Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dusting Off Jesus

As I was cleaning my kitchen last week, I noticed my Jesus plate tucked away in a corner of my kitchen.  I leave it out all year and it is visible, but I thought to myself, "Why is Jesus in the corner, especially at Christmas?!" 

Carefully I pulled Jesus out of the corner.  He was dusty.  I gave the Jesus plate a good run under the kitchen sink faucet and wiped the dust from the exterior ceramic.

This plate deserves a better location than the corner!  Jesus deserves to be center stage.  I found the perfect spot for Him.  He is now sitting front and center on top of my fireplace mantle. 







So much better than in the corner collecting dust!   

Where is Jesus in your home?  Is He sitting in some corner collecting dust or is He front and center?


Do you only get Jesus out at Christmas and leave Him alone tucked away the rest of the year?

If your Bible has dust on it, it is time to get it out, blow it off, and open it.  When the Word of God is collecting dust in our homes, it is a sure sign that our hearts are collecting dust as well.

With the business of the season, it is easy to be about husseling and busseling while keeping Jesus tucked away, forgotten.  Christmas is all about Jesus.  Let's not keep him tucked away in a corner.  Let's display Him for all to see!  He makes all things beautiful (even a mantle!).  

My mantle seemed void of something until I added Jesus.  Jesus completed the mantle.

Likewise, Jesus completes me.   I need Jesus!  My life was void of something until Jesus.    

This story is a complete reflection of what Jesus did for me....

I was in a corner collecting dust (and dirt, grime, filth, etc.).  When Jesus found me, He dusted me off, ran me under the faucet of His cleansing blood and wiped away all the dirt.  Then He displayed me proudly for all to see.

He calls us a display of His splendor (Isaiah 61:3). I want to display His beauty, not keep it hidden.  His beauty goes unnoticed when tucked away in some corner. We need to display Him proudly and boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Not just at Christmas, but everyday let's keep Him front and center and not in some corner collecting dust. Let's keep Jesus free of dust so our lives can also be dust free and glorify Him!

Dear Heavenly Father,  forgive me for times I have kept you in some corner of my life.  Forgive me for times I have let you collect dust.  I need you each and everyday.  I need you to come and cleanse me of my dust, dirt and sins.  Cleanse my heart, oh God and renew a right spirit within me (Ps 51:10).  My life is empty without you.  Help me keep You the center of my life.  I pray that as I keep you in the center, my life would glorify you.  Thank you for the gift of Your precious Son, JesusKeep my heart steadfast on Him.  In Jesus name, Amen.  

Merry Christmas Living Free in Him  readers!  You all bless me so much!  Thank you for coming here to hear what the Lord has laid on my heart.  Have a wonderful and Merry Christmas!  (And remember to keep Jesus dusted!) {smile}
Love you, Sue










Thursday, December 13, 2012

God-fidence

"Faith is the confidence of that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see."  Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

The King James translation says:

"Now faith is the substance of things of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." 

Let's break this verse down today.

"Faith" comes from the Greek word pistis.  It means "belief, confidence in God, or assurance".  
 Faith is having full confidence in God.  It is being assured that He will do what He said He will do.

Sometimes we don't pay much attention to the little words like "is", but "is" is an important little word!

"Is"  comes from the Greek word "esti" and means "to be present, to happen".
 Faith is present.  Faith is a noun. It is active and alive in our lives.  

"Substance" comes from the Greek word hypostasis.  It means "that which has a foundation, is firm, real being (actual existence)".  It also can mean "confidence, firm trust, assurance".
Faith is a real being and is the foundation of all we believe.  It is our confidence.  

"Of things hoped for" is translated from the Greek word elpizo.  It means "hope or to wait with joy and full confidence".  We can wait with joy and confidence KNOWING our God will do what He has promised to do.

"Evidence" is from the Greek word elegchos.  It means "proof".

"Things" is from the Greek word pragma.  It means "that which has been done, an accomplished fact, that which exists." 

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence"... The evidence will show that what we are hoping for (or waiting for with confidence) has been accomplished. 

When there is a crime and a mystery needs to be solved.  The detectives search for evidence or proof that a crime was committed.  The proof is found by the eyes.  When the proof is found, then they know what happened.  It already has happened, the truth was there all along.  It was already done.  Faith is the same way.   

What we are believing for is already done, our faith will bring it out in the open for us to see.  It becomes our proof of that which we cannot see has actually already been accomplished.  What we are believing for already exists!

"Not" means "not".  {smile}

"Seen" means "to see"  (nothing too deep there).

I hope the study of this verse helps you to see we not only can have confidence that God will do what He says He will do, but even better than that...God has ALREADY done it!  We just cannot see it yet.  That is the confidence we can have!  We can have God-fidence!! 

Related  posts:

I'm Believing God

I'm Believing God {Part 2}











Tuesday, December 11, 2012

More than "Just Right"



Last night while our seven year old son, Luke, was going to bed, he was crying because he had done something wrong.  I asked him why he was crying, and he explained, "I am not good or bad, I am just right." 

Now, I have to tell you I didn't have the foggiest clue what he was talking about.

Baffled, I questioned, "What do you mean, you are 'just right'?"  He then went on the explain (in a "Mom, I can't believe you don't know about the three bears" tone of voice), "You know, the three bears...one was too hot, one was too cold and one was 'just right'.  I am just right." 

(How silly of me, of course, the three bears!)  I pondered this seven year old's view of himself for a moment and then without another hint of hesitation, I poignantly addressed this issue.

"You are not just right.  You are precious, you are a child of God.  You are special and unique with God-given talents and abilities. You are good.  You make good decisions. You have Jesus living inside of you!  You are not just alright..."  (I went on some more about all that, but you get the gist of it.)

Many people may view themselves as Luke did, as "just right".  They may say it a little differently like, "I'm doing ok" or "I'm alright just the way I am."

"Just right" connotes average, in the middle, or mediocre. We. Are. More.

We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus ( Romans 8:37).

By Christ, we have been made kings and priests to His God and Father (Rev 1:6).

We are holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling (Hebrews 3:1).  

In Revelations 3:15, it is written, "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."

God wants us to be cold or hot, not "just right".  In my Bible commentary, it further explains that cold springs are refreshing and hot mineral springs have medicinal properties.  Lukewarmness is nauseating.

We are not to adapt to the low to mediocre standards of the world.  Stir up your zeal for the Lord and don't settle for "just right".

