Can I be honest? There was a time when I was not all that happy with my life.
I did not fully embrace being a stay-at-home mom. I was not really satisfied in just taking care of my children.
Honestly, I was always looking toward the future, wishing away the time that I had with my children. I was waiting for the next phase, when they’d be older.
I write this now and realize how sad that all sounds. You see, I’m not there anymore. God broke through my blindness, and when I started this writing journey, I dedicated my words to one purpose. I’m on a quest for abundant life, and I want to encourage other moms, moms who maybe find themselves wishing away time or wishing for a different life circumstance. I want to help them pursue life abundantly too.
As I started out, God brought to mind a special verse, and it has become my theme verse. In John 10 Jesus explained why He came to this word. In verse 10 He said, “…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (ESV). In other word’s Jesus’ purpose was to bring us a rich and abundant life.
For those that have followed Jesus for a while, we understand this to mean that we will have a rich, abundant life in heaven after we die. But that is not all Jesus meant. He wants us to have a rich, satisfying, abundant, joy-filled life now.
If I look back on those times I was clearly not filled with joy and abundance, I can see I was not living the life Jesus wanted for me. I began to search the Word and my own heart to figure out how I could live just as Jesus wants me too. For after all, that is why He came.
I’d like to share with you what I have learned over the past few years. And here’s something else about me: I like a plan. I like it when people tell me the steps I should take to achieve the outcome I desire. So, that is what I have put together for you, my friend. (And honestly, I need these steps too.)
Here are the steps to pursue an abundant life—the life Jesus made possible when He came to this earth.
Surrender to God.
Don’t you just love that word, surrender? I could have used another favorite word of mine: submit. (Insert sarcasm.) The truth is no one likes to surrender or submit to anyone. The word surrender conjures up images of weakness, and no one wants to be seen as weak.
But in God’s economy, surrendering makes you strong. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:10 (NLT), “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses… For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
When we surrender to God, we allow His mighty power to come in and work in our lives. And since our God made the universe, spoke light in to existence, and raised Jesus from the dead, I will gladly admit I am weak so His power can work through me.
Surrendering may also seem like we are subjecting ourselves to the rules of someone else. And who likes rules? But Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29, NLT). The word “yoke” does sound a bit harsh; after all, it is used to keep two animals strapped to something. But Jesus said His ways are gentle and kind. When we do life His way, we find rest and we find joy.
Spend Time with God.
When I think of abundance, I picture a fountain overflowing. Water spilling over the edges, not being contained in the pool that is meant to hold it all.
When we seek God we will find Him. And in His presence there is great joy. There is overflowing joy! When we read the words God wrote for us and to us, Jesus said, “you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11, NLT).
We can’t receive God’s joy if we never come to Him. To have an abundant life, we must allow Him to fill us so His love and joy can spill out of us, just like the water out of an overflowing fountain.
Settle into the Moment.
For me, this was probably the most important realization. I was not living in each moment with my kids. I was looking toward the future, wishing away the time that I had with them.
This is what I found: you can only experience abundant life in the present, for God can only be experienced in the present. We only have the moment we are given; the future is not promised to us. In order to live abundantly, we must live in the now.
For me, it was a lesson in contentment. I had to start viewing what I had around me in a different light. I studied what Paul said in Philippians 4. In verse 11 he said, “for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have,” (NLT).
If you read down to verse 13 you’ll find out how he could say this. He said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (NIV). The secret to contentment is this: Christ is always with me. What else could I possibly need?
Each moment with our children is a gift from God meant to bring us joy in that moment. One of Satan’s best weapons against us is getting us to believe that tomorrow will be better. He tricks us into looking into the future instead of into the joys of today. He robs our joy, just like Jesus said in the first part of John 10:10. “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” Live in the now. Don’t let the thief steal today’s joy.
When I realized these steps and how they were linked to a rich and satisfying life, my life changed. My kids had a happier mom, and my husband no longer called me “Grumper.” (Not kidding.) My eyes were opened to the life I had been missing and wishing away. I could enjoy my children just as they were. I began to view each and every moment as precious.
Yes, I found the secret. I have embarked on the pursuit for abundant life. Won’t you join me?
Adjusting Our Attitudes - How to Be Kind When My Kids Talk Back ****By Elizabeth Cravillion (guest post)
“Because I said so! That’s final!” My self defenses shot through the roof. If you could see smoke coming out of my ears, you probably would. “That’s no way to talk to your mom. Go to your room now!”
