Monday, October 31, 2011

Hope

In today's world, people are hurting.  People need "Hope".

People are hungry, even starving for "hope".

But what is this seemingly intangible feeling everyone is reaching to grasp.

But I will hope continually and will praise You yet more and more.  Psalms 71:14

To understand the full magnitude of David saying this is Psalms, you have to look at the verses leading up to this one.  King Saul and his army were after David, seeking to take his life.  He was hiding in the wilderness and had been for quite awhile.  His situation seemed dire...a king wanted him dead!

Some might have lost "hope".  Not David.  He said, "I hope continually".

Now probably most of us do not have a king seeking to kill us, but we have other foes that seek to destroy our hope.  


Maybe (like many currently) you have lost a job and have been looking for awhile.  Maybe you are in a financial situation that appears hopeless.   Maybe you are going through a relationship crisis.


I don't know what your situation is, maybe things are rosy for you and you are thinking, "I don't need this one."  Great!  Maybe you know someone else who does.

Let's look at the word "hope" for a moment.  Let me define this kind of "hope" David had and the "hope" we should have as well.


The word for "hope"  in the original Hebrew is "yachal" and it means to wait or expect.

This kind of "hope" is not the kind of hope we are use to hearing about.  In my experience, when I have heard someone say, "I hope so",  it usually has not been a statement of expectancy.  It is a mamby-pamby statement of unbelief meaning, "maybe it will happen but.... probably not."

That definition of hope is NOT BIBLICAL! Biblical hope says, "I am waiting and expecting God to do something."

Hope is the expectation of a positive outcome.

We need to move our definition of "hope" to one of expectancy.  We need to expect a positive result because we serve a positive God.  

Don't tune me out here, I know you have heard the next verse before, but I promise I will make it worth another look!

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1

Let's break this down for a moment using the original Greek.

"Faith" is the word "pistis" and look at what it means:  Belief with the predominate idea of trust or confidence.

"Substance"  is the word "hypostasis" and means:  Steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, confidence, firm trust, assurance.

"Things hoped for" in this verse is the word "elpizo" and it means:  To wait with joy and full confidence.

"Things" is the word "pragma" and means:  That which exisits, that which has been done, an accomplished fact.

Are you getting this?  If you put all that together, you get something like this:

Faith is believing with confidence what we are waiting for with joy, the evidence of that which already exists or that which has already been accomplished that we just cannot see yet. 

The NIV translation says it this way:

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

If you look at it with the definition of "hope" in mind, you can say:

Faith is expecting and being sure of a positive outcome and certain of what we do not see.

We don't need mamby-pamby hope, we need biblical "hope".  What is it you are waiting on God to do?  What is it you need?  You can be certain of a positive outcome.  Put your hope in the Lord and then wait in rest, expecting. God is always faithful.  David hoped in the Lord.  God protected and provided for David.  Hope in Him, He will get you out of your wilderness. 



















Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So Long Insecurity, Week 4: Our Roots

Roots....they go down deep, spreading and burrowing down, becoming our life force.  They are an anchor to us.  Sometimes that anchor holds us securely in a desirable place.  Other times, that anchor needs to be dug up and thrown away.  The later is the case if that anchor has held us back from all God has created us to be.


Credit: Free images from acobox.com







Let your roots grow down into [Christ Jesus], and let your lives be built on Him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth your were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7 

If we have insecurity in our lives, we have roots of  insecurity.  Some examples of roots of insecurity are:
1. Instability in the home (for example: verbal, physical, emotional abuse or financial difficulty or mental/physical illness)
2.  Significant loss  (person, home, relationship)
3. Rejection
4. Dramatic Change
5.  Personal limitation (disability, scar, etc.)
6. Personal disposition and temperment
7. Our culture and media
8. Pride
 (Source: "So Long Insecurity" by Beth Moore, Chapters 5 and 6)

Hopefully you are not like me.  I can check "yes" to almost all of the above.   No wonder it has taken a long time to dig out those roots.  I am still digging.

It is difficult to dig deep to get down to the roots of the "why".  It can be painful to go there and sometimes it just seems easier to leave it all alone.

However, God is calling us to higher ground in Him.  He wants to uncover the roots and expose them, dig them out and replant us as a tree planted by rivers of water bearing good fruit in its season (Psalms 1:3).

