Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflecting...



At the verge of a “new year”… what will I make of it??? December 31, seems to always bring out some sort of self-reflection… how about in you?  The path I could see my life heading down a year ago is definitely not where I am now… love how God has His own idea, i.e. better plan, just around the corner, if we are willing to hear Him and follow!
 
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.  Psalms 18:2

There were many ups and downs in the past year, but I believe what I choose to reflect on will also set the stage for the next year.  Are you looking to “escape” from 2012?  Do you only see the bad things that you never want to see again?  Let me share a couple things that happened in my life this year… my mom has not been well for a couple years.  She spent multiple times in the hospital this year… 2 of which were in the “behavioral ward.”  I just kept praying for her and over her, along with many prayer warriors… at times it really felt like God had abandoned her, but deep down I knew that wasn’t true.  It really seemed like a nightmare at times, but I kept clinging to God’s faithfulness… His Promises.  My family went through this together… we knew no matter what happened God would be our strength to get through it!  This I would say would be a low point of my year… but without this low point I would never recognize the high point.  The high point and what I am going to reflect on… Within the last few weeks my mom has made a miraculous turnaround… my sisters and I had gone through the last year not really having our mom, but now God has given her back to us! Lessons can be so hard to learn but when you come out on the other side… it is so sweet! 

Another thing that occurred in the past year… my dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  Even through this diagnosis God had His hand print all over it!  First of all, they diagnosed the cancer before Dad really had any symptoms! Secondly, God had brought an incredible doctor into the picture because of my mom’s illness… this doctor was the one who caught the cancer before symptoms started! With all that my dad had been dealing with regarding my mom… God gave him such peace… if Daddy was worried about it, I never saw it.  Dad went through a month of radiation treatments without any real complications.  Through all this there have been lives touched… all the glory goes to God!  But without the low point of cancer there would never be the high point of a cancer-free biopsy report a week before Christmas!

I don’t share any of this to show you that my life is anymore special than anyone else’s, but to encourage you that even though none of us want to have the down moments of life… it is through those low times we can experience the up moments!  If life was always the same… would we even recognize the miracles God is doing in us and through us?  I ask you to take a few moments and ask God to shine His light on those special moments of 2012 in your life… then give Him all the praise He so deserves!  Maybe you are not on the other side of your down time… praise Him and thank Him in advance for Who He is and what you know He is doing!

Praying a blessedly prosperous New Year for you!

Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters,
“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

Rejoicing in Truth!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gift of His Presence...

In preparation of Christmas I was getting out the boxes and boxes of decorations.  Some bring back precious memories, while others are just a passing fad.  I love adding just a little something new every year to keep things fresh though.  Did you ever notice that after the ornaments have been hanging on the tree for a few weeks they are kind of dusty?  Or is that just at my house?  I have an ongoing battle with dust… I hate to dust and I think dust purposely antagonizes me!!!

I was checking my gift list and what we still need to get before the big day… then my mind was drawn to Christ, Father’s Gift to all of us.  The most precious gift ever! It has been a rough year for so many that I care about in so many ways.  But my eyes keep turning back to that original Gift… no matter the circumstances of life the only thing that matters is our relationship with God that started on that first Christmas morning.  Jesus Christ was born in a dusty stable, but from that very moment He started to change the world… He takes all the “dust” and grime of our lives and sweeps it all away never to be seen again, if we just turn to Him.

There have been many questions of why God lets things happen… some feeling like the bad circumstances are a punishment from God.  If you look in the Bible there are so many instances when bad things were happening to people and it was not as a punishment!  Look at Job for instance… what would we do if all our possessions were taken… we lost our job… our kids were killed???  I know for myself, I probably would ask God why He would allow such things… if He loves me so much how could He let me go through all this pain???

We like to understand things… we like to try and fix things… we think we know more of what we need than God does… admit it, we have all been there.  I will admit it… I am impatient… I like to figure things out on my own… I want to live in comfort not pain!  But if everything was “peachy keen” all the time how would I ever grow?  And truthfully, what would I need God for?  God may not bring on any of the distress in our lives but He will allow it… ultimately to be used for His glory!

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

In Job 38 and 39, God and Job are having a “conversation.”  If you take the time to read it you will see that God was letting Job know that no matter what his circumstances were God was still in control!  God created all things… He should know how to keep things going and in order! Hmm… not so easy to remember sometimes.

Getting back to the gift part… if our Heavenly Father was willing to give up His only Son to restore His relationship with us… why would He ever do anything to cause us harm?  He sent Jesus to earth as a precious little baby but He wants us to let Him be so much bigger than we can ever imagine in our lives!  So I guess the question is… If Father was willing to give me and you such a precious Gift are we willing to trust Him no matter our circumstances?

