Thursday, October 23, 2014
How often do we forget to live in the present? The today? We seem to reach into the next day or beyond and try to grasp hold of the things that lie within it and pull it in toward us. That is impossible since we don't know what tomorrow holds. Why do we do that? Why do we want to push the fast forward button wishing that we could either push all the other buttons like Stop, Pause, Rewind besides the one that really needs to be pushed, which is the PLAY button!
We get to our tomorrow, which becomes our today...the day that we were so concerned and worried over yesterday and now it's not as much of a concern because now tomorrow holds a whole new load for us to try to carry so we've got to try to reach forward into tomorrow not living today and we're trying to forget about yesterday. Whew! That's exhausting! No wonder we're all wiped out at the end of the day. That's not the kind of life that God intended for us to have. He intended for us to have a complete, full and abundant life, which only He can give. He tells us in John 10:10 in the Amplified version that, "I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)." Let me tell you something...God's Word is timeless. His Word is fitted to speak to us in the now from things of old. His Word is always FRESH! So, this is meant for you and me TODAY!
Today is the only day that we will have to live in it. If we try to carry things that lie ahead in our tomorrows while we are living in today, then we will stumble and fall because we create a load that is much too much for us to carry. Or sometimes we may try to duplicate today from yesterday picking up things that ought not be picked up by us! It was never meant for us to carry in the first place. God wants you to live in His Freedom. That means freedom from things like fear, guilt, worry, bitterness, and death. Surrendering to God these things that we try to carry either from our past or things we try to grasp out from our tomorrows will give us the freedom to live for today. We will have the freedom that Christ gives to be ourselves in our today.
To have Hope for tomorrow we need to trust and rest in God, allowing Him to take charge of each of our today's. Letting Him set the course before us directing our steps one at a time. I know this is challenging because sometimes life has us running around like race horses chomping at the bit ready to take off as if there were no tomorrow, but we cannot live our lives this way...chaotic and in circles. Instead, we need to be walking purposefully with God daily. He always has hold of you. Holding your hand. Never letting go, but if we are too busy clutching things that aren't meant for us to hold, then we're missing something pretty awesome...we're choosing things that can't do what a Mighty God can and will do and has done for us. Psalm 73:23 tells us very clearly what God does, "Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand." How awesome is that?!
God has promised to give us perfect peace. We know that He holds true to all of His promises. We can be experiencing anxiousness, worry, concern, fear, guilt or whatever other baggage we choose to carry but when we surrender it to Him we can be assured that we will find rest, comfort, joy and peace as He lightens our load. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6 nasb
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3
I would like to end with this verse from Psalm 16:11 nkjv,
"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Let's keep our focus on His Presence in the present so that we can "Learn from yesterday; Live for today; Hope for tomorrow."
Take Care & Be Blessed,
Thursday, October 16, 2014
I am a very social person. Outgoing and absolutely love being actively involved with others engaging in conversation, coffee dates or thrifting dates! Any time there is a Bible Study, a Women's event, or a club to join I am there. I can't get enough. Then this summer happened. I began noticing that God was doing a different kind of work in my heart. One that I had never experienced before.
When events were coming up, God spoke to my heart to say "No."
WHAT?!!....wait...WHAT?!! But, I've always done this! My friends, Lord! I want to learn more about You and do more for You...with my friends!! "Christy, say, No. Not right now" I didn't get it. But I did it. It was hard...extremely hard, but I did it.
More and more God began withdrawing me from...
you name it...anything that I invested far too much of my time in, including...you guessed it... friendships! He didn't sever ties to anything but withdrew me drastically from everything that I busied myself with that didn't allow for any time quiet time with God.
I felt so far removed that at one point I began feeling a potpourri of emotions such as - lowliness, broken-heartedness, crushed-in-spirit, isolation, feeling unseen, and forgotten. The strange thing about all of these emotions was that I never felt alone. Even though some of the emotions warrant singleness and aloneness I never felt that. I always felt God's presence. Now, hear me when I say this...I was not a quick study to catch on to this in the midst of it. It would be in the midst of a few of my pity parties that God would make His way through the crowd of ONE and raise my head to reveal His awesome Self to me. Imagine that! He was even there at my party!! My miserable party...He was there!
In my time set apart, I began digging more and more into God's Word and applying His Truth to my life. However, I was still experiencing these same emotions and my prayers consisted first, asking the infamous question of why? Then I began asking for me to understand His plan for these emotions I was experiencing with confusion and really without reason...I wasn't feeling sorry for myself and I hadn't been hurt by anyone. Later my prayers turned to surrender. To allow Him to use all of what I was feeling to do a work in me helping me to be sensitive to what He had for me to do...whatever that would be. When I embraced that I began to see what He was doing through and in me. God was preparing my heart for those He would bring across my path that were experiencing precisely what I was experiencing.
