Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Good Intentions...God Intentions

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." ~ Genesis 50:20

Don't those words just radiate comfort? Read them again and let them really soak in. Claim those words over your life today. As I complete my study on Genesis, Joseph speaks these words to his brothers shortly after the passing of their father, Jacob. These words not only brought reassurance and forgiveness for his brothers, but a profound truth for our lives. God's intentions are always good. This is a promising truth for us to remember. You and I are part of a greater plan. There is a significant amount of power upon your life that helps you influence others for the Lord. Paul so beautifully lays out God's intentions for our lives in Ephesians 1. 

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,  in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,  I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 
 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead...

Couldn't have said it more eloquently myself. I love God's Word. I highly recommend printing this passage and reading it until you have it memorized! I pray this over you, my friends. I pray that you would walk in a Spirt of wisdom, as you parent your children, work at your job, care for your husband, and serve in your church. I pray that everyday you would know Jesus better and more intimate. I pray that you would walk in hope and know that you are a powerful woman of faith! God takes whatever is intended to harm you and turns it into purpose! Just think, you are a part of a bigger plan and that plan includes saving lives! Your life is leading others to salvation when you walk in the confidence of God's plan. Yes, there will be days that are hard. But those days have purpose. You have a seal set upon your heart and you walk with power! You are an unstoppable force! Trust in God's intentions above all things because we know what he always follows through!

Until the whole world hears, 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

When Opportunity Knocks

I don't believe that opportunity happens by coincidence. Just the opposite in fact, I think that every opportunity is laid divinely before you by a Father who has a well thought out plan for your life. I am currently reading through the book of Genesis. Right now, I'm venturing though the story of Joseph. While reading about Joseph's roller coaster of a journey to leadership, the Holy Spirit placed this formula on my heart.

God's favor + our obedience = opportunities

For the last three years, we've simply been obedient to the Lord's leading. I don't say this to brag, but only to offer proof that God does open doors of opportunity for his children. I'm sure my husband has felt a lot like Joseph over the past few years. Brian is a faithful follower of Christ. He's extremely loyal to his core and has outstanding character, especially his work ethic. God has laid a vision on his heart to lead a Holy Spirit-filled church in a small town. He has relentlessly pursued the credentials to be prepared when God calls him, along with holding down a full-time job and being an engaging husband and dad. He's weathering the storm right now as God continues to prepare him for his next great adventure of faith. I compare his story with Joseph's.

God had given Joseph a vision of leadership. Jealousy aroused from his brothers and long story short, he was sold into slavery. God's flavor was upon Joseph wherever he was and in all that he did. Whether he was a servant, a prisoner, or second in command, God's favor plus Joseph's obedience led to many opportunities for leadership. However, what really intrigues me is that every opportunity was born out of disappointment. I'm sure Joseph's vision to leadership didn't include being sold, becoming a foreigner, then gaining power, only to lose it because of a lie which landed him in prison for several years.

I say all of this to say, God is at work in your life. I've found that when disappointment is on one side of the door, opportunity is on the other when we walk with the Lord. The thing that set Joseph apart was his God. The thing that sets you apart is your God. Genesis 39: 2-4 says, "The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of the Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant." This exact thing happened to Joseph several times because he was faithful to God. I don't know what your prosperity will look like, but the Lord is with you and his favor will open up opportunity. He is equipping you to do the good works that he prepared in advance for you to do! (Ephesians 2:10) Because we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose! (Romans 8:28) You've been called, prepared in advance, and walk in the power of the Lord! Don't let life's disappointments discourage you because on the other side is God's favor poured out! Take comfort in who he says he is and who he created you to be!

Answer the door, it's opportunity!

Until the whole world hears,

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Glory Departed

1 Samuel 4:21a- ' She named the boy Ichabod, saying,  "The glory has departed from Israel"-- because of the capture of the ark of God...'

The Ark of God was a very significant part of God's Holy covenant with Israel. It represented that His very Presence and Power would be upon His chosen people, so long as they were in right standing with Him.  At this particular point in time, Israel was a mess.  Eli's sons were wicked, and even though Eli knew what they were doing, he did nothing to stop them.  Consequently, it was prophesied that the house of Eli would suffer terrible punishment. 

Later on, when Israel had gone to battle, they were defeated by their enemies, the Philistines, and the ark of God was captured (also note: Eli's sons had died in battle, and Eli died upon hearing the ark was captured).

