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



 








 
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