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!

 

 

The Truth About Reality

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Photo courtesy JDR Military Service/web.mst.edu.

When I was a little girl I grew up in a time where we practiced duck and cover under our school desks to the sound of an air raid siren. This was a post WWII mechanism that was still in effect after the Viet Nam War, the world that was my reality then; free love, hippies and the peace sign, but I digress. I really despised that siren, even though it was designed to give us a chance to be safe, in the event our country were attacked by airplanes dropping bombs.

My childhood home was in the flight path of NAS Moffett Field, where the mighty P3 Orion could be seen and heard on descent into the air field. Sometimes, as I recall, there would be more than one flying in formation and multiple times throughout the day. For some reason, in my five-year old mind, I thought these mighty aircrafts were the reason the air raid sirens would sound. I remember every time I would see or hear the P3’s I would run and hide in our house. I did a lot of hiding back then! You see, I believed something as truth about my reality that was a big fat lie!

This morning as I was traipsing through Galatians 3 and absorbing all the goodness and truth there and I was stopped along the way by some verses that jumped out at me.

Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Galatians 3:6

God counted Abraham as righteous simply because he believed God. He believed the truth that God would bless all nations through him, that God had called him to be the physical and spiritual father of the Jews and eventually all believers including Gentiles.

The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham. Galatians 3:8a

Even then, Scripture, which is Jesus Himself, was moving toward his creation with the gift of salvation for EVERYONE!

Precious One, the gospel has been here since before time, as we know it, began. Waiting for you to believe and receive and nurture the truth in your heart through your relationship with Christ.

And as I reflect back, I see that air raid sirens can be very beneficial especially when one goes off in your heart when Satan is tempting you to question the integrity and truth of God’s word. But, instead of running and hiding, you can stand firmly on the truth of Scripture which invades your heart every time you spend time with Him.

By the way, I eventually married a P3 Flight Engineer.

Shalom!

Spying the Gospel

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This morning I found myself journaling my way through Galatians 2.

This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. Galatians 2:4.

What struck me about this verse is the word spy. The word spy in this verse means to closely inspect or to look down on someone with a hostile perspective. I think about those who are hostile to the gospel just as the Jews Paul was preaching too. I think fear breeds hostility. Perhaps, in the case of spreading the gospel, fear of the unknown or fear of living life differently than one does now, causes some to look down on believers from a hostile perspective. How gracious is God to reveal this to us so we can pray for the wisdom, the right words, a soft heart for those we will share with and for ourselves; to understand it is about building a relationship with others as we share? Many times we are so on fire for God and want to bring others along that we go in head first without asking God how to proceed. Prayer is left out when prayer ought to be the foundation of everything we do. It is God who gives his creation the faith to believe. It is our responsibility to ask God to give faith to those we minister to, so they can choose to believe!

Two other verses stood out at me.

“We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:15,16.

Did you catch in v. 15 that Paul called those not born into Jewish heritage Gentile sinners? Beloved, please don’t allow the enemy to pervert this in your mind. During this period of time that is what the Jews thought of and called Gentiles. Paul is speaking to a Jewish audience and speaking to them in terms they understood to make a point. The truth is we are only justified, Jew or Gentile, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ and profess with our lips that he is the Christ.

The law won’t get anyone into heaven, the law and doing good things won’t get anyone into heaven. It is only faith in Christ as Lord and Savior that will bring salvation and the hope of eternity spent with our precious Jesus.

Precious One, when others spy the gospel in you may it turn from hostility to curiosity and desire to have what you have because you have committed yourself to praying for God’s wisdom and understanding to reach others with the love of Christ.

Shalom!

Grace Peace and the Gospel

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When you see your friends, how do you greet them? With a handshake? A hug? “Hello, its good to see you”? What about people you pass by in the store or when you are out and about? Do you offer a smile to complete strangers or do you simply pass on by looking straight ahead?

I love Paul’s greeting to the Galatians in Chapter 1.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen. Ephesians 1:3-5.

