Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross: Day 2

Returning

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Today's Text: Joel 2:12-27, Jeremiah 24:4-7

Text: Joel 2:12-27, Jeremiah 24:4-7

“Lord, even my repentance is broken. Help me.”

Those are the words I scrawled in my notebook this morning as I tried desperately to lay my heart bare before God, frustrated that the process did not make me “feel” better. I am a sinner, and I know this. He is the one true God, and I know that, too. The lines of communication were open and I was trying to get there emotionally—wherever “there” is—but the warm fuzzies just weren’t coming.

Do you ever have these moments where you fear you’ve forgotten how to pray—where you worry you’re not doing this whole “repent and believe” thing the right way?

I went back to Scripture—to the passages we’re reading together today—and looked for the words “turn” and “return.” Maybe the answer was there—maybe I could learn how to come to Jesus all over again.

I found the first “return” in Jeremiah 24:7, when God says of His people, “I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am Yahweh. They will be My people, and I will be their God because they will return to Me with all their heart.” Then in Joel 2:12, God says through the prophet, “turn to me with all your heart” and again just one verse later—“return to the Lord your God” (HCSB).

And that was all.

Much to my dismay, the call to return to God is not written alongside a long list of to-do’s, an attainable checklist so I can feel sure I’m returning correctly. No, there is just one qualification—to return with all my heart. Evidently the cleaned up, feel-good part of my heart is not all God is looking for. He doesn’t want only the parts of my heart I’m willing to let others see—He wants the whole messy, confused, narcissistic, achy thing.

So, to recap: You and I and our whole unholy selves are called to turn fully, openly, and sans-covering to the holy, almighty God of all the universe.

[Insert deep breath here.]

It’s no wonder we try to come to Him with layers of lies and pride and every other self-preservation instinct intact. It makes sense, right? Except it doesn’t… because Jesus.

The cross of Jesus is the path by which we return to our holy, gracious God. We need not fashion our own defense or disguise to shield our brokenness from His eyes—the blood of Jesus is our covering.

Our actions do not give us the right to return. Our emotions do not grant us access to God. We return because—and only because—Jesus Christ goes before us, His cross as our banner and His grace as our plea.

Sisters, when you doubt that your whole, achy self is welcome in the presence of our God, look to the Cross.
When you fear your return is lacking, that your repentance itself falls short, look to the Cross.
The Cross of Jesus is our only way to the Father—not just the first time, but every time.

His cross dispels each doubt;
I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear,
Each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace;
I trust His truth and might;
He calls me His, I call Him mine.
My God, my joy and light.

from “Not What My Hands Have Done”
Horatius Bonar, 1861

SRT-Lent2015_instagram2

  • Thank you for this post. With re-turn we also need to re-member this regularly. The enemy is vigilant in reminding us daily that we are sinners, but we belong to the God of unending grace.

  • This reading hit home so hard. For the past couple of months I’ve wrestled with God over this very issue; knowing that it is by His grace alone that I am saved and forgiven, but feeling like I need to do something to earn it anyways. I’ve felt so lost trying to figure out how I was going to “correctly” repent, so that God could see how sincerely sorry I was. It’s so hard to fully fathom God’s unlimited love and all encompassing grace, but this study has reminded me that as difficult as it is to wrap my head around, it does not make God any less amazing than He already is! So I just need to have faith in Him- that His spirit will guide me. THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS READING. It’s such a relief to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • This is everything I needed today! God is so good!!!

  • Stephanie

    Awesome! So far it’s really made me think about repentance and how we often forget that repenting is a major part of our faith.

  • Stephanie

    I am reading this study for lent 2017. I just felt called to do this study this year, anyone else?

  • Lindsay Schiller

    I so needed this.. I constantly feel like I’m pretending with God almost, forcing myself to say the right things in prayer. But this devotion reminded me that it is not by anything I do or say that I can return full heartedly to the Lord, it is by Jesus alone.

  • Hallie Hardin

    So needed at this precise moment of my life. Beautiful word. Thanks be to our sweet Father!

  • Amanda O

    Loved this. It’s so good to know that it’s not about how I “feel. Instead it’s about making sure that I give my whole heart to God and allow him to do the rest! Thanks for this word!

  • I love the truth spoken to me about our emotions not getting us more of Jesus. Only us recognizing the cross does that!
    convicts,

  • Kara Sanstrom

    You cannot return to God without giving Him your whole heart. And for the first time in my life, I gave Jesus everything wholeheartedly.

  • Tiare Lando

    This really spoke to my heart… Thank you Lord!

  • meaninginthetranscience

    Amen. Thank you

  • This was soooo needed today! GOD IS SO AMAZING!!

  • Kaytee Faye

    Those times of doubt and silence where you are trying to pray and just don’t know what to say… So glad I’m not the only one. And that Jesus in his abounding love and grace covers me and lights the way. So so so grateful for this devo…. Especially tonight!:):)

  • Needed this a thousand times. It’s been a dry season here, because I’ve been hiding, or maybe wallowing, in my fears + anxieties about upcoming transitions in my life. I’ve been at a loss as how to return. In fact that was my exact prayer a few days ago “God I don’t know how to come back. Because I’m just lukewarm over here.”

  • So needed to see and read this today

  • I have grown up in a family with a super religious and spirtual mom and a father who was a pastor so needless to say I was taught about God from the moment I wS born. Most of my life it has come so naturally to me and I haven’t had many problems. For the past four years or so everyone around me seemed to be falling apart and I had no other choice but to rely on the lord which brought me real comfort and peace. However now, my life is great. I have no real problems but that comes with its own curses. Because I have no problems it is becoming harder and harder for me to return to the lord as these passages urge. But day by day I am trying to give the lord all of my heart and not just pieces of it that I’m comfortable with and this is exactly what I needed to hear.

  • This was so good. It really hit me after what my pastor spoke at church this weekend. I am new to this relationship with God thing and I have felt completely unworthy to go before him, to share everything with him for a fear of being left. This was so powerful to me and really touched me this morning.

  • This is simply…amazing + I can relate to this so much. Thanks, shereadstruth!

  • Even beyond the season of Lent, God has used this to speak to me. Praise Him for his continual grace and mercy!

  • SANBHILLS

    God has given them a heart to know HIM, so that they will return. That is what I want, a heart that knows my God as Daniel did.

  • Brittany

    Seriously needed this! Praise God for his endless mercy and grace

  • Thank you, God fir not being like us. Thank you for giving us more, for the cross,.

  • Kaz Williamson

    God thank you for your grace

  • Amen!

  • I will look to the cross even when I feel my repentance falls short… Which is daily. Thank you.

  • Sharitza

    I WILL give them the heart to know me… Praying to God today to give me that heart, the heart that yearns to know him fully, the heart that is all in. Lord please give me that heart.

  • “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. ” – this is the fulfillment of the ‘plans to prosper you and give you a hope” verse right before he sends them into exile. He brings us back. He gives people a heart to know Him! I am encouraged!

  • This devotional explains perfectly how I have been feeling for probably the past 3 years in my relationship with Christ. I didn’t know quite how to put it into words what wad going on in my heart& mind, but this is it. I kept feeling like I wasn’t repenting good enough or doing enough to get my relationship with him back to where I “felt” it was ok again. I would sit here& pray & ask for forgiveness & then contemplate for hours what I was going to do to make things right again. And then the next day would come & life would happen & I would fail again& I thought I’m separated from God again. I’m starting at zero again! And the very thought of returning to God seemed like work,so much work & I just felt exhausted & frustrated spiritually &emotionally. But this devo & these scriptures reminded me that it is only because of Jesus that I can even repent &return to God! Jesus is it. He’s all I need. He makes my repentance good enough! He’s already done all the work needed for me to return into God’s presence! And God wants me all messy & jacked up, just as I am!

    • 3v3ryday3mily

      Sin repeat, confess repeat, find Him, find joy, fall back into this world, sin repeat, confess repeat….. How He still loves me I don’t know. How I fear each time will have been the last and He will no longer love me. I will be destined to burn for an eternity because I confess and sin again and again.

      Thank you for reminding me that it is only because of the love of Jesus and the Holy Spirit that I even am reminded to come back home. It’s His loving arms that pull me back in, completely unworthy….

      He still loves me, He already knows my faults, but will help me come home each time I am lost …. And that guilt I feel when I stop doing life alone again and see all my sins in my wake ….. is my love for Him and my yearning to come home and live in the light of my savior.

      It’s the Holy Spirit still with me, Praise Jesus, reminding me the undertow is dangerous and I need to come to shore.

      Thank you for not giving up on our relationship Lord, thank you for being constant in your love and patience. I will never be perfect and my part in this relationship is to recognize that. To know that I can’t be perfect and it will be a struggle everyday, but that I must trust in You.

  • Ariana Stringfellow

    What does "sans-convering" mean in the fifth paragraph right before the [insert deep breath here] line?

  • Felt a tug on my heart to do this devo today. It completely touched my heart and applies to the struggles I’ve been facing recently. It’s amazing how God speaks to us. Thankful that I can return to Him despite my unworthiness.

  • Candace Jones

    This is so honest. It really helps me that when I don’t feel the warm and fuzzy to return to his word, take up my cross, and follow Him.

  • Emily T.

    I recently went through some big sins in my life that made me question everything. This word & truth is so comforting and reminds me that in anything that I just need to center on my relationship with Jesus to return to God.

  • I once believed – for a very long time – that the reason to return to God was for His blessings, His good gifts that would make life happy and perfect. That His gifts were the point. To bring me happiness. Then I would go about my life on my own. Make a mess. And be disappointed in myself (and probably God, as well.) Such a childish, immature faith I had. And I’d like to say that was so long ago, but that would not be true.
    But I have learned – and am daily learning – that seeking HIM is the reason to return. Because He doesn’t want to just give me good gifts, He wants to teach me through those gifts, grow me, comfort me when things go awry. He wants to align my heart with His so that I can see and receive all of the good gifts He has for me, for His glory. He wants a genuine relationship with me – to show me that He sees me, knows me, cares for me, loves me unconditionally. And this is a new kind of relationship for me, coming from a family broken by divorce and sorrow and guilt and shame – when I was only 4 years old.
    But even now, my contrite heart is humbled and I repent. Because seeking the gifts rather than the Giver is missing it – all of it. He wants to give me abundant life through His Son. I repent of my pride and my selfishness and my anxious thoughts that have kept me separated from my great and loving Heavenly Father who adopts me into His eternal family. A family that loves unconditionally and walks free. Free of guilt and shame. And graciously loves out of the abundance overflow of His love and mercy.
    Laying it all down at the foot of the Cross. And returning. Covered by the blood of Jesus.

    • Michelle

      This really touched my heart! It’s so beautiful and wonderful to know that our God wants to have a relationship with us!

    • Kylie

      Beverly, thank you for your post. Your comment about seeking the gifts rather than the giver really struck a cord with me. I didn’t think I was seeking God for what he could give me, but when taking a closer look that is exactly what I’m doing. There is distance in my relationship with God until things get really bad and I need His help. I want to seek Him with my whole heart everyday because I love Him… not because I know He is the only one that can solve my problems.

  • SouthernBess

    Love the quote you included at the end… and of course, the rest of the article was great!

  • Such a good reminder that it is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling that means we are on the right path or are close to God. Sometimes it is simply doing what we know is right, confessing and keeping in constant contact with Him to get on the right track. Thank you for the reminder!

  • Needed this. I’ve been feeling like I hadn’t before just truly let go to give my all. It’s like I previously kept a part of me in the world because I didn’t want to give certain lifestyle things up. But now, being honest with myself, I know that I have to do better at fully surrendering if I’m truly repentant.

