A MakeOver of the Heart Bible Study


Thank you, ladies for your patience while I was having computer difficulities! But, I am a FIRM believer that "God works all things together for good!" I heard from some of you that you used the time to go back to the previous weeks and "catch up" on any unfinished homework.....and tackle the "tough" questions that you skipped the first time. Also, I hope that the extra week has allowed time for other women to join us as well. If you need to download the study from the beginning, simply click on the button at the top right of my blog. If you would like to read our discussions from the past weeks, click here, here, here, here, here, and here. I am so looking forward to reading all of your responses! I pray that this study blesses you as you seek Him and His transforming power! Let's get started!

WEEK FOUR
A Committed Heart



Father God may our prayers be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear today. We give you all praise, all glory, all honor. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Beloved, I’d like to pray for you from Ephesians 3. “I pray that God would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love, that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

The next step in our heart makeover is having a heart fully devoted to Christ, a heart that follows and worships Jesus and a life committed to God. “Commit” is a strong word- a word we hear a lot as adults. We make a commitment to our husbands in marriage; we make commitments to our children’s schools and churches to volunteer. We have commitments at work. The Bible speaks much about commitment. God wants us to have hearts FULLY committed to him. He wants us to be completely devoted to Him, and he wants our lives to be committed to him. He doesn’t want to be in competition with anything for our love and devotion.

Our key verse is Psalm 37:5. “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” Listen to that relationship again- COMMIT YOUR WAY TO THE LORD, AND TRUST IN HIM AND HE WILL MAKE YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS SHINE LIKE THE DAWN!

Have you ever been outside at dawn? I love it! I like to get up early and walk in the morning. There is nothing more beautiful and magnificent than God’s sunrise. The sky starts out dark and begins to fill with a pink glow, and as the sun makes its way over the horizon, the light is brilliant with hues of red, orange, and yellow. The dawn is breathtaking. When YOU are committed to God, YOUR righteousness is breathtaking- it shines like the dawn. And your cause shines like the noonday sun. We all know how bright the noonday sun is. We bring out our sunglasses to shade our eyes from the brilliance. Well, how do we commit our lives to the Lord?

What does that mean? What does that look like?! Commit is an action verb- it requires that we do something. What do we do and how do we do it? In today’s culture living for God seems impossible.

I remember from my college days a dance song that rang out “You got the PO-WER!” I would do aerobics to that song and it inspired me to achieve more. I felt I had the power. As a Christian, as a Believer in Jesus Christ, you have the “PO-WER”! You should be confident of God’s POWER INSIDE OF YOU! We forget sometimes that we do have a power inside of us- the Holy Spirit! We forget there is a trinity- God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit! THE SPIRIT OF GOD LIVES INSIDE OF YOU! God has given us that Spirit to help us. It is our helpmate, our counselor. We should have complete confidence, not in ourselves, through the power of our own strength, but by the power of God’s strength inside of us. Jesus said in Acts, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” 2Corinthians 2:12 says, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God.” And the Bible says in 2Corinthians 1:22, “God put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

Yes,Beloved, you have the power to live for Christ! How? You have the power of God living inside of you! You have God’s Holy Spirit inside of you. Galatians 2:20 says, “Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” And Galatians 4:6, “Because you are his (daughters), God sent the Spirit of his son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out ‘Abba Father’.” And 1Thessalonians 1:4 says “We know (sisters) loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with POWER with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” And 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of POWER, of love, and self-discipline.”

God, the Father, has given us a power over sin, over temptation, over the desires of the world. He has given us power to devote our lives to Him. But, there are many things pulling our devotion away from God. There are many tough choices we have to make daily. The world seems so inviting, so innocent. We have become such a “me-centered” culture. The world says we need to please ourselves. It says we need to look out for ourselves, or no one else will. The world tells us to indulge ourselves - everything is OK, as long as we are not hurting anyone else.

Life becomes a pursuit of our pleasures, without any regard to God’s plan for our lives and holy living. We allow ourselves to be seduced by our selfish ambitions, sinful desires, and the lure of the world. When people see us and how we are living our lives, they may not even realize we are Christians. But, AS Christians, we need to be set apart from the world, and the ways of the world, living lives holy and pleasing to God.

Do you remember the little Sunday School song, “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine”? Our words, our actions, our choices need to shine with the light of Jesus! Again, Reader, this world is NOT your home! Jesus said that to be a friend of the world was to be an enemy to him. You cannot have 2 masters- you cannot serve both God and the world. Peter tells us to “live as strangers here on earth.” He says in 1Peter 2:11 “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” Another translation puts it like this, “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. DON’T INDULGE YOUR EGO at the expense of your soul”. (Message)

So many of us are too cozy, too comfortable in the world! We accept too many things that are not glorifying to God. We think that they are okay because they are politically correct, or because our friends think they are okay. We’ve relaxed our standards. We’ve gone away from God’s standards and used the world to guide our decisions, ideals, and morals. We have become too cozy in the world, too comfortable with its morals. We have been distracted, deceived, and led astray by our longings for the worldly. Do we seek the presence of God or the approval of the world?


Our generation has been on a pursuit of perfection- perfect skin, perfect bodies, perfect husbands, perfect children, the perfect career or volunteer “career,” and the perfect model home. In the process, we have traded in what is “perfect” for God’s best in our lives. We have missed out and gotten “sucked in.” But that time is over!

I believe God has a call on this generation of women to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to change this generation and to teach the next generation of women. God is raising up women who have hearts desiring change. Change begins with the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:5 says, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Paul continues in verse 13, “By the Spirit put to death the misdeeds of the body and you will live.” And Galatians 5:16, “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

I believe God is bringing us, as Christians, back to living a life of purity. For several years we have shied away from the idea of “purity.” We never wanted to be “stuffy,” and now we want to be “cool” and we must be “politically correct!” As a generation we ran from the image of “Puritans,” and today we embrace our “tolerant” views and opinions. We don’t want to be seen as “holier than thou,” and we think anyone trying to be “holy” is only being hypocritical.

But, God calls us to a different standard. He is calling His Church back to purity and Godly living. He is calling us to be holy, to be sanctified- set apart in Him and for Him! Again, Christians need to look different than the “world.” In fact, the “world” also yearns for us to be “different.” Shouldn’t Christ in us empower us to rise above the pull of the wordly, living in complete freedom and liberty? Shouldn’t we be special…different? Shouldn’t we have the aroma of Christ? “He has anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us.” We are His dearly loved children and His bride. We must take that position, and take confidence in it! We need to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to put on the robes of righteousness and “live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way.” (Colossians 1:10)

Thankfully, we don’t live this way on our own or in our own strength. We have a still, small voice that helps us and guides us. The Holy Spirit helps us to make choices between right and wrong. We need to start listening! Our choices in life need to glorify God. Even little things like the TV shows we are watching need to glorify God. We must ask ourselves with every choice, “Is this pleasing to God? Do my words glorify God? Would Jesus buy this magazine? Would God enjoy this movie, or would He be embarrassed by it?”

You may be wondering why little things like TV shows or magazines matter so much. You may be thinking, “I’m not hurting anyone watching this show. I’m just relaxing. It’s only TV. The kids are in bed. I’m an adult. It doesn’t matter.”

Does it matter?

The Bible warns us to be careful. Peter tells us “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Imagine yourself lying on the couch late at night, flipping channels and being drawn to MTV or an immoral reality show. You allow the channel to linger there for awhile, even though you feel a tinge of discomfort. The show has peaked your curiosity. You reason with yourself that watching these shows couldn’t be harmful. You aren’t HURTING anyone.

But ponder this. When you are drowsy and inattentive, you become easy prey for the enemy, “who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Lions usually hunt at night, and there you are at night, feeding on worldly filth, allowing it to penetrate your heart. Now you have opened a door for him, allowing him a foothold.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:22-23, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. Don’t fill your eyes with images of the world that can never be erased. Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Guard what goes through your eyes into your heart! These reality shows are making a mockery of marriage and God’s plan for our best. We have shows that tell us that God’s creation isn’t nearly good enough, so we will change it by having several plastic surgeries. It is so easy to be sucked in to these shows, and then to change our ideals and morals to fit with what we are watching.

Sometimes, we feel a tinge of guilt or discomfort while doing something that isn’t glorifying to God. We don’t realize it, but this is the Holy Spirit, the still, small voice inside of us trying to help us, trying to guide us. In today’s society we hear that we shouldn’t feel “guilt.” We hear things like, “Feeling guilty is wrong and teaching others about guilt is wrong. If you are not hurting anyone else, then everything is okay. We are in our own homes. We are consenting adults. God is a God of love, and He wouldn’t make us feel guilty.”

