Time for husband?
Time for friends?
Time for other important things?
I had a spiritual chart too. Enough Bible study, prayer, serving? I was never quite sure. Every night I bemoaned the missing stickers on my chart, and I was sure God was disappointed too.
The problem was, I was trying to work my way to God instead of living from what Jesus had already done. Instead of living my life IN Him, I was trying to live my life to get TO Him. Those two ways of living are worlds apart.
As we read in Exodus, the Israelites frequently found themselves in the same predicament. They witnessed God part the Red Sea, then lead them as a shading cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. He provided manna for them to eat, and even made water pour out of a rock. God had been tender towards them, telling Moses to remind them in Exodus 19:4 that He had carried them on eagle’s wings and brought them to Himself. His purpose in delivering them was for them to be with Him. This always was and still is God’s heart. He has always wanted to do life with us, since the Garden of Eden.
In Exodus 20:1-17 God gives Moses the Ten Commandments. These laws were an invitation to live a different kind of life— a life of wholeness and holiness. A life in good relationship with both people and God… and isn’t that what we all truly want?
Two times the Israelites declare, with all the gusto of good intention, “We will do everything the Lord has said!” However, the people found themselves in a place of wanting to do the right thing, but continually failing. They constantly teetered between faithfulness and faithlessness, leading to more sin and frustration.
Their good intentions weren’t enough. (They never are!) The Israelites desperately needed something else— a Savior.
Jesus came to fulfill what we could not. Because of Jesus, we no longer just do the right things outwardly, but become the right kind of people. Perfection is no longer required because He is perfect.
In Hebrews 4:14-16, we are told Jesus is our great high priest who sympathizes with our every weakness. We are invited to come to His throne of grace where we will find kindness, forgiveness, hope and mercy. We don’t have to wait for the right time, the right place, the right person or the right ceremony. He is near us, beside us and walking with us no matter what our day looks like.
Living from what He’s already accomplished, we can come to Him readily, even on no-sticker days, knowing He loves us and always wants us close to Him.
We’re reading through the Bible in a year together! Won’t you join us?
Subscribe to our email list to have each week’s reading plan and free resources delivered straight to your inbox.
A long time ago on a starry night, love was born. The Father who IS love, sent in love Jesus to demonstrate love to all mankind.
The God, who is not far off, stood in anticipation as the plan that He had set from the beginning of time was enacted. The enemy thought he had won. Humankind’s intimacy and relationship with the Father had been badly damaged in the fall. Mankind’s soul was aimless, not able to be what it had been created to be. The soul cannot have worth outside of the Father because we were made by God and for God. “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a, NIV, emphasis added).
The divide between man and the Father was vast because of sin, but this gentle Father didn’t want Heaven without us.
Mankind was lost, searching but never finding.
In disbelief, the enemy watched as the Father sent the Son as a helpless baby, and the news spread across all mankind, from the least to the greatest. He came as love for all who would seek Him.
He came for those who find themselves in the lowest places.
For the weak, he came as a vulnerable and dependent child born to poor parents.
For the misfits, lonely and scorned, He was announced first to the shepherds who were social outcasts as well as religious outsiders. They were ceremonially unclean and therefore could not participate in the religious activities of the day. It doesn’t take a lot to imagine that given their lot in life, their family lives weren’t so great, and they had deeply broken hearts.
For the poor and the downtrodden, this God of Heaven and earth decided that not only would a palace fit for an earthly king not convey his heart, but a simple, impersonal inn or a modest home would not be low enough. He went to the deepest depths and was born in a stable, so we would understand that there is not one person too low for Him. His love reached underneath the lowest place to catch up the lowest person in His love.
But He didn’t stop there.
He didn’t forget about those set high on the social ladder because His love reaches that high. It reaches higher than the wealthiest and the wisest among us.
The wisemen came bearing expensive gifts. They had wise minds, and using that wisdom, they found Jesus by following a bright star and subsequently saw His worth as greater than their wealth and status, even risking their lives to find this child who was and is God’s love manifest.
He was not after the poor. He was not after the rich. He was not after the simple. He was not after the wise. He was after ALL. WE are who He came for.
If you are lonely, His love is for you.
If you are depressed, His love is for you.
If you are grieving, His love is for you.
If you are stressed, His love is for you.
If you are poor, His love is for you.
If you are surrounded by people, His love is for you.
If you are happy, His love is for you.
If you are excited, His love is for you.
If you are at rest, His love is for you.
If you are rich, His love is for you.
His love is for you.
There is not a place where You can be where He is not wanting to show you His love. Only those who resist and reject Him will not know it, and even then, He so wants to show His love that He stands with His arms wide open. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, NIV, emphasis added).
