Measure Of All Fullness

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I use to be rebellious, especially when I was younger. Maybe you know what I am talking about? That self-righteous rebellion, my way or the highway type of rebellion. Rebellion has caused me to say many unkind things and make many wrong decisions. Decisions resulting in outcomes that could have been avoided. Decisions that affected not only my life but the lives of those around me, of those I love deeply. Like a paint can that is dropped and the paint splatters not only on the canvas of my life but the canvas of the lives of others. Thankfully, as I have grown in my relationship with Jesus he has softened my heart and taken rebellion away from me and his Spirit teaches me to be more sensitive to His will.

This morning I came across the above verses in a study that I am journeying through and the beginning verse in this short passage stood out at me.

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Ephesians 3:17a.

As a believer in Christ the moment you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior his Spirit filled you and sealed you and marked you for eternity. Why then, was Paul praying for Christ to dwell in the hearts of the Ephesians through faith? The Ephesians were already established as a church. I believe the point Paul was making is when we choose an intimate relationship with Jesus we invite him to permanently dwell within us, choosing His will over our will. Choosing to let go of ‘my way or the highway’ and choosing to be filled to the measure of the fullness of God. Enabling us to resist the temptation to do things on our own or in our own way and trusting God to show us his perfect way.

I am thankful that I am still a work in progress and the splatters of paint on the canvas of my life are not because I have dropped the can of paint rather that God splashes my life with his lavish love giving me daily opportunities to trust Him more and the kaleidoscope of color is his brilliance shining through a life of obedience to Him.

Precious One may you daily experience how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

Shalom!

 

 

What Do You Do Well?

 

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This morning I was reading a blog and came across this statement, actually it is the title of the blog; “You’re Not Meant To Do What You Love. You’re Meant To Do What You’re Good At.”

This statement can be entirely true if you choose to leave God out of the equation. For me everything in life is centered around the core foundation of a deep, vibrant, consistent and intimate relationship with Christ. Everything. I think about some of our family’s recent struggles and wonder how would we survive without our faith in Christ? Because, even with faith, struggles are struggles, they are hard, they can rock your world and they can cause fractures in relationships. But with faith there is hope and the continuance of learning to trust God with all things.

In all fairness to the author I quoted, she does state that it is how we give and how we put our gifts to use. Whether she made this statement from a Christ centered relationship or not, is not clear from her article, however, I believe we are not only meant to do what we love but do what we are good at when we stay actively connected to Christ. Who is it that gives you to the passion to do what you love? Who is it that gives you the ability to be good at what you do? Who is it that gives you the gifts you have to give to others? Who is it that creates the opportunities to do those things that you are passionate about and do exceptionally well? There is no other answer than my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Many years ago, during a women’s Bible study, we were watching the weekly video teaching that accompanied the study and I thought to myself, “I want to do this.” “I want to teach God’s word to other women.” I had no prior inclination or desire to do any such thing and then God began to say to me, “Feed My sheep.” As God continued to tell to feed His sheep, he also began teaching me about his word, how to study his word, how to convey his word to those in a way that was understandable and the entire time, even now, he was molding me, shaping me into the vessel that would and can do this exact thing. Teach His word.

God has opened doors that no one can close and he closes doors I have no business even knocking on! HE has given me this passion, this joy, this desire to teach and HE makes me good at giving this gift to others.

Precious One, ask God to show you the gifts he chose for you before you were ever formed in your mother’s womb. Ask him create in you the desire and passion to give these gifts well. Ask him to make you good at these skills according to His will and to only, ever, use them for HIS glory and his kingdom.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28.

Shalom!

Astounding Grace

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There are times in my life when the grace of God astounds me. I am in awe of God everyday, but then there are days…

My family and I came to know the Lord within months of each other. We moved to our current home 16 years ago and at the time were finishing leading the pre-school ministry at our former church, which is only thirty minutes away but the commute is a two lane road almost the entire way there and it remains the same today. We didn’t have a new church to go to, yet I was excited when our commission ended so we could look closer to home.

We weren’t believers in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior at the time but then something curious happened. My husband began listening to Calvary Satellite Network and he would come home and tell me about the things he was learning by listening to the Pastors. I took the proverbial ‘bull by the horns’ and ran with it. At the same time a friend had given me the first book in the “Left Behind” series and I could not put it down. The night I read the last page I prayed and told God I did not want to be left behind, I asked for forgiveness of my sins and asked Jesus to come into my heart. The next morning I was literally a changed woman!