But why remove me from everything? Because all those things were my distractions. My world...my mind was filled with too much happenings...too much noise. Even with most of them being good and things for the Lord I busied myself so much so that I didn't leave any time or space for God Himself. I would not have taken the time to even notice that God was tugging on my heart string. It's so easy to fill myself with God things to overflowing that I left absolutely no room for God. He had to literally pour everything out from my life emptying myself to where all I had was Him.
I love how God works with me. It's not always pleasant at the time but He is always good and generous that He whispers, "Oh, child, hold on my dear. A beautiful thing is happening. I've got you. Let me hold you, sweet child." He not only does a work for some time but He also gives me a beautiful story that He gives me through the help of others that feed encouragement and Truth into my life through my life during my journey. Literally, their words tie in together a story that God has already been penning and we're just finally getting to see the picture.
Here's the beautiful story (analogy) of what I experienced...
Imagine a caterpillar
They are lowly, slow moving inching their way around. They may be vibrant in color but have guards out keeping others at a distance from seeing their true colors. They're considered obscure...not well-known; not known to most people. Like us, we put on what we want others to see when in reality we have these protective guards around us keeping others at a distance from truly knowing us. We sometimes feel obsolete, not well-known. We want people to like us so we worry about what others think.
We get so tired of living this way being pulled in so many directions. Going what seems for miles in one direction only to have to turn back around and go back miles more. Exhaustion. Overwhelmed. Overworked. Weary. Worn Out. Swamped. Defeated. Deflated. Discouraged. Disillusioned. These are just a few of the things that go along the route of my emotional and mental state when I was trying to do it all.
That's when God took action to one of my favorite verses, "Be still and know that I am God."
Envision this caterpillar finding the perfect set of leaves to wrap itself tightly in and hang upside down from a branch spinning itself a silky cocoon into a shiny chrysalis. Now, it waits. Psalm 27:14 says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
That's what God did with me when He removed me from everything. He wrapped Himself around me that all I had was Him. When I stopped resisting His embrace...treating it as such and not as a straight jacket...I waited for the work that He was doing, the 'Intensely Hard yet Incredibly Beautiful' work that He was doing in my heart.
Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms its body, eventually emerging as a butterfly. Amazing, isn't it. Something that once was so low to the ground covered with tiny little poky things that only inched itself around. Now, with time, embracing, transformation and waiting, look what that caterpillar became...
a vibrant, radiating, colorful beautiful creature that has been transformed to fly high to soar far from place to place from fragrant flower to fragrant flower.
God does not look at who you are, but what you can be. There is more than meets the eye. He values our development more than our comfort. He wants us to grow continuously. He believes in us and He encourages us. Sometimes this may mean taking us completely out of our comfort zone and removing us far from our social lives, like He did with me. It's not forever. It was just a short few months, and I am happy that He had me journey through this. Ask me at the start of this journey when I was a lowly caterpillar and I would have given you a different answer. No matter where you are in life, there is always hope because God is a God of HOPE! Romans 15:13 says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Hope is what saw me through. Hope is like oxygen to the soul. Clinging on to hope and trusting in God looking to Him each day with faith that He would give me precisely what I needed for that day and believing that He would do the same for me tomorrow...kept my hope alive.
Take away from this journey that I just traveled...
TAKE...MAKE...ACQUIRE...SET ASIDE...ASSUME...GET HOLD OF...CHOOSE...EMPLOY
I would like to share with you some other versions of Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God." because I find it interesting some of the words that are used are exactly what I know the I very much struggle with.
CEV "Calm down and learn that I am God."
HCSB "Stop your fighting --and know that I am God."
NASB "Cease striving and know that I am God."
AMP "Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God."
CEB "That's enough! Now know that I am God."
TLB "Stand silent! Know that I am God!
Wow! What did you think? I really reverted back to childhood when I read the Common English Version. "That's Enough!" How many of you, like me, knew when your parents said those two words with the emphasis with an exclamation mark meant to immediately stop doing what I was doing...NOW! God is like a parent trying to settle His overactive child just long enough to climb up into His lap...enjoy time with Him feeling His loving embrace.
Did you notice that every single version reminded us to "Know that God is 'I AM." That's powerful. Far too often I tend to make Him smaller that who He truly is. He IS the Great I AM! He is GOD. I need to be still, calm down, cease my striving, stop my fighting, let be, stand silent and be in awe of who God is. He is I AM. He is Worthy. Worthy of my time. Who am I to not make time for the One who "created my inward parts; knitted me together in my mother's womb; remarkably and wonderfully making me." (Psalm 139:13-14) The Creator of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) God wants to be my Companion. My constant companion. I often am striving for others to hang out with, to do things with, to be BFF's with and so on, but God is patiently waiting saying, "Here AM I. I AM your faithful Companion, Christy. Will you turn to Me?"