Sorry Luke...even though your name is Luke, I will NOT let you settle for luke-warm. You were made for more my son!

And. So. Were. You! 





Thursday, December 6, 2012

If Only I Had a Burning Bush...

This is week two for the online Bible study with Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Studies.  We are reading Greater by Pastor Steven Furtick.  This week we read about Elisha and how God called him to "greater" when the prophet Elijiah stopped by while he was out plowing one day.

To read more about Elisha, go to 1 Kings 19:19-21, 2 Kings 2:1-9:13, 2 Kings 13:14-21.

Elisha knew the Lord was calling Him "greater'.  He knew he was about to switch from the fields of plowing to the field of the prophetic.  It would seem a "no brainer" for him.  The man of God shows up and of course you follow.   However, we don't always have a prophet come and throw a mantle on us when God is calling us to "greater".

In 1999, my husband and I sensed the Lord calling us to move from Illinois to Tennessee.  My husband, Chris, had a great job with a fortune 500 company and was on the fast track to "success" by the world's standards.  My entire family lives in Illinois.  A move meant quitting our jobs and leaving our family and friends to go to a new place.  

Fear struck my heart as we made this decision.
  
What if we fail?  What if this is a big mistake?  What if we lose everything?

I remember laying prostrate on my bed crying before the Lord.  Father, please give me peace...how do we know this is you?  Please Lord, I need to know...I need You to speak to me.  

Then, I opened my devotional hoping for a Word, hoping the Lord would speak.  He did.

It was a devotional a friend had given me.  It had been hers and she passed it on to me.  I opened it to a page and on that page one sentence was underlined.  (It was the ONLY sentence underlined in the whole book.)  It is a sentence I will NEVER forget.

"Do not be afraid you will lose everything.  God is your source, not the world."  

Even now as I write this I am tearing up.  Immediately I knew the Lord was speaking to me.    

I won't say this word from the Lord necessarily made it easy to leave. However, it did make it clear this move was Him and that He was with us.  

I am always wanting the booming voice from Heaven telling me exactly what to do, but lets face reality...even a booming voice doesn't always make it easy to follow the Lord. 

Remember Moses?  He had a burning bush!   Even with a burning bush and the booming voice he wrestled with what God was calling him to do.  

Following God may not always be easy, but it is always worth the cost.  I would rather be uncomfortable and in His perfect will than comfortable outside of it.   

The Lord will show you His will if you ask.  He will reveal the next step to take.  He won't leave you guessing.

We left Illinois thirteen years ago and it was definitely the Lord.  I am amazed at all the Lord has done in these thirteen years.  We didn't lose everything.  God proved He is our source.  He has done above and beyond anything we could ask or think!

We may not get a burning bush or a prophet throwing a mantle on us when God calls us to something greater (although that would be nice).  However the Lord speaks, I pray that we would respond as Elisha responded.  I pray we would take off running in the direction of the greater life God has planned for us!  

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Prov 3:5-6













Thursday, November 29, 2012

Living Greater

I am currently reading the book Greater by Pastor Steven Furtick and leading an online Bible study small group for it with Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Every week the host, Melissa Taylor, presents topic options for fellow bloggers to write about to accompany the study.

I chose this week to write about "Lifted Up" and to share with you someone who inspires me to live "greater".

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the father."  John 14:12

Greater things.  How can someone do "greater things" than Jesus?

The Answer:  The Holy Spirit living inside of us.  The Holy Spirit living inside of you!  You have the fullness of God living on the inside of you! Today you are empowered with the fullness of God to accomplish greater things.  How incredible is that? 

You may be wondering, but what does a life of living greater look like?

There are many examples of people living greater in the Bible.

However, there are people living now who may never have their names penned in a best selling book, but more importantly have their names penned in the everlasting Book of Life.  The Lord of the Universe and Creator of Heaven and Earth has recorded all of their greater works.  

Today I would like to share an example of one such life.
 







This is my Great Aunt Opal.  She is eighty-eight years young.  (If you met her, you might think she was closer to sixty.) 

Her name may never be mentioned in People Magazine  and she may never have a best-seller written on her behalf, but her name is forever engraved on the palm of the Father and in my heart.

What makes this lady an example of living greater?

Greater is adopting two precious babies when one is unable to conceive naturally.

Greater is faithfully caring for a husband diagnosed with Alzhiemers until he passed away.

Greater is exhibiting grace and joy while walking through the heart ache of caring for a once loving husband who had become belligerent due to a debilitating disease.

Greater is staying faithful to God and continuing to praise Him when a son passes away prematurely.

Greater is continuing to pray and believe God for the salvation of those you love.

Greater is having a servant's heart that willingly gives to those less fortunate.

Greater is volunteering at a local nursing home and loving on the precious people living there.

Greater is accompanying those with physical needs to a doctor appointment because no one else can go with them.  

Greater is giving up your own needs and interests to serve those who need you. 

Greater is washing the feet of your elderly sister and cleansing her wounds.

Greater is daily being by your sister's side and holding her hand on her death bed.  (This sister was my sweet Grandmother.)  

Greater is sharing the joy of the Lord with those around you and continually giving Him praise.

"Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends."  John 15:13 

My Aunt Opal lives greater because she loves greater.  She exemplifies this verse and she exemplifies a life lived greater.

Today, I honor you and your life, Aunt Opal.  Thank you for being an example of living "Greater". 


 






Monday, November 26, 2012

Keep on Building


I took a break from Nehemiah for the past few weeks, but was not quite finished with it.   If you did not have the chance to read the other posts on Nehemiah, you can click on the links below.  It is such a great and fascinating book!  I believe you will be blessed by reading it and what the Lord has shown me.

Chapter 1-2 Grab a Brick and a Bible

Chapter 2  You Have No Right

Chapter 3 One Man

Chapter 4 Identifying the Lie

Chapter 4 (cont) Build with a Sword by Your Side, 



Chapter 4 (cont.) Sound Your Trumpet

Chapter 5 Give It Back

Now, that all leads up to Chapter 6.

At the beginning of Chapter 6, Nehemiah had finished building the wall.  The Israelites and Nehemiah had overcome all kinds of adversity and the wall was finished!

It says in Chapter 6, verse 1-2, "When Sanballat and Tobiah, Gesham the Arab, and the rest of our enemies had heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it, that Sanballat and Gesham sent to me saying, 'Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono,' but they thought to do me harm."  

