Saturday, November 11, 2017

I watched The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is a great movie, but not as good as the book by C. S. Lewis of the same name. Some of my favorite lines never made it into the movie...for instance, Aslan the great lion saying, "“But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.”
For those who haven't read the Narnia books, Aslan is representative of Jesus Christ. I love this quote because it reminds me that Jesus is the great Bridge Builder . He created a bridge from this world and separation from God to heaven and relationship beginning now with our Creator ...and the way He created it was through the cross.
" Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." -Romans 8:1-2

"The love of God has no meaning apart from Calvary. And Calvary has no meaning apart from the holy and just wrath of God. Jesus did not die just to give us peace and a purpose in life, He died to save us from the wrath of God. He died to reconcile us to a holy God who was alienated from us because of our sin. He died to ransom us from the penalty of in - the punishment of everlasting destruction, shut out from the presence of the Lord. He died that we, the just objects of God's wrath, should become, by His grace, heirs of God and co-heirs with Him.
Do you have that assurance that your past, present, and future sins are forgiven by Christ Jesus because of what He did on the cross? If not, you can. In I John 1:9 we read, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." "(15 Minutes Alone With God

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Strongholds Demolished...How?

God brings things together from many different directions and in many different ways (His Word, a sermon, a pastor, godly counsel) to speak to my heart. When many parts of what I am hearing, reading in the Word and noticing in life begin converging on one specific point, I know that this is an area God wants to speak to me on.
There is a battle being waged on this earth that is unseen. It is a battle that everyone of us is involved in...whether we realize it or not. It is a battle of the prince of this world to deceive both unbelievers and believers ...unbelievers he lies to about who God is...believers he lies to about who God is. He just does it in different ways.
However, it is a fact that Jesus has defeated satan and broken the bondage of slavery to sin in this life and has defeated death and therefore there is no fear of death for the Christian which leads to freedom from slavery in this life.
The battle is different from wars fought on this earth between countries and men.
"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." I Corinthians 10:3-5



Our Sword is the Word of God. This week I heard a message on praying the Word of God. Then I found a book I had received to read in order to write a review....PRAYING GOD'S WORD by Beth Moore.
I love how she defines a stronghold..."anything that exalts itself in our minds, "pretending" to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered. Whether the stronghold is an addiction, or unforgiveness toward a person who has hurt us, or despair over a loss, it is something that consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that abundant life is strangled - our callings remain largely unfulfilled and our believing lives are virtually ineffective. Needless to say, these are the enemy's precise goals."
Can you point to any strongholds that the enemy, the deceiver has in your life? I certainly can and I am glad that the Word of God tells us how to demolish these strongholds. Our weapons are the Word of God and Spirit-empowered prayer.
Get a hold of your Bible and get on your knees and do battle and know that Jesus has already defeated the enemy!
Another weapon that is Biblically supported is singing. William Law in his book A SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT AND HOLY LIFE writes these words:


"Just as singing is a natural effect of joy in the heart so it has also a natural power of rendering the heart joyful . . . There is nothing that so clears a way for your prayers, nothing that so disperses dullness of heart, nothing that so purifies the soul from poor and little passions, nothing that so opens heaven, or carries your heart so near it, as these songs of praise.
They create a sense and delight in God, they awaken holy desires, they teach you how to ask, and they prevail with God to give. They kindle a holy flame, they turn your heart into an altar, your prayers into incense, and carry them as a sweet-smelling savor to the throne of grace."
In 2 Chronicles 20:19-21 we read how the frontline warriors were singers, appointed by God to go first into battle. Through song the enemy can be defeated. So pray the Word and sing His praises!
In PRAYING GOD'S WORD, Beth writes, "We take our thoughts captive, making them obedient to Christ, every time we choose to think Christ's thoughts about any situation or stronghold instead of Satan's or our own. What are Christ's thoughts? The Word of God revealed to us."
Today I heard the whisper of God in His Word...the place you can always go to hear His voice. :)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Deceived!!!






Wow!  After a couple of weeks of looking through several Bible study series, trying to find a good one to get into... Looking through several Bible reading "plans" on my YouVersion Bible app...I realized that the kind of study I am looking for is simple Bible study.  There are lots of commentaries and opinions and disputes about the Bible.  But what is the best book to study if you are wanting to learn about the Bible?  Any guesses?  THE HOLY BIBLE!

