Good morning, all!
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and your love for all the saints (and fellow bloggers!). I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother (sisters!) have refreshed the hearts of saints.” Amen!
Some of you may be familiar with the “Pumpkin Gospel.” It is an awesome way to carve pumpkins with your kids to share the Gospel. We have been doing this tradition in our family for about 5 or 6 years after I learned it at a Hearts at Home conference. We did it at our church with the Wednesday night program and Sunday School as a way to think about God at Halloween. For the actual presentation with Bible verses, there are a couple of sites I have seen it on this year: http://www.ginaconroy.com/ginablog/wordpress/ and on the Proverbs 31 site(Sharon Jaynes). If you google it, here is another great site for a step by step:
Anyway, we did it with our family last night. We always carve one pumpkin with a cross instead of a face. OK, here is the really cool thing! All of the kids carved a jack-o-lantern (so we had four faces) and I carved the cross. When we finished each one, we put it out on the porch. We noticed it was pretty windy. I finished my cross first, and as each child finished his/her face (with Dad’s help!), we set it outside. Well, when Ashley was finished with hers, we went out to find that all of the jack-o-lanterns EXCEPT for the cross had blown out! We relit and watched them go out. You can imagine what a great lesson it turned out to be- God’s Light never goes out, His Light shines in the darkness…. Praise God! He is so good! What a cool thing!
Well, it is the 31st of the month, so I turn to Proverbs 31 for my prayer and devotion.
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” O, God, make me such a wife!
“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” The Amplified says, “The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of honest gain or need of dishonest spoil.” Lord, I pray Brian would always have full confidence in me, because I put my trust in You. May I NEVER be like Job’s wife who said, “Just curse God and die.” May I always bless my husband and be a blessing to him.
“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” And the Amplified, “She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.” May I never be like that nagging wife in Proverbs, dripping, dripping, dripping, criticizing, quarrelling! May I always be a comfort to Brian!
“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food (the Amplified says “Spiritual food”) and portions for her servant girls.” May I always have a servant heart for my family! Help me God to joyfully serve them, taking good care of them. May I always provide spiritual food for my family! Help me to nourish them in You!
“She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” The Amplified, “She considers a new field before she buys it (expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties); with her savings of time and strength she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.” Lord, may I never neglect the duties you have given me by adding more! Help me to be wise when “expanding!” Give me wisdom when considering “one more thing!” I want to be faithful “in the little things!”
“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” Help me God to not be lazy! Thank You that You give me the strength to do the things You’ve called me to do! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”
“She sees her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” The Amplified, “She girds herself (Tracy gird yourself!) with strength- spiritual, mental and physical fitness for her God-given task- and makes her arms strong and firm. She tastes and sees that her gain from work (with and for God) is good; her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night (of trouble, privation, sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust.)" Whew! Lord, may my lamp of faith never go out! May it burn through the troubles, sorrow, trials of life!
“In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” May I always be compassionate, Lord. May I always be generous- not just with my money, but with my time, my friendship, my love….
“When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.” I am reminded of Isaiah, “He keeps in perfect peace whose mind is staid on Thee, because he trusts in You.” Lord, may I always trust You. I also think of Rahab and how she saved her family by putting the scarlet cord in her window. Lord, may I save my family by trusting in You, pointing them to You.
“She makes coverings for her bed, she is clothed in fine linen and purple. He husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders in the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.” God, may I always be a blessing to all around me- my family, my husband, my community!
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come (Amp. …knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it!)" Hallelujah! May I always be clothed with Your strength and dignity, Lord!
“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Lord, may I always speak with Godly wisdom! You say You give wisdom to anyone who asks and that You give it generously (James). Lord, pour out Your wisdom on me and may I always speak with faithful instruction! May I be an encourager! May “life” be on my tongue!
“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Lord, may I always watch over my family. Again, help me to not be lazy or idle. I think of in Timothy when Paul warns against idleness. He says it leads to gossip! Help me to stay focused on what You are calling me to, God!
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Oh, that I would be such a blessing!!!!!
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Oh, how I long to be that “quiet and gentle spirit” of 1Peter! I want my “beauty” to come from the light of Christ shining so brightly from within!
“Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Oh, to You, Lord be the glory! I know I am nothing without You! May others see You when they look at me! That is the c of my heart! Glory to God, all glory to God!
Good morning, all!
When I finished yesterday's blog, I went up to the shower to get ready for church. I love to pray in the shower. I had written about the "merchants" from Psalm 107 and was praying about what I had written/read/pondered on. I began to pray, "Lord, I want to walk in what I just wrote. I want to be humble, not rebellious. Lord, I want to submit to Your will and be obedient....." Along those lines.... When I stopped myself. Yikes! What had I just prayed?????? (See previous blogs "Will I Walk in It- Parts 1 and 2). Hadn't I just gone through this same thing several days ago? If I pray to "walk in it," God will give me opportunities to walk in it, and that might hurt! It may be uncomfortable, and I don't want discomfort- I want gentle, easy..... Obedience may be painful. God may ask me to do something that I don't want to do, or to stop doing something I like doing. (I know- I am very immature! I get mad at myself at times! Bear with me, though, as God doesn't leave me here)
God spoke to my heart, "Stop. Those are lies from the enemy!" You, see, Satan wants us to believe that obedience to God will hurt. Think about the garden!!!!! Adam and Eve had paradise. They were walking with God (literally!) and had everything they could desire. But, God had required their obedience. He said, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die." Like my friend said once, God did not want them to even have the knowledge of evil. As parents, we tell them "no" to things for their safety. Sometimes we don't go in to "details." Think of child molestors. I don't want my children to even have the knowledge of the depths of evil. I don't want them to even know how (and the details) these people could hurt them. I tell them not to talk to strangers- in person, on the internet, on the phone, because I do not want them to ever experience this evil. God did not want His precious children to have the knowldege of evil, to "know all the details," so He told them not to eat it.
Here we go, the enemy right here deceived them into thinking obedience "would hurt," that obedience wasn't good. He tells them if they eat it, "their eyes will be opened and they will be like God." Eve thought her way was better than God's way. We sometimes believe that when we obey, it may not be good for us, it may "hurt." I think, "Well, if I obey, it may be against my desires. I may have to "give up" my desires." Oh God, if my desires are against Yours, change my desires!!!!!!!! That is where I get "stuck" sometimes. You see, God is good. His desires for me are perfect. Maybe even my desires are good, but they are not God's best for me. He calls me into obedience because He loves me. He wants the best for me. His ways, His plans are perfect. The enemy tries to deceive me into having the attitude, "God is holding back on you. He just doesn't want you to have this. If you obey Him, you'll have to give up the desires of your heart...."
