Friday, August 21, 2015

What Wins

Have you ever felt like something (maybe even life itself) was a battle?  Like resistance was rising up against you?  Like you may be consumed and defeated?

I know I have!  In fact, I'm in a couple different situations even right now that could cause me to feel this way.

In light of these times I think we can take our cue's and learn from a couple of different people... mentor's if you will...


Jehoshaphat

Word came that armies were rising up against him and the people.  (2 Chron. 20)
"The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord." (vs. 4)

Jehoshaphat then prayed and ended with these words,
"We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." (vs. 12)

As we face times that do not make sense and/or seem certain defeat, may we also not hesitate to say to God, "I do not know what to do, but my eyes are on You."


Jahaziel

After Jehoshaphat's prayer, Jahaziel stood and encouraged,
"Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God's. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you." (vs. 15, 17)

Worship

It was then that Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground and all the people fell down in worship(vs. 18)

As we pray and seek God, His face, His plans in the situations facing each of us... may we not forget to also bow and fall down in worship to Him alone!

And as we continue to march forward in our battle, may we be encouraged by Jehosphat's words...
"Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld." (vs. 20)


The People

We can also learn from and duplicate the behavior of the people in their fight.  Let's...
"sing to the Lord and praise Him for the splendor of His holiness... 'Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever." (vs. 21)


Victory

For it was "as they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the" armies invading... and those armies were defeated.  (vs. 22)



Response for Today

I'm freshly reminded of my role in my battle.  I am called to:

* seek the Lord
* admit that I do not know what to do, but my eyes are on Him
* not be afraid or discouraged, for this battle is not even mine, but God's
* take position
* stand firm
* watch for deliverance that the Lord, alone, will give
* go out in battle and face resistance with the Lord in lead

In the midst of all of that... my top priority roles are to:

* fall in worship
* praise Him

For it was as the people worshiped and praised that the Lord responded...

Friends, in addition to prayer, I firmly believe that as we worship, sing and praise, the Lord is going to move.  At just the right time, He is going to set ambushes and we will experience victory...

I am being reminded that His victory most often looks and comes very differently than what I think victory will be!

His way in His time

And in that victory every last piece of it will belong to Him alone!  For HIS glory!

Though our "battle" is a different opponent, the strategy works much the same.  So as I stand and sing praises in my battle, I'm eagerly watching the horizon for the deliverance and victory the Lord is going to bring!

My prayer and hope for you is that you are also encouraged by these mentors of days gone by, suiting up for the front lines of your battle... leading out your fight in worship, song and praise to God.

Let's go friends... we've got a victory, HIS VICTORY, to witness and be a part of!


 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

When Your Efforts Seem Useless

Have you ever felt like something you were doing or had done was useless?  Have you ever wondered if you were wasting your time, energy, and strength on something that didn't even matter? 

Recently I have been encountering a couple of different situations that left me with those same type of feelings. 

I have been sharing my mornings the last few weeks with Isaiah.  As my personal feelings of discouragement were increasing, he reminded me that he had felt the same way.  And then he shared with me what he did in his own moments such as these...

"I (Isaiah) replied, 'But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.'”  ~Isaiah 49:4

 And just a couple days after Isaiah modeled his response for me in this way, Paul encouraged me with the following:

My dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless."   ~I Cor. 15:58

And so I move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and hope.  Just as Isaiah reasoned and determined, I want to do the same.


Regardless of whether I think a difference is even being made in what He has called me to... the results and reward for my obedience are competely up to Him and in His hands!  And so I trust completely.

Believing that He is working for His purposes and His glory... even when I can't see it!

Be encouraged today!  God sees and does not count it useless!  Leave it all in God's hands and trust Him for His reward!


Friday, August 14, 2015

The Relationship between Fact, Faith, and Feeling

Fact, Faith, and Feeling were sitting on the wall.
Feeling fell off and grabbed on to Faith, pulling Faith down.
Fact grabbed Faith and held Faith up.
Eventually, Fact pulled Faith back up, which then eventually brought Feeling back up.

I can not trust the feelings (or lack thereof) to dictate the state of my relationship with Jesus.  It's in those times when I don't seem to "feel" God and His presence that my faith becomes based strictly on the facts...

* Of what I know of God
* Who He is
* His promises

I have to believe that holding on to what I know to be true in my mind will once again resound loud and clear in my heart.  It's in the times that I don't experience all of the "feelings" that my faith becomes a conscious daily decision.  (Perhaps that is more of a sign of my submission and commitment to Him than when things are going well and "feeling" right?)

For now, it's "just the facts ma'am".  That is what is holding my faith up.

Have you considered lately... is Fact or Feeling determining the status of your Faith?


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How to Respond When the Direction Makes No Sense

Imagine this... 

