Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yay a Trial!

 "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."  James 1:1-4


Wow, that last part sounds really good....I want that, I want to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing!  However,  I don't really want trials.  Hmmm.......

Now, I have had some trials and looking back I can see how they benefited me and how God worked in them.  Of course during the trial, it was hard and painful and I didn't want to be in it.  I didn't really face them with joy, at least not at first.  Can I just be honest?  Joy is not usually my first response to a trial.  "YAY, I am in a trial!"  No.

Well, I am writing this now because I am going through a trial right now.  It is a physical trial and yesterday I can say I was definitely not counting it all joy.  

But....today is a new day!  I am so thankful that each day is new and we can start each day, any moment with a new attitude believing God, trusting in His love.  I really do want to let patience have her perfect work, I really do want to be complete lacking in nothing and so today I am determined to count it all joy.


"My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor 12: 9 (Jesus)

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in needs, in persecution, in distresses, for Christ's sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  2 Cor 12: 9-10 (Paul wrote this)

If we never went through anything, we would forget we need the Lord.  We would become prideful and think we are doing just great on our own.  We think we wouldn't do that, but we would.  We need Him, and it is comforting to know that no matter what we are going through, He is with us and when we are weak HE is strong.  His grace is sufficient. 

Jesus said "In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

He didn't put this trial on you to teach you something, it is just the world we live in....there are trials in it.   But He will use it to perfect you, to make you more Christ-like. 

That, my dear friends is why we can have JOY when going through trials.  Jesus.

Lean on Him today if you are going through a trial of your own, knowing He will get you through it, it will end well.   He is our strength, He is our healer, and our ever present help in time of need.  HE is GREATER than anything we are facing.

Dear Lord,  I need you today. Lord, I can't do this on my own.  Father, I know you are my healer...thank you for healing me.  I pray for You to fill me with Your joy knowing that through this You will be at work to complete me,  to make me more like Jesus.   In Jesus Name Amen

-Sue

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happily Ever After, Fight for It

I love fairy tales (in case you didn't realize that yet).  ; )  What happens after the prince gets the girl..... they get married and live "Happy Ever After".....or do they? 

We never see what happens when Prince Charming comes home after a long day of slaying dragons and Cinderella's been having her own troubles with the kids all day.  Or when Sleeping Beauty slept too long and forgot to do something Prince Phillip needed her to do.  We never see this part of the story.  : )

Marriage....the union between a man and a woman. 

When two people come together it is a powerful force.  However, when God is in the center of one's marriage, it becomes unbreakable.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls,  for he has no one to help him up.  Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.  And a threefold cord is not quickly broken."  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
 
The last part of this verse was used at our wedding ceremony and is used a lot in marriage services, I love this illustration.  A rope made of 3 ropes is very strong.  The marriage union made up of you, your spouse and God is powerful. 

This force is so strong, that the enemy wants to break it, he wants to destroy it.  You might be thinking.....but so many marriage between Christians end in divorce today.  The number is the about 50%. 

Just like in the fairy tales, we have a villain who is out to destroy love.  Only this villain is real.   That is right, there is an enemy out there that hates marriage, hates what God has designed, hates God's creation and hates love.

This kind of love found in marriage is not fairy tale love, but it can end happily ever after.

There is nothing quite as beautiful as an 80 year old couple holding hands, or sitting by the deathbed of the one they have loved for 50 years.  My grandmother (who I mentioned in another post turned 90 recently) was married to my grandpa for over 60 years.  When he was in a nursing home, she went everyday to sit with him for hours.  Now, that is love.

If you have gotten a divorce or your marriage has not been good, this is not meant to condemn you.  Like I said before, there is an enemy and...... it is not your spouse.  Most people do not know or forget there is an enemy.....

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood (the enemy is not a person), but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."  Ephesians 6:12 (parentheses added)


Now, I am not one to pay much attention to the enemy.  I rebuke him when needed (like Jesus did), but I think he likes attention, so I don't give him much.  Jesus defeated him at the cross and that is that!  We do however have to be aware that he is there and that he wants to destroy what God created.

 "The theif does not come except to steal, to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life and that they have it more abundantly."  John 10:10


We need to be aware of what the enemy uses to try to destroy us.  (1 Cor  2:11)  He uses pride, strife, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, offense, etc.   We need to be aware that when we are fighting with our spouse, when we won't forgive them, when we hold bitterness or anger against them that the enemy is trying to get a foothold into our marriage.  And at that moment, we need to say "NO!  I am not going to let him have my marriage or my family."