“Blessed are the people who know how to praise you. They walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. They find joy in your name all day long. They are joyful in your righteousness because you are the glory of their strength. By your favor you give us victory.  Our shield belongs to the Lord.  Our king belongs to the Holy One of Israel.” Psalms 89:15-18 (God's Word trans.)

Father, I thank You for Your goodness and the precious Gift of Your Son! I praise You for Your presence… that You will never leave us alone!  Lord, You are so faithful! All praise to You!

Rejoicing in Truth!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Unending Promises...



Going through many changes personally and also with sickness that has touched my family… I just needed to share a few Promises I am holding onto tighter than ever today!
 
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
*
"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent men You save me. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies." 2 Samuel 22:2-4
*
“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”  Psalm 18:1-3
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“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1
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“The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, He saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.”  Psalm 116:5-7
*But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3
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“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9
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“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
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“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5
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“Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
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“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

The dictionary defines the word “PEACE” as freedom from war or conflict; tranquility, a calm and quiet state, free from disturbances or noise; a state of mental calm and serenity, with no anxiety; harmony.  And my definition is: complete surrender to God’s will; letting His breath breathe life into my soul; trusting completely that God has it all under control, regardless of what it looks like… I know there is no PEACE without faith.

This is just what I need today… how about you? Share some of your Promise verses too.

Rejoicing in Truth!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Healing Thru Compassion...

I want to share a little story about compassion that turned out to be a big turning point in my life.  It is not pretty… my actions were not pretty… others actions were not pretty, but as always God can take something so ugly and make it beautiful.

For years my hubby and I have struggled with infertility… it is so hard, almost impossible to understand from the outside looking in, but can you imagine what it is like to be on the inside of that pain looking out.  After years of no answers and no baby, I will admit it left me quite bitter.  I don’t know if the bitterness turned into envy, jealousy, dread, cynicism, and judgment, or if these things turned into bitterness… either way it was not pretty!  Although most people that didn’t know me well would have never seen this part of me… I got so good at posing! I am not bragging about the posing… it is just the truth. It is sad when we can’t let others know who we really are… hiding our dirty, little secrets.

A couple years ago I had the opportunity to go spend a few days away, trying to get to know more of who I am in Christ… drawing closer to my Heavenly Father… receiving healing for those things is my life that were not so great.  It was something that I knew would be good, but really deep down I couldn’t see where this could heal what needed healing the most… my broken heart.  A broken heart??? Yep, even though I had a personal relationship with Christ… I felt that God had broken my heart by not giving me what I wanted the most… to have a baby.  If He knew the pain this caused me, how could He be trusted?  How could He fix what I felt He had broken?

There were many times I would be out shopping and I would see mothers treating their kids just awful… screaming at them, pulling on them, neglecting them, as I saw it.  I would let that bitterness come rising up and once again question God why He would let someone like that have a child, but not me?  I spent a lot of time comparing myself to others, which is never a good idea!  I would watch the news and see massive neglect of children.  Kids just being thrown away… and of course the millions of babies being aborted every day!  I saw these people as monsters! I had no compassion or understanding anywhere in my heart for women that would throw “something” in the trash that was so precious to me.

Now, back to these days I spent away on a “spiritual retreat” of sorts.  There were probably 20 women or so, all of who I believe God orchestrated to be there for whatever reason.  But there was only one woman who had flown all the way across the country to attend this event… this was the woman God would use to change my life. 

She was a beautiful woman… she had long, dark wavy hair… a little exotic looking might be a good way to describe her.  She seemed to be nice, soft spoken, maybe a little reserved, but that could have been from the wear and tear from travel too.  There came a point in our stay that we were asked to share things about ourselves.  There were women that shared about a loss of a husband or a child, trauma as a child, miscarriages, not very easy things to share, but so necessary to bring into the light… although at the time I certainly could not see where this would help anybody! Just being honest!  I did share about some things in my life including the devastation of never having a baby.  Well, this woman I wrote about earlier was the last person to share.  She said she had put it off as long as she could, because what she had to share was so bad.  She shared that she had had an abortion.  Maybe I have lived a sheltered life, but I had never come face to face with anyone that would ever admit that.  She didn’t look like a monster… she seemed very loving and caring… this was not what I expected at all.  I can honestly say that at that very moment something clicked in my heart.  I could see the victims of the act of abortion were not just those precious babies, but in so many cases it was like the face I was looking at right at that moment.  I could feel God prodding at my heart… reach out to her… comfort her… show her My compassion and love.  I kept saying inside, “NO, I don’t want to do that… I can’t do that!”  But two seconds later I reached over to her and told her I was sorry she had to carry that pain around with her.  I told her that there is nothing that God can’t make right. At the time all this took place, I really had no idea what God had done for me through this woman’s confession.

Days later, after I was able to process things a little more… I went to this lovely lady and told her how God used her in my healing.  I can say now that even though abortion is still so wrong and I cannot even comprehend that despicable act… I do look with compassion on those that desperately struggle and choose that.  

