Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gifts


"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."  James 1:7

Today just happens to be my birthday.  : )  As we all know, it is customary for one to receive gifts for a birthday.  I have gotten many wonderful gifts in my life for my birthday and some...umm...not so much.  

The worst gift I can remember was on my 25th birthday when I received a weed eater and an extension cord -- (Can anyone say "hello adulthood!"?)  Not necessarily an ideal birthday gift for a girlie girl. 

The best birthday gift ever was the gift of my son, Luke, who was born 6 days before my 31st birthday.

I love getting gifts.  And God is the best gift giver!  Last night I was making a list of some the gifts the Lord has given me lately.  I couldn't even list them all.  I am so thankful for all the blessings the Lord has given us.  However, since I cannot possibly list all of them, I will only list a few here today to give praise unto Him  (Hebrews 13:15, Psalms 71:8).  (not listed in any particular order) 

Gift #1:  


My husband (who is also a huge gift!)  took me out for a VERY NICE birthday dinner last Saturday at a local jazz club/steak house with VIP reserved seating on the patio with live Jazz music playing while we enjoyed a wonderful meal.  

Gift #2:  

A friend is letting me drive her convertible all week and I LOVE IT!!!  Thank you Kristi!!  


Gift #3:  An opportunity to write for and serve on the Deeper Still Ministry    Team.

Gift #4:  The blessing of serving as a small group facebook leader for Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor.

Gift #5:   
   The gift of three beautiful and wonderful children...Joe, Sarah and Luke.  

Gift #6:  



I am thankful for 15 years with the man I love and the gift of going to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico next week for our 15th year anniversary. 




  Gift # 7:  The gift of a dream being fulfilled of swimming with dolphins while in Mexico!!  My birthday present this year from my awesome husband!! 

God is sooo good!!  His gifts are plentiful and abundant!  And of course, as great as all these gifts and blessings are, the gift of His son, Jesus, is better than them all.  So thankful for Jesus!

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

What are you thankful for today? 


Thursday, May 23, 2013

When You Need a Bigger Boat

In 1 Samuel 17, we find David about to face the giant Goliath. Now, Goliath was huge.  He was nine and a half feet tall, and you can bet he worked out!  

When David heard about this giant who threatened the Israelite army, he asked, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"  David showed no fear.  He knew God was on his side.  He had seen how God had helped in the past and knew He would help him in this situation ( 1 Sam 17:35-36).

He faced the giant and spoke to the giant, "The battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands." 

We too have giants we need to face.  They may not be physically nine feet tall, but they can seem just as insurmountable in size.

Like David, we need to know some things before we are ready to face our giants.

What did David know?  What was it that made Him so ready and EAGER even to face this giant with certainty that he would come out victorious?

1.  David knew His God.   He spent many hours in the presence of the Lord.  Before David was a giant slayer, he was a harp player.  He spent many hours singing and praising the Lord in the middle of the meadow.  David had a strong relationship with the Lord, which fed his confidence.

2.  David knew His God was with Him and would help him.  He drew confidence from past victories.  "Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God." (1 Samuel 17:36).

3.  David knew who he was.  He knew God was on His side and that he was in the army of the Living God.

We too can get in a position where we can confidently face our giants: 

Spend time in the presence of the Lord in praise and worship and prayer.  

Remember past victories where God has provided and proved faithful time and again.  

Know who you are, that you are in the army of the Living God.  You are a child of the Most High.   

Who is this giant who dares defy the child of the Most High, and the army of the Living God? 

Once you are ready to face the giants, call them out.  David had to identify the giant, call him out and face him.  What are your giants?  Fear? Insecurity?  Pride?  Marriage issues?  Children struggles?  Health?

After you have identified your giants, speak to them as David did.  Speak God's Word.  God's Word is a double edged sword and it will defeat those giants.

For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. (Heb 4:12)

As I identified my giants, I began to speak to them.  I had many scriptures memorized to help conquer the giants.  One giant in particular was bigger than I realized and I knew I needed more ammo.

I thought back to the movie Jaws.  When they went out to face the "giant" shark, it wasn't until they stood face to face with the giant that they realized they might need a "bigger boat."  David only needed one stone, but sometimes we need a "bigger boat".

Get your Bible out and look up verses to speak to your giant.  I found about eight and wrote them on note cards.  Anytime my giants try to rear their ugly heads, I am going to stand like David did and speak to them.  The spoken Word of God is stronger than any sword and more powerful than any giant.  They have to fall in defeat when hit with the ammo of the Word.

Face those giants and speak to them!

Who is this giant that he should defy the armies of the living God. The battle is the Lord's and He will give you into my hands.  Victory is mine!  (Sue paraphrase)  : ) 









Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Going the Wrong Way

"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."  Proverbs 3:5-6
 
Last weekend, we took a short trip up to the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee area to go to Dollywood.  We have season passes so we have been there a couple of times already this year.  This morning, we had to make a couple of extra stops and go a different route.  Our ten year old son, Joe, began to get concerned about our navigational skills as he noticed we were going in the opposite direction of Dollywood.  