I will make it a priority to carve out time for my God. To stop trying to take charge of my life and turn it over to the One who actually knows what He's doing! It's so easy to get short sighted. That's why when we see what we think is a mountain looming before us God calls us to 'Come to Him all who are weary and He will give us rest.' (Matthew 11:28) Sometimes our going to God requires us to retreat...meaning to take a few steps back to get a better focus...the ability to gauge at what is before us. Retreat is simply a place of privacy, refuge, pullback and a period of withdrawal. This gives us an opportunity for God to work within us to allow us to see that perhaps that mountain that we see is truly only a molehill that we can move forward in. He equips us. He strengthens us. God is able. 2 Corinthians 9:8 says, "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."
I pray that you take time for God today. Even if it's just a moment. Enjoy His presence. His embrace. He loves you.
Take Care and Be Blessed,
Thursday, September 25, 2014
That on its own can perhaps make us a little apprehensive. Being called can look different in so many ways, yet has one meaning. Being called requires us to be obedient to that call in which Christ calls us. It also means that perhaps we are going to feel unqualified, uneasy as it has us getting out of our comfort zone and moving outward from where we most feel safe.
God calls many to do things that have us flying across the continent to serve in foreign countries...feeding the hungry at local missions...giving money to the person on the corner holding a cardboard sign...or simply smiling, making eye contact and carrying on a conversation with store clerks, waitresses and the like. Being called will look different for everyone but the call has one purpose and that is to Glorify God as we allow Him to work not only through us but in us.
I'd like to share with you a series of dreams that I had over two years ago as I was on a missions trip that left me questioning why God would have me go practically on the other side of the world doing what I did and then left me wondering about the people I was blessed to serve. Here's what I got...
Imagine, if you will. There's a large line of silhouetted individuals from all over the world...men, women and children. A silhouette of Jesus is standing across from the line of people in the distance. They are patiently waiting and holding in each of their hands an eye dropper with one drop of water in it. The land is parched. The ground hard, dry and cracking. No sign of life in the near-concreted soil to be seen anywhere. Jesus is waving both hands slowly gesturing those to come...He's calling them, one by one. He is continuously motioning for the individual in the front of the line to move forward. That individual steps up and squeezes the eyedropper dropping the single drop of water onto the parched land. That individual continues walking toward Jesus and moves on.
The water that was dropped, quickly gulped it without change. The next individual responds to Jesus' calling, steps up and drops their one water drop onto the same spot like the one previous. That individual also moves toward Jesus and moves on. Again, there was no change in the soil but that did not stop Jesus from calling and those individuals to listen, obey and step up dropping their single drop onto the same spot. For the one in the front of the line they can only see Jesus motioning them to move forward. The other individuals have the water that brings life but is waiting for Jesus to instruct them and call them to use it. This goes on for some time until something begins happening to the soil. The next individual that obediently steps up...dropping the single drop of water...gets the beautiful privilege of witnessing this change. As the drop lands on the once near-cemented ground it changes texture. It is now soft, tender and rich. It took the obedience of so many before that person to prepare the land before it reached the right amount of water that it needed before the change was noticeable. That person continues forward as Jesus continues to call them and moves on.
The next individual answers their calling and steps up to place their single water drop onto the now rich soil. The soil remains the same as the water is gingerly absorbed. That person moves toward Jesus after doing what they were called to do. This same process of being called by Jesus continues. Being obedient to that calling, doing what Christ asks, then moving forward in Jesus. Once again, an individual steps up drops the droplet of water and then a glorious site of a vibrant green sprout emerges from the enriched soil. It took many before this one individual to prepare the soil for what God was planting and to nourish what He has already planted before any signs of change appeared. Moving forward, the next individual has the opportunity to fulfill their calling as well by placing their droplet of water onto this wonderful new sign of life. This individual does and the sprout remains the same for the time being. On and on, many individuals do the same without change.
Through complete obedience to their calling, he next individual steps up and places their drop of water and the sprout amazingly and wonderfully grows into a sapling. It is beginning to grow upward to the marvelous sky. This same process of a droplet of water being dropped onto the soil in which this vibrant young sapling is growing happens until another branch appears...buds blossom into beautiful flowers creating amazingly sweet fruit...green leaves mature filling each branch with such lushness. Beautiful growth and formation is happening on the ever-growing tree because of the many who had been called to invest their water droplet and by the many who Christ will continue to call. Some may get the privilege of seeing change happen in their calling, while others do what's asked of them joyfully in the Name of Jesus while not getting to see the changes that are taking form but trust God for Him to complete the work.