Don't you know who you are, dear child of God!  You are an Oak of Righteousness, a planting of the Lord, the display of His splendor ( Isaiah 61:3).

Easier to leave it all alone?  Not on your life!  It is not easier to live in fear.  It is not easier to live in bondage.  It is not easier to live held down by the chains of condemnation!  ( I know, I use to be up to my eyeballs in bad roots that held me down!)

No, dear child of God.....the price of leaving it all alone and not forcing yourself to dig down to the roots is a life of bondage.   That price is one too high to pay.

Jesus already paid everything we need to be free.  The only requirement from us is to cooperate with the Lord, and let Him open and heal our hearts.  He won't force Himself in, we have to ask Him and allow Him access to the deepest depths of our brokenness.

Once, I thought I was completely healed of a devastating pain.  The Lord showed me that there were some areas that still needed a deeper touch from Him.  I had closed that wound up.  He revealed to me that He would need to open the wound  to heal it completely and thoroughly.

I pleaded with Him, "Lord, I don't want to go there...it is too painful."   It was painful because I was not completed healed yet.  He needed to re-open the wound to cleanse it with His Blood's healing power. 

Is there an area of your heart you have not allowed God access to because it is too painful?  I encourage you to go to Him in prayer and let Him into the depths of your heart.  He already knows what is in there. It won't surprise Him, I promise.  It may be painful in the moment, but healing and wholeness will follow.  He heals the brokenhearted and brings liberty to the captives ( Isaiah 61:1).

There is a root to all insecurity.  However, we can dig down and with the Lord dig up all those bad roots.  We want our roots to be planted by the Living Water, imbedded deep in the truth of God's Word.

Roots planted deep in the Lord Jesus Christ provide a secure anchor for our soul.

.....You already have everything in you to be secure if Jesus lives in you.


I love this a little further down from the verse above in Colossians 2:10..........

And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. 

If you went down the list of roots of insecurity and could identify with them like I could....it is comforting and encouraging to know that He says:

YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.  I will never reject you.  Trust Me, let Me in, let Me heal.  I went to the cross for you, to free you.  I love you no matter what.  Nothing, nothing can ever separate you from My love.

How about it?  Will you let him heal?  Will you let him into the deepest parts of your wounds?  Healing awaits. Security follows.




Friday, October 21, 2011

Thoughts are Music

Have you ever had a song in your head that just wouldn't leave?  It just plays over and over again like a broken recordMaybe it is a favorite song, but many times it is one we would rather not have in our head.

My little girl has a Barbie guitar and it plays "Barbie Girl" by Aqua.  Catchy little ditty that easily gets stuck in my head. 

"I'm a Barbie girl in a Barbie world...life in plastic, it's fantastic....."  (I apologize if it is in your head all day now)  : )

Songs stick in our heads easily.  Being careful what we listen to is important.  That applies whether it is music, T.V., what we read, or our thoughts. 

We don't have to listen to every thought that enters our head.  Many times a thought comes into our minds like a bad song we want OUT of our head!

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.  Psalms 19:14

We want the meditations of our hearts to be acceptable in God's sight.

The Hebrew word for "meditation" in the verse above is higgayown

It means resounding music.  (Doesn't it look a little like "boogy-town")  God has such a sense of humor. 

Our meditations are the resounding music that we play over and over again in our head.  Thoughts become meditations when we record them and press replay on a looping cycle.  We determine if the music in our head is a beautiful melody or an harmonic nightmare.  If what we are hearing is predominantly a chaotic critical chord, we need to change our tune and boogie to a different beat!

We need to be sure the seeds we allow to be planted in our minds are going to spring up and produce a beautiful melody that brings life and not destruction.

Life in plastic for Barbie may be fantastic, but life for us with our minds bound up with a bad song replaying over and over again is not so fantastic. 

"Blessed is the man....his delight is in the law of the Lord, 
And in His law he meditates day and night.  
He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, 
That brings forth its fruit in its season
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper."  Psalms 1:1-3  (emphasis added)



The song playing in our heads determines the song that comes out of our mouths.  It determines the song that comes out in our lives.  What song are you playing?  What thoughts are you allowing to boogie around in your mind?  Is it time to change the tune? Meditating on the life giving Word of God results in a beautiful prosperous melody.  


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So Long Insecurity, Week 3

This week the bible study focused on understanding that insecurity touches everyone.  The only one who ever escaped it was Jesus. 



