Is Your Confidence Imprisoned by Your Captivity?

Read His Words Jeremiah 29:1-14

The Israelites Were in Captivity

When I see this scripture reference, my mind goes immediately to,

“For I know the plans I have for you,… plans to prosper you and not to harm you…” 

Jeremiah 29:11

Maybe that is your thought, as well. It IS a wonderful scripture!

New Thoughts Captured my Attention


This morning, as I was enjoying quiet time in Jeremiah 29:1-14, some phrases captured my attention in a startling way. I was blown away at the revelation that came to me as I read Jeremiah 29:5-7 (NLT).

“Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens and eat the fruit you produce. Marry, and have children. Then find spouses for them, and have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray to the Lord for that city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you.”

Jeremiah 29:5-7

Suddenly, this thought hit me:

“What is your Babylon?”

And then, these questions:

  • What holds us in captivity?
  • How do we get out of it?
  • What can we do?

Held Captive

Sometimes, we come to a difficult place in life and we feel as if we are held captive in it. A serious illness, the death of a spouse, the end of a job, a career change, relocation, . . . the list is vast. Life happens. Many times what happens is out of our control, but it is NEVER out of God’s hands!

Handling Captivity

When life throws a curveball, it is too easy to become paralyzed, bitter, depressed, even frantic. God, however, says “Live life!” Re-read those verses. The Lord told His people to carry on with life, not to just sit or dwindle away. Keep reading, because the Lord also said,

“Pray to the Lord for that city where you are held captive.”

Hmmmm……. PRAY?

Pray for the company, the school, the country, the family…. whatever your “Babylon” is. When we offer up whatever has us down to the Lord, He can take that situation into His hands and deliver us from it.  
Remember this, though: God moves in His time and way. The solution to your dilemma may take time, but He does have the solution.

That familiar promise will come to fruition:

“For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not harm you…”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV


This is the clincher: 

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,…and will bring you back from captivity.”

Jeremiah 29:12-14 NIV

Take every thought captive. Seek the Lord and His direction. Pray for the place where you are, that place that has you stuck. Know that the Lord has a plan, and he will bring you out better than before!

THAT  is your confidence!

Glenae Atchison

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How Are Christians the Salt of the Earth?

Jesus said [with confidence] {my words}

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

Matthew 5:13-16
Salt of the Earth
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Salt

The shaker on our table is what we bring to mind, but in Jesus’ day, salt was a valuable commodity. It was sometimes even used to pay one’s salary. Jesus called the disciples salt because they were as important to the Gospel as salt was to the society. Have you ever eaten a French fry without salt? Just a little salt makes a world of difference!

Impact

Consider the impact the disciples made on the world once they were anointed with God’s power through His Holy Spirit. Just twelve men initiated worldwide change as a result of God’s power! (Acts 2)

Savor

As powerful as salt is, it can lose its savor if it is mixed with other additives. RealSalt.com says salt will never go bad, but common table salt has agents added which degrade over time causing the salt to lose its savor. Society in Jesus’ day was mixed with many sinful impurities. If Christ-followers were not careful, their lives would be overrun with the effects of sinful choices.

Preservation

This leads to a need for preservation! In ancient times, salt was added to prevent food from spoiling. When the disciples began spreading the Gospel, they were keeping the world from decaying without the Hope offered through Jesus’ offer of forgiveness. Salt can go both ways. If we allow society to rub off on us, we will lose our savor; but if we rub off on society, we hold out the life-giving freedom of Christ! 

How can you and I effectively be Salt of the Earth?

By choosing to engage those around us with the hope of Christ! If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our lives, we HAVE Christ’s power in us to be salt to the world and we will WANT to season the world. 

Examine Your Heart

If you don’t have the deep desire to be a Salt of the Earth disciple, it would be wise to follow the apostle Paul’s teaching and examine your hearts “to see whether we are in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6) 

Have you ever known a person who rubbed you the wrong way? Comparatively, have you known someone who always blesses a room when they enter? This is how we season the world. A preacher once asked, “If you record yourself, what would you see/hear?” This challenged me and still does, to take special care in what I do and I say, making sure I’m surrendering myself to the Spirit’s power alive in me. 

