Loneliness is a Season

“To every thing there is a season..” Ecclesiastes 3:1 A

 

I walked onto my porch this morning and couldn’t help but smile. For a small moment I stopped and savored the feeling of hope…change…and expectancy. I live in Florida. Basically we have two seasons here, hot and cold. Rarely, very rarely, there will be a small few weeks of ‘cool’ weather, but as I mentioned these times are rare. But,ever so often, a few times a year, it seems that God allows a simple and beautiful moment to speak volumes to my soul. This morning was such a time. When the light that shines takes on a different tone…When the air turns more crisp, and the breeze, though only slight, is somewhat refreshing. I can’t help but smile. It’s the changing of the seasons. We all have seasons in our life. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 is beautiful. It depicts life in a way that’s true. There is a time for everything. And though the happy times are pleasurable and we would love to live our lives completely in this season, it can’t be. There is also a time to cry, a time to mourn.

‘I’m very lonely.’..I told my best friend, and I am. I’m happy, I recognize God’s blessings. I am aware of His provision in my life. I feel ok. But at night when I settle the girls into bed, after the day’s mess has been straitened up. After the clothes have been sorted for the next day, I feel loneliness creep into the deep crevices of my heart. It isn’t pain, but it hurts nonetheless.

Seasons have changed for me. There was a time when brokenness marked my life. During this season I needed healing, and my Savior seemed to wrap me in His arms day after day and shelter me from the hurt that threatened to overtake me. And then there was time of rejoicing, because for all the heartache and pain I had gone through, I had made it. Satan hadn’t won, and I had grown to a place where I believed in life again. I had finally found a song in my heart. There was also a time of anger, a time when I fought the bitterness that settled in my soul. I learned a lot during this season. I learned of God’s ability to take what I offered and use it for His glory and my betterment. And now I seem to be in a season of waiting. For me this is the hardest. I’ve committed all of my fears and insecurities to my Savior. I truly do trust that God will bring all His promises to pass, but it has to be in His time. So I’m waiting.

John Waller sings an amazing song called ‘While I’m Waiting’ and it speaks of these times in individual’s lives, the times when we are waiting for God to place the pieces in order. They can be lonely times. They can make you question yourself. Whether you’ve made the right decisions, whether you’ve done everything you could have done. His song sings.. “While I’m waiting I will serve you, while I’m waiting I will worship. While I’m waiting I will not faint, I’ll be running the race, even while I wait..’ And that’s my prayer for my life. But I recognize that it’s at this point, while we are waiting on the delivery of God’s Word that many Christians act out of their own belief and perceptions of their situation. And in doing so we can miss what God has in store for our life.

I don’t know what you are waiting on God for. I don’t know what impossibility you have entrusted into His hands, but I know that this time of waiting is just that. A time. A season. And the seasons will change, and time does pass. If I were to act out of what I felt, I may miss the blessing of God. My feeling says ‘I’m lonely.’…and loneliness seeks company to fill missing pieces. But a couple of years ago I asked God for a man who would take me to church. It’s more than church, I know. It’s more than just being a good man, I know.

I wrote then…

‘Many men could offer to take me to many different places. They could offer me security in their devotion and unfailing love. They could buy me pricey gifts and write me beautiful letters full of emotions, rhymes, and heartfelt lyrics. But when the hard times come and a decision has to be made…when it appears that the “worse” outweighs the “better”…I want a man who will lead his family to an altar and seek the face of the one who truly made the provision for this need many years ago. I want a man who will stand in complete surrender to the will of God. I want a man who will take me to church.’

I wrote it then, but I still mean it now. So I walked outside and felt the breeze. Even as I sit and look outside my window, the light looks different, and I am reminded that this season that I’m in, the loneliness, it will change. Hope will spring anew, and God will give me the blessing that He has promised. Just as He will for you in your life.

 

Author: Britney Wilkes

Copyright © 2010-2012 Devotions Of Grace Blog – All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Published in: on September 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lazarus Was Dead

John 11: 1-44

My best friend has been blessed with a beautiful talent. She ministers in song. I have listened to her sing countless times throughout the years. I tell her often that I’m her biggest fan, and I believe that I am. Last night I listened to her sing 4 Days Late. It wasn’t the first time I had heard her sing this song. I have even sang it before. But God snapped His fingers at me during the first few lines.. “The deathwatch was over, buried 4 days.”