"Why are we going this way?  Why are you taking the long way around?",  Joe inquisitively inquired.
  
Although it was only 10:30, it had been a long morningSince we were making extra stops, we had to carefully plan out how we were going to do what we needed to do before making our way up to our fun-filled destination.   We had a carefully thought through plan, but Joe didn't know it.  To him, it looked like we were going the wrong way, but he didn't know everything we knew.  

I turned around to look at Joe and replied, "Just trust us."

In that moment, the Lord spoke to me.  You see, the Lord is doing some things in our lives at the moment and we cannot see where he is going.  It could look as if He is taking us the wrong wayIt could look like He is taking the long way around.  If He is, it is for a purpose.  He has a plan and it is good.  I heard the Lord speak to my heart as I spoke to my son.  "Trust me."  

We knew our plan that morning and the best route to take to our destination.  Our child just didn't know everything we knew.   

God knows the best path to your destinyWe may not always understand the path He has chosen to take, but we can trust He will get us there safely and at just the right time.  God is saying to you today, "Just Trust me." 




  



Monday, May 13, 2013

Hit That Tree


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 proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengence of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, for the display of His splendor.  Isaiah 61:1-3

These verses are invaluable to me.  Oh, to know we serve a Lord who gives us beauty for ashes...

A couple weeks ago I shared about my experience at the Deeper Still Retreat for women and men wounded by the sin of abortion.  Today, I would like to share more...

Rain poured as I sat clutching my single red rose.  The rain seemed to me to be a cleansing rain, a healing rain. 

The single red rose represented our "sin".   The red was in reference to the verse, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow." Isaiah 1:18.

During this part of the retreat, we were to toss the red rose from the porch into the forest and over the mountain to represent our sin is removed (Psalms 103:12). 

At last it was my turn to hurl my rose over the mountain never to be seen again.  I drew back my arm and sent the red stained symbol of my past sin sailing into the air.  Only, it didn't fly over the mountain.  Instead, my rose hit a huge oak tree.  The impact cracked and smashed the delicate metaphor.


Even in that simple miscalculated throw, the Lord spoke.  

You are an oak of righteousness.  If any sin of your past is hurled at you, it will not stand.  It will be smashed, cracked and destroyed.  You are made righteous because of the blood of Jesus.  The tree of righteousness destroys sin or any accusation of sin.  

The tree of righteousness is a shield that is impenetrable.  Jesus hung on a "tree" so that we would be made righteousness by His blood.  Our sin was nailed to that tree.  When you ask for forgiveness, your sin is no longer on you, but hangs on the tree.  The Cross now bears your sin and you are free.  This exchange is what causes you to be an oak of righteouness, a planting of the Lord, for the display of His splendor!

Sweet friends, no matter what your "red rose" is, decide today to pitch it over the mountain.  You are an oak of righteousness!!  If the accuser tries to condemn you with past sin, remember he is a liar.  The truth is you are as white as snow and the Lord has removed your sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12).  

Your sin is removed and destroyed!! It cannot stand against an oak of righteousness! 







Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Happy Endings


 I am currently leading a facebook small group for Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor.  We are on Chapter 5 of Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles. 

This book was God ordained for this time in my life.  Chapter 5 is no exception. There were so many treasures in this chapter, but if I had to remember only one point, it would be that the Lord remembers.  

In Chapter 5, Tracie explains the story of Hannah from 1 Samuel 1.  If you haven't read the story of Hannah, I encourage you to go and read it now. Hannah's heart desire was for a baby.  She was childless. 

"And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish." 1 Samuel 1:10

"...and the Lord remembered her."  1 Samuel 1:19

I love that..."and the Lord remembered her".

Do you feel as if the Lord has forgotten you?  Hannah may have felt like the Lord had forgotten her and her desire for a child.  He did not forget.  No doubt she had asked the Lord for a child before this day.  What was different about this request?  Desperation. 

There is something powerful that happens when we come to the Lord in desperation. 

Recently, I heard Karen Ellison, the founder of Deeper Still, explain that Jesus didn't go knocking on people's doors asking if He could heal them.  Everyone who received healing from Jesus was desperate and sought Jesus desperately!  When they sought Jesus desperately, He healed every single one who came to Him.  It wasn't even the healing they were seeking, they sought the Healer! 

Hannah was desperate.  Hannah sought the Healer and entreated Him to remember her.  He did. 

What are you desperate for today?  What part of your  life do you need Jesus to touch?  Your marriage?  Health?  Job?   Finances?  Children?  When we finally come to the end of ourselves and realize we cannot fix our problem, and we fall to our knees in desperation, He meets us and touches our lives and heals what only He can heal.

He has not forgotten you. 