What would this world look like if we greeted people with grace and peace? If we greeted one another with God’s favor, his extension of Himself that he freely gives away because he is always moving toward his creation? And his peace? If we greeted others with the concern of their welfare and God’s gift of wholeness?

As you ponder true grace and peace let’s step over to Vv. 6,7.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

Some believe that this letter of Paul’s to the Galatians was due to his first visit there, others believe it was written after his second missionary trip to Galatia. Regardless, I am struck by his astonishment that these new believers had quickly turned from God and began following a false gospel and I wonder was there no one in Galatia to disciple these beloved children of God? This is why it is so vitally important to be in God’s word consistently, so that we will hear God’s discernment about false teachings. Also, old habits are sometimes hard to break even as a new creation in Christ. An excellent reason to seek out mature believers to mentor and disciple you and study God’s word together. Truly, it doesn’t matter how long we have been in relationship with Jesus, we ought to make it a daily practice of mentoring and discipleship of each other and then pouring into the lives of even more people. Effectively spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world!

Verse 7 also tells us that the gospel of Christ was perverted. This is one of the enemy’s main tactics, to tempt believers to think God’s word is not truth, that is wasn’t divinely given; just like in the garden. I think some of Satan’s favorite words are, “Did God really say?” when he knows exactly what God says because he knows the truth and hates the truth. That is why I believe the sword of the Spirit is the most powerful weapon of spiritual warfare because it IS the word of God and Holy Spirit freely shares his sword with us. Think about that for a minute; the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead not only lives in each believer in Christ, but freely shares HIS sword!

Oh, Precious One, do you see? Everything about your relationship with Christ comes back to the truth of His word and reading and studying for yourself. Won’t you start today?

Walk tall, carry His sword and greet others in the grace and peace of Christ!

Shalom!

 

 

The Face Of Righteousness

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Photo Credit: J. Pulley

Today finds me deep in a study on the armor of God, which is so apropos considering life’s challenges at the moment and especially because prayer has been and continues to be a very large part of my relationship with God. For me prayer and reading and studying God’s word are the foundation upon which I nurture my relationship with Jesus.

For the past three weeks I have been looking at the different pieces of God’s armor. This week I am looking at the breastplate of righteousness. The author states that there are three types of righteousness; perfect righteousness, which is unattainable by us because only God is perfect; comparative righteousness where we compare our righteousness with others in attempt to feel puffed up or discouraging ourselves because we see others as more righteous than ourselves and imputed righteousness the righteousness we receive the moment we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The author also states a fourth type of righteousness – practical righteous, which is the consistent and conscious effort of putting off the works of darkness and putting on the armor of light. According to the author the actions of putting off and putting on are the breastplate of righteousness.

With the breastplate of righteousness in place. Ephesians 6:14b.

Perhaps it is mincing of words or simply semantics but the word righteousness in Ephesians 6:14b means the divine approval of God! Maybe we struggle with putting on and taking off our breastplates but God doesn’t. He placed the breastplate of righteousness on us the moment we first believed and it is there to stay. It protects our hearts from the fiery arrows of the enemy and serves as a brilliant reminder in the heavenly realms that we belong to God and in God’s eyes we are righteous. We are righteous because of our faith in Jesus Christ, his death was the price for which our righteousness was bought.

Precious One, God divinely approves of you because of your faith in Christ. Please, live in that freedom.

Shalom!

Not On My Watch

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I.LOVE.THIS.PICTURE! I love this picture because a gazillion times a day I can be tempted to forget who I am and Who I belong to. Who I am is Terese and I am a daughter of the one true King, ransomed by the blood of Christ whose Spirit lives in me.

But the enemy of this world, Satan, whose most obvious ploy is deception, would like for me and for you to think differently. Here on earth he is very subtle and cunning just as he was in the garden. He is antagonistic to the plans and purposes God has for your life. He tempts you to question God’s integrity possible causing you to doubt God rather than trust him more. He wraps his packages in charm and allure to gain your attention and confidence. He is the father of lies.

