Monday, December 30, 2013

But God, I Don't Feel Like Praising!

In October , it had been six months since my husband found out he was being laid off.  Six months of looking, sending out resumes, and interviews and still nothing secured.   Thankfully, he was given a severance package that went through the end of October.   But now it was the third week in October and still nothing was certain. 

Fear began to grip my heart.  I thought to myself, “God knows we have three kids in private school.  He knows we have a mortgage.  God knows all of our needs.  I know He is always faithful and always on time.”  But, I have to admit I thought He was cutting it awfully close this time.  I knew His Word said to be anxious for nothing and for all six months, I had trusted Him to come through and was filled with faith.  However, fear began to creep in as the days grew closer.

When I went to church that crisp October morning, I didn’t feel like singing and I didn’t feel like praising.  Darkness loomed over me.  I just wanted to cry and bury myself in pity.  However, as the music started, I felt a tug at my heart.  “Offer a sacrifice of praise.”

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, this is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”  Hebrews 13:15

As I sang not only with my lips, but with my heart giving praise to God for all He has done and all His goodness and glory, a strange phenomenon occurred—the darkness began to disappear, my heart became lighter and joy began to fill me.
 
“And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.”  2 Chronicles 20:22

Praising pushes back the darkness and allows God to move against the enemy on our behalf.
 
After offering up my sacrifice of praise, I went down to the alter for prayer.  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known unto God and the peace of God, which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

During prayer, I immediately felt at peace and a knowing that God was taking care of everything concerning me.  That week, my husband was presented an offer.  His severance ended October 31 and his contract was finalized November 1 and he started November 4th.  Praise be to God!

But, I wonder…What if I hadn’t offered up the sacrifice of praise?  What if I had continued instead to wallow in self-pity and given myself over to fear?  What if I had chosen not to focus on the Lord’s  goodness and faithfulness that morning?  What if the darkness had not been pushed back by praise? What if I would have allowed worry to overshadow my worship?

I don’t have all the answers to those questions, but I do know that something happens in the spiritual realm when we choose to worship even when our flesh wants to wallow.  

When we praise in the midst of trials, we are declaring our trust and faith in God.  Trust and worship go hand in hand.  I don't know what you have been facing.  It may seem insurmountable, but it is nothing compared to the greatness of our God.  Trust Him.  Praise Him.  The darkness will lift, joy will enter and He will move mountains for you.  

Power Verses:  

Isaiah 61:3a "To grant to those who mourn in Zion--to give them an ornament of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit."   

2 Samuel 22:29-31 "For You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord shall enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall.  As for God, His way is perfect.  The word of the Lord is proven.  He is a shield to all who trust in Him." 





Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!




Wonderful!  Redeemer!  Savior!  Prince of Peace!  Messiah!  Jesus Christ!

Oh, how He is all that and so much more!

"For unto us a Child is born,  Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

MERRY CHRISTMAS from our family to yours!  May you rejoice in the One who is our all in all! May your Christmas be MERRY and BRIGHT!  

Love,

The Molitors


Monday, December 23, 2013

A New Christmas List

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not withhold His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also freely give and graciously give us all things?  Romans 8:31-32  

This time of year, we make lists.  Children make a list of what they want Santa to bring them.  My kids penned their Christmas wishes on Post-It Notes and put them on my dresser several weeks ago.  Texts went out to inquisitive grandparents and family members who asked the desires of little hearts in our home.

The lists at our home are made up mostly of electronic games or toys, dolls, and stuffed animals.  On my list were some electronic device items and jewelry that I am hoping my wonderful husband will have lovingly wrapped under the tree. *wink, wink, smile*

However, although all these material items are nice, the true desires of our hearts do not consist of anything with an Apple on it or sparkly accessories.

The most wanted items in our hearts are nothing we can buy from a store.  Whatever your longing for this Christmas, whether it be material or emotional , we have a God who wants to meet that need.   He gave us His best Gift when He gave us Jesus on that first Christmas night.  How much more will He freely give us all things.

I want to encourage you today to make a new Christmas list.  Instead of writing a letter to Santa, write a letter to your Heavenly Father.  Father Christmas cannot meet your needs, but your Heavenly Father can and will.  Whatever you have need of, ask and see Him perform Christmas miracles on Your behalf.  Some desires might be met by Christmas and others might take some time, but  God is always faithful working on our behalf for our good.  Let 2014, be the year of Christmas miracles.

Dear Heavenly Father,  You know what we have need of before we even ask.  But, you do want us to ask so we know it is from you.  Lord, I know many reading this today have needs that only You can meet.  Some have relational needs, some have material needs, some have emotional or spiritual needs.  Lord, you know the longings of the most intimate places of our hearts.  Father, I am asking you to meet every need. Father, where there is loneliness, bring rich friendships.  Where there is lack, bring abundance.  Where there is sadness, bring joy.  Where there is turmoil, bring peace.  Where there is bondage, bring freedom.  I pray your blessings over them all.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Merry Christmas!
Love,    


Monday, December 16, 2013

In a World of Insatiable Desires, God is #Enough

Last week we finished up the book A Confident Heart by Renee Swope in the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study.  One of the discussion topics last week was "Is God Enough?"