When we let those poisons in our marriage, they start eating away at the cord.  It is then that God is left out and cord becomes weakened.  After time, if the wrong attitudes (poison) remain, God is no longer the center of the marriage, no longer is the third cord able to hold the marriage together and the cord is either staying together by a thread (very weak) or broken.  God never intended for us to have weak marriages, or frail marriages void of life and love.  He designed marriage to be beautiful, to complete each other, to be a representative of His relationship with us. 

 So, we are in a fight for our marriages! As in any fight, it is always best to be on the offense than defense.
 To do that, every day we need to be aware of the enemy we face.  Above I mentioned the verses in Ephesians about who our enemy is (Eph 4: 12-13).  The verses right after those tell how to defeat him....

"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all, to stand.  Having girded yourself with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with preparaion of the gospel of peace;  above all, taking the shield of faithwith which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."  Ephesians 4:13-17.  

There is so much I could say about that verse...maybe another time. 

 Chris and I are excited to be hosting Family Life's "The Art of Marriage" marriage conference at our church in 2 weeks.  It is April 8 and 9.  We believe every marriage needs a tune up from time to time.  Just like your car, it may be running just fine, but what happens if you never take your car in for a tune up?  I would encourage everyone reading this to consider going.  You can go to www.familylife.com for more details about the conference.  You can call Redemption Church 865-521-7777 to register.

We are in a fight dear friends and with God we will win it! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

He Picked You!


Do you remember when you were in PE in elementary school and the teacher had two kids pick the teams? Everyone lined up against the wall and one by one everyone was picked for a team.  Didn't you love that?!  It is like the teachers got together and decided how can we make these kids feel really bad about themselves today.  Let's really give their self-esteem a kick in the rear.  That is unless you were very athletic and popular, then maybe you liked it.  During that process, it was easy to think.....why am I not being picked?  I am not pretty, I am not liked, I am not good at sports, etc. 

Well...... I was the kid usually picked last.  Yep, I am not very coordinated and in elementary school, I was a little overweight, and not popular.  So, I was picked last most of the time.  No worries though, several years of therapy and I'm over it now.  ; ) 

Thankfully, the kingdom of God doesn't work like elementary PE class!  

"He has chosen us before the foundation of the world that we should be 
holy and without blame before him in love."  Ephesians 1:4


Check this out....GOD chose us!  It doesn't matter if little bully Billy didn't choose us....GOD did!  

How does this apply to today.....?

There are certain Christians who believe that we are predestined to be chosen by God.  They actually believe there are some people here on earth who God never created to be picked by Him.  Are you kidding me?!!!!

God created ALL of us to come to Him.  He created ALL of us to choose Him so we could live forever with Him in Heaven.   There were none of us that were just "lucky" enough to be picked by God and the rest of the people just have to suffer against the wall.  It grieves me that some people actually think this way.   God chooses everybody...... but everybody does not choose Him. Some people choose not to join His team when He calls their name. 

God not only chose you, He picked you and He has a great plan for you!  It doesn't matter where you have been, it doesn't matter what you look like, and it doesn't matter what your background is like.  He wants you on His team, He needs you on His team.  Rejoice today knowing you are loved by our Creator and He chose you before the foundation of the world for a specific and unique purpose!   

-Sue

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spats, Fridges, and Socks



It is spring break!  YAY!  Home with the kiddos, great times had by all......except when the siblings start fighting.  No, my kids are not perfect.   Let me introduce you....

 Joe is 8 and he is full of energy, precious and tenderhearted.  Luke is 5 and full of energy, free spirited, and hilarious.  Sarah is my little 4 year old princess, beautiful, loves being girly, full of energy and can definitely hold her own with the boys.  Did I mention my kids were full of energy!  ; )  Aren't they cuties!

So, back to the fighting.  We tell our kids frequently to "Love one another", "Be kind to one another", "Do unto others as you would want others to do to you".  Well, yesterday they just weren't treating each other very nice.  So, to the fridge we go.....