Showing love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness is how believers share their Salt with the Earth. (Ephesians 4:29-32)

Let’s begin our days with King David’s prayer,

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord. My Rock and my Redeemer.” 

*excerpted from my writings at Gracefully Truthful

click the image below to read about “Being a Light to the World”

gracefully truthful
www.gracefullytruthful.com/blog

Sources

Enduring Word Commentary by David Guzik

Celebrate His Promises


My heart remains true and is awed by Your words. 
I celebrate because of Your promise, 
like someone who discovers great treasure. 
I despise and abhor lies, 
but I love Your law. 
Seven times every day I praise You 
because of Your right rulings. 

Psalm 119:161-164 The Voice

Homesick & Heartbroken

It was my freshman year in college. I was 500 miles from home and looking forward to a long weekend home for Easter. I was packed to go and even had riders to share the cost. I woke up Thursday morning for my last day of classes and there was snow on the ground. I received a call from my father in Wisconsin. He strongly suggested that I not come home because the weather between Kentucky and Wisconsin was pretty severe.

I was so heartbroken. I had had a long year fighting homesickness and I really wanted to go home. Dejected, I went to my first class. Being at a Christian college, the professor always opened class with prayer. That is, he always asked a student to pray. That morning, he asked me to pray.

I wondered, “How on earth could I pray?” I was so disappointed that I was not going to be able to go home. We all bowed our heads…


“Lord, thank you

for the beautiful snow…”


I’m not sure what else I said. I was shocked to hear myself say it. Certainly, I was not thankful for the snow. It was the cause of my demise.

Psalm 119 Celebrate his promises
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Thankful in the Midst of Trial

It’s hard to be thankful when you are in the midst of trials. Your mind is so centered on your trouble, you can’t really think of anything else. But maybe praise and thankfulness are what helps ease our mind. Maybe it is what helps us make it through. Could it be the way to keep from spiraling down into despair is to continually have His praises on our heart and our mind?

This celebration of His Blessings may very well have been the beginning of a wonderful Easter weekend. I was invited to go to Georgia instead. I visited with a friend AND my aunt and Uncle.

Celebrate His Promises

 Soon after the start of my chronic pain. I was introduced to the writings of Ann Voskamp. You have probably seen to droves of Thankful posts on Facebook during November. When I realized that this came from Ann, I decided to read her book, A Thousand Gifts.   I was challenged to list three blessings every day for an entire year. That was the beginning of the return of smiles in the midst of the pain.

It truly does make a difference to begin listing the things for which I am grateful.

As the women’s director, I challenged all the ladies at church to take the Joy Dare with me. Several did it along with me. One couple shared with me several times how not only did the Joy Dare make them stop and think of things they were grateful for, but also, gave them laughter. The prompts weren’t always easy to find answers to, but they would laugh trying to think of ideas. What a blessing!

Psalm 119 Celebrate His Promises

You have probably seen these Joy Dare prompts on Facebook. Go download them and begin your own journey to joy today! It will change your life as it did me and my friends. And as it did for Ann.
Notice again the last line of the scripture above. The Psalmist says he gave praise to God SEVEN TIMES A DAY.

Wow! Seven times. I know I’m behind.

Join me and Celebrate his Promises!

Tybee Island, GA

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Finding Christ in the Feast of Firstfruits

Last fall I wrote about the feasts that God ordained in the fall of the year. This month when I was assigned a study on fellowship and guilt offers, I was reminded of the 7 Feasts book by Erin Davis. So I picked it up again and realized that I missed out on writing about Passover, the Feast of Firstfruits, and the Feast of Weeks. So today, I’d like to share how we find Christ in the Feast of Firstfruits.

What is the Purpose of all these Feasts, Anyway?

