Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Season of Grace

I have been reading the book of James in my quiet time over the last 4 weeks and God has revealed so much to me during that time. I've never really done a quiet time like this before. In the past I've pulled a devotional off of the shelf or used my Sunday School lesson, and there is nothing wrong with doing it that way. But I was feeling a real calling from God to consistently have a quiet time and to do it differently than I ever had before.

Boy I'm glad I listened!

There have been many verses that have spoken to me and affected a change in my daily behavior. The first was James 2:13:

"For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment." Let me say that again...."Mercy triumphs over judgment." Not sometimes, not occasionally, not just in those situations where we feel like it's in our best interest to be merciful....always. If we want to be shown mercy, we must be merciful. And shouldn't we want to show mercy because of the grace and mercy that God has freely given us in the person of Jesus Christ?

One of my biggest stumbling blocks is my judgmental nature. I am oh so quick to point out the faults and problems of others, but live in fear of being judged myself. Have I stopped being judgmental? Not completely, but I am seeing a change in my attitude and spirit. Although my initial gut reaction is judgment, my secondary response is close on it's heels. I really try to imagine what that person is going through that would make them act the way they do, and that is usually enough to spur me into a spirit of mercy and compassion.

My prayer every single morning has been that when people see me, that they will not see me, but will see Christ instead. I want to be so open to the Spirit and guided by Him, that I am transparent to the world and show God's glory in my every word and deed. Is this attainable? Nope. I sin and I stumble. If you ask my husband or children they would probably say, "Jesus who?" based on my behavior sometimes. But the more I strive to be like Christ and to be in the Word, the easier it is to see sinful behavior for what it is and to be open to God's conviction.
I have noticed that when I sin, I am instantly ashamed and feel the need to ask for forgiveness right then and there. This is a completely new experience for me, because I can honestly say that I have never been this close to the Lord in my life. I have had seasons where I was more obedient than others, but this is the first time that I have completely submitted myself to Him, which brings me to my next verse, James 4:7-8a:

"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." This has been such a powerful verse in my daily walk. When I am tempted to do something sinful, this verse pops into my head. When I am submissive to God and try exhibit the attitudes and behaviors that He desires for me, the devil naturally flees from righteousness. And I pray the verse. I pray it when I sin and visualize Satan screaming in rage and defeat as God stands like a stone wall before me stopping and defeating the enemy.

There are so many other verses that have been revelations to me, but it would take hours of typing to share it all here. Suffice it to say that I would strongly recommend James as text for meditation and quiet time. I think I might move over to 1 Timothy next. Our pastor used it in his sermon last week, and I was strangely drawn to it. Have you ever turned to a passage in church and gotten so engrossed in reading that you missed part of the sermon? That's what I did this past Sunday (my apologies to Pastor Randy!), but it made me desire to know that particular chunk of scripture better.

God is good. He guides me and takes care of me daily. My life has been so changed since I started spending quality time first thing in the morning with Him. I thought I would never get used to rolling out of bed at 5:00 am every morning, but it has become such a habit that I'm not even bothered by it anymore. There have been a few mornings that I have been lazy (or sick), but all in all I have been consistent and that brings me a great deal of joy. I practically run to the living room with my hot, steaming mug of coffee to open my bible and see what God has in store for me. I read the same chapter all week, and every day God reveals something different. Some days my cross reference study shows me such amazing truths as I meander through the bible that I want to call someone and tell them! (And believe me, if it weren't 5:15 in the morning, more than one person would have received a call over the last few weeks!)

If this is an encouragement to you, then I give the glory to God. I fervently hope and pray that each of you enter into a season such as of closeness and intimacy with the Lord.

Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16


The Small Scribbler said...

Mercy triumphs over judgment. One of my favorite verses. I have a nature a bit like you describe here and I speak from experience, God is able to change us into His likeness even in this.


Alana said...

Feel free to email at 5:15, but maybe not call ;-)

Heather C said...

You can call me at 5:15, Xandra! :) I may not be up, but I love hearing about how God is speaking to others so much that I'd get up for ya. :) Actually, depending on time zone, I may be up anyway. LOL... I'm in EST and have my quiet time from 6-7am. :)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I loved them. Might have to spend next week in James. :) God bless you, my friend.

Sue @ praise & coffee said...

How beautiful.
Mercy is a message that I believe we continue to need over and over. It is so easy to fall into the trap of judgement. I know I do it all too easy.
But the Lords way is so much better!!
Thanks for sharing your quiet time with us.

Karen said...

It's exciting that your quiet time is working out so well for you. How awesome that God is speaking to you through scripture. I enjoy reading about your thoughts and how you are challenging yourself -- and your success with it! You are an inspiration!