Upon hearing this devastating news, one of wives of Eli's son gave birth to a baby boy and named him "Ichabod", meaning "The glory has departed."                     

The glory has departed.....

These words have weighed heavily in my heart and mind throughout this study.  As I pondered in my own heart the meaning, there was a quickening in my spirit.  my eyes then fell upon 1 Samuel 3:1b "In those days the word of the Lord was rare, there were no visions." (emphasis my own) This verse also made me think of another verse! (Don't you love when the Holy Spirit does that?!) Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint."

Is it any wonder, why Israel was in the condition it was in? They weren't seeking God; they were too busy doing their own thing.
Sisters, I feel it can be the same way with us.  We go about our lives doing our own thing, until the next thing we know, the power of God is sapped from our lives and then we truly begin to wonder if we're even walking with God at all. 

The glory has departed.....

I heard it once said, that the Holy Spirit is like a dove.  It rests upon us peacefully, but any sudden move or sound of displeasure, it quickly flies away.  I do feel we can offend the Holy Spirit by our words, thoughts and actions that are in opposition to God's Word. We can also choose to walk away from God by not regularly having time with Him.  So my question for you ladies is this: (believe me, I've asked myself this too!) Has the glory departed from your life? Do you feel like the power of God is at work in your life? Let's talk about it!

Yours in the Journey,


Monday, November 3, 2014

Bless the Work of His Hands

 "May the favor of our Lord God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands."  Psalm 90:17 

His hands. The hands that provide. The hands that hold and protect. The hands that are folded in prayer. 

When I think about my husband's hands, I think about the important role he plays in our family. God has given him the ability to work with his hands to provide for our family. He's the sole provider in fact, and how blessed we are by his faithfulness and dedication. God has wired our husbands to provide for us. In Genesis 2:15, we see this example established. "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Now, this post certainly is not about gender roles, but it does remind me that I am my husband's helper.  "But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. The the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man." (Genesis 2:20b-22) 

Our role as a wife carries tremendous power. The popular movie quote, "you complete me" is incredibly true. Biblical, in fact. We are the perfect helpmate for our husbands. I'm asking the Lord to shape me into the wife that my husband needs, especially in regards to supporting his work. The Holy Spirit has laid several verses on my heart to pray over my husband daily as he heads out to fulfill his role as provider for our family. I share these today with you because I want you to feel empowered as you trust God to shape you into the wife your husband needs. 

Pray for God's favor to bless your husband's work. Cheerfully speak these words over him to motivate him. "Observe people who are good at their work - skilled workers are always in demand and admired; they don't take a backseat to anyone." (Proverbs 22:29 The Message) When your husband takes pride in his work and does it diligently, praise him for that. This builds respect and demonstrates that you appreciate his hard work. 

Pray that he would have a desire for God's Word. The man who mediates on The Word day and night is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers.  (Psalm 1:2-3) If your husband is in a season of unfulfillment at his job, pray for him to have a hunger for God's truth. In the right season, he will reap a harvest if he doesn't give up! (And if you don't give up either!) 

I say all of this to say, that we are our husbands' cheerleaders. We have the power to help them succeed, as well as to build confidence in who God created them to be! That's a lot of power and it comes with a lot of responsibility. Stay connected to the source of the power and God will shape you into the wife your husband needs, all the while growing you into an amazing woman of faith for all to see. 

Praying for you as you honor God by honoring your husband, 
Until the whole world hears, 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Who's On First?

Who's on first? Besides being a very funny Abbott and Costello skit, it is a great question for believers. Most of the time when I read a passage of scripture, it involves more extensive study. Because I like to study, I'm okay with this and today it leads me to share what I've learned with you. As I pondered this question, a man named Melchizedek reminded me how to put God first in all things.  Have you heard of Melchizedek? There is a lot of mystery involved around this name. We read about him in Genesis  14. Here we see that Abraham had rescued his nephew Lot who with all his possessions, had been taken captive during a massive land battle between several kings. Upon Abraham's return, Melchizedek comes out to meet him. 
Genesis 14:18-20
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, 

"Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand."