Replace the lies with Truth!
God loves me! (John 3:16, Zephaniah 3:17,)
I am precious to Him! (Isaiah 43:4)
He gives me the desires of my heart! (Psalm 37:4)
He has good plans for me! (Jeremiah 29:11)
There is joy in obedience (all of Paul's letters in the New Testament!)
Father God, I praise You! I love You! You are so good! Thank You for loving me so much. Thank You that Your ways are perfect and Your plans are good. Please forgive my attitude of thinking that obedience might be painful. You are a good God. You are not "holding back on me," but at times protecting me, at times giving me something better than what I want. Lord, help me to always trust You. I do want to walk in humility, not rebellion. I want to walk in obedience. Lord, if my desires don't line up with yours in an area, then change my desires! Make my desires Your desires. I love You, Lord! In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
Blessings to you all this fine Monday morning!
As I study Psalm 107, I am amazed that I have read and reread this Psalm so many times without really pondering it as I have these last few days. There is so much God says through just this one chapter of His Word alone! Isn’t God’s Word so wonderful? It truly is so much more precious than silver or gold. It is Life and refreshment to the soul! Father, I pray you would give me deep insight into your precious Word today!
The next section of this Psalm shows the praise of another group of people- merchants. “Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.” The Amplified says that they were traveling to do business. Now, there is nothing wrong with doing business, but it seems that this group of men had become proud. I wonder if their pursuit of money had led them to thinking of themselves “more highly than they ought.” They hit some “rough waters” (ever hit rough waters in life?) and “in their peril their courage melted away.” Again, I like the Amplified bible, “These see the works of the LORD and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises up the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. Those aboard mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the deeps: their courage melts away because of their plight. They reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man and are at their wit’s end (all their wisdom has come to nothing).” A couple of things stood out to me. First, God brought the storm (He commands and raises up the stormy wind). And, no matter how wise we THINK we are, God has a way of humbling us! They see the “works of His hands” and “His wonders in the deep.” It His awesomeness, His majesty, His creation, His glory that opens our eyes! Remember Isaiah when He sees God in His glory? He cries, “Woe is me! I am undone!” We see how AWESOME God is and how puny we are in contrast! This passage also reminds me of the first chapter of Romans when Paul tells us that no man has excuse to deny God because God is seen all through His awesome creation. I love that their courage “melted away.”
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress.” God is so kind! He brings us out of our distress! “He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven.” Isn’t God so good? Not only does He calm the storm, but He guides them to their location! He helps them to get where they want to go.
“Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people and praise Him in the council of elders.”
Praise You, God! You are awesome! You are glorious! You are full of mercy and grace and boundless love! Thank You, God, that You do not allow me to search for other things, like the merchants, filled with pride and relying on my own wisdom. Thank You, God that You bring the storm that humbles me, but more importantly, that You calm the storm when I have repented, and then, oh God, that You bring me to my desired destination. How precious You are. How perfect. Holy. Praise You, God. Praise You.
Continuing with Psalm 107.....
The next group of people praising God were “fools.” Not that the they are silly, or even so much that they are unwise, but that they are rebellious toward God. Verse 17 says, “Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.” Again, I am reminded of Proverbs, especially chapters 1-10, which compares wisdom to foolishness, or rebellion against God. Proverbs 1:7- “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Listen to what God speaks to us in verses 1:23, 24- “If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you, (Don’t you want God to pour out His heart to you?????) and made my thoughts known to you. (I want God to make His thoughts known to me!!!) But the fool “ignores God’s advice and does not accept God’s rebuke.” The following chapters declare all of the blessings (long life, riches and honor, peace, good reputation before God and man, confidence, just to name a few!) of following wisdom and not rebelling against God. “Trust in God, but don’t lean upon your own understanding (fool), then God will direct your steps. Do not be wise in your own eyes, shun evil, and this will bring health to your body.”
This brings me back to Psalm 107 because the foolish (or rebellious people) in these verses are sick due to their sin. “They loathed all food (Amplified says “ill”) and drew near the gates of death." Now, not all people who are sick are so because they have sinned or because of their rebellion. But, the people in this psalm are! Their sin has made them deathly ill. And, I can relate- I have made myself sick- upset stomach, headache, feeling “down”, feeling of complete unrest because of my stubbornness and resisting obedience to something God has laid on my heart. (Psalm 38- “because of my sin…I am bowed down, going around mourning all day… there is no health in my body.”) Unforgiveness is such a poisonous sin to our bodies in particular. I have a close friend who was betrayed horribly. She suffered serious colon problems. God had been telling her to forgive this person, but she refused. It was when she did forgive that she experienced immediate healing! (Again, we live in a fallen world where there is sickness and disease. NOT ALL PEOPLE WHO ARE SICK ARE SO BECAUSE OF THEIR REBELLION!)
“THEN they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.” God is so good, so forgiving, so faithful, pure love and mercy! “He sent forth His word and healed them; He rescued them from the grave.” I love the Amplified bible so much better here. It uses PRESENT TENSE instead of past tense, “He RESCUES, He SENDS forth His word…” That does so much more for me! He is still doing it today!!!! He still rescues, He still sends forth His Word. And, instead of “grave” the Amplified says, “He rescues them from the pit (ever been in a pit??????) and destruction." How self-destructive I can be at times, but hallelujah- God rescues me!!!!!
And, this is precious! Look at how He rescues us- “He sends forth His Word and heals them.” Who is the “Word?” John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is the Word! God sends forth Jesus to heal us! And, as we look at Jesus all through the New Testament, He walks among the people, healing them, rescuing them from the pit and destruction. Glory!
Watch their reaction. “Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy.” When we experience healing from the Lord, we react with songs of joy! When Jesus reaches into that pit of destruction and scoops us out, healing us, forgiving us, we are filled with joy. God comforts all who mourn, bestows on them a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair. (Isaiah 61:3)
Thank you Lord for loving me so much! Your love won’t allow me to remain in a pit of despair. Your love won’t allow me to remain in sin, sin that spreads disease through my body. Thank you for the forgiveness that is given to me through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Thank you, Father that you sent forth the Word, Jesus, to rescue me from my own destruction! I do proclaim your works with songs of joy! Hallelujah! Praise God! Help me Lord to always be humble before you. I do NOT want to be a rebellious fool. Search my heart, O God, and show me any rebellion that may be there. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Jesus for your blood that covers every sin and cleanses me from all unrighteousness. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen!
Wanted to share all of my latest "finds" with you! I have been visiting several blogs the past week and have been so blessed!!!!!!!!!! Praise God! Isn't it amazing that something used for so much evil (the Internet) God can redeem for good? How encouraging to find so many other Christians in love with Him, seeking Him, and sharing their faith journeys?