It is the end of the day.  It has been a long, hard day.  Your child is tired, exhausted, and feeling a bit discouraged from the situations of the day.

You are wrapping things up to be ready to head to bed when you remember there is one more errand to run.  So, you all pile in the car and head out.

While out on the errand, you look to your child and ask them to do something that seems absolutely ridiculous.  They look at you and say, "I don't really understand why you want me to do that, but because you say so I will obey."

I don't know about you, but this reponse would probably have me flat on the floor in disbelief.

Now...

Travel back with me to a time in the past. (Luke 5:1-5) Jesus is walking along the shore and sees some fishermen cleaning their nets, wrapping up a night of working...their boats nearby. 

He climbs into one of the boats and asks to be taken out a little from shore.  There He begins to speak to the people.  We aren't told how long He spoke.  5 minutes?...  5 hours?...

When Jesus had finished speaking He said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch."  Simon responds that they "have worked hard all night and didn't catch a thing."

They are, no doubt, tired. (Anyone who has worked a graveyard shifts knows the "tired" from working all night.)  They are likely discouraged.  (They are fishermen.  This is their livelihood and they didn't catch a thing.)  They were done for the day.  (Remember, they were cleaning their nets.)

Keep in mind this is the beginning of Jesus' ministry.  They have not yet spent time living with Him, watching Him, knowing Him. 

Yet, what is Simon (Peter's) response?  "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets."



Observations...

WHAT?  Because you say so?... That means for Simon that was enough... because Jesus said so.

No whining.  No questioning.  No arguing.  No pretending not to hear.  No procrastinating. No asking to wait and rest a bit.

Just an explanation of why that seemed absolutely ridiculous but... OK, because you say so, I will obey. 

End of discussion.

Life Implications...

When God asks me to do something, what is my response?  Do I respond as Simon did? I'd like to be able to say my response is that of Simon's.

It think it probably is... when things make sense, when I'm well rested, when it's something exciting, when it's something I want.

But what about those times when I'm exhausted, I'm discouraged, the command given seems to make absolutely no sense, when I'm preparing to do something else and this is a change of plans?  What is my response then?

Oh Lord, (regardless of the physical, emotional, and/or mental state that I am in) may you find me responding more and more to You like that of Simon.

Yes. 
Because You say so. 
That is enough. 
I will obey.
Just because You say so!

What about you?  Have you taken the time to consider lately how you respond to His direction? 

~~~~~~~
Be sure to head to Luke 5:6-11, read the results of their obedience, and be encouraged.  It was literally life changing!!  Their lives would never be the same again!
~~~~~~

 

Monday, August 10, 2015

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming....

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you these announcements....

In an effort to re-engage and to better connect with you:

1.  I can be found on facebook here.

2.  I am now on Twitter.  (New to this!)  EEK!  Someone care to help a girl out and give some tips with the in's and out's?  Find me here.

3.  A "reply" option has now been added to the comment section here on my blog.  I will be able to directly reply to your comments (as well as you can reply and converse amongst yourselves.)

I am hopeful that by engaging these things I can get to know you and serve you better.

What other ideas, feedback, or tips would you like to offer?  Go....

(We now return you to our regularly scheduled programing)....  :-)


 

Friday, August 07, 2015

Our Miracle... Then. Now.

Eighteen years ago today, this:





Psalm 66: 5

"Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people!" (NLT) 

"Take a good look at God's wonders— they'll take your breath away." (MSG)



Today... this:





What God wonder takes your breath away today?


 

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Where I've Been. What I'm Learning.

Professional Student.  Do you know the term?

When I was in college this was a term used for those who were there much longer than the standard time one would expect for a degree completion to be done.  It may have been because they were part time.  It may have been because they changed major's multiple times.  Regardless, they were "professional students".

I'm discovering that I am one... spiritually.  Just when I think...

* I have learned something.
* I have graduated from that.
* I am ready to move on.

...I discover there is a "next grade"...


That is where God has had me.  Instead of being close to done in certain areas as I might have thought, I have found that I am only advancing to the "next grade".

Some lessons have me on the same topics and subjects, just more complicated lessons with deeper contexts.  Some lessons are new topics and subjects altogether.

Here is a snapshot of what I have been being challenged with and growing in... (in addition to the foundation and starting point being the Bible!)

From recent sermons at church:

*   Tension is something to be managed not a problem to be solved.
*   Obedience is not done when we feel like it, it's done when we're told to do it.
*   Small daily decision for Jesus unlock eternity.

From "Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge" by Mark Batterson:

*  "If you establish a prayer routine... You don't need to seek opportunity.  All you have to do is seek God.  And if you seek God, opportunity will seek you."

*  "Sometimes the purpose of prayer is to get us out of circumstances, but more often than not, the purpose of prayer is to get us through them."