We looked at some heroes of faith in the Bible that dealt with insecurity including Moses, Sarah, and Paul.

We also examined the lives of Leah and Saul.  I would love to discuss Leah.  I feel so sorry for her.  She never felt like she could measure up.  She just kept having babies in vain attempts to win the affections of a man who did not love her.  She knew rejection.  So many of us search for security and approval in our performance. So much to say about that, but maybe another day. 

Today, we will just look at Moses.


Moses wrestled with insecurity.  God spoke to him in a dramatic way through the burning bush. God told Moses that He had chosen him to deliver His people.  God even gave him the exact details of how it would happen. (How many times do we think if God would just give us all the details, then we could trust Him.  Hmmm.  Would we?) 

Moses didn't.  Moses said to the Lord God.

"O my Lord, I am not elequent, neither before nor since You have spoke to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue".  Exodus 4:10 

(Like the Lord didn't know his weaknesses.  : ) We are so funny sometimes.  I'm sure God just cracks up at the things we say and do.)
 
Interpretation:  I cannot do this!  You have the wrong man.  He told the God of the Universe, "Um, I think you made a mistake."  Sue's translation.  : )

Notice that God didn't say in response, "Oh yeah, I forgot about that.  Never mind, what was I thinking?".

No, of course not.  God, in His patience, answered him saying, "Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say."

Do you know what Moses said back to God?  "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send." 

He pleaded with God to send someone else!  He did not believe he could do what the Lord was asking him to do even when the Lord spoke to him directly.  Now, that is some insecurity we can relate to.   
 
Don't we do the same thing at times?  Don't we say, "Lord, send someone else.  Don't you know I ______." (Fill in whatever weakness or excuse that fits).   Of course He knows our weaknesses.  He calls us anyway.

There is another facet of Moses that is encouraging to me.  Moses had a shady past.  Moses killed a man and then fled from the consequences.  He grew up in a very dysfunctional family. (What is more dysfunctional than the Pharaoh's family?)

God will use anyone no matter their past.  
 
It is easy to see why Moses struggled with insecurity.  He felt inadequate in his abilities.  He knew he had a sinful past.  He lost his entire family, twice The man had issues!
 
One of the verses that was brought up the other night was Psalms 68:6
"God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity." 

God restored Moses and placed him in a family after He had lost everything.  Then, when God called Moses back to Egypt to deliver His people, He reunited him with his long lost biological brother and sister plus about a million of his closest relatives!  
 
God knows how to restore!  He will restore whatever has been stolen from us, including our security. 
 
We need to uncover the roots of our insecurity.  Some questions Beth Moore suggests is to ask yourself.....
 
1.  What am I afraid of?
2.  Who am I afraid of?
3.  What are we afraid of losing?
4.  Why are we afraid of being displaced?

"I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears."  Psalms 34:4

What is it you are afraid of and how do you react when faced with that fear?  In our study the other night, the ladies came up with some good suggestions.

 Stop. Breathe. Pray.

Pull out scripture (such as 2 Corinthians 10:5).   Use your God knowledge:  Know He will defend you. 

Reason can also work at times.  Sometimes thoughts come into our heads that are just plain crazy and we know they are not true.  It is easy to dismiss those thoughts. 

There is so much more I could say.  I cannot go into everything we learned and discussed Monday night; this post would be way too long.  I want to end with two scriptures to encourage you when you feel inadequate as Moses felt.   These are two verses Beth used in the study as well.

"And He (the Lord) said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."   2 Cor 12:9

His never ending grace is sufficient.  When we mess up, when we say the wrong thing, when we do not feel adequate.....His grace is sufficient. 

When we are weak, He is strong.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalms 46: 10 
 
or as the New American Standard Bible says it:  "Cease striving and know that I am God."

"Ceases striving" and rest in the Lord.  Know that He approves of you. 
 
He knows everything about us.  He knows all our weaknesses, and chooses to use us anyway.  I believe one of the reasons He does use us in spite of ourselves is so we KNOW it is Him accomplishing His work, not us.  It is so we can boast in Him and not get full of ourselves. 

I could go on and on about all we are learning!  I encourage you to get Beth Moore's book "So Long Insecurity" if you have ever felt insecure.  If you have, know that you are in good company with some of the Bible's most popular people used by God in significant ways. 
 
