul was a reputable model for this type of mindset. Instead of seeking the respect of those he worked with or served in ministry like some hot-shot celebrity pastor, He compares his position to a nursing mother in 1 Thessalonians.

Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted to you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you were dear to us.

1 Thessalonians 2:6-7.

A small life surrendered to a big God

Think of the great works God did through the apostle Paul. He was surrendered wholly to the Lord, humble and dedicated in service to Him. He was not after the glory of men but the heart of the Father. We know He wanted results, and God gave Him big dreams. But we can see in his life that He did not stress over making each moment big but gave attention to making God big in each moment. Making tents, proclaiming a coming messiah, or writing letters from prison, Paul was available for God’s use in any way the Lord saw fit. He humbly walked the roads that led to Gospel-needy people and patiently instructed new believers in the way of the Lord. Gently leading, loving, and teaching as Paul did may not earn me any accolades, but it certainly pleases the Father.

A challenge to make God big in my moments

I remember being a nursing mother and how small and forgotten it could feel sometimes in the back of a dark nursery or in a broom closet while we were raising support. So much of our daily service to God each day is done in secret places. No one may know what we do for God in the quiet corners of our lives and ministries. But rather than seeking to upgrade our service by making each moment BIG, we must give our hearts to the daily task of making God BIG in each and every moment.

This is my goal going forward in marriage, motherhood, and missional living. It’s not all on me — it’s all in His hands. He is BIG enough to use little old me and meet each of my needs along the way.

I “make” God big in my life by allowing Him to be big in my moments.  I don’t seek to show off or win in areas of my life in my own strength but wholly depend on God for His provision.

How can you make God big in your moments today?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Never Stop Searching [Day 18: SEARCH]

We have worked with a woman for over a year and a half and have shared the Gospel with her countless times. My husband has gone through discipleship lessons with her and her son during this time, and they have eaten countless meals together while discussing spiritual things. What is completely heart-breaking is that she isn’t getting it. She has spent so much time dabbling in other religions and much more feeling justified by her own good works. She can’t see what we call can see — she is lost.We see that she is restless. Her lack of peace is palpable, but she is numb to it. She has stopped searching.

I’m not sure what to do in a situation like this beyond being faithful to love her and tell her the truth. It can be tempting to see ourselves as above others like this lady because we have accepted the Gospel and live a new life in Christ. The fact is, however, even in my redeemed state, there are times I live just like a lost person — I stop searching.

Photo by Ran Berkovich on Unsplash

Psalm 10:4 says, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” We read this verse and see the enemies of the Lord. But if I honestly take a look within, I can also see myself. My pride keeps me from seeking God, from falling on His grace and dwelling in dependence of Him. Rather than living protected in His peace, I leave myself vulnerable to the attacks of Satan when I do not humble myself before God.

I’ve shared countless times on this little blog: Jesus is the reward. Oh, but how many times has my heart been pulled away from Him as I search for peace, purpose, and significance coming from another source. In pride, I look at my lost friend and think, “I’m so glad I’m not like her” as any good old Pharisee would do. When God grabs my heart and stirs me towards humility, I see my state is desperate, too.

Her search will, prayerfully, one day end in Jesus. My search every day ends in Jesus. In my redeemed state, may I continually seek the reward of a intimacy with Christ. He is treasure worth seeking, His value immeasurable. I want to live every day lathering myself in His riches while greedily scooping up more.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6

I “make” God big in my life when I continue searching to know His heart. I can trust He will bring me towards Himself and reward me with His richest blessings.

Do you continue to seek God each day of your life?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

Changing the Way I Petition God [Day 14: ASK]

I had a big burden on my heart and a corresponding prayer request. I had talked with God about this specific need over the course of a few years with no clear answer. I fought discouragement over not receiving this answer for the Lord, but I kept asking in faith that He would give me what I wanted. But then I realized something — my faith was misplaced.

My faith was that the Lord’s will would align with my desires, but this is not what the Bible teaches. John 15:7 says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” That sure sounds wonderful doesn’t it? We can have whatever we ask! But what we fail to notice is there’s a condition with that promise.

If I want my prayers to be heard and answered by God, I must be spending time with Him growing in my love and knowledge of Him. Something interesting happens when I commit myself to this — my desires and requests begin to align with His will. As my desires more closely mirror His, I am basically asking in faith that He will do what He already wants to do!

Photo by Kelly Rockhold Photography

I surrendered that need to God. Instead of asking for the natural desires that looked like that of any other worldly gal’s, I asked Him to work in my life. I asked Him to change me and all my desires. I said God, “You know I want this thing, but I am trusting You to do your will. Give me the strength I need to accept your answer. I pray above all that your name will be lifted high.”

For the first time regarding this situation, I was in a state of total peace. I remain here, still asking. Still trusting. Hoping each day I get closer to asking for His will instead of what I want.

What desire do you need to surrender to God as you commit yourself to knowing Him?

Talk to me in the comment section below!