Monday, July 29, 2013

Just Say Yes!


There is a little three-letter word that can make even the strongest of women weak in the knees.  This little word threatens our comfort, causes us to question our identities, and can just be down right scary. 

What is so intimidating about this little word...Yes?

It isn't so much the three-letter word we are scared of as what the word represents. This word means overcoming our insecurities, climbing out of complacency, and clinging to our Creator.  Our Creator knows what He has created us to be and what He plans to do through us. 

When the Yes involves stepping out of our comfort zones into the unknown hills of faith, we question the One leading.  We wonder if we heard from God correctly.  Why would He choose me to go? 

You see your faults.  He sees your potential. 

You see your failures.  He sees your heart.

You see your shortcomings.  He sees you overcoming.

You see your weaknesses.  He says, "No matter.  Where you are weak, I am strong."  (2 Cor 12:10)

God is omnipresent.  He isn't bound by time.  He goes before us and sees the unseen.  He sees what He created you to be and sees the end result. 

Is there something you know God has called you to do but you haven't stepped out to do it?

Do you feel like God wants you to do something new, but you aren't sure you are equipped or ready?

Do you want more out of your relationship with the Lord?

Do you want to obey Him with reckless abandonment?  

Do you want to live a life of abundant blessings and engage on a full-fledged adventure with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?  

Do you want to be all God has called you to be? 

If you answered Yes to any of these questions, then you are on your way to saying "Yes to God"

In one week, on August 4th, Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies with Melissa Taylor will begin the study, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by best-selling author and President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa Terkeurst. 

I am so thankful I said "yes" to God and now have the honor of being a Facebook Small Group Leader for Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies.  This is my fifth study as being a Facebook Small Group Leader and online Bible studies have blessed my socks off!! 

You can join the 19,000 plus ladies who have decided to say "YES!" and joined this study!  God can do abundantly above and beyond all we can ask or think with such a little word.  Go to http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/ to sign up and get more information. 

It is amazing what God can do with one "yes".  Will you say "yes" to Him today?  

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." Ephesians 3:20 









Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lay it Down and Trust


Sometimes the Lord asks us to lay down our "Isaacs" in order to show us His faithfulness.  

Genesis 22 "Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham...'Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.'"  

Now, I don't know about you, but this passage of scripture has bothered me over the years.  Really?  God, why would you ask Abraham to do such a thing?!  Seriously?  

However, Abraham had a very close relationship with the Lord God.  He knew Him and He knew His character.  I believe Abraham knew God enough to know He wouldn't require Him to take the life of His son.  I believe He just followed the Lord in faith.  He was obedient and knew the Lord would honor His obedience and save his son.  

"And Abraham said, 'My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.' So the two of them went together."  Genesis 22:8

God hasn't tested a man to this extreme since Abraham, but there are many times God asks us to lay something down on the alter and trust Him in the process.   

The Lord recently asked my son, Joe, to lay an "Isaac" down and trust Him to provide.  This is by NO means an equal to Abraham's sacrifice, but what the Lord asked Joe to give up was precious to him.  It was his Wii. 

He was wanting to buy a Wii U.  (Don't ask me why...they seem the same to me, but it was important to him.)   He was saving up his money and decided to sell his Wii to earn some money towards his treasured Wii U purchase.  

We had a friend with 3 boys who wanted to buy it and Joe was thrilled!  This friend is in the ministry, so I just casually mentioned to Joe that it would really bless them if he gave them the Wii.  I told him, "You could give it to them as a seed believing for the Lord to provide the Wii U in another way."  

Joe's immediate response was "NO WAY!"  So, I said, "Ok, no problem.  I just thought I would suggest it."  Then I dropped it and didn't say another word about it.  

Two days later we were getting ready to leave to meet our friends to sell them the Wii and Joe came down the stairs in tears.  

"Honey, why are you crying?"  I asked.

"The Lord just touched me and asked me to give them the Wii."  He tenderly replied.

"Are you sure?  You don't have to you know." 

"Yes, I am sure.  That is what I need to do." 

Obedience and trust isn't always easy.  Even knowing it is God doesn't necessarily make it any less difficult.  

Joe cried all the way there and home on that trip up his small mountain.   

The family he gave it to was so blessed.  His faithfulness and obedience ministered to their whole family.  
We prayed and thanked God for blessing his obedience and faithfulness to provide in another way.  

About a week later, God did.  A friend of mine who knew nothing of this story randomly gave me an envelope with a monetary gift that was more than what Joe was going to get for selling the Wii!  I joyfully gave him the money knowing it was the Lord providing and showing His faithfulness to him.  His faith and the faith of others was built by his act of obedience.  

It seems we can learn much from a ten year old.  

God has also asked me to lay down a couple of "Isaacs" lately.  

Recently, I had a choice to make.  I had to lay down my desires in order to follow His path.  However, it turns out (not surprisingly) that His path was far better and more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined! His path led me to a new level of His presence and my purpose.  In His presence is fullness of joy!  I am so thankful I laid down my "Isaac" and trusted Him.  