God is a God of love and that is why He instilled in us this guide. Guilt, or "conviction" is a mechanism created in us by God to help us make the right choices. This mechanism helps us to discern what is right and what is wrong. It shows us when we sin. When we feel uncomfortable watching a TV show, music video, or a movie, or listening to the lyrics of songs, or wearing provocative clothing, there is a reason for it! God is speaking to us. God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us make choices for Him, to live a godly life. God doesn’t leave us on our own, “fending for ourselves.” He gives us His Word to teach us and His Spirit or Counselor to guide us.

Now there is a difference between the Holy Spirit guiding us and the enemy condemning us when we make wrong choices. The Holy Spirit gives us a WARNING BEFORE we sin or while we are sinning to STOP. The enemy heaps on condemnation after the fact. When we have already DONE something, he comes in telling us how awful we are for doing it. The enemy doesn’t warn us to stop, he reminds us constantly of what we have done when it’s over. “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God forgives our sin and empowers us to not sin any longer.

But, when you start tuning out the small, still voice, it becomes harder to hear. When you allow the screams of the world to drown out God’s whispering, it’s harder to make choices for God. Our choices do matter- from the politicians we vote for to the businesses we support to the radio stations we listen to. Are we making these choices for God? Do they glorify God? We need to make a stand. We need to live lives set apart from the world. Sometimes it is not convenient, sometimes it is not popular, and sometimes it is not in our best “economic interest.” But, this is what God is calling us to do.


We can not make these choices and live this way in our own strength. But, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” I am strong in the Lord. The Lord says, “When you seek Me with all of your heart, you will find Me.” When we are searching for God and trying to live in the Spirit, keeping “step with the Spirit,” God will honor our request.

Are there areas of your life where you know you need to change? Has God been whispering to you, and you have been shutting Him out? Are you unclear to what areas you need to change? God can and will help you answer these questions. That is why He gave us the Holy Spirit! Spend a few moments now to speak and listen to the Lord.

Questions


1.Are there areas in your life where you have become “cozy in the world?” Have you developed habits that don’t glorify God? Take a few moments to journal here what they are. Ask God to help you surrender these areas to Him.



2. Read 2Timothy 3:1-9. Do you see any similarities between what Paul describes as “Godlessness” and today? List present day examples.



3. Read 2Timothy 2:22-24, Colossians 3:1-17 and Ephesians 4:17-5:21. How should you live? Take a few moments to reflect on these. What is the Holy Spirit showing you? Are there areas you need to surrender to God?



4. How do you do this? So many Christians are in bondage to STRIVING and PERFORMING. This is not God’s plan. He has given you what you need in the Holy Spirit. Read Philippians 4:13, 2Corinthians 12:9-10, and Ephesians 6:10. When you are weak, how does God strengthen you?



Listen now to the Spirit of God. Ask the Lord to help you seek Him, not the world. Please pray with me.



Prayer
Father God, I give You all glory and honor and praise! I thank you for your Word to help me and I thank You for Your Spirit to guide me. I pray God that you would open the eyes of my heart. I pray that You would give me a Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know You better. I pray, Lord, that You will help me seek You out, not the world. Help me God to store up my treasures in Heaven, not here on earth. I pray that I would have ears to hear You and a heart to follow You. Your Word says I am strong in the Lord. Give me a boldness, Lord and a confidence to be strong in You and for you. Help me to listen to the Holy Spirit and to make every choice with You in my heart. Remind me always to ask, “Is this for God or against Him? Does this bring God glory?” Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.



Gathering at the Well...

Gathering At the Well


Praise for the Most High

The discussion questions are:
Who or what is "most high" in your mind and heart today?
Is it the Most High, or someone or something else?

Well, we are not starting this week at the well with idle "chit chat", but heavy IDOL discussions! As we gather today, we are asked to look at ourselves honestly and answer the question who is the most high in our hearts.

Of course, I would jump up and shout out, "GOD!" My beautiful Jesus, my Savior, my LIFE! I praise Jehovah, Almighty God as my Most High!

Hmmm......

But, do my actions really reflect that truth? Or what about my secret thoughts? What about the things I dare not whisper out loud to anyone else....lest you will see me for who I really am.

Oh, how I want my answer to be God! Oh, how I wish my selfish heart would DIE completely so that He could LIVE completely in me and through me.

Unfortunately, I often place someone else on the throne of my heart. I often worship this person first and foremost, even before God. Often, the "most high" in my life is...

ME.

SELF.

I worry about if things are "fair" to me. I justify myself when I am sure I am "right." I lament when "I have to do everything."

And, lately, a struggle I have been fighting is the inner, secret desire to be "admired." No, not like American Idol. But, this need for others to recognize my accomplishments. It is something just between me and God. I am not a person who lists all of her good works to others to get praise (look at me now trying to "justify" my heart!). In fact, "those" people drive me crazy! You know, the person who makes sure EVERYONE knows she volunteered for this or was responsible for that. I may not "do" this on the outside, but inwardly, my heart is screaming the same things! "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."1Samuel 16:7

"Did you see me? Was that good? See what a good influence I am? See how I am making a difference?"

AGH.

It is no wonder Jesus tells us not to let the right hand know what the left hand is giving!

I hate this about my heart. I know it is what got Satan into trouble.

Pride.

He wanted to be worshipped like God.

I know that it is not ME who is doing the "good" things...it is JESUS within me. It is the Holy Spirit. I refuse to "steal" God's glory! The glory that is due to Him!

In my race to "get credit" for the good things happening, I am really stealing the credit from God. It is only Him who "deserves" the credit. All glory to God!

I purpose in my heart to say like John the Baptist "I must decrease so that He may increase!" See John 3:22-30.

Lord, You see the motives of the heart. You know what lies deep within me...the things I try to keep secret. The things I don't want others to know. But, I know when I bring these things into the Light, You can change me. Purify my heart, Lord. Make my motives pure. Get rid of all selfish ambition. Fill me with You. Less of me and more of You. Less of me and more of You. Less of me and more of You. NONE of me and ALL of You. In Jesus' precious name we pray. AMEN.

Please join the gathering at the well today and drink deeply of what He has to share.

Putting God first in my life has been a topic I have written about often because it has been an area of challenge for me. I have spent lots of time studying the Old Testament- the plight of the Israelites and how they continued to turn to idols INSTEAD of the Most High God. And, even though you have to say, "Are you guys CRAZY????", too often I have seen myself make the same mistakes. If you would like to read more, see here, here, here, or here.

Thank You, Lord!

Thank You, God and thank you, bloggers and friends who have been praying for me and for my computer!!!!!!

It turns out that my problem was so silly! When Brian began investigating the problem, he found that our wireless router simply needed to be be reset. Aaaahhh (sigh of relief!). But, my power cord is still not working, thus I am borrowing Brian's laptop......So, I am limited on my computer time. I am just not able to comment as much as I would like. But, please know that I read ALL of your comments and pray for your needs.

God did teach me MUCH through this experience and I have grown in my faith and dependence on my God. It has also given me a renewed understanding of hurting hearts feeling separated from God during hard times. God truly can take ALL things and work them together for the good of those who love Him!

I am excited to be "back" and look forward to hearing from all of you! I am so thankful for the Body of Christ in "bloggyland." It is such a joy to worship God with all of you and to grow in our faith together!

I hate computers!!!!

I am at Laced with Grace today writing about this computer problem!

Please come over to read it...

and PRAY for me!

THANKS!

I am "out of commission"!!!!!

Sorry, everyone, but I am without a computer!!!!!! My sweet friend, Melissa, is letting me use hers to get a few blog posts up. If you are coming over from the UBP, welcome! Sorry I can't be a better hostess! If you have been coming over for the bible study, I AM SO SORRY! I will get it up and running again just as SOON as I can! Please feel free to read from my blog archives. Also, I am unable to email.....so, am "cut off" for awhile. Maybe God is telling me something???

Thanks for stopping by...

Blessings!

Gathering at the Well...

Gathering At the Well

This week we are thanking God for our husbands at the well. I love how the question is worded: What can we PUBLICLY thank God for in regards to our husbands. Hmmm......Does that mean we shouldn't share all of those romantic SECRETS? LOL!

