Friday, March 22, 2013

Thou Shall Honor Your Sister and Brother

Everyone is most likely familiar with the commandment "Honor your mother and father".  We teach our kids this commandment even before we teach them "thou shall not kill"! 

We are taught from an early age to honor those in authority over us.  We are instructed to respect police officers, teachers, and other adult figures in our lives.  We also learn that if we don't respect those over us, there are consequences. 

However, honor is not just a one-way street facing up. 

Earlier this week, we were in the van on the way to church.  The enemy likes to stir up trouble on the way to church, which is why we developed a "no talking" policy for the kids while driving to church.  They just listen to praise music.  It works fairly well.  This particular morning, the policy was not working well.  Sarah wanted Joe's book (he had two), but Joe didn't want to share his book (apparently he can read two books at once).  I enforced the logical solution and made Joe share.  He, in turn, took Sarah's beloved Mickey Mouse.  Oh, the love that morning! Glares were shared and seedlings of resentment were planted in these siblings.

Resentment would need to be physically dug up or remain. If allowed to remain, the weeds of resentment threaten to destroy even the strongest relationships.

Monday came and resentment grew.  Joe was still angry at Sarah.  God says, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger"  for good reason.  Resentment and anger left to brew cultivates an atmosphere of death. 

"Be angry and do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down on your anger nor give place to the devil." 
Ephesians 4:26-27

Most of the time when I hear this verse, I think of marriage.  However, it is much broader and applies to any relationship.






































































































































































We needed a hero strong enough to extract the seedlings and plant good fruit in its place.  The hero is named HONOR and his commander is the Holy Spirit.  

That night, we had a dinner conversation about HONOR. 

It went something like this...

"Kids, the world will tell you you should fight with your brothers and sisters.  The world will even tell you it is normal and expected.  You may see your friends being mean to their brother or sister.  You are not of the world.  You are a child of God.  Do you want to have a home that is full of strife, fighting, and meanness?  Or do you want to have a home filled with love, joy, and peace?   You know you are to honor your father and your mother.  You need to honor your brother and sister.  You need to show them respect, kindness, and love.  

We show honor to those above us (in authority over us), like parents, teachers, police officers, and other adults.  We also honor those beside us, such as our friends, neighbors, people we meet, and siblings.  We also honor those under us (those we have authority over).  For example, we are your parents and we need to honor and respect you.  In short, we need to honor everyone."  

As I replay this conversation in my mind, I am picturing "Honor" like the cross.  Honor reaches up, out and down.





"But [He] made himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow of things in heaven, in things on earth, and things under the earth."  Phil 2:7-10

Oh, dear Heavenly Father, that Jesus took our sin upon Him.  That He humbled himself and took the form of a servant to honor us and pay the price we were so deserving of.  That He went in place of us.  Oh Father, oh Jesus, how we honor You now.  You are so worthy to be praised.  You are worthy of glory and honor.  We were nothing, yet You loved us still.  All honor and praise is Yours in heaven, earth and under the earth.  We exalt Your name, oh Lord.  We exalt Your name.  We bow our knees and speak Your name, Jesus, You are Lord.  

The kids understood the message of honor that day and our home is peaceful once again.  They will mostly likely need many reminders, as we all do.  If we do not honor, it leads to death.  The cross is a symbol of honor and it defeated death.  Honor defeats death.

May we meditate on the cross as we come into the week of Good Friday and Easter.  May we always remember Jesus, who first honored us.  In response to the cross, may we honor others up, out and down. 








Monday, March 18, 2013

Stressed-Less Living



“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Phil 4:6 

Be anxious for nothing

What if we really could be anxious about nothing?  What if worry was a weapon of the past devoid of power to defeat us?

We live in a high stress society.  Pressure is all around us to do more, be more, achieve more.  Activities constantly call to us begging our attention.  It is easy to become engulfed in the world’s enticements that yearn for our engagement.  None of these activities may be bad, they may even be good.  We just need to be on guard that we control our calendar rather than it dictate our destinations to us.  

Stress is defined by Merriam-Webster as a “constraining force or influence”.

Wow!  Stress constrains.  Stress and worry hold us in bondage and hinder our level of influence. 

When we allow too much on our already overloaded plates, we are in real danger of our schedule constraining us.    

Stress, anxiety, and worry all constrain our ability to be effective for God’s kingdom.  It is hard to show the love of Christ when we are focused on the busyness or concerns of our lives. 

“Now the ones [people] that fell among the thorns are those who, when they have heard[the Word], go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” Luke 8:14 (parentheses added)

Stress, whether it is due to cares of this world or overindulgence of activities (pleasure), constrains and chokes us of our fruit.   

It is time to put stress in its place, which is under our feet in Jesus’ name!  He came so we could have life and have it more abundantly.  It is time to turn the tables and constrain stress.  It is time to pray and let the peace of God guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

Are you ready for “Stressed-Less Living”?  I know I am! 

Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies (OBS) with Melissa Taylor is beginning a new study, “Stressed-Less Living” by Tracie Miles (www.stressedlessliving.com).  The study begins April 7th.  I actually met the author, Tracie, during the She Speaks Conference last year.  My friend, Becky Crenshaw, and I had the privilege of eating dinner with her, and I have to say she seemed very not-stressed!  