Check these out if when you have time:
SpeakingThruMe (this is my good friend Leigh Gray's blog- she got me into bloggin'!)
diamond in the rough (Laurie's heart is amazing!)
1 Amazing Adventure (Susan's blog is very inspirational!)
scraps of glory (beautiful blog, very inspirational!)
Simple Life in Christ (Eddie's blog is great! He is "living it out" in Australia!)
Sprout of a Mustard Seed (Lisa has a great sense of humor!)
The Higher Call (Melissa challenges readers to go deeper in Christ- AMEN!)
cup of joy (great personal stories, nice pictures)
angels with a purpose (this blog is like a work of art- very beautiful!)
Bless you as you continue to grow in the Lord! I pray you will be blessed, as I was, by these sisters and brother in Christ!
Yesterday I began looking at Psalm 107, seeing it with fresh eyes. What incredible encouragement these scriptures give! It begins like many other psalms, "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, His love endures forever..." And then the psalm goes through different groups of people and WHY they are giving thanks. Each group goes through some trial/tribulation. And, as I ponder this, I think about the times in my life when I have experienced trials, and when God brings me through, how much more "LOUD" my praise is!
The first group are wanderers. "Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. " Wow! Have you ever been "wandering?" This reminds me of restless times of my life when I have wandered- wandered from activity to activity, trying to fill the loneliness of my soul, not realizing that it can only be quenched by His amazing love! Unsettled..... Restless...... Homeless- unable to find a place to call home. I am reminded of the verses from Hosea where God leads us into the wilderness IN ORDER TO SPEAK TENDERLY to us. Sometimes we are only ready to listen to Him in the wilderness- away from the hustle and bustle (and cell phones and commitments...) of "city life".
They were "hungry and thirsty." So many other verses come to mind here! "My soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." (Psalm 63) Our spirits long for God. We thirst after Him! (That is why my blog is named "Thirsty for Him!) Jesus tells the woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks this water (earthly water) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Jesus, give me that water! And, Jesus also told us, "Blessed is he who hungers and thirsts after righteousness, for he shall be filled." Hallelujah! God allows us to hunger and thirst so that He can fill us! He allows us to wander so that He can give us a home.
WATCH WHAT COMES NEXT!
"THEN they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way to city where they could settle." There's that pesky little "then" again! You see, I need the "then." If I weren't thirsty, I couldn't be filled by Him. If I hadn't wandered, He couldn't have given me the perfect home in Him. (What's that verse? Is it psalms? It was good that I was afflicted.....) Thank You, God that You lead me by a straight way. (Proverbs 3:5- "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Lean not upon your own understanding- that was written just for me!-Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight.") And, then thank You, Lord that You settle me. You fill me with the peace that passes all understanding. You "quiet me with Your love." You satisfy the longings of my soul, easing my restlessness, grounding me, sustaining me, stabilizing me, settling me. Thank You, God!
"Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."
Father God, praise You! Thank You! Thank You for Your UNFAILING love! Your love never fails! Thank You for the wonderful deeds You have done in my life! Thank You that You alone truly satisfy me and that You fill me with GOOD THINGS. You are so patient. You draw me back "home" each time I wander away from Your love. Why do I do that? Forgive me, Father, for the times I have turned to other things to satisfy me- food, praise of man, activities..... Thank You for the blood of Jesus Christ which covers all my sin and cleanses me from all unrighteousness. Lord, I pray for my sisters. I lift up all other Believers who are wandering, bring them back to the source of satisfaction, to the Living Water. Lord, I lift up the lost- oh, how they need You. Father, draw them to Yourself. Shine Your Light in their hearts. How we can go through life wandering, thirsting, looking to the world to fill us... Thank You for Jesus. Thank You, Jesus. You are precious. I love You. In Your sweet Name, Name above all names, I pray. Amen.
Have you ever been reading the Word when something you have read before suddenly jumps out at you, God shines His light on it, and you gain a much deeper understanding of it? As I was reading Psalm 107 this morning, it was like I was reading it for the first time (even though it was underlined and starred already!)
Father, I pray for deep insight into the Word today. I pray You would fill me with a Spirit of wisdom and understanding. I pray that You would open the eyes of my heart.
Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.”
The whole psalm is a praise and thanksgiving psalm. But, it has sections of praise of different people, for different reasons. Verse 2 continues, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say this- those He redeemed from the hand of the foe…” As I continue to read the psalm, the foe or enemy can be either my own flesh, my own attitude and wrong motives, or the enemy of our soul, Satan. He can deceive us and lead us into areas of bondage.
The passage that I want to begin with is actually the second group of people in the psalm, but as I read it, it pierced my heart because I saw myself in this group, and so many other Christians. Verses 10-16: “Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So He subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.”
Wow! There is so much packed in just this passage! Let’s look at verse 10. How many of us have experienced “darkness” and “deepest gloom?” Others words that come to mind: despair, desperation…. How many times have I felt a “sadness” over me, sometimes not even sure why I was feeling that way? The next verse can explain it, “…for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High.”
Whew! I wonder how many times I have rebelled against God’s Word, thinking I should do something, but that it wasn’t what I WANTED to do at that time. Or, I have seen something in the Word, been convicted by His Holy Spirit, and just don’t want to give it up!!!!! Have I “despised the counsel of the Most High?” I was thinking of Proverbs. All through it, the writer of Proverbs will offer two ways- the way of the wise and the way of the fool- the way of good or the way of the rebellious. I thought of Proverbs 1-30-31, “…since they hated knowledge and did not CHOOSE to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes…” Oh, Lord, how many times have I gone my own way, eating the fruit of it????? And, how many times has this led me straight into bondage- “suffering in iron chains?”
Now, look at the next verse- “So HE subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.” The amplified says, “He bowed down their hearts…” Sometimes in my own rebellious stubbornness, God has to bow down my heart. One of my favorite verses in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans for hope and a future. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” But, do you know that God says that right before sending them in to captivity???? They had been following after idols and He wants to draw them back to His heart.
“…and there was no one to help.” Boy, does that strike a chord! Sometimes, in my stubbornness, I look to everything else in the world BUT God for help. Sometimes I will try to call every one of my friends on the phone, but God will make sure no one is home!!
Now watch this! The next verse says, “THEN they cried to the LORD in their trouble…” I know sometimes it takes me to be in trouble to THEN cry out to the Lord! It is only the trouble that finally breaks my rebellious heart! “And He saved them from their distress. AND LISTEN- He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.” Hallelujah! God doesn’t leave us in our darkness! He saves us from it! He sets us free! Listen to verse 16, “…for He breaks down the gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” Have you ever had bars of iron??? Thank God He has cut through the bars of iron around my stubborn heart! Praise Him!