A friend introduced me to "inductive study" which is basically studying the Bible by studying it against itself, using cross-references, etc. Also inductive study involves asking about the passage you are studying the 5 Ws and an H...
WHO are the main characters?
WHAT is the passage about?
WHEN does this event or teaching take place?
WHERE does this occur?
WHY is this being done or said?
HOW did this happen?

 Also I know that studying the Bible verse by verse, in context is highly recommended. For this I have a study Bible that is a keyword study Bible and includes a Greek and Hebrew dictionary in it to study what the original words in that language mean fully, before translated into English.

 And lastly, my own pastor has taught a method in of studying out a passage of Scripture by asking what the passages says about God, man, sins to avoid, and promises from God or ways of life to follow.

Also, I found a "read through the Bible" plan on my Bible app. but I am quickly realizing that I will not get through 3 chapters a day by studying it....just reading it?  Yes.  But really studying it?  No.

So I am amazed at how a combination of these ways to study the Bible in combination with prayer have lit up my understanding of the Scriptures!  Thank You, God!!

Sharing just an example from tonight in case anyone wants to implement these wonderful study tools with asking the Lord to open our eyes as we read His Word and show us His truths.  The passage is Genesis chapter 3, verses 1-3.  Get your Bible out and read it....I use the New King James Version.



Words studied...the word for "serpent" in Hebrew is nachash and can mean a literal snake, or a figurative representation of satan.  It also can means "whisper or hiss , like a snake, a magic spell" or to practice divination, use witchcraft, interpret omens, pagan practice of seeking knowledge through divination.

Studied the word "said" (curious about talking snakes :)) ...the word "amar" is used here and is a verb that can refer to both vocal speech or thoughts as internal speech.  Found this fascinating as our thoughts are to be "taken captive to Christ".  How often have we had internal dialogue that led to our sinning?  That was satan  "speaking".

Now what does this passage say about God?  (my thoughts)
God created all the beasts of the field.
God created the serpent (whether the actual snake or the representation of satan for He created all the angels too and satan is a fallen angel).
God told Adam and Eve what not to do.

What does this passage say about man?

Man (and woman) can hear the whisper of the snake satan inside our heads.
Man can respond to satan.
Man tends to exaggerate, add on to what God has said, in other words....man lies.

What does this passage say about sins to avoid?
Avoid getting into any discussions with satan - vocal or internal thought dialogue.
Avoid listening to anyone , or thing, or thought you have that lies about God and what He has said.  In order to know this, you must know the Bible by reading or listening to it regularly.
Avoid adding or taking away from what God has said.
Do not disobey God.

What does this passage say regarding promises from God or ways we should live our lives?
God tells us not to do certain things for our own good (ex. "or you will die") just like parents do for their children.

Gen 3:4-7
GOD:  God knows what will happen as a result of our actions.
God knew and knows what is good and what is evil and totally understands it.
You can be in the presence of God and know your shame.

MAN:
Man is able to be deceived by words of others, internal thoughts, the cares of life (hunger), the visual appeal of something, wanting more than what God has given.
Man sins and disobeys God, not heeding His warnings.
Man wants others to sin with him/her.
Man knows he is a sinner (naked).
Man knows now what evil is and is ashamed of his evil doings and tries to "cover them up" (ex. fig leaves)

AVOID:
If God says "if...then" believe Him;  don't just believe what you want to believe because God is truth and tells truth.
Avoid listening to lies about God.
Avoid wanting to be God or godlike.  Satan fell because of this and this is the first thing he used to try to bring others into his fallen state...a desire to "be like God", to be "as wise" as God is.  We never will be but are to depend on the Holy Spirit to provide the wisdom God shares with us; not on our own pursuit of "becoming a god".
Avoid rationalizing sin..."well, he got me upset", "well, she had it coming", "well, it was his fault", " well they should not have dressed so immodestly".
Don't disobey God.
Don't pull someone down into sin with you.

PROMISES:
Obey God.
Resist temptation to sin.
Remind yourself always of what God has shown you and said in His Word.
Remind yourself every day of the blessings of being able through Christ to walk with Him once again unashamed.

