Our Hearts Cry
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you... –James 4:8
“The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him.”
During my Christian walk I have always pictured God as being far away, far beyond the realms we know but yet in His love knows everything there is to know about me. I picture myself as being removed from Him. Removed meaning that I was once with Him and He bestowed the gift of living on His creation to my soul in this body and desires nothing but the best for me. That feeling was secured by my 4 year old one day as he was telling my neighbor a story. He explained to her, in his very young age of trying to understand where we “come from”, that he was once my brother in heaven and we were together there. Now, I am his momma. The story he told my neighbor astonished us both but gave me a glimpse through the veil of what babies in their innocence know about being with our Father. He knew Jeremiah 1:5 when he was still so small.
What feelings are evoked when you read Jeremiah 1:5?
In 1 Corinthians 8:3, Paul writes “But whoever loves God is known by God”. We are so far removed from being in his presence that our heart only wants to be with Him. As we love Him more, we have more of a desire to please Him and begin to move about this life to work for Him. Our desire becomes that His love is so great; we cannot help but share it. When you are filled with the Spirit, the Helper, His Comforter you no longer feel the separation from Him. He will consume your thoughts and your day.
But when God, who set me apart from my mother's womb and called me by his grace, was pleased. Galatians 1:15
When trying to decide on a particular story to share for this study, the love story that kept coming to the front of my thoughts was The Bible. The Bible is the greatest love story ever written and each story in it is a depiction of God’s love and His desire for us to love Him.
In the book of 1 Kings we can read the story of Elijah. Elijah was so faithful to God. At one point in his story, Elijah builds an alter with 12 stones for the 12 tribes, he laid his sacrifice and drenched it in water. Elijah lifted his prayer to God and cried out that the people would know who to turn their hearts to and God sent a fire from the heavens straight to the alter that was so fierce that it burned everything it touched. The people saw God’s power and turned their hearts to Him.
Are there things in your life that are preventing you from turning your life complete over to God?
What are you turning your heart to?
Some of mine were my business, TV shows I loved, my husband, and more.
“A prayer reveals to souls the vanity of earthly goods and pleasures. It fills them with light, strength and consolations, and gives them a foretaste of the calm bliss of our heavenly home.” St. Rose of Viterbo
Read Proverbs 8
The Excellence of Wisdom
As I read this selection the words and depiction of wisdom crying out sound a bit like my own heart. My heart is crying out to know more about God and the more I know and understand the higher my voice is lifted.
Wisdoms call is brilliant, emotional, poetic and convincing. In Proverbs 8 the “wisdom” refers to wisdom that is an attribute of God Himself, going beyond understanding and right decisions. Wisdom invites all men and women to choose their path of life. She calls the foolish and simple because they need her most. Wisdom is available to all but acquired only by those who love her and seek her.
If you are doing this study, your heart is crying out to know God more intimately. Your deepest desire is becoming more and more to know Him. In one word, what is your heart crying out for?
In Billy Graham’s book: The Holy Spirit, he first discusses the two great spiritual needs…
One is for forgiveness
The other is for goodness.
There comes a time in our spiritual walk that we need to cry out to God for forgiveness. We feel our chest pounding, our face twist in anguish, and our voices we hear cry out. We have been feeling like we are dirty and that little light of Christ we may have in us is hidden and no one knows it’s there. There was a time recently that I had been feeling this way; that my light was hidden. I wrote during worship one morning these words.
“I must shrink my desires for the sake of others but be the smallest brightest light at all times. When you are cleaned up by Christ you become transparent so that your light can be seen and is amplified. Shed everything that you suffer from so that others can do the same. God heals! It’s because of Him my life is possible. It’s a miracle that healing happens, not science alone or God given intelligence. Healing in your marriage, home, finances, and health is what God wants to do. First you struggle, then your cry out and release your burdens, and then you receive the Promise.”
