I recently published a video for my YouTube channel on how we do family devotions. From the looks of the video, it would seem I had it all together. However, some events that took place after publishing that video was a great reminder that I really don’t.
It was a long day and my outburst of wrath at every child in sight confirmed that the day got the best of me.
I had committed to staying off my phone, but by the end of the evening, I had the phone in hand scrolling on Pinterest looking for an escape from my current predicament but none helped me escape my reality. I have been following the Carnivore Diet for three months with great success and had just recorded another video saying I no longer crave the wrong foods. That evening, I suddenly began to crave the animal cookies I bought for my kids. I went to find them and took a handful and justified eating them because they were organic. I had intentions of going back and getting seconds of the cookies but after a few bites; I realized they were really not what I wanted. I felt guilty knowing I had given in to eating what I shouldn’t and to get no satisfaction from it made me frustrated. As for family devotion, I wanted no parts of it. My husband had a late evening so that meant I would have to do family devotion by myself. Given my behavior that day, I felt unqualified.
I decided I would take the shame and guilt I felt from the failures of the day with me to bed. BUT GOD! As I sat there in my upstairs hallway bogged down by defeat, He spoke to my heart. He told me I didn’t have to wait until the morning, I could start over at that moment. I began to cry and His affirming words broke down the wall and bridged the distance between us. I repented for my wrong actions and lack of self-control. At that moment the shame, guilt, and frustration I was feeling were replaced with the peace and joy of God. As the tears flowed, I began to praise Him for His love and the way He repeatedly makes repentance possible. After I got it right with Him, I called the six children upstairs to get it right with them. I apologized for my behavior and we then had a time of sweet fellowship in God’s word and prayer. I went to bed free of shame and guilt from wrong choices. My head hit that pillow, and I was at peace. This incident was another reminder of the truth in Proverbs 28:113, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
What is the purpose of me telling you this story? Often we mess up, whether big or small and we try to stay away from God or continue along the path of sin because we allow the enemy to trick us to believe that God is not interested in forgiving us. I want to remind you as God reminded me a few nights ago; you don’t have to wait to start over, you can start over right now. If you mess up, don’t carry that shame and condemnation around with you. Confess it to God, get right, not tomorrow not next week but right now!
Over the years, I have observed that the more I eat the correct foods, the more I crave what is good for my body. However, when I deviate from eating clean, I resurrect the sugar beast. When I give in to those wrong cravings, I am left feeling sluggish, bloated and guilty. I have a choice to either practice self-control and go back to eating as I should, or I can continue to give in to the sugar cravings giving it even more power.
Isn’t this how it is with our spiritual walk? When I press and sacrifice to be in God’s word, I gain the proper focus and I develop a greater hunger to seek His face. I crave being in His presence. However, when I allow distractions to get the best of me, it’s only a matter of time until I choose binge-watching videos on YouTube or mindless scrolling on social media over being in God’s presence. My mind gets cluttered and I compromise my ability to hear His voice. Being in His presence then seem like a chore instead of a privilege. I have the choice to repent for not prioritizing my relationship with God or I can continue to feast on the things that distract, giving it even more power. I am so glad that God gives us the opportunity to stop and turn around. The question is, do we make good of this opportunity or do we continue down the path of feeding our flesh instead of our spirit?
There is freedom in the fire. Our culture has conditioned us to pursue comfort and avoid the fire (adversities) at all cost. But what if by avoiding the fire, we end up forgoing greater levels of freedom and seeing Jesus in a greater way? What am I talking about? Glad you asked! Daniel chapter 3 shows this principle in a loud way. King Nebuchadnezzar erected a huge statue and said that when the music played, everyone had to bow. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose not to because of their allegiance to God. This made the king angry. He had a conference with them and told them he would give them another chance to do what he required. They boldly declined the King’s offer and told him they knew their God could deliver them and if He chose not to, they still would not bow. Their response didn’t go over well with the king, he was furious! He commanded that the fire be turned up seven times hotter and had the 3 men bound and thrown in. Shortly after throwing them in the fire, the king could not believe what He saw. In Daniel 3:24 he said, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?”… “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”
They threw the men into the fire bound, but when they got in the fire, God brought them freedom; their hands became untied, and they were not in the fire alone. The 4th man walking in the fire with them was Jesus Himself. There is so much to glean from this powerful text! When I am going through for the sake of Christ, I don’t have to fear the fire. I have endured some difficulties, but I must confess that many times I entered the fire bound by fear and pride. However, the longer I stayed in the fire, the more freedom I found because the difficulties caused me to press into God even more. I was desperate and that desperation birth a greater prayer life and a greater hunger for God and His word. The chain of fear was broken, and I was free to walk in faith. Pride was destroyed at a greater level and I am now more willing to be transparent and take off the mask of perfection. I received a greater deliverance from people-pleasing and I am now more focused on bringing God glory. The devil wanted the fire to destroy me, but God used the fire to work for my good. I found freedom in the fire!