As many called individuals step up to the tree and dropping their one drop of water onto it this tree holds its majesty, solidness, fruitfulness and is full of life. Here's where I come in. It's my turn to be in the front of the line. I see Jesus motioning me to come as He had will all the others before me, to step up and do what He has asked of me to do. I do. I take my place of where I was called and release that tiny drop of living water right at the base of the tree. I wait momentarily to see what affect my drop of water had on this beautiful tree. Wait a second more... Hmmm...
Jesus is still motioning for me to come toward Him. This is where I begin to wonder what good I did by placing that one little, tiny drop of water onto the already rich soil that was housing this majestic tree. What could that one little, tiny drop of water do to help this tree to continue its growth and blossoming?
Well, being the gal... who wants to know...what's happening and just how Jesus will do things, I... did not... move forward! I actually popped my hip out to one side placing my closed hand upon it ready to ask Jesus my questions that I wanted answers for. "So, God...how did this help the tree? Are there anymore fruit that happened to sprout way up high out of sight as I placed 'MY' drop of water onto the soil? Tell me, what do you plan to do from here? How else can I help? Do you want me to go grab some more water and come back to put more on the tree...because this little amount surely isn't enough?! What else can I do while I'm here? Can I prune some branches? Pick some weeds? Disc around the soil? Tell me, Jesus. I want to help."
As I was busy in asking all these humanly brilliant questions, I finally realized that leaves were beginning to fall. Fruit dropping ruined to the ground. The branches are now beginning to droop a bit. I turn around and see individuals still waiting...still waiting patiently and joyfully just being in God's presence. I turn back around and Jesus doesn't say anything but He continues motioning with His hands for me to move forward...toward Him. He wants me to move...He wants me to move without having answers!! Whaaat? But.... I wait a moment and gaze upon what used to be a vibrant flourishing, fruit producing green tree that is now this yellowish-brown with drooping branches and scarce fruit. I begin to see the soil hardening and that's when I realize that... I NEED to MOVE!!
I reluctantly move forward because surely this tree isn't losing life because of me. I came to help it. I begin to realize as I took small slow steps forward that in my staying too long in the place in which I was called, I was prohibiting others to see God's calling for them to deposit their life giving water upon the tree. The longer I remained asking questions and wanting to be of help, the more the tree was beginning to loose its life. I had already done what God had asked of me to do. Now I need to move forward in Him making room for the person behind me to step up to the tree and place their single drop of water upon the soil. When I finally move out of the way, the next person answers their call depositing their droplet and the tree begins to perk up, the dying leaves begin to fill with life again, fruit no longer dropping but instead holding strong upon the branches. The line of individuals begin to move yet again and the tree is cared for by each of their drops that they've deposited upon Christ's request.
This was the extent of the dream but not the meaning. Through much prayer and patience in waiting on the Lord to reveal to me what all this meant, I realized that God calls each and every one of us to go and do in His Name. When we do that we are being willing vessels used by God for a greater picture that He is revealing bit by bit in the life/lives in which we are serving. God has been present and working long before I ever show up. I'm just another piece of the puzzle in the Gigantic picture that He has created.
When I stopped at the tree like a spoiled little girl wanting explanation and future plans for which I had been called to be a part of, I was actually being a hindrance to what God was doing and with whom He was calling to do it. God doesn't need me to accomplish anything but I absolutely need Him to accomplish everything. He desires a relationship with me. In this relationship He wants to see me grow, to be humble, to love others and to be His representative with my actions. By me stopping and holding up the line I prevented others from doing what God desires for them to do in His Name, to grow in Him and show His love in their calling. We all have seasons in our lives. We are not meant to remain in one place without growth and growth requires us to branch out from where we are.
I had to come to the understanding that I may never get the privilege of seeing the impact or outcome in what God places upon my heart to do for others. I am a very tiny part to a much bigger picture...but my very tiny part is vital to the completion of the work God is doing. I must understand the reason behind I am doing what I am doing for others. I do it because God calls me to it, believes in me, equips me and wants to see me grow as I am obedient. He is working beautifully already and I want to be part of that, blessing others as His Love is magnified.
My mind must be checked constantly because I can find that I feel as if I were the creative one that came up with this wonderful idea to do this great thing for someone. In reality, it's God placing that upon my heart to do. He deserves the praise and all the glory. I can do nothing on my own. It is only through Him...His strength that I am capable of anything. My confidence must remain sin solely in Him.
Hebrews 10:35-36 HCSB says, "So don't throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God's will, you may receive what was promised." This encourages me because most times I will not have the honor of seeing what comes from God in which He has called me to do. But He does promise me that He will bless me in ways that I cannot even imagine. I have to tell you that in these past two years life has been challenging but I can say that in those challenges my family and I held on tightly to His Promises and have been greatly blessed in doing so. We have found favor when things seemed impossible...we've encountered graciousness with life when it was wound up tightly...peace in troubling times...and so, so much more.