There are times when the Lord will ask us to make tough choices.  He will ask us to lay down our desires or plans and follow Him.  We can trust that when He leads, it is always the right choice.   Is God asking you to give up something or do something hard?  Just lay it down on His alter and trust.  He will provide.    

"In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." Genesis 22:18



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Who Are You Listening To?

There is one who accuses us day and night.  He fills our minds with accusations and lies about ourselves and others.  The voice of the accuser is easy to discern.  It is the voice that discourages, beats us down, and condemns

 In contrast, the Lord's voice encourages, lifts us up, and lovingly corrects.

"Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.'"  Revelation 12:10 

In John, Chapter 8, we meet a girl caught in sin.  Dirty. Ashamed. Beaten. Accused.
Her accusers pushed her face down into the dust in front of Jesus.  Their true motives were to test Jesus seeking to accuse Him and defraud His identity.  The only problem...no one can defraud the reality of the identity of Christ.  How did Jesus respond to these accusers?  "Then, Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear."

The finger of God came down to defend His daughter and He shunned the voice of her accusers.  

I often have wondered what Jesus wrote.  Did he write a note with words of loving forgiveness to the woman?  Did he write a scripture about God's mercy?  Did he write a list of the accusers' sins or perhaps the names of their girlfriends?  Jesus stood up and firmly said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first."  Hmmm...funny.  No one raced to go grab a stone.  No one eagerly stood up in response to His challenge. 

Instead, they left.  One by one her accusers left until she was alone with Jesus.  "He said to her, 'Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord,' And Jesus said to her, 'Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.'"   

Our accuser would like nothing better than to defraud the name of Jesus.  Jesus doesn't accuse us.  When the enemy can get us to agree with him that Jesus condemns us, he is seeking to disprove Jesus and claim that He is our accuser.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Jesus defends His daughters and raises them out of the dirt.  He carried away our shame on the cross. He was beaten so we could be made whole and healed.  He was accused so we could be acquitted.

If you wonder why I share my story so freely.  It is because we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.  The accuser loses much ground when we step out and bring what was hidden into the light.  The light of Jesus and His truth overpowers the shadows of secrets.

I praise the Lord for the healing power of His Holy Spirit.  Last weekend, 11 ladies gained new victory at the Deeper Still Retreat as they stepped out of the darkness and into the light.  They let their voices be heard and will not allow the accuser to silence them any longer.  Jesus doesn't want us face down in the dirt, He lifts us up so we can be...

Redeemed. Beautiful. Rejoicing. Radiant.




Thursday, July 11, 2013

Twenty Years Ago Today...

"O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life." Lamentations 3:58

"For the day of vengeance [is] in My heart, And the year of My redeemed has come."  Isaiah 63:4

Twenty years ago today, I made a decision that would affect the rest of my life.  July 11, 1993, I went to Champaign, Illinois to have an abortion.  It seemed like an easy and quick solution at the time.  I had no idea how it would impact my life.

Here is the link in case you want to read my story:  http://livingfreeinhim.blogspot.com/p/my-story.html

Let's now fast forward...to a year ago.

I was sitting at a fundraiser for a local crisis pregnancy center listening to Pam Tebow share her testimony.  She shared about the good decision she made to carry Tim Tebow against the doctor's advice. She was ill at the time and gave birth to a sickly small child.  Well, we all know how that story ends.  It ends well and God is using Tim mightily for His glory.

I left the fundraising dinner broken.  The healing I thought I had received seemed distant and incomplete.  The "What if's" started racing through my mind.  Finally, in desperation and obedience to the Lord, I shared my testimony with my "Living Free in Him" readers for the first time.   

God spoke to me at the dinner that night.  He told me it was time to share my story with you and it was time to go deeper.

A few weeks after the fundraising event, I called my friend, Emily, to talk to her about speech therapy (at least that is why I thought I was calling her).  We are both speech therapists and I wanted to talk to her about a job possibility.  During the conversation, we were catching up on lost time and I asked her what she was doing in ministry.  She excitedly told me about the Deeper Still Ministry and how she came to be involved and what she was doing on the ministry team.  Immediately I knew this was no ordinary conversation...it was God-appointed. 

After our conversation, I decided to attend the training for the Deeper Still Ministry Team.  I did not really know why I was going other than I was just suppose to go.

Then, just a few months ago in April, I attended a retreat.  It was amazing!!! It was like nothing I had ever experienced before in ministry or my healing journey!!!  You can read more about it  here.

Now today, exactly 20 years after my story began, I have the blessing and opportunity to minister to others who are in need of healing due to abortion.

Today, I leave to minister on the Deeper Still Ministry Team at a retreat this weekend.

Eleven women with an abortion wounded heart will discover freedom and know God's love, grace and forgiveness in a way they have yet to experience it.   It is overwhelming when I think of how good our God is and how His timing is unfathomably perfect.  Before writing this post, I hadn't given the timing much thought. However, it is no doubt God-ordained and His love continues to amaze me.   

