Please join me at Laced with Grace today where I share lessons I have learned from my garden!
Please join me at Laced with Grace today where I share lessons I have learned from my garden!
I love Proverbs! There is so much wisdom to be gleamed from this book of the Bible. And, although it is NOT a book of "promises", these are wise sayings that are generally true in life.
My kids and I are going through the book of Proverbs together this summer. You know, taking a chapter corresponding to the day of the month. So, on the 16th, we read chapter 16. I also like reading verses in different translations. Today I used the New Living Translation, which uses "dice" instead of casting lots.
This chapter has a theme of how the Lord is over our lives.....how He is in CONTROL. We are told to commit our plans to God for them to succeed and to watch our motives. And, we are told in verse 9 that we can make plans, but God determines our steps. It reminds me of Romans 8:28 that says "God works ALL things together for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose."
It is a comfort to me knowing that God even controls how the "dice" in my life fall. He is working out every life circumstance and weaving them together into a beautiful tapestry that makes "life."
Please head over to the Cafe to see what other inspiration is being "served up"!
I believe God is always teaching us in the busyness of “everyday life.” He is teaching us during all the schedules and running and relationships we encounter.
The question is, will we listen?
I love when we read how Jesus taught the people through parables of things of which they were familiar….reaping and sowing to farmers, catching people to fisherman and child-like faith to mothers. Jesus would teach principles in ways people could understand, relating to their everyday lives.
He does this today as well!
The Holy Spirit is always teaching, leading and guiding us if we will be still before Him and listen.
My son recently learned a hard lesson in obedience.
Even though he was told he was not allowed to text on his cell phone, (yes, we have an archaic plan WITHOUT free texting) he went ahead and did anyway- to the tune of $5oo!
Our son hadn’t believed us when we told him he couldn’t text. We told him text messaging was too expensive. He didn’t really think texting was that expensive. He saw his friends doing it and figured that mom and dad didn’t really know what they were talking about.
The same is true for me! Often, I choose to obey/disobey God based on my belief. Do I really trust Him in this area….on this issue….or do I think that I know better than Him? Of course, I would never SAY that out loud, but my actions may prove that I really don’t believe God knows best for me in a situation.
Our son fell into temptation and peer pressure. “All” of his friends text and many of them sent him text messages. He said the first few times he ignored the messages. But, then, he thought he would answer “just this one” and soon, before he knew it, he was full-fledged texting.
Temptation works exactly that way. How many times have I said, “just this once” and before I knew it I had entered into full-fledged bondage? How many times do I think, “All of my friends are doing this….how ‘bad’ could it really be?”
And, it also shows me that teenage “peer pressure” doesn’t have to be just the “big” sins of drugs and alcohol, but peer pressure can more easily tempt kids into “smaller” sins, sins that they don’t think are really that “bad.”
The same is true for me. I may not be tempted into a “big” sin like pornography, but peer pressure may lure me into sin that may be perceived as “not that bad.” Things like complaining or gossiping or “little white lies” or watching programs on TV that I know are offensive to God.
But SIN is SIN….”big” or “small” and what it comes down to is this: God is God and I trust Him, and because I believe Him, I will obey Him.
What we don’t always think about though, is that ALL sin, “big” or “small” has consequences!
And, boy, were there consequences for a $500 phone bill!!!!!!!
Our forgiveness of our son’s behavior was immediate and unconditional. He did not have to DO anything to be forgiven. He did not have to earn it. Grace is unconditional- unmerited favor. What he did does not change my love for him in the least bit! I love him and forgive him. But, in the consequences of what he did, he has had to DO some things!
The same is true for us and God. When we sin, we don’t EARN forgiveness- God gives it freely and unconditionally. His love for us is unchanging. But, there are always consequences for our sin. Even though we forgave our son, he has lost his phone and is doing MANUAL LABOR earning back the $500. The same is true for us, even though God forgives us, there are always consequences for our sin.