In Luke 1:79, Zechariah prophesies about the coming of Jesus, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and has redeemed His people…. by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” And in Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” God's desire is to free us! He does not want us to be captives!
“Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.”
Lord, I praise you! I thank you, God, that you don’t allow my heart to be rebellious. Thank you that “bow down my heart.” But, most of all, Lord, thank you that break down the gates I have put around my own heart, thank you for cutting through the bars of iron- the deception of the enemy, the desires of my flesh. Awesome God! Glorious God! Hallelujah! Praise you, God! In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen!
freedom from darkness
Picking up from last night.........
When I walked in yesterday to find my children fighting, Andrew teasing his sisters, and the chores not finished, Monster Mom came out, and I "blew up" at the kids. Even though in my heart, I want to be a "quiet and gentle" spirit, I reacted in anger. Even though I have the fruit of the Spirit of self-control, I did not control my emotions. I was NOT "slow to speak, slow to get angry, and quick to listen" (James). But, thank You, Most Gracious God, You are quick to listen, slow to get angry, and full of compassion and forgiveness! Within a few minutes, the Holy Spirit convicted me through my son, Andrew (while I was "ranting"!). I immediately repented and told my kids that I was sorry. When I was praying about this in the quiet, God reminded me of my earlier prayer in the car (you remembered, didn't you???).
I had told God that I wanted to be "a light shining for Him" no matter what the circumstances- flat tires or fighting kids. Well, He answered my prayer and gave me the opportunity to be that light! Did you see "Even Almighty?" In that movie, "God" (otherwise known as Morgan Freeman), was talking to the mom in the movie about prayer. He said if you prayed to have patience, then, He wasn't going to zap you, and "boom", you now have patience. He would give you opportunities to develop patience, opportunities to "be patient." If you were praying to be kind, He would give you opportunities to demonstrate kindness. You know, you have probably heard the joke, "Be careful what you pray for!"
Well........... I had prayed to be a light (and I NAMED two specific circumstances!) no matter what. Here's the good news- no, the GREAT news! Even though I slipped up with my kids, God WILL GIVE ME MORE OPPORTUNITIES! That means that I will have the chance to be a light shining in the darkness when the kids are fighting, or when the dog gets in the garbage, or when someone cuts me off in traffic, or when the check-out girl is rude to me, or when someone is short-tempered with me. The truth is, it is easy to be Christ-like when everything is going great, but the real "walkin' in out" comes when times are not so easy. Am I going to walk out my Christian beliefs no matter what? Or when the goin' gets tough, am I going to act like "everybody else?" You see, I am different from the "world." I have the Spirit of the Most High God living inside of me! I have the POWER of the Holy Spirit WITHIN me! I HAVE THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT ALREADY- LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GENTLENESS, FAITHFULNESS, GOODNESS, AND SELF-CONTROL! (Galatians 6:22) My challenge is to "keep in step with the Spirit," to die to my flesh, and cry out to God to help me in the difficult circumstances. (Romans 6, 7, 8) You see, Tracy is NOT strong enough, "good" enough, patient enough..... But, the Holy Spirit is! I am a new creation! The old has gone and the new has come! I DO NOT HAVE to react the "old way" anymore! I have a choice. (Ephesians 4) Am I going let my emotions and my flesh rule over me, or am I going to depend on my God, rest in His power, and walk in who I am in Christ? I have the same power living in me as raised Jesus Christ from the dead!!!!! THAT IS POWER!!!!! (Ephesians 1 & 2)
I do not have a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, sound mind, and self-control. (2Timothy 1:7) So, God, I cry out to You! I ask that You help me in those circumstances! Thank You for the Holy Spirit who whispers in my ear, encouraging me, guiding me, pointing out the way. Thank You, God, that You are patient! Praise You, Jesus!
The bible passages that came to mind while I was writing this are from James. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance MUST FINISH ITS WORK so that you may be MATURE AND COMPLETE, not lacking anything." I want to be mature in my faith! I know that the only way to be "mature and complete" is to walk out my faith through trials. Am I going to walk the walk, not just "talk the talk?"
Father, I praise You! I love You, Lord! Thank You for Your infinite Wisdom! Thank You that You know how to best grow my faith, how to refine it. I thank You for Your forgiveness. I love You, Lord. May I walk in Your Truth today! In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen!
Oh boy! What a day! We had an awesome looooonnnnngggg weekend- the kids had Friday and Monday off of school, so we had lots of fun being together.
Today though, at Chuck E. Cheese's we went out to the car to find the tire FLAT as a pancake. And, as usual, Tracy can never do things simply, so I also had three extra children along with my own five. When I called Brian for help, he was so busy at work that he told me to call him back in about 20 minutes (he was in the middle of a review)! Well, I had our guests picked up by their big brother and my kids went home with a neighbor who was also at Chuck E. Cheese. That left me alone with just Abby, who happened to be sleeping. So, I thanked God for few extra minutes to be able to pray (and possibly read the Word, depending on how long it took Brian to get there).
So, I settled in and began to pray. I was praying that I would be a light shining for Him, no matter what the circumstances are (like flat tires and things like Andrew teasing his little brother and sisters- exact words!) Before I had much time to pray anything else, my knight in shining armor rode up to change the tire. The plan was to use "Fix-A-Flat" to pump up the tire to drive it ACROSS THE STREET to Sear's to be fixed. Well, the tire was off the rim, so.......... Brian was not able to change it to the spare until after work, I have Bible Study on Monday nights, so now what will I do????(Notice my first opportunity to be a light- the tire was NOT fixed the way I expected. Now, I was without a car. What would my reaction be?) Well, both Brian and I were very calm. He drove me and Abigail home- not much more to do for the moment.
Well, opportunity #2 came along as soon as I opened the door! The kids were supposed to be finishing up their chores (folding some laundry and sweeping the floor). I was hoping it would all be done then we could "snuggle" together, take a nap, and rest the rest of the day (ever been to Chuck E. Cheese??????????). But, when I walked in, the kids had been fighting, Andrew had been teasing, and the chores were NOT finished!
I wish I could say I had a peaceful reaction. I wish I had been a quiet and gentle spirit!!!! NOT!
Praise God that He is a God of second chances and I know I will get yet another opportunity to react in the Spirit and NOT the flesh.
Remember my prayer? More on that later.........
To be continued..................
As I was writing this morning, I thought about one of my favorite talks, "Don't Waste Your Life". (I speak at women's events) I thought I would post an excerpt. It's long!!!
From "Don't Waste Your Life!"
What else does God want from MY life?”