God wants to use you in a significant way.  It doesn't matter what you have done or what your family's history presents.....God sees beyond all that to the person He created you to be.  God sees what we cannot see in ourselves.  When he calls, let's not tell him all the reasons we cannot. We just need to answer "yes" and trust Him with the rest. 
 
 







Monday, October 17, 2011

It All Started With Ketchup

Sitting in a fast food restaurant chain, the five of us in our family chowed down on the typical fast food variety.  Luke, my 6 year old, and I shared a ketchup.

Chris went to get more ketchup and I thought, "I hope he gets us more ketchup as well.  We could use more ketchup."

He came back from the ketchup fetching with no ketchup for us.  "Hmmm. How unthoughtful of him", I thought.

The next day, something else happened that I cannot remember at the moment that caused me to think, "That wasn't very thoughtful.  He isn't being very considerate of me lately."

The day after that, as I was scurrying around to get dinner together, he was in the other room doing work.  Again, I thought, "It would be nice if he would be thoughtful enough to help me."

So, I said to him, "I am tempted to be mad at you right now.  It seems you haven't been very thoughtful of me lately", and I gave him all three examples.

He said, "I didn't realize you needed more ketchup, I looked and it appeared you still had enough." (He had thought to look.)  "I didn't know you needed help with dinner, you know I would help you if you need it."  (He always helps when I ask and he always does the dishes afterwards to help me, it is his thing.)

He really is a very thoughtful man, my mind was just trying to convince me otherwise.  The enemy tries to plant negative seeds in our minds.  Sometimes, we plant negative seeds in our minds.  If we let them stay in our minds, if we give them voice, they start to take root.

Take no thought, saying "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?"  Matt 6:31

The point here is that when a thought comes to you, you do not have to "take" it.  You can say, "No, thank you" when it is offered to you.  You do not have to let it be planted and take root.

I was tempted to let those thoughts take root.  They could have developed into a nasty tree ripe with bitterness, resentment, and criticism.  That kind of fruit is not good for a marriage or any other relationship.  Those are bad fruits that will destroy a relationship.


Credit: Free images from acobox.com


Thoughts are seeds.  We can decide if will allow negative thoughts to stay and plant bad seeds, and ultimately result in bad fruit.  On the flip side, positve thoughts yield good fruit.

A thought stays by giving it life with our words. 

The heart (mind) and the mouth are closely related.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  Luke 6:45

We need to be cautious to evaluate our thoughts.  Do they line up with God's truth? Does it line up with what I already know?  ( I already knew my husband is thoughtful, he is a wonderful man....the thoughts I was having did not line up with truth about him.)   What kind of fruit will this thought produce if it stays?  Is it positive or negative? 

Now sometimes, our thoughts are valid and we need to address issues.  We just need to be certain to do it in the correct way.  Prayerfully.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.  Psalms 19:14

The words that come out of our mouths start as meditations in our hearts.  We want our thought or meditations to be approved of by God.  We want our thoughts to be good seeds planted that will bear fruit for the Lord. 

We need to be sure the seeds we allow to be planted in our minds are going to spring up and produce a fruit that brings life and not destruction.

I was "tempted" to be mad at Chris because of my thoughts.  It all started with ketchup.  That bad tomato almost got the best of me.  The thoughts were not even based in reality.

Thankfully, those thoughts did not take root. I did not "take" those thoughts and keep them.  It would have been destructive to our relationship to let those thoughts stay.  The fruit produced would have been rotten and corrosive.

What kind of seeds are you allowing to be planted in your mind?  What kind of fruit will those thoughts produce?  Let's take an inventory and throw out the seeds that will produce bad fruit.  Let's throw out those rotten tomatoes!  And let's keep and plant seeds that will produce good, beautiful fruit.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pausing for Peace

Thank you to everyone who left comments, liked on facebook, commented on facebook, or became a follower to enter in the Giveaway this week!  

Drum roll please.......................and the winner of the "So Long Insecurity" Giveaway is.............

Julia Pope! Congratulations! I will contact you.  : )

Last night the sky was illuminated with a double rainbow in the middle of the dark clouds.  Beautiful.  He spoke to my heart to say, This is for you.  I give you my peace, I give you a double portion.  Trust in my promises.  Do you have any dark clouds in your life?  There is a rainbow in the middle of it bursting forth, shining bright.  The clouds will vanish and all that will be left is the rainbow, God's promises always prevail.

