Thursday, February 7, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

This week is flying right by!  I am so glad it's Thursday, and a day I can stay home.  Especially because the weather is supposed to turn gross later on, and even though I may not know what's for dinner now that I canceled my dinner plans with my in-love's, I'm okay with this.  I'll figure something out, I'm confident, because we still have lots of food and leftovers from the past couple of days.  

Yesterday morning as I was getting dressed and ready to leave for bible study, I was also busy getting my husband and oldest son out the door.  They left town and won't be back home until late Saturday night.  Every year they work a D-Now event in Mississippi that is huge.  They do all the setup, technical (lights, sound, video), and tear down for a local production company.  It's become tradition by now, and the extra money is always nice.  I never sleep quite as well, when Toddley is gone, and this was true last night.  I was ready to get up at three, then again at five.  I finally came downstairs at five thirty.  I also go to bed extremely early every night, so by ten o'clock, it's pitch black all over the house, with the exception of the lights from whatever screen my boys are looking at (Netflix, Xbox).  I'm always a little uneasy.  I have no reason to be, I just always am.  I am very thankful for our three dogs...two of them have mean barks, and it's like a built in alarm system.  ;)

Except for Chip.  His bark sounds like a little girl screaming.  I kid you not.

Moving on, now.

Recently, I have had a few conversations with friends about old hurts that I've had in my life.  Some are from forever ago, and some are pretty recent.  I am sad to say that some of the most painful hurts I have ever experienced have come from within the church (the body, not a building).  

I'm currently doing a bible study on the book of Malachi with some precious ladies every Wednesday where we attend weekly services, and it is CRAZY how relevant this old testament book in the bible is for this present day and age.  This is my second time going through the study since last August.  I am still getting things out of it, and new things from the first time.  It's so interesting, how God's word works.  It is truly living and active, like it says in Hebrews 4:12, and it pierces our hearts.  That just means that no matter how many times you've read something, you may "see" something new for the first time.  I like to think of this is as God's highlighter.  In doing this study, I've been thinking about things and situations, like those old hurts I mentioned before.

I suppose the struggle for me is that some of the hurts have come from people within a leadership position within where we attend services.  (And don't try to go guessing about who this is; it is nobody who is in a position currently, and it is not even necessarily where we attend right now.  This spans over about three decades.)  This gets me to thinking about those priests in Malachi, who were far from God.  Even though they were supposed to be leading the people they were in charge of, they were so far from God that they caused many to stumble.  It makes me wonder, how in the world did they get from one point to the extreme opposite?  Was it weariness?  Burn out?  Their eyes were no longer on God, but on the circumstances around them?  I'm not making excuses for them, but just hear me out for a few minutes.

It sounds like it would be easy for any one of us to also become that way.  IF we take our eyes off Jesus.  I always say that nobody is immune to falling from God.  I do believe that once we have received salvation, nothing can no longer separate us from Him (Romans 8:38-39), but we can certainly stop prioritizing Him in our lives, and if we do this for too long and are not very careful about guarding our relationship with the Lord, before we know it, we too could suddenly be very far from Him.  

I will give you an example.  In my own life, if I neglect to spend time with the Lord every morning, things slowly begin to spin out of control.  I'll be okay if this happens for a day or two, maybe three at the most, but any more than that, I become irritable, I snap easily at everyone around me, I don't spend as much time thinking on things of the Lord, and every relationship in my life suffers.  I am speaking from personal experience, trust me on this.  (Also, I know people who are going through this RIGHT THIS MOMENT, who were once close to the Lord and are suddenly far from Him.)  If I am not reading His word daily, His instruction becomes less and less in my everyday life, and I grow farther away from Him in our relationship.  

I'm going to stop here and say that sometimes this just happens, and when that happens, God is always so merciful to us and He extends grace to us.  Sometimes sickness can cause us to abandon our daily routine, or a circumstance in life that is out of our control.  In that kind of situation, God is not legalistic about how much time we spend with Him or even if we miss a few days of reading His word.  

What I am talking about above is more of a choice, and it's based upon laziness, or distraction, or being too busy, or maybe us not choosing what is more important--spending time with Him or doing something else that takes us away from that time.

Proverbs 4:23 addresses this.  "Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life."

And also, what is in our heart overflows into our mouths.  Luke 6:45 talks about this.  "A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart.  An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart."

The heart and the mouth are connected, so my point is, is that if God's word isn't in my heart often (daily, even hourly sometimes), the junk in my heart will start to bubble up and spill out of my mouth.  We know this is true, because Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"  

Again, I'm thinking of situations I've been in throughout life that are hurtful, and God is reminding me that though these people said or did something hurtful, whether purposefully or not, they are human and as believers and followers of Jesus, we all battle our flesh, or our sinful nature.  That is why we need Jesus.  It's like the old picture of spending time with your best friend.  Don't you want to talk to them often and spend all the time you can with them?  If you don't see them or talk to them for long periods of time, it seems as if they lose their place of importance in your life.  You grow farther and farther away from them.  On the flip side, if you make time to talk to them or see them often, you grow closer to them.

All this just makes me think of living a life filled with integrity.  I'm not saying perfection, because nobody is perfect.  The Lord sanctifies us every single day, and that will continue until He calls us to His side.  If I am walking closely with the Lord, as I claim to be doing, that should be evident in every area of my life.  It should come out in my talk, what I do in my own private time when nobody is watching me, how I treat people, what I speak when others are listening, in my thoughts.  Also, if we are someone in a leadership position, we have to be extra careful, because we could either turn people TO the Lord, or our words could cause someone to stumble.  As I am learning in Malachi, the priests in that day did just that (causing many to stumble), and God does not like it when someone messes with one of His own.  A verse we looked at in our homework last week was Zechariah 2:9.  "...for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye."  
 
If I am reading His word daily, friends, I am being convicted of multiple things daily.  If you're reading God's word and you're not being convicted, maybe there is a heart problem.  I don't mean read as in hurry through your daily reading just to get it checked off your list.  I mean read the word slowly and savor every single letter.  Start in prayer.  Ask God for help in knowing and understanding what you read.  Ask Him to pierce your heart through His word and to change you through the reading of it.  Ask Him to give you eyes to see and ears to hear what He is showing you in His word.  If you pray that, I promise you, He will answer.  And He will bring about conviction and change.   

Now, in those old hurts in my life.  Whether apologies are ever said, I must forgive.  Read what Ephesians 4:32 says.  

"And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ."  

Whether an "I'm sorry" is ever uttered or not, I am to forgive.  God has forgiven me, and if He has done that, who am I to withhold that from someone else, especially a believer?  Something else I can do is ask God for help in moving on in life.  This is especially hard when something like this comes from someone within the church (again, the body, not a building).  We are all imperfect human beings.  For those of us who are believers and followers of Jesus, sometimes we say or do the most hurtful things.  Everyone does this in one way or another, but we must also remember that the world is watching our every move.  The bible clearly states that we are to be set apart (1 Peter 2:9).  

Well.  I suppose that went on for a little longer that I'd intended, but I pray these words encourage someone other than myself today.  I always think that if I'm struggling with this, surely someone else is, too.  Thanks for reading my blog.  Love to all.  

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