Ladies, our God is jealous God. He is jealous for you. He doesn’t want to share you with ANYTHING else. He wants all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. God wants us to CHOOSE Him, to look to Him.
God wants the 1st place position in our hearts and lives.
God gives us this choice. He is always the gentleman and doesn’t force our devotion, but asks us to choose, as in Joshua 24:15: “Now fear the Lord and serve Him with ALL faithfulness. (Not partial, not some, but ALL faithfulness) Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped and serve the Lord. But, if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” God gives us this choice- are we going to live for Him or for ourselves? Are we going to serve God with all faithfulness or will we serve other gods? Are we going to let idols creep into that 1st place position in our hearts?
Now, you may be wondering, “Tracy, what do you mean? We don’t bow down to little golden statues. We don’t serve any other gods today- not in the 21 century! That was Old Testament stuff! What is an idol?”
But, an idol is simply anything we place in that 1st place position over God. It’s what we give our passion, our time, our SELVES to FIRST. What have we made first priority in our lives and hearts? John tells us, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols- from everything and anything that would take 1st place in your life.”
Lisa Bevere says, “An idol is what we give our strength TO or draw our strength from. She says God will always shake away those idols because He wants us to get our life from Him, not the things that will always disappoint.”
Idols can be things like money, or material possessions, shopping, exercise, our outward appearance, food, alcohol, admiration of friends, praise of man, work, TV, or even other relationships. Now you may be confused because you have to work and you really like chocolate! I told you I have a wonderful husband that I am head over heals about, and four beautiful children whom I love and I am passionate about speaking and I spend a lot of time scrapbooking at times. Are these idols? These things are not wrong or evil in or of themselves! It’s when we make them a priority over our relationship with God, when we start loving them above loving God. I love my kids, but I love my God even more! What gets you out of bed in the morning? What keeps you going through the day? What are your thoughts on throughout the day? What do find yourself thinking about and talking about? You see, I am first grounded in a relationship with my Savior- head over heals in love with Him FIRST, and then, He spills so much love into my heart that it overflows into all these areas of my life.
Unfortunately, it has not always been so. I consider myself an idol expert because I have bowed down to idols in my life, and they have created areas of bondage I have had to overcome. For me, it started in childhood. Like many women, I had a very dysfunctional family and my childhood was painful. As a young child, I turned to food for comfort, and it became my “safe place.” I used food to escape the pain I was experiencing. As you can imagine, I became an overweight child. Well, the summer before my eighth grade I stopped eating, and began walking everywhere I went. That summer, my weight melted off, and I found something new to fill my emptiness- the attention and praise I received after losing all of that weight. I soon relied on exercise to stay skinny, and I found two new idols- exercise, and the attention I could get with my outward appearance. That continued through high school and college. My personal worth was directly related to my outward experience. In college, I found a new passion- working hard and achieving tremendous success. This continued after college when I became a teacher. I was what you would describe as a workaholic. I needed to be the best, to be perfect. I continually compared myself to everyone around me, and I always had this competitive spirit within me, striving to be better than everyone else- to be the best. As you can imagine, I had set up such strongholds in my life! Of course, at the time, I didn’t think there was anything wrong. I would have considered myself a Christian- I went to church. But, I wasn’t feeding on God. I was feeding on these wordly pursuits, jumping from one to another. I was finding my self worth in these things, and never quite measuring up.
Well, when God moved us to Cedar Rapids, He had some major work to do. Has anyone else ever had some major work to do with God? He was going to deal with all of things, setting me free of all of these strongholds. But, oh, did we have to go through the wilderness. Was it painful! I didn’t even know I had to get rid of all these idols until God began opening my eyes.
When we moved to Cedar Rapids, I jumped right in, joining every possible club, organization, and playgroup. I was pregnant with Ashley, and Andrew was 2 years old. We were constantly on the go! We participated in every possible activity available. I will never forget one morning, I was trying to take Andrew to a playgroup, and he was just a crying and a crying. He said, “Mommy, can’t we just stay home today?” I was trying to keep busy with all of activities, but I was still so lonely.
After Ashley was born, I could not take off the pregnancy weight, I was feeling very depressed. I heard about a bible study that helped you lose weight, so I began facilitating it in my home. Wow! Did God open my eyes. This study taught me about idols, strongholds, and areas of bondage. God set me free by filling my up with HIM. I learned that needed to seek a relationship with Jesus, instead of filling my heart with all of these other wordly pursuits. So, over the past 7 years, God has continually revealed when I was turning to idols, and then helped me work through the process of being set free from them.
Jesus teaches us in Mat. 6:24 that “no one can serve 2 masters.” It is impossible. Jesus says, “You will either hate the one or love the other. You will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” You cannot serve both God and work. You cannot serve both God and food. You cannot serve both God and the praise of man. You cannot serve both God and shopping. You cannot serve both God and anger. You cannot serve both God and activities.
It is impossible to have two 1st priorities in our lives. We’ll always have a #1 and everything else will follow. Our 1st priority is whatever we give ourselves, our time and our passion to FIRST. Is there anything that is pushing God out of 1st place in your life and heart?
So, what does God want from our lives? God wants our wholehearted devotion, and He wants our whole life.
Father God, we love You! May You always take FIRST place in our hearts, minds, and time!
As I start out early this morning, I realize God wants to continue on the study of idols…. He has so much more to teach me. Father, I pray for deep insight into Your Word today.
Back to Kings. I keep pondering this idea of worshipping both God, but also the gods of the world around us. In Solomon’s day, God warned Solomon not to marry foreign women because the women would turn his heart from the LORD and onto their gods. Solomon doesn’t listen. He thinks he can keep it under control, that he can “handle it.” Solomon ends up marrying 700 foreign wives and has 300 concubines. 1Kings 11:2-4 says, “…the LORD told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.’ Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love…. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” This led to the downfall of his kingdom. We read that “God raised up an adversary” against Solomon. We read that God says, “See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand…”
Later in 2Kings, the people again turn to the gods all around them. 2Kings 17:33,41 says, “They worshipped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought….Even while these people were worshipping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.” (Whew! Does that pierce my heart! I do not want my children to have the same struggles that I did with idolatry and bondage! I do not want them to struggle with a divided devotion as I did!)
When I ponder these verses, I know that when I look to the world, and the idols they promote, I can be tempted to mix my devotion to God with things of the world. This is why Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” And, why he warns us in 2Corinthians, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers….what agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God….As God has said, ‘Therefore come out from them and be separate.’” God wants to separate us from the gods of the worlds around us! He wants us to get our life from Him and not a cheap imitation of what the world has to offer! When we “yoke” ourselves, walk together in agreement with unbelievers, we can be turned to their way of doing things. (Remember Solomon?) This is why it is so important to have a circle of close friends who are also walking with God. They encourage you to seek after Him, not the world.