Credit: Free images from acobox.com




(This was not the one I saw, I didn't take a picture of it. Still beautiful.)

This has been a CRAZY BUSY week.  Life for me lately has been full.  Can you relate?  Probably many of you can.  We have so much competing for our attention, demanding our time.  I would like to press "Pause" for a moment.



Pause....breathe.....soak in the truth of God's Word.  Soak in the depth of His peace.

I will give you peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid.  Lev 26:6

Does fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of _____ ever steal your peace? God said He would give us peace and that nothing will make us afraid. 

The Lord will lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.  Numbers 26:6

Great peace have those that love my law and nothing shall offend them.  Psalms 119: 165

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 
Isaiah 26:3  


Oh, how we need to keep our eyes and mind on Jesus and trust in Him. 


Lord, You will establish peace for us.  For You have also done all our works in us. Isaiah 26:12

The Lord is completing all He wants to accomplish in us.  He will do it.  We can have peace rather than worry.  Worry is not from the Lord, peace is.


Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubles, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

I pray the Lord speaks to you heart as He did mine this morning as I read these verses, these Truths.  I needed this today.  His peace passes all understanding (Phil 4:7).  Praying for a double portion of His peace to fill you and rest on you today.  Love you all!

Dear Heavenly Father,  I thank you for your peace.  Father, I ask for you to fill us with a double portion of your peace and rest today.  Oh, how we need You.  I pray for Your presence to be evident to all of us, that we would see You as we go about our day.  Our day may be busy, but you have promised to give us peace.  I pray that others would see Your peace in us, and want it as well.  I pray we would glorify you in all we say and do.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit and I pray for Him to fill us and rest on us.  We love you.  In Jesus' Holy name, Amen.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So Long Insecurity, Week 2 + A GIVEAWAY!

 A nice quiet, relaxing evening.  Hours of quiet time spent before bible study tonight preparing my heart.  A peace surrounded my home and filled my soul.  Or.....not.

Chris was out of town tonight on business, so it was only me and three little munchkins.  I adore my munchkins, but tonight they were not so adorable.  The drill is, they go to bed and then the ladies come over for bible study.  At least, that is how it is suppose to happen.  Not tonight. 

Throughout the whole time with the ladies tonight in my living room, we heard little footsteps parading around upstairs.  Through the ceiling, we heard small giggles muffled in failed attempts of being discreet in their "secret" play.

Oh, what is a mother to do?  It was still a good night with the ladies.  God can work in less that perfect conditions.  God can still do heart surgery even when the environment is not sterile.

The kids are just now finally in bed.  Only 3 short hours later. Ahem.  Needless to say, there will be no Wii this Wiikend in the Molitor home.

Thankfully, my security is not defined by if my kids go to bed when they should. Oh, how thankful I am. 

Tonight (amid the frequent footsteps overhead) we discussed how to define "Insecurity"?

Fear, not secure in oneself, not secure in who you are, unsettled in a situation. 

Beth Moore's one-word description is self-sabotage.

Let's look at self-sabotage for a moment.  Do you feel like you do that in your relationships?  We discussed tonight about expectations in friendships or relationships.  Sometimes our expectations are so high that we set ourselves (and the other person) up for failure.

A few years ago, I read a wonderful book by Don Clowers titled Right and Wrong Expectations in Friendship.  People are people and they will disappoint us, they will let us down.  How we respond is what matters.  He says in this book:

         "Our best course of action is to expect nothing and to receive each response as though it were a
         gift to be enjoyed and treasured."

This approach allows us to give grace to our friends.

We all need relationships.  We can say "All I need is Jesus" and sound very spiritual.  However, as one of the ladies said tonight, "We need some love with skin on it." : ) Yes, we do!

God knows that.  He made Eve to be with Adam.  He puts the right people in our lives for us also.

However, it is false to believe people can make us secure.  There are many false assumptions (Beth calls them "False Positives") that attempt to make us believe we will be secure.  They fail as much as my kids did tonight at trying to be discreet in their "secret" play.

These false assumptions are "if only's."  You know......If only I was thinner. If only I was rich. If only I was popular. If only I were married. If only I had that job. If only I had a different career. If only I had more eduction.  If only my kids would go to bed when they were suppose to.  *sigh* ; )
If only............, then I would be secure.

