Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas


Luke 2:11
For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.

In preparation for Christmas this year we have spent hours decorating the house and watching Christmas movies while making handmade gifts.  I’ve yet to get to the holiday baking and candy making.  Maybe we will get to it before Christmas.

After stressing over not finishing the gifts on the list or getting packages mailed, I picked up the Bible and started reading the Christmas story. 

There were a few things that really stood out to me this time.  For one, the wise men saw a star and traveled a long way to find Jesus.  It could have taken up to two years.  They were men of means apparently but I wonder what their lives were like before the star.    Certainly it took sacrifice to leave everything behind in search of the Messiah.   The star that led to Jesus carried the very presence of God, causing these men to set aside their own agenda to seek Him.  

My focus has been to finish what is on my “To Do” list.  Forgive me, Lord.  Today I choose to be wise and let go of my idea of the perfect Christmas house.  I desire God’s plan – not my own.

God also used Simeon to teach me a lesson or two.  Simeon was a man who had anticipated the Messiah's birth for quite some time.  He was just an ordinary man like you or me.  He lived in Jerusalem and at the same time Jesus was at the temple for dedication, Simeon was led by the Holy Spirit to go there. 

It’s so easy in this season to be so involved in tradition, that the voice of the Holy Spirit is distant when that’s what the season is really all about.  Just think of what Simeon would have missed if he didn’t listen to the Holy Spirit to go to the temple or if waited until the next day. 

What will I miss if I am so focused on presents?  Will I miss His glory?   I prefer His presence over Christmas presents any day! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

FOCUS


Philippians 4:8 (The Message)
Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

This week I have been thinking about the word FOCUS.  It seems what I focus on has a big impact on my thoughts, attitudes and actions.  If I think good positive things about those around me, always looking for the best, I am more apt to have loving feelings and actions towards them. 

For instance, it’s my choice to think and dwell on the good character traits of my husband or focus on his weaknesses. (Yes, we all have strengths and weaknesses.)  If I focus on his strengths, I am full of loving feelings and that makes me act like I’m in love.  If I am concentrating on what I don’t like about him, that is magnified in my mind, my attitude is bad and it affects our marriage negatively.

When Jerry focuses on my good points and expresses his gratitude to me, it makes me want to be a better person for him.  In the long run, that’s a lot faster way to deal with my weaknesses.    

I’m not saying you can never mention a weakness because honesty in communication is important.  However, when we focus on the weaknesses, they become larger than they really are.  We as humans are good at making a mountain out of a molehill.    

I think the world would be a better place if we would start giving people in our lives a little grace by looking for something positive in the situations we encounter with them. 

Join me today as I choose to FOCUS on the positive!




Friday, October 14, 2011

Wisdom from Above

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask of God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Technology has changed our world so much in the last few years.  Google makes it possible to acquire knowledge instantaneously.  We can communicate with people on the other side of the world by Skype anytime we want.  Email, text messages and phone calls anytime, anywhere have been a blessing and at times a curse.  We are always on.  We have information and people bombarding us 24/7.   In fact, I just got a news text right now.   

If we are not careful, we begin watching and listening to all the media at our fingertips instead of the one voice that matters most.  It is God alone who can give us wisdom and answers for life’s questions.   

By seeking Him, He gives me an edge I feel is necessary to walk through my life.  Beginning my day worshipping him, journaling and reading the Bible have changed my life and oftentimes my perspective. 

I don’t want to miss anything God has for me, so today I’m focused on hearing Him!  I hope you will be too. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Healing from God

Ezekiel 47:12
Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.

There have been so many times in the last few weeks that I have thought about blogging.  I just couldn’t think of anything to share except what I have been going through lately.  I finally decided I should just write about my journey.

For many months I have had headaches, some migraines but some other types as well.  I have had blood work done several times, made the adjustments necessary, would have temporary relief and then once again face the same thing.

I tried everything I could think of—changing my diet, keeping a food diary, supplements, medicine, etc.  I felt at the end of my rope.  I prayed that God would either reveal to me what I needed to do in the natural or that he would just heal me.  I didn’t feel I could continue like I was. 

That same week, I went to my Nurse Practitioner’s office to pick something up.  At this point I had a headache for two days, and nothing had helped.  She gave me a sample of an oil blend to rub on my head and neck.  Forty-five minutes later, I was completely out of pain, and the headache did not come back.  The next day I felt like my body was detoxing. 

This experience really got my attention.  I had to know more about these oils.   I started doing some research and discovered a whole new world I didn’t know existed.  I have heard story after story, much like mine of how people were helped.  

It all makes sense now.  Even Jesus was given frankincense and myrrh by the wise men shortly after his birth.  There are so many healing properties to these oils.  I just started a Bible study on essential oils.  I don’t know a lot yet, as I am just beginning, but I will say, I feel I have finally heard from God about my healing. 