Speaking of yokes….
In Isaiah, God tells us our idols are burdensome. Isaiah 46:1-2, “…their idols are borne by beasts of burden. The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary. They stoop and bow down together, unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity.” Bowing down to our idols makes us weary!
But Jesus said, (hallelujah!) “Come to me, all who are weary and burden laden, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Lord, may we always come to You with our weariness. Thank You, Lord that Your yoke is easy and Your burden light. Thank You that love us so much that You don’t want us to search the world for help or love, but that You offer a True Way, a Pure Way. Forgive us, Father, for times we have tried to worship You and our idols at the same time. Lord, we desire to seek You with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We love You, Lord! In Jesus’ Precious Name we pray! Amen!
Continuing with our “idol study”…….
One thing that God keeps pointing out to me is that we turn to idols when we don’t trust Him. We haven’t completely surrendered to Him, giving Him our complete trust. We try to take care of ourselves, turning to things that SEEM reasonable. We think we can fix things ourselves, take care of ourselves, and we don’t want to wait on God. We want a “quick fix”. We buy into the world’s solutions. You know, like those infomercials that say you can lose 50 lbs in a week with absolutely no exercise, eating whatever you like! (That’s another thing- we also want our “pain free” ways!)
In Exodus, God has just delivered the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt. They witnessed miracles beyond their wildest imagination! God had provided for their needs in awesome ways- manna from heaven, water from a rock. He parted the waters to save them! We look at that, amazed that they wouldn’t trust God, but are we much different? Anyway, God told the people that He was making a covenant with them and they would be His treasured possession. Then, Moses went up to Mount Sinai to be with God and receive His commandments. Well, the people got “antsy.” They were tired of waiting and wanted results RIGHT AWAY. Exodus 32:1 says, “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” So, Aaron had the people bring all of their gold and he made it into an idol shaped like a calf. The people said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” Then it says, “When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, ‘Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.’” So often, we get impatient with God. We want our answers immediately! The Israelites turned to what was familiar to them- what they had experienced in Egypt. There, it was common to worship golden statues. And, isn’t it amazing that they were going to worship the LORD, but also worshipped the statue? We can do the same thing. We worship our Lord, but also mix it with idolatry. And, look how they credit the god for bringing them out of Egypt! It is the same with our modern idols. We credit them for the good things happening to us.
Well, the Israelites spend the next forty years wandering in the desert. They never make it into their Promised Land with their descendents. Over time, God’s chosen people make it to the Promised Land and follow Him. There is a pattern of being faithful to God, but then they “do evil in the eyes of the Lord.” God gives them over to their enemies, they repent and worship Him. Then, over time, they return to their idols, go into bondage, repent, are delivered, are faithful for a while, return to their idols, go into bondage, repent, are delivered…… God warns them over and over not to worship the gods of the people around them. He knows if they do, the gods will turn the people’s hearts from Him. He wants us to TRUST Him, not the remedies of the world! The kings of Israel and Judah would go in patterns, worshipping the gods of the world around them, “doing evil in the sight of God.”
2Kings 17:7-9says, “All this took place (the capture of Israelites by Assyria) the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshipped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. The Israelites SECRETLY did things against the LORD their God that were not right. (Again, we keep these sins secret, filled with shame) …verse 14 says, “But they would not listen (to the prophets God sent to warn them) and were a stiff-necked people, who did NOT TRUST IN THE LORD THEIR GOD.”
Father God, we praise You! We love You! We fall down asking for Your forgiveness for turning to worthless idols instead of trusting in You. We purpose to “trust in the Lord with all of our heart, leaning not upon our own understanding, but in all of our ways acknowledging You.” Lord, strengthen us, helping us to patiently wait upon You. Show us areas of our lives where we have turned to idols, expecting them to help us. Open our eyes to see You, God! We don’t want to be like the Israelites, worshipping You at the same time making gods to help us. We don’t want to be stiff-necked!!!! Fill us with Your love, Lord. You are more than enough! More than we will ever need! Praise You, God! In Jesus’ Name we pray! Amen!
One of my frequent areas of study when I come to the Word is the area of idols and idolatry. There is so much to be said on this subject that I think I could fill a year’s worth of blogs! I think one reason God continually brings me back to it is that (1) it is an area where I need constant reminders and refreshing and (2) it is a common area of struggle for modern day Believers. You see, so many of us think idolatry is a thing of the past, or only in Eastern religions. But, an “idol” is anything we give our hearts to in worship. According to one reference source, an idol “is an object of adoration- somebody (that is interesting!) or something greatly admired or loved, often to excess.” The “often to excess” part is what gets us into trouble!!! We begin to seek after these “things” of the world- work, career, shopping, relationships, food, alcohol, activities, exercise- to satisfy the longings of our heart. We seek gratification in these areas, or go to them when we experience the loneliness of our hearts…. We are deceived into thinking that we will be satisfied by seeking after these pursuits.
Anyway, I have studied this topic because for so much of my life, I sought after idols to fulfill me. For a long time, I used food to comfort me. When I felt overwhelmed by my circumstances, I would turn to food. When I felt lonely, I would turn to food. When I felt upset, I would turn to food. I would “reward” myself with food. I ate in secret. Whew- Proverbs 9:17-18, “Folly cries to us, ‘Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!’ But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.” Wow! Food “called my name.” I felt out of control with my eating. On the one hand, hating how I looked from overeating, but continuing to turn to food for escape. Uhhh!!!! But, praise God, there is FREEDOM in Jesus Christ! Praise God that He set me free from this area of bondage. I first needed to be honest with myself about turning to something other than God, the Creator of the Universe, my Redeemer, my Savior, my Rock, the Lover of my soul for satisfaction. I continue to press on in this area because I see so many of us as Christians struggling with bondage and bowing down to idols. There is SOOOOOOOO much in the Word about this area.
Of course, the Old Testament is full of passages on idolatry because the Israelites would continually go back to their idols over and over again. God would punish them, bringing them into captivity until they repented, crying out for Him. Then, they would go back to their idols, despite God’s warnings. He loves us so much and wants so much more for us than to follow after false gods- things that will always suck the life FROM us, instead of giving life to us. Think about it. When food was my idol, my health was compromised. I hated how I looked. I felt embarrassed. My clothes didn’t fit. It stole my time- I would continue to go back to the pantry all day long looking for food. (Like it was going to magically appear since the last time I looked??????) And, I would find myself getting behind on household chores because I was spending time on eating or thinking about eating!