  • Michele McK

    I'm a bit behind on this plan but the Lord knew I would need this today.
    As I read and prayed through this devotion time my prayer turned into "Lead Me To the Cross" by Hillsong:
    Savior I come, quiet my soul
    Remember, redemption's hill
    Where Your blood was spilled
    For my ransom
    Everything I once held dear
    I count it all as lost
    Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out
    Bring me to my knees, Lord, I lay me down
    Rid me of myself, I belong to You
    Oh, lead me, lead me to the cross
    You were as I, tempted and trialed
    You are, the word became flesh
    Bore my sin and death
    Now You're risen
    Everything I once held dear
    I count it all as lost
    Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out
    Bring me to my knees, Lord, I lay me down
    Rid me of myself, I belong to You
    Oh lead me, lead me to the cross
    to your heart
    to your heart
    Lead me to Your heart, Your heart
    Lead me to Your heart, Your heart
    Everything I once held dear
    I count it all as lost
    Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out
    Bring me to my knees, Lord, I lay me down
    Rid me of myself, I belong to You
    Oh lead me, lead me
    Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out
    Bring me to my knees, Lord, I lay me down
    Rid me of myself, I belong to You
    Oh, lead me
    Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out
    Bring me to my knees, Lord, I lay me down
    Rid me of myself, I belong to You
    So lead me, lead me to the cross

    • CheyBird

      We sang that song on Sunday for worship. I am going through some big changes and am having a tough time. While singing this powerful song I was able to let go of a lot of things and give it all to God! It was wonderful and tear filled. Thank you for posting this song again!

  • I find myself often forgetting this and needed this wake up call today. This just shows how important Gods word is and reminds me that I don’t spend enough time studying it and reading it.

  • My repentance is broken- so true, many times I do not grieve over my sin. Almost apathetically, I go through the motions of repentance bc in my head I know I need to repent, but my heart is hard. I must even bring my repentance to the Lord, remembering that it is his kindness that brings me to it. Let me dwell on His kindness, and have my heart melted

  • Savannah Talley

    This really hit me hard. I fall away so frequently I have gotten to the point where I no longer believe I can even communicate with God. It is so unbelievable that Jesus takes away all the mess that I bring upon myself. I feel so unworthy, I feel like I don’t want Him to make me clean because I don’t deserve it. But then I try to de-center and realize he is making me clean so I can better represent God and glorify Him. He’s not making me clean for my sake, so that I can feel like a better person. He’s making me clean because God loves us and wants us to lead others to Him and to come together and love and worship as a clean and perfect family.

  • Returning can so often feel barren – Thank you for this good Word today. My heart and soul needed the reminder. May Jesus be glorified in my returning; today and everyday. <3

  • I feel pretty “duh” today because for the life of me I could not understand the Scripture today. Anyone gracious enough to explain it to me. :(

  • Kasey Tuggle

    Returning to the feet of Jesus is the only way I have found to keep joy in this fallen world!! He is our safe-haven!

  • amycook1939

    I needed this. I want to give myself to God but on my terms and that is completely unrealistic. Thank you for this important reminder.

  • As a mother of a sick daughter who trys to be strong in my fath, finds myself feeling tried and alone. Find myself wondering if I am still in touch with my Jesus. It's not about feelings joyful and happy all the time, but knowing that I can find him there in my every need. That just coming to him just as I am. He is there waiting, and willing. He longs for us to come in our own messy way. Thank you for reminding me. I am in so much need of him.

    • Annie

      I’m a pediatric nurse and am continuously in awe of the strength God provides you parents of sick little ones to live out such faith and grace filled lives despite your circumstances. Praying for you and your daughter!

  • BrendaUlloa

    Since becoming a mom I fight daily…hourly with constant feelings of guilt. I’m not a good enough Mom… Wife… Friend… Worker… Christian. As I read these verses and devotional today I’m reminded that “The cross of Jesus is the path by which we return to our Holy, gracious God.” I am enough because Jesus is enough in me!

  • sounds like me trying to do it right but am I missing the target. look to the cross and bear myself fully to Him. that’s what I need to do now and always. Amen!

  • VictoriousOne

    Lord give me a heart to know you, I will return to you with all my heart-my hearts prayer today and everyday.

  • Jacque M.

    Repenting for things that I have done is a constant challenge for me. As my walk continues with God, I have realized that it gets easier to give name to the things I have done that I know are not right with the Lord. I have learned that it’s ok to ask forgiveness for the things in the past, the present, and the future. And it has made it easier for me to realize my wrong doings so that I don’t do them again.

  • “Lord even my repentance is broken help me” love this

  • Jamie Timmons

    Wow is all I can say. Returning to God with our purest and intentional hearts every time is the only way. I love the phrase “every time” because it reminds me that I am not perfect so God is there to receive me every time I return. Thank God for this message.

  • Theresa Garcia Robertson

    I love this. This season of life feels impossible and I feel so distant from God. Just yesterday, I stood alone in my kitchen and just cried. My heart is so broken and my soul is crying out for to be whole. It feels so reassuring to read that I only need to “return to Him” to find the respite I need.

  • “The cross of Jesus is the path by which we return to our holy, gracious God. We need not fashion our own defense or disguise to shield our brokenness from His eyes—the blood of Jesus is our covering.” Amen!!

  • Rhea Quemado

    Exactly what I needed, hit straight to the heart.

  • Ugh. As many others have said, this devo hit so close to home today. I too have felt like an imposter in my faith, more often then not in all honesty. I feel like I’m going through the motions but not really “doing it right”. I don’t feel like I’ve ever heard God. I feel like I don’t pray correctly. (Have you ever prayed and felt like you were just talking to yourself?) And then I get comparative and look at others and say “Jeeze, I wish I had the closeness they have with God!” But it’s not about a feeling. It’s about being. It’s about laying it out there, the good, the bad, the ugly, and trusting that God is STILL going to love you- because He will! I’m going to keep pursuing my God, returning to him every day, through the good and the bad!

  • Samantha

    I pray that God will love my unconditionally and that he will forgive me of my sins. I am striving each day to trust in his plan and give my life to him.

  • For me, sometimes when I’m praying I’m searching so hard for the right words. When I do that it’s not authentic and my prayer life gets stagnant because I’d rather not do it at all if its not from my heart. But when I’m reminded to take my eyes off of myself and the words I think I need to say, and onto Jesus … The words seems to pour forth from my heart. There’s something so freeing about just focusing on Him. It’s not even something I can explain at all, besides just that it’s the supernatural power of God. Praising Him today for our Lord Jesus, who brings life into our otherwise dead, decaying, mortal bodies!

    • Amanda

      I love this– so, so true. Sometimes I find that I still can’t put what I need into words, so I end up saying something like, “oh, you know… All of the things.”

  • katelynlydia

    After mental breakdown after breakdown and exposing my eyes to evil, and not taking care of my body. It's time to return. I am a rule follower and with out a list I struggle. I'll start by praying what's on my unhealthy heart.

    • Ellen Melton

      We serve a God who doesn’t delight in our “rule-following”, but instead accepts us right where we are, no matter how broken and unappealing we seem. Praying that you remember the Christ’s unfailing love and return to Him today!

  • Need this reminder in my life today. So easy to get caught up and pulled away and I’m so thankful for the gift of Jesus so that I can always return to my Father…thank you thank you thank you!

  • Holy cow. This helped so much. I get so far from prayer that yes, sometimes it does feel like I can’t remember how. Like I can’t do the ‘right things,’ and how will I ever get back on track? Knowing that Jesus literally covers our ugly sins so that we can be with God.. What a feeling.

  • pocketofgrace

    Return To Me… Doesn’t that sound like Jesus’ heart cry to just spend time with us? As though his desire crashes on our hearts, like ocean waves; continual and relentless. For whatever reason, I always “feel” closest to JESUS when I’m at the beach. It’s the peaceful calmness, and lack of distractions that gets me every time. There I find warm fuzzies. I also feel fuzzies during corporate worship at church. Tears stream down my face as I worship with open abandon. And yet, by myself at home, I feel utterly alone, where my prayers bounce around like bouncy balls. I’s just hard to PAUSE long enough to allow Him to speak to me. When I do, He never lets me down.

    I was just reading today’s devotional to my husband, when I realized I couldn’t wait to get alone with my thoughts and allow my Poppa to speak to my heart.

    A good friend of mine said it best, “You don’t have to clean up to get in the shower.” Which simply means, often we try to clean ourselves up before coming to JESUS, but He doesn’t want that. He wants us to come to Him EXACTLY as we are. He just wants us to come to Him. Simple, right?

    Oh Poppa, why isn’t it that easy?! Our relationship should be the easiest one in our lives but somehow we feel unless we have our stuff together, You won’t want anything to do with us but gosh, that couldn’t be further from the truth! Forgive me for not running to You first. #PrayFirst Please help us to humble ourselves and learn to lean in hard to You. You are our Rock and Protector from the storm. Oh, I’m sure there have been countless pockets of graces, where You’ve provided for and gone before we’ve even made the decision to move. Thank you for your Provision.

  • Wow that quote at the end wrecked me… So beautiful. I can be so hard on myself. I have no idea why I can extend Gods grace to others but not myself most days. I pray that over these next 45 days I can learn to see myself as Christ sees me. I am praying that I can take control of my thought life and cast out any negativity and fear.

    • Anna Buchanan

      I’m also working on seeing myself as Jesus sees me. We are covered in His robe of righteousness. If only we wore it with humble confidence, knowing we have been accounted for.

  • i want sooo badly for Jesus to bring me home. i miss dwelling in the presence of God and being in close proximity to Him. but i have to remember that God desires my EVERYTHING: not my good days or my passion-filled prayers. he wants every that's weak, everything that's wrong, everything that's imperfect about me.

    i desperately want this new heart he desires to give me. and at this point, i will do anything to gain it – even if it means learning to come to God bare and broken.

  • Sarah Jane

    The part part about it not belong a checklist really resonated with me. Amen. Tired, but grateful for this study.

  • This study (and particularly this article) could not have come at a better time. Lately, I’ve realized how much my heart has grown cold, and I’ve let the love evaporate from my life. I’ve gotten so far away from treating others with Christ-like love. So, the theme of this week for me has been return. Funny how God does that :)

  • I love the hymn at the end
    Not what these hands have done — Leominster

    Original Trinity Hymnal, #403

    Not what my hands have done
    Can save my guilty soul;
    Not what my toiling flesh has borne
    Can make my spirit whole.
    Not what I feel or do
    Can give me peace with God;
    Not all my prayers and sighs and tears
    Can bear my awful load.

    Thy work alone, O Christ,
    Can ease this weight of sin;
    Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God,
    Can give me peace within.
    Thy love to me, O God,
    Not mine, O Lord to thee,
    Can rid me of this dark unrest
    And set my spirit free.

    Thy grace alone, O God,
    To me can pardon speak;
    Thy pow’r alone, O Son of God,
    Can this sore bondage break.
    No other work, save thine,
    No other blood will do;
    No strength, save that which is divine,
    Can bear me safely through.

    I bless the Christ of God;
    I rest on love divine;
    And with unfalt’ring lip and heart
    I call this Saviour mine.
    This cross dispels each doubt;
    I bury in his tomb
    Each thought of unbelief and fear,
    Each ling’ring shade of gloom.

    I praise the God of grace;
    I trust his truth and might;
    He calls me his, I call him mine,
    My God, my joy, my light.
    ‘Tis he who saveth me,
    And freely pardon gives;
    I love because he loveth me,
    I live because he lives.

  • Anna Wilson

    Wait, did I write this entry?! How perfectly timed! I laid in bed this morning frustrated with myself and my scattered prayers, for failing to seize the day at my mentally designated time for devotion and study. I felt distant. In the past I would have allowed such a mental failure to completely derail my resolve, but I realized that God will take me any time of the day, in any mental state, and at any point in life. He wants me, no matter what. He already sees everything and knows me better than I know myself. I can strip away the pretense of forced formality, I can just “be” with my God. I can talk with loving familiarity or sit blank-minded in a spiritual cuddle. No silence busting chatter necessary. Satan knows my buttons and uses them well, “you haven’t been close enough, so you should just hang it up…you’ve hurt God too many times by being neglectful…you aren’t holding up your end of the salvation bargain.” Ugh. Thank you, God, for snapping me out of that mental sabotage! Thank you for reminding me that salvation is a no-strings attached arrangement, and Jesus makes my messy imperfections perfect. So, I sit contentedly now, at 9:30pm (not my 5:30am goal I set for myself), feeling peaceful and totally loved. I love you so much, God, for your perfectly placed reminders and unfailing grace.

