Monday, January 8, 2018

be intentional

Intentional. This word keeps resonating and activating something deep inside my spirit. To be intentional is to act with purpose. So many times, we allow our spiritual walk with God to become almost stagnant or accidental.  What do I mean? We forget that we have purpose and we must act with purpose. We may go through the motions. We may not understand the purpose of what we are doing. Why do we pray? Why do we study the Word? Why do we meed to be a light and witness? We shouldn't just hope we get some prayer and study time in, but we must intentionally plan and purpose to pray and study the Word. We must be intentional about how we pray and what we pray. We must study the Word with a purpose. We must intentionally seek out ways to witness and love with the love of God. We need to seek purpose.

What is the purpose for our lives, our prayers, our study? Do you have a purpose or are you just walking haphazard through  life hoping all works out?  We can feel that way at times.  But, we can take some time to talk to God and re-evaluate purpose.

I have a purpose. God gives me purpose just because I am identified as His child. I have been redeemed, sanctified and justified because His blood has washed me and saved me.  My purpose is to have relationship with Jesus, real relationship, that changes me, directs me, and makes me over in His image. I can see His will fulfilled in my life. (1 John 4:12)

My prayer has a purpose. It is a time of communication with my Lord and Savior. It is a time of conversation, speaking and listening, humbling of self, communion with God's Spirit, and allowing Him to reveal himself to us.  Prayer should be  intentional and focused. It should be a time intimacy where praise and love is declared, as well as a time of presenting needs to God. It can be a time of just hearing Him speak. It should be a time that has great purpose. Great men of God in the Bible and throughout history have understood that prayer is a lifeline for our souls.  Prayer is where relationship is built, where we hear from God and he hears from us.  That's why the saying, "Prayer changes things" exists. Prayer moves the mighty God to reveal himself to us in response to our petitions.  Prayer is powerful. (1 Timothy 2:8)

Studying God's Word should have purpose. It should not be just something we do to fulfill religious duty. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. To spend time reading it, learning it, understanding it, is time spent becoming more intimate and knowledgeable of who God is and how He relates to us.  Wisdom and knowledge are revealed through His word.  His word is living, alive and powerful. We cannot go through this life without developing our knowledge of the One who created us, loves us, and redeems us. The purpose of study is to grow spiritually. We need to fall in love with the Word, crave the Word, learn the Word so it can be used to uplift ourselves and others, reveal wisdom and who God is, and help us understand truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

We all have individual purpose created in our being. God has given us each talents and gifts that are meant to be used for His Kingdom and purpose. So many of us do not understand that God has given us each a purpose for His Kingdom. We are members of the Body and are not meant to be identical, or all the same part. But each is created to fulfill our individual role.  I can't be a hand, when I am meant to be an ear, or a leg.  (1 Corinthians 12)  we all have a reason and purpose for our talents and gifts.  God has equipped us to be members of His Body (Ephesians 4:12).

May we become intentional and allow God's  purpose to become our purpose, for that is truly when we find peace and joy. When worry fades and fear is destroyed. When failure and sin no longer reign. Let's fulfill God's purpose for us.

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Philippians 2:13 NIV

Thursday, December 21, 2017

true blessing

Do you understand what it really means to say, "I am blessed?" I believe we have a misunderstanding of what it means to be blessed and this leads us to misunderstanding why we go through tough times.

Being blessed is often seen as having a lot of things and things going good for us.  We quickly say we are blessed when the bills are paid, health is good, and we have what we want, but when things don't go the way we planned, do we find ourselves thinking we lost our blessing? Do we question and feel confused or wonder why God isn't blessing us?  What about people who serve God, but don't have all the things we have? What about the poor who are Christians, are they less blessed? What about the Christians around the world who suffer persecution? We have blessing all wrong.

One definition of bless is to consecrated or sanctify by a religious rite; make or pronounce holy (definition.com)

This gives us a different idea of what it means to be blessed. It is not what we get but what we are made.  When we come to Jesus in repentance and allow Him to change our hearts and our lives, we become consecrated  and set aside for His purpose. We become blessed and holy.

In the Bible, when a father, like Jacob, would bless his children, he would speak over them the will of God and purpose for their lives. (Genesis 49)  He did not speak that life would only be good and they would just have a lot of possessions. Their blessings were to be honorable to God and live a life that glorified God.  This was to be through every good and every bad event in life as well. He would speak over them that they would please God and love in His purpose. That was blessing.

O Lord of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!
Psalms 84:12 NKJV

King David reminds us that trusting in God is how we are blessed. David trusted God through every situation, through the times when Saul wanted to kill him, through the trials and difficulties.  Rather than allowing his trust to be dictated by circumstances, David remained faithful and in return cried out blessing and praise to God.  He didn't cry in despair and question why he wasn't getting blessed.  He understood, that his identity as a servant of God meant he was blessed despite  the circumstances of life.