This question, "Is God Enough" is one I have had to ask myself often this year.

In a world where more is better, it is a question that lingers and desperately awaits a response.

Earlier this year, my husband and I went on a amazing getaway vacation to Cabo, Mexico for our 15 year wedding anniversary.  Breathtakingly beautiful.  The view from our room consisted of nightly sunsets disappearing behind a mountain that towered over the ocean below.  The sound of waves crashing against the rocks along the beach accompanied the picturesque scene.



As we were preparing to leave this marvel of God's creation, I could not get enough.  We ate dinner where we could see the sunset, we woke up early to run down to the beach to see the sunrise, we sat by the pool where we could overlook the ocean in all its splendor.  I could not get enough!

Often, we live our lives like those few days at the beach.  We try to cram in every ounce of our longings.  However, no matter how much we take in, it will never be enough.

We shop and buy and eat and "friend" people, but it is never enough.  People like our posts and pages, but we still want more.  We live in "the i-phone you bought last month is outdated, you need another one" type of world!

I am the same way.  I want more friends.  I want you to "like" my page.  I want a new pair of black shoes when I already have at least 5 in my closet!

My daughter loves to spend time with me (which I am grateful for), but if I were to spend 24 hours a day with her, she still would desire one more hour.

Even good things like sunsets and spending time with loved ones cannot fill a void in us that desires more.

God alone can fill the void.  When we get to the point where He is truly #Enough, the other things of this world just become icing on the cake instead of a desire that can never satisfy.

Is God #Enough?  He has to be.  We live in a broken world that will not be fixed until Jesus returns in all His glory.

Love ones pass.  Friends "defriend".  People disappoint. Vacations end.  Sunsets set.

The good news is that the sun comes up new every morning and the Son of God rides on the clouds on our behalf.  He alone brings us joy, peace and love.  He alone brings beauty into our lives that outdoes the most glorious sunset!  He alone fills our hearts to overflowing with gladness and thanksgiving!  He is my joy.  He is my peace.  He is my comfort.  He is my all in all.  He is #Enough.

If there is a void in your live today, if you are feeling empty or have been trying to fill a hole with the insatiable desires of this world, I would like to invite you to pray with me today...

Dear Lord,  we ask You to fill us completely with You.  We ask for You to be our all in all.  Satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts with You.  You alone give us the Living Water we need to quench our thirst.  Pour Your Living Water into us filling in every hole in us.  We need you.  You are our #Enough.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.  

Power Verse:

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38

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









Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hemmed In



This is the memory verse for Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study "A Confident Heart" this week.  I love this verse. 

The NIV translation says, "You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me."  

"You hem me in"...mmm... doesn't that sound lovely? 

Today we are digging in deeper...

Part 1: "You go before me and follow me."  

In the original Hebrew, "hem" is the word tsuwr, and it means to enclose or secure.  Wow!  How comforting to know the God of the universe has us tucked in tight and secure.

"You go before me."  The Hebrew word for "before" is qedem.  It means aforetime, from the beginning.

God knows the future.  He is already there.  He has known it from the beginning.  He goes before us.

"...and follow me." The Hebrew word for "follow" is achowr.  It means the back side or rear.

 He is our rear guard behind us.  He hems us in secure in Him.

He is before us and behind us.  As my friend, Melissa Taylor, says, "We are a God-sandwich".

Now for Part 2: "You place your hand of blessing on my head."

The word "hand" is from the Hebrew word kaph.  One meaning is palm of the hand.  He not only inscribes us in the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16), but He also places His hand on us.  Again, God-sandwich!  

Another meaning for kaph was power.  God places His hand of our head and when He does, it is full of His glorious power!  Of course it is, after all, He is God, full of power and majesty!!

Wherever we go, He goes.  He goes before us.  He is already there.  He stands behind us to protect and guard and hem us in.  He places His Almighty and powerful hand of blessing on our heads!

Father, we thank You that You go before us and follow us, that You place Your hand of blessing on our heads.  Thank you for hemming us in and keeping us secure in You and Your power.  We need not fear the future, worry about the present, or fret about the past because You surround us as with a shield.  We are secure in Your love.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.   


Monday, December 2, 2013

Contrary Winds

"Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away...but the boat was in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary."  Matthew 14:22, 24 (emphasis added)

The Greek word for "contrary" here is enantios and it means "against, opposed as an adversary".

Have you ever found yourself in a contrary situation?  

There are times when we face contrary winds in our lives.  These storms threaten to toss us about as that boat was by the waves.  However, there was purpose in the storm when the disciples were in the boat just as there is purpose when we come head to head with contrary winds.

Notice, "Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him."   Jesus, being the son of God, knew a storm was coming.  Yet, He did not say to His disciples, "You know, a storm is coming, maybe you should hang out with me on land a little longer."

No, He told them to go out onto the water knowing the storm was coming.  He led them into the storm.