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

These verses caught my attention because there is so much that we can apply to our lives about putting God first. The mystery lies in who Melchizedek actually was. Some theologians say that he was king of Salem, but others have ventured to say that Melchizedek was Jesus Christ incarnate. The name Melchizedek means "king of righteousness." He is also introduced as priest of God Most High. In addition, the city of Salem, was the future site for Jerusalem. After reading this passage, it would be easy to go along with this theory. That being the case, let's look at some important lessons from this encounter. 

  1. Melchizedek was reminding Abraham to remember all that God had done for him by bringing bread and wine. It reminds us that communion is a time of reflection and thanksgiving. Whenever we feel discouraged, doubtful, or fearful, we should have communion first with our Lord and Savior! 
  2. Jesus blessed Abraham for his continued obedience. He blessed him with victory over his enemies and reunited him with his nephew. God establishes boundaries for us in order to protect us and bless us. Is there a victory you need in your life? Are you being obedient to what God has asked you to do at work or at home? God wants to deliver everything into your hands. He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly! (Psalm 84:11)
  3. Abraham recognized the greatness of Melchizedek and offered him a tenth of what he had. Notice that Melchizedek didn't ask for it; it was given to honor his greatness. It is a great reminder that we are to tithe our ten percent to honor God's greatness. This can often be overlooked when we think of ways to honor God, but the fact is that it's an important act of obedience. I just love that Abraham was so willing to give this tenth. What if the church was this willing to give back a tenth? Nothing would be impossible for us! I believe it grieves the Holy Spirit when we are disobedient with the tithe. We are withholding blessings from God, the church, our community, and ourselves when we choose to keep what belongs to God. 
I say all of this to say, we honor God when we remember all that he's done for us. Put him first in our thoughts.  There have been many times when I feel overwhelmed and weary, but in those moments, the best thing I can do is to have communion and count my blessings. When you honor God for his greatness in all areas of your life (physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially) he will indeed pour out more blessings than you can store! (Malachi 3) Test him in this and let your life be a testament to his greatness! So to answer the question, "Who's on first?" God is! In all areas, he is first. 

Until the whole world hears, 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Desire for Wisdom

Oh what it must have been like to walk in the Garden of Eden, unashamed and in the very presence of God. Then it all came crashing down into the world we are living in today. Let's take a look at what motivated that devastating decision in the garden. 

Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. 

The primary motivation was to gain wisdom and to be like God. We all have an inherent need to be like God. To be in control. To know everything! It's interesting that Satan tempted Eve with the very thing he got kicked out of Heaven for! Satan wanted to be God. He still does and in his twisted mind, he believes he will be. However, we know the end of the story. Victory prevails! 

While the first sin brought evil into the world, it also brought a desire for wisdom. While we will never have all the wisdom God possess, we do have the gift of the Holy Spirit to tap into the supernatural power of Godly wisdom. 

Wisdom isn't just making good choices, it's making empowered choices. The Holy Spirit is crying out. "How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings." (Proverbs 1:21-23) 

God is not hiding wisdom. In James 1, he tells us to ask for wisdom and you will receive it. While it is not beneficial for us to know everything, like God. It is beneficial to walk in holy counsel everyday. I don't believe it's a one time deal. Wisdom should be asked for every single day because every day brings new challenges and a fresh outpouring of wisdom is required. "My (daughter), if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding - indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God." (Proverbs 2:1-5)

Did you catch the "then" in the last verse? If we do our part, God is faithful to do his. Wisdom is precious and to be searched for like hidden treasure. It takes work to find wisdom and make inspired choices everyday, but the benefit is becoming more like God, which results in His glory being manifested in and through your life! 

Searching for wisdom with you...

Until the whole world hears, 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile

You are beautiful. Don't shake off that compliment, YOU ARE! As I am typing this I feel as if I can see you right now. Whether you're in your pajamas, a business suit, or t-shirt and jeans, hair done or frazzled, make-up or no make-up, you are beautiful. The chatter of the world says that we need to enhance ourselves to be beautiful. That's baloney! But I have to say that I wish I believe everything that I'm typing here. You see, I'm the first person to shake off the compliment of beauty. Maybe you're there too. I'm a work in progress when it comes to being completely secure in my appearance, however, I fully believe that I'm beautiful on the inside. 

