Sunday, June 29, 2008

Got Moses?

What do you think of when you hear Moses? Burning bush, Ten Commandments, plaques, a sea divided, Ark of Covenant, staff turned to serpent, first five books of the Bible.

Faithfulness and obedience.

That is what is prevalent.

As recorded in Exodus, God said, and Moses did!! God spoke and Moses obeyed.

Egyptians will know I am Lord.
"So Moses and Aaron did it, as the Lord commanded them, thus they did." Exodus 7:6

Rod becomes serpent.
"And thus they did just as the Lord had commanded." Exodus 7:10

Water turned to blood.
"So Moses and Aaron did even as the Lord commanded." Exodus 7:20

God gave Moses power. He told him to do, Moses did, and power was released.

Many times we see the words: "Then the Lord said to Moses" followed immediately by "pass, go, stretch, tell, rise, say, take."

What a privilege to be told by God explicitly what to do and then an honor to follow as Moses did.
Words spoken by the Lord several times in the beginning of Exodus are: "Stretch out your hand" and "Let My people go that they may serve Me."

Let us look out of the box and see the application for us today just in these two statements.

God is asking us to stretch out our hands. Let go of what we are clutching. Reach to the Father. Ask for His help. Pass your burdens to Him. Tell Him your troubles. Raise your hand and heart to Him. Go to Him in prayer with everything. Seek His face and will. Take His providential plan. Give Him your fears. Step out in faith.

Just as He cared for the Egyptians and their release, he too cares for us. He cares for us to be released from our past, from our guilt and shame, from our fears, from our pain. While we are held captive by things of this world, we cannot fully serve Him. He not only wants to release us from such pains from our own good but for His glory and to serve Him. Fear, emotional pain, physical pain, unworthiness, guilt, shame, and much much more inhibit our work for God's Kingdom. The troubles of this world can be very paralyzing. The Lord is saying: "Let My Julie go." "Let My Sammy go." "Let My Sarah go." Can you hear Him standing on His throne assertively saying "let her go"? My heart wants to insert many precious people's names, but refrain for their privacy. (Know that you are in my prayers.)

Are you stretching out your hand to God? Are you fully stretched? Do you need to extend your hand further? Reach full. Reach hard. Reach longer. The Father is waiting with abundant loving kindness!

Do you know the depths of His concern for you? do you know the longing of His heart for you to be "let go" from what takes you captive?

My heart has been heavy for many lately. I cried out to the Lord today begging Him to give me a word, a word to ease the pain, to lighten the load of many. So many places where I thought the Lord would lead and it turned into something I hadn't even considered. Something I long will bring blessing and encouragement to many.

I want to remind you of Moses' experience with the burning bush. "The bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said 'I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.' " Exodus 3:2-3

This indeed is you, my friend. You may be feeling the fire, you may feel your situation is consuming you. But remember, the bush was not "burned up" and you are not "burned up." Recall God's words in
Exodus 3:7-8. "I have surely seen the affliction of My people...I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them...and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey."

My friend, He is aware of YOUR affliction and suffering. He WILL bring you from that land, whatever it may be for you, and bring you into a land of goodness and sweetness.

Stretching to Him,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Schemes of the Evil One

It has often been pointed out that the word "evil" is the word "live" spelled backwards. Satan delights to take what God does and try to reverse it, remove it, recline it, reduce it. His lying is always roundabout, complicated and deceiving.

...not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Satan likes to beat us while we are down. So many times I have fallen into the trap of the devil. His best playing field is our minds through our thoughts. If he can change our way of thinking, he can change our actions.

When you feel the attacks in the midst of God's work, it is satan. When you feel the attacks in the midst of your ministry and service to God, it is satan.

Satan has had his own hay day with me. In this recent battle a few weeks ago, it became so clear. He got me so worked up regarding some things resulting in a ten day span of being worried and fearful. Even at the peak, I shamefully wondered if God was really working in my life and if He had good planned for me. It seemed I was lacking so much of what I wanted and so many others had so many things (not material things). In this state of misery, I let problem X grow to the point of thinking well if problem X exists then it must mean this, and then that must mean this. Enough is enough. God once again showed me HIM. He showed me ME also. He showed me what He will do and what I need to do. One of which is to be more AWARE and to recognize the schemes of the evil one.