I want to encourage each of you to really consider to what God is calling you. Are you seizing these opportunities? Do you recognize them in everyday life? Has He called you to a foreign place...either in Country or in a different area in your city? You, too, are a vital puzzle piece to what God is doing in the lives of others...will you allow Him to place you in the proper place?
1 Peter 4:10-11 HCSB says, "Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God's words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen."
I'd like to finish with 2 Peter 1:3-8 HCSB, "His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Take Care and Be Blessed,
Monday, September 22, 2014
What does hope look like? Well, according to Webster's Dictionary hope is to desire with expectation; to expect with confidence. Trust.
Expectancy...Confidence...Trust...in whom or what? Through Jesus Christ there is a brilliant ray of hope that we can place all three of these things in.
Romans 5:1-5 HCSB says, "Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
This morning during my morning devotions, I came upon the word hope in several of my books that I read. In each devotion, today focused on hope. This by no means is just a coincidence. I totally needed this especially today! I have been struggling physically with some health ailments that I have allowed to discourage me and to bring me to a lowly place. I have been feeling hopeless that things would not change or get better. But God knew just what I needed to refocus and where I needed to place my trust. My heart was filling with His hope the more I read and dug into scripture, so I just had to share what He spoke to me in regards to hope.
In Romans chapter 8 verses 18-25 Paul talks about our groans to glory holding on to hope. V.18-25 HCSB reads, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God's sons to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to futility--not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it--in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God's children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits--we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience."
Let me tell you, this was not entirely encouraging to me at first. I read this wonderful truth of God's Word and then I got to the part where 'we eagerly wait...with patience.' What? Waiting is hard period. Being eager in our waiting and then having patience while we eagerly wait...that's down right difficult for this girl! Encouragement in this truth is beginning to grow as I re-read it over and over again. This passage tells me that our sufferings now is absolutely nothing compared to the glory that God will give us...later...in His timing. In this, it gives us HOPE! I know that I am called to take action in my sufferings and sometimes that action is waiting.
We are to wait...patiently...eagerly...and with hope for God's Promise for us.
Waiting does not diminish what God is doing in our lives. We are enlarged in the waiting. Of course, we don't see right away what is being enlarged in us and to what degree, but as we wait patiently, eagerly and with hope in God the more joyful we will be in His Promises. The glory that will be revealed to and in us is freedom. We fall short in the knowledge of His glory, but it will be revealed. Revealing to us we will see His Work. Revealing in us we will enjoy what He has done.
Romans 8:18 NKJV says, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us."
In Jesus Today by Sarah Young, she shares a beautiful description of hope. She states, "Some people use the word hope to denote wishful thinking, God's-glory hope rings with the certainty of absolute truth. The nature of hope is that it refers to something in the future, something not yet. Waiting on God with this hope...patiently as He fulfills His promises. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you wait hopefully in God's Presence. Waiting is often a boring task unless you have something interesting to do. When you wait in God's presence, rejoice that you are in the company of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Delight in the privilege of being with God."
After reading this I was entirely encouraged that my focus shifted from me in my suffering to God and me having the privilege to be in His presence. Amazing! The truth is that whatever suffering, hardship, futility, or bondage we currently are experiencing we can always have hope in Jesus Christ for He will reveal in us His glory! That we are not dealing with whatever it is here on earth for nothing but in it we wait in the presence of God anticipating with expectancy His glory in us. I have a whole new outlook on waiting, especially waiting with the Lord. Psalm 33:20 says, "Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and shield."
We ought to strive to stand in the beauty of Jesus Christ in all of our seasons. He is our firm foundation. Continue to set our eyes on God--reprioritizing what comes first. Trusting Him in and for all things. Then, bit by bit, all things will come together. Not all the time do we have 'it' all together...even when we think we have 'it' all together! It's hard enough to hold things together when life is going well, but it is an entirely different scenario when we try to hold things together in more difficult and challenging times. Colossians 1:17 HCSB says, "He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together." That's me. He holds me together. He instructs me. He keeps His eye on me. He does this at all times whether I acknowledge it or not. Praise God, we don't have to have it all together! He does it for us! Psalm 32:8 AMP says, "I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you." This lifts a huge weight off our shoulders...God's got this. He has it all under control. We need to be attentive and deliberate in recognizing when we tend to get in the way of God's instruction and teachings for us.
My prayer is this, 'Lord, help me to remember that it is not by my power, or by my strength, or by my thinking what's best but by Your Spirit that I accomplish anything worthwhile. Help me to treasure my time in Your presence as I eagerly wait for your glory to be revealed in my life. Slow me down and show me opportunities that I need to seize to be in Your Presence and wait .Thank You, Father, for loving me so much that you constantly have your Eyes upon me instructing me in the way that I should go. I love you, Lord. Amen."