“4 Days Late” tells the story of Lazarus, a friend of Jesus. He and his sisters, Mary and Martha, had opened their home to Jesus before. They were friends, they loved each other. So, naturally, when Lazarus became ill and they sent word to Jesus about his condition, certainly things would be ok. Mary and Martha believed in Jesus, they knew He was able to heal him. They had probably even seen Him heal countless individuals before. But when they called for their brother, Jesus didn’t come.

When their need was at its greatest, He didn’t answer. Lazarus was certainly dead. In his time there was more than one circumstance where individuals had been pronounced dead to only find out that later life actually remained. So it was custom that for 24hrs after the body was pronounced dead there would be a deathwatch to watch for signs of life. I wonder if Mary and Martha had held out hope that maybe, just maybe, Lazarus could still be alive. Somehow they had been mistaken and Jesus would come and everything would be fine. But now, the deathwatch was over. Hope was gone. Lazarus was dead.

Have you ever felt you’re in a hopeless situation? Have you ever held onto something believing that God was going to step in at any moment, and He didn’t? Have you watched things go from bad to worse, to only keep getting worse? 4 days after Lazarus died Jesus showed up. The deathwatch was over, his body had been dressed, the family had gone through tradition, Lazarus’ tomb had been sealed. And now Jesus shows up. I would have been like Mary.. ‘Jesus, he’s dead, been dead 4 days. If you would have been here it would have been different. But you weren’t, and he’s dead.’

Of course we all know the ending. Jesus cries Lazarus come forth and He raises him from the dead. My concentration is on how utterly hopeless this situation was. Lazarus’ family and friends had literally sat and watched Lazarus after his death, and had searched for life. They had watched for any hope. They watched his chest to see if there was even the slightest possibility that breath was entering his body. They listened for any noise, any hope at all that life remained in his body. But there was no hope, no life. Lazarus’ body was prepared for burial. He was bound in rags with ointment. He was placed in a tomb, and a huge stone was placed at its entrance. Hope was gone. Nothing was left.

Maybe this is where some of you are at in your own life. You’ve believed for so long that things would be ok. You’ve held onto hope where there was no cause to believe that God was working in your favor. Maybe you’ve looked for life in your marriage, your job, or your finances..but all proof of reality points to death. That there’s no hope. That life doesn’t remain. “Oh, but my God is great and when He’s 4 days late, He’s still on time.”

Jesus could still speak to that hopeless situation cause death to let go so that life can appear again. Jesus can cause the rags that bind you to be loosed by the hands that bound you in the first place. Jesus may be on His way, right now, to speak life into your situation. You hold on. Even when we see no possible solution to our problems…even when we see no change in the distance future…Jesus can still step in and speak life to the circumstances that have caused you to believe that all hope is gone. Lazarus was dead…but then Jesus showed up.

Author: Britney Wilkes

Copyright © 2010-2012 Devotions Of Grace Blog – All Rights Reserved

Published in: on August 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Jesus I Need

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground. He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.

 He is despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” Isaiah 53: 2-3

 

If we were to have lived in the day and time that Jesus walked this earth, I’m not certain that we would have recognized him as King. He didn’t look like a king. He wasn’t handsome. His appearance wasn’t desirable. He didn’t dress like a king. Jesus was poor my man’s definition. He traveled by foot. He slept where He was welcomed. He kept company with fishermen, tax collectors, adulterers, and murderers. He ate with sinners and He challenged the religious elders of His time. He touched the broken and the hurting. He touched lepers. When others would have kept their peace at the temple, He yelled. And when others would have proclaimed their innocence when on trial for their life, He remained quiet. Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t what the world was looking for as a Savior of Nations, but he was everything that this world needed. Jesus made people feel uncomfortable, He challenged their beliefs. He insisted on love and forgiveness when the world knew judgment and punishment. The world had figuratively drew lines around their religious expectations of a king, and Jesus walked through every single one. This is Jesus, radical and not logical for His time then, and still not logical for His time now.

 

My best friend and I went to Orlando for a few days a couple of weeks ago. One afternoon we decided to go to the Holy Land, which is owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). TBN is home to a huge dominance of Christian programming on television. From the moment she and I drove on the parking lot we felt out of sorts. Something didn’t feel right. I tried to explain it away by saying the culture just wasn’t one we were used to. The Holy Land is advertised as being a replica of the life and times of Jesus, but as we continued passed the front entrance and on into the park it was apparent that the Jesus depicted there wasn’t the one that we knew. At all. TBN depicted Jesus at times as a handsome Caucasian man with strikingly blue eyes. In their wax museum, which says its scenes are depicted from scenes of His life, Jesus was dressed in beautiful arraignments. Even Mary and Joseph looked as if they were wealthy by the clothes that they wore. In other places Jesus was depicted as having long dark hair, fake angel wings, a white t-shirt, and torn jeans while riding a motorcycle. The park was full of garland and showy art. Gold was everywhere, but the presence and peace of God’s spirit… that wasn’t to be found. We didn’t feel it. Our spirit didn’t bare witness at all with that mockery.