    • shereadstruth

      Love this response! You are NOT the only one who feels these things, friend. And praise God that He takes us just as we are, anytime!! xoxo, Amanda

    • Hayley

      Grace, sweet grace :)

    • Nicole

      I love how you put it! Here I sit, struggling and frustrated with myself for not understanding God’s words as easily as I wish I could. And I read your words about just BEING with him. Or sharing a spiritual cuddle! Thank you, it’s just the encouragement I needed tonight.

      • Anna Wilson

        This makes my heart happy :) I’m excited to see how this wonderful community can offer encouragement just by sharing personal thoughts and experiences. I have always been hesitant to jump into a devotional study, but I can see I’ve stumbled on something really special. Glad to be sharing this spiritual journey with you! Hope you have had a wonderful day!

  • This brought me to tears. As I read I felt a little tug each time the word was return, then I read the devotion and realized why.

    I found out I was pregnant with my third child right before Thanksgiving. A true blessing after a miscarriage last Valentine’s Day. Then, right at 6 weeks the horrible, shut down my life all day sickness started and didn’t slow down until 14 weeks. We’re talking family thrown in survival mode because mama can’t stop throwing up all day long, all night long. Now it’s at least manageable with medication, but at 16 weeks still hanging in there. And even though I am a big baby and should just get through this and be happy because of the healthy blessing growing inside of me, it’s been hard. My bible study has taken a back seat, my kids, my husband, my duties all on the back burner and chaos ensued. I haven’t been gentle with anyone’s hearts because I just haven’t felt like there has been enough of me to go around.

    Return. Return. Return. Bring it all to Him, even the selfishness, even the stuff we don’t want to admit to, even the part we pretend doesn’t exist. Every single part of me is known and covered by his blood. My heart should be here, fully returned from the world and fully given to Him. Lord, help me do this. Pause, reflect, return.

    • Kristen

      Praying for you! I also had the terrible all-day-sickness and truly understand. Also have had two miscarriages. So thankful for the Lord’s grace on days the sickness wins!

    • shereadstruth

      Yes, yes, yes – just come as you are, as I am… this is so hard to accept, isn't it? But what a blessing to know it's true! And returning doesn't have to look the way it's looked in the past, in different seasons of our life. Returning for you in this busy phase of family survival mode will look different in the days when "quiet time" was actually quiet. But He knows your heart and He loves you so. Thank you so much for sharing, Jen. I hear myself in your words and I'm so grateful for this space that encourages our hearts and lets us know we are not alone. xoxo, Amanda

      • Kristen

        Wow. So much grace and Jesus in “And returning doesn’t have to look the way it’s looked in the past, in different seasons of our life. Returning for you in this busy phase of family survival mode will look different in the days when “quiet time” was actually quiet. But He knows your heart and He loves you so.” I NEEDED that today. Thank you Jesus for speaking through others!

    • BELOVED_YE

      Jen, your post blessed me just because you had the strength and took the time to read God's word, apply it, and edify others by sharing what's on your heart. Though I'm a widow who's not pregnant, I've been an internally emotional (w)retch (notice the play on words and even as I type, I can almost taste the acid in my mouth) since about a week before Christmas as I've been dealing with my 25 year old son's choices and emotions. I was reminded last night in "When God whispers your name" the verse that God used to help me lead my fatherless son 17 years ago. Phil 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Last night, I took this verse for my life as well. The same God who took a 2 pound 3 ounce preemie and raised him into a healthy young man after God's heart. Thank you Lord for reminding me that King David had his flaws and You love and want the same for me as you did for David and my son- a love relationship with you. I'm also going to take my own advice (what I wrote to another sister today) and will share this with my son. You've truly blessed me and I thank God for you. Remember YE are BELOVED!

    • Nancy

      Praying for you sister!!!!

  • SarahMarieT

    I was reminded of a quote by the Christian author, A.W. Tozer: "And to us who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope that is set before us in the gospel, how unutterably sweet is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us completely. No talebearer can inform on us, no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some bidden closet to abash us and expose our past; no unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away from us, since He knew us utterly before we knew Him and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us."

    Love it. Even when we have messed up or walked away and then come to return, we have full confidence that the Lord is not going to be cruel or parade it back in our face. Rather, the Lord promises To be Gracious. To be Merciful. Slow to Anger. Of Great Kindness. He has given us the covering of Christ! We are His and He is Love.

  • Rosemary

    I know that initially, I am going to need a reminder to myself that I should view everything through the lens of the cross.

  • I need this. For the part of me that always feels unworthy. But the real me is who He created out of love and in His image so I must rejoice and be proud. In the season of lent I can pause and look at myself and my faults and lay them at His feet knowing always that His love for me, His grace, His mercy is far beyond my understanding.

  • Rhiannon

    The cross of Jesus is the path by which we return to our holy, gracious God. We need not fashion our own defense or disguise to shield our brokenness from His eyes—the blood of Jesus is our covering.

    Our actions do not give us the right to return. Our emotions do not grant us access to God. We return because—and only because—Jesus Christ goes before us, His cross as our banner and His grace as our plea.

    This. I want to think of His cross as my banner. I want to recognize Him as My High Priest. I want to turn my heart fully to Him, as achy & worm & messed up as it is.

  • veritas1201

    Faith is something I have always had, something I always fought for. But it has changed over the years and I am not afraid of that change. I don't get the warm and fuzzies, and feeling his presence is different to me now, but it doesn't mean he isn't there or my faith is null and void. I know that even though I don't feel it or see it right now, it is real. Perhaps some of you can relate?
    Love and light to you dear sisters.

  • Wow! I love this study!

  • Antimony

    “Wanting to return the right way” or “wanting to return”? Do I even want this anymore? Is it worth it? Is it real? Is it worth believing and pursuing wholeheartedly? Or do I “believe” it because it’s what I’ve always been told? Can I just walk away and leave it all? Or do I need to return? Can I return? Can I return? Not on my merit. But on His. Can it work?

  • loving this study

  • This is the hardest thing right now. I just want to feel without the reveal. I want to know what the right things to do and say are so I can do that. God doesn’t want that though. He doesn’t want the “right”prayer or for me to listen to the “right” worship. He just wants me, that’s it. Seems so simple, but it’s so hard to take off the mask and just learn to be me. Real, broken, afraid, messy. Why is that so hard? Because, like you said, Jesus.

  • Diana Anunda

    “Our actions do not give us the right to return. Our emotions do not grant us access to God. We return because—and only because—Jesus Christ goes before us, His cross as our banner and His grace as our plea.”

    Yes!! I was just telling my sister that I’ve been feeling spiritually disconnected, even in seeking God I just felt so far from Him. So to read this and realize that my emotions and my actions do not dictate my position in God and Him in me, but rather Jesus Christ does is not only an eye opener but more so a heart opener. I thank Jesus Christ that He chose us to reside within us and to never leave nor forsake us!

  • Caroline

    I needed that today. Thank you Lord for hat devotions. Blessed are you Lord God. King of the universe. You are such a good daddy, and my return to you restores to me the joy of my salvation. You are ALL I need, nothing else. You alone are worthy!

  • * meaning….true meaning of Lent.. Silly ipad ;-)

  • It's only the second day, but already my perspective of the true earning of Lent is vastly different from anything I've ever thought about. Reading this this morning really tugged at my heart, as during this season of pause, as we return to the Cross, we do so in significant confession and acknowledgement of our wretched sins. It is humbling that through Jesus Christ we can come to God with our entire hearts, the good and bad and ugly. Simultaneously, it is sombering to come in the realization of the destruction and heartbreak of our sins. In reading Joel, my Bibles notes added the following reflections which I found really interesting….

    "Does repentance prevent catastrophes?—- Like moving a cancerous growth from the body, God sometimes uses catastrophes to perform spiritual surgery. If repentance does not follow sin, judgement will. With repentance, however, the full weight of Gods wrath is restrained or sometimes averted altogether. Natural consequences of sin may still follow, but repentance restores the relationship with God."

    "Why broken hearts instead of torn clothes.—- A traditional sign of sorrow was to tear ones clothes. However, outward actions don't always correspond to the hearts condition. What matters most to God is not outward show, but an inner reality that consists of sincere grief and loathing of sin".

    I love these extra insights to todays reading! Returning to the Cross through Jesus Christ with a genuine repentance in our hearts restores our relationship with Him. And when we do this He responds in His rich faithful love. It warms my heart and heightens my trust and faith in our God, knowing that I can come to Him at anytime thru His son, and show every angle and ounce of my heart without shame or fear. He will still accept me, and more so, shower me in His unconditional love. This is such good news.

  • This is exactly what I needed. For so long, I have felt distant from God, and it gradually got to the point where I felt like I had rejected Him too many times, and our relationship could never be what it was. I thought that I must be the only one who felt like that, but in reading thr comments I know I’m not alone. We are all broken, but we serve a God who loves putting things back together. I’m so exciting to keep moving through Lent with you all and learning how to truly humble myswlf before Him, and to truly rend my heart.

  • Michelle

    I love that we are covered by the Cross and that Jesus leads us from the pit of despair into His Holy Presence through His Work and not by anything that we could have done! So blessed by this gathering of believers that remind me of this Truth!

  • I'm one that is prone to the disease of needing to do things right. Including my faith. Which has led me to do some things that are not so genuine. I've begrudgingly set my alarm for quiet times when my heart wasn't in it. Or promised to pray for someone and then forgotten about it. I get embarrassed. But Jesus can work with that. He wants ALL of me- the part that doesn't want to get up early because the only time of day I can spare for him that day is early, the part of me that promises to pray and then forgets, the parts that get embarrassed and make me feel shame. He wants it all. It is so hard for me to admit when I haven't been genuine and when I haven't done something right. In those moments, I need the cross the most. And He wants me.

  • LaurenC_

    Each time the chosen Scripture or the devotion touches on returning to God with our whole, messy, proud, sinful, self-righteous hearts, I nod along and believe God is trustworthy and capable to handle my mess along with my better qualities. None of it is a surprise to Him anyway. I know there is mercy and peace and redemption with God. So why do I hold back? Why do I lack confidence to act when God presents Himself to me, guiding me to take chances in my life that are outside of my comfort zone? My head "knows" He will be there with me, setting my feet on solid ground and holding me steady as I walk along. Really wish my heart would get this message, and stop being fearful. My notes and prayer from today's Scripture showed me that my heart needs to open a space of greater trust, in God and in myself. I need to focus on being ready to meet God, on His time, in the circumstances He directs me toward, in His way — not mine. Not what I think I should do or when I should do it, which usually equates to staying "safely" within my comfort zone. To be ready for Him, I have to first embrace greater trust in my heart and greater confidence that God will show me to way to take with my life.

  • saraswelland

    It's incredible that when you ask Jesus to reveal to you your sins and things that maybe you have pushed aside or are numb to, He is gracious and kind in bringing them forward. It is also so easy to wait and expect a super emotional thing to happen out of returning. When I repent I want to be crying, but sometimes that doesn't happen. I am okay with that because Jesus is still JUST as present now as He is when I am emotional. Thank you for saying that your repentance is broken, too. I'm right there with ya, sister.

  • Aimee Ruth

    I love that the reference for, “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am Yahweh. They will be my people, and I will be their God because they will return to Me with all their heart” is {Jeremiah} 24:7. For me it’s an awesome reminder that every day of every year I am to return to God. Let’s face it: life is hard, there are so many demands on us and for me pride certainly gets in the way. But every single day I need to choose to return to God, especially if I don’t feel it which unfortunately has been too often the last couple of years.

  • A beautiful reminder that I will never be “too much” for Jesus.