What fire are you in? Can you see how God has brought greater levels of freedom in your spirit because of the fire? Have you seen Jesus in the fire?
Psalm 34:19 NKJ Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
We were having an ongoing problem in our home and my assumption was that the culprit was a particular child. For months as the problem continued, I would reprimand this child and he would vehemently deny it. I didn’t believe him and the more he denied it the angrier I became. We recently had an impromptu devotion with the children because we all needed a spiritual tune-up. I shared Proverbs 28:13– “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” After reviewing this scripture with the children, I invited everyone to confess their sins to God. Right before bed, I was reminded of the reoccurring problem we had been having for months. I approached the one I assumed was the culprit and before I could finish my accusations, another child began to confess that he was the guilty party. All this time, he kept his sin hidden. It shocked me. I could see the shame on his face as he confessed, and I could tell he was expecting a negative response, but the grace of God overwhelmed me, and I responded accordingly. I told him that even though his actions were wrong, I was happy that he confessed his sins. I encouraged him to apologize to his brother-the one he allowed to carry the blame for all these months. What happened after that warmed my heart. The other brother who was accused all this time responded with grace. He let his brother know that he forgave him and just like that he carried on playing with his Lego. He didn’t take the time to relish because he was finally vindicated. He forgave and moved on.
I had a few exchanges with them and went to my room and uttered a prayer of thanksgiving to the Father. I want my children to know Jesus, like for real know Him. I want them to respond to the convictions of the Holy Spirit. I want them to confess their sins. I want them to know the beauty of forsaking sin and receiving God’s forgiveness. I want them to experience the grace that comes from true repentance. I also want them to freely forgive others and not hold on. The struggle with sin is real in our home, that I won’t pretend! But this incident was a sweet reminder that God is at work, and He is greater!
I encourage you to, confess your sins when needed. Our sins not only impact us but it can impact others, so when necessary apologize to those who have been affected by your sin. If you are the one that has been offended, be merciful and receive the apology and move on, no need to remind the person of what they have done! In other words, respond with mercy- the way God responds to us when we repent.
I was recently crying to God and telling him about an ongoing area of struggle. I didn’t say it out loud, but I was thinking, “isn’t God tired of me coming and crying about this?” His answer to my unspoken question was Proverbs 28:13, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” I didn’t receive it as a rebuke instead I knew it was a loving reminder of His loving-kindness and mercy toward me. He was letting me know that He was pleased with my willingness to bring this sin before Him. I wasn’t trying to hide it. I wasn’t trying to make excuses for why it was there. I didn’t categorize it as a not so serious sin. I came clean before the Lord. My repentance and brokenness over this sin ushered in a flood of God’s mercy.
Do you have sins you are trying to conceal? I want to remind you you cannot fix or deliver yourself, that is God’s job. We will always have areas in our life that we need to work on. However, pride will convince us to hide those areas. There is no prosperity there, it will only leave us weighed down and stagnant. However, when we humble ourselves and confess our sins, turn away from them, God’s mercy meets us!
Don’t just read the word of God, take the time to study it and when you do, the word of God will read you. Allow the word to turn the pages of your heart and reveal the areas that need a spiritual makeover. We are being perfected so there is always something to work on. We rush through reading the bible and instead of having a bible study we have a quick drive-by bible reading. We then lament that we are in the word, but we are not seeing any change. Could it be that we just need to slow down and digest what we read? Could it be that we need to take the time to meditate and answer questions that allow us to connect with the material before us? When I was in school, for me to grasp the material, I had to read it more than once. I took the time to look up words in the dictionary to ensure I understood what I was reading. I highlighted certain sentences; I jotted down notes to summarize what I just read in my own words. Whenever I took this approach, when it was time for the test, I did well. Why? Because I took the time to study the material instead of just reading it, so the material was in me. I try to take the same approach when I study the word of God.
Below are a few practical ways I study the word of God.
-I pick a specific scripture that addresses an area that I need to work on. For example, I have been studying Proverbs 29:25 because I have had an on and off relationship with the fear of man. Proverbs 29:25 NLT says, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety.” For the first few days of my study, I focused only on that verse and allowed the Lord to speak to me. I looked up the verse in different translations.
-After a few days, I googled this exact phrase, “cross-references for Proverbs 29:25.” This search led me to many scriptures that carry the same theme as Proverbs 29:25. I chose a few of those scriptures/passages and read them over the course of two weeks. I took my time to digest them. I highlighted key phrases, I took notes, I sat and reflected on what I read. I prayed prayers connected to those scriptures.
-At the end of the two weeks, I took some time to jot down all I learned. I did not open my bible to gather the information; I wrote what I remembered on my own. I then asked myself the following questions for this study, “What are my symptoms, How do I fear man? I took some time to reflect on my areas of struggle and wrote honest answers to these questions.
-I concluded this study by praying for deliverance from the specific things I wrote. I suspect that this will be more than a one-time prayer.
I encourage you to slow down and spend time studying the word of God. You will not regret it. I would love to hear from you. How do you study the word of God?
Psalm 119:11 NLT
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.