God came full circle on this recent issue. Once He revealed Himself to me, showed me the truth, and relieved my anxiety, He then provided three blessings. Do you know that they all pertain to HIM...three ways in which I will be able to draw even closer to Him. I don't find it any coincidence that He showed them to me right after the week of emotional confusion. And I tell ya what, I am excited over what He'll do with these three sources of drawing me even closer to Him. I believe this is God's attack right back at satan. He (satan) is trying to get us to focus on the negative and the hardships of pain. He wants to steal the show from God. He wants to remove God's blessings from us. He wants to distract us from God and the good things He has for us. He wants us to focus on ourselves and the impossible situations we have. He wants us to feel abandoned by God. He wants us to give up hope. You see, HE--satan, the devil, the evil one--wants to destroy us.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

I am cautious in this subject matter because I do not want to give satan any more credit or attention than he deserves. However, we cannot naively go through life not recognizing his dirty work. If we fail to recognize his work, then we can fall into the trap of believing his work is actually the lack of God's work. We never want to blame God for something the evil one is doing. See where I'm going? In the midst of my distraught thinking, I began to think God didn't care and didn't really have a plan because I've not seen any "evidence" or "fruit" in His work. What we need to realize is the fruit in our lives many times start with being fruit in our hearts. God needs to transform our hearts in certain areas before He produces the fruit we desire to "see" in our lives.

Satan will be the first to remind us of the things God has not produced in our lives YET. A friend recently told me that a certain promise God had given her has not come to pass and it doesn't look like it will soon because of other complications. She continued to say that satan reminded her all weekend that this is so and won't happen. My response was: "shame on him but when God provides your miracle and His promise to you, you can shove it in his (satan's) face!!!"

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

I despise the schemes of the devil that he pulls on God's people. He is very good at his nasty and tricky ways but God is greater at His ways! With all the challenges we face, it can seem as though God is not working in our lives and things can seem impossible. We cry out to God, "Why aren't you working? Why aren't you doing something?" But have faith, HE IS. Don't be quick to judge God for not working in our lives and don't be quick to blame God for the attacks of satan. When God is up to something good, when we are serving and working for Him, when we are striving toworship Him so whole heartedly, when we are desperately seeking to keep our eyes on Him, satan gets VERY mad and he throws MANY things at us. A friend said she "felt like the devil was causing so many difficulties to be thrown my way, so that I would focus on my situation and not on my God...he is trying to distract me because he knows the good things God has promised me."

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Again, I do not want to give the stage to satan more than he deserves. However, his presence is real and it is something about which we need to be cautious. So, don't be alarmed when you are being blessed by God or you are serving God and you feel stones thrown at you. When you are striving and thriving for God, the attacks of the evil one will be upon you.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. Ephesians 6:10-11

Staying Strong in Him,

Saturday, June 21, 2008

What's in a Verse or a Version?

In the last 13 years of being a Christian I have known nothing but NIV, New International Version. At that time it was the "thing" and it was the best-selling version. It is still the best-selling version. I guess after 13 years, I've come to love the NIV especially for ease of memorizing with the beautiful language. It seems to have the most elegant way with words to memorize onto my heart. In recent times, I've come to more clearly understand the different versions of God's Word. We do need to be cautious in what versions we read and for what purposes.

I recently received my life verse in an email devotional and it was quoted in The Message version. It struck my attention. Though The Message is personally my least favorite because it is God's Word in story form and it is not the best version to study and meditate because of it's very liberal paraphrasing. Yes, it is good for the unbeliever and maybe the new believer to just start being familiar with God's Word. However, it is not a literal translation of God's originally inspired Word.

A very good friend of mine is a Christian bookstore owner. She has shared with me the technical differences of the versions along with my own research from my close friend, I found it pertinent to share this for anyone who may be wondering the differences or may be searching for a new Bible. I believe it to be very important that we carefully choose our Bible as clearly some are not intended for deep study and understanding of God's Word. Some version are merely shortened and changed by man rather than God's directly-inspired Word.