This was my story and it happened to be about abortion in a sense, but the reason for this is to share how God can change our hearts in those darkest times to show compassion towards others.  In Matthew 9:36 it says, But when He (Jesus) saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”  Look at your own life… who is one person or group of people you have a problem showing compassion to?  There are times in all our lives that we need compassion… stupid things we say or do… thoughtless moments that we hurt someone.  We all want to receive compassion, but how willing are we to show it?  For me, trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes sometimes helps me do that.  It is always easier to judge someone for something we have never gone through.

For me showing compassion has nothing to do with sin… sin is sin!  If sin can keep me from showing compassion then what would be my fate if God thought the same?

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9

I pray that opening up my heart to share this will make a difference in your life… it has for me again… it was a good reminder.

Rejoicing in Truth

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Dot in His Picture...



A few months ago my hubby and I were asked by God to change the way we were living our life.  We were already serving Him and doing His will as we knew it to be, but He threw a challenge out there to me.  He asked, “How much was I willing to trust Him? Was I ready to give everything up as I knew it, to follow Him to something bigger He had for my life?”  I am not sharing any of this to pat myself or my hubby on the back… all I can say is God woke me up at 2:30 in the morning knowing that this is what He had me to be doing at this moment rather than sleeping!  I guess… I can sleep anytime!

As a kid I can remember playing with a sliding tile puzzle… maybe some of you don’t even know what I am talking about. It is a hand-held plastic game board, about 3”x 3”, that had 15 interlocking tiles that you would slide around trying to put all the tiles in order to make a picture or to get the numbers in order.  Each tile was important to the puzzle, and each move you made could make it or break it.  There would be many times I would slide the same piece around in a “circle” trying to get it to go where it belonged. I must confess there were times I tried to cheat by popping a tile out so I could solve it easily… that never worked though because even if I could get it popped out I could not get it pushed back in!

That is how my life feels sometimes lately… like a sliding tile puzzle!  God has every piece of my life in His hands and He has to be the one to make the picture.  There are many days I try to slide a tile into a different position and that usually just scrambles things all the more.  I can only see one piece at a time… and some days maybe not even the whole piece… but God can see the whole picture. 

Okay, so here is my fleshly truth… there are moments or even days that I want to turn back from this path.  It seems too hard when I feel like I don’t know where I belong.  I feel lonely and isolated, and let’s face it… just plain impatient!  I know God knows what He is doing, but does He have to take so long to do it??? Really?!

And God’s truth… He knows the plans He has for me, plans for peace and not harm, and a future filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11).  He also has promised never to leave me (Hebrews 13:5) He said, if I love Him I will be obedient to His Word ( John 14:23, 2 John 1:6).  And just like Jesus said to Peter when Peter wanted to walk on water to come to Jesus, but failed… “You of little faith, why do you doubt?” Matthew 14:31

That is it… there really can be no arguing with God’s truth! I cannot live by how I feel which changes from moment to moment! I have God’s solid truth to stand on.  I may be only a dot in His big picture, but it is okay… that is where faith and trust have to come into play.  I must trust Him enough to go where He says to go, move where He says to move, and speak what He says to speak.

When God asked us to make this change and we decided to follow… the first step He gave us was to leave the church where we were happy and content.  He was asking us to go to a smaller church that needed more people with hearts to serve… a church a distance from where we live and we didn’t really know too many people there.  We could have said no… but it was not about us.  If church was only suppose to be a “social club” than it would have been easy to say no.  What does church mean to you?  Why do you attend the church you do?  Are you investing your time and talents there? Is it for the people that are there… is it for the pastor… is it for the music… or are you where God has called you to be?  There have been so many people leaving their churches lately because they don’t like how things are changing or they have taken an offense of how someone was treated.  Are those good reasons to leave a church?  What would happen if we all chose to go where God told us to go… or stay where God told us to stay?  Are you unhappy in your church… make sure you check your heart before you do anything… the grass is not always greener, especially if God is not directing it.  We all are a dot in His picture, but if your dot is not in the place where He wants you… will His picture be distorted? Hmmm, I wonder.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

I don’t know what you are going through, but God does… He cares.  Cry out to Him and lay yourself at His feet.  When feelings start to overtake remember His Truth!  Lord, I pray for each person that reads this… help us to keep our eyes focused on You… the One that holds life in His hands. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Rejoicing in Truth!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Much is Forgiven...



Today being 9/11/2012… eleven years after that horrific day… two words came to my heart… forgiveness and honor.  How do we honor people that were taken away from us in such a heinous act?  Do we honor them by being filled with sadness?  Do we honor them by being filled with hate?  Do we honor them by not forgiving?  I did not have anyone close to me that was taken on that day, so maybe I have no right to even speak about this.  I don’t know how I would feel if my loved-one was gone.  I really contemplated about posting this because I never want honor and forgiveness to be simplified… it is a tough thing.