Father God, I thank You for the gift of my sweet husband. He truly is my "rock". He always makes me feel safe, even when we are going through "scary" circumstances. Lord, thank You for Brian's patience. Sometimes I can be so HARD to live with, but Brian continually offers grace. Lord, I thank You that Brian is such a great father to the kids. He loves to play with them, "smooshing" them until someone is screaming....(they love it, but mom has to hide her eyes at times!). I thank You, Lord, that Brian encourages me in my relationship with You and in my ministry. He cheerfully takes care of the home and children when I travel to speaking engagements. He allows us to use our fiances to purchase things I use in my ministry...(lots of Copyworks bills!). Lord, thank You for his strong hands that protect me and our family. I love that he is the Protector of our home. Lord, thank You that You have blessed me with such a wonderful husband. Lord, thank You, that just as You show us how You feel for us through our relationships with our children, You also illustrate how You feel for us through the gift of marriage.

Brian makes a MEAN camp breakfast....for that I am very THANKFUL!

Please join the gathering and read more posts of affirmation!

Cafe Chat


After looking at the verse in Galatians, what specific “fruit” (love, joy, peace…) do you find yourself lacking in your daily life?
Give an example if you can.What circumstance in your life shows your weakness with the specific “fruit” you mentioned above.

Welcome back to Cafe Chat. I enjoy participating each Saturday. Sometimes I struggle with beginning my day in the Word on the weekend, so the Chat has me pondering verses and how I live them out in my daily life.


Kim shares with us, "This week’s question is meant for me as much as for all of you. Recently, I feel like I have come to a place where I see that through all my life’s circumstances, especially the tough ones I have an opportunity to become more like Christ. Through my life circumstances, I get to practice dying to a very "selfish" self. To think of others more than I think about myself. To practice self denial when my flesh cries out to indulge. To show love when I don't feel at all loving. I could keep going with my "to" list, but I will stop here, and leave you with one final thought. If you are at all like me, or maybe even a little like me; I want to challenge you to see whatever "life circumstance" you named above as a great and wonderful opportunity to become more like HIM, our sweet and lovely Jesus."

Oh, how I echo Kim's "dying to a selfish self"! This is such a daily challenge for me....to keep my mouth CLOSED and not say that biting comment, to think of others' needs above my own, to restrain myself from going to worldly pursuits (i.e. IDOLS!) instead of the Lord when I am feeling overwhelmed (usually food, but could be shopping, or spending too much time on the computer). I love the other day when Joyce Meyer said something like, "you need to first take authority over a sink full of dirty dishes before you worry about having a worldwide ministry." Her point was that sometimes we avoid the "menial"tasks of taking care of our home because we are busy doing the "spiritual" things- serving, bible study, (blogging- OUCH). But, all areas of our lives are "spiritual". God doesn't want us to neglect our own families in the name of serving Him. I love Brother Lawrence who strived to live every moment in God's presence- "practicing the Presence of God while peeling potatoes"!

I love Paul's letters. He continually teaches us the difference between living in the flesh vs. living in the spirit. When we are walking in the Spirit, keeping in step with Him, there will be FRUIT in our lives.

Galatians 5:16 says, "But I say, walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; THEN you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God)." AMP

Well, what are the desires of my "flesh"? (By the way....WHAT is my '"flesh"?? That simply means my body, my personality, my mind, the human-ness of me.) What are the CRAVINGS and DESIRES of my flesh?

"The sinful nature (the flesh) does not want what the spirit delights in. And the Spirit does not want the sinful nature delights in. The two are at war with each other. That's what makes you do what you don't want to do." verse 17 from the Adventure Bible

They are at WAR! And, sometimes, I FEEL like a casualty of that war! It can at times be painful!

What does my flesh "naturally" gravitate towards?

idolatry (putting other "things" before God)

enmity, strife

jealousy, envy (ouch)

anger (ill temper)

selfishness (ouch, ouch)

divisions, dissensions

party spirit..drunkenness, carousing

But the fruit of the Holy Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy, gladness, peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence).

Love

...loving someone when I don't "feel" like it....forgiving....loving those who don't "deserve" my love....loving my neighbor....loving my enemies.

Joy

...being joyful always, even in the midst of suffering and trials....

Peace

...experiencing the peace that passes all understanding during hard circumstances BECAUSE I have put my trust in the Lord.

Patience

...not losing my temper, even when everything is going WRONG...even when kids are NOT LISTENING....bearing with others' faults...extending grace and mercy.

Kindness

...looking for ways to be kind to others....not thinking of MYSELF, but of others.

Goodness

...do I look for ways to bless others....performing charitable acts...random acts of kindness.

Faithfulness

...trusting God, even when it is hard.

Gentleness

...being humble, sweet, soft, meek (power under control).

Self-Control

...not "flying off the handle", doing whatever "feels" good...taking my time to consult with God...to follow His leading.

I like to continue reading in Galatians because Paul continues this "theme" of gardening in 6:7-9. It says we "reap what we sow." If I sow to the flesh, "I will reap decay, ruin, and destruction." But, if I sow to the Spirit, "I will reap LIFE".

Oh, how the Adventure Bible puts it so simply, "Some people plant to please their sinful nature. From that nature they will harvest death. Others plant to please the Holy Spirit. From the Spirit they will harvest eternal life."

When I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me, guide me (when I YIELD to the Spirit!), then His FRUIT spills out of me! The seed is already in there! When I yield to the spirit, the seed is watered. With every choice I make, I can nourish that seed so that it grows, flourishes, and NOURISHES those around me. When I choose to KILL that flesh, (not eat out of frustration, not yell at my kids when I am angry, keep my mouth closed and not say those critical comments, give to others even if I am tired, do the laundry cheerfully, generously put others' needs before my own, smile at the short-tempered check-out clerk, forgive my husband when he has been short-tempered with me, extend grace to the child who least deserves it, NOT gossip, pray for those who are mean to me....) and instead WALK IN THE SPIRIT, the fruit grows and is displayed in my life.

Father God, help me to choose to sow in the Spirit and not the flesh! Help me to be sensitive to Your Holy Spirit. Help me to make choices that glorify You. Help me to live for You. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

Thanks, Kim for continuing to challenge us. Please visit the Cafe today for a list of other chatters sharing about the fruit of the Spirit!



Ultimate Blog Party!

Welcome to my PARTY!
So glad you stopped by. Come on in, make yourself at home. Pull up a chair and stay awhile....there is plenty here to keep you busy.


Oh! I better introduce myself!
I'm Tracy. I'm a 40-something wife to Brian and mom to FIVE awesome kids- Andrew, 12; Ashley, 10; Aly, 8; Aaron, 5; and Abigail, 2.
Brian and I have been married 20 years. We love to smooch (guess that's why we have 5 kids!) and cuddle. We love to go CAMPING. The best part is my man does ALL the cooking!We like to PARTY at our house! It can be CRAZY...LOUD, but lots of FUN!


The "crew" (at least 3 of them!) at Walt Disney!


Some of our favorite PARTIES!





And, for a few more family pics, check out a slide show.


If you get a chance to look around, you'll see that I like to blog about my relationship with God and being a mom. I like to be COMPLETELY open and honest...authentically sharing my life with you! So, you will find me often blogging about my struggles and victories, my ups and downs, and the grace and forgiveness of Christ. You can check out my testimony by clicking "Testimony" at the top of my blog.....Some of my favorite posts are located at the right.

One of my favorite memes to participate in is Word-Filled Wednesday. You can check out a few of them on the left sidebar...

Here are a few more.

Isaiah 40



I am soooo glad you stopped by my party! Please leave a comment and introduce yourself- I would love to meet you!!!

If you like what you see, don't forget to "FOLLOW ME" or sign up for my email feeds. Hope you can visit again...AND I would love to pop over to YOUR party! Don't forget to stop by 5 minutes for mom to join more FUN!


Happy Spring!

Spring has Sprung!
The ladies at the Internet Cafe are hosting a wonderful giveaway in celebration of Spring. For a chance to win some fabulous spring gifts, they are asking that we blog about spring and how we can REFRESH and RENEW our SPIRITUAL LIVES.

SPRING has been on my mind lately, as well. When I was out walking earlier this week, I mediated on the beauty of God and how He illustrates LIFE, DEATH, and RESURRECTION through the incredible miracle of Spring. I blogged about it here.

What I love about Spring is the freshness and clean-ness of the AIR. I love to breathe deeply, drawing the crispness.... refreshing, exhilarating.

I had my girls sit on the front porch the other day, eyes closed, breathing deeply. The breeze was blowing in our hair. The sun was shining down upon our upturned faces and we were WORSHIPPING! We talked about how God is all around us. God is in the still, small voice....the gentle breeze.

