Does God Love the Righteous or the Riotous?

The Riotous on the move

Enough. My soul could handle no more. I turned my phone off.

Images of angry rioters chanting in streets, storming the Capitol, vowing for “justice” filled my news feed. This is nothing new to human history, but it does feel the last year has revealed the riotous heart of humans more than we’ve ever seen. I thanked the Lord He’d already led me to break from social media. I knew my soul would wilt under the weight of opinions and information overload.

God’s Heart for the Riotous

The Lord gave me two words: riotous and righteous, which I wrote in my journal. These are the whispers of God. He will give me words and phrases, but He will speak to me directly through His Word.

Following my Bible in a year reading guide, I opened to Matthew 9. My desire is to read familiar stories this year with fresh eyes.

God’s heart jumped off the page. “….For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13

What I heard was, “….For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but the riotous.”

When the Righteous Repent

How like the Pharisees my heart can lead. My righteous indignation flares at the violence and anger swirling our nation into turmoil. I can cry out to the Lord to end the anger, deal justice where justice is due. Seeing my goodness in the face of flagrant sin is easy. Oh how Pharisaical we become.

May we “righteous” repent.

May we thank God Jesus has imparted His righteousness to us, without which we remain riotous in heart if not externally.

One of my boys borrowed a bar of soap from my shower. I keep it in a plastic container so it maintains its hard shape. The borrower of my soap failed to put the soap in the protective case, exposing it to a steady stream of rinsing water. Later when I tried to take the soap from the case, it molded into my hands like soft putty ready to take new shape and form.

Repentance softens our heart. A repentant heart gives itself over to the loving, shaping hands of the Father, effectively saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t need to place myself in my own protective case. I trust You, Lord.”

Riotous vs Righteous

What I see in culture is the “righteous” taking a stand against the “riotous.” The stand needed today is from our knees. Jesus came for the sinner, the rioter, the idolator, the drunkard, the adulterer. His heart is for the ones who don’t know Him.

Yet, I forget this everyday my righteous anger breaks out in my heart. As I read in Matthew 9 when Jesus called Matthew to be His disciple, my heart began to soften. The heart of Jesus breaks me.

“When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:11-13

Go and learn

Jesus gives us an instruction for today as much as He did to the Pharisees. Go and learn.

Am I willing to learn what His heart desires over what my human heart decides is right?

He desires mercy.

The definition of mercy is this:

  • the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty
  • compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence
  • something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing:

This is what He desires for us over our sacrifice. That our hearts be merciful, full of compassion toward the one who doesn’t yet know the heart of the Father.

What is Right? Where do we go from here?

Justice is vital in a safe society. I’m not saying rioters must be excused from their behaviors. But these are the ones Jesus came and died for. He came that all would know Him.

So what if the righteous effectively prayed for the riotous? Would this not form a more powerful weapon in our hands than the anger and judgement desiring to control our hearts?

What if we assumed a new position? On our knees.

We’ve lived many years in America where hearts lived under the cover of being fine. Circumstances are pressing on us revealing the truth of what hides in the heart, exposing the ones who thought they knew God but don’t yet, exposing the depth of our fears.

Does God love the righteous or the riotous? Both. May we remember.

Is God Who He Says He is?

He is good, King, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere always. He is still on His throne.

Join me in thanking Him for His merciful heart, without which we’d all live hopeless. That merciful heart given to us is given for all, the righteous and riotous alike. May we repent of our arrogance and pride and humbly plead on behalf of those resisting the loving hands of the Father. There is not a hard heart, He can’t soften with His rinsing love.

Thank you, Jesus.

Goals + Reading Goals + 100 Books That Changed Me

Have you ever worked towards a goal only to reach it and find yourself shocked you actually did it?

That is me right now.

Audacious Goals

I set a goal at the end of 2019 to read one hundred books in 2020. The most I’ve ever read in a year is thirty books. Why did I more than triple my highest accomplishment? I have no idea. In fact, I can’t even tell you why I set this goal. No prize was awarded. No recognition given. It just felt like a random thought turned into a slight prompting.

I’m filled with mixed emotions. I’m proud of myself. I don’t always follow through well. I tend to go hard in the beginning, new phase and lose steam quickly only to find I forgot about it completely. I’m also sad when I see something that was truly a work of love come to an end. I’ve changed this year because of much I read. God directed my reading, and I’m filled with awe that He led me to do something like reading, which brought so much joy, yet so much growth simultaneously.