Last summer my dear friend, Becky, wrote a blog about "House Rules" that she has for her kids.  She has a great blog.  You should check it out, it is www.joyfuljava.blogspot.com.  There is link at the bottom of my blog.  We started implementing "House Rules" after her suggestion.  They are on our fridge, so back to the fridge....




We go over Rule 1, Rule 2, Rule 3, Rule 4.  I have the kids read them (Joe and Luke) and Sarah repeat them.  We are going to "Honor each other, by being kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave us."  That was the one I really needed to go over with them yesterday morning.

Well, that went well and I left to go take a shower.  When I came out, my son gave me something that completely blessed by socks off!  (I wasn't wearing socks at the time, but if I had been wearing them they would have come off!)  



Joe made me this card.  Wow!  Thank you Lord.  Sometimes we wonder if it is going in.....it is. 

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 
But his delight is in the law of the Lord"  Ps. 1:1

(This verse above is actually a verse I have prayed over all my kids since they were babies)

Kids so crave our boundaries, they need and desire boundaries.  We set rules to keep our kids safe, to teach them right from wrong, to help them make good choices that lead to good results.  They want to know right from wrong, they know the rules we set is a way we show our love to them.  They take delight in our rules we set because they know deep down it is for their own good. 

That is how it is with our Heavenly Father.  He set rules for us to follow in His Word only because He loves us and knows what is best for us.  Do we delight in them or do we begrudge them and try to get out of following them?  They are only there for our protection, so we can have the good life God wants to give us.  


I will say this though, Joe would probably not have written that note to me if I didn't have a good relationship with him.  He knows I love him.  He knows that love is the reason for the rules.

"Rules without relationship leads to rebellion." (Dr. Tim Kimmel)

So many people today are living in rebellion because they don't have a real relationship with Jesus.  They don't realize His love is the motive.  

I have heard it said that we don't need to follow the ten commandments now because Jesus came to remove the law and replaced it with only 2 commandments:  1)Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  2)Love your neighbor as yourself.  Well,  to those people I would say....if you do those 2, you will follow the ten commandments.  They aren't exclusive.  

Anywho, I just threw that last part in there.  The point is....we all need boundaries and we should delight in them just as Joe did yesterday morning.  The last line of Ps. 1 is ....."And whatever he does shall prosper." When we delight in the law of the Lord....whatever we do will prosper.  God said it would! 

I don't know about you, but I want whatever I do to prosper!  Lets delight in that just as we love our kids and set boundaries for them, that our Heavenly Father loves us enough to set boundaries for us in His Word.   Oh Lord, thank you that you loved us enough to give us Your Word. 






Tuesday, March 15, 2011

True Love Conquers All

Love......

The most powerful force there is.   You know how I like princess analogies.  : )

The evil villain places a spell on the princess that can only be broken with..... true love's kiss.  The prince comes in to rescue his love by giving her true love's kiss, she awakens, evil is defeated and true love conquers all.  

We also have an enemy that tries to hold us in bondage, and we also have a Prince that came to rescue to us.  Jesus defeated the enemy on the cross.  His love truly conquered all.


 "These three remain, 'faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.'"
1 Cor 13:13

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And thoughI have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and thought I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." (emphasis added) 1 Cor 13:1-2

Wow!  One might think faith is the most vital force to life, after all, without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)  However, faith only works by love.  (Gal 5:6)

The enemy wants to hold us in bondage to fear.  It might be the fear of rejection or another kind of fear.   I had been discussing the fear of rejection in the last couple of posts, so I will be focusing on that.  However, it could be applied to other fears.  I believe fear has two opposites....faith and love.  I say this because the verse below doesn't say perfect faith casts out fear, it says perfect love

 "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.
But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."   1 John 5:10 

We have that conquering kind of love inside of us!  (1 John 4:12)  And actually, that fear has no right to stay around with that love inside of us!  Remember, true love conquers all.

Now, I have to admit....I don't do this perfectly.  But, I am growing and working on it.  Some others verses that help are:

"Above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love is not boastful; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, Love never fails."
 1 Cor 13:4-8
My bible has notes that gave me further insight into the above passage....

Love is patient with imperfect people, love looks for the best in others and does not spread bad about others, love looks for the good and aggressively advertises the good, love credits people with good intentions and is not suspicious.  

So the next time someone doesn't seem to want to talk to you, or if someone doesn't call you back, or you don't get invited somewhere.....love them by praying for them.  Credit them with good intentions, maybe they are just busy, maybe they are afraid to talk to you and they fear rejection, or maybe the invitation got lost, etc.  Maybe it has nothing to do with you.  

