Tag Archives: Freedom

30 Days of Gratitude-Day 21- Changed Heart

Heather Murdock

I’m grateful for God’s power to change my heart.

Several months ago I let frustration and resentment build up in a relationship with someone I care about. And I felt justified. As time went on, I became more resentful, and my heart began to harden against this person. I started to fixate on all the things I didn’t like, all the ways they had hurt me, which prevented me from seeing anything good. One night in an angry vent session to my husband, I stopped short and said “I need to pray right now.” As we prayed, the Holy Spirit reminded me how much God loves this person. I felt a strong conviction and I knew what the Lord wanted from me. My voice cracked as I choked out, “Lord, please help me love them too.”

This was the beginning of a change of heart. Over the next few days, every time I thought of this person, I prayed. I prayed and cried as God softened my heart, making room for love and compassion. I could finally see this person as broken, someone needing my forgiveness. In my brokenness, Jesus has always met me with forgiveness, compassion and mercy. Not only does He call me to respond in the same way, He gives me the power to do it.

In the Bible,  to repent means to change one’s mind. The Bible tells us true repentance will result in a change of action. Imagine yourself walking down a hallway. Now abruptly turn and walk the other way. A 180 degree change in direction. That is true repentance. With repentance comes God’s power. When my thoughts are in alignment with His, then my actions are, too.

I knew in this situation God was calling me to take action. He wanted me to speak the truth to this person, to confront them with a desire for restoration. To speak the truth in love.

But I was nervous.

It takes courage to take a stand, but it takes real courage to put a friendship on the line to speak the truth. And it takes humility to speak that truth in love.

God had been preparing my heart. Gone was the bitterness and resentment; what remained was love and concern for a dear friend.

I’m thrilled to share with you that with prayer and obedience, our conversation was absolutely blessed. In fact, before I could even begin to share my heart, they revealed they had been having revelation about some of their behavior that was hurtful and wrong. They welcomed my feedback and agreed with my concerns. They invited me to continue to speak into their life, to help them with these issues. 

I sat there amazed. Amazed at the power of God. Amazed at the living God who is real and active and who cares so deeply for His people.

As believers, we ache for an experience of God. Some believe experiencing God will result in some sort of supernatural ecstasy that overwhelms and shakes our core. We cry out like Moses did for God to show us His glory. But I believe I experienced God and His glory in this intimate moment of truth with my friend. Exodus 34 tells us that God’s glory is the manifestation and revelation of His love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and justice.

When we repent of our bitterness in relationships, and allow God’s love to flow through us, we experience God’s glory. We experience God.

Who are you holding bitterness and resentment against today?

How is that impacting your life?

He wants to set you free. Those who know and live the truth are free. Free indeed.

I encourage you to pray right now. Pray for your heart to soften and for bitterness to be replaced with forgiveness and openness to possibility.

All things are possible with God.

What are you grateful for today?

 

30 Days of Gratitude-Day 19-The Joy of Giving Up My Agenda

writing-in-an-agenda_21174474I’m still working on writing about my 30 Days of Gratitude. I challenged myself to write everyday for 30 days about what I’m grateful for. That started in November! In the midst of family holiday craziness, job promotion, ministry building and just life in general, I quickly discovered that was an impractical challenge. However, I’m committed to completing the challenge, even if it’s revised a bit. I will write about my 30 Days of Gratitude even if it takes the rest of my life lol!

Isn’t that the essence of perseverance? Choosing to never, ever give up.

Today I’m grateful for course correction.

I was thinking the other day about the times that I have given God my agenda. I don’t mean that I surrendered it to Him. I mean I literally gave Him my agenda.

It might look something like this:

Meeting: Meet with Jesus

Time: 5am

Attendees: Heather and Jesus

Who Called Meeting: Heather

Purpose of Meeting: Hear from Jesus so I can become more like Him and help others do the same

  • Pray- 2 minutes
  • Read Bible-15 minutes
  • Pray- 10 minutes
  • Listen-5 minutes
  • Journal-10 minutes

Adjourn

Action Items: Share what I learned on my Social Media, Implement at home, work and throughout my day, Disciple people, Repeat

Follow Up: Heather

Isn’t that hilarious? Here I am meeting with the CEO of the entire universe and I’m dictating the agenda! And it’s more than that. I’m meeting with Him to get something out of Him. I’m meeting with Him to go accomplish something. I’m meeting with Him to move my agenda. 

Yes, Jesus wants to transform me into His image and use me to help others do the same. Yes, He wants to meet with me consistently. Yes, He wants me to implement what He’s teaching me.

That comes out of the overflow of being with Him.

What He really wants is me. He wants my heart. He wants to be together. He wants to be the Lord of my life. God is a relational God and He made us in His image to be relational people with Him and each other. God lives in community within the Trinity and made us to live in the same way. Genesis 2 says the Lord God said it is not good for man to be alone, so he created a helper. He created community because He is about relationships. 

The truth is, everything we seek in our agenda with Jesus comes THROUGH an intimate relationship with Him. The DOING that we’re so prone to jump to, comes from BEING with Jesus. 