Will I set this goal next year? No way. I need to slow my reading pace. I read so many incredible books I wish I’d had the luxury of marinating in longer. I’d complete one and jump immediately to the next where normally I’d contemplate for a time before moving on.

Am I glad I went for it? For sure, yes! I think working towards something brings such a sense of personal reward and accomplishment. Life is hard and working on hard things by choice helps us when the moments we find ourselves in aren’t by choice. We can do hard things. I also feel personal growth is important. It doesn’t happen by accident. We must decide to intentionally grow if we want to grow.

The former accountant in me created a spreadsheet of my books. I really wanted to see how many books made up each genre. Did I branch out at all or stick to what I love most?

One of the most common questions I received regarding my year of reading is how in the world I have time to read so much.

How to create more time to read:

  1. Cut out television. I’m not a big tv watcher anyway, so this was not hard for me.
  2. Cut out podcasts. I do love podcasts, but took a break for this year and replaced with audiobooks.
  3. Listen to audiobooks. You’d be surprised how many books you can listen to as you drive, cook, or do household chores.
  4. Limit social media scrolling.
  5. Don’t have phone anywhere near you while reading.
  6. Become a book quitter. For me nothing is worse than dreading the thought of picking up a book that I find boring or uninteresting. My limit is 100 pages to grab my attention.

Benefits of Reading More

  • Increased attention span. I noticed myself learning to give my attention for longer stretches of time this year. We live in such a fast, give it to me right now world and our attention spans suffer for it.
  • Greater focus. I learned this year just how distracted I am. Focusing on simply a book rather than all the notifications calling my attention was a gift.
  • Personal growth. The books I read this year grew me. I was changed by reading new ideas and old ideas alike this year. I read books that gave me perspective and insight.
  • Empathy/compassion. Reading takes you on a journey. You walk alongside characters you begin to feel are a part of your life. All the emotions are moments of this journey and when it ends you look back and see you are a more compassionate person simply from taking part in the story of another.
  • Escape. If ever there was a year to escape, 2020 holds the title. Reading provides a healthy escape. It was a gift for me to focus on stories rather than the craziness of this year.
  • Bonding. When you read aloud with your children, bonding is a byproduct. Bonding with my kids over stories is one of my favorites.
  • No screen needed. It feels everything is on a screen these days. To me it is a relief to sit with a physical book or slip my headphones on for a listen and leave the screen world behind.

Here’s the Breakdown

  • 57 out of 100 books were audio. This was not a surprise. I have more time to listen than to sit with a book. However, listening does not come easy and is a skill I’ve been working on for quite some time now.
  • Genres:
    • Fiction -8
    • Historical Fiction – 8
    • Classics – 7
    • Children’s Lit/YA – 20
    • Christian Living – 30
    • Non-Fiction – 12
    • Parenting – 1
    • True Story/ Memoir – 14
  • Books quit: 3

How about you? Did you work on something in 2020 you are proud of? Honestly, surviving 2020 is an accomplishment. What a year it’s been.

I’ve been less active here than I prefer. Now I’m asking the Lord what exactly does He want of me in 2021. Do I keep writing? Do I change directions? This is a typical December pondering for me.

While I ponder what the future holds for me, I’m compiling my list of books I read in 2020. So stay tuned for the list of what I read and what I loved.

Blessings to each of you!!

 

A Wonder-filled Life in Christ

I had the honor of speaking at the Blessed Christian Women’s Event recently. Five speakers were given a theme verse. Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well.”

As I prayed about what God would have me share, He drew my attention to four key words at the beginning of that verse. I.Praise.You.Because.

God has been stirring the word ‘wonder’ in my soul. I wondered why. He showed me. And layer upon layer He revealed to me to a secret weapon to confuse the enemy. A secret to seeing God at work in a million ways in my life. And it fills me with wonder, which I share in my talk, actually does something to our bodies that brings healing. How like God.

When God invites me to share a message from His Word, He leads me to walk through it in my life many times before and after. I often feel these invitations to speak are God’s sweet intimate invitations to me to dig deep with Him. I walk away from these events in awe of who He is.

I’m linking my talk from the conference here.

Renee Robinson – Blessed Women’s Event

 

I begin at about the 1:19 mark and speak until about 2:02 mark.