We all face this life with ups and downs. We all have times of trials, difficulties, health and finance problems, but does that mean God's favor and blessing left us? No, God  does not take away his blessing from his Children. Instead, we are blessed in the fact that we are God's chosen and we are blessed in the fact that He gave us salvation. We can find our blessing in His ultimate gift of redemption. We have been redeemed and have God's favor and blessing in the fact that we are consecrated  for His purpose.  God's blessing does not inoculate us from hard times, it gives us purpose to go through tough times.  It gives us hope and joy that endures through every circumstance. It is a joy and peace  that cannot be understood. (Philippians 4:7) Our trust in God should not waver based on circumstances.  We need to be unwavering.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he  is  a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:2‭-‬8 NKJV

We must not waver in faith and trust in God. We must not interpret the things we have or don't  have in the natural as blessing. Blessing is a spiritual matter and while physcial things can be blessing, those things do not matter when it comes to the purpose we are given in God.  So what if the car breaks down or the heater stops working. That is not where our blessing lies. Our blessing lies in who God is and what he formed us to be.

I will forever remember the example of Sister Edith Mayes.  When asked how she was, her answer was always , "I am blessed." When she got home from church one night,  her family was waiting to tell her that her son had been shot, she immediately replied,  "I am blessed." No wavering in faith or in trust in God.  She began to praise and pray. No fear. No questioning of where God was. She trusted beyond the circumstance.  I know she never had a lot in this world. She was born in a time of adversity, endured racism, poverty, and great loss in her lifetime. Her testimonies of God's faithfulness, healing power and answered prayers will forever inspire those who heard them. She prayed prayers that were answered. A dead child brought back to life, a flow of blood stopped and never again occurred. A wayward child restored to God. And yes, that son that was shot, was healed.  We cannot expect answers from God when we waver and are tossed about by this physical life. We are not experiencing God's  true purpose and favor by looking around at the waves and storms. We are instead, denying Him and not keeping our eyes on Him. He is the author and finisher of our faith. We only need to rely and trust in Him completely.  One of the descriptions of the fruit of the spirit in Galatians is 'temperance.' This temperance is to be even keeled, unwavering and faithful through all things that come our way. I know I need  to work on this aspect. My trust and faith in God needs to be temperant and unwavering.  I need to know and trust I am blessed at all times. We will not be double minded and unstable. We will instead choose to praise and bless God. We will choose to trust and remain faithful.  We will live in the true blessing of God, not in the moment, nor in the things that are really secondary in this life.

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalms 34:1 NKJV



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

remember the blessings

Sometimes we forget how truly blessed we are. As I woke up this morning thinking about all the things I need to do and all the things that bring me to worry, I came across an old song online. I listened as the words poured into my soul, I realized I am truly blessed.

There's a roof up above me, I've a fine place to sleep.
There's food on my table and shoes on my feet.
You gave me your love, Lord, and a fine family.
Thank you,  Lord, for your blessings on me.

I remember hearing that song over the years. I remember those who sang it with deep conviction about how blessed they were. I remember how blessed I am right now.  Tears fell as I listened and realized that I am sometimes forgetful to take notice of how truly blessed I am.  I get caught up in cares of this life. I worry about finances, health, jobs, and things that I cannot fix. God has been and always will be good. I could hear him speaking and reminding me of how much he loves me and how much I have been blessed. I heard him say, "I am still blessing you and I love you. I will not stop blessing you."

So I will try to make this season of Thanksgiving one of remembering how truly blessed I am, a season of thankfulness  and joy in recalling where He has brought me. He has carried us through so much and has never left us.  I can look around and see so much He has done. I can see my husband and children sitting here healthy. I can recall all the answered prayers and all the times God has met needs. I can testify of His healing power and His provision. I can tell of the love He gives and the amazing people He has placed in our lives. He has done more than I can even understand. I am grateful for His love and blessings.  Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of You.

I will give thanks to you, Lord , with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1 NIV

Friday, November 3, 2017

from ashes to beauty

I love fall. Where I live, all the leaves are turning colors, red, orange, yellow. It is so pretty to drive around and see all the trees in glorious color. Kids ( and adults) love to crunch through the leaves. I realized though, that these leaves are dying. They are turning colors and releasing from the tree where they originally grew, the tree that has nourishment. It is a sign that winter is coming and that tree is going to lie dormant for a season.  I think even in the midst of this loss and death of these individual leaves, we see amazing beauty.  It can be the same for us as well. We all go through seasons in our lives. Some seasons are full of growth and gain, while some seasons are seasons of loss or even restful dormancy.  Each season, even loss can still reveal great beauty in our lives.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,  a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,  a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,  a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,  a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,  a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1‭-‬8 NIV

The Bible reminds us that we have a time for everything in our lives. I am quite sure, that when we go through periods of loss, we may not realize there is also great beauty.  We focus on the loss and the sorrow, or on the pain.  We struggle, at times, because we cannot see the beauty in the midst of the loss or trial we are in.  This is hard to do as a human being going through the season.  Yet, with God's help, we can take His perspective and see the beauty in our ashes.  Rather than keeping our eyes on the pain, sifting through the ashes of what we have lost, we need to draw closer to our Redeemer and find the joy, the peace, and the beauty even in the loss.