  • Just this morning I was thinking to myself if I was praying correctly. This reading reaffirmed that the only incorrect way to pray is to not pray at all. He wants to hear from me. He wants to hear whatever I have to say and He is always listening. I can come to Him confused, angry, irrational and know that he loves me just the same. Amen, sisters!

  • Ahhh, The Lord almighty wants each on of us, a beautiful mess as we are. My heart bursts with love for Jesus. Come as we are. It’s beautiful and almost incomprehensible at times. Amen.

  • I feel like we as women expect everything we do to be linked to emotion. But sometimes we are so drained from feeling all the feels of life! So when there is nothing left, it’s scary. But it’s ok to come to God with no feelings. He will fill up tank back up. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but eventually. And whether we feel it or not, He is there. I leaned this during the the years since my dad died tragically and unexpectedly. I’ve experienced a lot of numbness, and still do. But I’ve learned by looking back that He was indeed there. And He is here now and we go throught this season of life as well!

    • Casie

      Jocelyn,
      I so feel this switch between over feeling & numb / feeling nothing! You are right as women I too believe we attach everything to feelings.

    • ClaireB

      I so agree here. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t ‘get’ it. Emotionally between husband, child, grandchild, parents (and I just lost my mother), brother and his family I just don’t have much left.

  • BELOVED_YE

    Can someone help me with the word "sanscovering" from this portion (So, to recap: You and I and our whole unholy selves are called to turn fully, openly, and sans-covering to the holy, almighty God of all the universe.) of today's devotional?
    Since it was used to recap, I'm tripping over this word. I apologize if this seems critical or petty to you but would truly appreciate your assistance :-) Remember YE are BELOVED,

    • Kyla

      Sans means “without” so to me it means to go to Him without covering up anything. In other words, don’t try to hide anything from Him. Just go as you (myself included) are—dirty, messy, and broken. No need to try and hide (or cover up) our sins or regrets because He knows and sees ALL! I’m not sure if I answered your question, but I hope it helps.

    • Arynne

      It means without covering. I took this as without faking the perfection we so often feel we must come to God with. Like, it’s okay to come without your make up on. Just as you are . No excuses. Mess and all. I hoe that helps.

    • BELOVED_YE

      Thanks so much for clearing this up for me. Google is not a synonym for common sense or just breaking the word down ;-) I knew sans meant without and could see covering, but I believe the Lord is also working on my humility! Time to reread, from the scripture to the devotional and pray that the Lord will help me with the brokenness I've read about in other posts. Thank you ladies for replying and for others who prayed for wisdom. Love you!

  • I need prayer, yesterday my husband and I decided to repent and draw closer to God so we prayed together and we were excited for how God would change our hearts. I felt very confident about this repentance until we were going to bed. A few remarks turned into a argument an argument that interrupted our sleep it went on for awhile. I felt how stubborn my heart was, when I should have not said anything back. This was everything we had prayed for God to change. Something so small turned into a huge pain in my heart. I want to change but when things get rough I'm not kind or patient. I didn't reflect Christ, and everything that happened last night is a reflection an over flow of my heart. I'm hurt with everything that took place. If I know better, why did I go backwards instead of forward. I feel like the devil got a triumph over us last night. But very quietly I hear God tell me, "return to me." I really need your prayers for us both. Thank you.

    • Kelly O

      Praying

    • BELOVED_YE

      Praying for you sis and your husband. Maybe he needs to read the words that I just read which express your heart. Remember YE are BELOVED!

    • Leighann

      A.Lynn,you should show your husband what you just typed. It’s expressed beautifully. The longer I’m married the more I realize it’s not about getting it right every time but knowing how to be vulnerable with each other and knowing how to recover after making mistakes.

    • Tess

      A. Lynn….praying for you sweet sister, and your husband. Be gentle with yourself. I can understand the frustration you're feeling. Remember God takes such great notice of your hearts good and desired intentions. Keep drawing near to Him, don't give up. Each day is a new day!

    • Lauren

      I heard someone preaching the gospel just lady night and he said, “my wife and I never fought until the night we both got saved.” the devil leaves alone those who are drifting peacefully in sin, but he attacks those who seek to turn to the Lord…

  • These are the gracious words of the Lord that I so desperately needed to hear! Yesterday I felt so discouraged because my repentance seemed empty because of my lack of emotion and feeling. It started a train of doubts and fears. I realised that I often sing “Thou and thou only first in my heart,” and yet this is often not true. I started to fear coming before God with all my mixed motives and idols. I started to worry that even my prayers were so tainted by my selfish and self-centred heart that they couldn’t possibly be pleasing to Him! I forgot about the cross. I forgot about grace. I forgot about the blood that washed me white.

    This morning once again I return with my whole heart; unemotional, half-hearted and tainted as it may be. And I find arms wide open in love. I am welcomed into the presence of the Almighty God! Oh thank you Jesus for the cross!

  • When I read this lesson today my heart felt the need for it, I have been feeling like is what I’m doing enough where am I going wrong, can God even hear me. I am so blessed to be a member of an awesome church, and that there are members that care. Someone I don’t know if she would want me to say her name but she stopped me in my class and told me about this reading and I can’t wait to see her because this is just what I needed.

  • Bridgett

    This was such a special scripture and devotional reading to me. In fall of 2010, I had kidney and bladder failing and a dangerous infection attack me a few hours after having my third child. God saved me from death then (and its a long story). Afterwards was months of therapy, medicine, tears, and intense pain. One day after I had accepted that the Lord promises to heal but I just had to accept that I didn’t know when, it could be during this life on Earth or in Heaven. I decided that He was gracious to save me and I can deal with kidney and bladder problems until He healed me. (In a true accepting way with no grudges) Well I felt I should read Joel, which I had never read at the time and when I came to Joel 2:23 I started crying and felt God’s Spirit all around me. You see I had a final appointment in May that was going to decide a lot of major health decisions. I felt Him say to me through that scripture “I saved you in Autumn and I will pour out my healing rain for you again in the spring.” When that appointment came the doctor looked at my kidneys and bladder with a camera inside of me in color! My thoughts were “it’s so beautiful”. As he watched them work together after a few minutes he said and this is exact, I will never forget his words “They are perfect. It’s as though nothing ever happened.” As hard as this may be to imagine, two years later that son was diagnosed with a severe mental disability. It consumed me and trapped me and I drifted from Him. I have never admitted this until now but this is the first Bible Study I have done in three years. I heard Him as I read the verses and the devotion talking to me once again through Joel’s little book “Return to Me with all your heart”.

    • Lauren

      Wow, Bridget, what a powerful and moving story. I can’t imagine the flooding joy you must have felt from the healing just to be devastated again by yet another disheartening obstacle. I am so sorry. I pray you will find joy again in the love story of our deeply caring Father.

    • Melissa Ray

      I am so amazed at our truly wonderful Jesus! He has called you back and you have responded! May God bless you and your son with intense peace!

      <3

  • I have a way of pushing people away when I feel myself getting too close to them. I try to avoid talking about things beyond casual conversation. I'm in this weird tug'o'war with myself where I desire deep connection and friendship with people. and fear of getting close. I feel like this has spilled into my relationship with God. I remember a time I came before Jesus completely broken and laid everything I had at His feet. I don't think I've ever mourned quite as intense before or since then. I truly want to feel that again because it changed my life. I never felt closer to God than I did then. It's scary to mourn, but it's essential. And I need to lay down every reservation I have and lay it all at His feet again. I pray that we all can come before Him humble and open and repentant.

    • tande

      “I’m sure that Satan is not happy that this huge group of women is returning whole heartedly to the Lord. Our united power is great! Yes, he will attack our emotions and thoughts and try to make us think we are wasting out time. We must CHOOSE to continue to draw near the cross, with a pure heart, with our idols cast aside.
       Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. – James 4:7-10

      Tande

  • Allie Turner

    So thankful for this sweet reminder! Jesus knows the refreshing words that my heart needs to hear. This week has been filled with FEELING inadequate and FEELING like a disappointment, instead of leaning wholeheartedly on the truth of the Cross and the redemption He has won for me. So often my gaze shifts from Jesus to trying to earn His love. It’s so easy for me to FEEL like I need to work even though it’s already been freely given. Praise God that our feelings about Him don’t determine who He is and who we are in Him!

  • Just excellent, look to the cross when we feel we aren’t enough, which is always! So so thankful to our
    Lord , thank you does not do it justice.

  • STORY OF MY LIFE RIGHT NOW GIRL! “My repentance is broken.” Yes, I enter this Lenten season frustrated and desperate that He would show me my sin (because I cannot see it) and work in me deeper repentance (because I cannot feel it.) I’m so thankful I’m not the only one.

  • Courtney

    It is a gift, for our sake, that He asks us to come to Him just as we are. Dirty, broken, messy. He finds our beauty in that. We see a dirty broken mess & He sees a daughter of worth. That aches me to my soul, but I am forever grateful for a God who doesn’t mind dirt. A God who doesn’t mind helping us clean our mess. And a God who is the perfect Artist, one to turn our broken pieces into a masterpiece that brings Him incredible glory!

  • A while back, I read Philip Yancey's book on prayer, and this one thought stood out to me: "The feeling of God's presence or absence is not God's presence or absence." God is with me, even though I can't always feel Him.
    I've found in my own life, whether I am in the midst of a spiritual high or a spiritual low, God can (and does) use them all for His glory. I experience highs because they do draw me to Him, and in the lows, I am pushed to trust Him even when I don't feel like it or I can't sense God's presence. I need to remind myself of this in those dry times, but it helps so much.

  • Ashley Amanda

    This was great! It's amazing that our God can love someone like me. He doesn't just love the good parts of me but all of me! It's crazy that I struggle to believe that and hide at times.

  • Oh yes! I get really upset when the "warm fuzzies" aren't coming during my time with Him. I often wonder what I'm doing wrong. It feels my heart is closed or numb sometimes. That I only feel accomplished when my heart feels stirred. Thank you for this message. It doesn't matter how I'm feeling, only that I'm with Him…returning to Him no matter what.

    • BarbaraH

      It so helps that you and so many others have said what I've so often felt … It's incredibly encouraging to be in a community of sisters who tell it like it is! Thank you Dana and all!

  • :::frantically copying entire post into journal::: this broke my heart open today. Thank you.

  • Sherri B

    There is a strangeness in giving my whole, messy heart to a God that is holy. I would love to understand further why He wouldn’t prefer a neater version of me. Knowing Him and his boundless love, I can not doubt that it is something He asks as a gift to us, for our sake.

  • Ashley Roy

    Everyone should look into Matthew 6 for lent. The priest used it during mass yesterday and I loved it! Lent is all about alms giving, prayer, and fasting, BUT we have to remember to do these things with the right intentions, not just for everyone to see us doing it. So give alms, but do not let your left hand see what your right is doing. Pray, but go in your room and shut the door. Fast, but do not tell everyone you’re doing so. Great passage for the beginning of the Lenten season!

  • So true! I have been in rough waters and not navigating very well. Waiting on God as I turn and return to Him.

  • Savannah Robinson

    This is EXACTLY what I needed today!

  • Brittany

    This. This is what I needed along. This past summer I lost my faith in God because of a miscarriage. After months of not attending mass and being inactive in my catholic community, I am slowing gaining my faith back but today’s reading and devotion made a boost. Thank you. Thank you Jesus for today.

    • Becky

      God is calling you back to Him Brittany. The Holy Spirit just prayed for you through me (strange, I know, and this has only happened one other time in my life.) He wants you to know that He lost His son once too and knows your pain perfectly, and that He wants to hold you the same way you want to hold your baby, because you are His baby. Love you my sister.

  • Still… I’m craving for the fuzzies. Is that okay?

    This devotional hit me because I’d been thinking a lot about holiness and purity and striving towards these. These are good, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t realize that there’s this part of me, gunk and beat up and dirty, that I somehow still can’t erase hahah.