Kings James Version (KJV) - is the most literal preservation of God's Word in English
New Kings James Version (NKJV) - literal modern translation
New American Standard Bible (NASB) - literal translation word by word with more modern/updated language
English Standard Version (ESV) - literal translation word by word (newest translation but very similar to NASB)
New International Version (NIV) - paraphrased translation "thought for thought" (or paragraph by paragraph)
New Living Translations (NLT) - paraphrased translation (intended to convey the meaning of the original but not literal)
The Message (MSG) - paraphrased in story form (recaptures original Word in today's "slang" language) this is NOT intended as a study Bible but a "reading" Bible.

So, with all that said, I just wanted to share with you an example of the differences between versions. This probably is NOT the best choice of verses to dissect. With my research I have seen very VAST differences in the versions and there are many words removed from the paraphrased versions such as MSG, NLT, and even some in my beloved NIV. The prompting of this posting has become two-fold: to share some understanding of some of the Bible versions and to explore this beautiful verse of trust. In addition to sharing the difference in some versions available, I wanted to share this life verse of mine from the version of the Bible I least like, The Message. Though the MSG is much too slang for me and removes the beauty of God's original Word, I found this interesting. his verse in MSG shows some depth that drew my attention on which to ponder. I also found myself smiling or rather smirking at couple of these lines because in the slang it portrays exactly what humans have come to do in today's age: figuring out everything on our own and assuming we know it all.

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!" Proverbs 3:5-7 MSG

Since NIV is my long known version, I'll share a quick dissection of NIV verses MSG because the slang of the MSG caused me to turn up my eyes in realization.

From the bottom of your heart VS with all your heart:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart. We usually see the bottom of our heart as the part hardest to find...the part from which we only place the dearest of things. To trust from the bottom of our heart means to reach all the way down, touching every part of our heart, to the very bottom and release our trust from there. Wow. With all of your heart also shows the depth at which we trust. We trust with ALL of our heart, every piece, and therefore we hold nothing back from the Lord.

Don't try to figure out everything on your own VS lean not on your own understanding:
I kind of smiled at the MSG version of this. Isn't that exactly what we do? We try to figure everything out on our own. "Why this? Why that? What if this? Well, this could be that?" Again it is a more slang way to say we shouldn't lean on our own understanding. To me the MSG takes it a step further that not only should we not lean on our own understanding but we also should not take it to the next level of trying to figure it out. I do like how the MSG emphasizes that we should not stop at just not leaning on our understanding but we should NOT try to figure everything out. That spoke volumes to me and shows our humanness. I smirked because I saw my Lord saying this to His very inquisitive child and I mean inquisitive. (Mostly in an innocent, curious way.)

Listen for God's voice VS acknowledge Him in all things:
Again a slight difference in interpretation. I believe we can acknowledge God in all things, which we most definitely should. We should acknowledge Him in all His creation. We should acknowledge Him in all aspects of our lives, the good and bad. We should acknowledge His direction in our lives. However, listening for God's voice to me is much different. It is a great thing to do though seems far from an exact interpretation. But this opened the meaning of this verse for me. We can acknowledge God in all aspects of our lives but are we really listening for His voice in life situations? Are we being still and quiet enough to hear His voice? To acknowledge God in all this is great and a command of God but to intently listen for His voice and to heed His direction, that's something more. It's an obligation for us to listen for God's voice and oh what an honor it is to hear it and follow through with obeying. Again, wow.

He's the one who'll keep you on track VS He will make your paths straight:
He is THE ONE who will keep us on track. Wow. Again, you can see the translation is not literal but it does point directly to God. It shows emphasis that He will not only make our paths straight but He will keep us on track, more importantly HIS track. Of course, God can make any of our crooked paths straight but the idea that He will keep us on His track is wonderful because isn't that where we all want to be? Not only to have a straight path but to also be on the right track...His track.

Don't assume you know it all VS do not be wise in your own eyes:
Verse 7 is not one written on my heart; however, I found it "funny" for lack of better word. I can see God looking down at us when we are trying to "do" things on our own and Him saying "don't assume you know it all"--that is don't assume we know how to fix everything, how to work out our plans, how to "help" God, how to resolve our situations. Yes, the MSG version makes it more exact in understanding it in our language but NIV has more elegance. God speaks so much about wisdom and being wise. He gave us a WHOLE book on wisdom. It's called Proverbs.

