sermon notes

prodigal daughters

all from brittalafont.com

Do you struggle with obedience to God? Submission to your husband? Have trouble loving difficult people? Welcome home then! This is your soft place to hear hard truths. I am walking the same road, sister. And I am writing my heart’s lessons as the LORD leans in and whispers rebuke, admonishment, and encouragement to me. Spiritual growth is gloriously messy.

trinity, He is not going to let us stay as we are. He has bigger and better plans for us than we have for ourselves. His interest in us is eternal and He desires our spiritual growth more than our temporary, earthly comfort. This news used to break my heart. But now it is the song of my soul.

I am excited to share with you the secrets of taking hold of JOY through Integrity, experiencing PEACE through Obedience, finding HOPE through Holiness and growing in LOVE through Knowledge.

Thank you for entering your email address to subscribe to regular posts from Britta Lafont ~ Everyday Holiness. I consider it a privilege to visit your inbox and you can unsubscribe at any time. To jumpstart your journey, I will be sending you the following 5-day devotional:

DAY 1: You’re NOT the boss of me!
DAY 2: JOY through Integrity (3 pillars of Integrity)
DAY 3: PEACE through Obedience (Shema – a spiritual law)
DAY 4: HOPE through Holiness (We are Set Aside for God and His Purpose is Ours)
Day 5: LOVE through Knowledge (Knowing is Loving Intimacy)

Who’s the boss? I have wanted to be my own boss since I was a toddler – just ask my mom! Guess it took me over four decades to learn that I am, most definitely not, my own boss. Sadly, getting married delayed this process because I had a whole new person to struggle against (sorry Sweetie!). But, what I didn’t learn was so simple.

El Elyon/El Shaddai/Jehovah/Yahweh…He is well-named. The LORD is over all; and He is surely the boss of me. Now this truth, I have “known” it for a long time, in my head. But I would not go there, with my heart. I have had the head knowledge, but my heart has made excuses for getting its own way.

I started life out, knowing I was under a very real authority, as the daughter of a Marine Corps Officer. But my heart? It was wild and rebellious. And this rebellion spilled over, gushed into, and flooded my relationship with Yahweh, the Ultimate Authority. This struggle for control has been the source of much discontentment for me; and it has created, in me, feelings of separation from God and from other people.

What does this understanding mean to me now? Since the LORD is the boss: I have no right to question Him, give Him orders, criticize His plans, abandon Him, or turn and rebel against Him. Instead I must: obey Him, agree with Him, praise His goodness, seek to be at peace with Him, and desire to please Him.

My mother, all my life, has sown the seeds of God’s Word, into my heart. And finally, my understanding of the authority of the Word has led to the discipline of my heart. If you believe that the Word is the Truth, your own opinions will not be able to stand against it. This is what has happened to me. Check out these scriptures: 1 Peter 2:13-14; Romans 13:1, 7; Ephesians 6:1-3; 1 Peter 5:5; 1 Peter 3:1-2; Eph 5:1-2, 22-24.

This week I hope to encourage you with the Precious Word of God, which is the foundation of our faith, and challenge you to put it into practice in your life. My emails will include a devotional, an application challenge, a daily prayer, and a memory verse.

Thank you for inviting me into your inbox. I consider it a privilege! Now I would love to hear from you. Please email me or join the conversation by commenting on a post, visiting my FB page, or following me on Twitter. I also love Pinterest and Instagram, so if that is the language you speak, I would love to hear from you there!

God gave me a great word in 2014: Integrity. All along I have known that this was His expectation for us: to do what is right (Integrity). But He is so kind…He has also shown me how living in Integrity PROVIDES Integrity for us (stability, wholeness). I have always lacked the sense of wholeness, lacked the feeling of stability in the relationships in my life. I lived a very joyless life, constantly tossed about by my circumstances.

For the LORD gives wisdom;

From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;

He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;

He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

Guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of His saints.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice


And equity, every good path;

For wisdom will come into your heart,

And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

Discretion will watch over you,

Understanding will guard you

(Proverbs 2:6-11).

Now I feel like I have unlocked a secret, but it was there all along. I see it so clearly now – this trinity of Integrity (righteousness, stability and wholeness). 45 years. It has been a long time coming, this understanding of how obedience is not meant to chafe, but rather to comfort.

My rebellious heart has grieved for so long over the idea of laying self down…now I know that the laying down of my Self is the place of rest, because there we find ourselves in good company, in the Presence of the One Who laid down His Own life, for us. This rest from striving against the Lord is the place of amazing joy.

I have written many posts about Integrity. You can use the links below to find them. Integrity is discussed deeply and applied to scripture and life in my eBook, Prodigal Confessions: 10 Principles that Lead Us Back to the Father.

