Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Tomorrow is a new day!

Today's REAP Readings: Lam 3-5, Rev 15


"Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD. Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say "We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven"
{Lam 3:40-42}
 
 
 
Have you ever read the Bible and felt, this is about me, this is exactly what I'm feeling right at this moment. That's me tonight....what started out as a perfectly good day ended in frustration, tears and anger. You see no matter how many times I read the Bible, it doesn't make me sinless, it wont make me perfect and yet I long to be and it seems the more I strive for "holiness" the more I'm reminded how much work the Holy Spirit still needs to do in me.
 
Image Credit
Sometimes I feel so broken...
 
And as I read Lamentations tonight, I cannot shake the feeling that I just want to grieve alongside the author. They're feeling the weight of sin, a life separated from their God, separated from his love. His
words are mine;
 
"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me" {Lam 3:19-20}.

 
I hate the sin in my life...
 
But I can't stay in this place, if I do I might just sink into depression, if I lament too long over my sin,  I start feeling that life is hopeless.
 
Even the author here, knowing the depth of sin, also remembers he has hope;
 
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
 
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him" {Lam 3:21-24}
 
And so I will call on His name tonight, from the depths of my sin, I will cry out to Him for forgiveness because he has redeemed me through the blood of Jesus and though I keep being reminded that I am so unfaithful and unworthy. He is faithful and promises to forgive me, again and again and again. 
 
Tomorrow is a new day!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Getting to the Heart of It


Today's REAP readings: Ezek 17-19, Rev 7


After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” {Rev 7:9-10}


Nine months into the REAP reading plan, and I think it’s fair to say it’s been hard going. Up until August, I was (mostly) managing to keep up (though I did have a few days of catch ups), but this last month, I almost lost the plot. I’ve loved the stories in Samuel and Kings and all the others, but Isaiah and Jeremiah have been tough.

In some ways, I’m a perfectionistic personality type. In some ways. If you come to my house, on any given day, it will look much less than perfect, and I’m rarely dressed with complete class and style. (Like never!). But I do like things to go a certain way, and when it comes to any kind of plan, I am a strict rule follower. So falling behind in the readings, and finding it just about impossible to catch up, I was very disappointed with myself.

Image Credit
Funnily enough, I think that’s the exact opposite of how God intended it.

At the same time that August saw me battling with long chapters of hard-at-times-to-decipher-prophecy, God was dealing with some issues of the heart that were also, at times, quite hard to work through. Hard, but really, really worthwhile.

And amongst that heart stuff was the desire to always succeed at everything, in an attempt to solidify my self worth. Because in my head I had quite convinced myself that any value I had as a human being, was of course related to what I do, instead of who I am. And being a person who can’t keep up with a bible plan, is not the quickest way to success.

Not in my head at least.

Thankfully, God has his screwed on right, and set about not only restoring my head but my heart to see myself the way He sees me. And the way He see’s me has little to do with if I’ve read every chapter of the prescribed reading each day, and much more to do with where my heart is in seeking Him.

Now I’m not belittling the reading of the Word; clearly a heart set on God’s own wants to spend as much time as possible knowing Him, and his word, and I do. I love the Bible. Love, love, love, love, love it.

God knows that. He’s not worried that I might suddenly decide I can give up studying the word to make myself feel better; that’s not going to happen.

But having said that, over the past month I have felt the grace of God cover me continually, every day the readings just became too hard. I was still reading the bible. Albeit it was more focusing on one scripture for a whole day, and then another, as God dealt with my heart and my insecurities, but I was still reading. And because what he was doing in me can only be described as major heart surgery, I felt His mercy every time I couldn’t find the time or head space to work out what Isaiah was trying to say this time.

Because part of my issue has been the ‘need to perform,’ this was a grace that said, ‘no you don’t. You don’t need to keep up constantly, and read 16 chapters in one day to catch up, just so you can say you’re caught up. That doesn’t do you any good apart from to fulfil some crazy idea that I expect it. I want your heart. If that means one verse a day, that’s enough for me.’

A crazily, liberating idea for someone like me.

Of course I’ve kept going with the REAP readings, though there have been a few more days where I only read one of the chapters instead of all of them, or I focus on one passage instead of trying to cram in multiple ones. It’s a great plan that has opened my eyes to so much I wouldn’t have seen before; I’ve loved contrasting different parts of the Bible and seeing things in a different light.

I’ve enjoyed the discipline and the order, two characteristics I know God also want’s to improve in me.

But His love is not dependent on how much I read, or how up to date I am either. He’s been reminding me again and again, that when it comes to Him, it’s never about what we do, but always about how our heart is fixed on Him.

And when our heart is fixed on Him, there isn’t anything He can’t do with it.

Want to hear more of Jess's journey? Join her blog at  www.essentiallyjess.com