When you are doing the plan of God, the enemy may come along to distract you.  When you are whole and healed and no longer broken with "no breaks left in it", the enemy may try to convince you to come to where he is to do you harm.  He may endeavor to entangle you in an old sin or seduce you with falsehoods  to discourage your progress and cause regression.   He doesn't want us to be healed and whole and he will try to coerce us into believing his lies to harm what the Lord has rebuilt!  

In verse 3 Nehemiah answers his enemies:  "So I sent messenger to them, saying, "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.  Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you."  

Nehemiah did not buy into his enemies' lies.  He would not succumb to their attempts to thwart the plan of God.  It says in verse 5 that his enemies were persistent and tried five times to convince Nehemiah to meet them.  The fifth time they lied to intimidate Nehemiah, claiming he planned to rebel against the King of Persia with ambitions to rule.

The enemy of our souls will lie to us as well.

We must identify the lie and call him out on it!  "Then I sent to him, saying, 'No such things as you say are being done, but you invent them in your heart.'" Nehemiah 6:8

Our enemy may lie to us to plant fear or discouragement in our hearts. 

"For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, 'Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.'" Neh 6:9

The enemy tried this tactic with me many times.  I was so broken and it seemed like I would never be whole.  I felt no matter how hard I worked, I would still be broken.  That was until I learned that it wasn't up to me.  I didn't need to be strong.  God would be my strength and He would rebuild. 

"Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands." Neh 6:9   

Where we are weak, HE IS STRONG.  He is my ever lasting fortress and my strength forever!  When we feel weak, we should cry out as Nehemiah did, "O God, strengthen my hands."
 
Yes, the enemy may try to invoke fear and tempt you to sin as did Nehemiah's enemies.

Why does the enemy want to stop the rebuilding?  Why is it so important to him?

Besides the fact that he hates rebuilding in that his goal is to "kill, steal, and destroy"(John 10:10); here is the reason for all the fuss...

"And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God." Neh 6:16  

When the walls of our lives have been rebuilt from rubble to victorious radiance, the enemy knows that others will see our lives and perceive that this work was done by our God! 

Unbelievers will recognize this work could not have been accomplished without the intervention of a Divine Carpenter.  Our Divine Carpenter is Jesus and He alone can turn our ruins into the radiance of His glory. 

Keep building my friends, His glory awaits. 


 
 






Friday, November 23, 2012

Don't Open that Door!

God's Word has much to say about "doors". 

Jesus used the term "door" as a metaphor. 

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door.  I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."  Revelations 3:20 

This verse above may be familiar to you.  In this verse, Jesus is asking for entrance into our hearts and lives.  Again, He uses the term door as a metaphor for letting Him into our lives. 

In this case, letting Jesus into our lives is a GREAT choice, one the reaps eternal rewards. 

However, there are also instances when we are faced with unfavorable choices knocking at our doors. 

Door is often translated from the Hebrew word pethach, which means "an opening or an entrance".

This word pethach is also translated "gates" at times in the Bible, referring to the gates that would be at the entrance of a city.  The gates of cities would be guarded to protect the people of the city from enemies who meant them harm. 

The Lord said this to Cain in Genesis 4:7

"You will be accepted if you do what is right.  But, if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at your door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master."  

The Lord was warning Cain in this verse.  Opening the door to sin will bring unwanted consequences and can invite more temptation. 

Can you just picture it?  Sin...crouching...waiting to an opportunity to strike.  Bad choices open the door and invite the enemy into our lives.  Good choices are like the guards on the wall protecting our hearts from the enemies that would like to enter and conquer. 

Recently, our van door stopped working properly.  We could get it open, but it wasn't guaranteed we would be able to shut it.  It malfunctioned and the van won't work if the door isn't shut. 

Our lives will also malfunction if we open the door to the enemy.  When we open that door, we don't know what it will take to get it closed.  It is better to not open it in the first place.





(I put this sign on our door to remind us not to open it.)  Habit can be a powerful force--it can oftentimes override reason and knowledge.

I hope this sign may remind you to stop and make the right choice the next time you sense sin crouching at your door inviting you to open the door and let him into your life.  The enemy wants your life to malfunction.  Don't let him have that control in your life.  Subdue him, subdue the sin.

NO!  Don't open that door!  












Monday, November 19, 2012

Greater


This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to meet Melissa Taylor from Proverbs 31 Ministries at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference. 

Melissa is the Online Bible Study Leader for Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Thousands of women sign up to do online Bible studies with her from across the globe! 

In just one week, Melissa will begin a new Bible study using the book Greater by Pastor Steven Furtick.

Steven Furtick is a pastor of a large church in Charolette, NC.  

John Bevere writes this about him and this book, "My friend Steven Furtick has an insatiable passion for the church to discover the fullness of life in Christ.  In Sun Stand Still, Steven dared us to pray and believe God for the impossible.  Now in Greater, he walks us through what it looks like to live out an audacious life--a life marked by nothing less than greatness God's way!" 



I am excited to be a part of this study with Proverbs 31 Ministries!  I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Online Bible Study Leader Team facilitating one of about 50 Facebook small groups.  It is not too late to sign up! 

Just go to www.melissataylor.org to sign up!  If you would like to be a part of my small group, please let me know!  I would love for you to join us as we discover God's Greater vision for our lives! 















Monday, November 12, 2012

Is God Freaking Out?


"For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end."  Daniel 6:26

Steadfast:  firmly fixed in place; immovable.  

Our younger son, Luke, went through a season when he was dreadfully afraid of storms.  There could just be a few clouds in the sky (white clouds) and he would start crying, shaking, and stomping in terror.  This fear was rooted in a tornado storm that occurred  last spring.   

We prayed with him and gave him scripture to help him overcome the fear. We assured him that there was no reason to fear.  

We also pointed out to him that we were not afraid.  We told him often:

"You don't need to freak out unless we are freaking out, everything is ok.

We could be "steadfast" in the middle of the storm because we knew things our son did not know.  


 
Life has storms.  Perhaps you are in the middle of a storm today.  Or maybe you see clouds in the sky and you are afraid that a storm may be coming.  Fear not.  God is with you.  Nothing moves Him. 
    
God is steadfast in the middle of our storms because He knows things we do not know.    

We don't need to freak out unless He is freaking out.   And He never freaks out.  He is steadfast forever. 

"Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you, wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9

 
Little Luke is no longer terrified if he sees a couple of clouds.  He no longer panics at the sound of thunder.  The Word of God is a seed.  The Word was sown into his little heart and he no longer has the severe reaction to storms.  The Word will calm our fears as well.

We don't need to be afraid of the storms.  Our God is steadfast.  He is our help.  He is our healer.  We may not have all the details during the storm, but He doesWhen we know He is with us and for us, we can be steadfast because He is. 

"My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise...I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations.  For you mercy reaches unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds.   Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth."  Psalms 57:7-11

 







Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Be Encouraged

But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.  John 20:11

Sometimes things happen that we don't understand.  None of the disciples understood what was happening when Jesus died.  The Jews thought Jesus had come to establish a kingdom and bring freedom and deliverance.  That is why He came, but it did not happen the way their human minds had conceived.

If you need encouragement today, I encourage you to look into the tomb as Mary did.  IT IS EMPTY!  We serve a risen Savior.  He is unmoved by events and circumstances.  He is not surprised nor overwhelmed.

God is still on the throne.  We may not understand, we just need to look to the One who does.

Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.  Psalms 21:24

Why are you cast down, O my soul?  And why are you disquieted within me?  Hope is God for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.  Psalms 42:5

For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth...My praise shall be continually of You.  Psalms 71:5-6

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

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?  Psalms 27:1

The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him.  Exodus 15:2

Be of good courage.  Let not your heart be troubled.

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  John 14:1

The tomb is EMPTY and Jesus is alive. 









Thursday, November 1, 2012

Give It Back

Do you want to have a little fun today?!  Let's do a GIVEAWAY!  I have a copy of Nora King's book  
30 Days to a Better Prayer Life to give away.  

In the past couple of posts, we have looked at the book of Nehemiah and in those posts, prayer has been mentioned as a vital part of rebuilding.  You can click below to read the last two posts if you missed them. 

Build with a Sword by Your Side 

Sound Your Trumpet 

In Nora King's book, she outlines key principles of prayer.  It is an amazing book every believer should have in their book library.  To enter to win, you just have to "like"  the "Living Free in Him" fan page on facebook, leave a comment, or share this post.  You have until midnight Friday night to enter to win!

Now we will continue with Nehemiah...Chapter 5

For about seventy years, the Israelites were held in captivity by the Babylonians who invaded Jerusalem in 597 BC.   They were held in bondage by their foreign enemy.

Now, let's fast forward to Nehemiah's time (444 BC).  The Isrealites had been freed from the bondage of the Babylonians since 536 BC, which means they had been free from foreign captivity for about 90 years.

Can you imagine the outrage when Nehemiah (who was still a servant in the King of Persia's home) discovered there were Jews being enslaved by fellow Jews, their own brethren?  In Chapter 5, that is exactly what Nehemiah discovers. 

Before Nehemiah had arrived to Judah, an economic crisis had struck their land.  A famine coupled with the need to pay high taxes forced many of the Israelites to sell everything they owned including land, homes, and even members of their own family to be slaves.

They told Nehemiah:

"We are forcing our sons and daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards."  Neh 5:5

We are like the Israelites.  We have already been made free by the blood of Jesus.  We were once captive and a slave to sin, but as children of God, we are free!  Yet, many of us are in bondage for a variety of reasons.

Why are we enslaved?  Sin may be coerced us back into bondage.  Lies of unworthiness often keep chains on God's precious daughters.

Two things are certain...YOU ARE  FREE and IT IS NOT IN YOUR POWER TO REDEEM YOURSELF.    Only Jesus can redeem us and He already has.  We need only to receive Him.

Just as Nehemiah was offended at the oppression of His fellow brethren, Jesus is grieved and righteously indignant by the oppression of His people.  

Nehemiah pleaded with his brethren to "Please stop this usury!"

"Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine,and the oil, that you have charged them. "  Nehemiah 5:8-11

As the Israelites had to restore to their brethren that which was rightfully theirs, our enemy has to give us back everything he has stolen from us!  He has no right to keep you in bondage or take what is yours.
Demand him to give it back to you (In Jesus' Name).  You belong to God.  He paid for you with the precious blood of Jesus.  The enemy has no right to anything that is yours.   You are God's daughter.

 No, it is not in our power to redeem ourselves.  But, thankfully we don't have to repay.  We never could.  The Lord says, "Restore! Give it back!"  And His Word is final.

"You are free!  If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed."  John 8:36



 








Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sound Your Trumpet

"And them I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, 'The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall.'"  Nehemiah 4:19

Yes, we are still in Nehemiah.  Oh, what a great book this is!   


Building is hard work.  Whether it is rebuilding the broken areas of your life or building the Kingdom of God, it takes work.

I know from personal experience rebuilding brokenness is something no one else can do for you.  Others can pray for you and perhaps counsel you, but only you and God can actually do the rebuilding.  The work can be great and extensive. 

As Christians, we are separated and spread out around the globe.  Missionaries in particular may go extended periods of time without fellowship with other strong believers.  In America, most of us have the privilege of interacting with other Christians on a regular bases, but even we are separated at times doing the work of the Lord.
 
In the next verse, an answer is provided for those who have been engaged in the exhausted work of rebuilding brokenness or busy in building the Kingdom of God.

"Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there, Our God will fight for us." Nehemiah 4: 20

Sound your trumpet.  Rally around others and ask for prayer.  Don't stay isolated, get with other believers who will stand in prayer with you.  Then, believe your almighty, ever-present, all-loving, all-knowing, never failing, always faithful God will fight for you!   

Sometimes when we are going through a difficult time, we pray and we pray and we fight and we fight.  I'm not saying we shouldn't pray and that we shouldn't use the Word of God as our weapon of warfare.  But, what I am saying is that it isn't up to us.  God is our defender. 

"The battle is not yours, but God's"  2 Chronicles 20:15

He will fight for us.  Surrender the battle to Him and He never fails.

"Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle." Psalms 24:8

Do you have a battle you have been fighting? A marriage issue?  A financial crisis? A hidden sin?  An area of bondage?

Sound your trumpet!  Rally and ask others to pray.   Give the battle to Him.  He is always victorious! 

If you would like me to  pray for you, I'd love to be someone who could rally around you in prayer.  Please feel free to contact me via email or facebook, I'd love to pray for you. 



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Build with a Sword by Your Side

We have been adventuring through the book of Nehemiah discovering some powerful truths tucked away in this obscure book. 

