Discipleship, Transformation

Discipleship, is a journey I hope you will join me on. Being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, on purpose.

Previously:

First, the meaning of transformation is an act, process, or instance of transforming; a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. As I was researching the meaning, “spiritual transformation” caught my eye. Spiritual transformation is a fundamental change in a person’s sacred or spiritual life; it constitutes a change in the meaning system that a person holds as a basis for self-definition, the interpretation of life.

What does it mean to me, becoming a disciple of God? That it lasts forever. That I should never stop learning and growing in walking with Jesus. I have found my definition as a child of God and He is my interpretation of life.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love.

John 15:7-10

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

Hebrews 13:17

Please let me learn and please help me to cleanse the sin from my soul so that I might be a model to others and be used by God’s Spirit to introduce them to God’s love and grace.

For you created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in a secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16

This life-long journey of growing in Christ, where every experience along the way offers ways to grow, to become more like Jesus.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

2 Peter 3:18

In growing, I discover nothing satisfies every hunger, every desire for my body, soul and spirit like Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life.

A life of faith enables me to trust God increasingly with every difficulty, every confusion and care.

Walking with Jesus is…

Listening, when I would rather just fix the problem myself.

Searching for the joy, when it’s easier to say, “It’s not fair.”

Helping, when you feel like I’m the one who needs the help.

Telling God to “use me” when I would rather ask to be rescued.

Encouraging, even when I don’t understand God’s reasoning.

Hugging when it feels awkward.

Saying, “let’s pray right now” instead of “I’ll pray for you.”

Serving, when I doubt that I have anything left to give.

Comforting, by being a flicker of light in someone else’s darkness.

Discipleship, Sharing Christ

Discipleship, is a journey I hope you will join me on. Being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, on purpose.

Previously:

A disciple ~ noun, a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles. A follower of student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher. Follower, adherent, believer, admirer, devotee, acolyte.

Evangelism ~ noun, the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness. The commitment to or act of publicly preaching (ministry) of the Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Missionary ~ noun, a person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country. Evangelist, apostle, preacher, minister.

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:1-2

The Great Commission; the main purpose and goal Jesus had for His disciples. In His infinite love and wisdom, He wants as many people as possible to come to a life of peace and harmony with God.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.

Matthew 28:19

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of My brethren you did to Me.

Matthew 25:40

The Great Commission is not an occasional action, but a way of life. Today, right where we are, right where I am, now.

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:6

It wasn’t until the 1800’s that a man named Hudson Taylor coined the term for (Matthew 28:19) The Great Commission.

Matthew 28:19 is also very special in that it is the first place in the Bible that the Holy Trinity is named as One. “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.

When we as people choose others to spend time with, their characteristics, to some degree, “rub off on us”. When we spend time with Jesus, His character does the same. With Jesus’ character, His Holy Spirit inside of me, I become a more loving, more forgiving, more patient and compassionate and helpful person.

Something that has always struck me as true and helpful is “Be careful how you live your life, you may be the only Bible some people ever read.”

Another quote I found and love, “We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” by Madeleine L’Engle

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

But how? I am trying, every day to be like Jesus, but I fall so short of being so beautifully without sin. By carrying the second cross inside me, by calling out to God without hesitation, I know that I will become cleansed.

The Bible shares what Paul advised, stating clearly that to bring others closer to Christ, to work on myself.

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

1 Timothy 4:16

Be an example of and in love. In purity. In faith. In conduct. Read the Word. Pay attention to it. Live God’s Word, His will in my life. God will do the rest. He will bring those people into my life, the ones He has chosen to use me for, and He will guide me, what to say, when and how to say it.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread.

Matthew 6:10-11

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:31-32

To live fully in God’s will, by His commands, His Word, I will represent to the world, the joy and love that is to be crucified with Jesus and the glory of being an ambassador of Christ.

It is a conscious choice, each time, to react and interact with sin, or as what I know to be true and good like Jesus. To react, and to respond with love. In any situation, at any time.

Discipleship, Engaging the Scriptures

Discipleship, is a journey I hope you will join me on. Being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, on purpose.

Previously:

It is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment effort to overcome temptation. It takes time, perseverance, and faithfulness. Believe in the transformation that is happening with the renewal of my heart, mind and soul.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

2 Peter 1:2-4

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

Jesus came to us to give us all the glory of the Word because we were separated and in darkness because of sin.