In March this year, God told me a trial was coming.  Shortly after, we went through a trivial test involving a stay at the Sleep Inn.  I was hoping that was the trial, but I knew in my heart the winds that were coming were much more contrary than an uncomfortable stay at an interstate inn.

This year has proven to be full of trials and contrary winds.  Some may argue that God would not lead us into these trials, and we somehow stumbled on the hardness by our own means and possibly sin.  That may be the case at times, but it was not the case for us this time.  Scripture clearly shows there are times God leads His people into a storm (Matt 8:23, Matt 4:11).

Why would God lead His disciples to go on the boat KNOWING a storm was approaching? Hmmm...Why would God lead us on our path KNOWING the trials and opposition we would face?  

Well, I think if we read on in Matt 14, we will find some answers (I encourage you to stop and read it now).

In short, Jesus decided to take a walk (on the water).  Peter jumped out the boat and walked towards Him (on the water).  Peter took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink.  Jesus reached out and saved Peter. They both got into the boat and the storm stopped.

"Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Him, saying, Truly You are the son of God."  Matt 14:33  

When we are in a trial facing contrary winds, we can rest in knowing Jesus isn't surprised by the storm.  He knew it was coming and He wants us to trust Him enough to jump out into the water with Him.  

He could have stopped the storm at any time.  But, he waited until they got back to the boat.  Miracles happened while waiting for the answer.  The disciples saw more of Who Jesus was.  They saw more of His glory and came to know Him more while they waited weaving in the waves.  One could argue there is no greater miracle than knowing more of our Heavenly Savior and King.

The rest of what God spoke to me after He told me a trial was coming was:

"It [a trial] is coming, but I won't leave you.  I will never forsake you.  do not be afraid for I am with you.  Do not be anxious for I am Your God.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Do not look to the left or to the right.  Do not look at circumstances.  Keep your focus on Me.  I will not allow you to be shaken.  I will not let you be moved.  Trust in Me and My love.  This will end well and for My glory."  

Jesus did not leave His disciples alone on the boat to fight the storm by themselves.  He came to them.    As long as Peter focused on Jesus, and not to the right or left or circumstances, he stood on water with the son of God.  But even when Peter's gaze shifted away out of fear, He lifted Peter up by His hand (He upheld Him with His righteous right hand...literally) {smile}.  It did end well for Peter and the other disciples. It ended in more of His glory being revealed.

I don't know what contrary winds you are facing at the moment.  But, I want you to be encouraged.  Do not be afraid.  Keep your focus on Him. The King of Kings is walking on the water with you and He WILL NOT let you fall.  Know that whatever you are facing is not a surprise to the King of Glory.  As your eyes stay fixed on Him, You will come to know Him more intimately.  You will come to know more and more of Your savior and King.  There is no greater gain.  Just trust.

Power Verses: 

"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:6-7 


"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 2 Cor 4:17











Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for You!


Happy Thanksgiving Living Free in Him readers!!!  I am so thankful for all of you!  Praying you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!  May you be aware of the Lord's presence with you today!






[I] give thanks to God always for you making mention of you in [my] prayers.  1 Thess 1:2

Father, I lift up the readers of Living Free in Him.  I pray for them to have an increasing awareness of Your presence with them today.  Lord, I thank you for them.  I pray blessings over them today and everyday.  I pray for them to draw closer to You and continued growth in freedom in Christ.  I pray for them to fulfill every calling and divine appointment You have ordained.  I pray for a blessed time with family today and throughout the holiday season. For those who may feel alone, I pray for new Christ-filled relationships.  I pray for you to surround them with Your love and peace.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.  





Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Have Learned {Re-post} or Have I?

I thought I would re-post this post I wrote last March.  I long to write more, but life has kept me physically and emotionally busy lately.  I needed this post again today.  I needed to once again learn to be content in "whatever".  Contentment is indeed a decision.  (I really don't know why I tell y'all my secret thoughts!  I hope you still love me after I do. )  We are so blessed.  Why is it that we sometimes focus in on the small discomforts or what we have lost instead of the richness of our blessings?  This week of Thanksgiving, will you join me as I challenge myself to focus on the great blessings I have instead of what I am missing?  

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:11-13

Merriam-Webster defines "content" as being pleased and satisfied :not needing more

"Not needing more."  Those three words sound so beautiful to me.  We live in a have more, be more, obtain more, live more, achieve more kind of world.   

What if we truly could be content no matter what our circumstances?  Paul had been in and out of prison, shipwrecked three timesbeaten with rods, and stoned. Plus, he suffered weariness and sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, many perils, cold and nakedness all for the cause of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). 

Yet, he learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 

Notice he said, "I have learned".  Paul is often put up on a pedestal (rightly so) for his faith and contentment, but these three little words give me hope.  These three words, "I have learned" imply that Paul did not automatically have joy and contentment in all his circumstances.  How then, did he learn an attitude of contentment in "whatever"? 

He learned through enduring. 

Paul wrote this letter proclaiming his astonishing ability of contentment approximately around 61 A.D.
Let's fast forward 1942 years....to 2003.