Hannah's story has a happy ending and as Tracie wrote "I believe that our heavenly Father wants us all to have happy endings." (pg. 96) 

"As we make faith a priority and learn to trust in God's plans, even if we do not understand them or like them, the doors will be flung wide open for God to enter our lives and begin his mighty work.  During the wait we are called to fall on our knees just like Hannah and pour out our hearts to him.  We are called to live life in a state of dependency on Him, believing that His peace is available in any situation."  (pg. 97) 

The Lord wants us to seek Him.  I need Him to hold me, to protect me, to comfort me, and keep me shielded in His love.  When I curl up in His presence and seek His face, I feel safe, secure, and full of peace. He always guides me.  He always remembers my requests.  He remembers yours also. 

While we are waiting for the positive outcome, we can rest knowing He is working on our happy ending.  Even when the endings don't turn out exactly how we would have written them, we can trust that His ending is better.   We can trust Him for a happy ending.  He writes the best Books! 




Thursday, May 2, 2013

Deeper Still


Last weekend I went on a retreat.

The retreat was only about 45 minutes away in Maryville, Tennessee.  Well, it is only 45 minutes away if you aren't directionally challenged.  If you are directionally challenged (ahem...like me), it may take you 2 hours.  {smile}  *sigh*

After I finally figured out the direction I was suppose to be heading, I found myself going up and up a mountain.  The retreat was literally at the top of a mountain overlooking the beautiful Smokey Mountains.

I knew the Lord had led me to go to this retreat, but I wasn't sure why he wanted me there. This retreat was for women who are post-abortive.  If you have read my story at the top of the page, you know that I had an abortion in 1993, when I was 19 years old.  God has led me on a journey of healing and freedom since I rededicated my life to Him in 1998.  It has been a long process, but I felt healed and didn't think I needed any more freedom or healing.

So, why would God lead me to a retreat for more healing when I was already healed?

To go deeper still 

The name of the ministry and retreat is "Deeper Still".  I didn't realize that when I was driving up to the top of that mountain, that God was also leading me to a spiritual mountaintop experience.

It was as if the mountaintop was a satellite and the atmosphere created a cell phone with a clear signal to hear the Lord.  He didn't have to keep asking, "Can you hear me now?"  I HEARD HIM CLEARLY!! 

I definitely understood how the disciples felt when they were up on the mountaintop with Jesus and they just wanted to stay there and build tents and never come down.

I won't be able to share everything He spoke to me.  I found a deeper healing.  God really did go deeper still.  I am going to share three ways the Lord spoke to me on the mountaintop last weekend.

The first experience was when one of the ministry team members told me my child (whom I aborted) loves me.  Sobbing, I said to the Lord, "How...how could she love me?"  He answered quickly...

"Sue, all she has ever known is My love.  How could she not love you?"  

My heart soaked in His loving response filling a deep wound as I accepted my daughter's love.

Another experience I want to share is a vision God gave me during a time of praise and worship.  Often during praise and worship, I picture myself dancing with Jesus.

In "A Story of Redemption", I share a vision of my daughter dancing with Jesus.  Although, I visualize myself dancing with Jesus and I can envision my daughter dancing with Jesus in heaven, I had never put myself and my daughter in the SAME picture with Jesus.

I had never entered into that picture to be with her.  Before this past weekend, it was too painful.  I felt unworthy to be in the picture, unworthy to hold my daughter, unworthy to dance with her.  During praise and worship up on the mountain,...

the Lord freed me to enter into that picture and dance with my daughter 
and embrace her in my arms with joy.

The third revelation I would like to share has to do with my child's name.  The Lord had revealed to me years ago that my child is a girl and her name is "Kori".   However, she didn't have a middle name.  During the weekend, many of the other participants at the retreat had middle names for their children in heaven.  I spoke to the Lord and said, "Lord, I would like to know my child's middle name."  Almost immediately, the name came...

Danielle. 
Her name is "Kori Danielle".  

With excited anticipation, I looked up the names "Kori" and "Danielle" when I came home from the retreat.

 "Kori" means "God's peace."  Don't you just love that?

However, when I looked up "Danielle",  I was not so excited.  I saw the meaning and I actually kept looking at other baby name websites thinking "Surely it doesn't mean that.  I don't like that.  Maybe I didn't hear from God.  I really don't like that meaning." 

However, all the baby name websites agreed. "Danielle" means "God is our Judge."

I thought "I don't like that meaning, that sounds harsh."  Then I asked the Lord about it. He said,

"I AM your Judge 
and I have found you innocent.  
No one else can judge you.  
And if they try to judge you, 
know that I AM your Judge 
and have found you innocent." 

The name is perfect.  He is perfect.  His love amazes me.  I could tell you even more He revealed to me over that weekend at the Deeper Still Retreat, but it will have to wait for another time.

Beloved friends, if you or anyone you know has had an abortion, I strongly encourage you to visit www.godeeperstill.org .  I thought I was free (I even have a blog about freedom!).  He desires to heal every wounded area of your heart, finish the good work He has begun in you, and set you completely free in Him.
 He loves you so much.

There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). 
He has removed your sins as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).  
Though your sins were as scarlet, He has made you white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).  

You are a child of the MOST HIGH GOD.  He is your Judge and YOU have been found innocent because of the Blood of Jesus. 










 
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