We seldom find ourselves reading in the Book of Leviticus. The little we know sometimes strikes fear in us. Why did God set all these rules and feasts up in the first place? It really seems a bit overbearing, don’t you think? A few years ago, the First 5 app did a study of it alongside the Book of Hebrews. It became a wonderfully beautiful illustration of what God through Christ did for us.

Spiritual Amnesia

Erin Davis begins her book by teaching us that we, humans, have a terrible habit of forgetting. She called it Spiritual Amnesia. We tend to become so self-sufficient when, in truth, we need God more and more every day. The feasts were a way to remind the people of their sinfulness held against the holiness of God. The feasts reminded them of a God that not only protects but forgives and gives us all a second, third, fourth chance. The law acted as guard rails to protect us as we wander.

firstfruits - spiritual amnesia - Romans 15:4
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Take time to Read Leviticus 23:9-14 – The Feast of First Fruits

Creation Teaches Us the Gospel

First of all, we have all learned about the seasons. They make a circle from death to life and back again. We can see the character of God in every season. We see His redemptive plan every spring as the flowers bloom and animals are born. Spring reminds us that Christ died but rose again for us. His circle of life shows us His faithfulness new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23); His great power and strength (Isaiah 40:26), His righteousness and justice (Job 37:21-23)

“The firstfruits of Spring join together to declare this amazing truth…”

He is not here, for He is risen, as He sad. Come and see the place where He lay.

Matthew 28:6

The Feast of FirstFruits Follows Immediately after Passover and the Sabbath

Interestingly, these feasts are sequential.

On Thursday, they celebrated Passover.

Friday – Jesus was crucified,

Saturday, the Sabbath – Jesus rested in the grave.

On the first day of the week, Sunday – Feast of Firstfruits

– Jesus rose from the dead defeating death and sin!

Jesus was the firstfruits of our salvation! The first to rise from the dead to eternal life.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

1 Corinthians 15:22-23

 Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

Ephesians 2:5-6

We are the Second Firstfruits!

When we accept Christ as Savior, we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). His Holy Spirit works within us to remove our carnal spirit and to become new in Him. The things in our past are now gone!

But we can take this all one step further. One day, we will rise! We will be raptured to be in Heaven ever with the Lord. This is a future hope!

We have this hope, hallelujah!

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.

John 5:28-29

For the Lord, himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

“You have likely been celebrating the Feast of Firstfruits

all your life without realizing it!”

We call it Easter!

Erin Davis, 7 Feasts Finding Christ in the Feasts

On Easter we remember that because Jesus lives forever, we will too!

Jesus is Worthy of our Best!

At the feast of firstfruits, they were required to bring two offerings. First, a peace (or fellowship) offering of grain. This grain must be the very first sheaf of wheat they harvested. They were not to eat any of the new grains until after this offering was made. Like a peace offering we might bring to a spouse after messing up big time, it was an offering for acceptance; an offering to request fellowship again.

The second offering was a burnt offering or sin offering. This would be a male lamb, one-year-old with no blemishes. It was to be completely burned up and a fragrance to the Lord. It would be for the forgiveness of sins.

Did God need this grain? No. It was required to remind them of their sins and of God’s holiness. It was the “cure for their spiritual amnesia.” We still bring firstfruits offerings to God in the form of service, tithes, devotion. We give these things not because God needs them or even requires them but more as the posturing of our hearts. We give offerings because of our love and gratitude to Him.

Jesus gave the best for us. He gave all.

What offerings are you bringing to the Lord?

Are you giving the best of your best or just seconds?

Mandy Signature
Savannah, GA

This Bible study is exciting and moving, even for a seasoned Christian like myself. I get so blessed connecting the traditions set forth by God in the Old Testament to the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like the A-Team said at the end of each episode, “I love it when a plan comes together!”

humble king missing piece

How to Find the Missing Piece in Your Life

excerpted from Humble King – Gracefully Truthful Journey Study

There is a God-shaped hole in our hearts. 

Our family loves Kincaid paintings. Of course, we were never able to purchase a painting, so we did the next best thing; we bought, assembled, and framed puzzles. What an accomplishment to finish the gorgeous pictures by placing the last piece! 