I realize I need to do that as well, spiritually. I need to BREATHE God in. I love the song, "Breathe." The lyrics continually say, "You are the air I breathe." I want to breathe deeply, drawing His Spirit of refreshment into my spirit.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

To me, Spring also means CLEANING! I love to clean out closets, wipe down cabinets, clear out cob webs... It feels so good to shine windows so they are sparkling. Everything seems "right" when it is clean. It smells good. It feels good. It is inviting.

I know that I also need to spend time CLEANING out the closet of my heart! I need to wash the windows of my mind. I need to get rid of the "junk". I need to clear away the dust. I want to continually wash myself in His Word. I want to open my heart to Him for some MAJOR "Spring Cleaning." I want Him to wash away all of the impurities. Colossians tells us to put off the "old self", the old way of living and put on the new self. It tells us to clothe ourselves with compassion, put on love, and let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. (3:12-17)

And, finally, Spring is a time of PLANTING. God has so much to teach us through gardening! Reaping and sowing....when you sow to the Spirit, you reap life. When you are walking in the Spirit, the FRUIT of the Spirit flourishes in your life- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control.

I know that as God plants His Word in my heart, I must tend to the garden. I must water the Word, pull the weeds, fertilize the plants...nourish it. My heart must be good soil. I must have a solid root system in Jesus Christ (being rooted and established in Love). I must tend to that relationship so that it flourishes.

How do I do any of this?

Spend time with God.

Enjoy Him.

Walk with Him.

Read His Word.

Pray.

Rest in Him.

Make sure you head over to the Cafe to check out the DELICIOUS giveaway!

Happy Spring!


Make-Over of the Heart Bible Study

Wow! Thank you, ladies for your honesty, authenticity and willingness to share your hearts so openly. I think it is so important for us to share our trials, victories, and suffering with one another...to carry one another's burdens, to encourage each other, to love each other.... I am so humbled and honored that you are doing that each time we meet together!

If you are new to "A Heart Make-Over," don't worry- you can jump in any time! If you like, simply scroll down to read the earlier studies. This is our third week together, meeting each Tuesday and Thursday. My prayer is that this study touches YOUR heart, stirring it....encouraging you to seek after Him more and more. I pray that God performs a complete "heart transplant" as He transforms you from glory to glory!

Today (and last time) is "heavy." I have worked through much pain in my life. God has healed many wounds. I am so thankful that the women participating have also shared how God has helped them through difficult times. So, if you have been here since we have begun the study, or if you are just joining us today, or if you are a "lurker," checking things out, but not yet ready to join in- my prayer is that you open your heart to God, allowing Him to reveal any hidden wounds or wounds that you have suppressed, so that He may HEAL them. I pray that He will set you free from any areas of bondage. I pray that you would experience the true peace, JOY, and perfect love that only comes from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Oh, how I pray that this study blesses you, dear one!

(By the way, if anyone is trying to email me, I am sorry...my email is "down" right now. If you would like to "talk", just comment and state that you don't want the comment publish. I can then comment back at your blog. Sorry!)

Let's get started!

I’d like to share a very personal story of unforgiveness and complete trust with you. When I was 6 months old, my father and brother died in a boating accident. As you can imagine, my mother was devastated, feeling as if her world had fallen apart. She was left as a young mother with a 9 year old daughter and a 6 month old baby to raise on her own. In less than a year she remarried and began a new life.

Bob was a creative man who painted beautiful pictures of forests and wildlife, especially owls. He played the guitar and had a soulful voice. I remember him singing “The Green, Green Grass of Home.”

Four years later tragedy hit again in my mom’s life. One stormy night Bob was out on his motorcycle. It was slippery, and Bob was hit by a car.

Bob lost his arm and almost lost a leg in that accident. My mom nursed him through the next 9 months and took care of him while he was in a full body cast for 9 MONTHS. Bob lost more than his arm in that accident- he lost his livelihood and his love of life. He received a large settlement from the accident and didn’t need to work. So Bob began spending his free time and his money wallowing in his pain every day at several bars in our small town. It was common for him to be there by early afternoon every day. He was a bitter, angry man and a mean drunk. My most vivid childhood memories are the fights my mom and stepfather would have after a late night of drinking.

With each passing year, the fighting kept getting worse and he began beating my mom. I can remember the fear I had and the feeling of helplessness. Friday nights were the worst because the drinking that had begun in the day always continued into the late night hours. I remember lying in my bed awake dreading the sound of a car in the driveway because I knew the fighting would begin soon after that. One night, after being awakened by loud screaming, I ran downstairs to find my mom wedged between a table and bay windows. Bob was telling me that he was going to kill my mother by pushing her and the table out of the window. In that moment, my mom was able to escape his wrath for the moment.

My mom survived that night and many more beatings, cuts, bruises, and a broken jaw. It wasn’t until Bob molested me that my left him. Because she wanted to protect me, she and Bob
divorced immediately. There was no visitation allowed. All ties to Bob were cut completely.

The last I heard from him was the first Christmas we were apart. He put a check in the mailbox for my present. There was no card, no note, no phone call… just a check made out to me in the mailbox. To a 9-year-old child, that was probably the most devastating part of this whole experience. You see, even though Bob was a monster, he was still the only father I had ever known. His rejection crushed me.

Well, life went on and I stuffed my childhood way down deep into my heart. I had no idea I had hidden wounds that needed to be healed. I felt like I, just like everyone else I knew, had a dysfunctional family. Watching Oprah, my life seemed normal. When I thought back to my childhood, it didn’t seem like it had happened to me. It seemed like I was watching a movie. Granted, a “made- for TV” movie, starring Farrah Fawcett! I had no idea that all of this affected any part of me until God wanted to heal my broken heart.

I had been walking with the Lord in very close relationship for about a year. I was changing. I had fallen in love with the Lord and been praying and reading God’s word daily. I was growing closer to God and into a deep relationship with him. I was striving to walk in obedience. It was then I felt his call to my heart to forgive this man of my past, Bob. Since I had denied having any feelings of hatred, bitterness, or anger for Bob, I thought, “Sure, I’ll forgive him. No problem. That was part of my life from so long ago. I don’t have any feelings, good or bad, for Bob.”

So I sat down at my computer to compose a letter of forgiveness. It began, "Dear Bob, in case you don’t remember who I am, I am Shirley’s daughter, the little girl you hurt so long ago. In case you don’t remember all of the horrible things you did to us.…” Then I began to list them one by one. As I wrote, a feeling of anger flooded my heart. Suddenly, my computer CRASHED. The screen went black and a little message began flashing, “The operation you are trying to perform is an illegal operation…”

Okay, God, I get it. This is NOT what you had in mind for a letter of forgiveness. I can’t recount to him all the terrible things he had done, but I have to FORGIVE HIM? I confessed that I had not been honest to Him or myself about the hidden wounds of my heart.

My heart cried out, “Maybe I can’t write this letter.” It was then I realized that YES, I was harboring anger, hatred, humiliation, grief, and pain in my heart. I HAD A WOUNDED HEART. I decided to put the letter away for awhile and continue living day to day.


I spent the next few months reading God’s word and praying daily. I was praying about everything and walking in obedience except in this area of forgiving Bob. I constantly had a nagging in the back of my mind and just didn’t feel at peace. To trust in the Lord, I knew I had to forgive Bob. I had to physically make a commitment by taking a leap of faith and writing to him. I knew forgiving him in my heart was not enough.

Finally, Christmas of that same year, I felt I needed to sit down and try again. I needed to TRUST IN THE LORD and obey his call on my heart. I felt like it was time to obey on this issue and release Bob, the anger I had for him, the hatred I felt, and the unforgiveness of my heart.


I was making out Christmas cards and it seemed natural to sit down and write a letter to Bob. It went something like this. “Dear Bob, at this time of the year, when we are thinking about the spirit of Christmas and about the incredible gift of Jesus and His forgiveness of our sins, I felt a need to write to you. At this special time of the year, we pray for peace and love for all people. I wanted to tell you I forgive you and I want you to know the peace and love of Jesus. May God bless you this Christmas with His forgiveness and His peace." I included our family Christmas letter and pictures of our family.


I felt good when I finished the letter and sent it off. I had trusted God that He knew His plan and purpose for my life. I surrendered in this area and obeyed His leading and His will for my life. I felt satisfied.