We need to stop thinking about ourselves....there is so much hurt in the world, people really need a touch from the Lord.  When we fear rejection or what others think, it can keep us from sharing His love with them and they need His love.   

Don't let the evil villain have the victory in your life!  Jesus, our Prince, came with true loves kiss to rescue us!  Rest in His love today, His love abides in you, give it away.  True love really does conquer all.  



 


Friday, March 11, 2011

Rejection Part 2

Today I am going to share with you some truths the Lord showed me that helped me get free from .....Rejection.

I am just going to be as real as I can be with you.  Rejection or the fear of rejection kept me in indescribable bondage for about 30 years of my life.  Seriously, that is a LONG time!  I differentiate "the fear of " from "rejection" because I don't think most of it was real.  Most of my bondage was that I was afraid of being rejected, and not actual rejection.  The root of the rejection was real as we talked about yesterday, and that is what the enemy is using to keep us bound to the fear of rejection. 

I don't believe I am the only one that ever struggled with this and if you do struggle with this or know someone who does.....well, I'm going to share with you some things that will help you get freedom!  First of all, know this.......

IT IS A LIE!

We are not going to believe it!  We are going to believe what God says!  What does God say?  Let's have a look:

  "To the praise of the glory of His grace by which He has made us accepted in the beloved"
Eph 1:6


Let's break this down a little bit: 

It says by His grace He made us accepted.  

Grace means in the Hebrew benefit He has given us.

Accepted means in the Hebrew 1) lovely 
                                                2) surrounded with favor
                                                3) honour with blessings
This word accepted is the same word used to describe Mary, Jesus' mother, when the angel came to her and said she was "highly favored" by the Lord.  Wow!  

If you are thinking, but you don't know what I've done.  It isn't about what you have or haven't done....it is all about what Jesus did!

So, lets get this!  God says you are accepted....He has made us accepted or surrounded with favor and blessings!  It is a benefit He gave us at the cross!  

He suffered and was rejected so we could be accepted.  He accepts us!

It took me a long time to realize these things I am sharing with you.  Really, the bottom line is what are you going to do when that thought comes that someone doesn't like you or that you don't belong.  Are you going to just give into those thoughts and dwell on them so they keep you in bondage OR will you take that thought captive (2 Cor 10:5) and say what God says about you?  Most likely the rejection isn't real.  Even if it is, He loves you, you are His.  He said you are highly favored,  so anyone who does reject you has to take it up with Him!  He has got your back dear sister!  







Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rejection part 1

Someone does not invite you to a party..... someone doesn't return a phone call..... someone doesn't ever seem to want to talk to you or initiate conversations with you......

Have you ever experiences any of these scenarios?  What was your response?  How did you feel?  You may have thought nothing of it or maybe you felt......rejected.  

What is the root of rejection, where does it come from and why?  I think we have all felt rejection at some time or another.  Maybe it was from the boy that didn't like you, or a friend who betrayed you, a spouse that left you, or perhaps parents who didn't show love in the right way to you, or worse.... 

There is One who understands, One who knows everything we go through, and One who can heal us and help us.  His name is Jesus.  

Jesus knows what it is like to be rejected. 

"He is despised and rejected by men...."  Is 53:3

"The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone."  Mark 12:10
"...the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders..." Mark 8:31

He was betrayed by one of His best friends.  The very people He came to save, shouted "Crucify Him" and denied Him as Lord and Savior.  Everyday He experiences rejection.  He pursues His children, His creation. He longs for every one of us to come to Him, to know Him, to accept Him as Lord and Savior.  He loves us so much that gave His life for us.  Yet, everyday people reject Him, they refuse to let Him into their life. 

I had the opportunity to share Jesus with my great aunt when she was in a nursing home several years ago.  I shared with her what Jesus had done in my life and how He was real.  I knew she had had a hard life, but I thought perhaps my testimony would get through to her.  I remember her telling me she didn't believe in Jesus or God and she never would.  I left there in tears....my heart breaking over her hardness, wishing I could have said something to make her see the truth....to save her from eternal separation from God in hell  (harsh, but reality).  And my mom said something very profound to me while I was crying uncontrollably.....she said  "See how you feel, imagine how Jesus must feel."   Very profound.  My great aunt didn't reject me that day....she rejected Him and I imagine it broke His heart so much more than it broke mine.  She passed away two months later.  