No, we wouldn't.  True, some of those may help for a time, but only Jesus can give us the internal security that will carry us through the long haul.

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  2 Corinthians 4:7  

The excellence of the power of God lives in us!  God's security is already in us and that is why we can be secure.  It isn't based on anything outward, it is based on Christ residing in us.  I said last week that God has given us a Diamond as a symbol of His everlasting love for us.  Jesus is the treasure that lives in us. 

Crystal, a lady from the bible study, gave a great analogy tonight.  She has given me permission to share it with you.

When someone receives a gift from Tiffany's, part of the gift is the signature blue box.  The blue box is valuable because of the treasure it contains.  The recipient does not throw out the blue box because of it's worth.  We are like the blue box from Tiffany.  We hold a great treasure.  We, as vessels (or boxes), are valuable.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10 

He created us to perform His plan.  We are His vessels, His workmanship.   He has already equipped us.  He has already placed in us everything we need to do His will.  All we have to do is walk in it.

God has given us the gift of security.  We are the blue boxes that contain it.  I want to give you a gift today as well.  Today, you can register to win a FREE Copy of So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore.  To register, you can leave a comment, become a new follower, or leave a comment on facebook.  (You can do all three if you want!)  I will be drawing the winner on Friday and announcing the winner on Friday's post.  So, tune in then to see if you win! 

ps.  Do you like the new design?!!! 







Friday, October 7, 2011

Becoming a Diamond

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don't try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  James 1:2-4 (The Message)

Have you ever received a gift and your immediate response was, "Oh, you really shouldn't have," which is translated, "This is the ugliest thing I ever saw, what am I going to do with it?" Or it didn't really fall into the "gift" category. 

For example, on my 25th birthday I had the unsettling realization that birthdays aren't as fun as they use to be.  When you are a kid, birthdays are super with parties, balloons, and lots of great presents.

What did I get for my 25th birthday?  A weed eater. Oh, and that is not all.  An extension cord to go with it!

A weed eater for most girls goes into the category of  "Oh, you really shouldn't have."

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  

When I read the verse above, I want to say, "Oh, you really shouldn't have," in response to that "gift". 

(Now, just a caveat that The Message bible isn't the most accurate translation. That being said, the original Greek word in the text above for "gift" really means "joy."  But, since a gift usually brings joy, I will go ahead with my illustration.)

When tests and challenges come my way, I have to admit that my first response isn't gratitude, it isn't joy, and I don't think of it as a "gift".  However, that is what the Lord said we should do.

Do you know what I consider to be the ultimate gift?  A diamond.  Many women would agree.  We long for a man to give us one as a symbol of his everlasting love for us.

Diamonds are beautiful, transparent, radiant, precious, valuable.

Do you know how Diamonds are created?  You probably do.  They are formed by years of pressure and heat.  Diamonds are also formed 100 miles below the surface of the earth. We cannot see them on the surface until they are brought up by more heat during a volcanic eruption. When they do surface, they are still not in radiant form.  They must be polished, cut, prepared to be the valuable jewel God created them to be. 

Inside each of us, is a diamond.  We have Jesus living in us.  He is radiant. Beautiful.  Inside of us, we also have impurities from a world fallen in sin. God wants to uncover the impurities.  He wants to remove all the dirt, so that Jesus in us is what is on the surface for people to see.  Pressures in life, like volcanic eruptions, reveal a whole lot of ugly before the beauty that is underneath is found and polished. 

Under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  Pressure reveals the impurities in us, it causes the filth of our heart to rise to the surface so we can face and deal with them.  Then, God can extract the contamination.

Under all that dirt, there is a diamond waiting to be revealed.   God needs to remove all the dirt to uncover what is already inside us.

So don't try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  

My flesh wants to run when it is uncomfortable and feels pressure.  However, remember the Lord said it was "a gift", "count it all joy".  This week I felt pressure as my schedule seemed too full for comfort.  Our flesh likes comfort.  I like comfort.

I originally wrote this on Monday, it was nearly done and after clicking "undo" one too many times, it disappeared!  Like that, all I had written was gone.  Ughh!  Another test.  Seriously, no big deal.  I was able to laugh about it.  : )

This verse helped me this week to remember the challenges I face will help me mature.  To think of my tests and challenges as a gift, helped cue me to react properly.  Maturity, like a piece of coal becoming a diamond, takes pressure.  It won't just happen.  I want the end result of being mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 

In James 1: 12, it goes on to say:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  (NIV)

The rewards are priceless when we persevere under tests and challenges with a right heart attitude.  We become mature, well-developed, not lacking in anything, and God says He rewards us with life and more life!

