Tuesday, November 6, 2012

No longer a "Law-Man"...

I am a bit behind in my on-line bible study and so tonight rather than watch all the news coverage I stayed in my room with the bible open, pencil sharpened and highlighter ready and dug in!  (Another night like this and I will be completely caught up!)

 I am studying Paul's Life and Journey.  While reading in Galatians Chapter 2 Paul was accepted by the Apostles, not because of who he was but what God had done in his life.  Paul called Peter out when he was swayed and failed to follow God's Plan, even pulling Barnabas into swaying.  The laws are good but they aren't what make us acceptable to God.  We are justified by Christ's death and resurrection.  There is nothing we can do that will make God love us more.  Yet all to often I fall into  the same trap as Peter.  I am swayed by the crowd, or I am afraid to stand out or stand up to those that are not following God's truth.  The rules/laws were written for us to follow before Christ came to show us the way.  Now I am a rule follower by nature!  I like rules, order, structure.  So sometimes I struggle with God's amazing grace, that it comes with out a price (at least for me) with out some stipulation that I must follow first.  God knows this about me and helps me to see that I don't have a list of do's and don'ts to follow instead He says when you Believed you received the Holy Spirit!  There isn't any list of things that I can check off that once completed I am justified, instead it's only through Christ's death and resurrection.  

My Prayer is that I will take Paul's words (The Message Version) from Galatians 2 19-21 and make them my prayer/petition before God.  That I will no longer try to please the world and live by the worlds way of thinking but instead remember Christ's Life was given for me so that I wouldn't have to.  
Galatians 2:19-21(The Message)  

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a loving relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

It is my hope that I will no longer be a "law-man" but instead be a woman after God's heart.  A woman who is completely free from the laws, ways of this world!  

I know that God knows what He is doing in my life and even though I can't see the end result I am satisfied to know He is with me right here and now. That my life is lived for God and not the world!  That I am not alone.  


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stirring the Embers...

While studying to teach the Sunday School Lesson tomorrow, I came across this : 

A bundle of small twigs can start an enormous fire. But left alone, a blazing ember from the fire will quickly burn out. The same can be said for us as Christians. In order to experience authentic community hearts and minds must come together-we cannot go it alone. When we come together we need to stir the embers, adding to the warmth of our community.

I want to be a part of stirring the embers so that I may experience this true community, togetherness with other believers.  I don't want to feel like we are going it alone.  Instead I want to be a part of something bigger than me, something only God can stir up in me and others around me.  

So How do we fan the flames or stir the embers to experience this true community?  I think Romans 12 is a pretty good example! 

Romans 12: 9-21 (Message Version) 
9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.   

I so want to be more like this Love deeply and put others needs above my own, I don't do this enough!

11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Being in the word each day is one way I can keep myself fueled and aflame.  I fail at this, then wonder where is God, why isn't He keeping the fire going when it's me who has doused the flame.  

14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Don't hit back!  (wow, needed that conviction!) I think it's somewhat human to "hit back" especially when we feel we have done nothing wrong to deserve being "hit" or treated in an unfair way.  I do try to see the beauty in each person, trying to remember that each of us was created in God's image His likeness and when I am not seeing the beauty in that then I need to get my eyes checked.  (Usually its a heart check that I need) 

20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Doing good even when it's hard, or maybe especially when it's hardest would be the better way to say this.  

I know God's not through with me yet, so I need to keep my eye's alert for Hid beauty in each person I come in contact with , I need to dig into His word so that I may know and grow in Him more, and I need to allow Him complete control over my life.  Until I can do this I am like the ember that just burns out.  I wan to be more than that burning out ember. I want to be a part of something bigger, a raging fire burning for the Lord.  SO that's my prayer tonight that whatever God has for us, where ever He sends us that we will be more than a spark/ember that burns on our own and burns out but a part of a raging fire shining God's light, love for the world to see.  


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Our inner attitudes do not have to reflect out outward circumstances...

Today I stayed home with both kiddo's they weren't feeling well and we all needed a day of rest.  During this  time of rest i continued my efforts to declutter the house.  While cleaning out a closet and the dresser in the living room I came across a notebook with sermon notes from November of 2008.  I did get both things cleaned out but also got some encouragement.  I thought I'd share with you today:

Being Thankful in Difficult Times:

Philippians 4:6-8

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

1.) Worry about Nothing
v. 6 Don't be anxious about anything.  40% of what we worry about never even happens.  Worry can not change the past or control the future it only messes up your life today.  