Challenge: Take the JOY challenge – it is a fun quiz I wrote! You can find it at the bottom of this post. Then send me an email to tell which Bible character you were most like when you took the test. Please know that this is definitely NOT scientific! Just for fun. Might make you think a little too!

Inspirational Posts:
One Word?
Integrity
Everyday Holiness
Gospel Stories
Integrity and Authenticity (Part 1)

Memory Verse: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).

Prayer: Dear Lord, we were made to be in right relationship with You, a Holy and Righteous God. We confess that often we struggle to choose Your way over ours and we neglect that relationship. We are deceived into believing that Your way is difficult and ours is easy. Please remind us of the rewards of following after You. Help us to desire to live a life pleasing to You, which is the way of Joy.

In Hebrew, the word SHEMA means Hear. SHEMA has another meaning, Do, which can be interpreted as “obey”. This action-oriented translation is not an alternate or secondary meaning, because, in Hebrew, all words have a concrete application. Instead, both Hearing and Doing are combined in the one word. You cannot have one with out the other.

“The SHEMA” is the common name for an important creed of the Hebrew people, taking its name from the first word, “[SHEMA] Hear O, Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deut 6:4). Take a moment right now and read the rest of the passage, Deut. 6:4-9. It describes a life immersed in, and obedient to, God’s Word.

Jesus quoted The SHEMA when He answered the question, “Which is the greatest commandment?” (Mark 12:28-34). In doing this, He reminded His listeners that obedience is required in order to love God; that hearing and doing His commands is putting Him first.

We try and try to invent new ways to get what we want, do what we think will bring us contentment. What we learn, the hard way, is that God’s way, as set out in His Word, is best. Jesus explains that a life of obedience brings us peace (and stability), no matter what storms may come:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock (Matt 7:24-25).

I have written several posts about SHEMA, so please click the links below to learn more! Living life of SHEMA just means we are living more in step with Jesus, the Living Word of God (read more about how Jesus is the Perfect Prodigal in my new eBook, Prodigal Confessions: 10 Principles that Lead Us Back to the Father).

Challenge: Think about how you can obey God in an area of your life where you need more peace. Is there a relationship that is difficult? Is there a trial you are facing? Look for that place where you need to submit to God. Find a scripture to motivate you and write it on a sticky note, putting it somewhere you can’t miss it. Try to hide that word in your heart this week. God’s Holy Spirit, in concert with His Word, will minister to you as you draw closer to Him. The Spirit can help you to obey even when it feels very hard. There is peace in the knowledge of His presence!

Inspirational Posts:
Love and Integrity: One with the Father
Teaching Them Diligently
Memory Verse Monday April 15
Integrity is Timeless

Memory Verse: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (James 1:22).

Prayer: Dear Lord, please speak loudly to us because sometimes we don’t listen very well. And once we have heard, please provoke us to action so that we can invite the Living Word into our lives as we do it. Spirit, change us where we need it, so we can see that Your Way is best. Lord there is power in Your Word, help us to love it more and more, to hide it in our hearts, and to find the peace that comes from obeying it.

I hope you’re enjoying this devotional. I want it to bless you! Your feedback would be great. Or even better, your fellowship. You can find me, most days, checking in at FB, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

Do find yourself struggling to “get it right”? Some of us are still nursing an old grudge, complaining, fraught with bitterness, stuck in the inability to love others well…Sometimes I am fraught with sin before I even get out of bed. And the Lord knows. He knows my thoughts. Before a word is on my tongue, He knows it completely (Psalm 139:4).

He knows all of this about me. And yet He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jer 31:3). This defies human logic. This is grace. In spite of my life full of mistakes, the God of the Universe knows me, loves me, and has a plan for me.

And here is His plan: “You shall be holy, for I am holy”… [For] you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 1:14-16, 2:9).

God plans to make His Name great. As His Name is glorified, more and more people will come to know Him. We are part of this plan. He calls us to be set apart (holy means to be set apart) so that we will be less like the world and more like Him. When others truly see Him, in us, they want to know Him.

But holiness is not a destination. It is a journey. It is making mistakes, repenting, and learning new and better ways that we show His work in our lives. It is seen in the “Before and After”…but you can’t have a great “After” picture of holiness without that “Before” picture of the absence of holiness.

Holiness is found in the sacrifice of Jesus, which enables His Spirit to bring holiness to an unclean people. Holiness is our commitment to God’s vision for us. We cannot do it, but we do participate in it. Want to know more about our part in holiness? Read all about it in Prodigal Confessions: 10 Principles that Lead Us Back to the Father.

I love to write about holiness. It is about walking with God! Below you can find a few of the many posts I have written on this topic.