However, my husband enjoyed hiding away a puzzle piece so he could place it into the last open spot. It became a fun routine at our house and the kids went straight to Daddy to find the last piece. 

One Christmas

One Christmas, however, he didn’t take a piece, and yet, one was missing. Initially, the kids didn’t believe him, but eventually, the truth sank in; oh, what a disappointment to have a hole in the middle of the picture, leaving it incomplete! We framed the picture anyway, taking a piece from the unseen edges to try to fill the empty space, but our eyes were immediately drawn to the patched-up place every time we looked at the picture.

The God-Shaped Hole

Just like the unfinished puzzle, there is a hole in our hearts in the shape of God. The piece was removed way back in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned against God, separating us all from His Presence. 

Oh, the ache we feel over lost fellowship with God! We know something is missing, but often, we are not sure what (or really, Who). So we might try to fill the emptiness with other pieces like family, love, success, drugs, alcohol. But nothing really fits. 

missing piece
IMage created in canva with a Gracefully Truthful image

There is nothing like having the right puzzle piece.

The following Christmas, as we brought out the decorations, we found the missing puzzle piece! It had somehow fallen off the table into one of the boxes and was stored away. How appropriate to have found the missing piece at Christmas! Just like our family, if we keep searching for God (our hearts’ missing piece), we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13)

Jeremiah 29:13 missing piece
image provided by FaithLife

All who accept Christ as their personal Savior have the Holy Spirit living within them, guiding and directing their lives. Indeed, God is with us now, but one day Christ will return to earth, righteous and victorious. He will set up His Kingdom, removing all evil. 

-Mandy

Read the complete devotion at

gracefully truthful
https://www.gracefullytruthful.com/enough-day-11-humble-king/

In Christ Confident Hope

How Does Being “In Christ” Bring Confident Hope?

This Confident Hope post is an excerpt from my latest Bible Study Gracefully Truthful submission

Ephesians 1:18-20

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We Are Sealed

When we accept Christ’s wonderful gift of salvation, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is like earnest money. His indwelling in a believer is the proof of God’s guarantee that He will follow through with His promise and bring us home to dwell with Him forever in Heaven.

This is our confident hope!

One glorious day we will be fully alive and free from the temptation to sin as we live eternally in God’s physical presence. We have a guaranteed inheritance through Jesus. Paul wanted the Ephesian believers to know the great magnitude of this rich inheritance in God’s people.

We are HIS Inheritance

We usually think only of our inheritance as salvation, righteousness, or Heaven, but Paul wanted the Ephesians to understand they were so precious to God that He considered them His own inheritance. Knowing our spiritual poverty, we wonder how God can find anything of value in us, let alone His own inheritance.

His Investments in Us

Yet God creates unspeakable riches out of poor men and women because He invests Himself in them. He has invested riches of love, riches of wisdom, riches of suffering, riches of glory, and riches of holy transformation. These things accrue to a rich inheritance in the saints. (Enduring Word) He has invested Himself in us and His return on that investment will be magnificent!

“Because of His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1:3-9)

It’s a Glorious Hope!

What a glorious hope we have! I urge you to read the entire passage in 1 Peter! No matter what we face in life, hope in Jesus is certain and sure, never fading away. This confident hope comes from the sealing of the Holy Spirit. We know, that we know, that we know, that God holds our lives and our souls for eternity, sustaining us through His Word.

We can trust Him with eternity, with our next breath, our next celebration or tragedy; He will never change or abandon us. We can remind ourselves of His faithfulness by

1. reading accounts of His perfect timing in human history (see The Hall of Faith in Hebrews; look for “faithfulness” in the Psalms 66, 74, 80, 81, 89, 111, 114, 135, 136; read God With Us by Christoph Barth );

2. read about His faithfulness to the apostles (The Acts of the Apostles);

3. and encourage one another about His faithfulness for all believers (Hebrews 10:23-25), including you!