The difference between these oils (which are certified 100% therapeutic pure) and medicine is that medicine treats symptoms.  Essential oils bring healing.  Could it be that God created plants not only for our eating but for our healing?

I’ve ordered a few oils myself, and have seen other miracles in my body since I started walking on this path.  I used to have large painful breast fibroids until I applied frankincense.  Now I can’t feel them. 

In the past when I read about the oils of the Bible, I never considered them as something that enhances healing along with prayer.  I wonder why God gave specific recipes for anointing oils.   Could their therapeutic properties help with healing? 

I don’t have all the answers, but intend to search it out.  Please comment.  Maybe you know more about these things than I do personally.  I would love your input.  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Unfulfilled Expectations

Today I want to reprint an article from The Word of Life Study Bible" by Nelson Publishers.  It is a commentary about Judges 1:27-36.  The Israelites were in the Promised Land but they failed to do what God requested:  remove the inhabitants there.

"The Israelites departed from Egypt with high hopes.  They were setting out on a journey that would soon bring them into a land 'flowing with milk and honey' (Ex. 13:3-5).  Their first exposure to Cannan went badly (Num. 13-14).  But a new generation under Joshua finally crossed the Jordan to possess Canaan (Josh. 1:11).  

Yet by the end of Joshua's life, major portions of the Promised Land remained unconquered, and many of the Canaanite and Amorite inhabitants whom Israel was supposed to displace remained in the cities (Judg. 1:27-36).  This failure meant that Israel would go through several generations of civil, political, and spiritual unrest (2:11-23).

It was not until God finally raised up David as a unifying king that the extent of Israel's borders would begin to match the expectations originally laid out by God (Num. 34:1-12)."

God wanted to give the Israelites so much, but he was limited because they refused to obey his instruction.  Today, I'm asking God if there are things He has told me to do that I am ignoring.  I definitely want all He has for me--nothing more and nothing less.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Intimacy with God

1 Peter 2:2-3
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

We are on vacation in Sedona, Arizona.  The beauty here really reveals there is a true God, a magnificent creator. Many come here to worship creation instead of the creator Himself.  How sad to see people who do not know the difference. 

The personal relationship God has provided through accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord is very intimate and fulfilling.  He satisfies me in ways that people or things cannot.  I am thankful I can commune with him no matter what I am doing.   He’s always there to listen to my praises or my struggles. 

If I go too long without getting in the presence of God by reading His word and praying, it is evident in my every day life.   Little things bother me and people have a tendency to irritate.  When I have spent time with the Lord, my entire perspective is different.  I can see things through His eyes.

I read this week about the Israelites and their deliverance from Egypt by Moses.  Exodus 20 tells the story of how God decided to speak to the Israelites.  The people became so frightened they asked Moses to hear from God for them and then relay what God said.  They wanted God’s provision, protection, etc., but they didn’t want to personally know Him. 

It made me think of many today who go to church to hear what the pastor has heard from God but never try to hear God’s voice for themselves personally.

Let me challenge you to set time aside daily to commune with the Lord.  I know we are all at different seasons in life, but I believe in some way, we can all find a way to create times of communion with the Lord.

When do you find time to spend with the Lord and how do you do it?  Please comment.



Monday, June 20, 2011

Help! I'm Under Water


2 Kings 6:1-7:
The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us.  Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to live.”

And he said, “Go.” 

Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?”

“I will,” Elisha replied.  And he went with them.

They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees.  As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. “Oh, my lord,” he cried out, “it was borrowed!” 
 
The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float.  “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it. 

Elisha and the company of the prophets decided to build a place for them to dwell or meet in because they were  in cramped quarters.  Their resources were limited, so they borrowed tools to help them complete the work.

As one man worked, he dropped an axhead in the water.  In those days, "an iron axhead was a costly tool, and having lost it, this man faced the prospect of having to work off the value as a bondservant."  (NIV text note)

Maybe you haven't dropped an axhead, but the housing market has certainly left a lot of people underwater.  Many were just trying to provide a place big enough for their family.  What a shock to see these houses fall in value!  We definitely live in difficult economic times.   

 I wish I could say I have an answer to it all, but I don't.   However, I do love that this man cried out in desperation, "Oh, my lord, it was borrowed!"  (verse 5)

As we cry out to our Lord, I believe He will give us the wisdom we need and show us what to do.  He's the only one who knows our future and what we will face.     

If you find yourself today underwater in any way (mortgage, marriage, health, etc.), be sure to cry out to the Lord.  God cares about all that concerns you, and I believe He will listen attentively and give you supernatural wisdom to know what to do.   If God can make an iron axhead float, He can do anything, and I believe He will perform a miracle in your life too.