The inspiration for this blog comes from my journey through the first chapter of Genesis. God so skillfully and intentionally placed everything in the universe. The sun, moon, and stars. The birds of the air and the creatures of the sea. The vegetation of the ground laced with the most beautiful array of colors you could ever imagine. In the most intricate detail, he spoke and life appeared! We appreciate the beauty of the world around us, but have we ever stopped to ponder the beauty in us? 

After all the beauty God had made, after he placed every twinkling star in the sky, carved every breathtaking waterfall, painted every magnificent sunrise and sunset, then he made us! And it was VERY good. Not just another run of the mill creation, no, we brought much delight to God. We weren't just good, we were very good.  Think about that for a moment. Let it soak in. Creation was complete when he created us. 

You don't have to have it all together to be beautiful, but you do have to have the Lord inside of you to radiate true beauty. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8) Even though your heart is hidden, the effects of  what you put into your heart show in your actions and on your face. So in a sense, the saying "you're never fully dressed without a smile" rings true. Your smile tells the story of your faith. Because the joy of the Lord is your strength, you can walk with confident beauty knowing that when God created you he was very pleased. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, so walk a little taller, smile a little brighter, and let the world see the light of Jesus through your life. 

Until the whole world hears, 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Refiner's Fire

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  

Today I want to expand on the words "doing good" in Galatians 6:9.  In chapter 6, Paul is instructing us how to do good to one another, especially other believers. But what is "doing good" exactly? How would you define it? 

Earlier in the chapter, Paul teaches about accountability and helping carry other's burdens. This is good. You see, goodness, doesn't just mean happiness or producing emotions that feel good. It's a refining process. The dictionary defines goodness as moral excellence and virtue. That's definitely a high standard which is why it's a refining process.  I'm sure I've fallen short in the goodness category many many times. Thank the Lord for His grace and good friends who are not afraid to gently provide accountability when I stray. 

Do you think we make it hard for other believers to refine us? God is very specific about the role of the church. One of those roles is to confess sins to one another. (James 5:16) I am being refined by this because it means that I'm vulnerable in that moment when another believer notices something in my life that is contradictory to how God is calling me to live. Has that happened to you as well? What was your first reaction? Mine was certainly not thankfulness, as the Bible instructs. My reaction was embarrassment, which manifested as anger.  

In hindsight, I see that it took courage for the fellow believer to approach me and bring the situation to light. This person was not trying to condemn me, but rather to build my faith by the refiner's fire. They were being the true friend I needed, full of grace and encouragement. Romans 1:12 says that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. It always takes a difficult situation to grow our faith. We can control our reactions to these difficult and vulnerable moments by choosing to love and be thankful that God provides us with gentle believers to refine us toward goodness. 

The refining process requires heating up and cooling down, as a result, the material changes form. (Ex. solid to liquid, liquid to gas.) We are that material. We are changing form! We are becoming more like Christ when we allow other believers to hold us accountable. It's a necessary part of the growth process. I've had to step back to recognize that this is a gift from God. We make each other strong. None of us are perfect, but all of us are growing. Let's gently refine each other to a higher state of goodness. Let's not grow weary in doing this or receiving this, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don't give up! 

Until the whole world hears, 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Let It Go

Frozen fans, feel free to burst into song :)

Have you ever been in a season when you wish God would just shout out the directions so you knew which way to go? Which job to take? To buy or rent? To start a family? Soup or salad? There have been so many times when I've said, "I just don't understand, and I don't want to mess it up." I am sure I can find comfort in knowing that you've had similar experiences. I find myself constantly meditating on Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.  

I appreciate God so much in that moment because he gives me permission to throw my feeble thinking right out the window. He reminds me that he knows I don't understand. On my own, I can't possibly make the right decisions every time considering my future. He's got this! However, I do have a role to play as I toss my understanding aside. I am to acknowledge God. I am to recognize that he has authority over my life and submit to His Will. I am then led to Romans 12:2. Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by changing the way you think. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's Will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

We have a word in my house for situations like this. PURSUE. When opportunity arises, we have learned simply to pray and pursue. When you think like that and trust God to open or close the opportunities laid before you, a new level of trust is built. When we acknowledge that God is in control, there is peace that fills the avoid of understanding. God's will for your life is good, pleasing and perfect! Notice it doesn't say easy! But we can trust that God's way is the best way and he will always point us toward His Will, all we need to do is pursue. (Side note, if what you are pursuing feels contradictory to the way everybody would do it, you're probably on the right track!)