 

They made Jesus pleasing to the eye. I read one review that said they made Jesus appear as a ‘white superhero’, and I agree. They changed Jesus to be something that America could be comfortable with. It’s easier for most people to accept Jesus as white and handsome and wealthy, but that isn’t His actual reality. He was a Hebrew, dark skin, dark eyes, dark hair. Isaiah tells us that He wasn’t desirable, and Jesus Himself taught us that He wasn’t rich.

 

It makes me wonder how much we’ve changed the reality of who Jesus is so that we can feel more comfortable. Have we picked out pieces of the Bible that allows us to live as we would choose without the conviction it brings? As a society we are focused on what feels good, the things that make us happy, but Jesus sometimes requires us to go outside of our comfort zone. Like the best friend, who betrayed you, and destroyed your trust…Jesus calls us to pray and forgive them. Like the money we work hard for, and would like to use the way we want…Jesus calls us to pay our tithes and give. The times we want to be lazy for days on end and let things just slide, the Word teaches us that if we don’t work we shouldn’t eat.

 

Jesus challenges us to be better than who we are. Love more, pray more, serve more, forgive more. He teaches us to point our fingers at our own self, search our own heart, and correct our own self and sins before we begin to condemn another. Judge not lest you be judged. That’s the Jesus we serve. It’s not necessarily easy, sometimes it isn’t comfortable. Our flesh doesn’t like being brought into submission, but it’s needed. There is a Jesus I need and there is a Jesus I want. The Jesus I need causes me to be less of who I am and more of who He is. My prayer is to seek the Jesus I need, to be consumed with Him, so that my needs and my wants become the same. Less of me, more of Him.

 

If I have to become more uncomfortable in my daily walk with Him then I’ll do it, because if being uncomfortable allows me to see the true Jesus, I’ll do that. I would rather know Jesus, in His realness, and make it to Heaven than to choose a religious figure that would lead me to Hell. I need the real Jesus in my life, not a made up version of someone who makes me comfortable. I’m hard headed, I’m stubborn. I need a Savior that can make me look at myself and say..‘I’m not right, I need to change.’ That’s the Jesus I need. That’s the Jesus you need.

 

Less of me, more of Him.

 

 

Author: Britney Wilkes

Copyright © 2010-2012 Devotions Of Grace Blog – All Rights Reserved

Published in: on August 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

How Bad Can It Be?

It’s Saturday night and all my of my children are gathered in the living room. By ‘all’ I mean my best friend’s two boys, who are my nephews, and my two little girls. My best friend is on the couch entranced in a book and I have begun to settle down from frying chicken and french fries. All is right in my little world. ‘The Lorax’ is on and I had just gotten good and still enough to listen to the movie. The Once-ler had given his word to the Lorax, the keeper of the trees, that he wouldn’t cut down any trees to make these scarf things. Eventually, he became greedy, and after listening to his family he went against his word to the Lorax and began cutting the trees down. This is where I began listening..the Once-ler sang these words in his song.. ‘How bad can I be? I’m just doing what comes naturally!’

 

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12

 

It’s a reasonable question..how bad can it be when what we are doing feels natural. Sin at times feels natural. There are certain sins that different individuals battle that feel very natural, even pleasurable, to their flesh. Some battle a lying tongue. It feels natural for those who do to exaggerate the truth, make things slightly more dramatic, whether for the worse or for the better. Some battle addictions, and during stressful or depressing times its easy to turn to those addictions for temporary relief. These addictions can range from alcohol, drugs, or prescription drugs, etc. Should someone you love be hurt by someone else, it’s easy to lash out in anger. It’s natural to protect and come to the defense of the ones we love. But in these moments of anger, it is wrong to intentionally hurt someone. Our words can deeply scar a heart, they can pierce a soul for years, and acting out this way is sin. It’s easy to get ‘caught up in the moment’, and when we are ‘caught up’ it’s easy to feel that what we’re doing is natural. It’s here that Satan has so blinded our society and masked the difference between truth and feeling.