But, idolatry is found in the New Testament, also! Jesus talks about idolatry. It is in Paul’s letters and John’s. But, Praise God, we have HOPE and freedom in the New Testament! Because of Jesus, we have freedom from the bondage of idols. We are more than conquerors! We are empowered to be free from idols because we have the Most High God living inside of us! Hallelujah!!!!!
In the past week, two people have commented on my “spirituality.” One friend said that people at my church look to me as a spiritual leader. Another friend, after reading my recent blog about having a really hard day, said, “I was so glad to see you have days like that, too!” I was pondering these comments this morning during my prayer time, a little surprised by them. I certainly don’t feel like a “giant!” And, I daily have to fight off temptations and wrong thinking. I don’t want people to think that it “easy” for me, that it doesn’t take “on purpose” kind of living. And, I don’t believe we (anyone) can just start to “skate” through our daily faith walk. It takes daily time with the Refresher, time in His Word, time in prayer. It takes a daily emptying of ME, and filling up on Him. And, there are struggles! My flesh will fight me! The enemy will tempt me! I will fail, but praise God, that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion! Thank God that His mercies are new each morning and He forgives me!
A couple of thoughts….
I thought about the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said “Blessed is the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Hallelujah! You see, in my brokenness, I come to Jesus, surrendering to Him, and I receive the Kingdom of Heaven! When I am weary, He gives me Rest. When I don’t know where to turn, He is the Light.
He says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Other words for “meek” are humble, submissive, gentle. When I empty myself of pride, come before Him in humility, He stores up an inheritance for me. I want to submit myself to Him. I want to surrender all that I am, every area of my life to Him. I want to be gentle in spirit.
And, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” When we hunger after Him, hungering for a greater intimacy, a deeper relationship, WE WILL BE FILLED!
Dear ones, if you only could see how far I’ve “come”- the depth from which He has saved me! I am no “spiritual giant”- only a woman so grateful for His love and forgiveness that I want more and more and more and more and more of Him! What you see is me clinging on to Him for dear life! If I let go, I don’t know where I would be or WHO I would be! All I know is that I want LESS of me and more of Him!
I was thinking how the Israelites had to get daily manna in the desert. They couldn’t store up and use manna later. They had to gather it for THAT day only. I was thinking about that in relation to my prayer time and reading the Word. I need to fill up on God each day! Every day I need to get a fresh supply. Each day, God has something new to teach me. I need refreshment for THIS day. That is how I grow closer to Him. That is how I grow spiritually. That is how I grow in maturity. It is how I develop weapons to fight against the enemy’s attacks.
Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect (mature), but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself et to taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Father, we praise your Holy Name! Thank you Lord that you bring each and every one of us on a journey, and that you have a plan for us. Lord, I pray encouragement over these dear ones. Let them fix their eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of their faith, following the path you have marked out for us. Let us not grow weary, but fight the good fight of faith, never comparing ourselves to anyone else. Father, give us manna today. Fill us with you. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
Oh, my! It was one of THOSE days! Let’s see, where do I begin?!
Fell asleep during my quiet time (must have been too quiet!). That, of course, sets me behind- so instead of a 5 AM start, it was a 7 AM start.
Forgot Ashley had girls’ chorus. So, she missed that today! (Needed to be there at 7:50- like that was going to happen!!!!)
Aaron and Aly fighting! Aaron scratched and hit her, “on accident!” (Boy, the lessons there! How many times, God, when you “catch” me, do I claim- it was just an accident!)
The dog got into the garbage and made a HUGE mess all over the kitchen floor! And, because our garbage disposal is broken, there is gross food everywhere! (Thank You, Holy Spirit for helping me have a calm, gentle spirit and not yelling!)
Forgot that I washed Abigail’s car seat cover. When we were rushing out the door, realized that I needed to put it all back together again.
When I got to Preschool, there was a “friendly” reminder that I paid the wrong amount in tuition. Please pay the remainder ASAP.
Oh, after the errands, I have a “to do” list a mile long……..
Oh, how I laugh at you, Satan! Nice try, but it is going to take a lot more than that to shake me!
“If God be for me, than who dare be against me? No weapon formed against me shall prosper! He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world! I can laugh at the days to come! And, this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
Thank You, Lord that You are my God in good times and bad! I will choose to praise You!!!! I will choose to laugh! I will choose to not take myself too seriously! And, I will give thanks that my hope is in You! I love You, Jesus!
Where do I begin???? God is so good! The women's retreat was AWESOME! God was HUGE!!!!!!
He answered so many prayers! We prayed that God would be big, that His Spirit would blow through like a mighty wind! And, He did! Women's lives were changed! Praying over prayer cards, a woman came to Christ that weekend (hallelujah!), women were set free from bondage, hearts were healed. God's fingerprints were all over the place! He was working in the big things and the little things.
I was so overwhelmed by many things. All the women there had her own "story." What came to mind is that these were just "regular" women- women who are our friends, coworkers, neighbors, moms of friends, women sitting next to us at church. But, we don't know what is going on with women. As women, we put on a "happy face" and just do life. As women opened up, they told about broken childhoods, broken marriages, areas of bondage, disease. They honestly shared about their struggles and pain. They came and allowed God to heal them. God met each woman where she was, binding up her wounds. God loved on each woman there and brought victory! Praise God! He came to set the captives free!
The first message God laid on my heart to speak was on His love. That was Sat. morning. The Spirit filled my mouth with such beautiful words of love for the women and the importance of having an authentic, living, breathing relationship with each one. Listen to how precious God is. The director of women's ministry, Debbie, opened the conference and told a beautiful story using Psalm 139. God had given me a part of my talk on Psalm 139, and then one of the breakout leaders had Psalm 139 as the basis for her message! Did God work that out or what?????
Then, (this is so cool!) I had planned on doing the next talk Sat. evening on the theme verse, Romans 12:2, "Do not conform any longer to the patterns of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." The last part of my message for Sunday morning was supposed to be on forgiveness (God's forgiveness for us and letting go of our shame). God spoke to my heart Sat. afternoon and told me someone needed to hear that Sat. night. So, I flip-flopped my message and spoke on forgiveness Sat. night. We finished by walking to the cross- bringing to it whatever God laid on their hearts. It was powerful! Women were weeping as God released them! It was such an honor to be a part of it and to witness God's Spirit working so powerfully- and humbling!