Each Word of God must be spoken in the Holy Spirit, in faith and in full assurance, and it must be received in faith and the Holy Spirit just as it is – living and powerful – so that it brings forth life in us. Only then, will we be alive.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

1 John 3:1-3

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.

1 Peter 4:1

Jesus had His own will, which He also denied.

Father if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.

Luke 22:42

Jesus also told us to follow Him on the way of self-denial. He is our forerunner.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33

Living the Word, engaging the scriptures, the Holy Spirit gives us revelations. We have “enlightened eyes” and His light shines over our sins, we can see our own selfishness, pride, etc. It also gives insight (revelation) into the Word of God and His work in and the promises for those who follow Him.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

Psalm 119:130

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:4-5

Living and engaging the Word every day in every circumstance is the path we are walking with Jesus as a disciple.

Discipleship, Crucified with Christ

Discipleship, is a journey I hope you will join me on. Being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, on purpose.

Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.’ 

Luke 9:23

What does “take up his cross daily” mean? It means that when thoughts or feelings come into your mind throughout the day that are not pleasing to God, you put them to death on this inner cross. What did Jesus do? He called out to the Father.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their lives will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:34-38

Not my will, but Yours, be done.

Luke 22:42

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Hebrews 5:7

Cry out to the Lord for strength. Strength to say “no” in any temptation. This is the transformation. It will get easier. As we are cleansed from the sin in our nature, the fruits of the Spirit will fill us.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

Galatians 2:20

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Romans 6:6

To sin. To commit sin is to consciously do something that you know goes against God’s will. This can be in word, deed, or even thought.

The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood and becomes a real killer.

James 1:14-15 (The Message)

but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has been conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

James 1:14-15 (NIV)

To commit sin is to consciously do something that you know goes against God’s will and His laws. It is when you are tempted by the lusts and desires that dwell in you and you consciously agree to act on that temptation, knowing full well that it is displeasing to God.  This “act on” can occur in word, deed, or thought.

Jesus was physically crucified on the cross at Calvary. Though blameless, He took upon Himself the punishment for sin, which was death, so He could pay our debts and forgive us our sin if we are willing to believe in Him and follow Him.

When we say “to be crucified with Christ” means our sin has been crucified, dead, and therefore not able to control our actions.

Whining and complaining about continuous defeat sounds so humble, but the root of it is only sin and unbelief.

We are now God’s children. We are washed clean and we are deeply loved. This is a great joy and there is absolutely nothing holding us back from God’s great plans, except our own childishness or selfishness.

Discipleship, Obedience

Discipleship, a journey I hope you will join me on. Being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, on purpose.

Previously: Discipleship, Start with the Word (part 1)

Discipleship is the lifestyle of walking with God.

Obedience to God’s commands is the true sign of our love for God and the only way to be sure we are obeying God is by knowing and understanding his Word.

If you love me, keep my commands.

John 14:15

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

2 John 1:6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sis not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:16-17

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Galatians 5:14

The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.

Proverbs 19:23

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.

1 Peter 1:14

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:19

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:23

I am the Lord your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.

Ezekiel 20:19-20

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:21

Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.

Deuteronomy 4:2

Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord.

Leviticus 22:31

For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Deuteronomy 30:16

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.

Psalm 119:10

I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.

Psalm 119:30

The perfect example is right there, available to us to read and study. What did Jesus do? Reminding myself of this question more and more often has allowed me to become more patient, to become a better listener, to be more compassionate and forgiving.

What did Jesus do?”  This is what true discipleship is all about.

Discipleship, Start with the Word

Discipleship, a new series is a journey I hope you will join me on. Being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, on purpose.

This series of 13 posts, beginning with this one, is a journey that I have felt called to embark on and on this journey I hope to share with you I would like to offer to you the scriptures that are guiding me and some of my own thoughts along the way.

I enjoy and felt directed in creating With Hope & Joy and offering a place not only to share with you my own Bible studies, but to also offer you a small inspiration for your own studies and walk with Jesus. I have always felt that my relationship with Jesus and God’s hand in my life were a private and very special reality for me to hold close like a precious treasure.

You may feel the same about your own relationship with our Father. As time and my own life has changed, I now struggle with the reality of the world I live in and the need I have to share God’s love with everyone. To share my own experiences, testimonies, and truth of God’s incredible presence in our lives.