Thinking about the parable of the prodigal son… You can read about it in Luke 15:11-31.  The son went to his father and asked for his inheritance so he could go have some fun and live his life the way he wanted.  The father did as the son asked, even though I am sure the father knew it was not the best thing for his son, but he had to let him find that out for himself.  After the son burned through the money with crazy living, he realized what he had given up to enjoy himself for a season.  It is then you can see the brokenness in the son… his heart had to be broken to seek repentance.  A change of life-direction shown by his hunger for restoration… he could see his life of sin was leading no where; he longed to be home with his father.  He humbled himself to confess that what he had done violated his love for God and for others.  He cried out for mercy… he knew he deserved nothing, but he was willing to live as a slave just to be close to his father again.

Now the forgiveness part of the story… I believe that the father was ready to forgive his son before he even walked out the door.  The father had hopes and dreams for his child and he knew being angry and disgusted with his son would not help the situation at all.  The father could have tried to coax his son or cater to his son just to keep him close, but he knew he had to allow his son the freewill to learn life lessons on his own. That doesn’t mean that what his son was doing was okay with him, but that no matter he loved him and was waiting to welcome him home when the time came.  The father in this story represents the unexpected forgiving heart of God… he hopefully anticipated that his son would repent and be restored to his family.  He courageously humbled himself to receive his son with loving arms… the world may have seen it as weakness when it was actually the greatest act of love.  He gave mercy to his son because of his son’s repentant heart… he restored his sonship instead of making him grovel as a slave.  And finally, he celebrated that his son had changed his direction from death and destruction to life and reconciliation.

And the unforgiving heart… the older son was jealous that his brother was received back home with open arms after what he had done.  What does an unforgiving heart get you?  A hard heart… he felt justified in feeling outrage towards his brother and probably even his father… he would rather be angry by himself than choose to forgive and celebrate with his family.  A vengeful heart… his only focus was to see his little brother pay for all he had done to hurt the family… rather than show his brother love and mercy and thankfulness that his brother made it back home alive.  A prideful heart… he refused to have a relationship with his father and brother… he wanted to sit in his rightness rather than live in righteousness.
 
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your failings and shortcomings.” Mark 11:25-26

I admit, I can be stubborn and rebellious… my pride and my flesh refuse to forgive, but then I am reminded that I also have received forgiveness for so much.  I came to God in repentance and drank deeply of His water of grace and mercy from the well of God’s forgiveness. (Luke 7:47)  I have to remember forgiveness is about my heart condition not the heart of the one I am forgiving… it is for me not for them.

Our unwillingness to forgive those who have harmed us reflects our failure to understand God’s love for us.  This ability to love and forgive can come only by first being forgiven by God.  Have you taken that first step?
 
Rejoicing in Truth!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Contented Dreams...


I always write from what I am going through and God really impressed this on me one night while I was sleeping.  For those of you that know me personally, you know I am pretty straight-forward. For you that don't know me... please keep in mind, many times what I write is so hard for me... God is working on me through all of this too! It is probably more for me than you, but I hope you can get something out of it as well.
 
What is the difference between dreaming and a dream??? Is there a difference? Is one done with discontentment and the other done already being content??? I was wondering, if we are not content in the life God has given us now, will He put a dream in front of us??? For instance, if we are not living our life to the fullest with the way it is right now… will God give us more?  Is a grateful heart the difference between dreaming and a dream??? I can dream that one day my prince will come and sweep me off my feet, yet if I show no appreciation for my husband, no matter how flawed he may be now, will my marriage ever get any better? 

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Timothy 6:6

We think when we are children and maybe even as adults… dreams are some sort of “magic.” Have you heard people say that their life is so much better when they are dreaming?  Dreaming is not real life… dreaming will never be reality as long as we never start really living in our own life… nothing will ever change!

So lets ask ourselves… “Am I content with my life?”  For myself, I have a great husband… a beautiful home… wonderful friends… a loving family… and best of all an unbelievable relationship with God!  What more could I want?  I am not saying my life is perfect, by any means… it can be a day to day battle that takes real effort to live a contented life.  Not always easy to do!

My hubby and I have really been stretched in our faith and obedience in the last 6 months.  I was thinking about that and asking God to show me why this is all happening to us… I feel so undeserving of all He is pouring out on me. As I looked back over all He has been doing I could see that there was a time when I believe God said, “Okay, it is time to step it up a little.”  A couple years ago God gave me this passage in 2 Kings 4:8-17… I knew part of what it meant in my life at the time, but more and more He is showing me that being contented with the life He has given me is another part of it too.

If you are not familiar with this story it is about a Shunammite woman, the Bible actually calls her “great woman.”  She was called to feed Elisha, the prophet, as he passed by her home. She and her husband even made him a room to stay in whenever he came by their place.  She took good care of God’s prophet. One day she was called before Elisha and he told her that her faithfulness would be rewarded.  All the kindness she had shown Elisha was not for reward, but because she knew he was a man of God.  Elisha told her what her reward would be and she did not believe him because she thought it was impossible.  But just like Elisha had spoken it to her, it happened at the appointed time.