You can go to www.melissataylor.org to register.  I am a small group leader on facebook with Proverbs 31 OBS .  If you are interested in joining my small group, you can leave me a comment below or contact me on facebook on my page “Living Free in Him”.  Last time there was a waiting list to join the facebook small groups, so let me know soon if you are interested! 

 If you are new to online Bible study, it is wonderful!  It is a great option for women who find it hard to get out of the house for Bible study.  You can do it in your pajamas at your convenience!  How awesome it that?!  

I hope you will join Melissa Taylor and all of us on the Proverbs 31 OBS team as we learn to live “Stressed-Less”!
 
Order your book and receive a free 50 page study guide here: http://www.proverbs31.org/store/product/stressed-less-living-finding/






Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lean On Me



I will say of the LORD, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! Psalm 91:2 AMP

The year was 1988.  Big hair was in with the puffy bangs sprayed stiff with White Rain.  I was in middle school.  My friend, Challie, and I were inseparable with our collars turned up and jeans rolled tight.  We were two teenie-boppers at the Peoria Fair.  We jolted to a booth boasting star-sighted singers could record a "tape" in a real music studio (Yes, I said "tape". I am that old.).  The tune we chose to record was, "Lean on Me",a popular song at that time.  Perhaps you are old enough to remember it?  

Lean on me, when you're not strong.  I'll be your friend.  I'll help you carry on.  Lean on me, for, for it won't be long and I'm going to need somebody to lean on.  Just call on me, brother, when you need a friend.  We all need somebody to lean on.

I"ll spare you and won't sing it. {smile} Thankfully, this was long before American Idol.  Simon would have chewed us up, ate us for lunch, and then spit us out!  (Sorry Challie, we were not good!)

However bad our vocals may have been, it doesn't negate the goodness of the song. 

When I look at the verse above, I see how our God wants us to run to Him and lean on Him.

He promises to be our refuge.   Merriam-Webster defines "refuge" as a shelter or protection from danger or distress.  He is our protection from danger or distress.  (Yes, He even protects you from my singing.) 

He promises to be our fortress.  A fortress is a secure place.  He promises to be a place of security.  

On Him I lean and rely, and in Him, I confidently trust. 

I need to know He protects me.  I need to know I can be secure in Him.  I need to know that He is my friend and I can lean on Him and rely on Him.  There are things I don't understand.  There are uncertainties that loom and threaten to quake my confidence.  No matter the circumstances, I will not waiver!  God is my certainty!  He is my confidence! I will confidently trust in the Lord, my God! 

God is inviting you to hear His sweet voice today. Won't you join Him in the quietness of His studio and record His voice in your heart...

Lean on Me when you're not stong.  I'll be your friend.  I'll help you carry on.











Monday, March 11, 2013

Rock, Shelter, Tower

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer,
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed, 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy,
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.  Selah
Psalms 61:1-4
 
Is your heart overwhelmed today?  Let's play a game.  
 
You probably have played the game, "Rock, Paper, Scissors."   Well, today I want to introduce you to "Rock, Shelter, Tower".  Everyone wins this game.  Rock doesn't cover shelter, nor does tower destroy rock. They are all equally strong and all equally adequate to protect and support.  
 
Do you need a rock to stand on, a shelter to shield you, or a tower to defend you?  Cry out to the Lord.  
 
He promises to lead you to the Rock that is higher than you.  He is our Rock. This Rock is a rock of peace, refuge, safety, salvation, comfort, and strength.  
 
He promises to be a shelter for you.  He is a shelter from life's storms.  When rain plummets and pounds, threatening to shake your foundation, you can rest assured that the Rock you are on is secure and His shelter is sufficient.  

He promises to be a strong tower from the enemy.  He will hold you up and protect you from all sides.  He lifts you up above the storm in a strong tower of safety and support.  This tower will not waver, it will not fall.  

A tabernacle is another name for the Lord's house, or a sanctuary.  After Jesus came and went to the cross and rose again, the Lord's residence changed from a house of brick and mortar to a home within our hearts.  If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, than you are a tabernacle, my dear friend.  He abides in you, but you still have to make the choice to abide in Him (John 15).  In Him is the safest place to be.   

He surrounds you as with a shield, keeps you standing firm on His Rock, covers you with the shelter of His wings and encompasses you in the safety of His tower and tabernacle.  We are covered from all sides with His love and protection.  
 
All right, everyone together, fists ready...Rock, Shelter, Tower...God, You've got this. 
 
Cry out to the Lord and rest in His protection and strength.  

Dear Heavenly Father, oh how I need you.  My heart is overwhelmed.  You know my going in and my going out.  You know my rising and my lying down.  You know my struggles.  Father, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.  You are my shelter and strong tower.  Thank you for always protecting me when I abide in You.  Father, I pray I would abide in You. Thank you for comforting me and encompassing me in the shelter of Your wings.  Thank you for surrounding me with Your presence today.  I pray I would feel your peace and presence in a mighty way.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 
 





Thursday, March 7, 2013

I Have Learned...


"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 times, beaten 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.    









 
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