Word of the Day: For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)
Prayer: Father, Thank You that You love me. Help me to see and know Your love for me more deeply. During this Christmas season, help me to remember that love truly is what this season is about—Your love for mankind. I give my problems, fears, worries and even my celebrations to You. Show me Your heart for me and for those around me. I love You and thank You for Your love for me.
Author: Wendy Gerdes
I love manger scenes of all kinds and find myself regularly stopping and staring at them wondering what that experience must have been like. What was Mary thinking? Joseph? What about those shepherds who were tending their sheep like every other night of their lives when their world was turned upside down by a choir of angels announcing that the Messiah, God with us, had come?
The one night when heaven touched earth and turned history on its head. The night that God staged a rescue in the most unremarkable, remarkable way. The most demonstrative action of love ever performed began in the heart of God a long time before, but this was the night that the plan began to unfold. I wonder if Heaven stood in anticipation holding its breath the night that the birth took place?
All knowing, esteemed, and exalted Jesus now a helpless baby who couldn’t walk, talk, or even roll over on His own. This Son of God who was part of creating the world and all that is in it, couldn’t even lift His head. What must have it been like to watch the esteemed Son make a quiet entrance into the broken world of mankind as a helpless baby?
This was a covert operation to bring hearts back to Him. His love demonstrated, mankind’s heart turned towards Him, and the second Adam enabling man to live differently. The ability to live according to God’s Kingdom now—all because of this little baby. This God/man miracle would make a way for broken hearts to be mended, sinful hearts to be forgiven, depressed hearts to be filled with joy, hopeless hearts to be filled with hope, and relationship with God to be restored. Some would miss Him—many would miss Him in fact.
Some were standing on a promise that had already been answered. They were still waiting in hope not realizing that Hope had come. Without the full picture, a baby seems to be a sad answer to the world’s problems. A baby is not a warrior. A baby can’t free anything, much less a captive world. This was not what they were hoping for, but some saw.
Some saw that God had a bigger plan that was unfolding. They understood that what they were seeing was a plan enacted by the God who created the universe; thus it must be good, grand, perfect, and show-stoppingly amazing. A plan by God can’t be anything other than that. Hope in this baby took a lot of faith. Knowing the whole story, it’s easier to see—although many still cannot see.
It takes a great deal of trust to hope when we cannot see. If we are hoping in our circumstances, we will lose hope if things don’t turn out like we think they should. If our hope is in Him—that He knows, is moving, and holds our lives— we will not be shaken. He is writing our stories and they are woven within the fabric of the larger picture of what He is doing. When we try to make our stories about us, we will always come up empty handed, but when we offer our lives up as part of the larger story He is writing, He will make sense of hopeless situation. We may not be able to see it now, but we can have hope in the God who writes grand stories. Those who hope in Him will not be disappointed.
In that little baby, born on a starry night, was all the hope the world would need. It is all the hope that WE will ever need. His Kingdom come, His will be done…
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed. (Romans 10:11, NAS)
Father, Help me to trust You. I know that You are writing My story, and even though I can’t always see what is going on, You know. I trust You, and I will allow You to be the writer of my story, the designer of my life, and the One who I put all of my hope in. Help me to see as You do, but even when I can’t, help me to trust Your intentions toward me, and Your grand plan for my life. I choose to hope in You.
Author: Wendy Gerdes
Our words to our children become their inner voice.
This phrase stopped me in my tracks. Lately, God has been speaking to my heart to be aware of words. Words I speak to myself, words that I speak to others, thoughts that I think—they are all so seemingly insignificant, but oh-so-important.
The words we speak have the power to bring healing and life or wounding and death to the hearts of those we love and do life with.
Proverbs 18:21 (NLT) says, “The tongue has the power to bring life or death.”
Like most mothers, I love my children immensely and want the best for them, but sometimes I find that my words get in the way. I work hard building important truths and affirmations into them, but then I speak words that destroy.
Proverbs 14:1 (NLT) says, “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.”
It is so easy to label our children according to how they are acting or how they are making us feel instead of according to who they are.
In the past two years, I have become very aware of the You Are So... comments.. They define and condemn rather than convict, heal, and bring hope. Sometimes they are said in frustration, and sometimes they are what we truly believe. Sometimes they aren’t even spoken but conveyed through our body language and tone of voice. I am finding that there is a world of difference between saying, You are acting selfishly right now, and You ARE so selfish. Maybe you have a few You Are So...in your own mind that play like a broken record and infiltrate who you believe yourself to be. Maybe you’ve never noticed them before because they are such a common voice in your mind, but these words can cause us and our children to walk in condemnation on a daily basis.