I say all of this to say, when you pray and pursue, God will make your paths straight. You can't mess it up when you have a heart of obedience. God says, "be still and know that I am God." For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9) Take comfort in the promises of the Lord and pursue! He's got this!

Until the whole world hears,

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Modesty (an Issue of the Heart)'s the word most of us dread. We hear "modesty" and we're immediately brought back to ankle-length,  unfashionable jumpers.   Maybe some of us hear that word, and we're brought back to the time someone hurt us with a comment about what we wore on a particular Sunday. No matter which side of the spectrum you fall on this issue, there is one thing that should first be addressed:

Yes!! Just like anything; lust, greed, jealousy, etc.  Modesty is an issue of the HEART!   If modesty is an issue of the heart, why isn't this practice embraced by the church? After all, aren't we a reflection of Jesus to a lost and dying world?  I feel this is partly because, we as women are prone to believe the many lies that have plagued our culture.  These lies settle into our most intimate place, our hearts, and unfortunately the fruit of that is a worldly set of values.   The Word of God tells us that we are to guard our hearts with all diligence, for out of it flow the issues of life (Prov. 4:23).
So, how should we as women dress our hearts and bodies?
1 Tim 2:9-10: " Likewise also that women should ADORN themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness--with good works." (emphasis my own)
Dear sisters, whether we realize it or not, our clothes relay a message to others.  What is the message you are sending? I realize this may sound harsh, but the reality is, the way we dress says a lot about our character and what we value. This is the reason, we must always examine our hearts.  Also note, that just as much as we spend time picking out a special outfit for any occasion, we must spend even more time accessorizing ourselves with GOOD WORKS! 
 Okay, one last scripture and then I'll wrap it up.....
1 Peter 3:3-4: "Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."
Ladies, when I read these scriptures, I see that the true beauty of a woman is something to behold. It is to be respected....and feared. It is not something that falls onto perverse eyes that settle for cheap beauty.   It is much deeper, and more spiritual. It is the kind of beauty that exudes the Presence of God.  It is the beauty that makes people stop and wonder what is different about us. To close, I'd like to challenge you, to examine your heart before the Lord and to desire to have the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.
Ask yourself:
What lies have I believed?
Do I dress to please God or man?
Do I have the adorning of a gentle and quiet spirit?
Do my clothes send a message that profess godliness?

Lets talk about it!

Yours in the Journey,
Shannon :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

The REST of the story...

Right now where I am in life, things are so hectic and many life-changing events have happened, and it seemed like all in a hurry.  It was so easy to say “why all this at the same time”?  But instead God in His wisdom gave me verses to carry me through these times, and they became life to me. 

Psalm 62:1-2  My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

This verse grabbed my attention and I memorized it because it seemed like a great, strong verse to learn.  But it wasn’t until looking at life in retrospect did I realize learning these verses was preparation for a season of change that was coming.  I had no idea how important this verse would become to me until my world was shaken and my soul needed to know that God was my Rock and my Fortress.  I didn’t need “rest” as in no activity; my soul needed to rest in knowing God was in control.  The “rest” is an assurance.

A few months later I was prompted to memorize this verse:
Psalm 116:7  Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.

Again, the word rest!  I learned this verse at what I thought was the end of this particular season of leaning on God’s sovereignty and seeing His goodness.  But it all hit again like a whirlwind as we were planning our move across town.  I don’t know if you’ve moved much (we’re a pastors family… it comes with the territory), but for me across town moves are so much harder than moving states!  Anyway, 3 days prior to this move our daughter went into labor 5 weeks early while her husband was away for the Army!  Talk about timing!!!  REALLY??!!  I was able to be with her as she brought her son into this world and it was THE most amazing experience for me.  Seeing your child bring life into the world is an experience unlike any other, I’m in tears even now.  But my heart grieved for my son-in-law whose loss of witnessing this miracle was my gain.  In the midst of chaos I continually recounted how good God had been!

At one point in labor my daughter was overcome at the timing of all that was happening, and that is when God made the connection for me.  I told my dear sweet baby, “I don’t know why this is happening right now, but it did not take God by surprise.  He is a good God and He is not haphazard.  We can trust in His sovereignty.”  My daughter and I both recall the peace that filled the room after that truth was spoken. 