Fast forward about seven years to when our youngest, who we know now suffers from a mood disorder, anxiety and ADHD, although she is a straight A student, came out of Children’s Church one morning and announced that we were all getting baptized. So we did and we began serving together as a family. Our older two are a year apart in age and when our oldest entered sixth grade I became an adult leader with our youth group. Those were some amazing years, working with the youth and pouring into them and watching our own children grow spiritually. When our daughter graduated from middle school I felt my time with the youth was done and stepped down. What I didn’t anticipate was my kids not wanting to participate in youth group anymore. Slowly, they stopped going to church and remaining involved. The same pattern happened with our youngest, although I held out hope that it would be different for her, this is the child, who at five, announced God was going to give her money to open a homeless shelter and she wanted to take in as many people as she could. I cherish that memory and still believe it lives in her heart because God put it there.

Through the years one of my fervent prayers is for my children to desire to have an intimate relationship with God. As time has gone on our oldest studied abroad and met her boyfriend, who was in the same program as she was but from a different university, our son met his girlfriend and we discovered the challenges of our youngest. And, through the years, my children have gone from rolling their eyes at me or walking away when I would attempt conversations with them about God and faith, to listening, conversing and sharing their thoughts and ideas, to once again asking for prayer. There are some kids who immediately find their own faith after they separate from their parent’s faith and there are some kids who go through great trials and tribulation before they find their own faith. That is how it has been for our kids, each of them has had a life event that knocked us all for a loop. But, as I reflect back I realize I wouldn’t have it any other way because I have been able to walk through these events with my kids and my faith and the best part is that I have seen and continue to see them grow spiritually.

Over the past year and a half  we have been consumed by the challenges of our youngest but life continues on. A few months ago our son’s girlfriend had a life event that caused our son to pray with his girlfriend and he led her to the Lord. Astounding grace! A few weeks after that she broke up with him and God has revealed how my son has turned to Him for help. Astounding grace! Recently our daughter’s boyfriend broke up with her and while she is going through the steps of grieving she commented to me that she still prays for him because she doesn’t want him to continue down the path of darkness. Astounding grace! Our youngest begins her Junior year of high school in little over a week. God has already shown me that he has gone ahead and placed in each day of her Junior year, exactly what we need. When I told her this she didn’t roll her eyes or comment negatively. Astounding grace!

Precious One, even when you don’t seem to feel or see God working, be encouraged that he is.

His grace is astounding!

Shalom!

 

Here’s to your Health

810-9148-64-166Some people like to listen to music while they run but I like to reflect, ponder and talk with God, catching the thoughts Holy Spirit brings to me as they flitter into my thought process. That was the case this morning. I was running in the neighborhood of one of my first friends when we moved to this area and the old French proverb, “the more things change the more they stay the same” came to mind. What this proverb means is that tumultuous changes don’t affect reality on a deeper level. As I thought about this I began to see this a bit differently. Sadly, my friend passed away about three years ago. Her husband sold their house and their four children no longer reside in the area. Things changed and nothing is the same for them. Yes, on a deeper level their loved one is no longer with them, but that is only a part of their total reality. A reality that has changed and is constantly evolving and being shaped by the hand of God.

A few days ago I wrote about Daniel’s seriousness to prayer. You can read that post here. As I was writing the Daniel post, Holy Spirit began to answer a question I had about my prayers in a current situation and by the time I was done writing He laid a plan tailor made for me to make some changes to the way I approach prayer. He gave me an assignment; the names of three people who are struggling with their health and asked me to devote some uninterrupted time each morning for three days discovering what I could about what He says about healing and applying these truths as prayers over the three people he asked me to pray for. He is an amazing and good, good Father indeed! While there are many verses about healing and health, here is my favorite so far and at first glance one might not think this has anything to do with healing but allow me to show you the gem I found.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Hope in the original text is actually the word peace, which can mean health. The words ‘a future’ in the original text is an expected end; it is an expectation, hope of deliverance, a thing that is longed for. Literally it means a cord of attachment. This cord of attachment comes from a word that means be strong, endure, remain, patiently wait for, on or upon.

God knows the plans he has for your life, plans for health and the hope of deliverance. All you need to do is patiently wait upon him connected by the cord of expectation.

Are you feeling discouraged, angry, discontent or hopeless? Perhaps you’re thinking a change of scenery might make you feel better. Maybe a job change, moving to a new neighborhood or seeking out new friends. Then yes, the more things change the more they stay the same; you bring the same heart and soul condition to your new changed reality.

However, as a believer in Christ if you stay firmly connected to Jesus it is impossible for you not to change on a deep level because the truth is Holy Spirit is always transforming you through the ongoing process of sanctification; drawing you closer and closer to Christ like behavior; experiencing his characteristics, his joy, his love, his peace and his healing. Your choice to say yes to Jesus didn’t end when you asked him to be the Lord of your life. Everyday you get to choose to say yes to the lover of your soul.