As I wrote this I kept picturing an old oil lamp and how dirty they get. But if you take the time to clean them up, refuel them and put in a new wick, they can light the way. Picture yourself as this oil lamp, it’s all dirty with smut and dust and hasn’t been cleaned in awhile. It doesn’t look completely useless, it just needs some care. So, you clean out all the cob webs on the inside, the smut from the smoke, the dust and grime and shine it up a bit. But then, you relight that flame and it burns bright, bright so that everyone can see you coming in the dark. The light of Christ is there, we just need to clean away all the fifth from our lives. Clean out those works of the flesh…
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousness, outburst of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you…” Galatians 5:19-21
“If you believe in Jesus Christ, a power is available to you that can change your life, even in such intimate areas as your marriage, your family relationships, and every other relationship. Unfortunately this power has been ignored, misunderstood, and misused. By our ignorance we have short-circuited the power of the Holy Spirit.” Billy Graham: The Holy Spirit
What my heart had been crying out for was the Spirit. I knew I loved Christ. I knew that God blessed me. I knew that I still felt that something was missing. I cried out to God to fill me up, I was his vessel and I reached out to receive but there was a problem. The problem was me.
During this study we will be reading God’s Word on the Promise of the Holy Spirit, the Promise Fulfilled, and receiving the Spirit. I do not choose to hold out on you how amazing it is to receive the Spirit.
Receiving the Spirit is personal for everyone; everyone feels something different and experiences something amazing, something so supernatural it seems out of this world. This is exactly what I would expect from my Father.
Pray that God open your heart to what you are about to learn and share with me. I am a student of the Holy Spirit always.
The Holy Spirit Promised
When Christ was with His disciples he was preparing them for what He knew was the end. His heart ached for them because He knew they would not understand. Can you imagine knowing your death and how you would speak to your loved ones concerning your death. Can you imagine the love that you would speak into them, the strength and encouragement you would give? Jesus went a step further and made a promise to them. Read John 16:5-7
What does Christ promise?_______________________________________________
The promise was based on the word of the Lord Christ. Notice that there are NO conditions attached. The Helper is not for some and not for others but for everyone. It was also necessary for Christ to leave us so that He could send the Spirit because with the Spirit all disciples could have His power. They would be more powerful on this Earth without Christ’s physical presence than when He was with them in the flesh.
The Promise Fulfilled
Jesus told his disciples he was leaving them for awhile and he did. He died a physical death on the cross and was buried. Can you imagine the doubt that overcame those men who had walked with Christ for so long? Unlike us, they actually walked with Christ in the flesh, saw His works and miracles, and heard His teachings and still the doubt flooded their minds. Praise our Heavenly Father that Christ was about to be glorified. 1 Peter 1:20,21
Wait for the Spirit to come.
This is the part we misunderstand. When we accept Christ and love Him and ask for Him to dwell within us it does not mean that the Spirit fills us completely or at all. There is a period of waiting. We must be ready to receive it and so the Spirit waits. We must be like the disciples, ready to lay down everything and go with Him. We must be willing to leave behind our selfish desires and allow the Spirit to fill us. In order to be filled, we must empty ourselves.
Acts 2:1-4 The Spirit came upon them. For the one for whom they were asked to “wait” had come! The good news: Now, the Holy Spirit is waiting on us!
Yesterday I sat down to write today's study and when finished I wanted to hit delete. Instead, I hit save instead of publish. A good friend once told me, "If it's of God, then He will make the path peaceful and easy". It makes sense; as long as I'm not going against His Will, I won't feel as if I'm swimming against the tide. So, that message from yesterday is sitting in cyber world, waiting for it to become what God wants it to be.
Today however, I was overwhelmed with the desire to leave my child's school and run home to my computer. He gave me a message and it has stewed within me all day.
Today I was at a middle school dance as a chaperon. I was actually excited about it because I was a substitute for a teacher and so I was getting paid to chaperon. The kids came in and the music started and I was standing to the side watching. After a few fun songs a different song played, the lyrics were familiar and the voice was sweet. I thought, "I've heard this song." All the kids ran towards the stage and started dancing like crazy. Then like a punch in the gut I realized what song it was. The song doesn't really matter but it is the nature of the song that has bothered me, it was the clean version being played. It's highly popular and the video shows a girl naked riding a metal ball. The song and artist will remain nameless. When I looked out at those children they were LOVING IT! What I saw was a whole generation of children who are young still and very much of this world. My heart broke into a thousand pieces right there.
I fought back tears. Yes, it's true! What went through my head was "NO!" Don't they know they are all special, don't they know that there is an evil world out there tainting their minds. I never considered myself one of those preachy women who shook her head at the music kids listened to or how they danced. I have become that woman. The funny thing is, I'm cool with it. However, I am not cool with the devil playing with our children. What struck me and truly brought tears to my eyes was thinking about how God must feel. Girls and Boys, not even pre-teen are worshiping the things of this world. They don't know how amazing God is and the goodness He has for us. In Exodus 32:17&18 reminds me of today. God had something amazing for the Israelites but their partying kept them from it.