 

How often have you heard the phrase.. ‘If it feels right, do it.’..? That isn’t necessarily true. As Christians we have to learn to not act out of feelings. Feelings are subject to their surroundings. Feelings are birthed in us from our beginning, and usually they begin with ‘I want’. Like the little child who wants the cookie before dinner and Mom says no. All that child feels in the moment is ‘I want’. So they sneak to the kitchen to steal the snack, and Mom catches them with their hand in the cookie jar. She then teaches the truth, listen to Mom. To do wrong just may be birthed in us which is why it’s so important we know the truth, God’s Word, so we can measure our feelings against what His Word teaches. Jeremiah teaches in chapter 17:9 that ‘The heart is deceitful among all things and desperately wicked.’ Out of our heart lies our feelings, and if we only react to what our heart causes us to feel then we can be led to a destructive end, if we aren’t seeking the truth of God’s Word.

 

I once knew a person who went to church every Sunday and Wednesday. They had even held positions of ministry within the church. They had been raised right, and had been taught God’s word as a child. But thatvperson didn’t guard their heart and Satan was able to build a

 

stronghold in their life. They began to be deceived by their feelings and desires. When I spoke to them about this they said, “Sometime God can tell you something that is different from what the Bible says, and it’s more important than what the Bible teaches.” My heart broke. Satan had so deceived that person by their wants, desires, and feelings that they could no longer see the truth of God. The truth is that God will never tell you something that contradicts His Word. Anything apart from the Word of God is from Satan, a lie, meant to deceive and ultimately destroy you.

 

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

 

So how bad can it be when we are only doing what comes naturally? There is a way that seems right to a man. If it feel right do it, it offers pleasure. But the end are the ways of death. That’s how bad it can be. Total separation from God. I pray you guard your heart and keep it centered on His Word. God’s Word is truth, and that truth can keep you in a world that would deceive you.

 

Author: Britney Wilkes

Copyright © 2010-2012 Devotions Of Grace Blog – All Rights Reserved

Published in: on August 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Noah Found Grace

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:8

After Sunday school my 4 year-old ran up to me with a huge smile on her face. She pulled me down and said, ‘Mama guess what.. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.’ Her face was so proud. I’m not sure what I was expecting her to say, but it wasn’t that. ‘What?’ I asked her..she repeated herself, took me by the hand and led me to her new Sunday school teacher. ‘See Mama, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.’ I understood then. My daughter had been listening in Sunday school and had memorized her memory verse. She told me her memory verse a few times that day, and after she woke up the next day, shetold me her verse again. When I dropped her off at daycare, she told her teacher. Her excitement over the verse made me re-read the passage in Genesis.

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagining of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord repented that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him in His heart.” Genesis 6:5, 6

In a world that was so full of evil that God Himself repented of His creation was found Noah. God had already decided that He would destroy the creation, both man and beast..“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:8 The Word says that even in the midst of such ugliness that he was a just man, and perfect in his generation. He held true to his Savior and Noah walked with God. So God tells Noah to build an ark to save himself, his family, and two of each of the animals from the flood He would send to destroy the world. And Noah, having found grace, listened and obeyed. At this point all we know of Noah is that God gave him grace because he had walked with Him and when God spoke Noah listened.

I’ve tried placing myself in Noah’s position. I’m not sure if I would have been obedient. How odd would it be to have God tell you that He would send a great flood to destroy the earth, and by the way, build a huge boat so civilization can be rebuilt through you? I might have questioned whether God was speaking to me, but not Noah. He listened and he obeyed. He did what God asked. Others brushed Noah off and didn’t believe him when he tried to tell of God’s plan. They thought him crazy, but even in the face of such adversary, Noah obeyed God. The Word says that obedience is better than sacrifice..a point that is well made by Noah.

Has God called you to do something that seems a little different in comparison to others? Have you questioned whether you were hearing the voice of God? I encourage you, walk close to God, seek Him daily. I’m certain that because Noah was a just man he had spent time talking to God. As the Word says he walked with Him. Because of this he knew His voice when He spoke to him.

Noah’s obedience caused creation to be rebuilt. My little girl’s Sunday school teacher’s obedience caused an excitement for God’s words to be burst in my daughter’s heart. In my world both are amazing and beautiful. However God speaks to you, whatever God chooses to say, be obedient. You never know what God will choose to do with that simple act of servant hood.