Oh, how He knows rejection.  

If you struggle with rejection, He knows your pain.  Go to Him with it, let Him reveal to you the root of it and then let Him heal you.   He came to heal the brokenhearted  (Is 61:1).  Tomorrow I will share with you how to overcome the fear of rejection. 



Monday, March 7, 2011

Someday My Prince Will Come.....

 "God exalted Him to His right hand to be Prince and Leader and Savior and Deliverer and Preserver, in order to grant repentance to Israel and to bestow forgiveness and release from sins."
Acts 5:31 (AMP)

My little girl loves fairy tales..... Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Little Mermaid, and now a new favorite- Tangled.  Such wonderful stories about how a beautiful girl is rescued by a handsome Prince usually riding a white horse.  Why do little girls love these fairytales so much, why do we love them?

.....Because it is our hearts desire, because it is our deepest longing, because it is our dream to be rescued, to be swept off our feet and carried away to a castle by our Prince.  It is so good to have these dreams. 

I once heard a woman say that she wasn't going to let her little girl believe in fairy tales.  She said she didn't let her little girl watch fairy tales and she was going to make sure she knew there wasn't ever going to be a prince come.  She didn't want her little girl to get her hopes up just to have them shattered.  Hmmm......immediately I felt sorry for this little girl, my heart sank for her.   Her mother was well intended, trying to protect her from what she considered to be the disappointment of reality. 

Is there no such thing as a fairy tale?   Should we not get our hopes up?  (Personally, I don't like that expression...really, do you want your hopes to be down?)

No man is perfect, no man can ever fill our hearts desires, no man can ever satisfy our greatest needs.

There is ONE though that can, ONE that longs to, ONE that loves you flawlessly, faithfully, and completely.  ONE that you can trust with every fiber of your being, ONE that will never fail you.  

I would say to you and to the woman mentioned above (and I did say it to her) : )-- YOU ARE MISSING IT!

There IS a Prince!  It isn't a fairy tale!  There is a Prince that is far more handsome and wonderful than any prince Cinderella ever imagined in her dreams and His name is JESUS (and He even comes riding on a white horse!).

"I saw heaven opened and behold, a white horse appeared!  The One Who was riding it is called Faithful and True..."  Rev 19:11
 
He already came to rescue you, all you have to do is hold out your arms and grab onto Him.  Ask Him to be your Prince, to be your healer, to be your Savior today if you haven't already.  You are a daughter of a King..... a princess, dear one.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Strength, My Helper

"The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him."
Psalms 28:7

I have been meditating on this verse for the past couple of days.  Have you ever had a time when for no apparent reason the everyday routine of life just seemed harder than normal?  Even though you are a princess, a daughter of a King, have you ever felt more like the Cinderella in rags with so much to do that she couldn't do what her heart desired to do (work on her dress for the ball).   Did you ever wish you had a fairy godmother to help you?  : )

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, 
that He may abide with you forever." 
John 14:16

We have something infinitely better than a fairy godmother.....the Holy Spirit.  He is our helper.  He will help us through whatever we may be going through.  It might be as simple as being overwhelmed with kids, housework, job situation to something as serious as an illness or relationship crisis.  Whatever it is you might be going through, Gos has promised us a helper.  

And not only will He help us, He has promised that we can be full of JOY in the midst of it.  

"Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, 
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit."
Psalms 51: 12

He wants to help you with whatever you are facing.  Ask Him today to help you, ask Him today to give you the JOY of your salvation.  "Rejoice in the Lord always, Again I will say rejoice!" Phil 4:4

He WILL help us, He is always faithful dear one.  


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why?

 "God demonstrated His own LOVE toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8 

"For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16


The Cross.....what Jesus endured, suffered for us.   The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).  He was sinless, He shouldn't have died.  We should have been on that cross, we were deserving of death....until we came to Jesus.
Our sins were nailed to the cross that day.

This morning, let this song by Nichole Nordeman minister to you.  If you have never heard it before, listen carefully to the words.  Oh, and you might want to grab a tissue.  : )

Jesus went to the cross for you.  He loves you so much that He would have suffered and died if it would have been only for you, dear one. 
 
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