The Word calls to me. It fills me with such comfort and joyfulness. As I was studying recently, I once again read from Matthew and Mark. This time, I was ready to hear what I was being told.

I want to take up my cross and follow Jesus. It is time for me to become a disciple of Jesus. I am called to discipleship. The joy and peace of being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, on purpose.

Is it the state of our world today? Is it the state of my own mind, soul and growth? Is it simply the overflow of the love in my heart?  Maybe it is a mix of all of it. Maybe it is so much more. As I continued to read, study, pray and write I quickly realized that to fully share this amazing path with you, it would have to be in stages.

The Word is God speaking directly to each and every one of us. The Word is our daily bread of life. It lays out our path and guides us every day of our lives.

  • Start with the Word.
  • Obey God, deny self.
  • Engage with the scriptures, understand and make them a part of my very being.
  • Share Christ.
  • Exercise faith with each breath.
  • Seek God in every moment.
  • Build relationships.
  • Live unashamed, forgiven and beautiful as God’s child.
  • Serve God and others.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their lives will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:34-38 (NIV)

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”

Mark 8:34-38 (The Message)

So as in every desire in which I am new to, I immediately turn to the one place I know the answers wait for me. The Bible. We must always start with the Word.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

James 1:22

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.

Isaiah 40:8

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 18:30

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Matthew 7:24

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Matthew 24:35

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.

Philippians 2:14-16

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:4

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

As we meditate on these scriptures, reading them aloud, focusing on they speak to us, today, and where we are right now in each of our own lives we should also pray to our Father.

Praying to Him so that He might open our hearts and minds wherever they may yet still be closed or guarded. Praying to understand His words to us and praying for His Holy strength to allow us to carry the cross and to follow Jesus.

The transformation into the likeness of Jesus, on purpose, is my path to discipleship. And it begins with the Word.

Getting Right with God

Sometimes, often even, we make mistakes, we screw up and we sin. Sometimes wise people do foolish things, smart people do dumb things and sometimes godly people to sinful things. No matter what it was, the one thing we all have in common is that we have all made mistakes.

There comes a point in our lives where we wonder, after pulling away and running our lives all these years that we realize our lives are in a state of total shambles as a result of believing that our own intelligence and abilities are enough. When we realize we need to hand the control of our lives back to the Lord.

We need to trust that God’s ultimate outcome is good.

Jeremiah 29:11 ~ “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

To stop the cycle of wondering, dismay and hopelessness that comes from wondering how we will ever get right with God, what we need to remember is this: We are right with God. Jesus will never stop wrapping us in His robe of righteousness. Out right standing with God is beyond our sins.

Romans 3:23 ~ For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Psalm 30:5 ~ For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

In Psalm 51, we learn of and from Davin how to get right with God after doing something foolish, dumb and sinful.

Step 1 – Come clean with God. Get honest. Sometimes we are afraid for our reputations, or being condemned publicly. This is pride. The peace that comes from airing out the wounds we carry, the shame, is worth it.

Step 2 – Ask for forgiveness. Ask to be washed, cleansed and forgiven.

Psalm 51:1-3 ~ Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Step 3 – Take responsibility for the sin we have committed. We need to own our mistake and the consequences.

Psalm 51:4-6 ~ Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Step 4 – Accept God’s forgiveness. We need to believe we are forgiven, accepted and loved unconditionally.

Psalm 51:7-8 ~ Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Step 5 – Ask God to refresh the grace He has placed in our hearts.

Psalm 51:10-12 ~ Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Step 6 – Use past mistakes as part of our discipleship. Witness to God’s grace and testify to His unfailing love.

Psalm 51:12-15 ~ Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.

Step 7 – Pray for limited fallout touching others. Our sins rarely if ever affect just us. But we can pray that in His grace, God will minimize the damage our sins might have on those around us.

The truth is, no matter how bad we’ve messed up, no matter how many bad or evil sins we’ve committed, God will always take us back and we can start all over again. Not only is our God the God of big miracles, but He is also the God of second and third chances. He doesn’t give up on us. He wants to restore us and set us on the path of His perfect will. It is never too late to start over again with the Lord.

Psalm 30:5 ~ For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

James 1:2-4 ~  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Luke 15:7 ~ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

2 Corinthians 12:10 ~ That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Romans 5:1-2 ~ Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

Romans 3:22-26 ~ This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

God created the entire world in 6 days. He has no problem at all being able to clean up our lives and giving us a brand new fresh start. The Bible tells us that nothing is impossible for God, no matter how dire or how hopeless they may seem to us. All we must do is believe that God can and will do this and then reach out to Him and ask Him to take us back, right as we are right now.