Precious One, maintaining health, spiritually, mentally and physically, is a choice. So, what will it be? Superficial change where everything remains the same or real down deep change and the hope of deliverance as you stay connected to the cord of expectation?

Shalom!

Before You Hit Enter

DO NOT ENTER sign.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.

I think self-control is the most challenging of these, as it is for many people. And it is self-control that we ought to express in our thoughts, our actions and our words. I use to have very little self-control, to the point I had become passive aggressive with my words and in my actions, especially over social media, spewing my anger and frustration into the abyss of the internet silently hoping just one person would sympathize with me. And when that one person did, instantly I felt justified, vindicated; my love tank was filled.

I knew I was bound by passive aggressive behavior, a behavior learned very early as a child that grew up in a home where my mom, a wonderfully loving and caring mom, but one who was so disillusioned by the way her life had turned out, yelled day in and day out, mostly at my dad, but my brothers and I were not exempt from her abusive behavior.

One morning, many years ago, during a prayer time I asked God to begin healing me of this behavior. It wasn’t easy, it took a lot of self reflection and the courage to want to let go of the things that I held onto like a security blanket so that God could begin his healing and restoration. A process that still continues to this day, praise God!

One of the habits that became very important to me and still is, is to rise early and spend time in God’s word. It is here that I began to see the difference between my reality and the truth of what God says in his word. I have come to see that situations are situations but there is always a truth in God’s word that covers any situation. The importance of this is when we are going through a challenging time, if we have spent sufficient and consistent time in God’s word he will bring to mind the Scripture(s) that covers any reality and it is these truths that we ought to meditate on not the frustrating or aggravating situation.

Precious One, I get it, I really do, how some situations can be so frustrating and seem so hopeless, but before you hit the send button and potentially embarrass yourself, PLEASE, check in with God and allow his peace,that goes beyond all understanding, to cover you. And when you do I believe you will be less likely to hit the enter button and extremely thankful that God loves you so much he gives you the courage not to.

Prayer, It is a powerful thing. Commit to pray, especially during those frustrating times and watch the power of God move in your life. After all, we are ambassadors for Christ to the kingdom of God. One of our deepest desires ought to be that others see the love and grace of God in our actions and our words and want what we have, a relationship with Christ and the hope of eternity spent with him.

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24.

Shalom!

Night Sounds

As I sit on my porch enjoying the last of a beautiful day, I hear barking dogs in the distant and feel the gentle breeze of unseasonably cool weather. The stars are shining in a bright and cloudless sky. Unfortunately, I can also hear the cars on the bypass, which is quite a distance from our house, but the sound echoes back into our neighborhood. And even though we have had cooler weather, I also hear the song of the crickets, loud and clear and uninterrupted. They know internally the season we are in, God created them to know. And they praise him with the song God created within them.

All creatures on earth, you obey his commands, so come praise the Lord! Psalm 148:7

Worthy is the Lamb.

Shalom!

It’s The Law!

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A few months ago I was having breakfast with one of my dearest friends. She was telling me about her current area of study, the book of Joshua, and the application God is showing her for current time. I was intrigued, as in fascinated, as I always am, when my friend and I have church together, and, Joshua is one of my favorite books. Days later I was still pondering our conversation when I felt Holy Spirit’s leading to begin a cross reference study of Joshua. 

This morning I came across Joshua 1:8:

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from you mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

There are a few things going on in this verse, and being the black and white thinker and rule follower that I am, the first thing that stands out at me is the word law. Law in its original context here is the word torah (to-raw’) and means instruction and it is from another Hebrew word yarah (yaw-raw’), which means to teach.

As believers in Christ we are now covered under the covenant of grace and no longer bound by the Law because we no longer need the Law to convict us it is by the grace of Christ whose Spirit lives within in us that convicts us. However, this does not mean that we ought to disregard the Scriptures on the Law, we still have plenty to learn about ourselves and our relationship with Christ because of the Law.

Wouldn’t it have been easier for the writer of Joshua to have said something like, “Do not let these teachings and instructions depart from your mouth”? I think, and in my humble opinion, we can let our ‘theology’ of the Law cause us to step into legalism. I speak from experience. And, perhaps, this was God’s intention to begin with, not that we would step into legalism but to cause us to question why the word Law is used in many passages throughout the Old Testament.