I was not in prison and certainly not shipwrecked.  Nope, no one had ever tried to stone me.  I may not have had the best wardrobe, but I was far from naked or cold.  I might had been a bit weary and sleepless since I had a six month old.  However,  I'm not sure sleeplessness alone would account for my poor and discontented attitude.  

I desperately wanted to be a stay-at-home mom to my six month old son, Joe.  I was only working two days a week.  One would think I would have been thankful to be at home most of the time.  I was not.  All I could think of was what I did not have and the time I was not at home.

God knew my heart needed an overhaul.  I may not have been shipwrecked, but God was about to toss me into a sea of despondency where desperation would force me to cling to Him as my only raft of contentment.  
  
My husband became unemployed.  I went from having to work part-time to full-time.  My dream of being a stay-at-home mom would have to be postponed.  My husband and I both assumed he would find a job quickly.  Months passed...nothing.  Six months passed...nothing.  How is it that a talented young man that had companies beating down his door just a few years prior could not find anything? My heart ached.  Why was this happening?  I was not content. I was angry!  I was angry at my husband.  I was angry at God.  I was angry at myself.  I was angry at sister so and so who got to be a stay at home mom.  I was angry at... pretty much everyone.

Then God started working.  He is so good to not let us stay in our sin.  He showed me where I had treated others wrong.  He began to show me where I had not been walking in love with people at my job and my wrong attitude towards my husband.  He revealed the covetousness and jealousy in my heart.  He showed me where I had been bitter, ungrateful and judgmental.     

Faith works by love.  If we aren't walking in love, we hinder our faith and prayers.  Yes, God wanted me to be able to stay-at-home with Joe.  He wanted to give me the desires of my heart.  However, more than grant the desires of my heart, God wanted to change my heart.  God cares more about the condition of our heart than the comfort of our circumstances.  

He slowly changed my heart.  As He did, I began to become content with my circumstances. I began to be thankful for my job.  I was thankful my husband could be home to have time with Joe.  I stopped looking at what I did not have and focused on the Lord, what He was doing, and my many blessings.  I began praising and being full of joy.  

As my heart changed, God began to speak to me when I gently asked him "Why am I still having to work full-time? and When will Chris find a job?  God, your Word says, 'Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.'  You know my heart's desire is to be home with Joe."

He would answer softly, "Do you trust Me?"  to which I learned to simple respond, "Yes Lord."

It took Chris one and half years to find a job.  In reality, it took one of half years to complete the heart surgery to circumcise all the wrong attitudes God needed to cut away.  After Chris found a job, I only had to work two days a week.  This time I was EXTREMELY thankful I was home with my two year old son the other three days a week.  Not only did I get to stay home with my son, Joe, but I was able to stay home for the next 8 years with Luke and Sarah.  God was so faithful to answer my prayer.  As a result of having to wait for my heart's desire, I appreciated every moment I was able to be at home with my children.

Trials birth training.  Paul said he learned to be content. I would say a main truth learned through enduring the above trial is: 

Contentment is not a destination, it is a decision.

Contentment is not a destination, it is a decision.  Like Paul, we too can learn to be content in whatever the circumstances because we can indeed do all things through Christ who gives us strength.     





Friday, November 15, 2013

3 Words

My eight year old son, Luke, will often tell us that he has only 2 things to say.  However, then he expands and goes into a paragraph about whatever it is he is talking about with us.  

In contrast, Jesus summed up the power of the Cross with only three words.  

These three words keep coming to my mind.

The three words:

"It is finished."

These three words were the last words Jesus spoke when hanging on the cross.  With these three words, the power of redemption was unleashed. 

These three words embody the heart of the New Testament.      

"So when Jesus had received the sour wine. He said, "It is finished!" and bowing His head, He gave up His spirit."  John 19:30

My Bible commentary states, "The Greek tense indicates that he work of redemption has been completed once for all and its results are abiding continuously."  

What exactly was "finished"?  Everything.  

Sin and death entered the world through one man's failure.  Redemption and life were regained through a sin-less Man's sacrifice.  

"For since by man came death by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive."  1 Corinthians 15:21-22

Through Christ came, "the resurrection of the dead".  This dead is not just referring to a physical death, although that is true.  This resurrection can also be applied to anything in our life that is dead or needs resurrecting. 

 "In Christ all shall be made alive".   What do you need made alive today? 

Is your spiritual life dry or dead?   

Does your marriage need the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ to breath life into it and raise it up to be all God intended?  

Is depression stealing your life and joy?  

Is insecurity stifling the God-given talents and abilities inside of you?  

Are sins of the past clouding your vision to see the good things God has for your future? 

Does fear or anxiety have a choke hold on you that keeps you from enjoying the free life God has for you?
  
There are many degrees of death.  Jesus says, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10 

Jesus came and died to give us abundant life.  When He said, "It is finished", He was declaring that He bought back everything that was stolen from us by the enemy through the deception of Adam.  Why would Jesus go to the Cross for only part of redemption?  He paid the full price.  