Hold Tightly to Your Confident Hope

Holding tightly to our assured hope is hard, but if we keep a written record of God’s specific blessings, we can remind ourselves of His faithfulness when our faith is weak. In my own life, there have been many trials, but my hope is found in knowing God is faithful and never fails.

my hope is found in knowing God is faithful and never fails. #confidentHope Click To Tweet

Write Your Own Psalm

I like to use Psalm 136 as a template to write my own blessings from God; repeating after each blessing, “His faithful love endures forever.” I pray you have this confident hope in Christ! It is yours by giving your life completely to Him. Leave everything in His hands and you will find peace, hope and security.

Mandy Signature
Savannah, GA

This is just an excerpt of the Bible Study I wrote for Gracefully truthful. Follow this link to read more.


Learn More about Knowing God here.



confident hope

2020 is Over: How Clear is Your Vision?

Be Thou My Vision

Psalm 119:18; 2 Kings 6:8-23

Elisha was a prophet of Israel, but he also was kind of a spy letting the King know if the Syrian army was up to anything. The Syrians were aware of this so they figured if they capture Elisha it would solve their problem.

One night the Syrian army surrounded Elisha and his young, new servant. The servant was very concerned about the situation, asking, “What should we do?” But Elisha had a confident belief about him. He knew that God would protect them. He believed what King David had said that God’s angels would surround and protect them.

Elisha knew that this confidence comes from experience and knowing how God takes care of His own, so he prayed that God would open the eyes of his servant to see the Lord’s Angel armies all around them. And God did it! The servant looked around and there were horses and fiery chariots all around ready to protect him and Elisha.

Can you imagine that? …

Seeing all those fiery horses and chariots on all sides? How exciting!

Do you see the fiery chariots in the image above?

Trouble on Every Side

2020 has been one of those years with so much trouble on every side. I pray that God has opened your eyes to see His armies standing ready to defeat your enemies. I pray that God will give you the confidence of Paul when he wrote. “We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair” 2 Corinthians 4:8-12

Let’s walked with confidence into the new year that God has it all under control.

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart
Nought be all else to me, save that Thy art
Thou my best thought in the day and the night
Waking or sleeping, Thou presence my light

Be Thou my wisdom, be Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me Lord
Thou my great Father and I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one

Be Thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight
Be Thou my armor and be Thou my might
Thou my soul shelter, and Thy my high tower
Raise Thou me heavenwards, oh power of my power

Riches I need not, nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance through all of my days
Thou and Thou only though first in my heart
High king of heaven my treasure Thou art

Oh high king of heaven, when battle is done
Grant heaven's joy to me, bright heaven sun
Christ of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, though ruler of all

SOURCE: Be Thou My Vision Lyrics

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on our way back

On Our Way Back to God

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 

“Now may our God and Father Himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you.”  

God’s Preposterous Promise Devotional Series for Christmas

  1. On Our Way Back to God
  2. The Promise of Restoration
  3. God’s Promise to Comfort
  4. Prepare the Way of the Lord
  5. God Sings Over Us
  6. The Hope of God With us
  7. Trusting God’s Plans and Ways
  8. Get Ready for the Lord’s Coming

On Our Way Back to God

When I was single, I longed for days when we could all be together again. I grew up with 5 siblings. There was always activity going on around the farm. But far from home with no family nearby, it could get mighty lonely. Phone calls only made me more homesick. I prayed to be able to see my family again. I prayed that Jesus would allow me to get home to see my family. 

Oh, to be together as a family. My heart often aches because I live so far from my parents, especially now as they are aging. Not being able to check in on them and see how they are doing is difficult.  

Paul wrote the same thing to the Thessalonians. They were like brothers and sisters to him. He desired to be with them to see how their faith was growing. He urged them to keep loving each other as an example and a reminder of how much he loved them. Even more so, how much Jesus loved them. 

One day there will be a great homecoming and all Christians everywhere – and from every time – will be together forever. And even better than that we will be with Jesus. It is God’s preposterous promise… to be with us! 

Won’t that be a glorious day? We will finally be home and together with Jesus. 