That’s hard of us, isn’t it? Just being. Why is it so hard? I think it’s because just being with someone without doing requires us to be vulnerable and bare. It requires us to be transparent and without pretense. It’s much easier to hide behind the doing.

I have experienced the joy of giving up my agenda. And what joy it is! Joy and peace and love and freedom and contentment and wholeness. That’s what being with Jesus is like. I must admit, though, I still sometimes look to find my identity in what I do, but He is faithful to correct my course. He is faithful to remind me that He IS the truth, the way and the life. All truth about who I am comes from Him. He reminds me who I am. I am His. And that is enough.

Lord, you are enough. Help us to learn to just be with you. Help us to let go of our agendas and just be. Help us to believe that our identity is only found in and through You. Help us to open the deepest part of our wounded souls to your Presence. Help us to trust you. Help us to breathe in your grace so that our lives overflow with the power of being with You. In Jesus name amen.

What are you grateful for today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days of Gratitude-Day 15-Hope

gratitude-journalI’m grateful for hope. 

This is the beginning of the Advent season and since I didn’t finish writing 30 things I’m grateful for in the month of November, I’m going to continue my journey of intentional gratitude into the Advent season. 

The meaning of the word “advent” is the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.  In Christian terms, it means the coming or second coming of Christ. We begin to celebrate the Advent season the fourth Sunday before Christmas. During this time four candles are centered in a wreath, and one is lit each Sunday.

The first candle is Hope.

Advent is waiting in expectancy for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We have hope because he has already come through his birth, and we wait for his return with expectant hearts.

This morning in my reading of Isaiah 11:1-10, verses 1 and 2 caught my breath.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

Jesse was the father of Kind David, who Jesus descended from. Isaiah has been prophesying that Israel would be judged, but that a remnant would survive it. By using the imagery of a chopped tree to describe Jesse, the author relates the judgment coming upon Israel to that coming upon Assyria.

The shoot that came out of the stump of Jesse is the promised Messiah, Jesus. 

That’s the context, but theres’ something in it for you and me.

Notice how these verses are FULL OF PROMISES! See where I highlighted the word WILL and the words that follow.

Notice the gifts that will be given by the Spirit of God upon the delivery of the promises; wisdom, understanding, counsel and might. 

Notice the final promise and exhortation in the final line; “He WILL delight in the fear of the Lord.” He will delight in obeying the Lord.

Have you ever felt like your life was cut off at the stump?

I have too.

But there is a greater reality, and that is our hope in Jesus. That no matter where we’ve been there’s hope in Jesus. It may be the smallest shoot in a smoldering stump, but it is mighty and green and bent on bearing fruit. Nothing will prevent hope from bearing fruit in your life. Nothing will prevent Jesus from overcoming the world in your life. When we hold to Jesus, we realize that we are grafted permanently into hope. 

Jesus IS hope.

And when we hold to hope, we experience gifts given by the Spirit of Truth; wisdom, understanding, counsel and might. And when we delight in obeying the Lord, we are empowered in our faith and we experience His gifts more powerfully, and our hope is magnified. 

This prophecy is about Jesus, but Jesus lives in us, so in my mind, this is about us too. Jesus in me and you. His hope, his gifts, his obedience to His Father. All of it in us, too.

I pray that you will use this Advent season to seek a close encounter with Jesus. That you will set aside time to be with Him, time to listen to Him and time to respond to Him.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13

May this Advent be unforgettable.

What are you grateful for today?

 

 

 

30 Days of Gratitude-Day Ten

emerson1This is Day Ten of my 30 Days of Gratitude challenge. I have committed to writing about 30 things I’m grateful for in an attempt to improve my attitude of gratitude. Overall, I’m a pretty optimistic and grateful person, but God’s word tells us to rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. That’s convicting. I don’t give thanks in all circumstances. Do you? I think if I did I would be filled with more joy and peace. If it’s His will for us, then it makes sense that we would also experience more power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you, but I’m down for more joy, peace and power.

Today I’m grateful for God’s conviction. 

Sometimes I do wrestle with resentment. I hate it when I feel resentful. It affects my relationship with God and others. It makes me want to withhold my love and find fault. In my seeking the root to my resentment, God has been faithful to show me some things.

There’s an old saying, “Holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” That’s how it feels to wallow in resentment; like you’re slowly being poisoned to death.

I have learned there are usually three main reasons I feel resentful.

  • Selfishness-I have to admit, once in a while I can be a little selfish. Usually those times correlate with hormonal changes. Just like Frank Sinatra said, I want it my way. I want things done when I want them done. When I’m in that selfish mindset, then I become resentful when people don’t comply with my expectations. 
  • Blame-Rick Warren says to blame is to be-lame. Get it? Blaming only hurts ourselves. Most of the time the other person is going on with their life without a clue. Meanwhile, we are still trapped in the past. Or we make sure they know they are to blame, and imprison the both of us in emotional solitary confinement. Blaming is often a way to protect ourselves from having to take personal responsibility. But until we do so, we will never be free. The other person will always have control over us. The past will always steal the present. Let it go…
  • Unmet Needs-We all have needs; emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. When one or all of those needs aren’t met, we can become resentful and discouraged. I think this is especially an issue when we don’t communicate our needs in the first place. This can happen with close relationships as we almost believe that our loved ones should know what we want and need. We expect them to be mind readers. The key to a resentment from an unmet need is to communicate, communicate, communicate. 