I can tell you losing a loved one is a deep pain that is so hard to get through.  It is a pain that seems to never go away and may rile up suddenly at the slightest reminder in a smell, an action, or an upcoming holiday.  But even in this loss, we can still find beauty.  I can tell you, with all honesty,  I still miss my mother and may still cry when I think of her at times, but I also find great comfort and even beauty as I can share memories of her with my children, as I catch myself doing something she did, or even talk about how she died.  Yes, even in her tragic death, there was still peace, blessing and hope.  It was hard and difficult, and sometimes it still is,  but I have beauty there.

I don't know why this is my topic today, but I feel deeply that God wants us to know that even in loss, there is still beauty.  He is always there and brings us through the struggles this life holds for us. Yesterday, I watched as my husband held our little boy and spoke comfort to his troubled heart as he struggled with fear after a being in a car accident. I watched a loving father bring peace to a scared child. I felt God speaking peace to my own heart and sensed His loving arms holding them both.  I saw a glimpse of what our heavenly Father does for us. He is there with loving arms to hold us, carry us and wrap us up as He whispers His word to our troubled souls.  How comforting it is to know my Heavenly Father is always present in my struggles.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,  to proclaim the year of the Lord ʼs favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,  and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:1‭-‬3 NIV

I am thankful today as I know seasons come and seasons go. I am thankful to know that God gives us joy instead of mourning, beauty instead of ashes, and praise for our despair. He is our Comforter and our Freedom.  Most of all, He is our loving Father who brings us through each season.

This song, Joy, has been running through my head and my heart all week. It is a reminder of the beauty in the midst of loss and a reminder that God's Word is true and faithful.


There's beauty in my brokenness, I've got true love instead of pain, There's freedom though You've captured me. I've got joy instead of mourning.

You give me joy, down deep in my soul. down deep in my soul, down deep in my soul.

https://youtu.be/LIN85G3J4fY

Rest in His arms, find the beauty, and feel His joy and peace. He will bring you through the season and into a time of rest that is waiting. Growth comes as we rest in Him.



Monday, October 16, 2017

He heals the brokenhearted

We have all been there. We have all gone through those moments when it feels like your heart is shattered into a million pieces, never to be whole again.  We have all experienced heartbreak.  This comes in many forms. It could be a loved one who mistreats you or a significant other who leaves you. It could be loss through death, or loss of a job. It could be plans that never happen. Whatever the cause, heartbreak results in leaving us broken, hurt, and afraid at times to ever trust again. However, there is a Healer for a broken heart. There is One who can apply healing ointment and restore a brokenheart.  His name is Jesus.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3 NIV

There are many examples of Jesus healing broken hearts but the one I am quick to always think of is Mary in Luke chapter 7. She came and found Jesus. She then washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. What sorrow must have been in her heart to be so broken. She was desperate for relief and healing. Her tears were from being brokenhearted. Can you imagine the hurt she must have been carrying? Jesus had great compassion and when he spoke to her he said, "Your sins are forgiven." He then said, "Your faith has saved you, go in peace." Not only did she receive salvation, she received peace. Peace that washed over and poured through her like healing oil. A peace that healed a broken heart and healed the hurt.  We know Mary changed that day and became a follower of Christ. She was forever changed and could trust in the Savior of the world. She had found the healer of broken hearts.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
1 Peter 5:7 KJV

We can bring all our cares and brokenness to Jesus and he will heal our brokenness. He cares for us and he knows our hurts. He came to earth as a man so He could not only bring us Salvation, but to also understand our earthly existence. While on earth, he experienced pain, betrayal, loss, and broken hearts.  He truly understands and has great compassion for us.  We can bring our brokenness to Him just as Mary did, and he will pour His peace into our wounds. He will heal our broken hearts. His peace can pour through our hearts and souls bringing restoration.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord , that he might be glorified.
Isaiah 61:3 KJV

He will heal and give us new peace and joy when none could be found.  Where once we had sorrow and brokenness, he gives joy and praise. He can change our hearts and give us a testimony of restoration and healing. What was once broken is now whole again. Jesus is the healer of broken hearts.  He makes them whole and new again. He gives peace and joy. We can trust Him for new life. Bring it to Jesus and lay it at His feet. He will take it all and heal you.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Light in the darkness

This morning is another beautiful day that God has made. As I awoke this morning, I was reminded that God is so good.  The sunrise is beautiful as the light breaks through the darkness and the flowers of fall are in bloom. Yet, the news that met me is tragedy has taken place somewhere in the world, tragedy that my human mind cannot understand. There are people suffering loss due to a tragedy and evil has been the cause.  Evil works very hard to destroy. In the midst of evil circumstances,  there may be questions of why this happened and where was God.  I can tell you without a doubt, that God was still there and He is still good.  The acts of a person overcome by evil intentions is not an act of God.