Points to Ponder: 

Prayer 

How can we thank you enough, Lord? You have provided a way for us to be with you again. Thank You for sending Your Son to earth to live, die, and rise again to save us from our sins. Guide us in Your truth and cause Your love to increase in our hearts and for each other. Strengthen our hearts as we live for You and keep us blameless in holiness before You when our Lord Jesus returns. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.  


Published with permission. Originally written by Mandy Farmer and published at the Discipleship Place ~ Women’s Ministries at The Church of the Nazarene November 2019

What’s the Big Deal About Telling Lies?

Is it really that big of a deal when we tell a little white lie? What does it hurt? The answer to that is, “It hurts God”. He created us in His image and that image is about His character. When we lie, are we reflecting the image of God? NO! Because God is Truth.

I recently wrote a Bible study for Gracefully Truthful on why God includes Lying in the Ten Commandments. I’ll share an excerpt to that study in this post but you can continue the study at Gracefully Truthful.

What is Truth?” 

John 18: 28-38

Mankind has grappled with the definition of truth throughout the ages. Hours before His death, Pilate posed this question to Jesus. But Pilate’s query was rhetorical, meant to dismiss the subject. He was only interested in the truth of Rome, Caesar, and political power (Morris). 

Even today, the struggle to define and understand truth persists. Many people want to believe in a truth of their own, based on perspective or personal preference. But Scripture teaches God alone is our source of absolute, unchanging, timeless, big “T” Truth. 

God alone is our source of absolute, unchanging, timeless, big “T” Truth.  #tencommandments #falsewitness Click To Tweet

We read throughout Scripture that God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:1-2). Furthermore, God declared His character to Moses on Mount Sinai: 

The Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth.” (emphasis mine)

Exodus 34:6

Brad Bright, son of the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, comments,

“He is present everywhere, knows all things, and totally understands what is real, right, and true. Therefore, whatever He says is absolutely true.”

https://discovergod.com/character/absolute-truth

God is the Source of all Truth

As our source of all truth, God is the basis for everything in our lives. 

God gave us the Bible to help us understand truth. 

He guides us into truth through the Holy Spirit. 

God revealed the truth to us in the person of Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life“. (John 14:6) Jesus, the Son of God, IS Truth. (Guzik, Enduring Word)

Satan is the Father of Lies

telling lies
image credit canva.com

In stark opposition, Satan is the Father of Lies (John 8:44). Satan spewed out the very first lie in the Garden when he assured Eve she would not die if she disobeyed God. (Genesis 3)

He has been denying, resisting, twisting, stretching, and confusing the truth ever since. In her book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth encourages us

“to wake up to the deception that is so pervasive. So much of our lifestyle is rooted in ways of thinking that simply are not true. The result is a house built on sinking sand.”

Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
gracefully Truthful

The truth will only be found by those who diligently and honestly seek it.

Let’s commit ourselves daily to walk in the light of God’s truth.

Mandy Farmer

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true repentance

True Repentance What Does it Look Like?


True Repentance Makes us Ready to Meet the Lord.

We see the day coming but we are no more ready to face the King of Kings and the Lords of Lords than they were in Joel’s day. We sit in our padded pews and “mourn” the sinfulness of our nation but ignore the subtle sins in our own hearts. Our nation will not “turn and repent” until they see that living for God looks different than the rest of the world.

Our nation will not "turn and repent" until they see that living for God looks different Click To Tweet

When we look in the mirror of the Ten Commandments, what do we see? Is it righteousness or self-righteousness? Does reading this list cause us to fall on our knees in true repentance like the prophet Isaiah did when he saw the Lord in the temple?

Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

Isaiah 6:5

Challenge to Examine Your Heart

true repentance

I challenge you to read down the list of commandments. Ask God to show you where you have failed him. If you don’t see any failure, read it again. And then again. Slow down, read slowly, and consider the subtle things that Satan has blinded you from.