This is a short list, as there are other reasons for resentment, but I think these three are key roots to the problem. Whatever is on your list, I encourage you to seek God’s wisdom and leading to help you understand and overcome the root of resentment. It’s through an intimate relationship with the Lord that we are able to be more than conquerors of the things that hold us back in our lives. Jesus came to give us life and to give it to the full. Let us throw everything that holds us down. Let us put others first in how we love and serve, just like Christ does for us.

Let us rejoice, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. 

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

What are you grateful for?

30 Days of Gratitude-Day Nine

emerson1

I just watched a video on Youtube of a mom freaking out before a Christmas party because company is coming and she is trying to get the house in order. I mean she is freaking out. But the skit is funny so I almost peed my pants. It’s funny because she is so over the top perfectionist. I think we can all relate to company coming and the last minute “throw everything in the closet” approach.

I’m sorry if you don’t relate to that,  but I am crying and laughing at the same time. Seriously. That is so me. That so USED to be me.

It’s hilarious, but it’s also sad.

Now let me tell you what I’m grateful for.

I’m grateful that I’m learning my identity as a wife, mom and woman is not based on what I do or how well I do it. 

That’s quite a statement from someone who once firmly believed that perfection = love and approval. 

Can you relate?

Have you almost ruined holidays for yourself and your family with your obsession to make everything look perfect?

Have you missed moment of real, good life with your family because you were so focused on making things look perfect?

Did you miss the life you were trying to make it look like you had by working so hard to create a life of perfection?

Do you notice the common thread there?

Perfection.

What a lie.

There really is no such thing. And the more we try to attain it, the more we alienate the people we are trying to win over. It’s ironic because we think perfection will cure the loneliness inside, but all the while it creates it. The path to perfection leads to isolation and depression, as the perfectionist’s standards are ever increasing. The perfectionist lives in a perpetual sense of disappointment in themselves and others. No one or no thing can measure up. Discouragement and failure become their constant companion.

Acceptance is beautiful. That’s what I have discovered. When I came to understand that Jesus accepts me just as I am, and not only that, but adores me just as I am, I began to love myself.

His love changed me.

Really hear me. I had been working on loving myself for a long time. I read so many self-help books, I could have written my own. I went to therapists and watched DVDs on the power of self-love, but nothing ever really changed on the inside where it counts. I looked the part of someone who had it all together and knew all the motivational answers, but inside was a very different story. 

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Jesus changed everything. Jesus began changing me from the inside out. The parts of me deep inside that were dark with shame and guilt were the parts that drove me to perfection in the first place. That’s where He started. Instead of cleaning the outside of the cup, He began from within, where it counts. 

I’m still working on not being perfect. I’m a work in progress. The desire to love and be loved is now showing up in real authentic relationships with messy, imperfect people just like me. The emptiness I once felt is now filled to overflowing with the love of Jesus. There’s no room for lonely. 

Today I’m grateful for real life.

I’m grateful for the love of Jesus that saved me.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What are you grateful for today?

 

 

 

30 Days of Gratitude-Day Eight

emerson1Today I’m grateful for Veterans.

I’ve always had a love for war stories. I grew up watching old war shows like Combat! and Black Sheep Squadron with my dad. I fell in love with the sergeants and the captains and the generals who led their men with integrity and bravery. Leaders of honor who inspired their men to follow them into impossible odds and certain death. Movies like Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan evoke in me the desire to test what I’m made of. How far would I go for my brother or sister? Stories of war heroes like Oskar Schindler, General Patton and Dietrich Bonhoeffer have inspired me to believe that anything is possible. When a human being believes in something bigger than himself, he truly can conquer anything. Even death. There is something special in the heart of man that he would lay down his life for something greater than himself. That he would lay down his life for his beliefs. 

God put that in us. The capacity to believe. The capacity to die for a cause. The capacity to run back into the battle to rescue a fallen brother. The capacity to sacrifice. To love and serve without without reservation.

That’s what Jesus did for us. On that old wooden cross, He laid down his life for His people.  He bled and pled our cause so that we could live forever in freedom. 

Whatever your beliefs about war; whether you believe it’s necessary or unnecessary, senseless or meaningful, we must rally around the people who choose to answer the call to military service. The everyday heroes of war that are the walking wounded, the men and women that bear the invisible scars of battle on their hearts and souls. The men and women who, despite their personal political views, choose to stand in the gap for all of us so that we have the freedom to disagree with that choice. To criticize, judge, condemn and devalue that choice.  But when will we use that freedom to put on more love? More compassion, more gentleness, more humility. We have the capacity. We are free to choose love. We are free to believe in Something bigger than ourselves. We are free to stand in stand for each other. 

A little love goes a long way…

Today I’m grateful for heroes.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What are you grateful for today?