God has something amazing for us too.
The accounts in Exodus are constant reminders of the good God has for us. Actually, the book of Exodus had a huge part in my personal transformation years ago. The story of God's promise and how we constantly keep ourselves from it amazes me.
Exodus = mass withdrawal, departure, evacuation, leaving
Kind of sounds like the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport to me.
Years ago I did my first Bible study all on my own: me, Bible, and God. It was directed specifically at healing my marriage that felt broken, "Meet Me In The Laundry Room" was born. I personally have completed the study, not once but, 3 times. Each time my marriage changed and grew. It is a personal study that was directed at my heart and one I plan to continue to improve upon. My marriage was renewed and is amazing. God is good!
Recently, God has been working on me about other things...
here's the story as raw and real as I can get.
My dreams are coming true. I am now a stay at home mom again.. I worked my direct sales business to the point that it exceeded my teachers salary and allowed me to come back home to raise my boys the way God intended me to do. Before, I was missing everything and it broke my heart so I came home. More importantly I felt like the one job God had given me I was failing at miserably because of a "career". These were my own personal convictions for my family and they were strong. So, I'm home now and I have all this time on my hands, what's a girl to do.
Well, I start a running group 3 mornings a week and sadly, start watching way too much TV while at home. This was NOT at all what I had intended. I let life get me down. Why? What? Say that again! Yes, I had my dream of being a SAHM again and I was failing at that! I folded clothes slowly during the day so I could catch up on shows on Netflix. In the mean time, I retreated for much of my week and became best friends with my love seat. I started letting people down in my business and THEN one day I went to here a girl speak about everyday idols in our life. I had an idol in my life and it was HUGE and it was letting me down.
The ladies conference I went to was set up, sold out, and planned JUST FOR ME! Kelly Minter was the guest speaker and did you know she drove all the way to my church from her home in Nashville just to talk to ME in that room full of other women! God sent her straight to me to pour into me what HE wanted me to hear. It was the most unreal thing I had experienced in a long time. My heart pounded as she spoke with love and conviction straight into my heart. I could not believe the words she said, she said them for ME. Then I looked around that sanctuary full of other women who sat quite and stunned and I realized...it was for them too. I bought her books and her CD's and took them home and put them on my night stand right along with other books I had been given recently.
God's conviction came down on my heart swift and fierce as I started slowing plowing through the first days study and first chapters of her book. I shared my findings and feelings with others and then popped in a CD. I listened to the days devotions over and over and over because each time I heard something new. That was because I listened to them all distracted by my day but still very hungry to hear them. Then one day something happened that changed my mindset and it was the most powerful day I'd had in a long time.
I had listened to an amazing devotion on that disc and the sweet voice kept saying "if, then" over and over. I glued myself to it and listened. Sunday morning was just the beginning of that powerful day. I walked into our church sanctuary and saw on the big screen
I think I stood with my mouth open during worship. All day God spoke to me about "if, then". "If I did this, then God would do that..." If I kept a clean house, then I would feel at peace. If I talked to more people, then my business would flourish. If I could lose more weight, then my life would be complete. Right? Does that sound anything like what goes through your mind? Do you think anything along those lines, like... If I did this, then my boss would respect me. If I buy this dress, then my friends will not suspect the debt choking us. If I don't pay this bill, then I can buy groceries. What ever your "If, THEN" is...mine was coming.
That evening after God had been showing me signs over and over that He heard my heart, I started reading in the book of Job. In the book of Job there is talk of silver and gold and how...God is my silver and gold. He directs even the lightening, the breeze that blows the flowers, He makes the waves crash on the shore and the sun give us light. I started feeling that there was something MORE, something I was missing, something BIG! Then the pastor preached about God's omnipresence out of Job. "Wow God! Really?" I thought in awe. At the end of the our church service I stood up and tears fell down my face because they couldn't stay swelling in my heart any longer and then it happened... In my mind I said. "Lord, if I am to go to your alter, then the preacher will say the right thing.(what ever that thing was)" As soon as I thought it I wanted to hit the floor. In hindsight I knew nothing the preacher said would have been right because my heart still had an over abundance of "if, then" and it only took that one for me to realize.
