Practicing Holiness

“This has been my practice: I obey Your precepts.” -Psalm 119:56

The truth is not hidden from God’s children. He has graciously opened our eyes to His revealed Word to mine the depths of His riches. This is our blessing. God instills His wisdom in each redeemed saint for us to put into practice what we now know. God has made a life of faith very practical by laying out His precepts for us to follow. 

God knows we cannot live out His ways in our own strength so He also gave us His Counselor to help us walk the narrow way. We are happy and holy within the walls of God’s commands. As we remain faithful to practice holiness, not out of legalism but a sincere desire to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, the Lord will add more wisdom and deeper fellowship to a life in joyful obedience.

Treasuring Faithfulness

Exodus 26:1-27:21;  Matthew 25:1-30


“Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening til morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.” -Exodus 27:20-21

In reading the Exodus passage for constructing the tabernacle I’m amazed how specific it is. God orchestrated every detail in the materials used, measurements and instructions so there would be no confusion. He is the God of order not chaos. We see this reflected in how the Israelites were to worship also. Do we affirm like Israel, after Moses told them everything the Lord commanded, by responding, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey” (Exodus 24:7)? We’re familiar enough with the Biblical history cycle of: call to obedience, failure, judgement, repentance, and restoration. Like a worn path, this is our story too. We all share in this heritage of sin as Adam’s race. But there is hope.

Just as the actions of Israel illustrate every human heart, the components of God’s tabernacle were pointing to an even greater Temple in His Son. We are prone to wander, in need of a powerful and merciful Savior Who is capable and willing to rescue a damned people. God provided Jesus as the way to Himself. Now, as His Beloved Bride the Church, we pursue faithfulness to Christ alone. He is our treasured Bridegroom.

We are to make ourselves ready for Him by staying faithful in the work He has given us to do until His return or until we die. A faithful heart to the Lord creates the desire to walk in wisdom, please our Master, and share in His happiness. Have you ever thought about obedience as a means to be happy?





Following Christ is not easy. It certainly cannot be done in our own strength, yet those who abide in Jesus, choosing to trust His ways and obey, will discover a deep-seated joy that gets lovelier over time. Its like finding a priceless treasure buried in the dirt. After persistently rubbing off the grime it begins to gleam. The treasure becomes even more precious to you as its beauty is uncovered. This is what its like to know and obey the Lord. He simply calls us to follow Him, to stay true to our Bridegroom.

Jesus laid the pattern for us to walk in, going before us. We know the way, so we walk by faith. And if  when we stumble, His Hand is right there to pick us up because Jesus’ grace toward His children is boundless. Through His Spirit we have access to God and transformed hearts that are now always tied to our King. Jesus’ blood makes standing in His holy presence possible.

The Lord tells us to keep the light of His Spirit burning in our hearts, letting it shine for others to see (Matthew 5:14-16). We are to be faithful and unashamed. Our faces will shine with the light He has placed inside our hearts, one that never goes out. This is our worship. In this way, we actively wait for God, anticipating His coming again.


Grace upon grace,




God’s Way

Exodus 19:16-21:21; Psalm 28; Proverbs 7:1-5; Matthew 23:13-39


“What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come […] So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” -Galatians 3:19; 24


There has to be a reason I repeatedly teach my 9 year old not to whine or argue. One, I just don’t like hearing it. But more importantly, I’m parenting for obedience. The lessons I lay out for him now will hopefully change into a habitual behavior. My hope is one day he will want to walk in obedience on his own without me reminding him! I can only assist in modifying actions I know please God, but He has to transform the heart.

In a similar way, God gave us His law not to go through the motions but to promote heart change. Through the law God demonstrates His standard of holiness and how we always fall short because of our sin nature (Romans 3:23). Following the law cannot save us but reveals our need for the Savior. God’s commands are right and good. They keep us from grievous sins against Himself and others. Even the cultural laws for Israel were beneficial to the people as they learned to operate as a set apart nation governed by God.

IMG_0602man in black jacket beside boy in pink jacket holding plush toy during daytime



When we reduce the Lord’s decrees to playing church on Sunday we are no better than the outwardly pious legalists Jesus condemned during His earthly ministry. God says He desires mercy, not sacrifice. So what does that mean? Jesus cares more about the motivation of our hearts than how we appear before others. Is our focus to look “holy” with lengthy superficial prayers, checking the church box, or visible acts of service? Or are we more concerned with what the God of this Universe thinks? Our Father inspects the fruit of the heart.

The Israelites trembled before the Lord in reverence and wonder. They couldn’t bear to have God speak directly to them in all His Glory.  In Psalm 28, David cries out for God to hear his prayer and deliver him from those who defy God’s ways. Our response should be a combination of these two reactions.

As God’s beloved sons and daughters we have the family privilege to boldly approach His  throne of grace. We can cry out to Him in our need, in our thanksgiving, even asking Him to defend us, and He will hear you. Yet this is done with a heart of humility and reverence toward the One who created you. I’m always awe-struck with fear when a storm blows through the area I live in, known for it’s tornadoes. There is such power in the wind and lightning. God is the source of this fierceness. Do you know this kind of God?


When the Lord comes again He will meet us not only as our Shepherd, but as the Great Warrior He is. He will come to end the final war that has raged since the Fall (Genesis 3). His Name is Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11-16). This should bring us to our knees and worship. One day, all will bow the knee before King Jesus and confess Him as Lord (Philippians 2:9-11).

