Friday, April 25, 2014

Divine Rest

Do you ever find yourself wanting to rest in the Lord, but just aren't able to?  Do you go through discouragement in your quiet time because you can't seem to squeeze in all the prayer requests? Or are you struggling to even hear God speak to you?

Lately, these questions have daunted my mind, because I have lived it.  I get so flustered when I have "X" amount of time for quiet and can't seem to get anything meaningful "accomplished" in my time with the Lord.  I would walk away with feelings of defeat and discouragement.  I spoke to quite a few people about this, and I've tried everything from formulas on "how to pray", to putting on worship music, and also to finding a good devotional book.

 All of these things are good, and have helped me in my journey! But one thing no one had suggested to me, was to just be still.  That's it.  No music.  No order of operations. Just me in perfect solitude with my Savior.  Now for a modern-day woman, there's really no such thing as doing nothing! It's a waste of time when so much can get done, or in this case, so much can be prayed for!
Here is where I think the feelings of guilt and discouragement sneak upon us! We feel we must be praying for something or someone all of the time and if we don't, our prayers are useless...or it really isn't considered "praying."

Friends, it is so easy to become overwhelmed with prayer requests, to the point where we feel burned out.  I do not believe God designed prayer to be this way, or to be a recitation of prayer requests...even though it certainly can feel that way sometimes! I believe God designed prayer for rest and communion with Him!

Remember the story of Mary and Martha? Martha was so busy running around, trying to get things done, but Mary sat at Jesus' feet and rested. Martha complained about Mary, but Jesus COMMENDED Mary for choosing what is better! Likewise dear sisters, I want to encourage you to "choose what is better."  Rest at His feet...It certainly won't be taken from you!

"Be still, and know that I AM God."   Psalm 46:10 (emphasis my own)
"The Lord goes to battle for you, you need only to be still."  Exodus 14:14 
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31

Yours in the Journey,

Shannon :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Tale of Two Cities Continued...

Peace. It's a word that has eluded me in the last month. Not because God doesn't give me peace, but because I refused to accept it. In my earlier blog, The Tale of Two Cites, I shared how I have been wrestling with a decision to join a church plant team and move back to my hometown. I shared that my husband received a word from the Lord to "stay" and so here we stay. Although I have a tremendous amount of respect for my husband and know that he hears from God; I was still unsettled in the matter because I wanted to hear a word too! It's kinda the control issue in me that I'm trying to work on. ;)

Well, after many journal entries, hardcore prayer and pursing the Holy Spirit, we have both received the word "stay". I am thankful that the Lord is patient with me. So thankful! In the midst of my quiet time, He brought confirmation. As I read 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, I knew instantly that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me, however it was not the word I wanted to hear. So figuring I wasn't hearing correctly I started researching the context of the Scripture and the background information about this particular passage. Here's the kicker, every additional piece of information only confirmed it further.  After about an hour of denial, I finally relented. BUT, I now have peace. Perfect Peace.

Have you ever been where I was? Lacking peace. Discontent in your circumstances. I learned two very important things in my Jonah moment.
1) The Lord is patient and will wait for me to be obedient.
2) The Lord has appointed my circumstances and I need to serve Him where He's placed me.

All in all, the Lord is asking me to be content. Contentment is the confidence and quiet peace to accept our circumstances and serve God, knowing he's the one who appointed them. The apostle Paul repeated the importance of contentment in Philippians 4:11, stating to be content in whatever circumstances he is in. I am not saying that you can never move, but the Lord will make it very clear if it is His Will for you to move. In our case, we are to remain and serve.

While Brian and I were talking about this, he shared a footnote he had found in his Bible under the passage in 1 Corinthians. It read "Often we are so concerned about what we could be doing for God somewhere else that we miss great opportunities right where we are." Isn't' that a wonderful reminder when we are feeling discontented. Great opportunities are right around the corner, don't miss them because you are dreaming of what could be! God appointed our circumstances and it is our responsibility to serve him with joy where we are. With a new focus, I am turning my dreams into reality right where I am! Serve the Lord with gladness and come before him with joyful songs!
(Psalm 100)

Until the whole world hears,

Friday, April 4, 2014

Can You Love?


This word in one form or another keeps coming across my path. I was reading my daily devotion which happened to be about love, specifically God's love. Agape love, unconditional love, can only be experienced and expressed through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit living within us enables us to love others as God does. The devotional went so far to say that anyone who doesn't know God can't love others the way God does. This is a pretty powerful statement considering that God's love is the one we are to model in our marriages, families, and friendships. A very interesting point. One that caught my attention and I as pondered, it became the focus for this blog.

Anyone who doesn't know God can't love others the way God does.

At first when I read that statement, I thought it was a little harsh. However, as I studied it further and allowed the Holy Spirit to teach me something, my eyes were opened to the many examples around me which demonstrates this truth.  If one isn't a follower of Jesus, one simply can't love. Sure, they can love in the way the world does. Friendship love and erotic love are good, but eventually will fade away. Friendships end and unfortunately so do many marriages.  First Corinthians 13 lays out a perfect way to love, but I have fallen short of that so many times. It is comforting to know, however, that's how God loves me. Despite my failings, he loves me unconditionally and has set guidelines for me to love others in the same way. So, how do I know that we are a people desperate for agape love? Because not every one is a follower of Jesus. We live in a world that tries to fill the void of love with artificial things. Although I won't fully get up on the pedestal here, I will say that I have even seen this in my own family. The members of my family who don't have a life-giving relationship with the Lord, seek after material things to find fulfillment. I see them hurting and I have the answer, but they don't want to accept it. That's when you know that you love like God loves, your heart breaks for the things that break His. When marriages are hurting and on the brink of failure, your heart hurts. When children are given more things instead of quality time, your heart hurts. When people are being held captive by a spirit of depression, your heart hurts. These are just a few things that hurt my heart. We are a generation desperate for God's passionate agape love. We need to humble ourselves enough to say that we need God. When we do, a love that you've never experienced will overflow in your life. A love that only comes from the Father. A love that covers a multitude of sin. A love that is patient and kind. A love that is not easily angered. A love that casts out all fear! A love that sacrificed, so that we could live! That's Love! That's God! That's Awesome!

Let's live out 1 Timothy 4:12b "Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." Let's be set a part by the way we love because we follow the author of love! We experience so we can express. Look for ways to express agape love today and tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day.... :)

Until the whole world hears,