June 22: Unfathomable Glory

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  

(Psalm 73:25-26)

Tomorrow two of my best friends are going to marry each other. Yay! With all the wedding festivities underway, I am reminded of the beginning of my own marriage. Yes, the wedding happened, but I almost solely remember the first month of our marriage more than anything. I remember loving him more that I knew the stating of vows would inspire. I remember wondering if I could ever be mad at him again. I remember never wanting to leave his side–not in death and not in life. On our way back from the honeymoon, we had a hard conversation. What would it be like to be in heaven and not husband and wife? It is unimaginable. But is that not what eternal life with Jesus should be? Unfathomably glorious. We will want nothing other than Jesus. Not the streets of gold, not the pearly gates. Just Him. Just His grace. Just to worship our King. So while we get to enjoy the blessings of this earth–marriage, weddings, friends, children, success–the blessings of heaven will be nothing less than perfect. It will be what we don’t know we already desire.

Lord, I love my life on this earth, but I want so badly to desire you more. Jesus, let me look forward to you and you alone for it is you who gave your blood on the cross. It is you who I will worship for eternity.

June 21: Control

Moreover, the LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today.

(1 Kings 14:14 ESV)

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you felt you might move heaven and earth just to get it? Maybe it is a child. Maybe it is a job. Maybe it is recognition. That’s what it was for me. I have always battled pride in competition. I deeply desire to be seen or given credit for my work. So much so, that I would sin and sin and sin again just to get it. Praise God He is the One who is in control. Yes, He allows a certain degree of free will. He allowed evil Kings to take over His people. He allowed Moses to decide against following Gods commands. He allowed David to commit adultery. But then He intervened for the good of His people. Christian, is your Father intervening in your life today? Is he calling you out of sin or sending someone into your life to dig you out of a pit? Listen to His Word, His will, His way, and His call. Hold fast to His promises. You will be affected by the punishment of sin. Your free will can get you into trouble, but He is in control; He is sovereign; He is good.

Lord, I am so grateful that you are in control. If you weren’t, my flesh would destroy each person and everything around me. Help me to recognize my wickedness and please intervene when I am sinful. I love you, Jesus.

June 20: Gravity of Sin

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the LORD, he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation, a ram without blemish out of the flock, valued in silver shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt-offering.

(Leviticus 5:14-15 ESV)

I would not change a thing about the time and history into which I was born. It is during this time that I got to be raised by my parents. It was in this place that I met my husband. It was throughout these years that I have gotten to build relationships with some really special friends. It is and will always be from now and forever that Jesus’s grace is bestowed upon His children. However, I do fear that there is one problem that we harbor in this point of history: I don’t think we understand the gravity of our sin. You see, in this passage and many others throughout this section of Scripture, God reveals that even an unintentional sin is in just as dire need to be covered as those we choose to do. You see, our existence is not only tainted because we choose to turn away from God but because our blood boils with sinful nature. We, in and of ourselves, will sin. Our flesh is dirty and not worthy of God’s grace. It is only because of Jesus, who made Himself the perfect sacrifice, that we get to bask in His mercy. Take a minute to thank Him that your unintentional and intentional sins been covered by His blood. We need to dwell in the knowledge and sorrow of our own sin that He might be glorified and we might be thankful.

Jesus, I have no words for how grateful I am to you. You did not have to sacrifice yourself. You did not have to tear off your royal garb and put on the skin of humanity, but you chose to anyway. You chose to that I might not be held accountable for the sin I so deserve to suffer for. Thank you, King Jesus. Have your way with me.

52 Week Reading Plan: Leviticus 4-6

June 19: One

There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

(Ephesians 4:4-6)

I am not a decision-making kind of gal. You give me two choices and I’ll give you a very stressed look. I tend to avoid them at all costs–whether that looks like just picking the first of each choice without giving it any thought or putting the process off as long as I can. So when the Holy Spirit nudged my heart toward Himself, you might that I was overjoyed that He didn’t give me much say in the matter. He revealed that He is a third of the one God. He is attached to the one Father. Jesus is the one Son and I only have to have one faith. Moreover, this one Father, one Son, and one Spirit are together the one Being who holds everything. Everything. When I am genuinely putting my hope and trust in Him, He will guide each decision and He can bring glory to Himself from them. He brings peace when we don’t know how. He brings joy when we are prone to fear. He straightens our path when we cannot because He is the one who is sovereignly over all.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving yourself to me. I am over and over again overwhelmed by this world, but because of your sovereignty, I get to put my trust in you. Thank you for loving me enough to have taken all burdens off of me and bear them through the cross. I love you, Lord.