When we do this, God reaches out and takes us into the palm of His hand and brings us up and out of our broken and defeated lives and gives us a new life in Him.

We are not a lost cause.

Luke 15:11-32 ~  Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.  He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’  So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.  “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.  So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’  “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

The blood of Jesus Christ covers every single sin we have ever committed against the Lord.

Hebrews 4:16 ~ Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Matthew 11:28 ~ “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

1 John 2:1 ~ My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

1 John 1:9 ~ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 ~ Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

Isaiah 1:18 ~  “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Psalm 103:9-12 ~ He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Ephesians 1:7 ~ In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

God the Father and Jesus Christ are endlessly loving and merciful. When we feel too far away from God and when it feels that He could never take us back, we need to remember along with all of the forgiveness He offers us, He also offers us each His love and mercy.

Joel 2:13 ~ Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

Psalm 100:5 ~ For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Have you ever feared returning to the Lord? Never fear that, for He is the Good Shepherd and will welcome you back. Nothing surprises God. He already knows everything, from the beginning. And He still loves us and waits for our return when we fall away from His path.

Breaking My Own Heart

I have been writing Bible studies for a long while now. Whenever something weighs on my mind or in my heart, I immerse myself inside the Word to find the guidance and strength that waits there for us all, waiting to simply be read and believed. The answers I find; become my Bible studies to share with others.

So this time, I had a deep need to know.

Who can be forgiven? Who will not be forgiven? The English word “redemption” means to ‘repurchase’ or ‘buy back’. The dictionary also includes ‘clearing a debt.’

Christ mentions the unforgivable sin in Mark Chapter 3, where it is described as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Mark 3:28-29 ~ Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

In a letter from the apostle Paul, Ephesians 1:7 ~  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

The answer to the question so many ask at some point, the answer to my own question as to why I am forgiven is in the surrounding text of Paul’s letter.

Ephesians 1:3-10 ~  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love  he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace  that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,  he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

I was in a place I hadn’t been in a very long time. A lonely place. I felt as though I had lost my way.

For some time, I have been able to pray and share my feelings and confusions with God, I could read and study inside the Word and find answers and comfort, and yet, this time, days later, I still could not feel the Holy Spirit and still, no peace. So I started wondering if I was suddenly, finally, too much trouble, too much of a problem, too sinful… wondering if I was unforgivable.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic church and going to confession and repentance was a part of that. I had no idea how important it was. No idea how utterly important.

Repentance, however, and all of what it means became clear to me on July 26, 1997. The day I heard Gods voice. I understood then exactly what repentance was and it was that day.

I came to understand after that, that God will always forgive, so long as one desires to repent and to be right with Him.

So as I continued to read and search the Bible for the words that would soothe and help heal me, I wondered if God wanted me to confess as He wants us also to speak our belief and faith.

1 John1:9 ~ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Then I wondered, if I needed to confess, much as God says to us through Paul in Romans 10:9-10 ~ If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

And in Matthew 10:32 ~“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.

So I am standing here today to share with you. To confess to my church family.

James 5:16 ~ Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

I made a terrible mistake. A horrifying; never to be taken back kind of mistake. It wasn’t made with malice, forethought or any feeling other than pure and grateful thanksgiving. But it was a mistake. A terrible mistake, and on top of that, I broke the law.

How many times have I been asked to go somewhere or do something, by a friend or even my own daughter and said no, because I had drank beer at home? When I got the call I had been waiting for, I had only one thought. And that single thought was not enough.

Romans 3: 22-24 ~ This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

I’ve made mistakes before, I have hurt others before and had to make things right with them and our Lord because of those mistakes. I have been ashamed before and certainly humbled by both God’s love and His amazing forgiveness, even in light of my weaknesses, tempers and shortcomings but never like this.

I was charged with a DUI.

I have never been in trouble with the law before this. In one moment, one completely unthinking moment everything in our lives has become so utterly alien and frightening.

I have prayed and confessed, begging for forgiveness and the strength to face what comes. For the compassion and strength of the Holy Spirit to fill my young daughter in the coming future.

And yet, my feet feel as if I am standing on a crumbling, sandy ridge and I am unable to find the Rock to stand secure.