Now for the 5Ws and an H  :)
WHO were the main characters?  God, serpent (satan), Eve, Adam
WHAT?  Serpent trying to get Eve to disobey God;  Adam and Eve's disobedience
WHEN?  In the beginning of the world before the fall of man.  According to the Jewish calendar we are living in the year 5777 (how many years it has been since God created the world).  The Bible says that Adam lived to be 930 years old.  Also it says Adam was 130 when Seth was born.  Seth was born outside the garden so Adam could not have been in the garden any longer than 130 years.  So it would seem it happened within the first 130 years of the creation of the earth.
WHERE?   In the Garden of Eden on earth.
WHY?  To explain the temptation and the fall of man.
HOW?  Satan cast doubt into Eve's mind on what God had said to her.  He tempted her by enticing her with being wise, being like God, and directly contradicting what God has said about the consequences of disobedience.  He lied to her and deceived her.  He also got her to rationalize her sin and get Adam to participate too.

I LOVE the way the Spirit reveals Himself through this way of studying the Scriptures!

Adding to this praying with Scripture about what we have studied...
"Lord God, when You asked the woman in the Garden, "What is this you have done?" her response was, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."  (Gen. 3:13)  Just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, the minds of even those with a sincere and pure devotion to Christ can be led astray. (2 Cor. 11:3)  Please help me always to be aware that the enemy will be up to his old tricks.  Even the devout believer can be led astray if not held continually on the path by Your Word and keenly aware of satan's schemes.  Help me not to be deceived by the serpent's cunning.
Dear Lord God, You have told us in Your Word that the devil was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44)  Please help me discern that wherever deception exists, the devil is at work.
Father God, You have adamantly warned Your children not to be deceived (James 1:16).  Am I presently being deceived in any way?  If I am, please reveal it to me and give me the courage to cease cooperating with deceptive schemes.
Father, You have warned me for my own good not to trust anything about my heart unless it is fully surrendered to You.  My heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  I will never be able to understand it.  You the Lord search the heart and examine the mind. (Jer. 17:9-10)  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (PS 51:10)  Help me, Lord, above all else to guard my heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Prov. 4:23)  Please help me to recognize that the primary target of deception is my heart.  In other words, I must be careful not to trust feelings and emotions on their own.  I must wear the breastplate of righteousness so that I will do the right thing even when I don't feel the right thing.  In the meantime, I ask You, Lord, to knead the right kind of feelings into my heart.  Amen"
(Beth Moore, Praying God's Word)








Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Surprises To and From



Earlier this month I was motivated by a co-worker to try each day to do random acts of kindness.  I have done these before but after a while I forget and go back to my regular daily way of life.  But I have found that God loves to do random acts of kindness through us.  Not only the recipient get blessed but the giver also is blessed.

What tickled me is that every time I give, God gives back to me.  It isn't some "secret formula".  It isn't karma.  It isn't a superstition.  It is a gift.  God knows me and He knows what things make me happy and He loves me.  I love Him and I know the things that make Him happy.  My worship is my gift to Him.

Just in thinking about it He has sent me 5 minutes of snow on a day I needed snow and it was not expected.  He sent me knowledge that I needed and did not even know I needed until I received it.  He sent me answers to prayers that have been prayed for years.  He sent me a beautiful wreath in purples that reminds me of His Majesty as King of my life.

Today is the story of the wreath.  I decided to get into deco mesh.  I made a few simple wreaths but as I tried to continue making these, I realized it was one of those things I am just not that good at.  So I decided to give my materials as well as one of the laughable wreaths I had attempted to make to a friend who IS good at making wreaths.   She surprised me with this beautiful wreath.
What struck me is how much my life with Jesus was like my experience with this wreath.  My own attempts were feeble and not beautiful.  But when my friend worked with the wreath she used elements I had tried to use and added her own skill and special touches to make it into something entirely different and beautiful.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16

When Jesus washed me of my sins and saved me from the power of sin, He took my messy and ugly life and made something beautiful out of it.  