The real ending to this story, though is what happened next. Within a few days a letter from Bob arrived within a stack of pretty green and red Christmas cards. I still recognized Bob’s left-handed scrawl on the return address. My hands trembled. I wasn’t sure I wanted to open this letter. Part of me wanted to run, throw the letter away, and never think about this man again. I knew if I opened the letter and read it, I was TRULY forgiving and releasing this man. It was a PHYSICAL act of my forgiveness. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do that. I had to make a choice.

I opened the letter and read it.

No, he didn’t write how sorry he was. No, he didn’t take responsibility for anything that had happened. But, that didn’t matter. What Bob wrote didn’t matter.

What I experienced had to do with what I had done and then what God was able to do because I had trusted Him. When I read Bob’s simple letter, the most incredible peace washed over me. My body was limp and I was weeping. I felt like the heaviest burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt light. My heart felt light. The peace of God, the peace THAT PASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING is just that it passes our understanding. We don’t understand it, we can’t explain it, but we feel it!

It didn’t seem logical that I felt so good about forgiving this man. I didn’t get revenge. I didn’t make him pay. I don’t even know if he’s sorry! He didn’t deserve my forgiveness, but when I gave it, through the love of Jesus Christ, it flooded ME with peace and joy and love. I felt like I could love this person who had hurt me so badly. God wasn’t saying I needed to have a relationship with this person. I needed to forgive him and release him. And this brought healing to my heart and closure to a part of my life I had kept hidden deep within me for so long.


Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive right now? Has unforgiveness gnawed at your heart? Are you missing out on the peace that passes understanding because you are holding on to your bitterness? Jesus tells us to forgive others just as our Heavenly Father has forgiven us.


Please pray with me right now to let go of anger and bitterness and to completely forgive that person. Pray with me to release that person.


Prayer
Father God, praise Your Holy name! You are an awesome God. Thank you, God, for Your forgiveness of my sins. You are slow to anger and rich in mercy. Even though I am so unworthy of Your forgiveness, You offer it completely and freely. God, I know I can only forgive those who have hurt me through the power of Your love. I ask that You help me now to forgive (name). Your Word says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Even though this person may not deserve it, You tell me to forgive. I know when I do, I will receive the peace that passes all understanding. I know when I let go of my anger towards this person, it is I who will be set free. I pray, Father, You will give me the strength to do this. Your Word says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Your Word says I am strong in the Lord. I release (name) now to You. Please forgive this person. By the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.


Have you accepted the forgiveness only Jesus can offer? Or, do you hold on to your mistakes and your sins, refusing to accept His forgiveness?

We are forgiven because Jesus was forsaken. Why is this forgiveness so important? Why can’t we have a deep faith without the forgiveness of our sins? Sin keeps us from our relationship with the Lord. It is a barrier. God wants to forgive us. That is why He sent His only Son to die for us. (John 3:16) Sometimes we hear these words so often, we become “immune” to the meaning of them, the Truth. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father, except through me.” We can’t have salvation unless we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and we can’t have life “more abundantly” here on earth until we have accepted the forgiveness of Jesus.

God is a loving, merciful, forgiving God. He is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and abounding in love.

The story of Jonah illustrates this beautifully. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh with a message to give to the people about their wickedness. Jonah did not want to obey the Lord, so he ran away from Him, and sailed to Tarshish. God sent a storm to get Jonah’s attention, and in His great mercy, a giant fish to swallow Jonah and save him from drowning when he was thrown overboard. After three days in the fish, Jonah repented and the Lord brought him out of the fish. Jonah finally obeyed the Lord and went to Nineveh. But, Jonah went there desiring judgement and condemnation for the people. He gave the people a message of God’s anger towards them because of their wickedness and sin. Jonah was expecting God to wipe out these wicked people and bring punishment to them. But, the people of Nineveh repented and cried out for God’s mercy. The Bible says when God saw this, He had compassion on them and forgave them.

God desires His children to come back to Him. Jesus tells us the story of the Prodigal son to illustrate this to us. The son takes his inheritance and leaves home. After he loses everything, he decides to return home, not as a son, but as a servant. But, the father welcomes him home as a lost treasure. The father wraps the son in the best robe and celebrates his son’s return. God is like this father. He wants us to return to Him. He wants us! Our Heavenly Father is not willing that anyone is lost. He would leave 99 for the sake of one lost sheep.

But, God is Holy and good. His is righteous and just. There are spiritual laws that God MUST stand on, or He would not be God. In order to receive His kingdom, we must be holy and sanctified. We could never make ourselves good enough, no matter how hard we try. We can never be spotless and perfect. We have to accept Jesus as our Savior as our Deliverer, not because we, as Christians are being close-minded or intolerant, or not because Jesus is merely God’s Son or not because He was so wonderful and loving and such a great teacher. No, we MUST accept Jesus as our Savior because He died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and rose again. He BECAME sin- my sin and your sin. It is only through His blood that I have forgiveness of sin and redemption. Jesus took my sins away so that I can now wear His robes of righteousness.

“The wages of sin are death.” Sin equals death. We can either hold on to our sins and die, or we can release them to the cross and live. Psalm 32:3-7 says, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then, I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”- and You forgave the guilt of my sin.” Sin sucks the life from us, spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Jesus said, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:24) John later tells us that “the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.” And also, “He (Jesus) appeared so that He might take away our sins.” Finally, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Jesus paid such a price- his life; He made such a sacrifice for you. Don’t let it slip away. You can not be saved unless you have accepted this free gift of grace and mercy. Invite Jesus into your heart. Make Him Lord and King of your life. Accept Him as your Savior. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1John 4:10)

Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? If you haven’t, and desperately want to experience this forgiveness for yourself, please pray with me.


Prayer
Dear God, I want this! I want to be forgiven. I want my sins to be washed clean by the blood of Jesus. I understand the sacrifice He made for me. I believe in my heart that He died for my sins. I know now that I cannot do this on my own. No matter how good I’ve been (or how bad I’ve been) the only One who can atone for my mistakes is the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I have sinned against the Lord by thought, word, and deed. I confess with my mouth and believe in my heart that only Jesus can wash me clean as snow. I believe He died for me. I love you, Lord. I thank you for Your love, for Your sacrifice. Thank You, Jesus. In His name I pray. Amen.


Once we have received Jesus, we still need to confess our sins and call them by name. Jesus offers us complete forgiveness of past, present, and future sins. But our sins do separate us from a strong relationship with our Lord. Psalm 38:18 says, “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.”

We are troubled by our sins. There is a lack of peace in our spirits when we have unconfessed sin. David describes the feeling this way in Psalm 38, “Because of Your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.” The seeds of guilt and sin continue to grow until we confess our sins. The act of confession and repentance brings forth forgiveness and peace.

1John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Even after we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we still need to confess our sins. We need to bring our sins out of the darkness and allow God’s wonderful light to shine on them. Once we have named our sins and repent of them, we can receive His forgiveness and God purifies us from all unrighteousness.


Take a few minutes now to be silent before the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to whisper to you. Pray that God would show you any sins that need to be brought forth and confessed, brought before His throne. Confess them, repent of them and thank God for His forgiveness!

Prayer
Father God, all glory and honor and praise to You! You are such a good God. You are so loving and forgiving and merciful. Your Word says we are dead in our sins, but because of Your great love for us and Your mercy, You have made us alive again in Christ. You are filled with kindness. Lord, I confess… (confess any sins that the Holy Spirit has brought to your mind). I am sorry. Thank you for your forgiveness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.



At times we hide our wounds inside of us and bury them deeply inside. We also bury our emotions deep within us. We are not honest with ourselves or with God. Sometimes this is hurt we keep inside. But sometimes it is anger.


Rick Warren says, “If you want a deeper, more intimate connection with God, you must learn to honestly share your feelings with him, trust him when he asks you to do something, learn to care about what he cares about, and desire his friendship more than anything else.” He says we must be completely honest with God- about our faults and feelings. Warren asks, “
Can God handle that kind of frank, intense honesty from you? Absolutely! Genuine friendship is built on disclosure. What may appear as audacity God views as authenticity. God listens to the passionate words of his friends. He is bored with predictable clich├ęs. To be God’s friend, you must be honest with God, sharing your true feelings, not just what you THINK you ought to say or feel. It is likely you need to confess some hidden anger and resentment at God for certain areas of your life where you have felt cheated or disappointed.”

When our prayers aren’t answered the way we think they should be, when we are suffering, when we are facing trials and not getting the results we think we should, those are the times we may start to blame God and become bitter. These are the times it is difficult to trust God. But, when we fall at God’s feet, confess our pain, and ask for his mercy and comfort, He will walk with us through these times. We may never understand God’s will in certain situations, but this is true FAITH- completely releasing these feelings to God.