    Struggling with vulnerability and the inability to deal with the less-than-100% side of me because I lack people whom I can trust and who will walk with me through things like these:(

    • shereadstruth

      Friend, you are SO welcome here. You are not alone! It is completely okay to crave the warm fuzzies because I think we all want to feel an emotional connection with God! But it's so comforting to know we can always return to Him even when we don't feel the warm fuzzies. I feel the same way about my gunk and beat up and dirty, but He is always so gracious to show me I will always fail in gaining holiness. We just have to rest in what He has done for us and return to Him with our whole hearts! Praying that for both of us today, and asking that you would find this to be a safe place of warm community! Blessings to you.

      xoxo-Kaitlin for She Reads Truth

  • Megan Shoe

    I needed this reminder today!!!

  • kskrouse

    It's really incredible, humbling, and miraculous how Jesus works in our lives. The nudge I've been feeling to fully participate in this study is no coincidence. Lately, I have been struggling with surrendering my whole heart to the Lord. I've felt empty. I've let the enemy convince me that my busy schedule and excuses are a greater priority than fixing my eyes on Jesus and spending time His presence. I'm so moved by this study, and it's only day two. The scriptures are speaking straight to my wandering heart. Praise the Lord that His humbling, everlasting presence is greater than my prideful, selfish tendencies. I'm beyond thankful for this Lenten season making me take time to pause and return my wandering heart to the One who carries all of my burdens.

    • Allison

      I feel the exact same. I’m takin on the task of being a mom to two and a fiance, soon husband to another and I’ve learned a whole new definition of ‘busy’. So thankful for this time in prayer and in the Word as I learn to return to Him. We have such a gracious Savior, willing to let us turn and return to Him time after time. I can’t wait for the rest of this study and what it will do for my heart.

  • Tears!!!! This is exactly how I am feeling today. Thank you for helping me articulate it and then give it direction.

  • strengthtoloveblog

    I love the idea that "Our emotions do not grant us access to God." How often have I felt more 'holy' because of my tears and anguish? We return to God ONLY because of Jesus. End of story. Such a good reminder.

    • bringbackhisgirls

      Amen. So many times, I thought groveling and wailing in my sinful state would somehow appease the condemnation I felt. There is no condemnation for us in Christ Jesus; our groveling does not make us more pious. May we be heartbroken over our sin, but grateful for our beloved Savior, looking to HIM instead of our wretchedness. Amen.

      Praise Jesus for your comment, sis! Be so blessed in the Lord!
      –AnnaLee

  • Praising Jesus that he is consistent and his banner always goes before me.

  • Steadfast= firm and unwavering. Other terms….loyal love, faithful love, devoted love, dependable love, reliable love, steady love, true love, constant love. THIS is the love the Lord has for me! For us! WOW!
    I have not been very loving this week. Satan is here to kill and destroy and steal my joy and my love BUT Jesus you overpower Satan every time. Please give me this love….this steadfast love for you and for every person in my life.

  • Brittany

    Sometimes it’s just so so so hard for me to believe that Jesus has gone before me and that His death is sufficient enough for allllllll the crap I do. I just feel so screwed up and soooo not worth it. What you were saying in the beginning is me right now. And I don’t know how to let Jesus be enough.

    • Jess

      Brittany, I have been walking through the exact same thing! God is showing me my filth and I’m having to bury myself in his word and ask him to open my heart to his truths and love. Bc it’s not fair for us to not accept Jesus blood as enough.
      You are not alone!!
      I will be praying for you!

    • Carolyn

      Most of my life I have felt unworthy! I knew my family and friends were saved and would be with Jesus but that I somehow wasn't good enough! But now, with the help of strong women to listen to and my work in the word that is getting better, I honestly believe I am enough, worthy and loved but I can be so selfish that the devil tries to convince me I am not worthy – stomp that thought – look to the cross! YOU ARE ENOUGH!!! I am enough! Let Jesus carry you and in your heart the FAITH will guide you.

  • LOVE this study. I’ve never observed Lent before, but even just these last 2 days have been SO good! I was really struck by the commands in the readings today and how they simply depict the whole process of shifting our eyes and hearts from ourselves to God, both individually and as a community!

    Turn
    Fast
    Weep
    Mourn
    Tear hearts

    Return
    Gather
    Sanctify
    Assemble
    Gather
    Leave
    Weep
    Say/cry out

    Don’t be afraid
    Rejoice
    Be glad
    Rejoice and be glad!
    Praise
    Know
    Return

    Amen!

  • Sarah Martin

    Whew! This is chock full of just so much. I took notes on what stuck out to me in the Scripture. And whoa…putting it together with Amanda's words. . Even bowing low in repentance during lent we find ourselves in a place of true joy as He cuts away that which distracts us from wholeness. Praying for this community today. Literally praise clapping for this far reaching group of women who draw near to the Cross. LOVE IT!

  • I found today's reading and study incredibly encouraging. I struggle quite often with the feeling that I have forgotten how to pray or return to God properly. This has reminded me that as long as I come to Him with my WHOLE sinful, broken, and dysfunctional heart, that is enough and that is what He wants because He is the only one to restore it.

  • I could completely relate to the frustration of praying in desperation, crawling back towards my Jesus, but not feeling the “warm fuzzies.” Have I let my heart stray too far? Will I ever “feel” connected again? All thoughts of fear and doubt. Today’s reading reminded me that my fleshly feelings are not real – the cross is what is real. “The cross of Jesus is the path by which we return to our holy, gracious God.” Thank you She Reads Truth…for addressing life just as it really is, raw and dirty… Reminding me that all I need is Jesus…keep my eyes on Jesus.

  • Sonja Cox

    So perfect! Thank you for your honest post! Thankful that our feelings don’t say the truth that JESUS is near & with us always! It’s comforting too ~to know we are all the same -❤️

  • Some of my thoughts….
    "Return"–It is a simple request from God to join Him, unite with Him, and commune with Him. Why do I feel that we have made it much more difficult than it needs to be? I, myself, often think, "Just give me a few more minutes to do this or that, and then I will." I get distracted and then I don't take the time to nourish my soul and talk to my creator as I so desperately need. What makes "returning" feel like work? Are we just operating in a "Do" society that we no longer know what "be" feels like? I loved this today, and I want to return to frequently more than I do.

  • I love that I was taking notes on this devotional and before I knew it, I was writing the whole thing down! I loved this so much. So many great reminders that I needed to hear, and need to hear daily. I am really looking forward to the rest of the study. Thank you God for making it ALL about you and not about me!

  • I was thrilled to read the way you explained how we return. I was doing the same thing, unconsciously searching the text for how to do it right….how to access that feeling. Praise God that he is the same no matter my emotion and that he calls me to return to Him despite the load I bring with me. He only sees us as covered in the blood of His son!

  • Tammy Provins

    Beautiful, convicting words this morning. Praising God for Jesus and the cross.

  • All of these verses remind me that Jesus will take care of me. No matter what! I will be fed, he will be compassionate and will love me to the end. These are just a few of the things I am glad to read today. Jesus goes before me and he knows far more about all these things than me. Thank you for these verses today!

  • Dear sisters… MY heart is so full at this coalition of women living in the truth and the Word. In today's study I am reminded of a song that tore me up at one point in my life, and I needed it again.. Please check it out!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVk0p4x4j7Y

    "I don't need a grand display. Show me that your heart has changed. I don't need a show; only just to know your own heart breaks.
    Yet even now, return to me with nothing less than your wounded broken heart.
    And cling to me, your gracious king, Be shattered glass of empty jars and rend.
    Rend your heart"

  • Yesterday was not a banner day. But to those of you who sent prayers my way just let me say a resounding THANKYOU! As I read through the comments I started to notice a trend here. So many of us are feeling like we are alone, can't get a feeling of connection. Why is that? And ladies, the thought occurred to me that it is not us, it is the one who was sent to kill, still and destroy. We are not alone. We are never alone. But sometimes I know for myself, I let the world around me steal my joy. I have never really considered the time of Lent for what it is. I always considered it something that was perhaps ritual. Not for me. But after starting this study all I can see in myself is that I have missed a time of reflection in my own life that has no price that can be put on it. How sad and foolish of me. My thoughts go to a song I have heard many times lately. I am not alone, I am not alone. You will go before me. Why do I keep forgetting that? I do not know. In my own words and experience he has already cleared the path. I for one am so blessed by this study already. I realize that I am not the only one who has these same struggles, who wonders if I can just get through each day and be a blessing to someone and not a hindrance. So thank you again ladies for your insight into your life and your relationship with The Master. It helps me. Allot….

    • Jordan

      Amen! Thank you for sharing what God is teaching you.

    • Jordan

      These passages go along perfectly with what God has been teaching me this week. I’ve been reading in the book of Hosea, where God tells Hosea to go and take for himself an adulterous wife. She stays with him for awhile, has 3 children, and then she leaves him and goes back to her old life. I don’t know about you sisters, but as much as I hate to admit it, I know that I am the adultress wife in this story. God has given up everything for me, paid the price for my sin, bought me back when I was held captive to sin, yet still, I sometimes chase after other lovers; the things of this world that seem so important…but really only lead to feelings of shame and emptiness. But He chases after me, because now I am His, I am His bride, and He won’t let me go. Jesus paid the price for us while we were still in our sin, even though He knew we would leave Him for other lovers. He buys us back, saying, “This one, she’s Mine.”

  • Charlotte

    Wow! Just wow! I am in awe of how God is so good to me even when I am most undeserving! I long to rend my heart before him and not try to excuse my sin or act as though it is not happening! In a sermon I heard quite some time back we should rend our hearts as a personal form of revival, once revival starts in my heart it will spread to others! I pray for that revival!

  • The past several days these lyrics have been on my mind from Sweetly Surrendered…

    "At the cross you beckon me
    You draw me gently to my knees
    And I am lost for words, so lost in love
    I'm sweetly broken, wholly surrendered."

    Returning to the LORD with all my heart….Rending my heart before Him.

    • Melanie

      Love this song… Beautiful text. What a great connection! Thanks for this.

  • Whitney Sue

    Needed this! Needed the reminder and the promise of Grace and the Gospel! So many time I try to do things on my own without the Cross in my vision and I miss it! I miss the whole point of the Cross and Grace. My striving is just going to leave me tired and hopeless if I don’t constantly look to the Cross and Jesus for my strength! Thank you for this study! I have been looking forward to it! The lent studies are always my favorite! :)

  • Sometimes I don't even know that I've wondered, and that I need to turn back. This focused pause is helping me to do some serious business with my Lord.

    As part of these 47 days I have decided to read "The Mortification of Sin; a Puritans View of How to Deal With Sin in Your Life" by John Owen. It's a bit hard to chew on–the language is archaic, but I want to get through this. I prayed that the Holy Spirit will help me to digest this, so that I can turn my eyes from the ugly deception of my sins (the ones I push aside) and see them for what they are. Then I'll be able to repent and return with all my heart.

  • Beth Warner

    Thank you Amanda. It’s nice to know I’m in good company when at times I feel like I’ve “forgotten” how to pray. Sometimes I feel as if I’m not doing it right,(no warm fuzziness), other times,you feel like Jesus is right there next to you,(lots of warm fuzzies). Lord let me not get caught up in the feeling,but just “rend” my heart each day, and keep,turned toward you. God bless you sisters.

  • What a privilege it is that He gives us a heart to know Him. That we just have to recognize it and turn to Him and we know Him. AND He knows us!
    Turning is an action, which requires us yo do something. To realize we aren’t facing the right direction and to desire to change that. We must fix out eyes on the cross, what we are turning towards, so we turn in the right direction. That’s what I need to remember, to always be actively turning so I have a better view of the cross because that’s what our hearts were made for.

  • Thank you Rachael, that was so beautifully written, and so beautifully explained for me to understand more fully the meaning behind rending my heart. Today is a great day to be alive, thank you Jesus and thank you ladies! God is so good and this devotional is Awesome!