Well, I pray that your heart has been encouraged and filled with hope. I am thankful and appreciative for each of you. May you be richly blessed in this day that our wonderful Lord and Savior has made!
Take care and be blessed,
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Happy Day? HAPPY DAY!
Good Day, Friends! It's a beautiful August day...not just any August day for me...it's August 28th, my Birthday!
We all have birthdays and we all like to feel thought of, special, pampered a bit and very much celebrated. But what happens if those things don't happen for most of us? What if these desires of being treated a certain way by others on "our special day" just doesn't play out the way that we expected them to?
Let's rewind a bit so that you can understand where I am coming from and the ever changing growth that is happening within my heart and the new-found clarity of what I see in regards to my birthday.
Here we go...
as a child I would be eagerly awaiting my summer birthday planning in my head of what it would be like for that particular year. What color crepe paper to get and how many rolls should be bought for my mom to twist and tape upon the wall? How many balloons will hang from the curly ribbon that drapes across randomly in our backyard? What gifts will I be getting this year? And cake...let's not forget the awesome designs of yesteryear that held fantastic works of art to a kids eye!! The days come and go...MY DAY is almost here...pure excitement awakens me as the morning dawns!
Later on, guests arrive (mostly family with a sprinkle of neighborhood friends.) Presents are piling high (really it was a small amount and not always elaborate things but thoughtful and treasured treats) The chatting and catching up of grown-ups begin, kids running around carelessly and freely about --laughing and having a great time. Good times, right?
Well, it always was great times until...
Until, like clockwork, something very dramatic that I never truly understood would happen. Confusion, conflict, fear, concern would fill my mom's face. Dad would be missing from my party and I began to feel all that was shown on my mom's face. Adults would huddle around my mom and/or scurry about. Party was no longer in the forefront of things...it...I was placed on hold, put aside until all else could be figured out and taken care of. The party often times ended with me being with relatives at their home or Grandma's. Them trying to make the best of the situation and trying to whisper their voices and mask their faces of concern for what was going on.
Pictures would be taken of me that captured a little girl on someone's lap displaying the gifts that were unwrapped trying to force a smile upon my splotchy red face with tear stained cheeks.
This was my typical birthday for many years. It never stopped me from dreaming that the next year would be better and even more brilliant that I could ever imagine. However, that was not the case.
Years pass by and now I can control what I get to do to celebrate my birthday. Believe me, I chose to go do what I wanted and do my own planning of my parties. I was bound to have a fantastic time. Those birthdays were better than those of my younger years, but I still felt empty, unthought of and not worth being celebrated.
Even more years pass and now I am married. Surely things are bound to be even better when it comes to celebrating...ME! Should be easy for my husband to meet all that I expect my birthday should hold...ummm....NO! For just about 9 years of our marriage,by the end of my birthday I was again red faced with tear stained cheeks, but this time I would be the one to leave going for a drive and wondering why it is so difficult for others to celebrate ME. I'd always end up asking God the infamous question...WHY? The answer...silence...nothing.
It was the following year that I went to a retreat of sorts and during one of the chapel times the minister invited those who have been wounded emotionally, struggling with hurts and having a hard time forgiving others to come forward. Well, well, well...let me tell you I wanted to leap to the front after his invitation but it took three more times of him making this invitation for me to reluctantly move forward to the front.
As I did, I walked with my head held down using everything within me to keep it together...let them pray for me and then dash back to my seat. God is good all the time and all the time God is good! He had different plans, better plans. As I stood head held low, a man's voice softly spoke as his hand rests upon the top of my shoulder. His words were simple, yet powerfully healing! He said, "God loves you and celebrates you everyday, not just on your special day." WHAT?! I wanted to quickly look upward to see who spoke these words but God wrapped Himself around me and spoke to my heart. Now standing alone, weeping, feeling Gods strong yet gentle arms around me He said,
"Christy, I know how very sad you have been on your birthdays. I know that you have not felt that you were worthy enough to even be celebrated by others. Let me tell you, I was present with you, right by your side at every one of those birthdays. I celebrated you and sang over you! I wept with you holding you close to me. I love you, Christy. I will always be with you. Happy Birthday!"
Such healing in an instance. Growth and change of my heart, attitude and where I fix my eyes is an on-going beautiful process.
What I've learned in the years since that healing is freeing, beautiful and the most precious gift that I can ever receive. I realized that as an adult I was setting such high, unrealistic, unattainable expectations for others to try their best to meet. Of course, they were never met because they weren't meant to or even capable to meet these ridiculous expectations that I had set. God showed me that it is He that gave me the gift of life to be celebrated. He revealed to me that He desires for my eyes to opened and fixed upon Him and my mind to be enlightened by His Truth that I may know and understand that I have a rich glory of inheritance in God. He showed me that I needed to release myself from the prison of my human expectations and reasoning. I needed to stop believing that I was not worthy of being gloriously blessed or celebrated. My thoughts of considering myself an outcast, one whom no one seeks after or cares about needed to be erased from my mind.