Never forget this earth is not your home. Many of us are SO married to this world and the ways of this world that we forget it is NOT our home. Our citizenship is in heaven. Our home is in Heaven with our Lord! And Jesus said that we would face trials of many kinds here on earth. Peter says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you.” As long as we are on earth, we will have to endure suffering and trials.

All through the Bible are encouraging stories of people facing trials and struggles- Esther, Mary, mother of Jesus, Jonah, and of course Job. Suffering is nothing new or different. As it says in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Like every generation before us, we will be tested. Our faith will be tested. We will endure hardship.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when 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.” To be mature and complete, you MUST face trials. Did you catch that? In order to be complete, to be a complete person, you must endure trials and persevere through them. And then, verse 12 says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”

The Bible also says, “God works out EVERYTHING for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28). Not just some things, not just good things, but all things! We may not understand why things happen, but we can rest assured that God is using our experiences for GOOD- somehow bringing good from them. I know I would not be the same person I am if I had not endured the painful trials I experienced as a child. God’s ways are not our ways and often we don’t understand His ways. But, when trust in the Lord, completely, even when life doesn’t make sense, we grow a healed heart.

Trust in the Lord and you will live safely and prosper.” Your relationship with the Lord will prosper and you will experience the peace that passes all understanding. Psalm 30:5b says, “weeping may go on all night, but JOY comes with the morning.” You may be experiencing the pain of the night right now in your life. But, God will bring the morning into your life. The joy will return, if you allow God into your heart, abandoning yourself, surrendering to His love. God is watching. God does care. He notices when we are hurting.

Praise be to God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Father of COMPASSION and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” God promises we will never walk alone. Always remember, “The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. And, He will rejoice over you with singing.” When you open your heart to the Lord, He will heal it! Open your heart today. Forgive others, forgive yourself, and be healed, dear Reader. Please pray with me.


Prayer
Father God, we thank You for Your goodness. We praise You and give You all glory and honor. Lord, I pray that You would open the eyes of the heart of this reader. I pray that You would make her love “abound more and more in knowledge and depth and insight” so that she will be able to discern what is best. I pray that she would put her trust in You Lord. I pray that whatever trial she is facing right now, she knows with absolute certainty that You are walking with her, watching over her, protecting her, and loving her. I pray that she has forgiven any and all people in her life through You. Your word says we are strong in the Lord. So, no matter how undeserving or terrible a person has been, You give us the strength to release that person and forgive him. Help the reader to “guard her heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Help her to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. Please, Lord, put Your healing hand around her heart, completely binding up any wounds. Thank you Father. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Questions:



1. Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior? If not, what is holding you back? Are you willing to make that first step?


2. Are there people in your life you need to forgive? Ask God to help you in a prayer.


3. Are there areas you haven’t forgiven yourself? Release those to God. Write a prayer receiving God’s forgiveness and forgiving yourself.



4. Are there any hidden sins, past or present, that you need to confess and release to Jesus? Have you told yourself that what you have done is too terrible? That it is unforgivable? Romans tells us that we “are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ” and that we “have been set free from sin.” The blood of Jesus Christ covers ALL sin. No matter WHO you are, what you have done, or what has been done to you, God forgives you completely through the blood of Jesus.



A Make-Over of the Heart Bible Study

Welcome back to a new week! I pray that God is doing a beautiful transformation within you! I know that I need HEART SURGERY at times....and my prayer cries out, "Purify my heart, Lord!" I don't like what I see at times....jealousy, envy, anger. Oh, Jesus, how I LONG to look like You! Give me a heart like You! Create in me a CLEAN heart, O God!

WEEK THREE
A Healed Heart


Do you know how much your God loves you? Do you know how much He longs for you? How much he cares for you? He is your Prince. You are his Princess, His Beloved. Jesus is sending you a love letter today. He wants YOU to know that you are HIS heart’s desire, his first love. He gave his life for you so that YOU could come home to join Him in Heaven. He loves you and has called you by name!

Transforming our hearts includes putting our trust in the Lord. We easily trust ourselves, our friends, the media, and the “world.” We need to transfer this trust to God. Psalm 37:3 says, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” Another translation says “you will live safely and prosper.” But it can be so hard to physically TRUST, can’t it? Sometimes our hearts do not want to give up control. Sometimes our hearts have been betrayed by someone and we find it difficult to trust. Sometimes it just seems too scary to surrender ourselves.

A much loved passage of scripture, my life mantra, is Jeremiah 29:11-13. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans for a hope and a future. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” Putting our trust in the Lord. This is what FAITH is all about, isn’t it? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is all about trusting, even though we can’t see it. Faith is to completely believe and trust that God has my life in His control, even when I can’t physically see how God is working.

For I know the plans I have for you,” God tells me. Wow, God has a plan for MY life?

That is exciting, isn’t it? God has a plan. He is in control. I can release my life to Him! That is awesome, that is incredible… until you hear words like cancer or divorce or “your child is not performing where he should be” or “I’m sorry we’ve eliminated your position and we’ll have to let you go” or “we are moving.” It’s easy to trust God and His Plan when we LIKE his plan. But what happens when His plan is NOT our plan? What happens when His timing is not our timing?

Question:

Has there ever been a time in your life when you doubted God’s plan? Have you ever lacked trust in His timing? Write down any examples.




I’ll never forget sitting in a booth at a Pizza Hut restaurant when my husband gave me the terrible news that his company was closing and if we wanted him to keep his job, we would have to move to a different state.

This was devastating news for me. I did not want to leave my job as a teacher in an upscale school district. I did not want to leave my colleagues, with whom I had established my worth as a qualified teacher. I did not want to leave my cute house on a golf course. I did not want to leave my best friend, who had been teaching and mentoring me in my Christian walk. And most of all, I did not want to leave my mom and live 200 miles from her. It was only a 3 -hour car trip, but it seemed like a million miles. I wanted to be near my mom. I thought this plan would be the end of my happy and fulfilled life!

But God had plans to prosper me, not to harm me, plans for a hope and future. The minute our family moved to our new city, we felt a deep bond. It felt like home, like we had been here all of our lives. We fell in love with the city, but most of all the people. From the very beginning, God encouraged us in our decision to move.

The house we live in was a total blessing from God. In the natural it didn’t seem possible to own it. At the time we had two mortgages, because we hadn’t sold our old house yet. But, God always provided. Trust in the Lord and you will prosper.

We were uncertain and nervous about moving to city far from home where we didn’t know anyone. God brought many Godly friends who have been like family. Trust in the Lord and you will prosper.

I was pregnant. It was scary not to know the doctors or the reputation of the new hospital where we would be delivering our baby. There were lots of questions and what ifs. Trust in the Lord and you will prosper.

By putting our trust in the Lord and surrendering to His will in our lives, we have felt perfect peace in our move, despite any problems we may have faced. Trust in the Lord and you will prosper.


Prayer

Lord, help me to trust in You and Your perfect plan. Quiet the fears and doubts in my spirit. I surrender (your own situation) to You now. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.


But what do you do when you have a wounded heart, a broken heart? How can you trust God when it seems like he has abandoned you? We need to let God heal our broken hearts. We need to give him our lives, surrender to his love, and put our trust in him.

God heals our hidden wounds when we allow Him. Psalm 147:3 says “God heals the broken hearted, binding up their wounds.” We need to let God reveal our hidden wounds, accept God’s forgiveness, and forgive and release those who have hurt us. We need to be honest about the pain in hearts, both to ourselves and to God. Psalm 39:2 says, “But as I stood there in silence- not even speaking of good things- the turmoil within me grew to the bursting point.”

I believe it is, so many times, unforgiveness, that stands in the way of our relationship with the Lord- with our growing closer to Him, and corrupts our relationships with each other. Another favorite scripture of mine is 1Corinthians 13:4-7. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude or self-seeking. LOVE DOES NOT KEEP A RECORD OF WRONGS.” Let me repeat that again. Love keeps NO record of wrongs. We are not to “keep score” or keep track of when we have been wronged. But, if you are like me, you can remember those offenses, sometimes from YEARS earlier.

What I tend to do is have a PITY PARTY. I lament over how family and friends have hurt me. I’ll say things like, “Oh poor me. How could she have done that to me?” Or, “My husband should have KNOWN I wanted him to…” But, we are to release unforgiveness. We need to “let go, and let God.” God cares about your hurt, your pain.