I have failed God so many times. Every day I try to remain faithful even when I am angry and don’t understand what He is doing.  I search in His Word to find exactly what He has for me for that day… on the days I do not take that time… my day is usually a flop until I seek God’s face.  I know that being renewed through His faithfulness makes it easier for me to be faithful to Him.  I find it is impossible to be content unless I am trusting Him.  If I can’t trust Him to meet my daily needs or to fulfill His promises I will never be content.  

Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Okay, so here is the question… Are you living a contented life? It has nothing to do with circumstances, finances or what you don’t have… it has only to do with who you are allowing God to be in your life as your life is right now.  It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do better… it just means every step we take forward needs to be done with contentment. Choose to live a life of gratefulness, even when you don’t see all the good!  Contentment, faithfulness, trust will lead to God’s path with the big dreams He has for you!

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

Praise Him for His loving kindness!

Rejoicing in Truth!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Showing Love...


How do we as humans show love to others? Do we try to do things that make them happy? Do we try to be respectful of their feelings and their likes and dislikes? Or do we do the opposite of what we know they would want? Is that how to show someone love? I am not saying you wouldn’t still love a person that disappointed you or purposely did things that they knew would hurt you. What I guess I am wondering is… how do you express the love you feel inside for someone???

When my hubby and I were first married, I thought the way to show love was through food. I liked to cook and he loved to cook. Needless to say I think we both put ten pounds on in our first year of marriage! Yep, not the healthiest way to show love!

But real love from the heart has to be done with a death to selfishness. Death… selfish… those aren’t very pretty words!  Yes, we are still human so selfishness will still rear its ugly head from time to time… I just don’t believe that is ever the intention of real love.

As Believers we are to live by Christ’s example… right? Ephesians 5:2 says, “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Was there ever a time Christ was selfish? Was there ever a time He was disobedient? Even when His Father told Him He would die a horrible death on the cross… He was obedient! Selfless obedience! Wow, that just really struck my heart… how many times has God asked me to do something small and yet I have drug my feet to do it or did not do it at all? I am not meaning this in a condemning way… this is a wake-up call to my selfishness! It is not about me… it is all about Him… that is what it has to be about! I believe that every opportunity God puts before me is not only to grow my relationship with Him, but even more importantly it is to bring others into a relationship with Him. I am not talking about good deeds to win God’s love… I am talking about being selfless to win others to Him because I love God. It is a beautiful circle… if I am willing to help complete it!

I know for myself I have spent a lot of time comparing how I am or what I do to others. I would think, if so and so isn’t doing it why should I have to? I know I wasted many opportunities squabbling in my head and heart about the things God wanted me to do. Nothing like a good wrestling match with God! I was making it all about me and how I would look or how uncomfortable I would be… and using other people as my excuse not to! God has shown me that what He is asking me to do is for me to do… He is asking me, not so and so! Why am I so stubborn sometimes? Flesh vs. Spirit… that great battle I fight daily!

Do you know, showing kindness… speaking truth… encouraging someone with a smile… those are small things that we can do that could change someone’s perspective. I may not be the one who prays the prayer of salvation with that person, but obedience in those small gestures could be what points them in the right direction.

When I sat down to write this, the verse that got me started thinking was… “If the death of His Son restored our relationship with God while we were still His enemies, we are even more certain that, because of this restored relationship, the life His Son lived will save us.” Romans 5:10  You are probably wondering how this verse ties into what I just wrote… what it boils down to for me is there can never be life (restoration) without the death of something… self… pride… ideas! How bad do I want it? Am I willing to let these things die to achieve it? The Great Love that God gave me through His Son is enough reason for me to put aside my selfish agenda. God has just been stretching me so much in the area of obedience and I wrote this and I’m sharing it with you… in obedience! God, shine the light on those selfish areas in my life, in Jesus’ name.

Rejoicing in Truth!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Here It... Do It!


“But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” - James 1:22

Are you a doer or a hearer only?  Even though I might read God’s Word every day, many times I know I don’t do it. I was thinking how it is like sitting down at a beautifully set table to have a fabulous meal… you know, where all the forks, spoons and knives are in their proper place… shiny, polished crystal glassware… heirloom china… oh, and cloth napkins, of course. You are seated in your chair ready to take that first bite of a scrumptious meal… you place that bite in your mouth and chew it and chew it and chew it, but then instead of swallowing it you spit it out. Do you ever get the nutrition you need from that food? It might have satisfied your taste-buds, but it will never fill your belly!

Our physical bodies need food as fuel to keep us going… just like our spiritual bodies need nourishment from God’s Word to keep us on His path. We might open our Bible and read the precious words on the page… we can read it and read it and read it, but if we don’t ingest it and do it… we never will receive the “nutrition” we need from it.