God might as well have stuck me on the head to finally make the connection between Rest and His Sovereignty!  When we know He is in control, our soul can be at rest.  There is comfort in His sovereignty.  We can know that if God allows something to happen, He has a use for it.  There is glory and good to come from it.   

Over and over again, God is reminding me that He is LORD!!  He reminds me not to look at the circumstance around me, but to look at who He IS!   Do I really believe that He is Lord?  That He is able to “handle” my life?  And can I trust Him with my heart?  I know the answer to all these is “yes” BUT it’s an entirely different thing to LIVE it rather than just KNOW it.  I love this quote from A.W. Tozer, “As God is exalted to the right place in our lives, a thousand problems are solved all at once.” 

So today I ask you not to look around you at your circumstances, but to look to God and exalt Him to His rightful place in your life and in your heart. 

Be at rest once more my friend!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

People Pleasing

I'm reading through Galatians right now and I have come to notice a theme. The Galatians seemed to be people pleasers. I can relate to that. Can you? In fact, in the first chapter, Paul out right calls them people pleasers in verse ten.  Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. I would imagine that before his encounter with God, Paul was a people pleaser. He followed the rules and knew the laws inside and out. It was Paul's glorious encounter with God that killed his people pleasing and people persecuting days for good. 

People pleasing in a learned behavior. It is easily learned, but difficult to unlearn. Whether it was learned as a coping method or as way to advance in the popularity ladder, people pleasing is not pleasing to God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20) You see, we are no longer bound to a life of people pleasing. We are free from the judgments of others. Besides, we are called to be different then this world, so people are going to think we're weird for that fact alone! The Galatians got hung up on this. Paul had to remind them of their new identity in Christ because they kept resorting back to living like they were living before they knew Christ.  

How many of us do the exact same thing?! We get hung up just like the Galatians. While they were trying to please the "important" people of the law, we compromise what we believe to please whom we perceive to be important. However, what the world deems important is incredibly different than what God sees as important. If followers of Christ, keep compromising our identity to make others feel better about themselves, who then will see Christ? Our new identity given to us by the grace of God, is not only for ourselves, it is so others can see that there is a God who hasn't compromised, but has given everything so that they can live in freedom! Eternal freedom. Our people pleasing causes confusion to all those watching us as followers of Christ. Compromising our faith by not saying anything, going with the flow, or biting our tongue as to not offend, is not helpful. It's harmful. It's harmful because Christ gave himself up so that ALL can have a new identity in Him. Those who don't yet know Christ are watching us. They are hearing our words and watching our reactions. Let's point them to Christ with our uncompromising faith!

I say all of this to say, that if we don't define ourselves, others will! Being in the Word daily and claiming God's promises over your life build your identity. You are not a slave to what other people think of you! You know God. You are known by God. The creator of the universe who so intricately placed the beauty in the world, placed that same beauty inside of you. That beauty resonates when you smile and draws others close to God just because Christ is alive in you! Take care not to let the weak and miserable forces of what others think turn you away from your faith. Instead, build a strong uncompromising identity, the very one Christ gave himself for. 

Until the whole world hears, 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Daytime Disaster

The inspiration for this blog happened a couple of weeks ago. I have been neglecting the issue, but now after several promptings from the Holy Spirit, I must write. 

Although, I hate to admit this, I am a TV junkie. I don't know if it's because I can't live in the quiet, but I usually keep the TV on to provide background noise. Actually I really enjoy the creativity and it serves as a mindless activity that relaxes me. But that's the danger isn't it. It's mindless. I don't have to think, reason, or surmise.  I just let it all soak in while being entertained. It's a time sucking machine and it literally takes an active choice to turn it off.  As I am trying to limit the amount of TV I expose myself too, I'm also monitoring the content. Right now my TV watching consists of mostly the Bubble Guppies, but every now and again I get to watch my own shows. That being said, I usually don't watch daytime television. Kendell is home and I do monitor what she watches pretty heavily. Of course Kendell's favorite toy in the house is the remote control for the television. It has been lost on several occasions and she gets a kick out of turning the channels. I think she feels powerful! 