Run to God VS fear the Lord:
I believe there is vast difference in running to God and fearing God. This verse could be one to show reason for caution in using MSG or NLT for in-depth study and true understanding of what God directly inspired. Yes, we most definitely need to run to the Lord in all aspects of our lives, everything! But, fear Him is also something we must do. To fear the Lord is much different than to run to the Lord. [Webster's defines fear as: to have a reverential (high honor/respect) awe of.]

Here are six versions. Examine for yourself.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart NIV
Trust in the LORD with all your heart NASB
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, NKJV
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, ESV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; NLT
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; MSG

and lean not on your own understanding; NIV
And do not lean on your own understanding. NASB
And lean not on your own understanding; NKJV
and do not lean on your own understanding. ESV
do not depend on your own understanding. NLT
don't try to figure out everything on your own. MSG

in all your ways acknowledge him, NIV
In all your ways acknowledge Him, NASB
In all your ways acknowledge Him, NKJV
In all your ways acknowledge him, ESV
Seek his will in all you do, NLT
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; MSG

and he will make your paths straight. NIV
And He will make your paths straight. NASB
And He shall direct your paths. NKJV
and he will make straight your paths. ESV
and he will show you which path to take. NLT
he's the one who will keep you on track. MSG

Do not be wise in your own eyes; NIV
Do not be wise in your own eyes; NASB
Do not be wise in your own eyes; NKJV
Be not wise in your own eyes; ESV
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. NLT
Don't assume that you know it all. MSG

fear the LORD and shun evil. NIV
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. NASB
Fear the LORD and depart from evil. NKJV
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. ESV
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. NLT
Run to God! Run from evil! MSG

So, I end this two-fold also.

First, do you trust in the Lord from the bottom of your heart? Do you adventure to the most vulnerable and protected part of your heart and trust the Lord with that? Do you pull your trust for our Father from the bottom of your heart? Do you trust God with ALL of your heart, all of your being? Do you acknowledge Him in ALL your ways? Do you listen intently for His voice? Sometimes that means shutting our own voice to hear His. Do you assume you know it all? (HA! That still makes me laugh...just doesn't seem like verbage that is in His Word.)

Second, do you want a Bible that has been shortened by men or the complete one that is inspired by God? Have you considered the difference in the versions available? Have you examined your purpose in reading God's Word? Is it for deep understanding, study, and meditation or is it for pleasurable and simple reading? Consider your reason for reading to determine the version you should read. There is nothing wrong with having more than one version to use for the different purposes. I have two versions: NIV and NASB and may be purchasing the new ESV Study Bible upon release in October.

Regardless of the version, be well versed in God's Word.

Writing His Verses on My Heart,

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What's Your Scales Say?

The weight of the world is heavy. It can be excruciating. It can be tiring. It can be overwhelming. It can be suffocating. The weight of the world was never meant for us to carry. Christ our Lord did that for us. However, that doesn't stop us humans from feeling weighed down by the ways of this world.

What does it mean the "weight of the world"?

The weight can be measured in many ways.
Financial. Relational. Occupational. Parental. Spiritual. Physical. Emotional. Material. Mental.

We take on these weights because we want to be successful in these areas, which is understandable. We want:
emotional, physical, mental health
financial freedom
spiritual growth and impact
material comfort
parental peace and accomplishments
healthy relationships
occupational peace and fulfillment

We can't help but to have concern and care for our children, family, friends, jobs, finances, health, and salvation. To have concern is to show our compassion for these things.

The LORD will judge his people and have compassion on his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free. Deuteronomy 32:36

So you handed them over to their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies. Nehemiah 9:27

The human life is not easy. The Christian life is not easy either (despite popular belief or rather misconception). The difference is that the Christian life has a Savior to carry our carry us!! The Christian life very well could be more difficult in a sense but we also have a better result, a better solution, a better Provider.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Christ carried the weight of the world literally. On the Cross, He carried every single of every person that was or will ever be that's HEAVY! He still does that for us. He still carries the weight of our individual worlds. He won't take the burdens without us releasing them to Him. If we ask, He will gladly take our load. We have to GIVE it to Him to carry. If we think we are strong enough to carry it, He will let us, for a time. Only when we realize we can't and we release our clutch, then He will come in and lift the weight from our shoulders. Our shoulders were never intended to carry the "weight of this world".

