Ashes to Beauty Day 1

The Pour Out:

Pour it ALL out to God. Take a moment to clear the clutter, by letting go of all those wandering thoughts (the grocery list or to do list items that won’t stop distracting you … AND … your prayer needs and concerns.)

The Beans:

The Background:

The Gospels are the accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. Throughout these accounts we read stories of His miraculous healings, one of which, we’ll look at today.

The Verse:

Matthew 8:1-3

” When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.”

The Fill:

What’s the point for YOU?:

  • What word or phrase from the verse above popped out to you?

Read the verse a second time and ask yourself:

  • What could this word or phrase be speaking to in your life? (What situation, struggle, relationship, or decision)

The Steam:

What does all of this mean to me/how can I apply that to my life today?

In Jesus’ day to have leprosy meant that you were unclean. Since it was a highly contagious disease, lepers were forced to live on the outskirts of town, and cover their face yelling, “unclean,” if they got close to anyone who didn’t have it.

They were left to live isolated, painful and lonely lives.

While we don’t have a painful disease, many of us can feel like we wear a scarlet letter that announces some inferiority in us  –  that makes us feel like outcasts in our own society.

Maybe you don’t look like other women in your social circle. Maybe (like me) you struggle with body image, and constantly compare your waistline to the women you’re around. 

Maybe you feel like you have “bad mom” written across your forehead because your toddler is unruly, your teenager is always in trouble, or in some way you fail to measure up to “pinterest-worthy mom status”

Maybe you feel like others can see your struggling marriage. The secret fights, struggles, financial distress you try so hard to hide from the outside world …

Whatever it is, you just know if someone looked in your eyes long enough, they’d be able see it all!

Feeling different, isolated (even if you isolate yourself purposely) … is a lonely feeling.

As I read this story, I came to see that in the “ashy moments” (as I’ll call them throughout this study) in those times where it seems like everything is bleak, gray, or destroyed even …. God is still there. We are not alone in our private struggles.

When society’s standards of perfection cause us to go into isolation – Jesus so desperately wants to reach out and touch us, reach out and heal us.

This story is careful to highlight a super important point. Out of his unending love for this man, Jesus took a huge “risk,” and touched him. He provided the healing this leper so desperately needed, setting aside any fear of becoming ill Himself.

But, there’s something that happens before Jesus reaches out that we need to pay attention to. The man with leprosy came before Jesus and asked ….

We have to make ourselves vulnerable, we have to face up to the fact that we do feel isolated, that there is a problem. We have to get outside our comfort zones and boldly ask Jesus for healing.

One of my biggest problems, the reason I fail to “get better,” is because I don’t like to admit that I’m not ok. I don’t like to admit that I have secret troubles and struggles in my heart.

I encourage you today, to take some time to really reflect on what troubles your heart. It may be buried so deep in there, you can’t even identify it anymore. So take the time you need to discover where you struggle, what it is that you beat yourself up about – and invite Jesus into that place.

Kneel before Him and boldly claim, “Lord, you can make me clean.”

The Transition:

Transitioning from quiet time back into real life can be tricky. We want to take the lesson we’ve just learned, and the peaceful feeling we now have, with us throughout the rest of our day.

Blessings:

List “small” blessings from the past 24 hours.

List small things, because when you only list the big things – you only SEE the big things. Thinking back on a few small blessings each day, helps us develop a habit of actually looking for God in our day to day realities. And if you’re writing them down, then you’ll have hard proof that God truly is always with you.

*This could be anything. A few examples are: “you were blessed with a hug from your child, the weather was especially warm and delightful, or a smile from a stranger on the street.

Affirmations:

List positive affirmations about yourself/life:

Take whatever was laid on your heart and write it in the form of an affirmation:

If you simply felt peaceful today, write, “I WILL remain peaceful today.”

If you are still trying to understand a certain message, write, “I WILL keep searching and remember that God WILL reveal His answer to me.”

Or list, “I AM worth it.” “God DOES love me.” “I WILL make that change.”

**Now go about your day, peaceful and affirmed.**