He has already bought your victory.  He has already defeated sin, death and the enemy.  Over 2,000 years ago, a price was paid so you could live life and live it more abundantly.  Victory is already yours.  Death has already been defeated.  

You can believe when you pray that whatever you are asking for is already finished in Jesus' Name. 

It. Is. Finished. 



"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57    






Tuesday, November 12, 2013

God, What are You Doing?


God spoke a word to me at the beginning of this year.  The word He had for me was NEWNESS.

I even wrote a post about it at the beginning of January.  You can click http://www.livingfreeinhim.blogspot.com/2013/01/happy-newness-year.html to read it.

I had no idea of the pronounced prophetic qualities of that word .  Newness has truly defined this year.

It was about that time that God began stirring in my heart and my husband's heart that He wanted us to leave our home church that we had been a part of and active members in for thirteen years!  Our church was like a family to us and we loved the people there so much (still do).  Months of prayer and fasting followed with intermittent whispers, God, what are you doing?

In March, we were still praying about leaving our church and desperately attempting to discern the voice of God.  Then, suddenly our children's pastors whom our family dearly loves announced to us that they were being called to move to Nashville to be children's pastors at a church in Nashville.  Pastor Doug and Paul Anne were not just our children's pastors, they were also our neighbors for 6 years, mentors, and one of our closest friends. Again...God, what are you doing?

April came.  We were still praying about leaving our church home. Then, my husband and I received notice on the same day that we were both going to be losing our jobs!  Did you see that?  On. The. Same. Day! That doesn't just happen.  That never happens.  We work for two completely different companies in two totally separate professions!  CRAZY!  GOD, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

I fasted.  He spoke.

"I am doing a NEW thing." 

Then, He led me to Isaiah 43:19 (the same verse I had written in the Newness post in January, only I didn't realize it was the same verse until today when I wrote this!)

Behold, I will do a new thing, 
Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness 
And rivers in the desert."  Isaiah 43:18-19


We did not know what God was doing, all we knew was to hold on to the truth he spoke to us..."I am doing a new thing."  

In April, I also attend the Deeper Still Retreat.  Life-changing.  This retreat began a new level of intimacy in my relationship with Jesus with a depth I had never experienced prior to going.  Newness.  My Awesome God, what are you doing? 

In May, I was asked to join the Deeper Still Ministry Team and write devotions for the ministry. This new calling and ministry in my life has been a huge blessing! 

In June, my husband and I made our decision to leave our home church.  It was by far one of the hardest decisions we have ever made.  We were rooted there, in leadership and had wonderful friends and relationships we cherished (still cherish).  However, God had clearly spoken to us.  For months we were distraught and struggled with this decision and the leading we were sensing.  The moment we drew the line and made a decision...peace.  God was doing a new thing. 

Only, He didn't tell us everything.  He didn't tell us where we were to go. He only said go.  If you recall from scripture, this isn't the first time He has just said "go" but didn't give details.  We knew if we stepped out in faith, He would show us the next steps.  He always does. He did.    

Many friends did not understand our decision and perhaps think we were offended by something or someone. This is not the case. We left in good standing and our former Pastors hugged us when we left.  To those friends, if any are reading this.. We love you and miss you dearly.  We would love to hear from you. 

My job ended the last part of May and Chris' job ended June 30.

I had been in my previous job for 10 years.  I started a new job working with a new age group of clients than in my previous job and Chris began a new job that mixed his love for logistics and sales together! Only God!  

We also found a new church that we really like.  And do you know the scripture the pastor there was speaking on when we visited?  Isaiah 43:19.  We still do not quite know all God is doing with that move, but we know He will reveal it in His timing. 

Many times during this year I have asked, "God, what are you doing?"  

I discerned that losing our jobs and leaving the church was not the enemy, it was the Lord doing something new. I never once doubted we had heard him correctly.  Even though we were surprised by all these changes, we took comfort in knowing that God was not surprised by any of it.  He knew it would happen and He knew what was ahead for us.  He knew what needed to be done to re-position us for whatever is coming next.  He knows what is next. 

When we KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is for us, that He is with us, and that He will move mountains for us, we can rest and trust in Him even when it appears we are in a wilderness or desert.

God answered me after one of the many times I questioned Him with:

 "I know you don't understand all these changes. I know you don't understand what is going on and what I am doing.  However, I am asking you to trust me. Will you trust me? This will end well and for my glory."  

Yes God.  I trust You.  

I held onto that promise when both of us were out of work and the future was uncertain.  I held onto that promise when we were without a church and felt "homeless" and out of touch.  I held onto that promise many times during the last several months.  God is faithful and I know His plan is best. Sometimes it may seem like God is leading us out in wilderness, but He knows the path and where He is taking us.  We just need to trust.    

He will make a road in the wilderness and streams in the desert.  He will water the ground making it fruitful and provide a clear path for us to take. He will never leave us to wonder in the wilderness.  