In case you missed any of the previous posts on Nehemiah, here are the links:

Grab a Brick and a Bible

You Have No Right

One Man

Identifying the Lie

In "Identifying the Lie", we discussed the importance of recognizing when your enemy is trying to discourage you and beat you down.  Satan would like nothing better than for you to give up and stop rebuilding.  His whole agenda is to steal, kill, and destroy. 

When we are going through a battle, we need reinforcements.  We need others to stand up behind us and beside us and lift us up in prayer. When the enemy of the Israelites came and threatened to kill the Israelites to cause their work to cease, Nehemiah sent in reinforcements.

"And our adversaries said, 'They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause their work to cease.'" Nehemiah 4:11

"Therefore, I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings, and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows."  Nehemiah 4:13

Our reinforcements are the people who stand with us in prayer, who help us and are strong for us when we are weak.

When you are doing the Lord's work or making spiritual gains in overcoming past bondages, the enemy will come to discourage your efforts and will attack at times to shaken your resolve.  Not everything is a spiritual attack, but it is good to keep your armor on and be ready.

In Ephesians 6:11-13, God has instructed us to...

"Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, and against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  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." 

In the next verses, 14-17 of Ephesians, the Lord explains the armor of God in detail.  I encourage you to go to the passage and read it all.   For lengths sake, I will mention only one- "the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God."  We must have our swords to fight our enemy.  The power of God's Word will defeat the enemy. 

Now, back to Nehemiah...when we left the Israelites.in verse 13, the enemies were coming and the Israelites were prepared for battle with reinforcements and their swords by their sides. 

Let's see what happened...

"And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work."  Nehemiah 4:15

Again the enemies left!  Sandballet and Tobiah left in Chapter 2 when Nehemiah spoke truth and again the enemies left here when they saw they were prepared to fight!  The enemy prefers an easy target.  When he sees you are armed with the armor of God and the Sword of the Spirit, he may just leave.  If not, swing the Sword by speaking the Word of God and then he will!

"So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah.  Those who build on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction and with the other held a weapon."  Nehemiah 4:16-17

Everyday we MUST have on the whole armor of God.  Everyday.  Aren't we always in the process of building?  Everyday that we are building and becoming all that God intended for us to be, we need to carry our Sword.  We need to have our weapons of our warfare ready for battle so when it comes, we will not falter. 

Work with the Lord to rebuild and restore the brokenness in your life.  But, build with a sword by your side. 


Suggested reading:  Nehemiah Chapter 4 and Ephesians 6: 11-17







Monday, October 22, 2012

Identifying the Lie


Nehemiah is a book full of wisdom and practical Biblical truths!  It is a hidden gem in that I just discovered it!  It was always there, but I never saw it before a couple weeks ago!  Discovering new truths in God's Word is living pouring pure water onto dry soil...so refreshing and invigorating!

So far we have looked at Chapters 1 - 3 in the previous posts...

Grab and Brick and a Bible

You Have No Right

One Man

So, now we are on Chapter 4.

In Chapter 4, Sanballat and Tobiah return.

"But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews."  Nehemiah 4:1

Whenever we are doing the Lord's work, there will be demonic forces that strive to dishearten the laborers and belittle the work being done.  Sanballat and Tobiah represent those demonic forces.

Tobiah joined in the mockery saying, "'Whatever they build, if even a fox goes up on it, he will break down their stone wall.'"  Nehemiah 4:3

In whatever kind of ministry you are doing, whether it is at home with your children, at church, in the community or mission field, forces will be at work to discourage your resolve.  These forces whisper doubts of your effectiveness.  We must identify these whispers as lies.

Also, as we rebuild what the enemy has broken in our lives, he will lie to us in an attempt to make us think that it is no use.  The enemy (Satan) will try to coerce us into believing we will always be broken or so weak that if something little (like a fox) comes along, it will tear us down.

This lie is not the truth! 

"Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world."  "Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith." (1 John 4:4, 5:4) This is the truth--we are overcomers and victorious in Him. 

"Now it happened, when Sanballat and Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion." Nehemiah 4:7

When the gaps in our walls are being restored and closing in towards wholeness, we need to be alert and on guard for spiritual attack.

"Nevertheless we made our prayer to God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night." Nehemiah 4:9

Pray and watch for spiritual attack. 

While the Israelites were rebuilding, they also kept watch for attack.

"Then Judah said, 'The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.'  And our adversaries said, 'They will neither know nor see anything, till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease.'' Nehemiah 4: 10  

The enemy will wait until you are exhausted and beaten down to attack.  He knows it is easier to defeat you at those times.  There have been times in my life when the "rubbish" seemed overwhelming.  I needed so much work to rebuild that it was discouraging.  I grew tired of rebuilding. The enemy would lie to me and tell me I would never be whole.  I could have given up, except one promise kept me building.

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."  Philippians 1:6

The Lord will complete what He started.  He will rebuild the broken areas of your life.  You have to work with Him, but He has promised it will be rebuilt!  Don't listen to the lies of the enemy.  Satan would like nothing better than for you to remain broken and defeated.  God wants to rebuild you so you are healthy, whole and strong.

Chapter 4 of Nehemiah is filled with riches.  We will continue with the rest of Chapter 4 next time.  





Thursday, October 18, 2012

One Man


In the last two posts, I have been journeying through the book of Nehemiah.  In case you are just joining in the fun, here are the links for first two posts.

Grab a Brick and a Bible

You Have No Right

The Holy Spirit desires to rebuild the broken areas of your life.  There will be Sanballats and Tobiahs in your life who will try to discourage you.  Many times, our thoughts can be that discouraging voice.  Be mindful of your thoughts.  Do they line up with what the Lord has said to you?

Just today those thoughts came in an attempt to discourage me. Then, I remembered the post and what I wrote about and I know those discouraging thoughts are not from the Lord.

I am standing on the Word of the Lord.  His Holy Spirit is helping me rebuild and I will arise and build!  The Word of the Lord will be accomplished.

If you remember, in the last post "You Have No Right", Nehemiah had just finished telling Sanballat and Tobiah that they had no right to Jerusalem, so in other words, "Shut it!"  That was at the end of Chapter 2.

Moving on to Chapter 3, I noticed that Sanballat and Tobiah were nowhere to be found.  They are not mentioned again until Chapter 4 and there it says that "when they heard that we were rebuilding the wall", which tells me they left.  The enemy will leave when you speak the truth.  He may return again, but he has to leave at that time! 