I know God was working in the "little" things as well. Sat. night we were having some "technical difficulties." There was no sound for my PowerPoint. We couldn't get the projector to start. I could've gotten frustrated and flustered, but instead rested in God (thank You, God! this, too, was only by the power of your Spirit!), knowing He had all things under control. Of course, prayed over the computers, mics, etc. But, there was something more going on. (spiritual warfare, too- Satan was trying to get me nervous!) But, the tech. man from the hotel, Lawrence, was in trying to fix it. And, Lawrence was under heavy stress. He was sweating (it was 90 degrees, 2 weddings outside on the golf course- everything was going wrong!) and complaining. "I am running around. I haven't had a break since last Sat. and won't until Thursday...." Well two things- first what the enemy means for evil, God can turn for good. Satan meant to squash what was happening in that room full of women, but God turned it for good. And, second- God can work ALL THINGS together for good. I began praying fervently for Lawrence. I don't know where Lawrence is or isn't in faith. I don't know if he is saved. I don't know if anyone ever prayed for Lawrence. But, I did that night! Even back in my room, I prayed fervently! God says He is looking for someone to stand in the gap, and I stood in the gap for Lawrence. God then placed on my heart to write a thank you to Lawrence and inside I told him that God loves him. Don't know what Lawrence thought about all of this, but I am believing God is calling Lawrence to Him. Praise God!
Anyway, thank you, thank you for all of your prayers! Here's a funny: driving there, praying, I asked, "How did I get myself into this??!!!! I will never speak again!!!!! I can't believe I am doing this!" But, by the end of the first talk Sat. morning, I was soaring with God, thanking Him and praising Him for this privilege and honor to His mouthpiece and to minister to women. And, I was praying for more opportunities! Praise Him!
I love you all!
May the God of all comfort and joy give you eternal encouragement and hope! May He bless you abundantly and fill you will all peace and joy!
Grace and peace to you all!
Praise You, God! You were so AWESOME, POWERFUL, AND BIG at the Ladies' Retreat where I spoke over the weekend. Praise You! God confirmed time and again how He wants to set us free! He does not want to see His dearly Beloved children in bondage, living under the yoke of Satan's deception! Hallelujah! This morning, one example stands out in my mind. A dear woman shared with me what she is going through at home- a terrible situation. Her husband is in bondage to a terrible sin. We prayed together, and I especially prayed that she would feel God's loving arms around her. I prayed that He would comfort her, pour out His wisdom on her, and shower His love upon her.
The next morning she shared with me how powerfully God had spoken to her through His Word.God led her to Isaiah where it talked about how He was going to come in to crush bondage and pride and that He is a source of strength. This passage spoke to her personally. It touched her exactly the way she needed. God had put His arms around her through His Word. God's Word is alive and active and personally speaks to each one of us! Praise God!
I was thinking how often we can sometimes "roll over and play dead." We start believing that THIS is all there is, or this is just how it is. We forget to fight- to stand firm and put on His armor. We forget to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power and to take our stand against the enemy's evil schemes. We just accept our circumstances as "the way things are." (Did you ever see the movie, Babe, about a pig who refused to accept that things were just the way things are?) We just sigh, and say, "This must be God's Will, His plan." (And sometimes it is! There are times that He is refining us or our circumstances are a result of sin or our choices- but that is a whole other blog!!!)
God reminded me of an example of this that happened not too long ago. I was NOT feeling well- I had a "bug" of some kind. But, I had so much to do. While I was praying with my mentor and prayer partner, I had a "woe is me" attitude and just kind of giving up. I am sick today, I won't be able to do all things I need to do. Oh well. I even said, "God must be slowing down." (And He, does do that, too- but that, too, is a whole other blog!!!!!) She began to pray for healing. We began to take our authority in who we are in Jesus and what He has already done for us. I of course, didn't want to hear these things! I wanted to her to feel sorry for me- I was sick! I wanted to "wallow!" But, as we prayed, my faith began to rise. I knew it was God's will for me to get up and accomplish the things He had called me to do that day. We talked about the time when Jesus healed Peter's mother from a fever and she got up to serve them. Immediately after we prayed I felt better. I still had my cold, but my attitude had completely changed. I had energy to get up and do the things I needed to do. Once I finished, I felt God say, "Rest now." I felt so much better!!!! I rested without worries of my tasks. I was so thankful and praised Him over and over!
This morning, as I pondered all of this, I opened my Bible. The Spirit led me to the story of the woman being healed in Mark 5:21-34. The crowds were huge. The Bible says, "A large crowd followed and pressed around Him." Have you been somewhere where the crowd was huge and people bump into you and you bump into them? Somewhere where you have to hold hands with the people you are with for fear of being separated? I picture the crowd like that around Jesus. The people are crowding Him, trying to get near Him.
The Bible says, "And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse." Whew! There is so much just in that short passage! In Bible times blood issues were taken seriously. If this woman had a blood disease, she would have been considered "unclean." People probably avoided touching her or getting too near her- for twelve YEARS. Can you imagine? The pain, the lonliness of this suffering for so long? In fact, Scripture says she had "suffered a great deal." Can you relate? Have you suffered a great deal? She spent all she had. She spent everything she had to get well. She sought out many doctors. She was using everything available. Yet, she was not healed. In fact, the Bible says "she grew worse." Have your circumstances ever grown worse, even when you have given everything you have to change them?
But, she knew where to go! She knows that Jesus can heal her. She thinks, "If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed." She knows the power of the her Savior. She knows it just takes a touch of his cloak. She doesn't even need to touch Him, just His clothes. So, she comes up behind Him, without saying a word, reaches out, and touches His cloak."IMMEDIATELY her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering." God wants to free us from our suffering!
Notice a few things. She goes to Jesus. She has great faith- she knows she just needs a touch from Jesus. She reaches out and touches Him. "At once Jesus realizes that power had gone out from Him." Wow! She reaches out, touches Him in her need, and power goes out from Him to heal her. Now, Jesus knows who touched Him. He is God. He is all knowing. All through the New Testament Jesus knew the thoughts of those around Him. So, He knows already knows who touched Him, but He asks, "Who touched my clothes?" Now the disciples are surprised by this question. EVERYONE was touching Him! A better question might have been who is NOT touching me???? They say, "You see the people crowding against You, and yet You ask, 'Who touched me?' " Jesus looks for her in the crowd. She knows she's "caught." She falls at His feet, trembling with fear and tells Him the whole truth.
Jesus calls her "Daughter." He says, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." Hallalujah! Jesus FREES us! He frees us from our suffering! Jesus came to "set the captives free." She has been healed already, now He wants to free her and bring restoration! In front of the whole crowd, all the people she was trying to avoid, Jesus restores her and validates her. He calls her daughter!
One other HUGE point- there were LOTS of people touching Jesus, many of which probably needed healing. Why didn't Jesus' power go out from Him when they touched Him? She believed! Jesus said "her faith healed her." So many of us may touch Jesus, but do we believe? Do we have faith in Who is and What He can do?
Thank You, God that You bring healing and freedom! Thank You for Your restoration!