I celebrate Him for this precious gift of life and treasure the many gifts that He gives me each and every day of my life. He's given me the gift of family, friends, health, church family, freedom, love and HIM!! When God healed my wounds, He released me from my chains that imprisoned me and replaced it with arms of Love. What more could a girl want! Well, this girl is lacking nothing and is appreciative that she serves a God who is faithful and always my present...my GO-TO-GUY! He's healed me from all my hurts, disappointments and sadness. God holds me snugly. His thoughts of me are love. His plans for me are very good. His dreams for me are higher than I can ever imagine. I am His and He is mine! I choose to celebrate the life that He has gifted me with and share this life with others around me. My birthday wish is to be a light to others that they may see Christ in me as I live this beautiful life that God has richly blessed me with!
"By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints, and [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength..." Ephesians 1:18-20 AMP
I would like to close with a lovely old hymn that speaks so dear to my heart:
Take My Life and Let It Be
Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to The; take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy Love. Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee; take my voice and let me sing always only, for my King. Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold; take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my will, and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine; take my heart, it is Thine own, it shall be They royal throne. Lord, I give my life to Thee, Thine forevermore to be; Lord, I give my life to Thee, Thine forevermore to be."
Take care and be blessed,
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
- the effect or influence that something or someone has on a person's thoughts or feelings; a characteristic, trait, or feature resulting from some influence; an effect of alteration or improvement; a stamp, form, or figure resulting from physical contact; an especially marked and often favorable influence or effect on feeling, sense, or mind; a communicating of a mold, trait, or character by an external force or influence. (Webster Definition)
Last week I spent some time at the beautiful beach. As always my heart was filled with all of God's amazing Wonders as I sat in the soft, warm sand watching the vibrant blue water rise and curl up into crispy white crashing waves that rolled up practically reaching my toes. The sky full of its luxurious blueness sprinkled with fluffy white cotton like clouds. The vibrant yellow sun playing peek-a-boo as it moves behind the floating clouds and then emerging with such brilliance reflecting sparkling crystals dancing across the sea. Birds flying in and out acrobatically diving into the water in search of treasures for their belly. Like clockwork, the water, waves, sun, sky and all the beach creatures doing what God has called them to do. The water to be the liquid mass housing sea creatures large and small. The waves to roll with force onto the beach to its limit and then to graciously roll back out to sea. The sky to hold the radiant warm sun housing all its wonderfully shaped clouds allowing the faint breeze to create such phenomenal shapes that are truly artistic. All of these elements definitely are impressible. Nothing more...nothing less...these elements are just doing what has been asked of them...obediently--doing what they were created for.
I was in awe. As I sat taking all of this in, I began to wonder...Do I obediently do what God asks of me...doing what I was created for? What does this look like? Then as I played in the sand with my hands and feet God began to speak to my heart. As I pressed my hand down into the recently smoothed over sand some of the sand began to cover the top of my hand. The firmer I pressed down the more sand covered my hand. But as I lifted my hand the sand that had once covered my hand remained on top and then flew into the air as I shook it away from the impression. As I looked at what was formed I realized that in my trying to make an impression I was experiencing some unexpected and unwanted sand that came upon me, however, after it being gone there before me was a wonderfully firm imprint of my hand. A beautiful impression.
It was one simple task of making an impression in the sand. When examined closer one can see that hundreds, if not thousands of tiny individual sand particles was affected by this one task, this one impression. The individual sand particles were moved...they changed their place because of this impression. As time goes on the impression will be gone but the affect will remain. Others will make their impressions on these very same sand particles moving them, changing their place affecting other sand particles creating new shapes and molds along the beach. This, too, is true of us as we allow God to use us to impress His Love on the hearts of others. It can be as simple as something you do in your everyday life to going to a foreign country to help others. Everyone of us who embraces the glory of God as our purpose will end up doing great things because we do God-things! To live for the greatness of God is to live a great life!
"God loves people who love to give. God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things." 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (CEV)
God calls us all to do many different kinds of things in His Name. It looks different in so many ways yet it is for the same reason we do it...to be more like Christ. God gives us the freedom to choose whether or not we will do what is asked of us. He equips us, He helps us so that His Work can be accomplished. We all have gifts and talents which is a 'trust' placed in our human hands by a Holy God. We are responsible for developing the integrity, humility and work-ethic to know what to do with them. Look to God for Truth. He will give you peace in your journey.