  • I scroll through the comments and realize, “I am not alone”. we are many women, longing to be who God desires us to be, yet broken and sinful and unsure how to get there. I am grateful someone reminded me of Lent, and so glad I decided to open this page yesterday. I pray I will consistently read these devotions and pray that they will make a difference in my life, somehow. I feel like Paul when he said that what he desired to do he didn’t, yet found himself doing that which he did not desire…Jesus, please help me…I DO want to return to You…

  • Insert deep breath here.]

    It’s no wonder we try to come to Him with layers of lies and pride and every other self-preservation instinct intact. It makes sense, right? Except it doesn’t… because Jesus.

    I needed to hear this. So much so that my jaw is sore from clenching it. Yea… So there’s that. Hard week after hard week and shame and guilt and striving. And to do lists and things to check off.

    And then there’s the cross, the feet of Jesus beckoning me to just turn towards Him, lay it all down and exhale.

    Noah Webster in his original dictionary defines return as: 1. To come or go back to the same place. 2. To come to the same state, as, to return from bondage to a state of freedom. 6. To show fresh signs of mercy.

    Returnable: that may be returned or restored

    Returned: restored

    It is God who does the restoration work. We only turn in his direction.

  • Melissa P.

    “Even my best efforts require repentance.” I don’t know who said it, but it helps when I feel and see my brokenness to remember that even my best is broken. Jesus did all things perfectly. In my weakness, he is strong.

  • It's funny. As I started to read this this morning, I immediately thought… "I don't need to return. I'm already there. I haven't wondered away." Unfortunately, I am a sinner, and my pride doesn't want to admit I'm wrong… that I'm not fully there… that I need to turn even further around to face him. I need to turn away from my heart and my plans, my wants and my ideas and fully turn towards Jesus and his glory-shining face.

    The words "turn" and "return" caught my attention right off that bat. It made me realize that this "returning" to Him is a constant process. All through the history of the Bible we see mankind turning away from God and all His blessings to what they think is better, and then later we see them turning back to Him as they see they can't live life on their own. It's a repetitive turning and returning… a cycle of adultery and forgiveness.

    We are all guilty. We are all adulterers. Thankfully, as Joel 2:13 says, "Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…" That verse provides such a relief for me, to know that God loves me, He has compassion on my adulterous heart, He's not mad at me, and He wants me… fully.

    Thank you Amanda for sharing your heart, your rending, with us today… for helping me open my eyes and realize that there's always room to turn towards Him.

    • shereadstruth

      A cycle of adultery and forgiveness – oof. That is so accurate. Thanks for sharing, Meagan. xo, Amanda

    • shereadstruth

      A cycle of adultery and forgiveness – oof. That is so accurate. Thanks for sharing, Meagan! xo, Amanda

  • I was immediately struck in reading Joel with a desire to better understand the meaning of "rend your hearts and not your garments (2:13)." I read the definition of "to rend" meaning to split, tear, or separate and then was reminded in the Old Testament that it was the ritual for people to rend their garments, or tear their garments as an outward sign of their grief from their sin as well as an outward sign of their repentance. I then kept googling the meaning of rending your hearts and found a few sweet comments from different posts:

    "The soul needs something more substantial than ceremonies and rituals to lean upon"

    "Heart rending is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud un-humbled hearts are unable to receive."

    "The text commands us to rend our hearts but they are naturally hard as marble. How, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary…"

    Thankful for the reminder that even though my heart feels hard as marble this morning, it needs to be humbled and heart rending is the way to prepare to receive the grace our great God offers. Today I will rend my hardened heart to Calvary.

    Under the mercy sweet sisters. Thank you Amanda for your vulnerability in this post.

    • Angela

      Rachael, thanks for the insight on “rending”. This helps me greatly in my understanding.

  • “Our actions do not give us the right to return. Our emotions do not grant us access to God. We return because and only because Jesus Christ goes before us, His cross as our banner and His grace as our plea”. Powerful words for me this morning. Having walked with Jesus for 30+ years I still get discouraged when my emotions do not line up with truth rather than stand on the only source of truth – the cross of Jesus Christ This truth was powerful for me today.

    • Amber Dick

      Those words touched me as well. Sometimes repenting is hard for me because I just don’t “feel” right yet. But it is a comfort to know that I can repent because of Jesus. He is all of the justification I need.

  • This may be only day 2, but these reminders are breaking me in ways that I haven’t felt in over a year. I always felt my return was lacking, that my repentance fell short, I realize it was because of my want to do it on my own. How wrong I was to try to find those things without drawing closer to the cross. Such a powerful reminder the cross is our only way back to Christ, not just our first time. I think I’ve kept my eyes and heart off the cross’ severity for too long.

  • Amazing readings. Our Deacon this weekend recommended that instead of giving up something for lent try to do something for the better of someone else’s life this lent. I’ve decided to join the 40 days for life campaign and join in with weekly meetings outside of a local abortion facility to pray and gather in hopes of saving innocent babies lives and serving as a sign for hope and help for desperate parents. If you’re interested in joining a local vigil check out: https://40daysforlife.com
    Prayers for all of you amazing women!

  • This one spoke directly to my heart. I’m 8 weeks postpartum and feeling numb towards everyone and everything except my baby. This includes my relationship with God. I’m just going through the motions. Thank you for pointing out that God loves all of me- even this part of me in this time of my life.

    • Angela

      Katie, I am praying for you in this season of your life. It is great comfort that God loves each of us and whatever we bring to the table. I am so thankful for that.

  • Sara Pappas

    Just what I needed. Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for pointing this out to me today.!! The price has been paid in full.!! I need to ALWAYS remember He has been there and IS already there…..I need a Savior and to be forgiven.!!

  • Adrienne

    “Because they will return to me with all their hearts.” -Jeremiah 34:7. We are called to return to God right now. He’s not waiting for us to get our act together or clean up those messy, broken parts of ourselves before we come to Him. He never made that a stipulation. We’ve added that in ourselves. We have created an angry, unforgiving, record-keeping God who wants us to have all of our crap together before we approach Him. But if we have it all together, where is our need for a Savior? Where is our need for Jesus? God knew we were never going to have it all together on our own. That’s why he sent His son to take on my mess, my inadequacy, my stubbornness and laziness, my sin. Jesus went to the cross so that in the midst of my mess I can still approach God. What a gracious gift that I so often take for granted! Lord, thank you for sending your son to go to the cross to bear my sin and my messy life. Don’t let me take for granted the sacrifice you have made on my behalf. Don’t allow me to live in a place where I believe I have to clean up my mess bscore I turn to you.

  • when I ‘return’ it’s shuts out the lie of distraction. even when I’m distracted by striving to do His work. the action of returning, wholeheartedly, is something I can do because He’s told me I can and has already prepared me to.

  • I need to hear this every day: “Our actions do not give us the right to return. Our emotions do not grant us access to God. We return because—and only because—Jesus Christ goes before us, His cross as our banner and His grace as our plea.”

  • I’ve just recently returned to God. I had nearly lost hope but remembered my hope had been there all along – sweet sweet Jesus!

  • Just found these lyrics to Matt Redmans…Once again…certainly one to marry with the devotion today..
    Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice
    You became nothing, poured out to death
    Many times I've wondered at Your gift of life
    And I'm in that place once again
    I'm in that place once again

    And once again I look upon the cross where You died
    I'm humbled by Your mercy and I'm broken inside
    Once again I thank You
    Once again I lay down my life

    Now You are exalted to the highest place
    King of the heavens, where one day I'll bow
    But for now I marvel at Your saving grace
    And I'm full of praise once again
    I'm full of praise once again

    Thank You for the cross
    Thank You for the cross
    Thank You for the cross, my friend..x

  • This morning I prayed for repentance. And then realized I didn’t even truly want that. That I was simply walking through the motions, that I was saying what I knew I was supposed to. It’s frustrating, my walls are up and my even my repentance, as the author of this study said, is so flawed, so broken, so forced. But I’m trying. I’m trying to return to Him, and all I can do is do it through the cross….. Begging, praying, hoping that He will help me get there. God is a constant warm fuzzy, it’s us that blocks that and my prayer for all of us in Lent is that while we do remember our deeply engrained humanity, and how much we need the Lord….. I pray even more that we can all truly grasp what He wants from us, and it is our hearts. So complicated and yet so simple. May this Lent season bring us clarity, peace and love.

    • Jenny

      Indeed a well captured sentiment! I have felt the same way, just utter bewilderment at my apathy! Jesus deserves much more from me, yet I know His grace is there without expectation! Praise Him!

  • Love the verse in Jeremiah. .I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. Praying today for a heart that fully trusts,loves, and seeks Him.

    • Allie T

      Me too, Cindy! My heart is so full of thanks that HE is the one who gives us a new heart, it’s not something that we have to work for and earn all by ourselves and our own efforts to clean up the hearts we have. Such a sweet Savior we have!

  • Prayer request ladies- I am requesting time off today from my boss to go on a mission trip. It’s during a week that we are supposed to be there but she did offer an opportunity to request it off and will get approved for special circumstances. Pray for favor and boldness

    • Sarah Elizabeth

      Stopping to pray right now Tiff. Believing that the Lord has prepared a way before you, and that His favor is yours.

    • BELOVED_YE

      I'm praying too! Please be sure to post how The Lord answered, Remember YE are BELOVED!

  • oh yes yes yes thank you so much for this today!

  • MNmomma (heather)

    Part way thru the devotional I was sobbing……something finally opened in me….not sure what it was, but everything that I have been holding back is spilling out…..big time….I am throwing myself, raw, open and exposed – all of the yuckiness at the feet of my Lord and Savior……

    • shereadstruth

      Heather, I totally understand that feeling. Praying God's grace and peace over you. You are loved. xo, Amanda

  • This is my first observance of Lent. I am so sorry that I never delved into what the traditions stood for before.
    Today, I am reminded that God wanted (wants?) me more than I wanted (want?) Him. It breaks my heart that I have been (can be?) so callous toward the One willing to sacrifice His Precious Son so that the wall of separation was torn down. Lord, forgive me for taking Your grace for granted. Forgive my selfishness. Forgive my contentment to operate in shallow oblivion.

  • Lauren Marks

    grateful knowing that I can return to my God in whatever circumstance because He is constant and goes before me

  • I love that this verse, "Return to Me" is numbered 24:7!!!!! I need to remember this 24:7! 24 hours a days…7 days a week!!!

  • Beautiful…and nice to hear turn and return as this special lent study led me to "turn" and already on day 2 I am eager to "return" daily to the Word.

  • In a deep (literal and metaphorical) winter, everything around me has felt like a burden. From my once budding faith to all the presently exposed, raw empty places in my life. It all feels so empty yet so heavy at the same time. Because this. All of this mess I have made has stripped me, has laid me open. And as I survey it all, I can’t help but see the depth of my sin, of my need (constantly) for repentance, for forgiveness. God is doing a mighty (yet painful) work in my life that is not just surface deep. This working, molding, refining is deep, very deep. And for the first time in my life I’m not looking to God for a quick patch for all my holes before anyone notices. I have laid my humiliation on the table, along with my fears, my doubts, and of most importance, my pride. I have held so tightly to my pride. But now my grip is loosened and though I often can’t ‘feel’ it, God is helping me to return.
    To return to Him broken and utterly empty. Because He wants to fill those empty places that I have often stuffed with worldly, fleeting things. He wants to fill me and my empty places with all that is good and lasting. But even as my heart fills – I will always need Him, His forgiveness, His love, His grace.
    I am grateful for the return. For the emptiness that calls me to return. For His steadfastness that beckons my aching heart. For the eternal gift of redemption that He offers to me, even now, even in all my mess. Giving Him my whole heart today, and always.

    • Laura

      You’re honesty rings true, we ALL need Him. All the time. We’re broken, sin-filled and dirty. And His love for us is perfect!

      Praying for you sister to find the peace that the Lord has for you!

      • Beverly

        Peace… His peace is the longing of my heart. Thank you, Laura. God is so good to bring us together to lift each other up.

  • stinav96

    It has already been a rather distracting morning, and this spoke to me right where I am. Thank you!