The love of Christ is so deep.

Sometimes the weight of the world can deceive us.
It can cause us to lose true focus.
It can steal our joy and peace.
It can stir loneliness, depression and fear in us.

Call to me and I will answer... Jeremiah 33:3

To say that we don't or can't fall victim to being weighed down by this world is deception itself. Death, abuse, debt, abandonment, illness, job loss, loneliness, depression, housing, divorce, children, war, rejection, disloyalty...all these weigh on our spirits. They cause the reading on our scales to increase. Jesus is saying give them to Him and decrease your scales. (Now what women doesn't want to see a decrease on those nasty scales?)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Are you heavy and burdened? Come to Christ.

What in this world is weighing on you?

What is it that you need to lay at the foot of the Cross?

Jesus is waiting for you to deposit your weight at His Feet for Him to carry for you.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Releasing Unto Him,

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Fire...Aaaaaagain!

It is a deep belief of mine that the Christian life if characterized by trials, tribulations, and sufferings. Others might think if we serve such a great God why does He let us suffer. It may be a hard concept to grasp but He does BECAUSE He loves us and wants to refine us to HIS image. How wonderful that for a previous post God gave me a scripture that clearly reveals this.

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12

There's so much I enjoy from the book of Daniel. One of which is Daniel 4 and the transformation of King Nebuchadnezzar (Neb as I like to call him). But for this time, I want to reflect on three men, whom I have always loved the sound of their three names together. Tongue twister, maybe, but beauty for sure... Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. King Neb made a huge image of gold and summoned every one to come to the dedication of the image. They were all told that as soon as they heard the sound of the horn and music, they were to fall down and worship the image of gold that King Neb set up. Whoever chose not to do this would immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace. Some astrologers made it a point to inform the King that some Jews in charge of Babylon refused to serve the King's gods nor worship the image of gold. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were summoned by King Neb. He told them again they were to do this or burn by the fire. "Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" Daniel 3:15b (Remember this verse.)

Let's read the rest of it as I cannot do justice by simply paraphrasing. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king's command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king." He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!" So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in Him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way." Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:16-30

Thrown into the fired, saved from the fire, and promoted as a result of the fire.

What profession of faith and willingness to give up their lives for God. What beauty God provided as a reward of their faith. This is not just a story of faith and what it means to stand up for our faith in God. This is about the fireS (plural) of life that WILL come. In the middle of this fire, SEVEN TIMES HOTTER, they were protected. Notice something else that totally brings me to tears and to my knees. God was with them and right beside them. He walked through the fire with them. He didn't stop the king from throwing them into the fire but rather once in there, God walked with them. And look at the result...the king commanded that anyone who just speaks against their God would be "cut into pieces". (That sounds like a horror flick.) He also promoted the three men.

Let's reflect more on the most pivotal point of this story. GOD WAS WITH THEM. In the worst time of their life, He was with them. Notice He also didn't allow them to be singed hair, no scorched robes, no smell of smoke, nothing! Well, you may say you have scares from your fires and trials life. You may have. But in the large realm, did you not come out unharmed? Has He not made you whole again? Has He not made good from your bad? Many women have testimonies of divorce, death of a child, physical ailment, physically abusive spouse, death of spouse. BUT if I took a poll, I would guarantee that through all that something good has happened. I would even bet somethingS (plural) have happened.

Please know the Father IS WITH YOU! In the middle of that ever so hot fire, He is right next to you. He is protecting you from being consumed by the fire. You may say you have deep scars from your fire but have you ever thought about how many things the Lord has protected you from? Don't you think there are many more scars that you could've had but He saved you from them? It could've been worse. Right? Yes. In all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. Romans 8:28

Don't be afraid of the fire. YES, it most definitely is painful, hard, difficult, torturous at times, heartbreaking. No matter how you wound up in the fire, whether out of being obedient to God's call on your life or by walking away from Him, endure the fire with the Father. (Yes, obedience can cause hardships.) He will walk you through it and you will come out better for having been through it and not escaped it. I am a walking testimony of that. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:1-2

So whattaya gonna do? Do you need to reframe your perspective and fear of the fire?

