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.




Monday, September 19, 2016

Manna...Messiah



Jesus talking to the people whom He had fed with a few loaves and fishes miraculously.  Jesus says to them (John 6:33), "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."  Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."  And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."