But, when you hold on to it, it can devour you. It can destroy you. God’s word tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger.” We are to “be kind and compassionate to another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” How can we refuse forgiveness to someone who has wronged us when Jesus has forgiven us of all of OUR sins, past, present and future? God knows us. He created us. He knows that when we have anger and hatred harbored in our hearts we cannot be complete in our relationship we Him. The Bible says “ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART, FOR IT IS THE WELLSPRING OF LIFE.” When we keep anger and hatred stored in our hearts it contaminates our heart. We have polluted the wellspring of life.

Questions

There is a proverb that says, “Unforgiveness is like YOU taking poison and expecting the PERSON who hurt you to die.” Think about that. Unforgiveness is a poison that kills the person who is refusing to forgive. Why does unforgiveness hurt YOU more than the one you are refusing to forgive?




Is there someone God is laying on your heart to forgive? Is there anyone in your life, past or present that you are refusing to forgive?





I can't wait to hear your responses! I am praying for you, dear ones!


I love Spring!

Oh, YAY! I was able to get out and WALK this morning! I love to walk in the very early hours as my time with God....praying and singing and worshipping Him. This was only the third time I have been out....it's FINALLY beginning to warm up and seem like Spring. Oh, how I have missed this time! The birds are chirping (even in the dark!). The air is crisp and clean. It is so QUIET! This is when I experience the greatest connection to Him....in His presence.

And, I especially love this time in the Spring! There is a gentle wind blowing. The grass is beginning to turn green and a few trees are beginning to bud. Soon the daffodils will be peeking out their cheerful heads!

I especially love Spring because it is such a VISUAL example of death and resurrection (especially in the part of the country where I live!). The winter is DEAD. Around the middle of February it is beginning to feel so LONELY, so dreary. It is almost a time of MOURNING. Then, we begin to see signs of LIFE. The birds return. The grass greens. And, then, the miracle of new birth- the trees flower. The spring flowers bloom. All is beautiful. All is ALIVE once more!

I know it NOT an accident that Easter falls during Spring.

God wants to show us the HOPE we have in a RISEN Jesus Christ through the new life we see all around us. He is NOT DEAD! Hallelujah! He is ALIVE!

"You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. "(in the tomb) Mark 16:6

Lord, thank You for Spring! But, most of all, thank You for Jesus, who IS the Resurrection.

I'm at Laced With Grace Today...Sweet 16



Do you remember what it was like to be Sweet 16?


I am writing about the Sweet 16 generation....please join me!

Thankful Thursday

I am so thankful for all of the wonderful blogging Sisters out here! I have been so encouraged by their faith and LOVE for the Lord, and have been humbled by the opportunity to encourage others as well. These relationships have been such a blessing to me! Thank You, Lord!


Thank You, Lord for taking what the enemy meant for evil (the Internet) and using it for Your GOOD!!!!!

Even though I am not able to sit with my Internet Sisters and laugh, I have been so blessed by the many giggles, tears, stories, and encouragement we have shared.

Please visit Lynn for more Thankful Thursday!




Make Over of the Heart Bible Study

Welcome back! I have been overwhelmed and humbled reading your comments of how God is working through the study. Thank you, girls for your honesty and transparency. Thank You, Jesus!

I loved Denise's comment:
Gods blessings are real, and are meant for our good. The blessings of the world are artificial, and do not last. Worldly desires: Money,success, fame, the newest electronic gadget. Gods blessings: Love, hope, faith, salvation, and a heavenly home one day soon.

Larie shared a wonderful pregnancy story! She also said:

God's blessing is His will. His doing what is best for me because He knows what's best for me since He is my Maker.

Peggy shared so much- girl don't ever be sorry for not being "brief!" We love reading all of the details!!! Wow! As I read how thankful you are for things like running water.....I am reminded how grateful I indeed should be for all of our blessings!!!!

I have learned to go without much.I am thrilled if I would just have running water for today. When I do get it again, it will come out of the faucet dirty & dark...then I appreciate the bottled water but right now I'd like a shower or to be able to flush the toilet.

I also love what she said:

God's blessings are love, friendships, the gifts of the spirit and the fruit, seeing His image in me more & less of myself,changes in my attitude & heart but even more of a blessing for me to see other's accepting Jesus as their Lord & Savior & allowing Him to change their hearts & lives

Here is our study for today:

But, you ask, “How do I delight myself in the Lord? I don’t know how to delight myself in the Lord. This sounds strange. Now, I KNOW how to take delight in Oprah or Dr. Phil or my favorite TV show. I know how to take delight in chocolate. I know how to love my circle of friends. I know how to delight in the latest sale at the mall. BUT HOW DO I TAKE DELIGHT IN GOD? How do I fall in love with the Lord?”

We love because God first loved us!” (1John 4:19) We can only love God and take delight in Him because He FIRST loved us! For God so loved the world, that He have His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) God loves the world so much that He sacrificed His one and only Son so that we may live. God loves the WORLD, and you are included in the WORLD, but God loves YOU….personally. God loves YOU so much that He gave YOU Jesus.

When our youngest child Abby was about 8 months old, I was making my bed and I happened to look over at her. She was quietly napping in her swing. All of a sudden, I was filled with such an overflowing, intense, unconditional love for her. It was like a wave of love washed over me. I HAD to stop making the bed, drop everything and scoop her up, kissing her from top to bottom. I thought, "Abby, you are "addicting!" Sometimes I can't even do anything else but love on you!" I felt so much love for her.



She hadn't DONE anything.

She hadn't performed.

She wasn’t “being good.”

She was just….being.



And, I just felt overwhelming love for her. God whispered to my heart at that moment. “Tracy this is how I feel for you. I want to
scoop you up and love on you. You don’t have to DO anything. You don’t have to perform. You don’t have to “be good.” Just BE.........”

Sweet Reader, God feels that way for you as well. He has an overflowing, intense, “gotta
stop what He is doing, scoop you up and love on you” unconditional love. Beloved, we don't have to DO anything, He JUST loves us! He just has to pick us up, breathe us in, kiss us, love on us.... The God of the Universe feels that way for us! Doesn't it just bring you to your knees?

God loves you and desires that you love Him back! “The Lord Your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. And He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17) Your God sings over you like a mother singing to her newborn babe cradled in her arms. Do you get it? Can you comprehend how much God loves YOU? He takes delight in you. You make Him smile. You are His Beloved!

How do I delight myself in the Lord? How do I fall in love with the Lord?

You get to know this glorious Father who knows everything about you. He created YOU! He knit you together in your mother’s womb. He has counted every hair on your head. He knows the desires of your heart because he has created your heart!

How do YOU get to know this God, the Father of all Creation and Jesus, the lover of our souls? You spend time with him- in prayer, in praise, in worship! Rick Warren says in “The Purpose Driven Life,” “We bring God glory by worshipping him. God wants our worship to motivated by love, thanksgiving, and delight, not duty. Worship is far more than praising, singing, and praying to God. Worship is a lifestyle of enjoying God, loving Him, and giving ourselves to be used for his purposes. When you use your life for God’s glory, everything you do becomes an act of worship.”

Speaking of worship, let’s look at the Bible’s greatest Worship Warrior- David. As most of you know, David was a shepherd boy, fought and killed the Giant Goliath, became King, sinned tremendously, repented passionately, praised his God constantly, and became an ancestor to Jesus. When you read Psalms, you get a window into the heart of David. The Bible describes David as “a man after God’s own heart.” Listen now to the words of David. Listen to his heart and the delight he took in his God.


“O Lord, our Lord how majestic is Your name in all the earth. I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart, I will tell of Your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in You. I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. I love You Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? We wait in hope for the Lord, He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice. As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You. My soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. My heart is steadfast, O God. My heart is steadfast. I will sing and make music. Awake my soul. Shout with joy to God all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness, come before Him with joyful songs for the Lord is good and His love endures forever.”

This was a heart that DELIGHTED in the Lord!

Was David perfect? Far from it! You may remember that he was in lust with another man’s wife- Bathsheba. And, his selfish heart wanted what it wanted when it wanted. He took Bathsheba, and to cover up his sin when she became pregnant, David had her husband, a soldier, sent to the front line where David knew the man would be killed. But, David repented, and gave us one of the most beautiful psalms, Psalm 51. He poured out his repentant heart before the Lord. “Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a right Spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence. Restore to me the joy of your salvation.”

David took great delight in the Lord and the Lord gave David the desires of his heart. What was David’s greatest desire? To grow closer to his Lord! He actively sought out the Lord. David cries out for more.