I have really been challenging myself a lot for the last few months to be a doer and not just a hearer. I know I have lived so much of my life looking “good” on the outside, but my motives have not always been what they should have been… living and doing things in a prideful way. I have to daily check my motives… is it to honor and glorify God first and foremost??? Don't misunderstand... I am not saying you need to always be doing. What I am saying is we need to live out what we are gleaning from God's Word. Hear It and do It... let that be my passion! Will you join me in this challenge?

Rejoicing in Truth!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tested to Be Trusted...

Thinking a lot about testing… not the kind in school that tells you how much you know, but the kind in life that shows you how much you don’t know.  With the way my life is right now, in waiting mode, I can see many moments of testing. 

This morning I was reading in Deuteronomy 8 and in verse 2 – Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. Hmmm… humble and test! Not the most fun words!?

When I was in school, before I could move onto a new class or a new subject or a new grade… I was given a written test.  Why test us before we can move on? I now can see a test is like giving us a “practice” before real life.  Like a person that goes to medical school… wouldn’t you want them to be tested before they are able to actually work on real, living bodies???  During a big test in school, I doubt I ever got all the answers right… I had to be willing to admit I don’t know it all!  That is humbling.  I see it the same way when God tests my faith… my will… my motivation.  Ah, motivation… now that is really hitting home. Realizing… if my motivation is not right then I will get tired of the battle and give up.  No matter how aggravating at times it can be to wait… wait… and wait some more… that is truly when God can see what is in my heart, but more importantly He shows me what is in my heart!  The test!  

Here is a quote by Adrian Rogers, “A faith that hasn’t been tested can’t be trusted.”  Let me ask you… would you want a surgeon operating on you that had never been tested?  It gives me a whole new way to look at being tested!

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10

Rejoicing in Truth!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Set Apart?... Really?...

We all spend so much time of our life just trying to fit in!  I am pretty sure most people want to be accepted.  They want to have a place they belong.  I was studying about living a life being set apart.  Really, God, You want me to be set apart?  The truth is as soon as I accepted Christ into my life… I was set apart! The tough part comes when I am faced with the question… Am I willing to live my life honoring God by being set apart?

I can remember growing up, I had incredible parents (they still are)… they worked hard to meet all our needs, but many of our wants were out of reach.  I was blessed to have a mom that sewed (although as a kid I did not see it as a blessing!) so until about the 5th grade many of my clothes were homemade.  I always felt like that made me not fit in with the other kids that had store-bought clothes.  I can remember when I was in junior high the Jordache jeans were the big thing.  Of course, my parents would not spend that kind of money on a pair of jeans, and honestly I didn’t want them to… I just wanted to have something that looked like everyone else’s.  I can remember finding some knock-off designer jeans at a store called “Foxmoor”… they were only $20 and they actually fit!  Surely this would be my answer to feeling like I fit in. Needless to say it really had nothing to do with my clothes why I didn’t fit in… it had to do with Christ living inside me.  Many of the kids around me thought differently… acted differently… spoke in ways I would have never.  Looking back now I can see it was my Heavenly Father setting me apart, it was hard then but now I am thankful.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 

God has set us apart to be His witness. He has set us apart to bring Him glory.  Are you willing to fight to live a life set apart?  Think about the women of the Bible that chose to live a set apart life… Rahab, Ruth, Esther, Mary… to name a few of my favorites.  Just common people, like you and me.  Their beginnings might not have been ideal, but when they took that first step down the path God had for them… I am sure they had no idea where it would all lead.  There is no way they could even fathom what impact fighting to be set apart would have on the world… just like we have no idea where a single step towards God will lead. 

“But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased” Galatians 1:15
 
I know where I fit in now… it is by being set apart that I fit in through God’s grace.  I do not really care about pleasing people very much, but I do live to know that I am pleasing God.

"Know that the Lord has set apart His faithful servant for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him." Psalms 4:3

Ok, here is the challenge… you are set apart, chosen by God to stand out as His witness to bring Him glory.  Now is the time to find a way to be comfortable in this lifestyle of being set apart.  Accept who God has chosen you to be… you can make a difference in every area of your life.  It is the right time to become more watchful about your walk with God.  Remember, common people do great things for God when they choose to walk the path of purpose.

“We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted Him to do by sacrificing His body once and for all.” Hebrews 10:10

Rejoicing in Truth!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Truth Is...

Have you seen on social websites posts that start off, “Truth is…”?  A few of my friends which happen to be teenagers is mostly where I see these kind of posts.  Since I am not a teenager, I guess the purpose behind it is to see what your friends will say the truth is about you… I think they are hoping for good things that will confirm acceptance from their peers.

So here is a set of “Truth is” for Christ followers.  I don’t know about you but when I need focus in my life… when everything seems upside-down… I have to start with what I know to be the truth.

