Wednesday, January 15, 2014

{Closer to God}

God desires to have an intimate relationship with His children, and ashamedly I found myself too busy and distracted to take time for Him.  As a mom of young children, including an infant, sleepless nights are par for the course. In the past, I didn't have any trouble waking early to spend time alone with the Lord, reading my bible and praying. However, the past 18 months or so, I find myself tired all.the.time. I go to bed with good intentions, setting my alarm to ring well before the children wake. But, after waking 2, 3, or even 4 times each night, morning comes too quickly. I sleep until the last possible moment before having to wake up to get the kids ready for the day. Alone time with God will have to wait until later....

When I participated in my church's Ladies' Bible Study, I would find time to complete the weekly assignments, albeit most were rushed and more to "get them done" than to learn and grow as a Christian. This (school) year, I decided not to participate simply because our lives are busy enough. Although Bible study is good and I enjoy participating, I had to simplify my life in order to be a better wife, mom, and home manager.  However, I missed learning about God through the various weekly lessons and discussions. I bought a devotional to do on my own while my kids were napping. The problem: as soon as I would sit down to do it, I would either A) fall asleep or B) the baby would wake up and I'd be trying to feed her while flipping through my Bible and holding my spot in my devotional book. Good intentions, but I constantly felt defeated.

My resolution for this new year was to grow closer to the Lord and to make my relationship with Him a priority. Years ago (10 now!) I participated in a MOPS group. I received encouragement as a wife and mother through many of the publications put out from MOPS International. A friend of mine shared Known & Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms by Caryn Rivadeneira, a new devotional that her MOPS group was doing this year. I decided to try it since it was available in an electronic format. I figured that I could read the devotional on my Kindle and use the bible app (through Blue Letter Bible) to read the scripture reference, all while feeding the baby (if my quiet time corresponded with her feeding time) and without having to flip through multiple pages of multiple books. It's been wonderful!
Some of what I am sharing below are paraphrases from the book, but most are my own realizations as I learn more about the character of God. Think of them as my "notes in the margin." The "Thought for today" portion is my own summary of the actual devotion written in the book. By summarizing the day's reading, I am able to meditate on a specific attribute of God all day long.

I am crediting the author, Caryn Rivadeneira, because it was her writing that prompted my thinking and helped me apply the truths behind what I was reading. More importantly, I want to thank the Lord for His word and all that He reveals in it. This study and study method has proven to be life-changing, and already my relationship with Him has grown stronger as a result of me better knowing Who God is. My hope and purpose in sharing is that these daily "thoughts" and bits of scripture will bless and encourage someone, just as they did me. Print them and hang them on your refrigerator as a reminder of the PERFECT attributes that make up our great Creator, God the Father.
Day 1-
If I say, "My foot slips," Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.
In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. ~Psa. 94:18-19

Shared about my
crazy anxiety a couple of weeks ago, had a Sunday School lesson about it a few days after that, and read these verses today during quiet time. Coincidence? I think not...

Thought for today: God is with me, even when I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

Day 2-
I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me. ~Psa 3:5

Thought for today: God sustains me. He carries me when I do not have the strength or ability to do so on my own (for whatever reason- exhaustion, illness, heartache, loss). God sustains me.
Day 3-
I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. ~Psa. 40:1

The LORD has heard my supplication; The LORD will receive my prayer. ~Psa. 6:9

Thought for today: God hears us. He hears us even when we can't put the words together to speak and only tears fall. And not only does He hear us, He listens.
Day 4-
For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name's sake, Lead me and guide me. ~Psa. 31:3

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. ~John 10:27-29

Thought for today: God protects us. As The Good Shepherd, He protects us from harm, the storms of life. God protects us.
Day 5-
My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits. ~Psa. 71:15

Thought for today: When we tell others our stories- our blessings and hardships, our successes and failures, our fears and doubts- we share the many ways God has worked in our lives. Our stories share, and our lives show, what God has done for (in) us.
Day 6-
For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. ~Psa. 100:5

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ~Lam. 3:21-23

These verses are special to me. After I miscarried the twin, I seriously doubted God's goodness...
and love to me. God used these verses, and many others, to prove to me otherwise.

Thought for today: God is good and He is faithful to His people. Even (especially!) in the difficult times. God is compassionate by giving us new mercy EVERY day. We are not consumed (overtaken) by our situation because of God's mercy on us.
Day 7-
For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. ~Psa. 139:13-14

 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you ar
e of more value than many sparrows. ~Matt. 10:29-31

Thought for today: The Creator of it all knows us: our thoughts and fears, our hopes and dreams, our strengths and weaknesses. When you pull the loose strand of hair off your shirt, God knows exactly how many remain on your head. God knows us, and we are valuable to Him.
Day 8-
...I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ~Matt. 28:20

...I will never leave you nor forsake you. ~Hebrews 13:5

Thought for today: God is with us. Whether we are moms who stay at home, dads who work and travel, or anyone in between, God Himself has promised to be with us each and every step of the way.
Day 9-
My son, keep your father's command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you. ~Prov. 6:20-22
Thought for today: Our faith, most notably the ways we display it, affects not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us. Especially as a parent.
Day 10-
Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city,
 the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep. ~Psa. 127:1-2
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. ~Matt. 7:24-27
Thought for today: Unless Jesus is my foundation, all I do is in vain. God has used motherhood to change me, to strengthen my foundation in Him.

Day 11-
I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old. Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. ~Psa. 78:2-4

For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead. Therefor my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart within me is distressed. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. ~ Psa. 143:3-5

Thought for today: When we share our experiences, both the good and the bad, we help others (and ourselves in the process) to see God's hand and purposes unfolding in our lives. It should strengthen our ability to better trust Him and increase our faith.

Day 12-
Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments. ~Psa. 119:73

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ~Psa. 119:105

Thought for today: Keep on keepin' on. You don't know who God has ordained for you to meet or how He is going to use your experiences, even the seemingly mundane ones, to encourage those who cross your path....

Day 13-
I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies. ~Psa. 119:59

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Rom. 5:8
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. ~Rom. 8:28-29
Thought for today: God created us with the ability to make choices (called free-will). In spite of our bad choices, He still loves us, will forgive us, and will use our mistakes for good. To loosely quote Jim Berg, "Even though we may choose to go against God's revealed will for our lives, we can never go outside of His sovereign will."