He is indeed doing a new thing this year.  In many ways, this has been a very hard year.  However, it has been one of the best years in terms of spiritual growth and closeness with my Heavenly Father.  Newness and change are not always easy, but we can be sure that when God is doing something new, it is good.  

We can trust that it will end well and for His glory.  


  







    












Tuesday, November 5, 2013

7 Words That Can Change Your Marriage

Hi Living Free in Him readers!!!  I am guest posting today on my dear friend, Becky Crenshaw's blog (www.beckycrenshaw.com).  

Click here to read today's post, 7 Words That Can Change Your Marriage.  




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Turning My Eyes

During the past six months,  God has asked me the same question over and over again.

"Sue, what are you focusing on?"  

Every time He asks me this question, it is because the answer has been not Him.

Whenever I feel myself getting anxious, fearful, frustrated, angry, confused, stressed or insecure, the source can always be traced back to my focus being misplaced.

Often times my focus has been on my circumstances or myself.  Both of these are cause for doubt and unbelief to fester like an ugly bacteria tainting my vision from seeing the Truth of what God says about both my circumstances and me.

This week, in Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor, we have been reading Chapter 5 "A Confident Heart" by Renee Swope.  The following echoed loudly to me as I read it (it is starred about 10 times and underlined!)

"When we focus on our insecurities we cast a shadow of doubt in our minds by blocking the light of God's truth in our hearts. We were not created to block the light or be the light...

We find ourselves in the shadow of doubt many times because our thoughts are mostly about ourselves: how we're performing and what others are thinking about us....


It's just that when we focus our attention on ourselves, we turn our attention away from God.  We leave no room in our thoughts to listen to what He is thinking about us, because we have given that place away to be occupied by other people's opinions....


...Eyes off myself and turn them toward the Light."  pg. 86-87


Last week, I shared in "The Well is Deep", a breakthrough I had regarding the root of something I struggled with for more than thirty years of my life--fear of rejection.  If something has had thirty years to root, you can bet the root is deep and strong.

However, Jesus is stronger.

In that post, I shared how God had revealed the lies at the root of the fear of rejection for me.  Identifying the lies was HUGE.  When we know the specific lies we are believing, we can then look for specific Truth to replace those lies.

This week, I looked up scriptures to counteract those lies.  The lies I believed could be summed up as:

“You are not worthy of love.  What you have to say isn't important.  You are not accepted.  You are not approved of.  You are unloved.”

I believed the rejection I perceived or experienced was my fault.  That was a lie. It had nothing to do with me.  

Thinking it was "about me" is actually a major part of the root of insecurity.  As I stated above, when my eyes are on me, they are not on Jesus.  I need to recognize that when I am thinking about myself or what others think of me too much, it is an indicator that my focus is way off target. 

Whenever I start to feel insecure or rejected, I need to remember to turn my focus to the Light and off myself.  

These are the verses I have found so far that will help to replace the lies with the Truth of God's Word: 

When I start to feel unloved, I will remember: 

"The Lord my God is in [my] midst, the mighty One will save; He [rejoices] over [me] with gladness, He [quiets] me with His love, He [rejoices] over [me] with singing." (Zeph 3:17)

When I start to feel rejected, I will remember:

 "[I] am a chosen [woman], a royal priest, a holy daughter, God's special possession, that [I] may declare the praises of Him who called [me] out of the darkness in to His wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)

When I doubt that what I have to say is important, I will remember: 

"The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.  He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to hear as the learned." (Isaiah 50:4) 

When I question that I am accepted in relationships, I will remember:  

"He chose [me] in Him before the foundation of the world, that [I] should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined [me] to adoption as a [daughter] by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will to praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1:46)

I actually have more verses that I have in my ammunition pile to shoot down the lies lodged in those roots.  I plan on doing some major target practice shooting up those roots and annihilating the lies!  

Here are some other power verses:  

"Rise up, my love, my fair one and come away! O my dove, in the clefts of the rock.  In the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face.  Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely." Songs 2:13-14

"For this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you--for whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye.'" Zech 2:8

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine."  Is 43:1

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for [me], who can be against [me]? Romans 8: 31

It is time to turn my eyes off myself and onto the Light of Truth.  It is time to quiet the critical voices that beg my attention and listen only to the Truth of God's Word and what He says about me.   It is only when I keep my eyes on the Light and my ears on His Truth that I can be sure to stay out of the shadow of doubt and insecurity.


Father, thank You for Your truth.  Thank You that You are for us.  Thank You that Your love is unfailing and everlasting.  Father, forgive me for doubting.  Forgive me for being stuck in the muck of caring what others think of me and if they approve of me.  Help me to focus only on You and what You think of me.  I pray for Your voice of approval to ring so loudly that it hushes the voices of criticism and condemnation.  Let Your Truth echo in my heart and destroy the lies of doubt and insecurity.  I love you Lord.  I pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.  




Monday, October 21, 2013

The Well is Deep


Last week I wrote a post centered around John 4 and the Samaritan woman at the well.  I expressed how my conversation at the well might have transpired.  Click here to read it.  

As I was reading John 4 again, the Lord rested my eyes on verse 11.  