Truth is… All people want their life to matter.  Especially, as Believers we should be driven with passion to live a fruitful life for Christ.

Truth is… There are three things that are required to have a fruitful life.  First we must be cleansed through the blood of Christ.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

Truth is… We must abide in Him.  Abide… not really a word we use in our normal everyday language.  What does it mean to abide?  To live; to wait; to endure; to remain. When things are going good, you abide in God… when things are going not so good, you will still abide in God.  No matter the circumstance… we have to abide in Him!  You can be mad at Him… you can feel life is unfair… you can be frustrated or irritated, but one constant must remain… you will abide in Him! Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4

Truth is… Obedience is the outward sign of love for our Savior (John 15:10). In 1 John 5:2-3 in says, We know that we love God’s children when we love God by obeying His commandments. To love God means that we obey His commandments. Obeying His commandments isn’t difficult.”  Its great how it says, “obeying… isn’t difficult,” this is from God’s Word translation… it is really straight forward and to the point… love that!  Obedience is not difficult; it is our flesh that makes it difficult. (Galatians 5:13)

Truth is… Serving the Lord is an incredible privilege! You are good enough and equipped to do it through Jesus Christ! We are God’s hands and feet here on earth, today… think about that… if we are not willing to walk it out or lift a finger to serve in the church we attend, then are we accepting the honor God has given us???

God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Truth is… I am writing this out of devotion for God.  It is also directed at me as much as it is at any of you.  I don’t know where you are at in serving the Lord, but I challenge you to take that step in obedience. God has empowered each of us to do greater things for Him, but we need to take that first step.  Remember, your help comes from above!

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalms 121:1-2

Rejoicing in Truth!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Seasons of Change...

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.

Take a couple minutes to read that whole chapter.  Verse 6 just jumped out at me... "A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;"   That is how I want to live my life... realize that life keeps going and changing... there will always be loss in life, but from that loss we all need to be able to find the good to come... we better be ready to accept it and roll with the punches... we need to keep growing and changing or we will become stale and discouraged... I do know for sure that no matter the season of each of our lives we need to keep trusting God... and all He is really asking from us is an open, willing heart and a loving attitude.

Just as the winter turns to spring,
Our lives have changing seasons too;
So when a gloomy forecast comes,
Remember -- God has plans for you. – Sper

Father, I ask you to uphold me, Lord, as I try to live a blameless life. I trust in You, Lord, that I will not falter.  Test me and examine my heart and mind that I am always mindful of your unfailing love.  I will rely on Your faithfulness no matter what changes come my way.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Whatever you may be going through... God is right there with you... remember He is the only thing that will never change! (Hebrews 13:8)

Rejoicing in Truth!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Accepted… It’s ALL Good

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13 (TNIV)  What does that verse speak to you?  In the New King James version it says, And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  I love how the word, “naked” is used!  When I read that it made me see how freeing that is… that God sees me “naked”… warts, moles, lumps, bumps, sin, and all!!! Andyet He still chooses to love me and use me in His great plan!!!

You might wonder why I would see it as freeing… how many of us can even fathom the idea of standing naked in front of anyone and the vulnerability that would produce???  I know… yikes!  Almost intolerable, right?  But this verse shows that we are already that vulnerable with God.  We can never pull anything over on our Heavenly Father, so why try???  Do I sin?  Do I make mistakes?  Do I judge others unfairly?  Yes… yes… and yes!  It is not that I will never screw-up, but when I do it is just so much easier to confess it and seek God’s forgiveness as soon as I recognize my sin.  That is what is so freeing for me!  Father always knows what is coming… we never surprise Him.  And He has promised us He will always forgive when we ask with sincere hearts.

“If we freely admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just, true to His own nature and promises, and will forgive our sins and continuously cleanse us from all unrighteousness (everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action).”   I John 1:9 (AMP)

A weight has been lifted off me! I cannot hide my “nakedness” from Him, but that is okay!!!  I challenge you to take the time to read Hebrews 4 and see what other great things God has for you.  Remember to allow yourself to stand “naked” before God… let Him point out those things that may not be quite right.  You are already accepted… it’s ALL good!

Rejoicing in Truth!

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Cord of Three...


“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:12

When I read this verse the picture in my mind was of a braid… if you just twist two pieces of hair it might stay for awhile, but it will eventually fall apart.  But if you braid three pieces of hair it will hold up forever or at least until a part of the trio weakens or becomes frayed.  How do we keep our hair strong and healthy? By eating right, practicing good nutrition, cleansing it regularly, and trimming the split ends.