As we seek God, He will fashion our hearts after His own. Over time our desire will be to obey Him more and more as our love for the Lord grows deeper. We won’t be as concerned with what the world thinks of us. We are either being fit for heaven or fit for hell through our obedience or rebellion. Knowing Christ is the one solid anchor we have to hold onto- everything else is shifting sand.

Follow God’s perfect way today. When you realize this isn’t possible to do on your own, go to the One who made our righteousness possible. Jesus fulfilled God’s ways because we never could. Walk with Jesus.


Grace upon grace,


A Hostile Environment

Genesis 30:1- 31:16; Psalm 12; Proverbs 3:13-15; Matthew 10:1-23

“The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.” Psalm 12:8

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16


Hostility is as old as time. Jealousy over one another’s blessings; resentment of the righteous. Human relationships are messy because we are sinners. We see the competition between Leah and Rachel in the baby race. My heart aches for both of them because neither had everything they wanted- a loving husband and a house full of children.

In this same passage Laban attempts to diminish God’s blessings on Jacob. The wicked freely strut about as the righteous are mistreated.

Jesus warns His disciples what to expect when He sends them out in His Name. Expect hardship. Rebels of God will not welcome His friends.

Christians live in this world with eyes wide open to the evil around us but also with hearts wide open to sharing the Gospel. We offer full hope even in the face of hostility. The hope-filled are not deterred because God’s promises remain true since the beginning of Time. God is with us and He is for His people. We are simply to be obedient with what we have been given and what we are called to do.

Grace upon grace,


Noah’s obedience

Read Genesis 5:1-7:24; Psalm 3; Matthew 3:7-4:11

Noah was a righteous man who walked with God. He obeyed the Lord’s commands to build an ark. What’s important to note here is that Noah could not have done this in his own strength. Noah like the rest of mankind, is corrupt, inclined to wickedness.

Men and women in the Bible commended for their godliness operate out of obedience to God’s power in them. This is part of the mystery concerning God’s Sovereignty and man’s will. It is the Lord’s grace. He gives us the desire and faith to follow Him, yet we have to be obedient to this call. It is a lifelong process, as the old nature is being removed and our new nature in Christ becomes what we want (Romans 7:14-8:4). As the righteous live by faith, our desires begin to match the Father’s will.

Jesus demonstrated perfect obedience even under great temptation and physical weakness. When Satan seeks to destroy Him in the desert, Christ clings to the Word of God. Knowing the Scriptures, Jesus refutes the Enemy by speaking what is true. Satan knows the Bible as well yet perverts it for his own gain, mishandling the verses he quotes.

Our habits, how we spend our time, is a reflection of what is important to us. We become what we behold. We have examples in the Bible of obedience through imperfect people, as well as our Perfect Example in Christ. This is a great comfort because it means that Jesus understands what it’s like to be tempted as we are yet He did not sin (Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:15).

Do you pursue holiness or abuse God’s grace with indifference? Do you rely on the Lord’s strength or your own? We are called to be faithful and obedient. This is why Noah is considered righteous before God. He believed and obeyed. Do you?


Grace upon grace,


what children’s songs can teach us about joy


Let me first apologize for the overuse of children’s songs as references on this little blog. I tend to listen to or sing a lot of little people tunes right now because that’s our jam and the season of life I’m in. A lot of these songs I teach Jesse are the ones I was taught growing up in church. They may be simple songs, but a lot of them are more profound than I first realized. Oh, and they are short so my brain can retain and retrieve as needed (bonus).

‘Trust and Obey’ is one I like because of the sing song rhyming melody. It goes: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey” (emphasis mine). I’m learning through songs like this that trust and obedience to the Lord are essential for sustainable joy. Do I really trust Him the way I say I do? Oh to have the faith of a child. My son just assumes I’ll take care of him (which I will) because he trusts me. He doesn’t ever worry or wring his hands or live in fear – he simply trusts.

Is it really that easy? I think grown-ups have a few hurdles to overcome because if you have lived in this world long enough you’ve been burned once or twice, experiencing disappointment and sadness. We become jaded because the world is not as it should be. Sinful people living in a world with sinful people sometimes results in distrust and heartache. But our God is not flawed like we are.

He is perfect in every way: reliable, faithful, all wise, loving and true. He calls me to love and obey Him. So why are these the things Jesus places importance on? His own words found in the Book of John are, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11 NIV).

            Christ commands us to love and obey Him because Jesus is the very best for us. It is to glorify Himself and for our own good. So when you and I live our lives learning to trust God, walking in obedience with our every day we start to see God at work in His faithfulness. Love begins to bloom and stretch out. Obedience develops into a pattern and we see that when we follow what is right and good our joy is solid.

When I go back to Scripture I re-learn what alone satisfies my soul. It is nothing this world has to offer. So when Jesse recognizes the ‘Trust and Obey’ song that comes on in the car I’ll keep singing it for him. Control creates stress, which kills joy. Simple trust and obedience in Jesus is the heart message I want him to capture. It’s what this grown-up needs too.

Prayer to trust and obey :

I am loved immeasurably by Christ my Lord.

Help me to cleave to, trust in, rely on and have faith in You Mighty King!

If my deepest joy comes from a deep trust of You then fix my eyes on You alone in the good and bad.

I will keep my hands open, palms up in continual trust of my Savior because I love You.



Grace upon grace,