Ashes to Beauty Day 5
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.)
Before Jesus died to reconcile us all to God, Jewish people followed a ton of strict rules to maintain “good standing,” with God. Now, over the course of hundreds of years, these God-given rules got twisted, changed, and the list of rules grew tremendously. Leaders of the Jewish faith were more concerned with “adhering to the law,” exactly as it was worded, then they were with actually understanding the rules, the nature of God, and how the rules were meant to draw us closer to Him, NOT push us away.
One of these rules was to rest and not work on the sabbath. Religious leaders wouldn’t even heal people on the sabbath because that was considered work. Watch Jesus’ reaction …
“Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.”
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)
What does all of this mean to me/how can I apply that to my life today?
Sadly, a lot of religious leaders and self-proclaimed Christians are actually the ones turning people away from God, and all in the name of Jesus.
I’ll try really hard not to get on a soapbox today, however, this one is very near and dear to my heart.
By association by attendance, I have been a Conservative Presbyterian in the PCA, a Baptist, an Anglican, and an Ordained Elder in the PCUSA.
So, I share that to say, what I’m addressing today has nothing to do with different denominations and their doctrine. What I’m addressing has everything to do with specific people and how those individual people make others feel.
But first back to the verse. The Pharisees watching Jesus throughout His ministry were simply out to enforce rules and laws. As they raised the bar, placing more demands on believers, they felt this elevated them, making them holier than everyone else.
But Jesus completely turned the tables on them.
My absolute favorite verse in the Bible shares of Jesus speaking to religious leaders, such as these, saying
“I have come for mercy, not religion!”
He didn’t come to condemn sin, He came to die for our sins!
Jesus so very much wanted these Pharisees to see that God would much rather have this man healed, than have them worrying about some stupid rule that said “not to work on Sunday.”
He wanted them to know that they had completely lost their way. That all “rules,” were meant to guide us closer to God, but the way they were enforcing them was actually hurting people instead of helping them.
And that truth rings through (maybe even louder) today.
He’s tired of seeing His children turned off to Him, because of flawed human-beings.
So many believers in my generation are turned off to God because of issues within the church, and because Christians have done some hateful things to them, all in the name of Jesus.
But, He wants to set the record straight. If the message you’re hearing about Him is anything other than love for you, then it’s false.
So whether you haven’t missed church in a year, or haven’t walked through the doorway of one in a decade …. I encourage you to remember, those past hurts you probably have, those feelings of guilt and shame, brought on by “religion” – they are NOT brought on by Jesus.
He is begging you to let it go, to let Him heal you!
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.
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.”
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.**