Just to recap, the Samaritan woman was at the well.  Jews didn't normally talk to Samaritans in that day, but Jesus stopped to talk to this woman.  Not only did He talk to her, He asked her for a drink.  Then He says...

"If you had only known and had recognized God's gift and Who this is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink', you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you living water."  John 4:10

Then she said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with [no drawing bucket] and the well is deep; how then can You provide living water?" v. 11 

The Lord drew my attention to the word “deep.”

I prayed, “Lord, you know my well is deep.  Lord, I am asking you to go there and draw up everything that needs to be uncovered and bring forth Living Water.” 

Immediately questions formed in my thoughts.  These were questions that have haunted me for years, yet were unspoken and unheard.  These were questions that I had never been consciously aware existed in my mind until this day. 

The questions came and tears fell. 

The water from the deep was being drawn up so the Giver of Living Water could replace the water I had grown accustomed to with His Water of Truth.  The old water was all I had ever known.  I didn’t know it was bitter.  I didn’t know of its stench.  Once the old is removed, new Living Water can begin to fill and refresh what the darkness had tainted.

I love my mom, but from an early age I didn’t receive the love I desperately desired in a way I could receive it from her.  I didn’t feel accepted.  I didn’t feel like she approved of me.  I think every little girl desires her mother’s love, acceptance and approval.  I still desire it. 

These are the questions that were hidden in my subconscious until last week when the Lord drew them out of the deep:

“What was it about me that made my mom not want to listen to me?”
“What was it about me that made my mom yell at me?”
“What was it about me that she can’t approve of? “
“What is it about me that won’t allow her to get close?”
“What was it about me that caused her not to show love?”

As an adult, I can look back and I know that my mom loved me.  She just didn’t show it in ways I received it.  If you have ever read “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, her love language is different than mine.  Hers is gifts and quality time.  Mine is words of affirmation.  For a little girl whose love language is words of affirmation, yelling is like sticking a knife in my heart.
 
However, all this was internalized and generalized into a lie that read, “You are not worthy of love.  You are not accepted.  You are not approved of. You are unloved.”
 
And those questions above lead up to the big question, the question that is at the root of rejection:
“Whatever my mom saw in me that seem to cause her to reject me, surely others will see it and reject me also.”

I was also rejected by friends at school growing up which further sealed this lie into my cortex.
The Lord and I made some major gains in this area a couple of years ago and I thought I was doing fine.  That is until I again experienced some painful rejection this summer due to nothing I did wrong.  And again, the lies started…

“What was it about me that caused them to reject me?”
“I thought they loved me. Wasn’t I enough, just the way I am. I must not be enough. ”

But, as I write this I am thankful for the rejection because it revealed that I needed a deeper healing in this area.  When we think we are fine, we won’t pursue healing.  We only go to the doctor when we know we are sick.   It is only when we know of the hurt or ailment, we seek out the healing we desperately need to be whole. 
   
I am currently reading “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor.  I am determined to uncover the lies that have locked me in fear of rejection and replace them with the Truth of God’s Word.  It is my mission to sear that Truth in my conscious so the enemy will no longer be able to use those lies against me
I believe these questions were a big breakthrough.
 
The questions unveil the lie.  The lie is that it was me.  

The truth is it wasn't me.  It had NOTHING to do with me.
I am enough.  The Lord accepts me and if He accepts me, I am accepted and worthy of love.  The Lord approves of me.  He thinks I am lovely and beautiful and desires me.  ME!  He has given me a voice and He says that what I have to say is important and worthy of an audience.  So, I will speak boldy as I ought to speak and loudly proclaim the mystery of the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

Isn’t it ironic and such beautiful redemption that God is using this medium as the very means in which to squash the lies of the enemy that tried to whisper that my voice was unimportant and no one cared about what I had to say.
  
God is so good.  I want to encourage you today to ask the Lord the same question I did.
 
Father, the well is deep.  Lord, will you draw out the roots of whatever is holding us captive and bring forth the Living Water that will fill us completely and make us whole.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A New Name

In John 4, we meet a Samaritan woman.  I encourage you to go and read John 4 now if you haven’t read it recently. 

Samaritans were considered outcasts to Jews, especially religious Jews.  Every day this woman would go to the well to draw water.  Every day was the same.  She would go get the water and come back on her own.  Alone. No conversation.  No friendly faces.  No one to help carry her load…. Until one day, Jesus.

Isn’t that the story of us all?  Mmmm…”Until…Jesus.” 

Let’s look at parts of the story…

“A woman of Samaria came to draw water.  Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
 
I want you to notice that Jesus asked her to give Him what was in her hands.  He didn’t ask for more than she could give.  He didn’t ask her to give anything other than what He knew she could give.  Listen to her answer…

“Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?  For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” 

Oh sweet one, I hear myself in that question the Samaritan asked.  Only mine might read…

“How is it that You ask me to lead that small group?”
“How is it that You ask me to write this post or book?”
“How is it that You want me to share Your Word in front of that group?”  
“How is it that You want me to be a part of that ministry?”
“How is it that You want me to pray for that person?”