Now Chapter 3 is all about rebuilding the wall.  At first glance it appears to be a lengthy list of people who helped build the wall.  It could be easy to just skip over it and not pay much attention to Chapter 3.  I know when reading through parts of the Old Testiment it is tempting to skip over lists of people (like the "begats" lists), but it is all in there for a purpose.

What do I see when I read Chapter 3?  Well, first of all I notice that there were a multitude of people who helped with rebuilding the wall.  In addition, all the materials they needed to rebuild were already there. What does this mean?  To me, it means that these people were there all along and they could have rebuilt the city at any time. They were already in Jerusalem.  Why did it take over ten years for them to decide to rebuild?

To me this indicates how one person, Nehemiah, can make a difference.  It took Nehemiah going to Jerusalem and inspiring the Israelites to rebuild in order for the walls and gates to be rebuilt.  One man made a difference with his belief and enthusiasm.

The other factual nugget revealed in Chapter 3 is that the Lord will bring the right people with the right skills and materials to accomplish His will and plan.  The list of people who helped with the wall is remarkable.  It appears that the whole city came out to help, given all the names listed.

Do you realize that the city walls and gates that had for all practical purposes been destroyed for one hundred and fifty years were rebuilt in fifty-two days!  And it all transpired with the inspiration of one man who listened to the voice of the Lord and inflamed enthusiasm in a nation! 

Wow!  Nothing is impossible with God.  We need to always remember how one person can truly make a difference in others, their nation, and the world!

And that, my friends is Chapter 3...isn't Nehemiah a hidden treasure?!  Chapter 4 is good too!  I will be discussing Chapter 4 next time.  {smile}

"Let us rise up and build" Then they set their hands to do this good work.  Nehemiah 2:18b

"Let us rise up and build"!!  





Wednesday, October 17, 2012

You Have No Right

In the last post Grab and Brick and a Bible I began discussing the book Nehemiah.  I am falling in love with this book in the Bible!  There are so many jewels here.  Last week I didn't even know where this book was in the Bible!  Oh, how God's Word is surprising!

In Chapter 2 of Nehemiah, Nehemiah is going back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls and gates that were destroyed.  I did a little history checking and below is a timeline as to when all this happened as far as I can discern.  This is all fascinating to me and I hope it is to you as well! 

597 BC- King Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon or Persia) invades Jerusalem, destroys the city and Temple and takes the Jews captive (including Daniel).

536 BC- King Cyrusof Persia released the Jews to return to Jerusalem.  At this time the Jews started to rebuild their homes and the Temple.  However, enemies came after King Cyrus died in 530 BC and destroyed the work that had been completed on the temple.

522 BC- King Darius I of Persia encouraged the reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was rebuilt
between 520 and 515 BC.

464 BC - King Artaxerxes of Persia began his reign.

457 BC-  King Artaxerxes issued a decree to Ezra to rebuild Jerusalem and establish a government. Before this time, from 536 to 457 BC, the Israelites were struggling.  They had rebuilt their homes and managed to rebuild the Temple, but the city still lay in ruins.

456-454 BC - Samaritans knocked down the rebuilt sections of the wall and burned the gates of Jerusalem.

444 BC- Nehemiah asks King Artaxerxes if he can return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls and gates.

I felt this timeline was important to understand the history of how Jerusalem was destroyed and the lengthy process of rebuilding.  So, now we are at 444 BC when Nehemiah has gone to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls.  (Note it has been ten years that the walls have lain in ruins.)

"Then I (Nehemiah) said to them, 'You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire.  Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.' 

And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king's words that he had spoken to me.  So they said, ' Let us rise up and build.' Then they set their hands to this good work."  Nehemiah 2:17-18 

Nehemiah is encouraging the Israelites to rebuild.  He is saying, "The King granted us permission and God has made a way for us to rebuild!  So let's do this thing! "  (Sue paraphrase)

However, whenever someone is called to do something great, there will undoubtedly be naysayers to discourage. 

"But when Sanballat, the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and beshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, 'What is this thing that you are doing?  Will you rebel against the king?'" Nehemiah 2:19

Oh friend, how I LOVE the next verse coming up...

"So I answered them, and said to them, 'The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right in Jerusalem.'" Nehemiah 2:20

When you are doing what the Lord God has called you to do, the enemy will try to come and discourage you.  When you begin to work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit to rebuild the broken areas of your life, the enemy will come to try to convince you to stop rebuilding.

I love how Nehemiah responded!  He spoke to his enemy (just like Jesus did) and stood on the Word of the Lord.  He spoke back to the enemy and he shot his enemy down with a mighty truth.

 "You have no heritage or right." 

The enemy (Satan) has no right in your life.  You have a heritage as a child of the living God and Satan has NO right to your life!  Tell him.  Speak it as Nehemiah did.  When the enemy comes to discourage or defeat you, tell him to leave in the name of Jesus. (Jesus did.) Tell him he has no right to be in your life.

So many truths and jewels in this book.  There is even more to come!  Rebuild the brokenness.  Allow the Holy Spirit to come in and fill in the holes and close the gaps of your heart.  He is more than able.  He desires us to be whole and not have holes.  The enemy, Satan, has no right in your life.

 "Let us rise up and build."  



 
               









Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Grab a Brick and a Bible

This past weekend was simply AMAZING!  I went up to Pigeon Forge with about three hundred other ladies for Redemption Church's women's conference.  Aquilla Nash was our guest speaker.  Can I just say ANNOINTED...ANNOINTED...ANNOINTED!!

God met us there in a very real and personal way.  If you have never experienced the power and presence of the Lord God, you need to. 

On Friday morning, Nora King ministered.  She spoke on the book of Nehemiah.  I don't know about you, but I cannot say I have spent much time in the book of Nehemiah.  Actually, I don't know if I have ever read it and don't ask me where it is in the Bible.  I had to look in the Table of Contents to find it!  (To help you out, it is on page 675 in my Bible, three books before the Psalms.)

But, I tell you...I am reading it now!  Wow, there is always more to learn in the Word of God! 

In the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah is a servant to the King of Persia.  He was taken captive by the Babylonians when they invaded and destroyed Jerusalem.  Nehemiah finds out his home land lies in ruins, walls destroyed and gates burned with fire.  He goes to the king and asks to return to his home to rebuild the walls of his home land.  The king likes Nehemiah and grants his request to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah is a portrait of the Holy Spirit.  The name "Nehemiah" means "Yahweh Comforts".  The Holy Spirit is our Comforter.   The walls of Jerusalem represent the brokenness of our lives.