The truth of the matter is this.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

Which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 1:20

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6.

Every believer in Christ has been blessed in the heavenly realms with all spiritual blessings; the impact of heaven’s influence on a person or situation, and because of our faith in Christ we have been raised up with Him and are seated with Him at the right hand of the Father right now!

Precious One every time Satan attempts to knock your crown off, remind him, lest he forgets, Who you belong to and where you sit.

Shalom!

Bountiful Eyesight

Autumn decorationFood is a staple of life. We need food to give us energy, we ought to eat to live not live to eat. Well, in my case, sometimes I do live to eat! I’m full blooded Italian and I love food! However, I know what my body requires and I try to stick to six smaller meals a day while at the same time attempting healthier food choices. Sometimes I fail at this and that’s okay, I give myself grace to choose healthier at the next meal.

Our spiritual health needs food as well. Our soul longs for and craves the truth of God’s word to fill it to overflowing. To satisfy that deep hunger to know Jesus deeply and intimately. To be consumed by his overwhelming love, to be lost in all of Who he Is.

God’s Word isn’t simply words written on pages. It is alive and if we choose and allow it, it will wrap itself around us like an old familiar coat and take up residence inside our heart. Knowing the truth of God’s word helps increase our faith and gives us the strength to stand and fight in prayer.

That is why Paul prayed over the Ephesians these words.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19.

He wanted the Ephesians and us to understand our supernatural knowledge, which is part of every believer in Christ’s inheritance. To know and rejoice in the love of the Lover of our soul.

Likewise, it is for the same reason that Elisha prayed for his servant, who when he awoke early and saw the army of the king of Aram surrounding the nation of Israel with horses and chariots asked, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15c). Elisha replied, “Don’t be afraid.” (2Kings 6:16a).

Then Elisha prayed these words.

 “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire. 2 Kings 6:17.

Elisha wanted his servant to see his inheritance in Christ; God’s mighty power and protection. I don’t know about you but I want to see God’s horses and chariots of fire, especially during a spiritual battle, instead of the physical reality of a situation. I want to be able to say, “Oh, I see what is coming and it is Greater and Mighty than what stands in front of me.” That, my Beloved, belongs to me and to you as believers in Christ.

Precious One open your eyes your chariot awaits.

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!

Prayer Lives Matter

Screenshot_2014-07-09-11-41-40-1In the middle of last year I fell into a ministry slump. I was part of an amazing time of deliverance and was on a supernatural high for a few days, then suddenly it felt as if my life turned upside down. I repeatedly questioned God about his anointing on my life. Was I suppose to stay with my current faith family or was he calling me to move on? I’m sure you’ve been there before yourself, praying and praying and waiting for God to speak. He wasn’t saying yes and he wasn’t saying no, he just wasn’t saying. I think waiting on God is one of the hardest things to do and at the same time he was tearing things down, sifting and rebuilding. Teaching me things about myself that had to go so I would be prepared for the time of waiting to be over and a renewed passion for what he has called me too.

A few Sunday’s ago our Pastor gave a most excellent message on prayer and something shifted within me spiritually. The next day I began to experience breakthrough in many area’s in my life. One breakthrough would happen and before I could finish thanking and praising God another breakthrough was already on its way. In all my short sixteen years of living for Christ I have never experienced anything on this level.

Yesterday I was with one of my best friends, who is also my ministry and one of my accountability partners. We were preparing for the Fall semester of Women’s Bible study and talking casually about life, when she looked at me and said, “You’re back.” and I said, “Yes I am and it feels good!” I never really think about others seeing Christ in me or seeing Him because I have spent time with him, but she saw that all over me. She recognized the mantle of God’s healing on me and I was once again blown away by God’s astounding grace.

A year can seem like a long time from our human perspective but when we trust God and are faithful in prayer the blessing at the end of the waiting period is more than we could ever imagine.

Precious One, press in and persevere. You are never alone.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14

I am back and can see clearly through the eyes of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen!

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!