I say all this to say, that one day, Kendell turned the channel to a daytime talk show. At that moment the host was talking about celebrity gossip. The topic quickly turned to marriage, or should I say, lack there of. The host was so proud to boldly state that living together is the right thing to do and that there are no consequences for this behavior. She was adamant that traditional marriage was a way of the past and irrelevant in today's culture. If you have read my Bio, you would know that this burned within me a righteous anger! Marriage, as God designed it, is a beautiful picture of how Christ loves us. What I was hearing on the TV was confirming the reason why I have given up on daytime television. It's filled with the cultural vomit of this world and if we're not careful; the Truth can become distorted in our own minds. I no longer view watching television as a mindless activity. 

Ladies, we are the target of highly liberal, unbiblical daytime television programming. It isn't just mindless. There are battles going on all around us that fight for our attention. The world speaks loud and proud, so we have to know the Truth inside and out and refresh it daily by spending time with the Holy Spirit. As we do this, he will permeate our hearts, helping us discern the Truth from the lies causing us to make better decisions. Ephesians 6 illustrates how the armor of God is to be worn and the Word used as a weapon. Take care not to let the world influence you, but that we are influencing the world! Live life in such a way as to make heads turn because you are so different. Stand on the values and principles that God has established because on these you will never fall! He has ordained your footsteps, now walk! No, run the race that he has set out for you! 

But be vigilant, lest you be seduced away and end up serving and worshiping other gods...
Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night.  (Deuteronomy 11:16-21 The Message) 

Oh my dear friends, we need to filter! Subtleness, the enemy's weapon of choice, can seduce us away from God's call on our lives. It's the little decisions that define who we are and who we will become. We can choose to have victory in those decisions when we allow ourselves to be influenced by the Holy Spirit and walk in obedience. When the Truth is deep inside you, you can't help but get righteously angry at our culture! Good! Use that anger to change the world by instilling the Truth in your children. 

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

We need to know what God's Word says, so we can identify what contradicts it and let me tell you, you're not going to find that on television! So, for all you fellow TV junkies, let's support each other and set up our filters. After all, daytime television is in the business of spreading gossip, but we are in the business of spreading the gospel! 

Which will last...?

Until the whole world hears,

Friday, May 30, 2014

God Doesn't Give You More Than You Can Handle. Or Does He?

What is the common "Christianly" response we give people when they say that they are overwhelmed by life's hardships? I bet it's: "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." Naively, I have spoken these words several times with the intent to encourage. In retrospect, I may have caused confusion.

We have a family member going through a very tough time right now. She had heard that "God doesn't give us more than we can handle," but as far as she is concerned, what she is dealing with is way more than she can handle. I agree with her. God does give us more than we can handle. Often, when things are going good, we forget to rely of God. As soon as a storm hits though, we refocus and cry out to God for help. It is in the moments of desperation that we see God's goodness. The Bible has never stated that God won't give you more than you can handle. He's given my family more than we can handle on several occasions. 

First Corinthians 10:13 says that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what can we bear without providing a way out. I think this verse gets misinterpreted which in turn causes people to doubt God's goodness and sovereignty. God is always in control and nothing surprises him. He allows us to make  our own choices and then deal with the consequences, but he is always there providing hope and direction. Being tempted is very different than dealing with life stresses. In temptation, you are always given the choice to say no. If however, you succumb to temptation there will be consequences which will most likely stress you out. That stress comes from our choices. Most stresses result from the decisions we make in life. Other stress comes from things we can't control. Death of a loved one, divorce, and job loss to name a few.  

Here's the beauty of the Lord. He's there, ready to carry your burdens no matter what caused the stress. He's saying to you at this very moment, come to me and I will give you rest. Sorrow lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning! Cast all your anxieties, worries, fears, and heart breaks on Him because he cares for you! He really cares for you! The sorrows you are experiencing are giving you an opportunity to declare your dependence on God. Ephesians 3:20-21 says that God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. Even when you don't see a way out of your circumstances, there is hope! God can do more, but the contingency is that you have to ask. 

I leave you with the wise words of Paul in regards to handling our stresses. Distress that drives us to God turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets. And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. (2 Corinthians 7:10-12) 

Does God give us more than we can handle? Yes! But He never leaves us in the process. He is in control and we must trust him even when we don't understand. Do not lean on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight. I promise! We can stand on the promises of God. 

Be encouraged in the sorrows because it is building your spiritual maturity and giving you an opportunity to put your trust in the One who never fails. Our God is able to meet all your needs according to his glorious riches! Trust in Him, Sisters.  He will bring you through and show you the purpose behind the pain. 

Until the whole world hears,