    Since I don't have the study pack, I went searching and found this beautiful rendition of the poem above:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26FQCAiOhxA

  • Chelsea C.

    I have been struggling with feeling far from the Lord after an amazing closeness last month. This morning's readings were an eye opener. Our repentance should not be warm and fuzzy at all. It should break you, rend your heart and open your eyes to how far you are from a Holy God. This time of Lent should be a solemn walk with the Lord that ends in celebration for all He has done to put us in a right relationship with Him.

  • “Rend your heart, not your garment.” What a reminder that, while outward physical actions during Lent can help us to guide our focus, the ultimate goal is changing of the heart. Powerful readings today, and I’m appreciative of the insightful commentary.

  • displayinggrace

    This was a message that was an answer to a midnight prayer…Oh how sweet God is to provide words so deeply needed to fill my brokeness! Sometimes we loose the warm fuzzies, but we forget to lay it all at His feet…Oh the beauty of weeping with my Jesus! A beautiful refreshing with Him this morning!

  • We went to Ash Wednesday services last night and I struggled to feel God with me. This morning, as I read the passages, I stopped and prayed. I listed my sins and I was dismayed to realize I still wasn’t feeling Him with me. I know he’s there…why can’t I feel him? Then I read the response here and saw that I’m not alone. Thank you for sharing your experience. I know that true repentance is hard, but I’ll keep working toward it! God wants us to show up, with all of our sins and scars showing. I know, for me, there’s a lot of layers to get through before I find the pure inside of me.

    • Deidre

      Yes! I love this response because I too feel as if I can’t feel God with me! I know He is there at all times and He is a true and loving God! I am on a journey to dig deep and find myself…I have not been reading the bible as one should, I only attend church and pay tithes every now and then just being honest. But I do want to get closer to Him, to become more intimate in a sense with Him! Please pray for me as I will do the same while I am on this journey! So far I’m liking the app and so many encouraging words from you ladies! May you all have a wonderful morning!

  • The song ‘Return’ by NEEDTOBREATHE instantly popped into my head after reading this so I took a look at the lyrics…

    –Im giving you my heart to break again

    Oh Im leaving you a way to get back in–

    I think this is a good description of what it looks like to return to God with our whole hearts, acknowledging we need him to break our hearts again over our sin and wickedness and being open to Him so that He can work in us. For we know that with man it is impossible to always desire and move toward the right things, but with Jesus nothing is impossible. He will direct our hearts to him if we allow it.

    • Beverly

      Allowing God to break our hearts… such a courageous thing in a world where no one wants to be 'broken' or in need of fixing. Where we just want to cover it up quickly so that no one sees. I'm speaking from personal experience. And I've come to realize that my brokenness is a beautiful opportunity for God to redeem me, heal me, restore me, and make me new. Because the truth is we don't have it all together – none of us- we all are in need of a Savior. Love how you quoted Matthew 19:26 – that verse has been on my heart as well. Thanks for sharing, Alicia.

  • I remember occassionally hearing the saying "You can never go home again". As a kid I never understood what that meant. And what I considered it meant was incredibly painful to bare. I only ever associated "home" with where my parents were, so I didn't relate this phrase to a geographical location. To think that when I grew, I wasn't going to be able to be near my folks just because I'd matured was devastating. My parents were "home".

    When you spend your entire life moving around the country and don't know what it feels like to have roots in one place, when you're asked constantly where you're from and you can't give a response, when people inquire about a particular inflection in your voice, a kind of accent, you have no idea which part of this land mass you may have acquired it from, it's so easy to feel like you don't belong. The wait of not having a home can be heavy. All of these reasons were part of why I so desperately clung to my Mom and Dad, even into adulthood …. THEY were my "where I was from". When I lost them both, I lost so much of my heart, BUT something amazing happened. Growing up as I did taught me that home truly truly IS where the heart is. Loving my earthly parents in this capacity allowed me to KNOW that Home is my God and that I can always return. I don't have feel out of place or discontent because I don't have answers to simple questions, instead I can find peace in the knowledge that Heaven is my home, that wherever God is I can be and that there is a big fat Welcome Mat awaiting me everytime. So today, I will be comforted in knowing that I can wipe my dirty feet, my sin, at God's door. I don't have to DO anything except show up. Even if I lack words because my heart hurts, or out of joy or shame, I am overwhelmed the door will open and God will recieve me. I know THAT is my home and I am thankful for the beauty in that knowledge. ~ B

    • Lydia

      This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart and reminding us of the greatest reality — eternity with our beloved God & the saints who have loved Him so dearly!

      • Onfaith

        It makes me think to the song by Building 429, "Where I belong"…….that song just brings so much peace and hope to me! ~ B

    • Lisa

      Great imagery, B! Simplifies something that isn’t so easy to put into words. So glad we have a God who will always be chasing us no matter what our sins are… He loves us and will always invite us to the Welcome Mat with the door wide open!

      • Onfaith

        So incredibly thankful for "a God who will always be chasing us no matter what our sins are…" That reality is so profound isn't it?! The hope and love in it just brings me to my knees. ~ B

    • Melani

      Your words spoke loudly to me. This will be our 3rd move in 3 years and most people ask how we do it. How we can handle it. I know that no matter where I go, my God can reach me, and I Him…til the ends of the earth. I rest on the fact that He goes with me, in the good and bad and that I will be "at home" no matter my geographical location. Thank you for your post.

      • Onfaith

        Oh Melani! Moving is hard and every year … goodness I know that. There was a period that we moved so frequently that by the time my middle child turned 4 she had lived in 6 different cities. Tough stuff, so hard to have community. The amazing thing is that you are exactly right, God can always reach you and no matter how you feel; tired, lonely, what have you – there is great peace in the dependance that this lifestyle can create between a daughter and her Father. Prayerful over you and yours today Melani! ~ B

    • Beverly

      A few years ago, my Husband and I moved 3000 miles away from home and family. I also felt that insatiable, gnawing feeling of disconnection, not fitting in, not being Home. It was the deepest, darkest, most painful season I had ever experienced. I didn't feel I could be myself, I didn't feel welcome… But that's a whole other story. Some days I felt bitter, some days angry, some days bound and determined to make it work. During that season, I started to think more about eternity – God was revealing to me that 'This place was not my home, my home was with Him in heaven one day,' to set my present mind on things above. I am grateful for that time. It shaped my heart, and reading what you wrote, I can see more clearly how my own experience offered me the opportunity to know that God is my Home – no matter where I live in this world. Amen, and thanks B.

      • Onfaith

        3000 miles away! Your description of all you felt is something so relatable to me. Even though I was never so far away, sometimes it felt as if I might as well be. I am also thankful for the realization in those seasons of God. The reality of Home I spoke of, that you mentioned. I love how God can take something so physical to remind us where we belong, how to get through it. ~ B

    • shereadstruth

      I love the image of the welcome mat!! This is beautiful, B. Thanks for sharing. xo, Amanda

    • tina

      Amen B, I love this…beautifully said…I remember when my youngest was going off to uni, he bought me a new bible, with the inscription in his hand,…' Home is where your heart is, and you are mine.'.. And the bible was mine….my boy knew that….I love those words…
      Blessings and love to you B, and thank you for sharing…xxx

      • Onfaith

        Tina – that is beautiful. What a treasured gift that must be. I hope my parents knew, as you do, that I felt exactly as your son penned. Love you T! ~ B

  • Kelly_Smith

    Today's word hit me in the gut, leaving me gasping for breath. My prayer before opening my Bible was to see my sin, my need for the cross. My need for grace is dulled by the applause I give myself for my morality and good deeds. When I come boldly to the throne of grace, it is not because Christ is before me, it is because I feel I have something to show. In reality, I am in dirty robes with pride and flesh dragging behind me like a rusty ball and chain. "The cleaned up, feel-good part of my heart is not all God is looking for." Today is a day to get real. To be real. To lay open my heart and let those places that I keep hidden (even from myself) be exposed to the gracious and compassionate Savior.

    • valerie

      thank you for sharing – your comment really struck a chord with me
      you are so right – today is the day to GET REAL!

    • M.Nicole

      THIS is everything! I don't think I could have said it any better. I've been praying about my own pride and lack of humility when it comes to my faith. Yes, I am doing several of those things God's word requires of me, but there is still even MORE. At the end of all my "efforts" it is still my heart that he wants. It is still Jesus that keeps me in right standing with the Father. My prayer is that I am ALWAYS cognizant of my sins and need for a savior.

  • I’ve always felt like lent isn’t for this little Protestant girl, but felt strongly that I needed to do this study this time. Thank you, Rachael, for shedding the light on that narrow-minded thinking and bringing me back to the cross of Christ and the weight of my son.

    • Joyjoy

      This is me. Could be my comment! After waking with such guilt this morning, this passage was for me. Thank you for writing friend and fellow mama!

  • morganzoeller

    I read the passages prior to reading the devotional, and immediately Joel 2:25-26 jumped off the page. I LOVE this imagery. How many moments, days, weeks, years have I allowed the swarming locust, the creeping locust, the stripping locust, the gnawing locust to eat up? Missed opportunities because of the nasty pests in my life. And yet God. My God is faithful. My God awaits my return. My God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. My God makes up, multiplies. Where there's mommy guilt for bad days, My God makes those up. Where I've ignored an opportunity for conversation, my God will make it up. Where I lose sleep over years selfishly lived and seemingly wasted, my God will make those up and multiply their fruit. He will make up the years the locusts have eaten and I will have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord my God who has dealt wondrously with me through the Cross and blood of Jesus.

  • I think the returning in all of this is what is most important. No matter how we feel, God wants us to return to Him and give Him our whole hearts, our lives, our whole days.

  • Oh do I EVER need this reminder daily (at least). It’s not about me doing it right. It’s about what He did, and me turning to Him wholeheartedly. That’s everything.

  • Joel 2:13- “Rend your heart and not your garments.” Never read that before. Stopped me in my tracks. Rewrote it over and over. Is my return to The Lord outward or to the core? Is it a rending of my heart or just for show? Oh Lord. Let my heart repent. This met me right where I was today. The Lord is amazing. His word is so alive. So alive.

    • drasch

      This impacted me strongly today, too.

      • Tess

        Yes, out of the reading today, this is what stood out to me most this morning too! My Bible reads as "tear your hearts". Such a powerful, significant image, that translates the severity of grief we have over our sin. Inwardly, repentant sin (break my heart for what breaks yours), not outwardly symbols of our repentance (tearing our garments). Such an strongly emotional verse in just a few words.

    • Jess

      This stood out to me too ❤️

    • Carol Mohorc-Kroll

      All these blogs hit me hard. Especially the one of the gals referring to fasting & only lasting to mid morning. When I read these I see my shallowness. Ouch. I'm revived & refreshed as I read them & think "OK I'm not the only one who feels like this." Then I'm all enthused. But shortly after I come away from my computer & my time with the Lord, I can barely recall what I took in. That's one reason I journal & write things on little scraps of paper. I want that inward core return. It seems the only time I have it, is when I'm in God's Word, prayer Fellowship with Him or at my Bible study group or church. What is the answer?? Is it because we are just sinners?? I will remain faithful tho'.

  • This is so true. Sometimes when it comes to repentance, I feel I'm doing it wrong because maybe I don't feel guilty right then but I know I need repentance. The "warm fuzzies" always get in the way.

    In truth, sometimes I seek the "warm fuzzies" from God to know if my repentance has been accepted. Like a child, I need reassurance. But by faith, because I am covered by the blood of Jesus, I must know that it is enough!

  • Kendall_S

    returning…..

    finding myself needing to return again today.

    i was so full of the spirit of lent yesterday and determined to fast to "show" God how serious i was about keeping this time sacred….

    and i didn't even last until mid morning….

    where to go when my repentance seems broken and even my returning is anti-climactic or faulty……the cross….

    Jesus keep me near the cross…..

    oh Father. forgive my unbelief in your Son. forgive my tendency to try and muscle my way through an action to prove my worth to you. help me to know your grace and your blessing anew today. keep my eyes on Jesus, Lord and not on my lack of will power. amen.