My kid ran off, crying, and I may have slammed a kitchen cabinet. I hate when my kids ignore or confront my authority as a mom. For years of my life, to keep the people in charge happy, I shut my strong will in a box. But when my kids argue with me, it flies back out into their faces.
But I want to parent my kids with grace. And kindness. God doesn’t slam doors in my face when I don’t feel like obeying him. I’m the most important picture of God to my kids. How I treat them becomes how they see God.
I used to believe that God was sitting up in heaven saying, “Because I said so!” when he told us how to live. But in reality, God created us and he knows how we function best. Loving him and loving others is for our good. Life simply goes better when we obey him. So instead of mirroring some kind of cold authority to my kids, I get the privilege of coaching them to humbly trust God, our Maker.
Shift my heart perspective
I often tell my kids that they are not the center of the universe, then catch myself acting like I am. When they argue with me, I react in anger because I feel threatened. Somehow, I don’t feel heard or seen, and the little girl inside of me screams, “Not today! I’m a grown up now and you’re going to listen to me!”
But we don’t scare God, and he doesn’t fear our negative responses to him. When I remember that I’m safe and loved by him, I don’t have to be threatened either. My kids may argue with me but I don’t have to argue back.
1 Corinthians tell us some specific traits of love:
Love is patient and kind. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love endures through every circumstance.
Am I truly loving my kids when I step into the power struggle? When they argue with me, and I demand my own way, am I showing them how God responds to me? When I snap and say, “That’s it. I’m done!” am I enduring in love?
How this works in real life
We can shut down our kids in two ways. Most obviously, we yell at them to prove we can make them shut up and listen. So they bottle up their feelings and bite their tongues to get us to stop yelling. It gives them no room to voice their disappointments, their struggle with how hard it is to do what we’ve asked, or their ideas of new ways to do things. We’re no longer coaching them, but controlling them.
The second, less evident way happens when we give in to them begrudgingly. Maybe we don’t feel like following through with them in discussion or discipline, so we say, “Ok, whatever,” and let them win. So we turn into the victim. We make sure they know we aren’t happy about it. When we do this, we shut down our child’s spirit, manipulating their emotions to make them feel responsible for how we feel. They got their way but still didn’t learn healthy ways of interacting with authority. It’s a lose-lose situation. I feel guilt for letting them trump my better judgment and they’ve lost the fun of what they wanted.
So how do we handle arguments in a healthy way, from a heart that wants what’s best for our kids more than we want the easy way out?
We live out of grace.
Grace recognizes that my way of doing things is not always the best, perfect or even right way. We can always, implicitly obey God’s leading because he knows everything. I try to model this for my children. But I am not God. And when it comes to asking them to obey me, I can be flexible and humbly open to discussion.
At times I’ll need to stand strong in a decision and they need to know that I’m dying on that hill because it matters. Eating their peanut butter sandwich at the dining room or outside for a picnic doesn’t need to be our final battleground. If they know I respect them and am listening to their needs, they’re likely to be more respectful when it’s a more serious decision.
Grace takes a breath and says calmly, “Can you try that again?” And then maybe says it again 60 seconds later. 9 times out of 10, this simple breath and question exercise chills us both us out enough to talk rationally.
It’s tempting to think that if our kids would just listen to us, we’d all be okay. But God commissioned us to raise godly, healthy adults, not just compliant kids. So I daily have to open my hands to God and ask for wisdom and take the more challenging path of grace that leads to connecting with my kids’ hearts.
A simple prayer when I’m ready to explode:
(Breathe in) Lord, I need you.
(Breathe out) You are here with me.
(Breathe in) Help me, God
(Breathe out) I stand in your grace.
****Elizabeth's Bio: Elizabeth lives in Kentucky with her student minister husband and 3 superhero kids. She's a light-hearted, book-loving extrovert, a recovering perfectionist, a rescued legalist and a lover of rest and grace. She blogs at ElizabethCravillion.com, where she shines a light on the hard places in life. She hangs onto the truth that she is God's daughter before she's anything else and that he's holding onto her.
Find Elizabeth at:
Believe it or not, I make mistakes. Moms sometimes make mistakes.