There is a diamond inside of you just waiting to be discovered!  Next time we are faced with a challenge, even if we may not think of it as falling in the "gift" category, remember the outcome.  The extraction of impurities will result in more of Jesus rising to the surface in us for the world to see.

Your Heavenly Father has given you a "Diamond" as a symbol of His everlasting love.  Jesus is our Diamond and He is in us.  You are beautiful, priceless, precious, valuable, radiant.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

So Long Insecurity, Week 1

Tonight was a good night.  Preparations had been made.  Prayer over the coffee pot to work properly and not have grounds in the coffee this time.  Carpet vacuumed (thanks to my wonderful husband!). House clean. Atmosphere prepared with prayer. 

Ladies began to arrive at my abode.  Some had hectic days, others more relaxed.  All with a heart for God, longing to grow in Him.  Now I sit with my lukewarm decaf coffee with vanilla cream, (I like it lukewarm. : )  I don't like my relationship with the Lord lukewarm, but I do like my coffee that way. ) reflecting on the conversations that filled the room previously in the night. Oh, and the coffee pot worked!  No grounds!

I love bible study!  LOVE IT!

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, bless His holy name! 
O my soul, bless God, don't forget a single blessing! 
He forgives your sins --every one.  (Oh this is good...)
He heals your diseases--every one.   (Wow, every one!)
He redeems you from hell--saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy--a paradise crown.  (Can it get any better?)
He wraps you in goodness--beauty eternal.  (Yes, and it does. Oh, how good you are oh God!)
He renews your youth--you're always young in his presence.  Psalms 103: 1-5 (The Message)

That wasn't the part I was going to share, but it was too good not to put in here!  Anywho...here is the part I was going to share:

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 
for He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children--with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey his precepts.  Psalms 103:13-18

This last week the bible study read "So Long Insecurity" by Beth Moore, the Introduction and Chapter 1.  God is so merciful.  He is so loving, compassionate, and patient with us as we grow to become more like Jesus.  He remembers that we are dust and mere humans.  Last week I mentioned that insecurity was sin. Let me say that was not to condemn, but to reveal a truth you may not have thought of before.  God is patient with our weaknesses and He is not mad at us.  He knows our struggles and our shortcomings and He wants us to be free more than we want it for ourselves. 

We all deal with insecurities to some extent.  We all have had to deal with thieves that have stolen part of our security.  Jesus Christ died to give it back to us.   

We cannot get security from how we look (youth is fleeting).

We cannot get security through our jobs or accomplishments.  It does not last.  Someone is always doing something better and we cannot keep up nor should that be our aim.

We cannot get security from another person.  People will always disappoint.  Not that they are bad, just also human.

We cannot get security from a man.  They cannot deliver! They may give us a temporary feeling of worth void of any true substance.  It only harms us to bend ourselves and often our character in order to feel a false sense of validation.  We end up acting or trying to be something we are not only to gain their approval.  I adore my man, but I would be in trouble if I depended on him for my affirmation and approval.  I cannot seek my security from my man and it is not healthy for you to seek internal security from yours.

So, where do we get our security?

But blessed is the man who trusts in the lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green, It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.  Jeremiah 17: 7-8(NIV)

I like the way The Message bible says it:

Blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. 

"The woman who sticks with God." We find our security, our hope, our confidence by trusting in the Lord, by sticking with God!  I like that visual.  It also reminds me of a band-aid commercial jingle....."I'm stuck on God because my God is stuck on me."

"Like a tree planted by the water that sends outs its roots by the stream."   We plant our roots by the Living Water--Jesus.  Never fearing, leaves always green, no worries, always bears fruit.....that is living in the security of Jesus.

It isn't just a fairy tale, it is available for all of us.  I would love for you to join us as we read this book.  I mentioned last week that I am planning to write about it every week after the bible study to share with you what we are learning.  The goal...... to finish this book with an unshakeable confidence in Christ, that He has given everything needed to fulfill His purpose.  There needs to be an unbeatable security filling the space where self-doubt once resided.  "So Long Insecurity....You've Been a Bad Friend."
 
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