The Holy Spirit earnestly desires to rebuild the broken areas of our lives.  

How about you?  Do you have a hole in your wall?  Has the hammer of life beaten your wall to rubble?

Perhaps you are like me.  God has repaired many areas of my wall, but there is still an area that is broken.  I have a hole in my wall that only the Holy Spirit can fill.  I am inviting Him in to fill in the hole, to restore, and to heal.   

The Holy Spirit wants to rebuild the brokenness in your life.  Will you let him?  Will you work with Him to repair brick by brick what has been destroyed?

I won't lie to you.  It won't be easy.  Rebuilding is work.  It is worth it.  When the Holy Spirit restores a wall, it is reinforced with the iron of God's Word.  The blood of Jesus fills in the cracks and provides a strength that cannot be penetrated.

Are you ready?  Grab a brick and your Bible and get busy building!  The Holy Spirit is already at work.

"So they said, 'Let us rise up and build.' Then they set their hands to this good work."  Nehemiah 2:18b

Suggested reading:  Nehemiah Chapters 1 and 2. 







Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I am God and I Approve this Message

In this season of politics, we hear an array of adds from candidates.  Each candidate has their own message.  The messages may be polar opposites, but there is always one common denominator...the end.

At the end of each message, we always hear, "I am ________ and I approve this message." 

Like the candidates, we also have a message.  Every word that comes out of our mouths, every word we print on paper, every syllable we type on facebook or compose in an email is our message. 

What is our message?  What are we saying?

Are we using our words for good?  Are we complaining?  Do we ever use words we wouldn't use in front of our pastors or kids?  Are we gossiping?  Are we losing our patience or arguing? 

"No man can tame the tongue.  It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God.  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not to be so.  James 3:8-10

Our mouths hold great power.  Our mouths were created to praise God, not curse men.

Our mouths were created to bless and do good.  

With every form of communicating we do, whether it is via email, facebook, letters (yes, some people still write letters), phone calls, or face-to-face, we need to be aware of the message we are sending.

Like the people who are representing the candidate's views in the adds, we are representing the Lord Jesus Christ with our words!  Our message needs to reflect Him.

Before we click send on an email, before we post that joke or status update on facebook, before we spew words out of our mouth, we need to do a quick check with the Holy Spirit.

Would He give His stamp of approval?  Would He add the ending tagline..."I approve this message"?

 If the answer is no, don't send it, don't say it.

I pray every message we send would be able to end with... "I am God and I approve this message".

"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

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray you would forgive me for times I have used my words in ways that are unpleasing to You.  Lord, I pray you would give me wisdom and discernment regarding my words.  I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart would be acceptable in Your sight.  I pray that I would use my words to bless others and praise You.  I pray that Your praise would be continually on my lips.  I pray that I would encourage others with my words, and edify others.  I pray I would not use my mouth in anyway that is unpleasing to You, but that You would approve of all I say and do and my life would glorify You.  In Jesus Name, Amen. 



 







Monday, October 8, 2012

Is the Hokey Pokey Really What Its All About?


There is a funny picture going around in the social media circles.  Perhaps you have seen it.





It cracks a smile, and we dismiss it as a joke.

However, is it all about the Hokey Pokey? 

Well....maybe it is. {smile}

In the Hokey Pokey at the end of each chorus, we "turn ourselves around and that's what its all about".

Hmmm. Turning ourselves around.

The word "turn" in the Old Testiment is the Hebrew word, Cuwr, and it means, "to turn aside or depart from." 

In Exodus 3:3, it says:
"And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." 

Moses had to turn aside or "depart" from what he was doing in order to see what God was doing.  God spoke to him from the burning bush.  If he wouldn't have turned himself around, he would have missed God.

In Jeremiah 8:5, we find:

"Why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? Why do the people of Jerusalem refuse to turn back? They cling to their lies and will not turn around."

In this example, the Lord was beckoning his people to turn around, to turn back to Him, but they refused to listen.  The path they were on was self-destructive.  If they would turn themselves around and turn back to the Lord, He would lead them on a good life-filling path.

Our whole mission, our entire reason for being here has to do with "turning around'.

The word "turn" in the New Testiment is the Greek word, Epistrepho, and it means "to turn oneself about, turn back." 

 Jesus spoke to Paul in Acts 26:18:

"I will now send you to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me."  

First, we must turn ourselves around from the path of darkness to the path of light.  We must turn from our old ways and get on God's path or we will miss all God has for us. Then, it is our purpose to help turn others around. 

Just like in the Hokey Pokey, we must "turn ourselves around" and that is what it is all about. 

So, wouldn't you know it...the Hokey Pokey is what it is all about after all. Now you know.

I hope you think about this every time you hear that song now.  : ) 







Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Confident Heart {Last Week}: A Display of His Splendor


The very first post I ever wrote was based on Isaiah 61 about us being "A Display of His Splendor".

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has annointed me to preach good news to the poor, He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.....

To give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and the garment of praise instead of a spirit of dispair, that they may be called OAKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, the planting of the Lord for the DISPLAY OF HIS SPLENDOR." 

In that first post, I shared how there was a time when a friend shared this verse with me years ago.  When my friend shared the verse with me, I told her how I longed to be a display of His splendor.  She calmly and certainly replied, "You already are."   

Today, I am telling you dear ones, "You ARE a display of His splendor!"

 He sees you as an oak of righteousness, planted in Him to display His glory! 

Be confident in His Word.  Be confident in His promise.  Believe and receive for yourself all God says you are and all He has created you to be!  As Renee Swope says on page 204 of A Confident Heart,

"He will use your transformed life to show off His glory.  There is nothing more fulfilling than asking God to reveal Himself to you and then letting Him reveal Himself through you."

You are a display of His splendor.  As others see your confidence in Him, He will be glorified and you can then help others live in confidence in Him as well.

 Renee also writes this caveat at the top of page 204:

"As we end this part of our journey together, I want you to know that living in the power of God's promises isn't a one-time thing.  I return to every truth I have shared with you, again, and again.  I pray you will keep this book as a resource so you have easy access to God's perspective and His promises that remind you how much He wants you to have a confident heart."