  • How much time do you spend with God? 5 minutes a day? Do you have a quiet time? study the Word?
  • What have you placed above God? Job, Success, family, sports?
  • Do you treat the Sabbath just like every other day of the week?
  • What ways do you honor your parents?
  • Have you stolen anything lately? Extra time at lunch? office supplies? Have you robbed from God, by withholding tithes and offerings?
  • Do you lie and cheat to climb the ladder of success? Do you gossip in the guise of a prayer request?
  • Are you jealous of those who have more than you?

Hmmm… I wonder why people want nothing to do with Christianity.

Yes. We are all sinners

It’s true. None of us are righteous. We are all worthless and separated from God. Even King David who was considered “a man after God’s own heart” sinned. And he sinned BIG!

CLick image to go the Study of Psalm 51
Click this image for the study on Psalm 51

The size of the sin is not what matters. What matters is our response when we see that we have sinned against God. This week I wrote at Gracefully Truthful about David’s response when he was confronted with his sin. Click the purple image to read.

What matters is our response when we are face to face with our sinfulness. #repentance Click To Tweet

So, What Does a Repentant Heart Look Like?

Let’s take a look at the words of the prophet, Joel. He said if we repent, maybe God in His Mercy will forgive us and visit us once more. Let’s check it out.

“Now, therefore,” says the LORD,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
So rend your heart and not your garments;
Return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
Who knows if He will turn and relent,
And leave a blessing behind Him;

Joel 2:12-17
true repentance; Joel 2
all images created in canva.com by Mandy
if we #repent, maybe God in His Mercy will forgive us and visit us once more #confession Click To Tweet

3 Actions of a Truly Repentant Heart

Turn to God

True Repentance requires more than just “I’m sorry”. It produces change, a turning away from sin. Too often our apologies are not sincere. We are more sorry that we were caught than mournful of our sin. We say “I’m sorry” but we don’t turn from our wicked ways. There must be a change of heart and life. If it is real, the change will be noticeable.

Seek His Face

Many times God says in His Word if we seek Him, we will find Him. Right smack in the middle of the Bible is Psalm 119. It’s a poem using each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The entire chapter is all about seeking God and meditating on His Word. Start here in your search for God.

Don’t just read a quick devotion or a few verses and go on your way. Think about what it says and how it applies to you. Ask God to show you why that particular passage is there for you. What can you learn? If you need help with this, I would suggest the online study Gracefully Truthful or try the First Five phone app which studies a chapter a day. This and many others are free online. There are also some great Bible apps for your phone.

Also, invite His Holy Spirit to take full control of your life. Consider your heart as a house. When you ask the Lord into your heart when you are saved, He comes in. But do you only allow him to stay in your living room? Do you allow him into your kitchen? your bedroom? closet? attic or basement? God wants it all. He wants full control. And until we surrender it all to Him, we are still the one in the driver’s seat. We aren’t in full obedience to God.

Fast Weep Mourn

fast –  Abstinence from food and/or drink as an element of private or public religious devotion. Today, some will fast other things they “can’t” live without. The importance is that you use this time for prayer.

weep –To express sorrow, grief or anguish by outcry. 

mourn – The Greek word used for mourn is “pentheo,” which means to “wail or passionately lament, grief so all-encompassing it cannot be hidden.” The same word is used in Mark 16:10 to describe the emotions of Jesus’ followers after His crucifixion, a soul-deep sorrow.

2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us “godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation.” Thus, it is a necessary mourning, required for us to reach a place of complete repentance before God. 

Honestly consider, have you been truly repentant for your sins? For the sins of the nation? Regrettably, I doubt that most of us have. In Bible times, people would tear (rend) their clothing in remorse. But sometimes this became just a show. (like the Pharisees) Try Anne Graham Lotz’s prayer from the National Day of Prayer. You can find it on her website here.

What rituals are you doing by habit or just showing off your spirituality? I’m reminded of the Pharisees praying, “Thank you, that I am not like them.” We need humility and true sorrow as we pray. This is what Joel meant by “rend your hearts, and not your clothes”

Let’s come to God with a broken and contrite heart as David did in Psalm 51. He was a picture of true repentance.

With gentleness and sincerity,

Mandy Farmer