We can blame it on exhaustion, "hanger," or stress, but we do mess up. And since we have young ones around a lot, we often mess up in front of them. Sometimes, the mess up wrongs them.
Some days are so rough that my only hope is to cling to that verse in Philippians. You know the one, "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns" (1:6, NLT). Because really, I hope this is not as good as I get! Can I get an amen!
Our attitudes are not perfect 100% of the time, but God keeps working.
Our words are not wise and kind every time we speak, but God never gives up.
Our hearts get crowded with garbage, but God redirects us.
I love that phrase, "But God..." don't you? You know what it says to me? It tells me I don't have to do it all on my own. I'm not capable of changing for the good, but God! I lose patience quickly, but God!
We are all sinners, but God!
Since we "all sin and fall short of God's glorious standard" (Romans 3:23, NLT), we must be ready to address the sin.
In other words, when we make mistakes and yell or throw a 'tude toward our children, we need to be ready to apologize and model how to ask for forgiveness.
Our kids learn to be polite, socially functioning adults through us. And we've all met people who never apologize. How obnoxious! I know I don't want that to be my kids!
So if we want our kids to learn to apologize, we need to show them how to do it.
I've mentioned King David a lot, but he is such a good example of a person who loved God whole-heartedly, but sinned majorly. I've written this before, but he committed adultery with a married woman and then had her husband killed to cover up the resulting pregnancy. Wrong on so many levels!
Psalm 51 is David's prayer of forgiveness and apology to God. It is a wonderful model of how we should seek forgiveness from God when we sin, and from our kids when we wrong them.
"Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion..." (Psalm 51:1-3a, NLT).
There are some key phrases in this prayer that we should adopt when we model an apology.
First, David recognized he did something wrong. "I recognize my rebellion..." he said. We have to admit we are in the wrong when offering an apology or it doesn't really mean anything, does it?
My children do this. They'll say, "Sorry! But you hit me first!" It doesn't really spell out remorse, right?
Second, you have to ask God, and your children, to forgive you. David said, "Wash me clean and purify me." God is the one to do the cleansing, but our children can do the forgiving, or "cancelling of a debt or mistake." When we are forgiven, the person releases the right to punish us. They let our mistake go.
Now, it's a whole lot easier to forgive when we know the person is truly sorry and repentant. We must express true remorse or sorrow over our mistake, and then make an effort to stop the mistake from happening again.
In Psalm 51:12-13, David addressed this. He said, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you."
The key to not sinning is to obey God. And if King David needed to pray for God to help him obey, I'm pretty sure I need to pray that too.
And that last sentence? Verse 13? It kind of cracks me up. David said he will teach God's ways to rebels. Well isn't that what us moms are doing? :-)
When we apologize to our children, we are modeling the humble heart that God seeks. We are demonstrating that it's okay to be wrong as long as we are willing to learn.
We can't do it on our own, but God...
Dear Father, Please forgive me when I mess up, especially when I sin against my children. Please give me the desire and the power to do what pleases you (Phil. 2:13). Help me to obey even when I'm tired or crabby. Give me wisdom as I model a humble heart for my children. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I have developed a new mom pep peeve.
It absolutely drives me nuts when my kids just yell, "Mom!" from whatever room they are in and expect me to come running. They don't even try to look for me. And if I don't respond quickly enough, they will yell again. And, of course, it's usually when I'm in the middle of doing something: laundry, dishes, cooking, etc.
Sometimes you need a break. Sometimes you just have to lock yourself in the bathroom.
Moms are usually the ones who are with their children the most. This is especially true for stay-at-home-moms like me. And sometime, those little angels we gave birth to, can wear us down!
Honestly, when I get flustered and annoyed from many hours of hearing Pokemon stories and listening to my daughter's animal noises, my attitude starts to suffer. My nerves feel frayed like the end of a string that has been jabbed through a bead one too many times.
Sometimes Scripture and praise music can't find it's way to my heart and brain because I am too exhausted. The circuit between how I act and how I know I'm supposed to act breaks down.
Sometimes what you need is a time out yourself.
Getting time to yourself as a mom can also be challenging. Through the years I have found a few ways to achieve this without employing a baby sitter. But if you can get a babysitter, get one. Do not feel bad! Mom mental health is a priority!