Ponder on this scripture God recently showed me.
"Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?" Jeremiah 23:29

He has things to teach us and show us in the middle of the fire.
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

Meditate on His power and protection.
"Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory." Psalm 97:3-6

Following Him Through the Fire,

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Socks Are Off

Brought To Tears...
In Shock...Speechless...In Awe...
These were potential titles to this blog because they are my feelings right now. My mind is pondering how to even compose this post without making it a book.

As I checked out some of the postings of my regular blog friends, to my surprise God knocked my socks off, indeed! As I traveled to
Mama Mia’s, I was kind of puzzled to see the heading of her post, “A Sweet Pea.” It was odd to see my blog name on there but I automatically assumed she was going to talk about something one of her three girls did. My eyes caught the title of my blog in the middle of her post and I was dumbfounded. I refocused back to read and capture all of her words.

I am truly HUMBLED. I am honored. I thought God had showered me abundantly yesterday through comments on my blog and also emails from friends, but WOW. It's like He was saying "MY Child, you are talented, you are blessing others, you are ministering in My Name, you are a glorifying Me, you are special and loved, you do have a beautiful heart." THEN, for someone to devote a whole posting to me...little ol' me…a heart of gratitude for me being a blessing to her. Not only that but Mia is making her way through all of my posts. She’s taking the time to read ALL of them. Wow!

I do not say this to make light of what others have done for me or expressed to me about my impact on them. I know that I have been a blessing to many that I will never know. To be honored and told such things in this magnitude and in this chapter of my life, that is what is amazing to me.

NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think I would have an opportunity to write and to do it FOR God.
NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think I would be such a blessing to someone in such a spiritual way.

NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think I would make such an impression and impact on so many people.
NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think I would feel God’s love, blessing, and approval through this blog.
NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think I would begin to feel so much purpose and ministry for God in MY life.

I am not worthy of His love, His favor, His mercy, His grace, His compassion but He gives it anyway and I am eternally grateful! I cannot express what the last two days have done for me. As in my post on "Donkey & Dirt, Huh?", never would I think just one short week later I would feel what I do now. God yanked me out of that terrible pit on that holiday weekend and He is now just lavishing me with His love and blessing. His presence CONSUMES my heart!

I have for so long, longed to be used by God in a ministry. I believe He is showing me the way. This blog may just be a phase or a stepping stone for something much greater in the future. I relish in the opportunity I have before me right now. For years, others have told me I have the gift of encouragement as I am known to sends cards for all ocassions or give gifts sporadically. I am now really beginning to see the fruit of that spiritual gift. Plus it’s only been in the last three years or so that I have discovered my love for writing and especially about the Lord!

I think I am still in shock. Wow. MY socks have been knocked off. One of my friends a month or so ago said that God was going to knock my socks off. Boy, did He ever, through Mia and so many others. I think I’m truly beginning to understand, this is only the beginning of Him continuing to knock my socks off! I'll have to show my perty pink toes to everyone, huh?

Wow. I am speechless...well not really as you can tell above.

Shall I say my cup runneth over? I already said that yesterday but now, it really is!

I would like to include Mama Mia's
post for those who may not have time to travel over there or those who are reading this by email. Plus, I would like to have this permanent reminder in my own blog. I keep my postings in a file in hopes of possibly one day God allowing me to write a devotional.

I encourage you to visit her site here as she is a blessing! I am blessed to call her a dear friend.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008
A Sweet Pea
Posted by Mia at 7:11 PM

What's the best thing to do with a blessing? Pass it around. I read a few blogs, every one of them bless me in different ways. One in particular has touched my heart because when I really NEEDED it....I found it. I have been going through a spiritual slump in the past few months. Of course when you think God has gone somewhere its always YOU who has moved. I needed a boost, a recharging of the batteries if you will. Then out of nowhere a very sweet gal left a comment on my blog. As the old story goes...I followed the link to her blog and WOW!! I have some wind in my spiritual sails. His Ways Are Not Our Ways has become my daily devotional. I am working my way through back posts and its blessing my socks off!!! Paula (Sweet Pea) has a way of drawing all and any attention in her blog so it aims right at the Lord. From the beautiful flowers, to meaningful quotes, encouraging scripture to the big pink daisy that greets you when you get’s just SO uplifting! Not only just a feel-good blog it is thought provoking and challenges the reader to "do" for God also. Please visit Paula as soon as you can. I really feel God led her to write this blog and I for one am so glad He did!!