  • In confronting my sin I´ve often prayed for the Lord to turn it into fruit in my life for Him. However… after many nights of praying this way… my husband and I were praying and I realized I couldn´t name my sins. I could rattle off "for my impatience, anger, etc." but I couldn´t name when they actually were. As an exercise today I may keep a little notebook with me to jot down my prayers for forgiveness as they happen so that I can feel the weight of this sin that I KNOW is real. Anyone else feeling this?

    • Jen Lebo

      Love this. I’ve also asked the Holy Spirit to show me my sins. And He does! I’m with you Missy.

    • Rita

      Missy,
      A couple of months ago, I asked two people that I trusted to pray with me for two weeks for God to reveal my sins. He did. I believe we have some sin that doesn't immediately come to our minds. Ask God to search your heart for any sin. He will reveal. Repent those sins. It's a great idea to journal them as you go along to see His forgiveness.

    • Kelly_Smith

      Missy, I feel a little bashful in prayer knowing that my sins are many but my mind has covered them with excuses, justification, and good works. Why do I collect my sins like rocks weighing heavy in my pocket? My walk would be easier if I would toss them into the Great Sea of Grace each time I stoop low, tripping over my own flesh. I will join you today, rending my heart as I go instead of covering these sins with feeble attempts at rending my garment for show (Joel 2:13).

    • Jessica

      Yes! I’ve thought this many times but I haven’t done anything about it. It grieves me to realize my sin isn’t grieving/affecting me enough to remember and to change (does that make sense?). May I be grieved by my sin, even those I may think are “little”, and return to the Lord in full repentance so that I may be possessed by Him. Thank you Missy for giving the idea to stop and write it down. I know if I do that I will come face to face with some ugly truths BUT the Cross!

    • Maxine_R

      Thank you for the idea Missy! I will be joining you in this, I'm a little late but never too late right? Blessings <3

  • I received my study pack and it had the full lyrics of the poem.

    “I bury in His tomb
Each thought of unbelief and fear,
Each lingering shade of gloom”

    This was my favorite part and I prayed it to the Lord last night. Bury every fear, every doubt and replace it with trust and faith.

    • Brigetta

      Amen! I am meditating on this in my study pack as well!

    • BarbaraH

      Sorry, I pressed the wrong thumb button! I found what you said really helpful, and will pray that way too.

  • Michelle Malone

    Oh my. Few sentences in and I stop in unbelief…are you reading my mind? Past few days I have been troubled with the feeling of losing my closeness with the Lord, and being angry at myself for not doing enough to feel close to Him. I cry out to Him desperately to help me get close to Him. And I love what you have written here. Such truth. Such beautiful truth. He wants ALL of us; the whole of our self to turn to Him. I just pictured myself, bowing down completely, as Jesus walks toward the Father on my behalf. Your words paint beautiful imagery in my mind. Thank you. God bless!

    • Beverly

      I felt the same way, Michelle! Isn't it a comfort to know that we are all in this together. :)

    • Katie_K

      I've been feeling this over the last week too. Praying and feeling lost. Trying to do things on my own out of frustration. Oh how I need to return to Him and let Him do His work in me and my life!

  • jeniamarie

    "Nothing about Christianity is suppose to be sensational!" I was reminded Sunday and this morning to not look to my feelings for validation of God's presence. It takes faith not feelings to just know that he's there and listening. Not only that; he's so eager to come to us.

  • Ha! I've always felt I've had a bit of 'imposter syndrome' when it comes to my faith – like I was doing it wrong. Like I wasn't feeling things the 'right' way. But then I remember it's not really about our actions, is it. It's about our hearts and us allowing them to be our compas, to seek what they so naturally do: God. People of faith just have 'a heart for Jesus,' …isn't that what they say? :)

    • Beverly

      I've totally had that 'imposter' feeling – where I've looked at my life and thought, "How did I get here? I am so not qualified for any of this!" And it's true because without God I will never be enough. He calls me enough, even as the world around me constantly reminds me of my inadequacies.
      But as I think back – and read your comment – it has never been about MY actions. And has always been about God working through me, wanting all along for me to give Him my whole heart. Every day. All the time. In everything. There is such beauty in His perfect grace and love. Thanks for sharing, Eliza.

  • Oh, Amanda Bible, this is so painfully ( and rightly so), tugging at my heart…this is so me……"Am I in your presence Lord God.. " .." Did you hear my sad and sorry repentance..".." Was it all it should/ could have been…" I get lost in those moments…hanging between..' am I worthy' and 'did I pray right…'..Then I remember….Jesus' words…"I shall send you a Helper, …then in Romans 8, Paul, writes..'In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, (when), we do not know what we ought to pray for, the Spirit himself intercedes for us..And He who searches our hearts, knows the mind of the spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints( US…that's another story…yes us saints. ) in accordance with God's will..'

    Jesus, the Son of God, His CROSS, NO, struck that, carried MY cross, (my sin, my punishment, my failings)…took my place, My cross, carried the weight of all my deserved punishment, going before me.., and His CROSS is now my banner and His Grace my plea…THIS act, THIS beautiful and so so loving act, for one so undeserving, so sinful, prepares my way to the Father, making the way clearer, not just the once, but each and every time…Amen…oh AMEN..Thank you Jesus..

    Lord God, Thank you, thank you…

    Lord, I pray that this heart, this heart that has no way, what so ever, of paying you back, or even enough words to say THANK YOU…Will learn to know you..change me Lord God, give me a heart to know you.., that this undeserving heart, WILL truly know You are Yahweh…that this undeserving, yet grateful heart, will turn to you, Lord God..that I will be 'your people' and that You, Lord God will be my God…teach me, guide me, direct me Lord to return to you, but with all my heart…wholeheartedly..
    I can, but repeatedly say it Lord, though it will never be enough……EVER..Thank you for saving me…May I learn and know through this extraordinary and amazing love, in the Cross, that You and only You are Lord God.. the Redeemer, the Healer, Delivered, my Strength, my Shelter, my Everlasting Father, my Love, Friend…my Hope…Thank you Lord God…Thank you Jesus…Thank you…

    Blessings dear sister's today in all you do…with love, Tina xxx

  • thank you Amanda. i do worry that i'm not doing the whole "repent & believe" thing right. Lord, please help me to believe. help me to trust. help me to return. to you, and you alone. Amen.

    • shereadstruth

      There is so much beauty in knowing we are not alone in this journey – not only that we have Him but that we have each other! Thankful. Grace and peace to you. xo, Amanda

  • Thanks so much Amanda for reminding us of The cross, I’m already crying… The cross changes everything. Thank God for that!

  • Oh, Amanda Bible, this is so painfully ( and rightly so), tugging at my heart…this is so me……"Am I in your presence Lord God.. " .." Did you hear my sad and sorry repentance..".." Was it all it should/ could have been…" I get lost in those moments…hanging between..' am I worthy' and 'did I pray right…'..Then I remember….Jesus' words…"I shall send you a Helper, …then in Romans 8, Paul, writes..'In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, (when), we do not know what we ought to pray for, the Spirit himself intercedes for us..And He who searches our hearts, knows the mind of the spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints( US…that's another story…yes us saints. ) in accordance with God's will..'

    Jesus, the Son of God, His CROSS, NO, struck that, MY cross, (my sin, my punishment, my failings)…took my place, carried the weight of all my deserved punishment, going before me, and His CROSS is now my banner and His Grace my plea…THIS act, THIS beautiful and so so loving act, for one so undeserving, so sinful, prepares my way to the Father, making the way clearer, not just the once, but each and every time…Amen…oh AMEN..Thank you Jesus..

    Lord God, Thank you, thank you…

    Lord, I pray that this heart, this heart that has no way, what so ever, of paying you back, or even enough words to say THANK YOU…Will learn to know You, give me a heart to know you, Lord,., that this undeserving heart, will truly know You are Yahweh…that this undeserving, yet grateful heart, will tOh, Amanda Bible, this is so painfully ( and rightly so), tugging at my heart…this is so me……"Am I in your presence Lord God.. " .." Did you hear my sad and sorry repentance..".." Was it all it should/ could have been…" I get lost in those moments…hanging between..' am I worthy' and 'did I pray right…'..Then I remember….Jesus' words…"I shall send you a Helper, …then in Romans 8, Paul, writes..'In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, (when), we do not know what we ought to pray for, the Spirit himself intercedes for us..And He who searches our hearts, knows the mind of the spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints( US…that's another story…yes us saints. ) in accordance with God's will..'

    Jesus, the Son of God, His CROSS, NO, struck that, MY cross, (my sin, my punishment, my failings)…took my place, carried the weight of all my deserved punishment, going before me, and His CROSS is now my banner and His Grace my plea…THIS act, THIS beautiful and so so loving act, for one so undeserving, so sinful, prepares my way to the Father, making the way clearer, not just the once, but each and every time…Amen…oh AMEN..Thank you Jesus..

    Lord God, Thank you, thank you…

    Lord, I pray that this heart, this heart that has no way, what so ever, of paying you back, or even enough words to say THANK YOU…Will learn to know you..change me Lord, give me a heart to KNOW you.., that this undeserving heart, will truly know You are Yahweh…that this undeserving, yet grateful heart, will turn to you, Lord God..that I will be 'your people' and that You, Lord God will be my God…teach me, guide me, direct me Lord to urn to you, Lord God..that I will be 'your people' and that You, Lord God will be my God…teach me, guide me, direct me Lord to return to you… to return with all my heart…wholeheartedly, every bit of me Lord God..
    I can but repeatedly say it Lord, though it will never be enough…EVER..Thank you for saving me…May I learn and know through this extraordinary and amazing love, that You and only You are Lord God.. the Redeemer, the Healer, Delivered, my Strength, my Shelter, my Everlasting Father, my Love, Friend…my Hope…Thank you Lord God…Thank you Jesus…Thank you…

    Blessings dear sister's today in all you do….Love, Tina..

    • tina

      I think some "fuzzies are trying to sabotage my writing…Will rewrite and resend..x

      • Onfaith

        No some of the beauty of it just bared repeating. I've always found comfort when I lacked words, that the Spriti interecedes. There have been too many season where my prayers have been shadowed by tears, so thankful I can come to Him without words and still be given access to Him. ~ B

    • Beverly

      I have had that fear lately of 'not getting' this whole faith thing right – prayers and all. Thank you for this reminder that the Spirit was given to us to help us in our time of need, when we don't feel enough. Amen, Tina.

    • shereadstruth

      Love you, dear sister. Thank you for always coming to this place vulnerable and waiting to hear the Lord. Thankful for you. xo, Amanda

    • Jennifer Vasconcellos

      Oh Tina! U took everything I wanted to say n my heart n posted it! I struggle with the “did I pray right” “did I sound believable” ugh! I am so grateful he guided me to this app because I was just so lost n “returning” to him. Every time Id here that scripture about seeking him with my whole heart Id cringed cause honestly how? Aren’t I doing it? This lesson was everything today. God bless you love ❤️

  • Great reminder that our feelings and actions do nothing to earn our way – only trusting Jesus.

    I want to have a stronger faith, one that can let doubts pass by without feeling lost and panicky in the midst.

    So glad I’m doing this study and the Bible in a year study.

  • fuzzies*

  • Needed this today exactly! Was wondering where my warm and fuzzier were today….and this just made me think my warm and fuzzy “feelings” are great, but I should be looking for Jesus and not those feelings!

  • heavenboundprincess

    All I can say is, Wow! :) I definitely needed this reminder. Joel 2:25-27 are some of my favorite verses. God wants a relationship with me regardless of how messy and broken my life is!

  • Still learning to bare myself before Jesus each day. Without trying to cover up stuff that I think I cannot bring before Him. Yet He already knows!
    This was a nice study.

    • Rhonda

      Yes, I have started this a few days late but what you say is so true. This is a great study tool.

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