*   "Most of our prayers have as their chief objective our own personal comfort rather than God's glory."

*  "Crazy Faith:  Crazy is normal.  Maybe our normal is so subnormal that normal seems abnormal.  Maybe we need a new normal.  Bold prayers and big dreams are normal.  Anything less is subnormal.  And when bold prayers become the norm, so do the miraculous breakthroughs that follow."

And from My Own Thoughts:

* This came the morning that I was doing a little "self preaching" about a major step I was to take but I couldn't see how it was going to end (and even though the step has been initiated, I still don't know the end).

"God, I know you to be the God of the Old Testament and the New Testament.  You are still that God today!" and in that time a question came to mind that said, "You're right.  I am still that same God.  But how is it that you expect me to be the same, but that I would expect any less faith from you than that required of the Old Testament and the New Testament?"

I then thought of Noah, Abraham, Esther, Joshua, Moses, Daniel, and on and on the list went... and the levels of faith they stepped out with... not knowing the end of the story, just believing God to be who He said He was and that He would do what He said He could do.

Their stories are serving as mentors to me in what "faith walking" really looks like, regardless of the response in my own mind or of those around me.


That's just a brief snapshot of what I have been learning. 

These haven't been just nice, little, challenging quotes and thoughts.  Rather, they are compelling me to move forward in intentional and life journey directing decisions once again.  Living it out.

Just as any grueling and strenuous learning assignment, it has been difficult and exciting.  It has left me teetering between grief of what I am giving up to the thrill of what I am pursuing.  It has left me questioning.  It has left me confident.  It has left me... well, frankly feeling like I've lost my mind. 

I sure would love to hear what your heart has been learning in recent days!  Share in the comments below and let's encourage each other with stories of what we are processing and how we are growing to become more and more the men and women that God created us to be!

 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Desert. Wilderness. Renewal.

I knew my heart was in a wilderness.  A desert.  

It was dry.  It was quiet.  It was lonely.  It was numb.  Purposeless.  Empty.

Yet somehow, I knew in the depths of my being, it was being drawn in even farther.  I did not want to go to that place.  The experiences of the moment were heavy enough.  I fought with all my might to stop the process of entering the wilderness even farther.


 I didn’t stop to consider if it could be that this time, this calling even farther into the wilderness, was for my own rest, refreshment, restoration and renewal.   
Hosea 2:14-15  (AMP)  …I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart.  There I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor [troubling] to be for her a door of hope and expectation. And she shall sing there and respond as in the days of her youth…
Had I not discovered that it is in the desert, the wilderness, where angels attend and minister? (Mark 1:13)


Was it not in the wilderness that the Israelites experienced some of the most miraculous of God?
"The Israelites didn't leave Egypt and instantly arrive in Canaan. In fact, the Lord sent them the scenic route. Scenic? Oh, I know it was the barren wilderness, but think of what they saw and heard along the way- the parting of the Red Sea, manna falling like rain, rock-gushing streams, victories against troubling factions, fire by night, the thunderous voice of God, and so on. They witnessed the miraculous. Who would have wanted to miss that?

Actually, even with all my attempts to arrive speedily, it has been the things I've seen, heard, and experienced along my life journey that have been faith producing. Why, it was in the wilderness years that I witnessed the Lord's deliverance up close and personal. During those years I was aware of his hand parting my fears, of his nurturing provision for my shriveled soul, of his refreshment for my parched existence, of his direction for my wayward feet, and of his voice counseling my confused heart. It was quite literally miraculous, and as long and as hard as those years were, I would not have wanted to miss what I experienced of God."                  ~~Patsy Clairmont


When I stopped my running, calmed my panic, and ceased my whining long enough to consider these possibilities... I resolved to turn and walk forward.  To pause and listen closely to the tender voice calling me away.  To stop struggling and to settle into pace as I took off deeper into the dryness.  The quiet.  The lonely.  The numbness.  What seemed the potential finalization of my soul...

Only once there I began to discover... A stream deep within this desert.  A place of quiet, not to seclude, but to allow for rest.  Deep, satisfying, healing rest.  A companionship and honesty found with my Lord who accompanied me there.  When all other voices ceased, when I silenced my own voice, it was then that I began to hear His.

And in the moments that I wasn't hearing anything, I began to notice even the beauty and comfort of silence.  Just trusting that He had brought me to this place.  Discovering it to not be a place of punishment, but rather a place of His protection and His provision.  A place to linger.  To refresh.  To restore.

Not that the call to future times in the wilderness will come any easier, any quicker, or any clearer.  But I trust that the memory of this, my most recent journey to that place will surface and remind me that not every moment in a wilderness leads to destruction.