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17

The beautiful purple colors remind me of the majesty of Jesus my King and the flowers remind me how He brings new life to those who trust Him to deliver them from the power of sin. 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Today I heard the whisper of God in a beautiful purple wreath.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk by Shelly Beach



The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk by an author/friend Shelly Jean Beach is one of those books that I read and re-read and read again and pick up and read the underlined parts again. And now....yes, I am reading it again. I love the way she lays it out to begin with...honestly, openly, all on the table. She calls us to be honest with ourselves through the Soul Search section at the end of each chapter...questions to think about, talk about, write about. She has another section at the end of each chapter called Facing the Seduction and this is devoted to Scriptures to read and ways to pray and exercises in how to listen to the Spirit and the Word. Lastly, is the section called Responding from the Heart, which is a prayer to the Lord. Oh, and how I love the appendixes!! Usually I just skip the appendixes, but not in this book. These are more helpful, interactive, exercises to help really open up what you are telling yourself.
One example of questions asked in the first chapter: What "bricks" can you identify in your wall of spiritual need? What attitudes, thoughts, sins, habits do you struggle to hide, even from yourself? What conversations do you have with yourself to justify or rationalize your actions?
The part that reads "struggle to hide even from yourself" hit me hardest. There are parts that I struggle to hide from myself. I just go on and pretend there is no struggle, no problem, no sin...but as I have found out how much He loves me, I know I can trust God completely with who I am. I do not have to "perform" for Him. He knows me. And when I am struggling, He knows it. So I just pray...and tell Him honestly what is going on...and then I wait until He gives me a way to deal with it, or I go on but honestly seeing it and living differently because of it.
Sharing the prayer because it is so real...
"Gracious and loving Father, i come to You admitting that I'm facing a wall of need. I know that more than anything, You want to have a closer and deeper relationship with me, and today I'm taking a first step toward You by asking You to change me from the inside out. Thank You for loving me as I am but for not leaving me in my brokenness.
"Please help me see the ugly parts of myself I've worked so hard to hide with self-talk. Show me who You created me to be, fully empowering me through Your Holy Spirit to become that person. Show me the roots of my self-deceptions, whether big or small. Help me listen to the conversations I carry on with myself, knowing they're a mirror to my heart, a key to my motives, and the source of my commitment to live out the double love command to passionately love You and others.
"Thank You for grace and for the gift of Your love as I turn towards You in humble obedience. More than anything, Lord, I want to have a heart that loves You more. Amen"

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Basics...




I was looking for a new Bible study to do and I pulled out a book I had actually bought for someone else several years ago that is a Kay Arthur book called "Lord, I Need Answers".  It is subtitled "A 28-Day Journey to Growing Stronger In Your Faith"".   The subtitle was what drew me in.  I want to grow stronger in my faith.  I want to always be growing stronger in my faith.

So as I sat down to read Day 1 I realized it was starting from the basics.  "This is too remedial," I thought initially.  "But I still am going to complete it."

I read the first chapter which was Kay Arthur's son's testimony.  It read a lot like my own in certain ways.  He asked a lot of questions to think about...questions I have asked myself.  We spoke today in Sunday School about how we remember stories that have been shared from our elders to us, particularly as we were growing up, but as adults also.  Jesus taught the people by using stories. I scrapbook because I want my boys to have a tangible remembrance of the stories of their lives throughout their childhood and of how God has moved and taken care of us and taught us things.  I want to remember myself.  Stories and visible monuments (like scrapbooks and stories passed down) are ways to remind ourselves of who we are in Christ, who God is, what He has done, and what His character is.

I love hearing the testimonies of people who have come to know Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior!  Their testimonies inspire and encourage me!  And that was the "assignment" for this first day ...to write down my story.  How I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

I have shared my story many times but  it means something for me to write it down.  And the second part is to pray for someone to share it with.  God wants us to share our stories with others because think about it...if you are a Christian, what did He do for you?  Are you filled with thankfulness that you have eternal life in heaven?  Are you relieved from living a life of being controlled by sin?  Are you grateful for the grace that was shown to you by the God of the universe, the Almighty Father, the Creator of all?  Don't you want to share that with those who do not know Him so that they too might be able to participate in that love and grace and forgiveness and pardon?  Don't you want to share your story with other Christians so that they might be encouraged and lifted up and reminded themselves of what God has done for them? 

Today I heard the whisper of God in a reminder to go back to the basics....to remember where He brought me to and what He delivered me from.  As I reflect on that I become so grateful in my spirit that it is overwhelming.  I want to share this Scripture with you and a link to one of my favorite songs that reminds me of this Scripture.

"Since we have been justified (declared 'not guilty') through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand..."   Romans 5:1-2

I am thankful that the Lord allows me to stand in His grace because of what Jesus Christ sacrificed for me.