It is the same in our walk through life… we need to eat right by feeding on God’s Word, we have to receive every bit of nourishment we can from Him.  We need to allow the Holy Spirit to show us what needs cleansing in us… asking for forgiveness and letting freedom come from the “dirt” that can easily build up. And the hardest one of all… we need to accept that God (the gardener) prunes us to produce more fruit in our lives.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2

Our strength for daily life comes from the Lord!  How great is it that He can take the frayed ends of our lives and make them strong again?  God also uses those around us to keep us strong and on the right track.  Take a look at those you are spending your time with... are they adding to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health? We all need to re-evaluate that from time to time.  Remember, as iron sharpens iron, so does a good friend encourage and change a friend's outlook. (Proverbs 27:17)

Praying God's blessings over you today!

For further study read John 15.

Rejoicing in Truth!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Key to Faith...

I just had to share this devotional I came across, it is from the book "From Dream to Destiny" by Robert Morris. I hope it blesses you the way it did me! So powerful!

* The key to our having faith is in hearing the Word of God. I want to emphasize this: the key to having faith is not in obeying the Word of God – the key to having faith is in hearing the word of God. Now I believe in obeying the Word, and we must obey God if we want to have His blessing on our lives. But it is not obedience that produces faith. Rather, it is faith that produces obedience. And faith only comes by the Word of God.

This is not my idea. God made this very plain in Romans 10:17 when He said, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." This scripture passage says that if I hear the Word of God, "faith comes." In other words, faith shows up. So all I have to do is hear the Word of God. So there is something about hearing the Word of God produces faith.

Now I know the Bible says that I must be a doer of the Word as well. James
1:22 says, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." But it is hearing the Word that is the key to doing it! Because the more I hear the Word of God, the more faith I will have. And the more faith I have, the more I will want to obey God and live out the Word.

The reason that a lot of people are not doers of the Word is because they don't really have faith. The more faith you have, the more you will obey. The more you obey, the more the presence of God will manifest in your life. And the more often you live in the presence of God, the more you will prosper and succeed.

Every one of us can prosper, and everyone of us can be successful! And the way we begin is by hearing the Word of God. So start to make the Word of God part of your life. Listen to His Word whenever you can. Read the Bible daily. Memorize Scripture passages, meditate on them, and write verses on notecards to tape on your mirror. If you hear his word consistently, faith will naturally come. God promised that it would. And as your faith increases, you will find that you are walking in obedience. As you walk in obedience, you're going to have the presence of God on your life. And if the presence of God is with you, you're going to succeed!

There are no words to describe the blessing of having God's presence in your life. Right now I can feel that the favor of God is on my life, and it is a wonderful thing. It is so wonderful that I don't want to do one single thing to mess it up! The favor of God makes you feel that nothing is impossible. The favor of God makes you feel that anything you attempt to do for God will succeed. Because when you sense that God is with you, you know your efforts on His behalf will not fail.

What could possibly be worth losing that blessing, that favor, that manifested presence of God? I don't want to walk in disobedience, because I know that if I disobey God, His presence will leave my life. And I don't want to lose His presence or His favor!

So it really wasn't a hard thing that day at the airport to leave a note on the car I had bumped. It really wasn't hard to decide that we would miss our plane. It was easy to do the right thing – when I remembered that God has called me to be faithful in small matters, as well is great, as I live out my destiny according to His will.

I want to walk in the destiny God has planned for me. And I know that if I am to be set over much, I must be found faithful in little things – even a crack in a piece of plastic on an old car.

Eventually I received a call from the lady whose vehicle had been damaged. I apologized for the accident and gave her our insurance information so that she could get her bumper repaired. But before we got off the phone, she said, "I just have to ask you a question. I have shown your note to everyone in my office, and no one can believe that you actually left a note. It would have been so easy to just drive away. We don't know if you're a saint, a space alien or what – but none of us can figure out why you would leave a note."

The woman was an unbeliever. Yet she recognized that there was something different about my behavior. So I was able to explain to her the reason that I had left that note. I was able to share the gospel with her and tell her how Jesus Christ had changed my life – that he could change her life also. "You said that everyone in your office wants to know why I left that note," I said to her. "Be sure that you tell them. Be sure to tell them that the reason I left that note is because Jesus Christ has changed my life – and He wants to do that for all of them, too."

There is nothing on this earth that can compare to the joy of a moment like that, when the presence of God rests upon you as you do something important for Him. But it all begins by being faithful in the smallest things – by being a faithful steward. If I had not been faithful to do the right thing about the accident, I would never have had the opportunity to be God's messenger to the people in that office.

Faithfulness – good stewardship – causes us to be successful in everything we do. It causes us to have the favor of God and His presence in our lives. So be faithful in little things. Be a good employee, a good steward "as to the Lord" (Colossians
3:23). Spend time in God's Word and watch your faith increase. As faith comes, obedience will naturally follow. And when you honor God and walk in obedience to Him, He will honor you with His presence. Then His favor and blessing will rest on your life, and you will prosper in all you do.


Rejoicing in Truth!
*Excerpted from From Dream To Destiny by Robert Morris (Regal). Available this week as part of the Living Free teaching series.