What about you?  Are you sensing yourself heading into a personal wilderness?  Maybe you're already there?  Or, maybe like me, not only are you there and have been for some time... but you are being drawn farther into it.

I encourage you.  Stop fighting.  Stop working.  Stop the pleading for the mountaintops, rivers and cool breezes.

Listen.

Perhaps... just perhaps, He himself is calling you deeper into the quiet... where He can speak tenderly to your heart as only He can.  Deeper into the dryness where He alone can bring refreshment.

Where He can trade your valley of troubles for hope and expectation.  Where He can bring back the songs to your heart as in the beginning days with Him.  Where His angels can attend to you and where His miracles can be performed for you.

Do you dare to risk taking the journey into the wilderness with Him escorting and leading the way?  You just may find a renewal you never would have dreamed.  

And maybe that alone is the miracle of the wilderness journey...

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Observing and Learning from a Toddler

The Observation:

I am on my way home and stopped for a red light at a very busy intersection. This intersection allows vehicles to go in 4 different directions, each direction with 2 lanes and a turn lane. This allows for 20 lanes in all.

As I am sitting at the red light I glance across the street to the other side. There I notice a small boy, about 18 months old, holding the hand of his mother. He is one step ahead closest to the curb.

His head is held high, his eyes are wide open, and he is looking back and forth taking in all he can. The sights, the sounds, the activity... he is trying to capture the fullness of what is taking place around him.

His mother is not speaking to him but he does not appear to mind. He seems to be enjoying all he is seeing and taking in. There is a slight smile across his face and his expression is bright and one of excitement.

I sit and admire this small one. I wonder what all his mind must be learning? How, in that moment, he must be processing and developing in all he is experiencing.

And then their light turns green, his mother begins walking, he puts his head down and falls in step (actually a little trot, his little legs trying to keep up) beside her. He is off on his journey once again.

And then I hear it, the still small voice…

The Lesson:

My child, this is how I want you to be. Learn from this toddler. You are mine. I want you holding tightly to my hand. You know your destination and know the direction you need to travel. But I need you to wait with me at this red light. Your life is at an intersection right now and I need you to wait until the light turns green.

You are begging to hear me, pleading for me to say something. Why must you always be hearing me say something to believe I am there? Your hand is in mine, squeeze it just a bit and sense the presence of your little fingers engulfed in the palm of my hand. Your name is engraven there… on the palm of my hand. (Isaiah 49:16) Be assured I am here! I have not left you to wait at this red light alone.

Why must you whine and complain about this wait, this red light, this intersection of your life? Lift up your head, open your eyes, look at the sights, listen to the sounds, and take in the fullness of all that is happening around you. I have things I can and want to teach you at this light.

How can you hear what I need you to hear when you are doing the talking, begging and pleading for the light to turn green, to move forward once again? How can you see what I need you to see with your head looking down at your feet dwelling on the fact we are not moving, or looking ahead and straining to see as far down the road as you can?

Focus on the things around you. There are exciting things happening right here in this place. You need to learn from these things to grow, to learn, to develop as I need you to.

The light will turn green soon and we will begin walking again. You will put your head down for the task and begin moving forward. But for now, lift your head, look for the newness around you, the lessons to learn, and do not be afraid to enjoy the moment, to let that brief small smile creep across your face. Relish in the exciting things happening at this red light, and learn from them.

But be ready at a moment’s notice to begin moving forward once again to continue on this journey. It won’t be as long as you might think.



Friday, April 24, 2015

Aroma of Heaven

I don't know about you, but I am always up for a lovely scent. I am a scented candle burner. I am a potpourri displayer. I enjoy generating warm, inviting, relaxing and soothing aroma's in my home.

Did you know that evidently sweet scents are created in the heavenly realms? Revelation speaks of angels and heavenly beings holding incense and praising God.

I was amazed at what generates the smell of the incense that is burned. Perhaps you will be somewhat surprised as well. Since I have learned of this, I have been challenged to make sure I contribute more often.


Revelation 5:8 (NLT) "They held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people."

Revelation 8:3-4 (NLT) "And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out."

Revelation 8:3-4 (Message)"He (angel) was given a great quantity of incense so that he could offer up the prayers of all the holy people of God on the Golden A
ltar before the Throne. Smoke billowed up from the incense-laced prayers of the holy ones, rose before God from the hand of the Angel."

Now one might want to argue and say that since this is in Revelation, it is not happening at this time. Regardless of whether it is occurring now... or will happen in the future... the prayers of God's people will be incense-laced and filling bowls on the altar before the throne.

Regardless of timing, I want to be sure I'm a part of it!

How much am I contributing to the aroma in the heavenly realms? Do I offer only a few prayers that leave just a moment of a smell with more to be desired? Or am I one of the long lasting and burning candles that will provide scent for hours?

What about you?...