God designed you perfectly. You are God's delight, God's handiwork, and you are wonderfully unique. Despite pressures from outside forces (like the sand covering up my hand) that make you feel as if you don't measure up and can't make a difference, God loves you just as you are and more than you can ever know and can use you to bless others. Your life is a wonderful story that is waiting to be shared. Are you willing to allow God to use your life to give to others? What does this look like for you? Is there an area in your life that still needs to be relinquished to God's guidance? Bring your moments to God and He will fill them with exactly what you need precisely when you need it.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
Whenever I question or doubt what is being asked of me, I quickly read these very encouraging verses in Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV) "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His Power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
God wants to use you and will use you to be His Hands and Feet...if you are willing? Are you?
Take care and be blessed,
Monday, July 7, 2014
The Road We Travel
Most everyday we encounter roadways. Not really given much thought to the importance of the intentional painted markings upon them to help guide us to our destination. These are placed strategically...purposefully to direct us, to keep us protected allowing us to safely reach our designated place. Not all roadways are well maintained and a comfort to travel on. Others are disheveled...breaking apart with worn out, weathered markings upon them. Some are just plan dry and barren dirt paths that stir up a whole mess causing difficulty in navigating ourselves. While others are riddled with a slew of uneven, uncomfortable pebbles and rocks that occasional toss up a loose stone pinging our windshield causing alarm!
How true is this of our own personal walk in life? I am reminded that we ourselves in our spiritual journey travel each of these types of roads in life. It is vitally important for us to encounter each one in order to strengthen our faith and allow God to grow us in areas that we may tend to put on cruise control.
God lays before us a path that He desires for us to follow. "The very steps we take come from God; otherwise how would we know where we're going?" Proverbs 20:24 The white line in this picture represents that path...solid, bright, even, and pleasant. You may notice that this line is placed strategically where we have plenty of room to walk comfortably & safely between a wide open road and a slight slope leading off course. Following this marked path for us is very important because we can encounter unpleasantries on either side of us. God is faithful and merciful. If we choose to go off course wandering in either direction...onto the open road or off the road completely, He is with us. "I will walk with you--I will be your God, and you will be my people..." Leviticus 26:12 (CEVU). The flagged yellow lines in the middle act as a warning to grasp our attention...sometimes these lines are subtle only to appear periodically but repetitively, while other times they are solid, wide and bold. We must heed to these warnings that God puts before us, "By your teachings, Lord, I am warned; by obeying them I am greatly rewarded." Psalm 19:11 (CEVU)
The times that we choose to disregard the warnings set before us to protect us is when we take our focus off of God. We see a path that appears to be more enticing. We become concerned with the direction God's path is taking us and begin to focus on unrealistic things that lead us astray such as double mindedness (living for self & God); excessive reasoning to make us feel better that it's alright to go in the direction we have choose to follow; complicating simple issues (making a mountain out of a mole hill); having anger, jealousy, envy, doubt, discontentment and negativity. All these things lead us astray and cause us to head in a direction that is hard, uncomfortable, unpleasant, painful, dark and scary. But not all is lost even though we feel very much lost, perhaps frightened and in pain. The world wants us to use our feelings to make decisions in life...making choices in which direction to follow based upon wavering, inconsistent, unreliable feelings. Problems in life are inevitable, but living overwhelmed and misguided is optional! Choose wisely based on Truth...God's Truth. When we walk in difficult places, God sends the strength and nourishment to equip us to face what comes our way, not all at once, but day by day until we are walking His path set before us confidently and assuredly.
God gives us promises in His Word that we can cling to as He fulfills those promises in our lives through trials. One promise that I cling to in such times is Romans 5:1-6 (MSG), "By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us--set us right with Him, make us fit for Him--we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us: We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand--out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary--we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit. Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready..."
Another promise is found in Matthew 11:28 (NIV), "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Simplistically all I need to do in my trying times is to go to Christ! Should be easy enough...but I know that there is a battle going on for navigational control and it is MYSELF...my flesh. "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." Romans 8:13 (ESV) This encourages me to choice wisely who I allow to lead in my navigations.
Decide to not fix your focus on the terrible circumstances in life. Shift your attention on God. Plant your feet in God's Word. Psalm 119:66 says, "Lord God, teach me knowledge and good judgement, for I believe in Your commands." In times you feel too weak to move forward with another step--then take a baby step in just standing---in Him--by His Strength; if you feel too weak to stand, then kneel and cry out to your Heavenly Father who will answer your cry! Trust in Him to do for you, to love you right where you are, to embrace you comforting you in His tenderly loving arms.
Psalm 37:5 (AMP)
Whatever road we may find ourselves on, we can rest assured that we are never left alone and we need not travel the road solo. We have a good Shepard who wants to give us an abundant life. According to Psalm 139 we can be sure of these truths...
God Knows ME...God Protects ME...God Made Me...and God Values Me.
You are a beautiful story in His story. And your story is ongoing as you travel the many types of adventurous roads in life. Let faith be your eyes as you take each new step toward Christ in your journey.
Take care and be blessed,