MOPS! My mothers of preschoolers group provides a wonderful time for me to send my kids off to play and for me to talk with moms in the same season of life. Click here to find a MOPS group near you! https://www.mops.org/groupsearch/
Playdates! Invite a friend and her kids over. This might not sound relaxing, but in my experience, kids entertain each other. You and the mom can talk while the kids play. All you will have to do is referee the occasional spat.
Church! Go to church! Send your kids to the nursery or to Sunday School. Fill your tank while your kids learn about God. Win Win!
Do something that gives you joy Now! This is an idea I found in Alli Worthington's book Fierce Faith. Sometimes when you are grumpy, you just have to stop and do one thing you enjoy. Take a walk outside your house. Your kids will be fine for 2 minutes. Read a book for a little bit. Play a song on the piano (if you can). Work on a craft project (if you're crafty). Whatever you enjoy, just take a little time and do it!
Maintain a quiet time with God! Even if you can only spare 5-10 minutes, have a quiet time. I have found that on the days I make this a priority, I have so much more patience and kindness. It flows out of me so much easier. All the circuits in my brain stay better connected.
"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.'" - Matt. 11:28-29, NLT
In order to receive rest, we have to do things Jesus' way. He says we need come to Him and let Him teach us. Doing life according to the Bible may seem like a list of rules, but that's a lie Satan uses to keep you from getting closer to God. Jesus said, "my yoke is easy because I am humble and gentle at heart." He wants to give us rest, and when we come to Him, we are refreshed.
Going to Jesus is the best time out.
Because I am a stay at home mom, I am with my kids a LOT. This was intentional. My husband and I decided that I would be home to raise them and teach them what we want them to know.
That really has been such a privilege. I get to monitor who my children encounter, what they eat, what they watch on TV, how much screen time they have, etc. I have a lot of control over them because they are with me so much.
Here is the downside: the kids pick up my bad habits right along with the good.
It makes sense, since I'm the one they see all the time. I like to say, being a mother is like holding up a mirror and seeing your character traits reflected back to you, the good ones and the bad ones.
So if we admit that a lot of our kids' personality traits come from us, then we can also admit that their bad traits might come from us too. You see where I'm going with this: they may have learned their bad attitude from us! Gasp!
And just like our kids are people-in-progress, we are too. God never stops working on us, making us more like Jesus. It's just sometimes, in the midst of this growth, we must look deep within ourselves and examine our own hearts.
In scripture King David gave a good example of self-examination. Since he was described as "a man after God's own heart," I think he's a pretty good one to study. And in case you're thinking, "well, he was probably pretty close to perfect," let me assure you that no, he definitely was not.
David was a wise and brave King of Israel and loved God whole-heartedly, but he committed adultery and murder, and was a detached father who did not discipline his unruly sons. But David was quick to come to God with his mistakes. When he sinned, he asked God this:
"Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).
David came to God and asked Him to point out the offensive things in his heart. He did not want his sins to get in the way of his relationship with God. Like David, this is a prayer we need to pray regularly.
Now, I know this is not a fun prayer to pray. But like I wrote about last time, what is in our hearts is what eventually comes out. It is only fitting that we allow God to do a little clean up in our hearts, so we have room for the good stuff. We don't want our sin to interfere with our relationship with our children.
If God points out something that is offensive to Him, we can ask God to forgive us. I don't know what you may be dealing with. It could be simple, like you are clinging to negativity. Or maybe its more serious, like King David's. But whatever it is, sin is sin, and any sin keeps us from getting closer to God. King David was really good at confessing his sin too. Psalm 51 is a beautiful prayer he wrote to ask God to forgive him after he had committed adultery.
"Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night" (Psalm 51:1-3, NLT).
The good news? Every time we pray this with a sincere, honest heart, God forgives us and removes the junk that was cluttering our hearts. Every time. Remember, this is a necessary step in the process to make us more like Jesus, and God longs to bring us more fully into who He intends us to be, into the moms He intends us to be.
Prayer: Dear Father, please search my heart for any "junk" that keeps me from becoming more like Jesus. Forgive me for my sins, and fill my heart with your goodness, love, joy, and patience. Please help these traits to flow from my heart to my children. In Jesus' name, Amen.
It is not a new concept: what goes in is what comes out.
Let's think of it in terms of dogs. There is often debate about certain breeds of dogs and whether or not they are "safe." Pit bulls, Dobermans, German Shepherds, etc., are often on this "naughty" list of dogs. And it's true: sometimes these dogs are absolutely vicious. With the proper training, they can be killers.