Then, we label ourselves.  Only our labels are not as blatant as “Samaritan”.  Our labels might be:  Inadequate. Ill-equipped. Weak. Insecure. Insignificant. Less-than.
 
What would I have said to Jesus if it would have been me at the well?  What do I say to Jesus now as He meets me and asks for “a drink”.
 
Do I say, “How is it that You ask me to lead, don’t you know that I am not as qualified as others.  There are so many others who could do that better than I could.” 

Sadly, at times, that is my answer to my Creator, the King of Kings.  He asks me to do something and HELLO, if He is asking it of me, He knows I can do it!!  He would not ask me to give something He hasn’t given me.  

Jesus knew everything about the woman at the well.  He knew her past mistakes.  He knew her failures and insecurities.  He knew her deepest longing and greatest fears.  He knew her weaknesses and strengths.  He knew it all and yet, He still asked for a drink.

God knows everything about me as well.  My talk with God at the well is something like this:

Sue, I know the rejection you felt growing up.  I know you felt like no one ever listened to you and what you had to say wasn’t important.  I know how you never felt good enough.  I know it hurt when you were teased.  I know how you failed and turned your back on me.  I saw you when you cried out to me in desperation.  I know it hurt when those whom you love rejected you recently.  But Sue, none of that defines who you are.  I will never leave you.  I am for you.  You have never lived one unloved moment in your life.  Even if others do reject you, I never will.  I accept you just the way you are.  You are enough because I AM enough.  Come, let me satisfy you with the Living Water that fills in all the empty places.  I have anointed you.  I have appointed you.  I approve of you. You are adorable.  You are Mine, daughter of the Most High.

Dear friends, God knows your weaknesses, He knows your strengths.  He knows your mess-ups. He knows your insecurities and doubts.  He knows the desires of your heart and the fears deep within you.  He knows it all and yet, He still comes and asks for you to pour out your life as a drink offering unto Him.   He fills in the gaps where we are weak and provides us with the strength we need to fulfill the requirements He asks.  He doesn’t put the same label on us that we do. 

The only label He brands on us is:

“Righteous, Worthy, Beautiful, Redeemed, Equipped, Annointed, Appointed, Approved, Beloved, Adored, Lovely, Loved.” (2 Cor 5:21, John 3:16, Songs 7:1, Ps 31:5, 2 Tim 1:11, Matt 26:19, Is 61, 2 Cor 10:18)

 It is time I stop agreeing with the lies of the enemy and start believing what the Most High God, my Daddy, says about me!!  What do you say?  Who is with me?! 

No more will we label ourselves: Inadequate, Ill-equipped, Insignificant or Insecure. 

Today we toss those old names down the well!  

We have been given a new name.  
   
ANNOINTED, APPOINTED, APPROVED, and ADORABLE!!!!!  








Monday, October 7, 2013

Is My Heart Green?

"Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty."  
Psalms 32:1-2 NLT

Sarah and I walked hand in hand by a pond at a local park.  The stagnant pond was covered in a green mucky moss except there was one part of the pond that was clear, clean and beautiful.  The contrast captured my daughter's attention and she inquired as to why part of the water was green.  



I explained to her that the green on top of the water was due to the water not moving, and as a result, the yuck just stayed there.  The water that was around the fountain was clean because the fountain moved the yuck, allowing the water to be purified.  (I know not very scientific, but she is only six and I'm not sure I know all the science anyway.)  

Fast forward.  We left the park and now it is bedtime.  I read the verse above to her and we talked about the importance of honesty.  I explained to her that it is important to keep our hearts pure.  When we tell a lie, it makes our hearts yucky (again 6 year old terms).  When we are honest and truthful, we can be full of the joy of the Lord.  I told her how important it is to live in the light and when we lie, we are living in darkness.  

Then, she said something that absolutely amazed me!  She said, 
"Mommy, it is like the green water and clear water we saw tonight. When we lie, our hearts are yucky like the green water." 

YES!!!  

She was right on!  When we sin (no matter what sin it is), our hearts become stagnant and well,...yucky.

However, when we ask for forgiveness, it is just like the verse says above, "sin is put out of sight."  The sin is moved and just like when the water was moved, it was made clean, our hearts are purified when the sin is moved!  It is only when we allow sin to stay that our hearts begin to grow green gunky goo.  

We need the Fountain of Living Water to come into our hearts and make us pure!  

We don't want a science experiment growing inside our hearts.  Let's move that sin out and live with pure hands and a clean heart.  We want a clean heart, not a green heart.  All it takes is one sincere prayer...

Father, I ask you to forgive my sins and put my sins out of sight.  I ask for you to give me clean hands and a pure heart.  I thank you that you remove my sins as far as the east is from the west.  Father, I don't want any green goo in my heart and I don't want to be stagnant.  I pray that I would be on fire for you and move for you.  Lord, please show me if I ever get stagnant or my heart ever needs a change.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 



   






 
Designed by Sweet Peas Designs