Friday, June 10, 2011

The Whisper of God

1 Kings 19:11-12
The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by."  

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

This verse has a special meaning to me.  There was a time in my life when I had a burden for someone who was not doing things God's way.  I was convinced it would take something as monumental as the wind, earthquake or fire that Elijah observed to get his attention.  Instead it merely took a gentle whisper of God's voice one quiet night.

Don't ever underestimate the voice of the Lord.  It may be gentle, but it is powerful and effective.  It was His voice that created the world and everything in it.

If you have someone you are believing God will draw to Himself, don't ever give up.  He knows just when to speak, and His gentle whisper can cause the hardest heart to soften.  
 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Be a Burden Bearer

Galatians 6:2
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Quite frankly, I have struggled today to decide what to blog about.  My heart has been heavy for the people in our nation (and beyond) who are going through very tough times.  There have been huge tornadoes, and the waters of the Mississippi are still overflowing its banks.  Japan is still trying to recover from the massive earthquake that hit them in March while facing large aftershocks on a daily basis.  The nuclear plant has made the area a health hazard as well. 

The videos I've seen help me see my life in an entirely different light.  Trials I have encountered are nothing compared to the difficulties of some.  Although I'm not close enough to help practically, I'm so glad there is no distance in prayer.  Join me today to pray for all those who have lost everything they own.  May those who don't know the Lord find Him during their biggest crisis.  


Friday, May 20, 2011

Celebrating Marriage!


Song of Solomon 8:6
…Love burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

Tomorrow is our 34th wedding anniversary.  It’s hard to believe it has been that long since Jerry and I walked down the aisle.  We were married in Raleigh, NC, on an unusually hot day for May.  The church was extremely crowded. 

We made a decision to include singing to worship music, and people greeted one another just as we did in our church services.  Our desire was to see the presence of God in our midst, and He was definitely there.   It was that day that my aunt came to know the Lord. 

Now our desire is to have the presence of God in our home.  He has always been number one in our lives.  It is the Lord who teaches us how to be in a relationship with each other.  I’m grateful God brought us together, and I don’t want to take Jerry for granted.

Allow me to brag on him a little.  Jerry has always loved me sacrificially, putting my needs above his own.    He is warm, friendly and most of all an encourager to everyone he meets.  He puts the fun in my life, as I’m the serious one.  He’s my best friend, and we love to spend time together. 

My love for Jerry has grown through the years.  Our marriage is not perfect.  Just like everyone else, we have our ups and downs, but we have stayed committed to each other through it all. 

In today’s world, it’s difficult to keep a relationship sizzling.  In many cases, busy schedules have caused distance instead of intimacy.  Jerry and I have learned we must be deliberate to stay connected.

This weekend we are dedicating to each other.  No yard work, no cleaning or cooking, no business as usual.  We intend to focus on each other, do some fun things and maybe even take a little stroll down memory lane. 

If you are married, let me challenge you to keep your own flame burning.  Never take your spouse for granted, and create an atmosphere of passion in your home!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Great Escape

Matthew 2:13-14
When they (the wise men) had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.  “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.  Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

Joseph’s world had really been turned upside down.  First Mary was pregnant out of wedlock, and even though Jesus was the Son of God, to many it must have looked like a cover up.    

Now after Jesus’ birth, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee the country and escape to Egypt.  He had no clue how long they would be there.     

This morning I was trying to imagine myself in Mary's place.  What must Mary have been thinking?  The angel appeared to Joseph – not her.  Do you think she was excited about getting up in the middle of the night and sliding out of town without one word to her relatives and friends?  She probably wasn’t too thrilled about leaving her home and possessions either.

If Jerry woke me up in the night and told me we had to leave town immediately, would I be able to make a decision to follow his leading?  I would hope so, but I will admit, I’m not much for sudden change.  

I know there are times when we must move quickly or we will deal with costly repercussions.   Just think of all the recent flood victims in our country.  If they had not gotten out of their homes, many would have lost their lives. 

I've always heard, "Delayed obedience is disobedience."   I know it's true, and I'm challenged by that phrase today.  I want to be one who hears God's voice and immediately responds. 



Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Challenge: Let God be God

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

This is the last week of our Jonah Bible study at church.  It has challenged me to let God be God in every situation.  In the homework I did today three questions were asked:

1       Are you becoming aware of a deal you have made with God?
2       Are you seeking/hoping to control or manipulate God in any way?
  Are you disappointed with God about an outcome He 
      has allowed?

(questions from "Jonah:  Navigating a Life Interrupted" by Priscilla Shirer, pg. 133)

At first, my thought is I am not aware of a deal I have made with God.  I am not trying to manipulate Him in any way, but then I thought about my journal.  Maybe in the deep corners of my heart, I thought if I surrendered completely God would respond in a certain way.  Will I ever learn to quit trying to figure out how He will act?
 