Matthew 6: 25-34 tells us not to worry about what you will eat or drink, about your body, or what you will wear.  v 27  reminds us worrying does nothing for us! Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

2.) Pray about Everything
v.6 but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. 

God is concerned about everything--
1 Peter 5:7  Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 
Matthew 11:28 Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  

Pray with out ceasing! 

3.) Thank God in All Things

People who are thankful are happier and more joyful.  
1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus.  

God has a purpose bigger than my problems.  God will give me what I need in that problem.

4.) Think about the Right Things

v.8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.  

5.) Experience Peace of Mind
v. 9 And the God of Peace will be with you-- will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

Our inner attitudes do not have to reflect  out outward circumstances.  

Wow this last statement about our attitudes  not reflecting our outward circumstances really struck me today.  You see yesterday at work first thing some one gave me attitude about something I did trying to be nice for them, now I could have just brushed it off but I didn't instead I allowed it to color my attitude for the whole day.  Let's just say as the day went on it seemed to get worse. I allowed my inner attitude (especially the negativity that I had experienced during the day) to be affected by my outward circumstances.  I could have stewed on it today and repeated it constantly in my head but instead after finding this I an encouraged to allow God to work on my inner attitude!  To allow His truths to penetrate my heart and not to focus on my outward circumstances.  


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trust the Delay.....

Everyday for the past few weeks I have driven by a church sign that says "Trust the Delay"  as I was driving into town today and passing the sign, I read it again and thought am I trusting God during this time of delay?  

We live in a world where we get instant gratification, we get cranky if we have to wait in the drive thru line to long (or is that only me? Gosh I hope not!) or if we get behind a slow moving car.  I think that's one reason why I sometimes struggle with this time of not knowing. I like to know whats going to happen.  I am a planner, a list maker, I like things to be organized, neat and orderly (even though my house doesn't always show it!) So I have a choice to get frustrated, or to let go and allow for God's perfect timing.  

Today I am choosing to Trust the Delay!  I know God's timing is perfect.  He always comes through and usually in bigger and better ways than I could ever imagine or hope.


Psalm 37:4  Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:5-7  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

 Jeremiah 29:11 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

Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Today I will Trust the Delay! 


Monday, October 29, 2012

One Thing Remains... LOVE!

These are the lyrics to Kristian Stanfills song One Thing Remains: : 

Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me
Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
One thing remains
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains
Never runs out on me
In death, in life
I'm confident and covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid
There's nothing that can separate my heart from Your great love
Your love never fails, never gives up

Over the past week I have heard this song several times and even sang along, This morning as I am lying in bed dreading getting up ( I am not a morning person!)!! This Song comes on the radio, and I hear it again, this time I think I really hear what it's saying. Your Love (God's Love) Never Fails, Never Gives up! Never runs out on me! 

God's love never fails (never falls short) Never quits (it never get tired of fighting for me!) Never Runs out on me! (It never tires, it never reaches its final breaking point) Instead God's love is a constant in my life, whether times are good or bad.
It's an encouragement to me that even through this time of unknown, God #1 Knows whats going on, and #2 His Love will never fail, will never give up on me. Even when I give up, or get discouraged, or fail to see God at work.  He is still there!   It's my prayer that as time goes on I will hold firm to this truth that God Loves me, and never gives up on me!

Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

So until this new thing has been revealed I will stand firm in the truth that God's Love is bigger than the suffering, the unknown, the fear, I sometimes feel. Thank You God for that! 


Sunday, October 28, 2012

I was thinking....

Today's Sermon was about a Commitment to Excellence and how it starts in our minds.  I got me to thinking about how my thoughts good or bad can direct my whole day!  Our thoughts affect our actions, attitudes, and our words.  The way I think shapes what I do, say and believe.  The enemy has power when we allow him to get into our heads and affect our thoughts.  Right in the middle of this sermon as I am taking notes, reading the scripture, and trying to hear from God my mind wanders, slips and satan uses that opportunity to change my thinking, to cause me to doubt, and it goes on through the afternoon.  