God is still good. He is there with those who have been hurt and he is there with those in the aftermath.  He was even there with the person doing evil.  God is saddened by these events just as we are. He knows the hearts and the pain of each and every individual involved. God is there and He is working to bring out the good in those who are touched by tragedy. What evil meant to destroy, God can turn into a testimony of His goodness.

Why didn't God just stop the tragedy ?  Some ask that question and it is a good question. What I do know is that each of us have free will and God does not go against our free will. He must allow each person to make their choices even when the consequences cause great sorrow and destruction. God does not cause these events, people do. People who have turned from Him, allowed evil to prevail in their hearts, and act on that evil are the cause of these things. God does not stop free will. He gave each of us a choice and each of live with the consequences of those choices.  Unfortunately, others do too.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord , choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord .
Joshua 24:15 KJV

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 KJV

In the midst of these events, God and His body are present.  God is there to protect, love and carry people through. He wants His church, His body, to reach out in the middle of these times and be a loving hand and help to those in need. These are the times that the body of Christ needs to stand strong and demonstrate the great love God has for people. This is the time to be a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, a warm hug, and a person who prays. It is in these times, that the Body of Christ  can send and bring aid, can provide shelter, and meet needs.  This is where Jesus can be revealed. In times when evil is working overtime,  is when God's people can shine brightly with the love of God to those in need.  We are to be a city set upon a hill and a light to the world.  This is when our light needs to shine bright and clear.
I believe God is revealed in the good  that comes forth in these hard times.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Matthew 5:14 KJV

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 KJV

We are to be the hands and feet reaching out to those who need to know that God is good even when tragedy comes. God's people need to reach out in love and demonstrate the goodness of God in the middle of tragedy. We need to be a light of our good God who loves even the person who has done evil. We may not understand the tragedy or the reasons why, but we can find the good and be the good that God wants to bring forth.

God is not willing that any perish. (2 Peter 3:9) He does not want these things to be, just as we don't want them.  Since evil is in this world, tragedies will take place at the hand of evil people and we all live with the consequences. That does not take away the goodness of God.  He is there too. May the people of God shine brighter than the evil and pierce through the darkness that is trying to destroy. God can be a light that is brighter than the darkness when we take the time to be the good in the midst of evil.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
John 1:5 KJV

Even when there is tragedy, this is still a beautiful day because God is still good.  I can still say that He has been so good to me. I can still praise God for who He is and I can worship Him.  I can feel His glory and see His glory all around. His goodness can shine bright in the places of darkness. Be the light of God in the middle of the evil. Be the light that darkness cannot comprehend. Be the Light.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 NIV



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

power and authority

This past Sunday,  I had the privilege of teaching our little bitty class and the lesson was about the power and authority we have in Jesus.

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
Luke 10:19 NIV

We were talking about Luke 4:31-37 when Jesus spoke and healed a man completely. He had all authority and power. I had brought a badge and a little dumbbell as props and as the kids were demonstrating their power, I realized that God was showing me something too.   He truly does have all power and authority.
He has power over the disease and over sickness. He Can heal. He makes it rain and can stop the rain. He brings comfort to those who need it and delivers those who need deliverance. His power and authority is not held in a badge or in anything but the fact that He is God. He speaks and the very wind obeys him.  He spoke the world into existence. He is the almighty,  all-powerful Creator.  He is the Savior that chose to use that power to provide us with salvation. There is nothing impossible for him.
The really amazing part is He gives that power and authority to His children. We have access to that same power and authority.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:10 NIV

We have the ability in Jesus to speak in power using His word. We can declare those things that are needed such as healing and deliverance.
What we speak has power and authority. We speak into our circumstances and release spiritual things.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Proverbs 18:21 KJV

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Matthew 18:18 KJV

This made me really think about my words and how I choose to use them.  I want to be sure I am speaking things that are life to those around me and into my circumstances.  I do not want to be a speaker of discord,  destruction or death. Choose your words wisely, children of God.

The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
Proverbs 15:2 KJV

Let's no longer see ourselves as weak and powerless. We have the power and authority of our heavenly Father. We can speak and change the course of every storm that comes our way. We can see the glory of God when we access His purpose and understand that as His children, we too can speak life.

Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
2 Timothy 2:7 KJV

May we pray for spiritual wisdom and understanding in who we are in Christ Jesus and become the powerful children of God he has called us to be.