But let's say that you train your pit bull to be gentle. You discipline it to not act on it's primal instincts. You raise it to be loving and kind, and it is. You create an environment that encourages gentleness instead of viciousness.
In other words, what you put into the dog is what you get out.
Humans are not so different. Our environment determines a lot about who we are and who we become. I'm sure we've all studied the whole nature vs. nurture idea. And no matter what side of the debate you fall on, no one can deny the power of environment.
Even as adults, our environment has power over our behaviors and attitudes. We may be "all grown up" as moms, but the daily things that fill our heads and our hearts really do shape our attitude, and therefore, the words we speak to our families.
Jesus addresses this idea in Matthew 12. Instead of referencing dogs, He uses fruit trees to get His point across. "A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad...For whatever is in your heart determines what you say" (Matt. 12:33-34, NLT).
I'd like to add on to this a bit. I also think that whatever is in your heart also determines how you say what you say.
The Greek word for "heart" here in this verse (kardias) means your thoughts or feelings. In other words, it's referring to the true part of you, your soul, the things that make you you.
Makes sense right? For an apple tree cannot produce oranges because deep down, it's an apple tree.
So let's think of this in human terms, not in trees or dogs. If what is in our soul is rotten, what will come out? I'll tell you what comes out of me: a bad attitude and harsh words.
So on my own, if I did nothing to tend my heart, everything that came out of my mouth would be no good. I could try my best, and sometimes my words might be kind, but I would keep reverting back to my rotten ways.
But, if I feed my soul the good stuff, I will speak out good stuff.
When I read the Bible and meditate on God's truths, when I listen to praise and worship music, when I watch shows that honor God's laws, when I surround myself with positive people that love God, I am filling my heart with good stuff.
All of these things are part of the environment that I can create. I can choose what I read, listen to, and watch. I can decide with whom I spend my time.
In short, I can control what goes into my heart. And that is exactly what we should be doing. "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (Prov. 4:23, NIV).
Friends, what we put into our hearts is what is going to come out of our mouths. It's a fact of life and nature. If we want to improve our attitudes and our words, we have to improve what we put into our hearts.
Prayer: Dear Father, Please help me make wise choices about what I put into my heart. Help me to choose what is "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy" (Phil. 4:8). Please help me allow you to shape my environment, and in turn, my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash
Does this sound familiar?
"Young lady, do not talk to me that way! You must talk to your mother with respect!" (I wish you could hear me say that. Just imagine a massive 'tude and you'll get it.)
I often demand respect from my children, but do I always give it to them? Am I modelling the appropriate attitude, or am I letting my anger and annoyance come out in the way I speak to my kids?
These questions and self-examination have prompted this new blog series. Go with me as I delve into the reasons behind the attitude and what we can do to curb it once and for all.
In my life I have been fortunate to have some very wise women who speak truth to me, hold me accountable, and call me out when I need it. The two women that come to mind right off the bat are my mother and my grandmother.
I can recall a time my mother took my husband's side in one of our arguments. She graciously pointed out to me that I was not being fair to him. She was right, of course. She sweetly convicted me, helping my attitude change back to that of a wife who assumes the best of her husband.
And another time I was wallowing in self-pity. It was beyond just an afternoon's worth of self-pity. I had been living in it for months. My grandmother, whose gift is sending cards and notes just when people need them, sent me a letter. Instead of giving me a stern talking to with her written words, she shared some of her own struggles and offered her own wisdom on how she overcame them. Basically, she helped me see my reality with gratitude, and that shifted me out of my attitude of self-pity. I still have that note, tucked into my Bible.
My mother and her mother are my role models. They are examples of the kind of mother I want to be. I know they didn't exude wisdom all of the time they were parenting their small children, but they inspire me to be as wise as I can in the season that I'm in.
In order to adjust our attitude, we must first be wise with our words.
In Proverbs 31 we can read the description of a Godly woman and mother. And of course, a Godly woman is aware of the power of her words and the attitude with which she delivers them.
When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. -Proverbs 31:26, NLT
Sometimes, my life resembles the opposite of this description. My instructions to my children are often barked out, in a hurry. My words, instead of coming out with an air of wisdom, come out with the sting of annoyance.
How do we be more like this amazing Proverbs 31 woman? How do we make sure our words are wise and kind?
