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.  




 
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