After church, and lunch I head home and that's when the thoughts really begin to run-wild so to speak.  I don't know why I allow satan this power, I mean I know it's him, and I know God is so much bigger than him and yet I allow the thought to wander anyway.  I get in to my "I have to be in control" mode and start "trying" to do God's job and make plans for this unknown future, I begin to think   that maybe it's time to quit, to give up runaway.  (That would be so much easier) Thankfully the sermon notes I wrote down began to come back to me.  

Ephesians 6:10-11 Finally be strong in the Lord and in His might power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes.  That's exactly what I needed to do put on the armor of God.  His truth!  

Psalm 119:11 Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you.  
  We are shaped by what we think about the most. Another way I like to think about it is what I put into my mind and even my body is what will come out.  Kinda like I wouldn't let my kids only eat candy all day everyday it's not good for them, it won't give them the nutrients they need to survive each day. So I try to ensure they get a healthy balance of fruit, and veggies to go along with small portions of candy. I didn't they would be tired, and crabby and not able to function properly.  That's how I am when I am not getting enough of God's word in my life.  I get tired, and cranky and can't function properly.  My thoughts begin to wander. Satan is given more power.  I don't want that!  

To combat that I need more of God in my life and less of what the world is trying to force at me.  Even though like candy it may look sweet and even taste sweet at first too much of it is no good.  

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-His good pleasing and perfect will.  

That's what I want... to have my mind (my thoughts) renewed, so that I will know God's will-His good and perfect will.  

So tonight as I got to bed I will focus on that renewing of my mind, with God's word.  Knowing it's not by my strength or power, or works but by God's unfailing Grace.  

Ephesians 4:8  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

In the Valley.... but not with out Hope!

Over the past few months I have been feeling like God was doing a new thing in my life.  At first I blew it off, like I do so often when God is trying to work.  It's hard to explain what exactly it was because I am not sure it is any one thing.  I have been feeling discontent.  Like I needed more, or maybe something different.   It wasn't until recently that I have begun to see what it is God is doing. 

 It's not always easy being in ministry but I do feel as if God has not only called my husband (as a Children's Pastor) but us as an entire family to be involved in ministry.  He provides for us in ways that I can't even explain, other than to say that our needs are always met.  (and even some most of our wants) 

Back to to the feelings of discontent, please know it's not that we don't find joy in our current position we do!  We love our church family, the community we are in and the people we interact with.  That's why this is such a hard thing to process. That God would ask us to seek out something more, different, not necessarily better, but better for us, better for what God wants to do in and through us.

 I don't always understand why God has called us into this season but I know He is with us every step of the way.  He shows up everyday! (I often pray : "God, give me the Neon sign, Bonk on the head!") You see God knows my heart.  My anxious thoughts, my fears, my need to plan, to know whats going on and each day in this journey He has given me a little nugget of His Truth, His Love for me, His understanding that I need proof.  Don't get me wrong I know if my faith were as "big" as God then I wouldn't have these fears, worries etc.. but it's not. I am human, I need reassurance and the great thing about God is He knows that.  

This current journey is not easy! But nothing worth fighting for is.  The past few weeks have been the toughest, but best!  I know that seems like a great big contradiction but it's my life! I don't know if you've ever walked in a valley then looked back one you were on the mountain top and saw how God was with you each step of the way, how He provided for you, How He worked each step right there with you or not but I have.  It's those valley moments that I treasure most, because I know it's not my own strength or power that got me to the mountain top but God's!  

And that's what I am holding onto right now, experiencing the valley moment knowing God is right here with me, showing me, loving me, guiding me, never leaving me alone!  I hope this to be a testament to God's work in my life, that I will be obedient to that call.  That I will see God at work and my faith will grow stronger.  

Yesterday was one of those times, I said to the hubby:  "you know I need to plan things!  I need to know some details.  I don't need the whole picture just a little piece, a snippet"  Hubby replied "be patient!" (I am not very patient!  Ugh!!!!!) A few hours later an email came.  I wasn't an offer but it was that little snippet, that God knew my need and fulfilled it!  Thank You Jesus! I have something like this each day over the past two weeks.  I cry out, sometime verbally sometimes just in my head, and God responds!  Isn't that just like Him!  

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength. 
Psalm 138:8