Learning Step by Step

   It's always interesting starting a new year. Whether or not you set goals or resolutions for yourself, it's an opportunity to start with a fresh perspective.

  Here I am with February nearly behind me and already I feel like I've experienced a lot. To be honest the first few days into the year were pretty bumpy and I was praying that it wasn't a sign of how the rest of my year would go. Those few days have been put behind me and yet I am thankful I experienced them.
  I needed to address some things that God was bringing to my attention and while it was uncomfortable, I now feel so much lighter. God used those days to wake me up and draw me closer to Him. I am so thankful! He is busy planting the seeds of praise and joy in my heart. I realize the cultivation and growth process is long and a journey of itself, but I know God will be there every step of the way providing the strength needed.

  I started this post a few weeks ago (what you read above) but only made minor adjustments to reflect the current time frame. That being said...wow. I'm beginning to understand that I will probably never cease to be amazed at the hand of God. His faithfulness is proven throughout scripture and is displayed in my own life. Every time I stumble or struggle, He is there. As I learn to praise Him, He is there.

  I am learning so much in this year of 2015 and and continue to do so! As I form a closer relationship with Christ and study His word, He reveals more of who He is. Praise and prayer, I'm finding go hand in hand, in fact are inseparable to studying the word and drawing closer to God. I'm learning that true joy is not necessarily something you just pray for, but is obtained through a more intimate relationship with Christ.

  I'm starting to prioritize and that starts with putting Christ first. The occasional devotional, no matter how sincere, was not enough to satisfy my hunger or fortify my aching heart. My time with the Lord has increased tremendously and I am making a point to sit down for personal devotions twice a day. There have been a couple times where it was late and I was so tempted to skip out, but I didn't. Making it a priority and sitting down to actually study and read God's word is a refreshing and encouraging time. As I seek to know God, the less it becomes a practice and the more it slowly becomes a desire to KNOW Him. I am beginning to look forward my private time with the Lord. Not that I didn't before, but actually making it a priority and putting it into action puts it in such a different perspective.

   Praise is crucial to obtaining joy, I'm finding. I always felt that I was missing out on the true joy described by scripture and veteran Christians. It's hard to achieve joy when you focus on yourself. Joy is obtained when you focus on the attributes of Christ and praise HIM for who He is! I'm working on this and still have so much more to learn, but my spirit already feels lighter when I praise Him.

  I've journaled most of my life and from time to time would do it in a prayer format. Upon the encouragement from a friend, I started to become more consistent. It is now a regular part of my devotions. Writing has always been a way for me to focus and organize my thoughts. Prayer is no different. While I pray throughout the day, when I take the time to sit down and actually write what I am praying, my thoughts become much more focused and my mind is less likely to wander down a rabbit trail.

   Right now my prayer is that God would satisfy and fill me with His all encompassing presence and being. All of my earthly desires, regardless of how long I have sought after them, cannot compare to what He can offer. He is capable of satisfying each and every one of them. Again, still a work in progress, but God is ever so patient with me! In slow increments He's teaching me to relinquish my desires to Him. I definitely have my days where I struggle to do so, but the joy He is bestowing upon me is so rich!

  Another lesson God is teaching me and one He actually brought to my attention through reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, is to not jump ahead of His leading. Not by any stretch an easy lesson to learn! Prayer is gaining a fresh perspective and new meaning. It's all too easy to get caught up in a moment or emotional high and think that you have matters handled. God is good at graciously reminding me that I really don't have matters handled. Surprisingly it's yet another reason to praise Him! At the end of the day all things rest in HIS hands, not mine. I am so thankful! His faithfulness is proven throughout scriptures and I can rest easy knowing my life is in hands far more capable than my own.

  Even as I've worked on writing this, God has showed me that I still have much to learn. I went through a couple rough days and while I'm not exactly sure what will come next, God remains faithful. Sometimes it's the internal struggles that you grow the most from. When we run to God with all our weary burdens of the world, He will give us rest. Perhaps not the answers to our questions when and how we want, but He is still faithful.

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28&29 

"The world is passing away, and also it's lusts: but the one who does the will of God lives forever." 1John 2:17 

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." Matthew 24:35

"Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it." Psalm 37:5

"For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations." Psalm 100:5