 

Author: Britney Wilkes

Copyright © 2010-2012 Devotions Of Grace Blog – All Rights Reserved

Published in: on August 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Shine

We were sitting next to each other in church. She’s 9 and she’s beautiful. She has blue eyes and blonde hair and an even more beautiful heart than her face…if possible. I watched as she drew stars on a sheet of paper. Underneath it she had written ‘Make it Shine’. While I watched her she accidentally messed up on one of the stars she was drawing, she pointed it out frowning at the mistake. I smiled at her and said, ‘But it can still shine.’ That seemed to satisfy her and she went back to drawing. God snapped his fingers at me however.

As Christians we are called to be light in darkness; “For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.” Ephesians 5:8, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 And though we are called to do just that, it doesn’t make it an easy task.

We live in a dark time. Our world so desperately needs to hear the truth of who Jesus is. Often times, the truth is shadowed by mans perceptions and interpretations. But the truth of God’s word remains, and if that truth can be revealed it is powerful. So much so that it can set the captive heart free. This is why Satan, who is the father of deceit, will attempt anything to stop God’s children from hearing the truth of Jesus Christ.

The Word says in John 1:4, “In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men.” Satan loves to convince a child of God that they aren’t worthy to work for Him, that they aren’t good enough in some way. If Satan can plant those seeds of doubt then fear will be produced. But God says that He hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and of a sound mind.

We often times feel inadequate when we compare ourselves to others…”Well I can’t sing like they can.”…”I can’t play the piano like they can.”…”They don’t respond to me like they do with them.”..But we aren’t called to be better than our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to be the best we can be. What God chooses to do with the talent or the ability that He has given us is His doing, but we are promised in His Word that it will not return into us void. Our only comparison should be with our self, and then we should only measure our self against the Word of God.

How many of us have been hurt? Whose heart has ever been broken? Has anyone’s words every pierced the deep places in your soul? If we don’t allow God to heal those wounds Satan will use those hurts as an opportunity to snuff out the light within us. Once we’ve been hurt it’s natural to back off from that situation that caused pain and nurse our wounds. It is then when we find ourselves wondering away from the fold, that’s when Satan attacks. Our perceptions become jaded by pain. If we allow Him, God can take our pain and restore us in such a way that our ending will be so much better than what we began with. But it’s that hurt and broken-ness that says..’I can’t get up there and do that. They know what I’ve done. They know what I’ve been through.’..and so we do nothing. In our pain we convince our self that as long as we aren’t backsliding we’re ok.

Smith Wigglesworth, a pastor in the early 1900s, once said. “If we aren’t moving forward with God, then we are backsliding. There is no standing still.” In my personal life I’ve found this to be true. The beauty of God’s love for His creation is His desire to be a part of His children. He longs to use His people. Even with all our faults and failures He desires to make us vessels for His use. There almost wasn’t one individual in the Bible who was perfect. Even David, who is remembered as being a man after God’s own heart made huge mistakes. From adultery to murder David made horrible decisions, but David wholeheartedly confessed his faults to God in prayer and continued after Him. He could have given up, he could have said he wasn’t worthy to be used by God, but he didn’t. He allowed God to shine through his life.

We can still be used by God, even with our faults. In my opinion it’s  then that God can truly receive the glory. In our own abilities we  will often fail, but with God He makes things right. I certainly shouldn’t be in my right mind, but there has been an unseen hand in my life that has kept me. So I work for Him. I tell the story of how Jesus is restoring me. My star may not be drawn right, but I can still shine for Jesus.

 

 

Author: Britney Wilkes

Copyright © 2010-2012 Devotions Of Grace Blog – All Rights Reserved

 

Published in: on August 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Standing at the Door

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

My little girls love their Grammy. There aren’t many times that we get into the car that they won’t ask.. ‘Mama, what is Grammy doing? Can we go see her?’ And there haven’t been many times that if Grammy is home, she hasn’t said ‘Sure, bring those babies to their Grammy.’ It is a love that is given as much as it’s received…and it’s precious.

See, Grammy isn’t my actual Mama, in the technical sense of the word…but she loves me as if I were hers. And those little girls aren’t her granddaughters, but they will never know a difference, because she loves them just the same. When we go to her house the girls usually find their way to her lap, where hugs and tickles are passed out freely. When I get too rough with them Grammy reminds me.. ‘They’re little, don’t hurt them.’. When the girls are too tired to play she sings to them. And after several hugs and kisses are given, only to be given again, I attempt to calm the girls and bribe them into their car seats. Standing on the porch watching us is the Mama that God gave me. Grammy has her eye on her girls. Eventually, I’ll hear her tell me to call her when we get home, but she doesn’t go inside until we’re all buckled in and on the road home. It’s in those moments when I can still see the light in her eyes from having a 2 and a 4 year olds arm’s wrapped around her, that I feel so blessed. I know that if I called her she would come running, because she is my Mom. She watches out for her children.