As tears swell in my eyes once more, I can only say I am truly humbled. I am so unworthy of this opportunity yet I praise my sweet Jesus for this. I seriously cannot put into words the depth of what this has done to my heart and what Jesus has done to my heart. I want to shout to Him!

Thank you, MY precious Lord for loving me, for extending such mercy and grace to me, when at times I have failed miserably for you. I have brought shame on You but you have covered me in Your love and forgiveness. You are the God of second chances. May every single moment of the rest of my life be FOR YOU, Lord. May every breath I take be for Your glory. I love you so, Lord, oh how I love You.

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 1 Chronicles 16:8
(This says it all and is the purpose of this post)
I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3

(I'm thankful for EACH of you.)

His Servant Forever,

Monday, June 2, 2008

Are You Having An Affair?

Oh, no. How can I ask such a personal question? How can I even consider asking that? Many people are having affairs and they've never laid eyes on another person outside of their spouse. Well, then how are they having an affair you ask? They are having an affair by not walking the way God desires. When we do not fully say yes to God, we are cheating on Him. We are cheating Him and our relationship with Him by trying to walk the line, by riding the fence, by being luke warm. So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16

We can have many affairs at many times with many things.

We can have an affair with the flesh and the world when we give into to temptations.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 1 Cor. 10:13

We have an affair when we are are not fully focused on God.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2

We have an affair when we seek our own desires.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:16

We have an affair when we seek the things of this world.
It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Titus 2:12

We have an affair when we are too distracted to give God all of the attention He deserves.
We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1

We have an affair when we are not constantly in prayer to Him.
Pray continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

We have an affair when we read the books of the world instead of the book of His Word.
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8

We have an affair when we don't say yes to God and what we know to be godly.
If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. 2 Peter 2:9

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12

We can have an affair with "good" things in this world. We can desire good things more than God when we spend too much time playing golf, watching tv, reading unwholesome material or just pleasurable that is, playing games, surfing the web, taking care of our earthly possessions, tending to our gardens and flowers. Those things* are fine and good but when they take priority over praying, reading God's Word, ministering with others and just communing with God, THEN, it becomes a sinful affair! (*Let me refine that: not everything on tv and the web is good and not all reading material is good for us. Some of the most popular fiction books are not of God. Even seemingly pure things as love novels can be dangerous. Plus we already have the greatest love novel called The Bible.) Who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. Rev. 1:2-3

It is so true that whatever goes into our mind, does come out. We think those innocent books or movies won't hurt us because we KNOW they are untrue, we know God and His Word. We mustn't take the power of the mind too lightly. I realized how powerful the mind was when after just weeks of doing my Leslie Sansone walking video, that I began to repeat what she said in the exact same manner. I would repeat funny phrases or mimic her tone even. It kind of blew me away thinking, why is it so hard to memorize God's Word if I can so easily remember and recall exactly what Leslie says. I realized the power of the visual video and the repetition. I have pondered getting the Bible on CD for this reason but have yet to find the entire Bible on one CD or split between OT an NT on two CDs.

May I challenge you to seek with what you might be having an affair. It could be that late night snack (our bodies are temples), that sweet tooth, that unwholesome tv program that's very addictive, unwholesome talk (gossip), unwise use of time, no discipline in praying, reading the Word, or fellowship with our Father. I too am addressing any affairs I may be having. May the Lord search my heart and remove an unclean parts.

I will leave you with a quote from one of my friend, Lelia Chealey.
"We cannot be a woman walking with God while we are having an affair. We can't pray for our friends then get on the phone and mask our gossip as a prayer request."

At the risk of being redundant, I want to repeat a scripture from above because it is so powerful. It very well may help someone who's also going through a rough time.

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12

To live in Christ is to die...that means persecution, suffering, sacrifice. But oh, isn't it worth it to do it for our oh so sweet Jesus?!!!!

In His Grasp,