I am thankful that our son has learned this valuable life lesson! As parents, we pray that he will always be “caught” when he sins so that we can teach him through it. I pray the same for ME! I don’t want to walk down a wrong path. I want God to show me when I am being disobedient!
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
Please visit me today at the Cafe....where we learn a lesson from a cell phone!
The people he has placed in your life to help you....guide you....REFINE you?
Memories from childhood.
From turbulent teenage years.
Kind words spoken to you that encouraged you.
Pain that He used as sandpaper to refine and polish you.
When we take the time to really SEE how God has been there in our lives....
taking time to REMEMBER Him,
we begin to see His Sovereignty.....
Verse 12 goes on to say, "I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds."
I am adopted and understand the miracle of my mother choosing life in me-centered 60's AND placing me in the family where I am.
Wow....what a MIGHTY DEED!
I remember my first boss as a high school senior. I'll never forget the words he spoke to me on yet another day I was taking advantage of my employer, coming in late and not ready for work.
"Tracy, you will not always be able to get away with things just by flashing your pretty smile."
Those words carry so much weight as I understand life and responsibility better today.
God literally SAVING me as I felt the Holy Spirit warning me to flee different situations in college.... One that stands out in my memory is a frat party where I found myself with just one other girl, dressed and dancing provocatively inside a circle of about 20 drunk frat boys. I know God warned me to flee and I did!
A rainbow that was a sign to Brian and I when we were praying about a job change and move.
Yes, Lord, I will take time to remember Your deeds....Your miracles.....Your works in MY life.
Please check out more WFW!
"It’s is easy to get caught up in our lives and schedules and think we are too busy to open our lives and homes to others. It’s easy to be committed to our own agenda, even our own families, and never open the door of our homes and lives to others. We can get so caught up in our duties–cleaning our house, making perfect meals, having everything in order….following our own schedules…and never allow people to really know us and what God is doing in our lives."
Boy, is she "right on target" here! So often, Satan loves to distract us with so many details that life whirls by and we MISS OUT on so many blessings of just BEING HERE.
Playing board games with the kids.
Smiling at the Target check out girl. In fact, actually LISTENING to her as she talks about her life...... How many times do we take the time to just LISTEN to the people God crosses our paths with?
I am such a firm believer in taking time to quietly LISTEN to God in this area. I believe the Holy Spirit is CONSTANTLY laying names of people in our lives on our hearts and minds......people who need to be encouraged in the faith. We never know what a difference one small phone call, email, or visit will make in someone else's life.
Sometimes we get so worried that reaching out will take too much of our precious time.....sometimes we are so saturated with activity that we don't even realize God is calling us to reach out to someone.
I've heard different speakers suggest to ask God daily who you can help that day. This is wonderful, but I believe that we need to be constantly open to the Holy Spirit's prompting moment by moment! And, I believe we need to have an attitude of LOOKING constantly for people to bless. (And "blessing" is often just taking the time to smile and ask, "How are you" while actually listening to the response!). There is a world of hurting people who need our attention!
Gina has us ponder some ideas:
If the Father were to call you Home today, what kind of testimony would you leave behind?
What would people remember about you?
This week we are going to take a bit of an “out of body” experience. Grab that notebook you started last week. Spend some timing thinking about what you would want your friends and family to remember about you after leaving this life and write it down. Next, list out each quality, trait, or idea separately and under each one, make a list of goals and Scriptures that will help you work towards becoming more like the person of Christ that you want to be remembered as.
Grab a few notecards and post these Scriptures and goals in various places so that you will see them and be reminded of them daily. Remember to spend time in prayer asking the Lord to help set and direct these goals and Scriptures.
Share these goals with someone in your life to help you remain accountable.
My first reaction is that I want people to remember me by FIRST saying, "She loved God! She was crazy about Him!"
And, I would also want people to say that I loved people, caring about them and LISTENING to them.
I am excited to ponder this further this week and add scriptures.