The parallel isn’t exactly the same, but the truth of the message doesn’t change. Jesus says in Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Jesus is standing waiting on His children to answer Him. He isn’t at the car beeping the horn. He isn’t texting when He gets close to your house. He has made Himself available to you, and is standing and waiting at your heart’s door to be allowed in. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Jesus has made Himself available to you. The verse goes on to say.. “If any man hear My voice..” Not only has He made Himself available, but He’s calling and knocking. He’s making Himself known. It’s as if Jesus is saying ‘I’m right here. If you will take the time to hear Me and let Me in, I’m right here. What do you need?’

This is a very simple comparison of God’s love for his people, but in comparing this with a Mother’s protectiveness…it’s beautiful to me. Though we may have left home, or may have allowed other things to occupy our heart, Jesus is still standing, making Himself available and making Himself known. All we have to do is call out to Him, and when we call out our Father will answer..’I’m here. I’ve been watching, and I’ve been waiting just for you.’

 

 

Author: Britney Wilkes

Copyright © 2010-2012 Devotions Of Grace Blog – All Rights Reserved

Published in: on July 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Common King

The king is not to be approached by the commoners. They are set apart. The royalty have a different set of rules than general individuals in society have. In much older times even the queen, the very wife of the king, could only approach him after he gave permission by reaching out his golden sceptre. They eat the finest food and wear the finest clothes. Their servants provide all their necessities throughout the day, and there are even chosen servants to assist in dressing the royalty. There is a royal blood line that is traced and marked through generations, separated and set apart. The birth of royalty is marked with grand and lavish celebrations. Costly gifts are offered in their honor, respect is demanded, and loyalty is more than expected. The common individuals cannot approach the king in his world because he doesn’t fit in to his world …and then came Jesus.

The King of all kings was birthed to a young girl named Mary. She was unknown in society, but more importantly she was betrothed to a common carpenter named Joseph. She had never known a man. Her pregnancy was frowned upon and not accepted. When the time for Jesus to be born came Mary and Joseph were traveling back home and all the inns were full. Thus, Jesus was born in a manger in the small town of Bethlehem. There was no grand celebration, no one announced his birth. Even the name of Jesus was common in the time in which He was born. And yet, Jesus Christ is indeed the King among all kings.

The word reads that one day at the name of Jesus that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. His name brings healing. His words evoke praise. Even the shadow of Jesus as He passed by brought healing to individuals. The educated scribes could not compare to His wisdom. The theorists were baffled by His teachings. Jesus Christ the King ate common meals with sinners. He appeared not to care as much about the appearance, but focus more on the heart of the individuals He came into contact with. The world wasn’t prepared for a King who wore sandals and traveled by foot. The world didn’t expect a King that kept company with a murderer, tax collector, and common fisherman. The world didn’t know what to do with a King that physically touched people…broken, wounded people even. Jesus reached out and physically placed His hands on the lepers, the literal outcast of society. But that was Jesus, that was the King. A Man who took time for the simple and the common person. A Man who stopped and made time for the broken and the blind, the needy and the hurting. A Man who knew the secret truth of the heart and still loved the person.

I sang a song years ago in an Easter cantata called ‘One Life at a Time’. The first lines are so true.. ‘He was a Man who laughed with children….who was not afraid to cry. A Man who stopped to listen while the world hurried by.’ And it’s true. He was a Man who took time for even the children. Once the disciples attempted to keep some kids from bothering Jesus, and His response was beautiful.. ‘Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ Mathew 19:14

My daughters and I were going to town yesterday. We were listening to Jason Crabb with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sing ‘I’m Amazed that You Love Me’. It’s an absolutely beautiful song. After it was over I looked at my 4-year-old and she was crying. When I asked her what was wrong she said that Jesus made her happy. She pointed to her chest and asked if heaven was in her heart, because she felt so happy. I cried, and today I cried again, because during church my 4-year-old asked Jesus into her heart. How amazing is it that we serve a God who makes Himself real to the children? Even as adults we sometimes are quick to push the kids to the side, to not be bothered with them in the moment, but not Jesus. Not the King we serve. It’s their simple faith. It’s their trusting. It’s their desire to have the security of a Savior. The kingdom of heaven is made up of those such as this. The ones that love Him, desire Him, and accept Him. I am in so much awe of His love for His people. What an amazing gift we have received…a King that desires a sincere relationship with His people.

