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!  


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!

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