Freedom requires frequent maintenance.  In Chapter 12, there are many suggested verses and promises of God to refer to and read over and over again to imprint in our hearts.

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to have journeyed with you studying A Confident Heart by Renee Swope.  I believe the truths we have learned have help us to develop "a confident heart".

I pray you will continue your journey in growing in the Lord and studying His Word.  I plan to do another Proverbs 31 "Gather and Grow" Study and I hope you will return to join us again.  In the meantime...

"Do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."  Hebrews 10:35-36

Discussion and Reflection Questions (Pg 220):

1.  Now that we have spent extended time getting to know God for who He truly is, let's see how our image of Him has changed.   Close your eyes and think about God.  Write down what you see and feelings you have.

2.  Describe who you were when you started this book and compare her to the woman you are becoming as a result of learning and living in the power of God's promises.

3. Is she the woman you want to be? How will you continue your daily journey toward the heart of God and hold on to the security that is your birthright as a child of God?

4.  In believing the power of God's promises for others, our confidence in His promises for ourselves seems to grow as well.  Who will you pray for and encourage with your words, so that your confident heart in Christ becomes contagious? 



Monday, October 1, 2012

God is Never Late


"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life."  Proverbs 13:12

The word "deferred" above is the Hebrew word mashak and is means "draw out, prolong, or continue".

Last week my heart was beginning to get "sick" with waiting... waiting for a heart's desire.

The desire seemed to be at the top of a slippery rope of hope.  The desire was just out of reach.  Hope continued to show me it was there, but I was unable to attain the grip needed to reach the top of desire.

Fulfillment of the hope was just dangling in front of me saying wait a little longer.  When we can see the hope, but it alludes us, it can be exasperating.
 
Faith whispered for me hold on to hope. Don't let go of the rope, you will attain your heart's desire!

However, disappointment turned into discouragement...

I prayed...God answered.

This post by Lysa Terkeurst was in my email inbox "The Place Where Disappointment Grows"  It was God speaking to bring encouragement to my worn down heart.  

Then, that night as I was reading the kids their devotional, God spoke again...My eyes overflowed with tears in awe of His presence and love for me.

My kids have Sarah Young's Jesus Calling 365 Devotions for Kids. These words were the words of the Lord printed on the page of September 27...

"I am constantly working in your life, even though you may not realize it. Especially when you are tired or hurt, or the day has had too many troubles, you may not notice Me at all.  But I am there.  

When you are tired, I am the One who is gently urging you on. When you are hurt, I am the One who is softly whispering, 'It's going to be okay.' And when you are overwhelmed, I am the One who is running before you, clearing the path of the things you just can't face today." 

Then, as if that wasn't enough, it suggested reading Psalms 27:14.  Again God spoke to my soul.

"Wait on the Lord; 
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!"  Psalms 27:14

"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!".  What music to my ears!

 He strengthen my heart that day.   A heart that had begun to grow weary with waiting was made new and strengthened with the encouragement of His Word.  His Word helps us be of "good courage" or encouraged

God says those who endure with faith and patience inherit the promise (Hebrews 6:12).  Even when your heart's desire seems continually out of reach, keep waiting, keep believing, and keep hoping expecting a positive outcome.

Be of good courage, and WAIT on the Lord.  He is never late.   





Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Confident Heart {Week 6}: When I Fail

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8

Grace.  It may be the sweetest word I know besides the Word, Jesus.

My daughter's middle name is Grace.  When we were naming her, people would ask if she was named after anyone.  She is named after the Lord's grace. 

We fail.  We mess up.  We blow it big time at times!  I am so thankful for God's grace which covers our failures and gives us room to grow.

This week, we read Chapter 10 in A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, "When Doubt Whispers, 'I Can't Follow God Consistently.'"

I used to be terrified of what others thought of me.  I was afraid they would realize I wasn't perfect and then not like me. I use to think I had to pretend I didn't mess up or hide it when I did.

The truth is... we all fall short.  So, why all the pretense?

"'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 of me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake.  for when I am weak, then I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I am not as spiritual as Paul.  I cannot say I take pleasure in my weaknesses.  Although, I should take pleasure in them because it is through these weaknesses that I realize my need for Jesus. 

Paul said he would rather boast in his weaknesses.  He wasn't afraid of what people thought.  He knew God would be glorified when people saw his humanness and God's POWER at work in him for overcome his weaknesses.  God's strength shines through our weaknesses.

However, Renee points out most prudently that grace is NOT a license to sin. 

"Some people ask if grace is a license to sin.  A confident woman knows that it's not.  Instead, she realized grace is the security of knowing God's love is guaranteed for her because she trusts in Christ.  Really understanding His sacrificial gift accomplishes the opposite of granting a license to sin.  When we grasp what Jesus did for us, we want to return the gift of His life by offering ours to Him, even if our offering isn't perfect or even perfectly consistent."  pg. 187-188.

God knows we are not perfect.  He sees us as who He created us to be, not as who we are.  He sees the potential in us.  If we will allow Him to work in our lives, He will mold us to become all He designed for us to be before the foundations of the world! 

Renee uses Gideon in the Bible to demonstrate an example of God's grace in taking someone from weak in themselves to strong and confident in Him.  For length sake I won't write the story here, but you can read about Gideon in Judges 6:12 through Judges 7: 25.

"God is not looking for a woman who is perfect.  He is looking for a woman who wants to walk with Jesus and find her confidence through her daily dependence on Him."  pg. 201

Reflection and Discussion Questions (pgs 201-202):

1.  Have you ever blown it and felt like God was ready to give up on you?  Do you sometimes doubt God's grace and patience with you?  If so, describe what happens and how doubt perpetuates more doubt and distance from God?

2.  Sometimes life's hardships make it hard to follow God consistently.  Do you ever ask God why life has to be so hard?  What did you learn from Gideon's story?  How can his experiences about asking why and trusting God's promises help you as you take the next step He may have for you?

3.  Have you ever prayed for God to change your circumstances and instead He changed you through your circumstances?  If so, describe what happened and how it helped you grow closer to Him.

4.  What did you learn about the importance of knowing God intimately and experiencing aspects of His character to build your trust in Him?

5.  Describe an area of your life, or role you have, where you feel like a wimp and you want God to make you a warrior.  Through dependence on Him, what would it look like for you to be "more than a conqueror through Him who loves you."  (Rom. 8:37) in that area or role?

I would love for you to share your thoughts on any or all of these questions in comments. 



 



 
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