Notice the relationship again of our mediation scripture: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The first step is ours. We must delight ourselves in the Lord. God wants us to have a wild, crazy love for Him! He wants us to be completely abandoned to Him and surrendered to His love. In Hosea, God says, “Therefore, I am going to allure her; I will lead her out to the desert and speak tenderly to her.”

God wants to ALLURE us! Why does God need us in the desert before speaking to us? We are so distracted and caught up in the world. God wants to get us away from telephones and televisions, away from deadlines and commitments. Then, He can speak and be heard. Our hearts can finally hear His whisper.

So, how do you delight yourself in the Lord? You open your arms wide, you let down your guard and you ask Jesus into your heart- your put Him first. You seek him first. Jesus said, “Knock and the door will be opened to you.” And then, in Revelation, Jesus gives us an even deeper love. He stands and knocks at our door. He isn’t going to wait for you to come to Him. His “crazy-for-you, can’t live without you” love, seeks you out! He will come to your door and knock. Revelation 3:20 says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me.” Jesus makes himself found to anyone who seeks Him, and He seeks everyone, standing at the door of our hearts, waiting for the invitation to come in.


Pray continually to fall more and more in love with the Lord each day. Continue to go to him when you are happy, sad, and angry; in doubt, frustrated, and in need. Go to the Lord for everything. Make him your best friend. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.




Prayer
Father God, I love you! I give you all glory and honor and praise! You are the Most High. You alone are the Holy One! “Your love , O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” Lord, please help me to fall in love with you more and more every day. Help me Lord to “delight myself in You.” I want to “love you with all of my heart , all of my soul, all of my mind, and all of my strength.” Create in me a “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Lord, help me to “seek You in the morning, in the evening, and in the noonday.” I love You, Lord and I give You all glory and honor and praise! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.






Questions:

1. How do you “take delight in the Lord?” What are practical things you can do in your own life that delight in God?



2. Write a prayer telling God how much you love Him. Tell Him that you want to love Him more. Ask Him to help you love Him more.



3. Do you need to be perfect for God to love you? How have you struggled with this lie in the past?



4. What is God revealing to you as you complete this study?



5. Read 2Samuel 11-12:25. This is the story of David and Bathsheba. David was not perfect, but loved the Lord intimately. God calls David, “a man after God’s own heart.” Write down your thoughts about what happened in this lesson.




6. When David repented, he wrote Psalm 51. Read this psalm. How did David feel when he saw his sin? Did he run away from God? Did it bring him closer to God?



7. Notice verse 13. What is David’s heart’s desire?



As you walk with God, He will begin changing your desires to become His desires. Notice the change in David’s desires. He went from desiring an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba to desiring the salvation of sinners.

Please read for Tuesday:

WEEK THREE
A Healed Heart


Do you know how much your God loves you? Do you know how much He longs for you? How much he cares for you? He is your Prince. You are his Princess, His Beloved. Jesus is sending you a love letter today. He wants YOU to know that you are HIS heart’s desire, his first love. He gave his life for you so that YOU could come home to join Him in Heaven. He loves you and has called you by name!

Transforming our hearts includes putting our trust in the Lord. We easily trust ourselves, our friends, the media, and the “world.” We need to transfer this trust to God. Psalm 37:3 says, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” Another translation says “you will live safely and prosper.” But it can be so hard to physically TRUST, can’t it? Sometimes our hearts do not want to give up control. Sometimes our hearts have been betrayed by someone and we find it difficult to trust. Sometimes it just seems too scary to surrender ourselves.

A much loved passage of scripture, my life mantra, is Jeremiah 29:11-13. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans for a hope and a future. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” Putting our trust in the Lord. This is what FAITH is all about, isn’t it? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is all about trusting, even though we can’t see it. Faith is to completely believe and trust that God has my life in His control, even when I can’t physically see how God is working.

For I know the plans I have for you,” God tells me. Wow, God has a plan for MY life?

That is exciting, isn’t it? God has a plan. He is in control. I can release my life to Him! That is awesome, that is incredible… until you hear words like cancer or divorce or “your child is not performing where he should be” or “I’m sorry we’ve eliminated your position and we’ll have to let you go” or “we are moving.” It’s easy to trust God and His Plan when we LIKE his plan. But what happens when His plan is NOT our plan? What happens when His timing is not our timing?

Question:

Has there ever been a time in your life when you doubted God’s plan? Have you ever lacked trust in His timing? Write down any examples.




I’ll never forget sitting in a booth at a Pizza Hut restaurant when my husband gave me the terrible news that his company was closing and if we wanted him to keep his job, we would have to move to a different state.

This was devastating news for me. I did not want to leave my job as a teacher in an upscale school district. I did not want to leave my colleagues, with whom I had established my worth as a qualified teacher. I did not want to leave my cute house on a golf course. I did not want to leave my best friend, who had been teaching and mentoring me in my Christian walk. And most of all, I did not want to leave my mom and live 200 miles from her. It was only a 3 -hour car trip, but it seemed like a million miles. I wanted to be near my mom. I thought this plan would be the end of my happy and fulfilled life!

But God had plans to prosper me, not to harm me, plans for a hope and future. The minute our family moved to our new city, we felt a deep bond. It felt like home, like we had been here all of our lives. We fell in love with the city, but most of all the people. From the very beginning, God encouraged us in our decision to move.

The house we live in was a total blessing from God. In the natural it didn’t seem possible to own it. At the time we had two mortgages, because we hadn’t sold our old house yet. But, God always provided. Trust in the Lord and you will prosper.

We were uncertain and nervous about moving to city far from home where we didn’t know anyone. God brought many Godly friends who have been like family. Trust in the Lord and you will prosper.

I was pregnant. It was scary not to know the doctors or the reputation of the new hospital where we would be delivering our baby. There were lots of questions and what ifs. Trust in the Lord and you will prosper.

By putting our trust in the Lord and surrendering to His will in our lives, we have felt perfect peace in our move, despite any problems we may have faced. Trust in the Lord and you will prosper.




Prayer

Lord, help me to trust in You and Your perfect plan. Quiet the fears and doubts in my spirit. I surrender (your own situation) to You now. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen
.





But what do you do when you have a wounded heart, a broken heart? How can you trust God when it seems like he has abandoned you? We need to let God heal our broken hearts. We need to give him our lives, surrender to his love, and put our trust in him.

God heals our hidden wounds when we allow Him. Psalm 147:3 says “God heals the broken hearted, binding up their wounds.” We need to let God reveal our hidden wounds, accept God’s forgiveness, and forgive and release those who have hurt us. We need to be honest about the pain in hearts, both to ourselves and to God. Psalm 39:2 says, “But as I stood there in silence- not even speaking of good things- the turmoil within me grew to the bursting point.”

I believe it is, so many times, unforgiveness, that stands in the way of our relationship with the Lord- with our growing closer to Him, and corrupts our relationships with each other. Another favorite scripture of mine is 1Corinthians 13:4-7. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude or self-seeking. LOVE DOES NOT KEEP A RECORD OF WRONGS.” Let me repeat that again. Love keeps NO record of wrongs. We are not to “keep score” or keep track of when we have been wronged. But, if you are like me, you can remember those offenses, sometimes from YEARS earlier.

What I tend to do is have a PITY PARTY. I lament over how family and friends have hurt me. I’ll say things like, “Oh poor me. How could she have done that to me?” Or, “My husband should have KNOWN I wanted him to…” But, we are to release unforgiveness. We need to “let go, and let God.” God cares about your hurt, your pain. But, when you hold on to it, it can devour you. It can destroy you. God’s word tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger.” We are to “be kind and compassionate to another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” How can we refuse forgiveness to someone who has wronged us when Jesus has forgiven us of all of OUR sins, past, present and future? God knows us. He created us. He knows that when we have anger and hatred harbored in our hearts we cannot be complete in our relationship we Him. The Bible says “ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART, FOR IT IS THE WELLSPRING OF LIFE.” When we keep anger and hatred stored in our hearts it contaminates our heart. We have polluted the wellspring of life.

Questions

There is a proverb that says, “Unforgiveness is like YOU taking poison and expecting the PERSON who hurt you to die.” Think about that. Unforgiveness is a poison that kills the person who is refusing to forgive. Why does unforgiveness hurt YOU more than the one you are refusing to forgive?




Is there someone God is laying on your heart to forgive? Is there anyone in your life, past or present that you are refusing to forgive?

See you Tuesday!