YouVersion for the win!//Brooke

I received a text today asking about devotional/time in the Word ideas.  I was quickly reminded of the blessed YouVersion app.  You probably have it on your phone– if not it’s a quick app store search and you are done!  In addition to the whole Bible in many different translations there is a whole section called [plans] with a zillion Bible reading plans.  (The plans can also be found at bible.com.)  Here are several that I am going to recommend to my friend and you: //click on image to read more about each devo//

note: I encourage you to pick one of these or another Bible reading plan not because we must but because God is Mysterious, Grand, Near and Worthy!  Let us press on to know Him more and more.  

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Chan also has 3 other plans that are worth check out: Multiply, Erasing Hell, & Crazy Love.

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Piper also has a “15 days in the Word” devo that looks fantastic–he looks into what Scripture says about personal holiness, wealth, the sovereignty of God, fear, anxiety, backsliding, joy, humility and more!

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**Tim Keller also has a 6 day devotional on Galatians that is worth checking out!**

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Freedom from Bitterness

image.pngBitterness.  What an unpleasant state to live in.  For years I was entangled in the darkness of bitterness as it seemed that everyone else had the very things I so desired but were not a part of my present reality.  In God’s kindness,  He didn’t allow me to live in that tangled web of bitterness forever and through a series of circumstances and lessons that confronted the very core of my beliefs about God & His love for me, He gave me great freedom from it.  As painful as that time was, I’m so thankful that God broke me of it, because no life stage in this broken world is free of comparison, bitterness, envy & jealousy.

This week, I sat in my room, upset and battling this very thing.  My current set of circumstances leaves me feeling that dangerous root of bitterness again rising up within my heart.  But this time, I’m desperate to fight it, and to have God clean out the ugliness more quickly and deeply than before.

Hebrews 12:14-15 says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…” I so desperately desire some characteristics to be true of me – peace, holiness, seeing the Lord, the grace of God. But where do I feel my heart leaning?  Towards the opposite: bitterness, trouble, defilement. 

I don’t want to be wrapped up in that bitterness, as I once was.  But it’s not as simple as just telling myself to “stop it!” and being freed. In this battle against bitterness – and I truly do mean battle – I must fight this head-on, and, truthfully, only through the work of the Holy Spirit empowering me.

Here are some practical steps I am taking to battle this bitterness from taking root I wanted to share with those of you who may be battling the same thing:

  1. Prayer. I must recognize that I am fully dependent on God to do the primary work of heart change in my life.  What does this look like? You may have heard of “spiritual breathing” in Cru.  It’s a simple way to think of living out the Christian life in a moment by moment way. First, I exhale – I admit my sin, my feelings, my desires, my longings & that I can’t do it without the Holy Sprit – and then I inhale – I remember that I am forgiven because of Jesus’ work on the cross & I yield to the Holy Spirit to take back the throne of my heart and empower me.
  2. Where is my identity?  In Because He Loves Me by Elise Fitzpatrick, she writes,  “Rather than being inebriated with God’s mercy, grace, and Spirit [Ephesians 5:18]… we’re reeling from the belief that the most important factor in any given day is our success or comfort.  Life has become ‘about’ us and God’s love in the gospel has taken a seat in the back of the bus, behind coveted invitations, the respect of friends, NFL championships, and full stomachs. We mistakenly think that these things are measures of God’s love for us because we’ve forgotten about the Lamb who takes away sins.” How powerful! Am I living out my identity based on who God is & what He’s done for me? No? It’s not enough to just “stop it!” – I need to go back to point one! I must recognize the disparity, and say, “Jesus, I believe, help my unbelief!”
  3. Love like Jesus.  This was an encouragement in the midst of my bitterness from Lindsay, who discipled me at the time.  Who holds up the better end of the relationship deal between me & God? Definitely not me.  So, how can I, with the help of the Holy Spirit, truly love my friends and continue to love them even when I felt like I was overlooked or like they had such better lives than me, and through my heartache?  What does it look like to be gracious, merciful, honest, resolve conflict, etc. so that bitterness cannot stick to my heart as it grows in love for others, rather than suffocating the life out of it?  This is a great challenge, but it’s humility (or “thinking of ourselves less” as Tim Keller writes) that brings me true perspective on love!
  4. Foster gratitude & generosity in my days.  If there is a command that seems harder to me when I am in a set of undesired circumstances than rejoicing with those who rejoice (Rom 12:15), I’ve yet to find it.  How can I rejoice when I want the thing they have? Do I really  want to be that girl who cannot rejoice with other people? No way! But I can be sad about my circumstances while still rejoicing for others’.  The two are not mutually exclusive!  I must foster a heart of gratitude for what God has given me and a heart of generosity towards others.  My friends have wept with me and loved me through the hardest moments of my life recently.  How much more can I rejoice with them by being generous – with my time, my resources, my heart, my listening ear, my love?  Giving to those who are in circumstances I dream of being in allows me to forget that I want to be bitter about their lives, because I am moving towards them in love.  This isn’t something I can do on my own, either.  I often must take a minute to be honest with others & the Lord about my disappointment, heartache, and sadness – God does not ask me to ignore the fact that I am hurting – and then I ask the Holy Spirit to empower me to love others, to care for them, and to be generous and grateful as is fit for the situation.  And surely God does it.  He loves to answer those prayers.

These aren’t some sort of magical steps in a formula that will quickly fix all of your heart problems in regards towards bitterness.  Only God can do that.  But I’m here to say that there is freedom to be found from bitterness, and a fight to be had for that freedom.

IMG_0710I wonder what would it look like if we, as women who believe that God loves us, took time to really put in the hard work of yielding our lives to the Lord and turning from bitterness, jealousy, comparison, and envy.  How would our communities, our families, our hearts change?

“Let us lay aside every weight and sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, looking to Jesus, the author & perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.” – Hebrews 12:1

I truly believe that this, the gospel, changes everything.  Holy Spirit, work in us that we might better reflect you & that we may find freedom from things like bitterness which so easily take root in our hearts! We love you. Thank you for loving us.

A new day, a new summer//Brooke

We are back, friends! We will have weekly posts from Tidewater & Richmond staff and students all summer long!  We pray it will encourage you as you walk by faith this summer.  Big shout out to MEG WALKER for giving our blog a face lift!

One area I want to focus on this sumPicTapGo-Image (10)mer is praising God no matter what. no matter the circumstance. on the mundane days and on the happy, happy days. As you know life is hard, complex, anxiety ridden, busting with joy and surprise too but God is near and good and for us even on the hard days.  And I want to remember Him.

One thing I started doing last month was “30 days of Adoration.” One of my favorite authors(Sara Hagerty) put together this free printable & it helped be slow down and think about one attribute of God each day and praise Him for it and reflect on how I had seen Him at work in my life in that particular way.  It was really good for my soul.  I’m excited to continue it this month.

I think it’s so important for us to think about God.  To think rightly about Him. There’s SO MUCH pulling for our attention that we can forget or distort who God really is.

The famous quote by A.W. Tozer is SO true, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

Todays focus of adoration is– The One Whose Very Person Dispells Fear! And the scripture that she linked to it: “They[the disciples] had rowed 3 or 4 miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat.  They were terrified, BUT HE called out to them, Don’t be afraid. I AM HERE.”   Praise God! Don’t we need to remember that today?  That He is here and we don’t have to be afraid.

Let us remember God this summer and celebrate His character and nearness. He is good!  Let’s not miss an opportunity to know Him more.

//to go deeper into this topic check out this article//

 

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