On the way home that evening I cried out to God right in front of my husband and kids in the car. God, show me! As I looked back down at my open Bible my eyes caught the scripture in Job that I had missed.
Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty
and will lift up your face to God.
You will pray to him, and he will hear you,
and you will fulfill your vows.
What you decide on will be done,
and light will shine on your ways. Job 22: 26-28
"God said to me, I am your Almighty...RETURN TO ME!" God was begging for me to return to Him. I was almost screaming, "I know I'm saved and love Christ but there is MORE." I know there must be something else, something I'm missing because I know GOD HAS MORE! I needed out of the dark place I had been for weeks. I needed the devil and his spirits of doubt and fear to stop rocking my world. I needed to return to the ONE who loved me and gave His Sons life for me. I was missed and He indeed had more!
So I prayed.
The next day I picked up a book off my husbands nightstand. One that was given to me by a friend in my life, the person who wrote it. It was given to me in Dallas after a church service back in August, this was October...why hadn't I opened it before? In this book the first message he wrote that caught my attention was "There is more!" I laid out prostrate, face down on my bed and cried out to God. It's all there. There it is, the MORE that God had for me.
He has more for you too.
This next Bible Study is for me, you can follow along but I will be sharing the amazing truth that God has already revealed and the more He has for us. Is it possible that this new study could be for YOU so that you can hang onto every word until God pours out the MORE He has for you straight into your life. I can not wait to share with you what God has opened my heart to in the last few weeks.
SCREAM! I had thought I turned on my alarm for this morning so I could go for an early morning run but I didn't and I just kept on sleeping. I however was happy for a minute when I woke up and it was just 66 degrees outside and I discovered I was 1.8 pounds from the goal I had set for myself before my trip this week. This week is a big week for us and I'm a little overwhelmed with everything that is about to go down. I have meeting this evening, football practice for the kids starts, a trip to Dallas, and I need to show my kids some summer fun daily and keep my house and laundry clean and make sure the bills get paid.
I got up, got dressed, drank a Spark, I put on my running shoes and headed to the track. My hamstring is still hurting but I ran anyway, sort of, I walked more than I wanted to and didn't go the distance so to speak. I got heated in the checkout line at Costco over the price of a watermelon plus I get heated shopping anyway. I felt super defeated as I heated up. My morning was turning out to be a big wash...pooey. A sad little run and no watermelon for the kids.
I pulled into the drive to see my husbands pile of car junk that he is working on and took a picture to post on social media with words of disgust. I did, and deleted it. The negativity is just pouring out today. I cried. I walked past the pile of new football gear, mountain of shoes, dirty dishes, and walked straight into my study and straight to my Bible.
Tearfully...sobbing actually...I called out to God for help. I'm overwhelmed by the sense that I'm not living up to my own expectations and just a big failure today. I knew I would read the scripture I needed as long as I asked for it. It's His Word that he uses to speak to me so I have no doubt that I will read exactly what I need to as soon as I opened my Bible. After a few twists and turns through scripture I came to 1 Peter 5:8-11
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because[a] your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may[b] the God of all grace, who called us[c] to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
It was then that I realized that a roaring lion was trying to devour me today. Whew! I tell you it makes my heart pound knowing that there are women all over the world who are feeling just like me today. That we feel defeated, that we can not do it all right. That we fail as moms and wives. That we can never get ahead. That we will forever and ever be trying to find balance. It wasn't me failing, it was the evil one telling me I was failing..
Truth is we aren't going to do it all right...we are going to have "fail" moments. But let's go back and read that scripture again.
The only one that is telling you that you are a failure is the devil. He wants you to believe that it isn't okay to make mistakes, to mess up, to fall short...truth is. We all do it. We all have dirty laundry, piles of stuff laying around, dishes that forever need washing, coworkers that rub us the wrong way, cashiers that don't listen, gas lights that come on, muscles that ache, alarms that don't go off...it happens! That's life! While we are suffering for these days and feeling defeated God is looking down on us and saying "don't forget about Me".
So, as I lifted my head I said...thank you Lord! Today is going to be awesome! Thank you Lord for giving me renewal, for giving me hope, strength, and seeing me for what I am...a child of yours who just wants this life to lead me back to You.
As I'm sitting here...my alarm goes off at 12 (noon). Weird huh? Let's just say that was all in God's plan for today and that it's time to start my day again with a new perspective.
Prayers for you my friends.