The next portion of this verse is to meditate on it day and night. Perhaps these struggles with the way God’s word is written is so that we will do just that. Meditate on Him and discover more and more of Who he Is. Day. And. Night. As we do we become more careful to keep His instructions for our life because we become more attune to Holy Spirit guiding us. Here is the phenomenon, we meditate on God and we delight in doing His will even though we maintain free moral will. Somehow, and it can only be by the supernatural grace of God, we let go of our rebellion and our will and want to do God’s will simply because he is good and worthy, because we revere him, because He is God.

The last part of this verse gives us a promise – you will be prosperous and successful. Which really means that we will make intelligent and expert decisions with understanding and wisdom and we will guide others wittingly; being fully aware of what we are saying and doing for the benefit of others and we will behave ourselves.

Precious One, the Law is really God’s great and unending love for you. Won’t you start today and discover more of this for yourself?

Live long and prosper.

Shalom!

 

Faithful Listener

MC-03292016-animals-Black-face-sheep-7.jpgAs our children have gotten older, especially our young adult children, it is nice to hear and watch them encourage others with the encouragement or advice my husband and I have inspired them with particularly in their earlier years. You may wonder, if you have children of your own, “Are they paying attention, do they hear what I’m saying?” I can tell you, that yes, all these years, they’ve been listening! As they have wandered, looking for their purpose in this world, it is such a blessing to watch them walk back and maintain the values of the foundation they’ve been raised on.

A few days ago I came across some verses in the OT that excited me. Yes, the OT, which I love as much as the NT, especially those verses and passages that make me wrestle and dig deep as to how they ought to be applied to my life in present time. If I believe, which I do, that God’s word is inerrant, then what was true then is also true now in the light of his marvelous love and amazing grace.

The nugget I found is found in Deuteronomy 28:2-7

 All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock – the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

We read that when we obey God not only will his blessings come upon us they will accompany us! The word obey in its original context in this passage means to listen; listen closely, listen carefully, listen obediently. And, we know we hear God’s voice because he tells us in John 10:27 that we do, its part of our identity in Christ; to hear his voice. When we do we have a choice, we can listen and do what he asks of us or we can ignore his voice. Ignoring him is disobedience because we aren’t listening carefully or closely to what he is saying to us. I often say, “Our choice didn’t end when we first chose Jesus.” Everyday we make a choice to continue to follow him and listen to his voice and do what he asks.

Just as our children have been listening to us it is our responsibility to listen to God. To be faithful listeners to the One Who gave it all so we could hear His voice. When you do the seven blessings in Deuteronomy 28:2-7 will follow you wherever you go.

At this moment it isn’t too late. Start today to listen carefully and closely to the voice of God and be blessed.

Shalom!

A Time To Reflect

Screenshot_2014-07-08-17-56-11-1I believe there is a misconception about the life of believers in Christ, that we somehow have no struggles in life, that we live a life of the proverbial ‘bed of roses.’ I also believe this care-free persona, may be, in part, because of the joy of the Lord that resides, as our inheritance in Christ, in our hearts.

As believers in Christ we struggle through life the same as those who are yet to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

2015 was a difficult year for my family, but not many of you know this. Oh, we didn’t struggle alone. God in his infinite and demonstrative love for us has provided us with an intimate inner circle of friends who pray with and for us and carry our burdens with us as we do for them.

As I was studying this morning I was led to Philippians 3:10.

I want to know Christ-yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Philippians 3:10.

I want this for my life in 2016 and every year after, that my sweet and precious Savior allows me to remain on earth, to know the power of his resurrection, which lives in every believer. This also means that I must participate in his sufferings, which are the struggles and challenges of life, becoming like him in his death. How was Jesus in his death? One word. Victorious!

Precious One we don’t know what tomorrow holds but we do know Who holds all our tomorrows.

So, on this first day of the new year choose to live victoriously, today and everyday, in the midst of your challenges and struggles, knowing it is a gift to learn to depend on and trust God more.

Shalom!

Love In Action

a-heart-made-of-words-i-love-you-in-many-languages_f1tFaY_O“I love you.” Three simple words that carry so much weight and implication. What does it mean to love someone? And, how do we truly love apart from God?

If you believe the truth of Scripture then you know we are only capable of love because He first loved us and sacrificed his one and only Son for us because of His deep love for us.

And this love is not romantic love or brotherly love, although love for the brethren comes from this love of God, this love is pure, this love overlooks offenses, this love never fails. This love loves those who may be not act like you, may not dress like you, may not talk like you, may not believe like you. This love goes beyond, way beyond your sphere of influence. This love flows to other country’s so that ALL the world may have the opportunity to hear the good news of the gospel of Christ.

This love comes from having an abiding relationship with God.

Dear children let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18.

Precious One it isn’t about you but it is about others. It is about Christ.

Shalom!