I pray you have a blessed weekend. May God fill your soul with wonder.

 


As we approach the holiday season, I pray you take time to sit with Jesus. Before the hustle and bustle, above the shouts of the world, I pray you would carve out secret space where He can speak to you.

I invite you to download Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. It’s a 14 day audio devotion centered around seeing God for who He is. I hope it’s 10 minutes a day for 14 days of experiencing awe and wonder for the God who created you and loves you like crazy.

Now available for $5.00!! You receive 14 days of audio, which includes the pdf version as well.

Download Illuminate Now!

Replacing fear with fear

The first sentence I wrote in my prayer journal this morning: “Lord, thank you that you are a God who speaks!”

Do you listen for God’s voice? Do you look for what He is teaching you? God is unchanging, but what He teaches us changes as we find ourselves in new circumstances, struggles, or seasons.

God speaks in many ways. A primary way He speaks is straight through His Word.

A friend sent me a sermon last night. I love David Platt. This is worth your 20 minutes if you are struggling to remember you need not fear. God is in control of EVERYTHING. Even though I’m about to share some highlights from this teaching, it’s still worth you watching in full.

David Platt showed me a new perspective of the story of Jesus calming the wind and waves. Jesus led His disciples INTO the storm. I’ve never considered this. He went on to point out that sometimes it’s our disobedience that leads us into storms, but sometimes it’s our obedience. Whoa!!!

There are simply some lessons we can only learn through the storm. No other way can we learn who God really is unless we see Him calming our winds and waves.

Now here is where God really began speaking to me. In this sermon, Platt makes note of Jesus asking why they were afraid. He was addressing the fear they carried that exposed their lack of faith. After Jesus rebuked the wind and waves, revealing His authority over nature, we see the disciples described as terrified. The translation of this form of the word is from a fear showing deep reverence and awe of God.

Holy fear. Reverent fear. Awe.

This morning my friend and mentor faithfully emailed out her daily verse.

Isaiah 8:12-13

“Don’t call everything a conspiracy like they do and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heavenly Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the One who should make you tremble.”

God continues to speak to me the message DO NOT FEAR. Now He is adding onto the message as He sees I’m beginning to allow His Words to change me. Now the message is to fear Him. He is worthy of my holy, reverent fear. He is God.

When I see God for who He truly is, I have no reason to fear. Nothing in life or death has power over me. He is God. I’m secure in Him.

My prayer for you today is to rebuke fear in the name of Jesus. Fear has no business in your life. Replace fear birthed in hell with a holy fear of God which causes everything in us to stand down.

What Controls Your Heart? A Conversation With God.

God’s Word truly is living and active. We serve a LIVING God! Join me inside the pages of my journal and quiet time with God…..
I opened to Colossians 3 and read verses 12-17.
Then I wrote in my journal:
“Lord, you are showing me ‘thanks’ ‘be thankful’.”
Col 3:15 And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were so called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.
“Lord, what controls my heart? Fear? Anxiety? Worry? You tell me to let Your peace control my heart.”
“How?” I ask God
“Be thankful,” He responds.
“Lord, is that the key? The key to your peace? You are so good, Lord.”
Vs 16-17 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Lord, 3 times you show some form of thankfulness:
Be thankful
With Gratitude
Giving thanks
1 is a state of being, 1 is a heart position, 1 is action.
Lord, thank you that you are a God who speaks to your people. I pray for a thankful heart ruled by your peace. Amen
At the end of my quiet time, I realized I had just had a “conversation” with God. Immediately I remembered reading something about how we pray and listen to God through His Word and Spirit. I concentrated hard willing my memory to bring to me the source.
It was in Josh McDowell’s book The Last Christian Generation.
“If they are to develop spiritually, relationally, and emotionally, they must become people of prayer. God speaks to us through his Word and his Holy Spirit. We speak to him in prayer.”
Yes, I just experienced this firsthand. And I found myself thankful.
May you allow His peace to control your heart today. Be thankful.