Challenge: Plan and/or Mark your progress on this journey to holiness. Try to see your “Before and After”. Mine has much to do with loving others better and obeying God with joy. I can mark progress I have seen, which is encouraging! and yet I there is much more that God plans to do in my heart. Then thank Him, because He promises to finish the good work that He has started in us (Phil 1:6).

Inspirational Posts:
Bought with a Price
God loves. We love.
What’s an Acceptable Offering?
Living Stones
Abiding in God’s Love

Memory Verse: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col 3:12-14).

Prayer: Dear Lord, some days holiness feels like an impossible mountain. Thank you for Your relentless pursuit of us and the amazing free gift of forgiveness. Remind us that YOU make us holy and that, as we draw near to You and love You more, this work is done. Help us to turn away from the choices that separate us from You. Thank You for carrying out the plan to make us into the people You created us to be!

Our devotional time is almost done—but dread not! Pretty soon you should receive you first email with the current post(s) in it, if you haven’t already. 🙂 It would be so nice to her from you. Please comment or share posts that you enjoy on social media. Or just follow me on FB, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram and say hello there!

I can’t believe this is our last devotional! But we are ending on a good note – we still have the Name of the Lord on our lips and hearts!

Do you know what it is like to be in a group where there is an inside joke that you don’t know? It creates a feeling of separation, like you are the only one in the dark, and it feels so very awkward. On the other hand, do you have a close friend or family member that you can share your heart with (the good and bad parts), because they really know you (the good and bad parts), and love you anyway? Knowledge of another person is necessary to create intimacy.

The Hebrew word YADAT means “knowledge” but it is not the kind of knowing that occurs in your head, rather the kind of knowing that occurs in your heart. Like what was said at Moses’ death: Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deut 34:10).

Have you ever said about someone, “If you only knew him, you would just love him?” Sometimes, all it takes to love someone is to know them. God is this way. In Listening to the Language of the Bible: Hearing it Through Jesus’ Ears, Lois Tverberg says, “Hebraically, knowledge is not just knowing someone, it is devotion to them as well. Jews see knowledge of God as intimacy with God, knowing Him as a son knows his father, as a wife her husband” (p. 6). This kind of knowing is about relationship.

Of course, knowing someone in an intimate way means you must invest time and emotion in them. The phrase “You have to be a friend to have a friend” is something that helps me to keep people-oriented, when tasks threaten to take priority. It is the same in our relationship with the Lord.

Knowing the Triune God comes from studying His Word, praying to Him (pouring your heart out), and inviting Him into your everyday life. The idea of “what would you do if Jesus was standing right next to you” is misleading. If you have a personal relationship with Him, Jesus IS standing right next to you – so now what?

Again, we come to obedience. But I hope that, by now, you see that obedience is just agreeing with the Lord that He knows best in every situation and living like you mean it. This kind of living introduces an experiential knowledge of God…you experience life with Him. Experiencing God is life changing! As you do, you feel His love of you, you appreciate His plan for you, and you really value His sacrifice for you.

It is such a privilege to YADAT Our Lord. It is what keeps me coming back to His Very Word daily. I often write about knowing God through His Word and our Walk. In my eBook, Prodigal Confessions:10 Principles that Lead Us Back to the Father, you can learn more about experiencing God in your everyday life. Also, check out the links below for posts I have written on the blog!

Challenge: Take a look at your thought-life and your real life. What consumes your time? Where are your feelings spent? What or who occupies your mind? Who do you want to talk to when you have a question, a problem, or a victory? If God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit doesn’t make your short list, then reorder it. Make room in your heart, mind, and schedule for God. Spend time in His Word. It is the way to knowing Him better. It tells us Who He is. Genesis to Revelation, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; He is everlasting. He does not change. You can count on Him. You can lean on Him. You can love Him. He is worthy of all this and much more. Commit to the changes you must make in your daily life to make THIS relationship the most important one.

Inspirational Posts:
Abiding in God’s Love
Family Wisdom. Proverbs 3:5-6
Wisdom is Taught by Kindness
Glass Half-Empty
Hope That Does Not Disappoint

Memory Verse: Know that the Lord, He is God! 
It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture (Ps 100:3).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are grateful that You are a God Who makes Himself known to His people. You have given us Your Word, to teach us Who You are. Remind us of how precious that is. Come near us today. Help us to feel Your presence as we go about our daily lives and to help us to know Your love for us. Finally, teach us how we can share our knowledge and love of You with others who do not know you. Make it so that when they know us, they can meet You as well.

Ok, I am beginning to feel separation anxiety already! Please connect with me on FB, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. Let me know what you think of this devotional and one thing that you wish I would write about on the blog!