Psalm 71:3 ~ Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

As fear and shame threatens to drown me, I shove it back, repeating scriptures and the knowing I hold inside of my heart. I can hear the words “I am completely alone” and “I have no one” repeat themselves over and over again in my head. I shove back and cry out to God to drive the enemy away.

John 10:10 ~ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Ephesians 6:11 ~Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

The shame that fills me tells me I haven’t accepted God’s forgiveness. My mind is a horrible mess. (Much like my life is now.)

This is pride and feelings. Not God’s faithful love. I am ashamed, and the feelings of shame and failure are allowing Satan to have his evil ways with my heart and mind. My pride is hurt, not my soul.

I know of and am a true witness to God’s unfailing love, forgiveness and power and yet I have felt unable to accept the disgusting fact that I have put my little girl (and those I love and respect) in such a position to experience and witness such hardships to come. I want to move forward. I want to be an example of strength and faith. And yet the fear has held me tightly held in a dark corner, shaking and terrified.

So I will continue to repeat out loud Joshua1:9 ~ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

The Lord’s great power in us is this. Even as I struggled to accept my own failing and God’s forgiveness; as I stood in front of those who would judge me by their own hearts and experiences; I realized I could feel Jesus with me.

John 8:7 ~ When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to thrown a stone at her.”

I could feel the Holy Spirit one my own pride and feelings were out of the way.

Romans 8:26 ~ In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself interceded for us through wordless groans.

Prescription for What’s Wrong

The Prescription for whatever ails you… Read Proverbs! Always.

1 Chapter a day (times) X 31 Chapters = 1 Month! Repeat 3 times. Repeat as needed.

~ A dear friend told me that long ago. Whether I can’t seem to hear God’s voice; if I am confused and unable to understand right now; when I have fallen quiet myself in my friendship with Jesus, feeling lost; and those times when I can’t seem to straighten myself out or I simply feel as if I am in yet another rut in my life; I begin again with Proverbs.

Proverbs reminds me. Inspires and refreshes me. Proverbs is the Holy Bible’s book of wisdom. Each scripture and each chapter guide us but there are a few I find myself drawn especially to.

Proverbs 1:7 ~ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 2:1 ~ My child, listen to what I say and remember what I command you.

Proverbs 2:7 ~ He stores up wisdom for those who are honest. Like a shield He protects the innocent.

Proverbs 3:1-2 ~ My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ~ Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:13 ~ Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.

Proverbs 4:23 ~ Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:26 ~ Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

Proverbs 8:17 ~ I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

Proverbs 17:17 ~ A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Proverbs 19:21 ~ Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 21:2 ~ A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.

Proverbs 21:3 ~ To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Proverbs 21:21 ~ Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

Proverbs 24:26 ~ An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.

Proverbs 27:17 ~ As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:19 ~ As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.

Proverbs 30:5 ~ Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.

Proverbs 31:25 ~ She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Proverbs 31:26 ~ She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Today’s Devotions – The To-Do List:

This is my to-do list. I am a champion list maker! Checking off my list one by one leaves a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Do you do the same? This one though, this one is special. Every single day, my heart is whole because of the Lord. Every single day there is so much to be thankful for.

1. Spend time with Jesus.

Psalm 27:8 ~ My heart said of you, “Go worship Him.” So I come to worship you, Lord.

2. Let Him prioritize my day.

Matthew 6:33 ~ But seek first the kingdom of God and seek His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

3. Pray instead of worrying.

Philippians 4:6 ~ Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.

4. Be honest about my sins.

James 4:10 ~ Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

5. Think of others.

Philippians 2:3-4 ~ When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.

6. Wait patiently for God.

Psalm 27:14 ~ Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord.

7. Be willing to do hard stuff.

Matthew 16:24 ~ Then Jesus said to His followers, ‘If people want to follow me they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to even give up their lives to follow me.

8. Read God’s Word.

Psalms 119:9-16 ~ How can a young person live a pure life? By obeying Your Word. With all my heart I try to obey you. Don’t let me break your commands. I have taken Your words to heart so I would not sin against You. Lord, you should be praised. Teach me Your demands. My lips will tell about all the laws You have spoken. I enjoy living by Your rules as people enjoy great riches. I think about Your orders and study Your ways. I enjoy obeying your demands and I will not forget Your Word. 

9. Do what it says.

James 1:22 ~ But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

10. Let Christ lead me.

Matthew 11:29 ~ Accept My teachings and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in Spirit and you will find rest for your lives.

So tell me, what’s on your list today?