 

Stay strong til the end

January 2016 God woke me with the names Hilkiah and Josiah. I didn’t know who they were so I went to the Bible. God had been speaking to me in dreams for about 4 months when He showed me these names. I spent a good deal of time reading about these 2 and trying to discern what God was showing me.
Recently God brought them to mind again and I felt He wanted me to revisit these portions of Scripture.
I opened my prayer journal from 2016 where I referenced 2 Chronicles 34:22-28 and 2 Kings 22 and 23. I wrote, “Lord, protect us like Hilkiah and bring us a Josiah.”
What I meant by this prayer I think you will see shortly.
This was pre-election 2016.
The story of Josiah is pretty cool. Hilkiah was the priest who discovered the book of the law that had been lost/hidden from sight prior to Josiah, the king, calling for the repair of the temple. It was brought to Josiah. When Josiah heard the reading of the book, he understood God’s judgements to come because his ancestors had not obeyed God and had provoked God’s wrath by the shedding of much innocent blood.
Hilkiah and a few others sought a prophetess (Huldah), who spoke what the Lord said. Disaster was coming because the people had abandoned God, they worshipped false gods, they did much evil.
But God had this to say, “As for the words that you heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and because you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I Myself have heard you – this is the Lord’s declaration – therefore, I will indeed gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster that I am bringing on this place.” Then they reported to the king. 2 Kings 22:15-20
Josiah brought forth reform. Major reform. Read all about what he did in chapter 23. He followed God’s ways and made changes in the nation that aligned with God’s heart and will. He reversed what had been done. Josiah was a good king after a string of evil kings. In fact 2 kings prior to Josiah, Manasseh was king and was one of the most evil of all the kings. He shed much blood and did extreme evil (sacrificed his own son, consulted mediums, practiced witchcraft, and so much more!)
While Josiah was king, the nation prospered. God protected Hilkiah and Josiah and they didn’t live to see the disaster that devoured their nation. After Josiah, only evil kings took the throne. They had short reigns and the nation was taken and deported to Babylon where they remained in captivity for many years.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Now, today, I see what God wanted me to see. I believe we’ve been blessed with one like Josiah, willing to bring reform and change that aligned with the will of God. But evil hates good because evil hates everything. No good resides in the heart of evil and its one goal is destruction.
During this season of dreams, on this same journal entry I wrote, “the enemy will use fear to separate us and divide us. When we resist fear, it’s like standing up to a bully.”
The urgency I feel is back to where it was in 2015/2016 when God began speaking to me in dreams. My urgency died when the world began to prosper in a sense and all was well. I thought I’d heard God wrong. All the warnings and alarms He sounded to me I now realize were in preparation for today, where we are right now in the timeline.
I know the tendency is toward fear. But we have nothing to fear, even death. We are to resist fear at all costs. You know how we do that? We press in and pray. We don’t stop praying. We meditate on scripture. Let it sink into our souls.
I believe we will see some very scary things soon. But I believe God’s Word. He tells us to persevere all the way to the end. We have crowns awaiting us friends!! When we stand with Him and receive our rewards for our faithfulness here, all of this will seem tiny. Hold tight. Stand strong. Don’t bow to fear. Ever.
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:25-28

 

Who to follow? Don’t conform. Calm down.

When the majority of the world goes a certain direction, believes a particular belief, or shares a common fear, it’s often an indicator not to follow. The masses rarely follow God together.
I saw a comment on a thread asking why God gives prophetic dreams to some people and wondering how we can believe them if He doesn’t show it to all people. Well, first, we don’t know why or how God chooses to allocate gifts. But 2nd, Isaiah chapter 8 gives a glimpse into why God spoke a particular message to Isaiah at the time He did.
“For this is what God said to me with great power, to keep me from going the way of the people:” Isaiah 8:11
God didn’t want Isaiah to conform to the people’s beliefs. And then listen to what God said!
“Do not call everything an alliance these people say is an alliance. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified. You are to regard only the Lord of Hosts as holy. Only He should be feared; only He should be held in awe.” Isaiah 8:12-13
That’s so good!!!!!
“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
This age wants you. Don’t conform. Stay in scripture so your mind is transformed only by God. Then you won’t fear what the world fears. You won’t believe the lies the world tells. You won’t jump on bandwagons that pass through.
Image may contain: text that says 'Calm down and be quiet'
Some of the words God spoke to Isaiah to take to King Ahaz in Isaiah 7:4-9.
Calm down
Be quiet
Don’t be afraid
It will not happen
It will not occur
If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.
Wow. Good words!!
How often do I let my mind run wild with scenarios and fears? God may be telling me to calm down and be quiet. It’s not gonna happen and if I don’t stand in my faith, I’ll fall!
Goodness I love His Word!