I want to also give a perfect example of the "hands and feet" of Jesus and being the Body of Christ. I have decided to homeschool next year (Yes, I appreciate your prayers!!!). I simply asked an acquaintance and neighbor a few questions about her homeschool experience and she so generously shared her time and help with me. Here is part of a message from her:
If you ever have any questions, please do not hesitate to call. This is one of those situations in life where not everyone has experience in it, so it can be hard to find the people to help you out. It doesn't need to be that way...I'm always willing to help just like the people who helped me when I started. I feel blessed by God to be able to encourage and lift up others who are being called to educate their kids at home. It's part of being the body of Christ, called to build each other up.
Thank You, Jesus for Your Body! May I be a HEALTHY, strong, vibrant, loving part of it! May I be "the hands and feet" of Jesus to all those around me!
Please go over to the Well and check out Gina's complete post. Also, would love to see you join us each Monday for this awesome study as we grow together as "The Body."
Please join me each Monday At the Well for a new Bible Study called "We are the Body". This is being led by my friend, Gina. I am excited to be learning and growing together!
Gina writes this week:
Here is an excerpt I have written about MY spiritual mentor/accountability partner, my "spiritual mama", Donna:
Do you daily study your “reflection” to see if you have “something in your teeth?”
What kind of accountability of believers do you have in your life right now?
This week I would encourage you to take some time to pray and evaluate your life. Spend time in prayer and in the Word and asking God to show you what you need to see. Grab a journal or just a plain notebook and write down your thoughts and prayers. Ask a couple of people who know you well, and who you know will be honest, to take some time to make a list of things that you need to work on. Record these things in your notebook. Then, take the list and bathe it in prayer. It may hurt some, but it will ultimately help you and set you down the path towards holiness.
As you go through this I would like to challenge you to pray about what you are called to and who God would have you reach out to serve and encourage.
Donna is "especially special" to me for so many reasons- she will be truthful with me, not just "tickle my ears," she will grieve with me when I am sad, she makes me laugh, she is so wise, and she is a kind, loving, and caring person. She is a grandma, so she has experienced more life than I have, and she is willing to share her successes and failures, especially in parenting.
Donna is my Spiritual Mom, a true Titus 2 woman. My own dear mom loves God and prays about everything, trusts God, and has a simple faith. But, she doesn't know the Word. She doesn't read the Word. Donna, on the other hand, KNOWS the Word and studies the Word daily, and LOVES the Word.
So, when I need advice, I often ask Donna, instead of my mom, because Donna will give me Godly advice, based on the Word and then we always pray about it! She is so wise! But again, it is Godly wisdom. Truly, much of her advice is "foolishness to the world." Forgive that person???? How could I???? Because in His Word He tells us to and that it will bring His blessing. Be joyful in this situation? It will bring peace. Feeling not at peace about something, then, should you be doing it? The "world" would definitely give me different advice than Donna gives me!
Oh, how thankful I am for my dear friend and mentor. A mentor isn't some distinguished professor, but just someone who is a little "further down the road" than you are. Actually, Lisa Bevere says we DON'T want mentors- we want "mamas." A mentor teaches you what they know, not necessarily wanting you to do better than THEM, so they may hold back a little. (Think of the business world. Would a person want their "underling" to excel?) But, a Mama wants her children not only to do AS WELL as her, but BETTER than her. She wants her children to soar to greater heights than she did. This is Donna- she wants even more for me- especially spiritually.
Do you need a "mama"? Look around. There are many in blogland. I am sure there are many at your church. Be bold- ask a woman to "mama" you. Pray and ask God to bring you one.
Be a "mama". There is always someone who hasn't come as far as you yet. Build relationships. Help one another. Be an example.
"Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they should
live.... and teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to
love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at
home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will
malign the word of God."- Titus 2:3-5
Father, thank you for blessing us with friendships. God, you made us as relational beings to crave companionship, friendship, and fellowship with one another. Thank you, Jehovah Jireh, "The Lord Who Provides" for providing us with mothers and "mamas." Thank you, precious God for caring about us so much that you give us friends, and thank you, Jesus, that you call ME friend! Lord, help me to be a "mama" to those you place in my path. Help me to see when you do. Help me to NOT be so busy that I miss it! Also, Lord, help me to be bold when I need a mama to ask someone. Lord, you are so good, so good. In the Savior's precious Name, the Name above all names, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.I hope you will join us on Mondays to discuss how we can be "The BODY" together!
Join me At the Well today where I will be talking about......(YIKES!)...DISCIPLINE!
to ourselves and all those who hear our words.
Proverbs tells us that we EAT the fruit of our words.
What have you been eating lately?
Lord, sanctify my mouth! I want my words to bring LIFE to all those who hear them. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
For more LIFE-filled words, please head over to the Cafe for more Word-Filled Wed.!
"Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights above.
Praise Him, all His angels, praise Him, all His heavenly hosts.
Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars.
Praise Him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for He commanded and they were created.
He set them in place for ever and ever;
He gave a decree that will never pass away.
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do His bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of all the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and maidens,
old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for His name alone is exalted;
His splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
He has raised up for His people a horn,
the praise of all His saints...
Praise the LORD.
I usually don't write the whole psalm, but this one is just so good that you have to see, sing, pray the whole thing!
I love to walk early in the morning and it seems the whole earth is praising God. Even though I take an ipod with me at times, I usually turn it off because the sounds of the birds singing is better than any praise and worship song!
The winds rustles through the leaves of the trees. The wind is praising God.
The sunrise is breathtaking....the heavens are praising God.
The flowers are blooming to praise Him!
God is the Creator and all of nature praises Him just by existing and "doing" what it does....rain drizzling, stars shining, bunnies hopping, birds singing.
But, we are to open wide our mouths and PRAISE His Holy Name!
Praise You, Lord! You are awesome! You are majestic. You are beautiful. The heavens declare Your glory....the work of Your hands. You are awesome and breathtaking, LORD! We praise You!
This picture was taken early one morning when I was walking at my church. I live just a block away and we have this beautiful rugged cross at our pond. I had decided to walk to the cross to pray that morning. The sky was so BREATHTAKING that I had to run home and get my camera!
Please head over to the Cafe, the new home of Word-Filled Wednesday! I know there will be lots of great inspiration (and praise) over there!
I wrote this devotion for Laced with Grace last week, but just HAD to share it with you here as well!
OK….it is full-fledged shorts weather here in Iowa. Time to break out that razor and give those winter legs a good shave.
As I was tackling those last stubborn hairs that just don’t seem to want to get OFF, I thought about how God’s Word compares itself to the sharpest razor.
“For the Word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. Nothing in all creation can hide from Him. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes.” Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT
Have you ever tried to shave with a dull razor?
I don’t know about you, but my legs tend to end up looking like this. Not a pretty picture.
My razor HAS to be sharp to effectively shave my body WITHOUT leaving little cuts and wounds. God’s Word has to be sharp to effectively reach those areas that we tend to hide away…..pretending they don’t exist…..hiding from the truth. The NIV puts it this way, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
It gets in there! “Dividing between joints and marrow.” No hiding from His Word. It penetrates our very being. It searches our motives and intentions.
It has power to CHANGE us.
It refines us.
God’s Word is ALIVE and ACTIVE and WORKS within us!
And, I have found that it is ONLY His Word that cuts cleanly without cutting me. When I try to follow MY word or the WORLD’S words, I find myself with a cut-up spirit, full of band-aids. Kind of like using a dull razor.
Lord, thank You for Your Word that PENETRATES deep within me. Thank You that even when I try to hide from you (and myself), Your Word gets right in where it needs to go. Give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I might know You better and open the eyes of my understanding to fully comprehend what You are teaching me. Lord, I believe that Your Word is ALIVE and ACTIVE in me! Thank You, Lord! In Jesus’ Name we pray. AMEN!