 

June 18: Take My Fears

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do…”

(Luke 12:4 ESV)

I have always battled fear. As a little kid, I had nightmares that sent me running to my parents’ bedroom. As a teenager, I was too scared to be home alone. Now, anxiety plagues my mind. I remember being given verses like this and becoming so frustrated I couldn’t see straight. Do they think I want to be scared? Soon enough, that frustration moved from those who were telling me these verses to God Himself. Over and over again, I plead with Him that I did not want to live in fear. So how was it that I could possibly just all of the sudden stop being scared all of the sudden? Then I turned to scripture on my own and God’s words stood off the page in a way I had never seen them before. He showed me that it isn’t about just stopping the fear. It is about putting it in perspective. Yes, someone could hurt me here on this earth. Yes, my body is not safe. It is in danger and will go back to dust at some point in the future. But none of those things are eternal. The fear I feel cannot possibly be from this earth because my hope lies in something and Someone much bigger than this world. My fear is coming from the forces of darkness. The forces that tell me this is all I have. We cannot conquer our own fear, Beloved. But we can remind ourselves of the one who holds our fear. Contextualize your anxieties, sister. Our God is holding the things that we fear, and He will hold us into eternity.

Jesus, thank you for going far beyond this world. You are the Eternal God who has the power to crush my fears. Help me to see this world–all its pain included–for what it is. Help me remember your power and its weakness. I love you, Lord. Here are my anxieties. Take them from me.

June 17: Steadfast Seeking

And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn.

(Ezekiel 2:3-4)

Imagine you are part of a friendship. This friend is dear to you. You share a bond unlike any other you know or love. Over the years you grow close, sharing big life moments with one another. One day, this friend cancels the plans you have created. No big deal, right? There’s friendship grace for that. Then it happens again and again and again. Though your friend earnestly tries to convince you that this is the last time, you are left feeling, over and over again that this is a one way friendship. Consider how hard it would be to have grace. Consider how tempting it would be to just completely cut ties. Now consider our God. Oh, my friends, His grace has lasted eons. He has sought His people when they turn from Him and never look back. He sent His Son to open the doors of grace beyond His people. He is the epitome of patience and also of justice. He is the One who steadfastly loves us and who hasn’t stopped reaching out for us, drawing in–even when we turn from Him. Let’s sink into His word and stop choosing everything over time with Him. Let’s begin praying that our turning heads would be brought toward His shining face. That though we are made of flesh, we would run toward Him with open arms and open hearts.

Lord, thank you for sending prophets like Ezekiel to draw your people in. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for us. Thank you for sending your Spirit to seek us even now. Help me to steadfastily love you as you steadfastly and graciously seek after me.

52 Week Reading Plan: Ezekiel 1-6

June 15: My Words

My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.

(Proverbs 4:20-21)

I stood in the gym one morning before the sun had fully made its appearance. My brain was muddled and I was physically exhausted. While one of my work out friends and I walked out of the fitness center, she turned to me with a genuine question about the authenticity of scripture. My mind went blank. I knew that if I had my tools in front of me (my commentary, concordance, or even a study Bible) I would be able to answer her question with confidence. Instead, some off the wall answer spilled from my mouth. It wasn’t wrong, but it also wasn’t as compelling as Scripture is. In this moment, I wanted so badly to have had the scripture memorized. I longed to know His word in the face of resistance. Beloved, He has written His thoughts and knowledge out for us and given us ample access to them. So let’s take advantage of that! Let’s put His word in our heart. Let’s know more about our Jesus than our Thursday night TV show. Let’s understand His character and love because we already know the words by which He shows them.

Lord, I praise you for your word, and I am so sorry that I take it for granted. God, give me a mind that soaks in everything about you. You are so good, and I want to have the fullest grasp of that goodness that I possibly can.

52 Week Reading Plan: Proverbs 4