When these words are ingrained in us, we need the restoring God who lovingly designed us to speak His words of life to us. The truth is that we can be any of these things, but they do not define who we are or who we were made to be. Some of these are the result of broken places and wounding, some are the result of sin, and some are pieces of the person God created us to be spun in a negative way. So many times, the beauty that God puts in a person gets distorted and marred by sin and negative words. God wants to heal and forgive these places in us and mature us into who He created us to be.
This God who understands all things will give us the wisdom to deal with our children, so we can partner with Him in helping them become who He created them to be. Afterall, that is how God deals with us. When God gives us His view, we often begin to see that the child we labeled ‘bossy’ is actually an immature leader who needs to learn to consider others. The child we labeled ‘strong-willed’ is the one who will stand strong but needs to stand up to the right things. The child we labeled ‘emotional’ is very sensitive, but needs to be taught sensitivity to the right things.
I want my life and my words to align with God’s purpose for those around me. I want God’s words of life to surround my children, so that they can be who He created them to be. I don’t want to join the enemy in destroying my children through words.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10, NLT)
Word of the Day:
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. (Proverbs 18:21, NLT)
Father, thank You that You love who You made me to be, and that You desire for me to be completely free from sin and the lies that surround my life. Please show me who I really am. Please heal my heart and help me to see clearly. Help me to see my children as You do and to speak life to them. When words come that aren’t who You say they are, please give me the wisdom to see my mistake, ask for forgiveness from them and You, and to speak words that will restore.. Thank You that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that You have a purpose for the attributes you placed in them. Amen.
Author: Wendy Gerdes
Mothering is not for the faint of heart.
When we had our first son, I remember the waves of emotion that flooded over me when I held him for the first time. I didn’t know love could be so all consuming and fierce. I suddenly felt so responsible.
Along with the good emotions I expected to have, came the heaviest weight I had ever carried to that point—raising a human. A thought suddenly hit my young mind, Wait. There is no one to hand him off to if I am scared or don’t know what to do. He is OUR responsibility, and we have no idea on earth what we are doing. I felt a strong urge to hand him to my mom and say, Here. You do it. I suddenly felt very alone.
Fifteen years into this mothering thing, I can definitely say, I am not alone. In that moment in the hospital, I didn’t know how God would come through over and over again.
I didn’t know that when I really didn’t know what to do, if I would listen, He would whisper His wisdom.
I didn’t know that when dropping a child off at a birthday party, He would speak. Not this one, and that would prove to be oh so true.
I didn’t know that when we were prepared to discipline a child who was getting out of bed over and over with a smile on her face, He would tell us to ask her WHY she was getting up. When we did that, she would break down crying and an unknown fear would be exposed.
I didn’t know that as a result of my depression and then freedom, the kids would have a front row seat in watching the God who heals hearts, and they would love Him all the more for it.
I didn’t know that when we would pray for a friend situation, God would provide a close friend for one of our children the very next month. The once-in-a-lifetime, two-peas-in-a-pod kind of friend.
I didn’t know that in the countless situations where we had (and still have) no idea what to do that God would speak His wisdom and hope.
I didn’t know that when we miss His wisdom and go with our own ideas, He is so amazing that He can even turn those times around and bring about good. He is a master at reconstruction, transformation, and restoration.
I didn’t know that He is bigger than my failures, and if I will actually let Him change me through grace, my children learn grace. Grace for them and grace for others—the grace that changes and helps us grow in freedom.
I didn’t know that I could actually trust Him.
Mamas, if today you find yourself in a place where you don’t know what to do and are worried and uptight, you can trust Him. He knows what He’s doing, and He hasn’t left you alone. Turn to Him. When you find yourself in a place where you don’t know what to do, just ask. I cannot tell you how many times I have been in a discussion with a child or a teen and I am completely at a loss. In mid-conversation, I will ask Him, “Now what?” When I do that, He gives the much needed larger perspective.
Do I miss it sometimes? Oh yeah, I definitely do—a lot.But I have found that even in those times God can bring the situation back around. He really can. Do I forget to ask? All the time, but I am learning to back up when things are going in the wrong direction and to recognize that I am trying to do the mothering thing alone.
Mamas, you are not alone. It does not all depend on you. This God of ours knows every part of every situation and wants to give us His wisdom for the beautiful but sometimes overwhelming job at hand. You’re feeling a bit overwhelmed today? So am I. Let’s go to Him.
Word of the Day: If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5,NLT)
Prayer: Father, thank You that You have all the wisdom I need. Help me to learn to rely on You and not on my own wisdom and ways of doing things. I pray that our home would be filled with Your grace and that Your heart would come through. Thank You that You are leading me even as I lead my children. I give You the burden I am carrying and trust You with my life and the lives of my children. Thank You that You are a God that I can trust, and that Your heart is towards us. You are not a God who is far off, but a God who is near (Acts 17:27). I choose to trust You and Your heart for me.
Author: Wendy Gerdes