Our family came to Arizona in 1999, and God made it extremely clear that was the path we were to take.   My husband and I decided we would move when our house sold.  Then a friend challenged us by asking if we were basing our obedience to God on our house selling.  We recognized then we just needed to set a date and plan towards it. 

My thought was since we were moving forward, God would sell our house and provide employment for Jerry in Arizona.  Instead we were in an apartment for 11 months, and the Jerry's office in North Carolina flew him back and forth for six months until he was able to get a job here.

In retrospect, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  We learned to trust God.  He provided for our needs, and we made some connections with people in the apartment complex we are still close to today.  I have very fond memories of that season of our lives.  

Today I am reminding myself that God knows best.  He sees the bigger picture.
 
 Today, I surrender, Lord, that part of my heart that expects you to intervene in my life in a certain way.  You have proven yourself faithful, and I trust you to do what is best for me today just as you did in the past. 

Forgive me for putting you in a box.  Your ways are higher than mine, and in the end, I love your ways best.  Thank you for not doing things my way but yours.  Amen.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Is Creation Experiencing Birth Pangs?

Romans 8:22-25 (The Message)
 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. 

Since the Japanese earthquake in March, I have become more aware of what is going on with nature.  The description of birth pains in Romans 8 certainly seems feasible.    Even this week, hearing of record-setting tornadoes across the country has been disturbing.  Many are suffering loss.

Romans 8 suggests the Spirit of God is arousing us within.  That is certainly true with me.  I have asked a lot of questions.  I wish I could say I have all the answers.  I don’t. However, God has challenged me to daily seek Him to discover what to do.

I don't believe it's a time of fear.  It's time to be joyful and expectant as this passage of scripture suggests.  I have discovered in the difficult times, God's voice is the clearest and His miracles the closest.  I have already heard some awesome stories of God's protection with people who have been through the tornadoes.  

Maybe your storm is not a natural one but is financial or physical.  Whatever you are facing today, God wants to walk with you and guide you through. 


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Interruption or Divine Appointment?

1 Samuel 9:15-16
Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel:  “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him leader over my people Israel; he will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked upon my people, for their cry has reached me.” 

2 Samuel 9 is the first place Saul is introduced in the Bible.  He is said to be an impressive young man who was a head taller than any of the others.  His journey to kingship is fascinating to me, and I feel there are lots of things we can learn from his story.

In the opening scene, Saul’s father’s donkeys were lost.  Kish, Saul’s father, told him to take one of the servants and look for the donkeys.  They searched for three days and were unable to locate them.  When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to his servant, “Come, let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”  ( vs. 5)  His servant replied, “Look in this town there is a man of God:  he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true.  Let’s go there now.  Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.”  (vs. 6)

God used lost donkeys to get Saul an audience with Samuel, the prophet.  It makes me realize when I get frustrated in life due to things that happen in the natural, I must consider God may be putting me on a path to a divine appointment. 

My father went to be with the Lord many years ago, but I can still hear his voice in my head when frustrating things happen.  As a child, when things occurred like a car breakdown, my dad always said, “Well, I guess God wants to bless a mechanic.”   Because of his attitude, God opened many doors for him to minister to people one-on-one everywhere he went.

Today we are living in a time when many frustrating things happen.  Trials are just a part of life.  No one is exempt.  Let’s make a pact together to view them as opportunities instead of interruptions. 


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Me Like Jonah?

Jonah 3:1
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 
 
In our women’s Bible study at church, we have been studying the book of Jonah. In my self-righteousness, I felt I couldn’t completely relate to Jonah. My heart was to do the will of God always. Today, the Lord, gave me His word a second time.

You see, it was God who inspired me to begin this blog. He never told me to quit. I did that all on my own. You know the drill – life just gets busy, and sometimes things get left along the way.

I looked back at the date of my last post (May 19, 2010), and then thought about the rest of last year. I was busy doing good things and necessary things, but I should have also been doing what God called me to do. It’s all a matter of priorities. 

Thoughts used to run through my mind like written words on a page. It’s funny how that all stopped once I quit writing. 

I have been agonizing with God about our future. I have felt so unsettled and have not had complete peace. Now I know the reason the peace has not been there is because I chose to ignore his last instruction. 

Jonah chose to go an entirely different direction. No, I didn’t do that. Disobeying God was much more subtle for me. I have told people many times, one of Satan’s biggest tools is distraction and busyness. If he can’t get you to blatantly disobey God, he will cause you to be so busy you forget his instruction. Now, it’s time to live what I preach!

Maybe God hasn’t called you to be a writer, but is there something He has called you to do that you have been ignoring?