As my friend, Emily, said "God not only redeems us, He redeems the day."  Thank you, God, for redeeming the day.  I can think of no better way to honor the memory of my daughter in heaven, Kori Danielle, than to help others find freedom and healing in Jesus Christ.

If you or anyone you know has had an abortion, you can go to www.godeeperstill.org to see how you or someone you love can attend a retreat and find complete freedom and healing from an abortion wounded heart. 

If you would like to join us in praying for these 11 women this weekend, go to www.deeperstilldevotions.blogspot.com to see how you can pray. 










Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Battleground of Freedom


Today is a day we celebrate freedom.  In America, we celebrate the freedom to worship as we choose, the freedom to speak our minds, the freedom to pursue our dreams, and the freedom to make mistakes in the process.

Outwardly, we are free to become all God intended for us to be.  However, what good is outward freedom if inwardly we are enslaved in a cell of lies.  We are only as free as we are in our mind.

We are gifted with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  However, our ability to pursue our God-given dreams are often held hostage by the one who knows who God made us to be and fears it.  

It is for freedom Christ has set us free.

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."  Galations 5:1

Freedom is won on the battlefields.  Going into battle is always lined with a enemy called fear.  It is because he is afraid of who you can be if you are free, that he uses fear to try to defeat us.   Fear will lie to you. 

Fear will tell you freedom isn't worth the cost.  

Fear will say freedom will cost you more than its worth.  

Fear will coerce you into believing you will never be free no matter what you do, so give up.  

Every time we are faced with an opportunity for freedom, we have to first get past our fear. We can decide to move past our fears onto the battleground of freedom or remain in bondage.

Freedom is granted to you by your Creator.  Freedom always comes with a price and Jesus has already paid that price for us.  It is yours.  You need only to pursue it. Chase it vigorously.  

What is freedom worth to you?  Identify the lies.  Overcome lies with the truth of God's Word.  Replacing the lies with truth is the battle plan for this fight.  It is a battle worth fighting!  Remember Jesus has already given you the victory, you just need to go, stand and fight for what is yours! 

Freedom awaits you and it is yours.

Happy Independence Day!!!    





Monday, July 1, 2013

A Lifetime of Discovering God {Guest Post}

Today I have the honor of introducing you to one of my fellow Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies leaders and sister in Christ, Shelly Faust!! 

Shelly Faust is a wife, mama, writer/blogger, aspiring author, and Proverbs 31 Ministries OBS Team Leader. Her heart is to encourage, inspire, and love others while sharing Jesus through her words and her life - past and present. You can connect with Shelly on her blog (www.isthatyoulord.blogspot.com), twitter (@shellyfaust) or facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ShellyAFaust)
 
Thank you for sharing your heart for the Lord with us today, Shelly!!!  
 
A Lifetime of Discovering God
 
As I approached the big 4-0 last year I found myself once again pondering questions such as:

Who am I? Am I enough? Am I doing enough? What have I done with my life that has made a difference? Where do I go from here?

We should ponder these types of questions, I think. But our answer to any of them is not found in the pursuit of titles and positions or college degrees and careers. And certainly it is not found in a different spouse or a new sports car (think mid-life crisis).

The discovery comes in our pursuit of God alone.

In finding Him we begin peeling off layers of false identities and removing masks of self-deception. As we look deeply into the mirror of His Word and sit at the feet of our Savior, our truest self begins to emerge and take form.

Apart from God we can create a name for ourselves, assume various roles and positions, and develop a personal “brand.” We can be many things but none of these are meant to fulfill or define us. We may feel whole and complete for a moment but the emptiness in our soul cannot be filled by anyone or anything other than Jesus.

We were created by and for God. Our beginning is with God. Our ending is with God. So must the middle pages of our story be with God.

Wrapped around the idea that the more we do the more valuable we become is the belief that we are not enough

We think God cannot love us until we somehow deserve it. We determine (falsely) the cost of His love is too high and we doubt it can ever truly be ours.   

The truth is the cost was great but the price has already been paid.

We do not have to spend a lifetime of searching in vain for that one thing to complete or make us feel whole. We can, however, spend a lifetime discovering God and embracing all He has for us and all He has done for us.

We do not have to prove our value or come up with a brilliant marketing plan to convince God to love us. We just have to accept His gifts that have already been given.

His gift of grace frees us from the burdens of perfection and performance and gently nudges us closer to our Father. It invites us to discover and investigate the richness of God’s mercy and frees us to say “yes” to His unconditional love.  As we do this, suddenly the name on our birth certificate is not the only name by which we answer. We are given a new name: 


Daughter.  Son.  Redeemed.  Forgiven.  Beautiful.  Loved.  Worthy.  Enough.

Determine today to begin the journey of discovering and understanding God. Open the Word and find the answers to your questions there.

As you pursue Him and search for Him, you will surely come face to face with your Savior. 

You are loved.

You are chosen.

You are enough.

"We are a “chosen people…a people belonging to God….called out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9.

Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Shelly!  Your words are life and they are truth!  We are God's children and we are enough because He is.






 
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