 

Author: Britney Wilkes

Copyright © 2010-2012 Devotions Of Grace Blog – All Rights Reserved

Published in: on July 24, 2012 at 9:07 am  Leave a Comment  

It’s Beautiful

“I just love him.” I smiled when she told me, but a certain place within my heart ached. I was talking with a lady at work and asked her how long she and her husband had been married. 43 years…and her face still lit up when she told me. I asked her what the secret was and her smile grew even wider, “I just love him.” I listened as the ladies I sat with spoke about their husbands. One said that her husband claims he knew he would marry her when he was only 13 years old. They all agreed that they each were married to their best friend and felt they had found their ‘soul mate’.

I wasn’t sure what had prompted me at the time to speak up, but I did.. “I don’t think I’ll do the married thing again.” I said. Curious eyes looked at me. I explained that I didn’t feel so broken anymore but didn’t know if I had it in me to do it again. And though my best friend’s argue and disagree with me about this, I truly feel that I’m ok alone. When it all comes down to it, I’m not certain that I have the ability to love without limits again. I’m not certain I can commit my heart to a man because of the hard reality that the same commitment may not be given in return. Some call it fear. Some may label it as insecurity, but despite the choice of wording.. it’s still a gamble. The question is can I love a man with the possibility that he could leave? The ladies listened and they said they understood my way of thinking. They told me these feelings were normal, and like my best friend has told me before, they say that I will feel this way until I didn’t anymore…and there is no time limit on when the change will occur.

I thought about it some and allowed my mind to remember some old pains. I began to justify my feelings because of another’s actions that occurred a little while back. My best friend’s voice filled my mind.. ‘You’ve got to change your way of thinking about this.’ So I began to pray, and after some time I began to feel the Spirit begin to minister to me. For all my questions about love… for all my fears and insecurities…I was reminded that I wasn’t the only one who has ever questioned the loyalty of the ones they’ve loved. Millions of others have suffered through greater pains than I will ever know, and though the pain was great, love eventually was greater still.

Jesus Christ left the majesty of heaven. He was born into a society that wasn’t really among the upper crust at all. His birth wasn’t acceptable in society considering Mary and Joseph hadn’t even married before she found herself pregnant. He worked as a carpenter, there were no servants to announce His arrival as royalty had. He held no worldly possessions. Jesus knew no sin…He simply loved us. He loved us so much that He willingly laid down His life. When He prayed in the garden, His closest friends couldn’t even stay awake to help Him pray. When Peter was questioned about his following Jesus he denied even knowing Him. When the crowd could have chosen to free Him, they chose a murderer over Him. Jesus knew pain. He knew what it was like to be absolutely forsaken by the ones He adored, but He just loved us. That’s the reason He endured all He did. He just loved us.

‘Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.’ Romans 5:7-8

There are many beautiful passages in the Word of God, and these verses are certainly no exception. Jesus Christ died for my sins. He took my faults, my failures, the wrong intentions of my heart, the poor and careless decisions, and bore them on a hill called Calvary. He spilled His life’s blood so that I could be redeemed. His is such a beautiful sacrifice, and one that is taken for granted daily by the people He chose to die for.

How many times have we continued in sin, chose the hurtful words in moments of anger, went to places and done things we shouldn’t because it allows temporary satisfaction? How many times have we carried un-forgiveness in our heart toward someone, and justified it because of the pain we feel? In doing so we take away from the sacrifice Jesus gave.

Even still He did it, because of His love. Jesus knew that we could choose to love Him and serve Him faithfully, or we could halfheartedly call ourselves Christians and occasionally acknowledge Him. Jesus knew we could walk away to our own desire, and He even knew we could never choose Him at all. But He just loves us. And this is who I’ve committed my life to. This is unconditional love. And in looking at His sacrifice from this perspective my hurt lessens, my pain seems so small in comparison. It’s beautiful.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

 

 

Author: Britney Wilkes

Copyright © 2010-2012 Devotions Of Grace Blog – All Rights Reserved

Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 9:53 pm  Comments (1)  

Do You Think You’re Useless?