For me, I know I have to be aware of my triggers.
As I mentioned above, the instructions that I give when I'm in a hurry are the ones that come out with an attitude. I don't handle stress well, and being rushed is just one such situation. I must catch myself tensing up in those moments and try extra hard to keep myself calm. I will shoot a prayer to God to ask for peace and for patience.
A mom who issues wise words is aware of the power of her words. Anyone who survived middle school knows this. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." This is so not true. Our words to our children have the power to build them up or tear them down. And unfortunately, it's our destructive words that have the tendency to be remembered.
If you're like me, I find I need more of this awareness. I need to slow down, think, and then choose my words. I cannot let the stress of busyness be my excuse.
My children deserve better than that.
Prayer: Dear Father, Please help me to be aware of my words and the attitude with which I deliver them. Help me to "build my kids up in the Lord" (Romans 15:2, NLT). Give me your peace and your patience in those moments when my stress builds. Help me be the wise woman my children deserve. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Boy, can my kids hold a grudge!
The way they fight goes completely against any textbook on "How to Get Along with People." You know, they use those "extreme phrases."
"You always take my stuff without asking!" "You never listen to my ideas!"
And they are quick to bring up past infractions and throw them in each other's faces. They also tell me in a move of good, old-fashioned tattle-telling. Maybe if they remind me, their sibling will get in trouble and that will take the negative attention away from them for what they did wrong.
Oh, children. Good thing they are people-in-progress. Who could stand an adult who did those things?
But what would God say about us? Are we holding on to things for no reason? Do we bring up past sins (our own or someone else's) to remind Him of wrongs and deflect current issues?
The thing is, that when it comes to our sin, we are forgiven forever. Jesus died on the cross for all, becoming the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. And "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13).
Our sins are forgiven, but there's more good news. They are also forgotten forever. In Isaiah 43:25 God says, "I--yes, I alone--will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again."
It's not that God couldn't remember our sins anymore. He is unlimited in every way. He has no memory loss due to old age. His thoughts are nothing like ours.
God totally could remember every sinful thing we've ever done. He just chooses not to.
If our perfect and righteous God chooses to forget our sins, why don't we? We can get stuck in such a cycle of misery because we keep dwelling on our past mistakes. We allow our baggage to take up space in the room of our heart.
In God's eyes after we have come to Him for forgiveness, the blots the sin out. He moves on. He does not want us to keep the clutter of our mistakes around. There is no joy when we dwell on our past and forgiven wrongs.
Although my children are people in progress and are still learning the art of forgiveness, God has no learning curve. In His perfection and His love, He holds no grudges against those who have accepted the work of His Son on the cross.
Yep, our past mistakes are forgiven and forgotten.
I am finally getting back to my series about the Characteristics of God! Last time I wrote about the infinity of God and reminisced about starting a relationship with my husband. Well, let's think of this as our second date. We will continue our quest to know more about our God.
I have often wondered if I will eventually have nothing to talk about with my husband. After a long marriage, don't you know each other so well that you've heard every story, every dream? Maybe to some degree, but I hope not. Otherwise a marriage stretching 50 plus years would not be fulfilling. And I don't think God created marriage to be a relationship that eventually grows stagnate.
One thing I know for a fact is that we will never tire of God. God is Unsearchable.
When I say this I mean that we will never reach the end of knowing all of God. Let's look at Isaiah 40.
Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD?
God is so above all of us that He never has had any need for advice. He is the source of all knowledge. Think of Google. You could put pretty much any word or person's name into that search engine and some information will come up. It's like Google's knowledge is so vast that it covers whatever you throw at it.
God is way bigger than Google.
You may say, "Duh, Kristen! He's God!" But do we always live like this? How often do we run to "Google" something instead of going to the one who existed before Google? This same chapter of scripture mentions how God has also "held the oceans in His hands" and "measured off the heavens with His fingers" (v. 12). I'm pretty sure Google cannot offer us this level of understanding.
We will never come to the end of God's wisdom. We will never reach the end of God's personality. He will always have new thoughts. He will always have new plans for us. I also love Isaiah 55:8. "'My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,' says the Lord. 'And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.'" Now, I think I have a pretty good imagination. But since the Bible says I can't even imagine God's thoughts, I'm pretty sure I could never grow tired of God.
So far I've painted this picture of God like a massive, multi-volume encyclopedia of information. But part of God's wonder is this: that while He is unsearchable, He is fully knowable.
This may seem like a contradiction, but to say that it is impossible is to limit the ability of God. And we know from our first date with God (my blog post on God's infinity), that He is limitless. Time does not restrain Him and neither does any definition of space.
God can be fully known by us puny humans. I love how Jesus explained it. In John 10 Jesus told a crowd how He was the Good Shepherd. He said the shepherd, "Walks ahead of them [the sheep], and they follow Him because they know His voice. They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they do not know his voice" (4-5, NLT).
We are Jesus' sheep and He is our shepherd. When we follow Him we get to know His voice. In other words, we begin to understand His ways and His character. We begin a relationship with Him. And what is the best way to get to know God's voice? Through His Word, of course!
So we know that we can grow closer to God, but how close is He to us? I think Psalm 139 explains this pretty well. "O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away. ..You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord" (v. 1-2, 4).
See? God knows everything about us! He is as close as our own thoughts.
The more I examine this truth about God, the more I come to understand just how loving God is. He is a God who knows every intricate detail about the entire universe because He made it and sustains it. But He is also a God who knows every intimate detail about me because He made me and loves me. He wants me to come to Him and get to know Him more and more, even though my puny little thoughts bring nothing to the relationship!
I'm like King David, exclaiming, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!" (Psalm 139:6).
I know I said I'd be sharing about the characteristics of God, and I'll get to that. But for three years now, I've been selecting a Word of the Year. And since it is still the first month of 2019, I'd like to share that with you. I'm not too late!
Last year my word was Fruitful. You may remember some posts about that word. Well, of course God challenged me, even about my motives behind the word! God spoke through the verses I selected (John 15:4-5). In those verses, Jesus issued a call. He told us to "Remain in me." Even though Jesus goes on to explain that if you do remain in Him, you will produce much fruit, our assignment is not the production of the fruit. We are to simply remain in Him. What does that me? To me it meant be faithful.
At the end of last year, it was December before I received from God a clear idea of what my word should be. As a church we are studying the book of Ephesians. Those that were interested could sign up and receive verses to read and specific things to pray about. I did that, and one day in December, the verse was Eph. 2:20. "Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself." We were supposed to pray and ask God, "What do you want to build in me this year?"
God whispered to me, "Faith."
He brought my attention to Abraham, one of my favorite Bible guys. Romans chapter 4 talks about the faith of Abraham. Verse 20, in particular, caught my eye. "Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise. In fact his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God." Yes. This. This is what I want God to build in me. I long for my faith to grow stronger so I can bring Him more glory.
I also have claimed Hebrews 11:1 as one of my verses for the year. I love the NLT of this verse. "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." I cling to this verse when I wonder about the future and about some dreams that I have. I already sense God telling me, "These things will happen. Have faith." Some things have already been set in motion...more on that another time!
And I've already learned something else about faith this year! This week I spent an hour in my church's prayer room. The hour was focused on praying through the Armor of God section of scripture in Ephesians 6. I am pretty familiar with this chapter because of a previous Bible study, but God showed me something new.
Ephesians 6:16 talks about the shield of Faith. "Hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil." What God and the prayer guide pointed out to me was that the shield protects you, and those you touch. Let that sink in and picture it with me. A shield offers protection to the one who holds it, but because of its size and shape, it can also protect those who stand close enough to the shield bearer to get behind the shield.
Moms, dads, wives, husbands: do you know what this means? Your faith not only protects you from the devious attacks of the devil, but it can protect those you love the most. Your faith bolsters the faith of your kids. Your faith helps them stand strong under the pressures of today.
Such another good reason for God to build my faith this year, and your faith this year.
If you have never selected a focus word for the year, may I challenge you to do so this year? It's not too late! Ask God the same question I asked Him. "What do you want to build in me this year? What do you want me to learn this year?" Then get into His word and listen. Having a focus word really sets the tone for the year. It also orchestrates a
real way that you can measure your growth as a Christian. You can look back after the year is through and reflect about the journey you had with God.
If you give it a try, I'd love to know what your word is! If you pick a word or already have a word, please comment! We can hold each other accountable and on course. And I promise, no year is wasted when you pursue what God wants to build in you.
Hi, I'm Kristen! Just a girl who loves all things Jesus, family, music and food!
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