Am I the only one that struggles with self-worth, or do you have issues with this sometimes too? “I’m not _________ enough, I don’t measure up, I’m not as good as so and so, I’ve done ____________ and there’s no way God could ever use me again.” You can fill in the blanks, right? Or is it just me? If we’re all being honest here, we all struggle with these questions from time to time. Even Sister Super-Christian and Brother Never-Does-Wrong. Everyone. No one is immune.

 

I think this is one the devil’s most meaningful tasks for the believer, and he does it well. If he can make us doubt then he may be able to make us quit, or at the least, hold back a good bit. I admit–I’ve found myself for the last little bit struggling with my worth, with my calling, and wondering if I’m making any kind of positive impact for Christ on the world around me. I’m trying, but in and of myself I seem to come up short. And I’m one of the so-called “good girls” who has never really done much wrong. No alcohol has ever crossed these lips. No cigarette has injured my lungs. I’ve never even spoken a curse word. I’ve been a faithful wife to one husband and I’ve served the Lord since I was a child (thank you, Mama!). I never went wild or did any of the crazy things of the world. I’m still relatively naive (as I find out quite regularly–which makes me all the more thankful for my upbringing–THANK YOU MAMA!!). So, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Then what’s her problem? How can she feel worthless or useless?” And yet there is the struggle…

 

Please don’t misunderstand my words. The only bragging being done in my previous remarks is on my Jesus and my Mama because I have been kept. ALL praise goes to God for giving me a Mama that prayed and taught and loved me so much that I was somehow able to be relatively unaffected by the craziness of the world. But the fact that I still struggle leads me to wonder about the struggle for those of you who weren’t as blessed as I was–those who weren’t protected from the harm, from the sin, or the pain, or from the wild and crazy. If I struggle, then surely some of you do as well. So tonight as I was reading, this came to life for me. (I love it when He does that!) I hope it will help someone.

 

Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; Ezra 1:7

 

It was time for the house of the Lord to be rebuilt, and King Cyrus called the people to work. God put a hunger in their hearts to see their God’s house put back into shape. People donated time, talents, and finances to make this possible. Some things could be reproduced, but some things had to be reclaimed. The vessels of the house of the Lord were original pieces with a purpose. They were made to serve the Lord. The devil (represented in this passage by old king Neb) had stolen those things from God’s house, and they had been used for evil purposes. Imagine someone taking an offering plate from your church and using it as a tip jar in the local bar. Disgusting, right? But, in essence, that is what they did! They took the goblets that were used to quench the thirst of God’s chosen priests and made toasts to their false gods. It’s ridiculous and disgusting to think about. But leave it to God to turn things around. He is so faithful!! When King Cyrus gained control, he took control and got busy about the Lord’s work. And he put things back in place, as they should have been all along. Like nothing had ever happened. How beautiful is this?!

 

I may have looked at those vessels and said, “Ick! These things were used for such a bad purpose that I think we should just get new ones. Wouldn’t want to cross-contaminate God’s stuff with that mess.” But, like the anointing and the call God has on your life, these vessels were too precious to be reproduced. They were reclaimed, cleaned up, and put back into use in their rightful place–doing the work of the Lord. Where these vessels had been, and what they had been used for didn’t matter anymore, only where they were now.

 

Maybe someone reading this has, at one time, served the Lord whole-heartedly, but now struggles with having a relationship with Him. Maybe you have gone so far away that your life can only be seen as someone who “used to be a vessel in the house of the Lord.” Oh, but my sweet friends, let me tell you that it does not matter where you are now, or where you have been. Our Father is seeking you out, and He will turn things around for you. Let His cross contaminate the sin, doubt, self-loathing, and fear in your heart! Maybe you think that you have been too disgusting, too sinful, or used in all the wrong ways for all the wrong things. But I want you to know that to Him your past, once it’s under His precious blood, is simply that–your past. There is no need for you to be reproduced replaced, because you are being reclaimed and called to serve the Lord. You are being RECLAIMED tonight! If you turn to Him, He can make you like new. He can restore you as if nothing had ever happened. You are His precious, precious child. His love for you is so much deeper than your mistakes and your doubts. Where you have been does not matter. But where you are going matters more than anything else. It is of utmost importance that you allow Him to reclaim you. He loves you with an everlasting love. He wants you to know that you are not useless. You are not worthless. You are priceless!

 

 

Author: Trish Brannon

Copyright © 2010-2012 Devotions Of Grace Blog – All Rights Reserved

Published in: on July 18, 2012 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment