Saturday, December 31, 2011

An Intentional Year

This has been an interesting year for me; I have grown so much over this last year and it is because I have become more intentional about certain things I am doing.  When I began writing this blog a few years ago, I started spending more time in the Bible on my own rather than just relying on whatever Bible study my small group was working on.  There is nothing wrong with using Bible studies written by other people, in fact, we need to hear from other authors that have studied a topic more thoroughly.  I also believe that God gives us those teachers and uses their voices to challenge our thoughts.  However, we also need to spend our own time in the Bible to learn to hear what God is telling us personally.

This year, I became much more intentional to learn more Bible study methods so I could learn to dig even deeper in my personal Bible study.  I am still learning, but discovering BlueLetterBible.com has greatly increased what I am able study.  I cannot even express in words how much I have learned and grown this year as a result of more intentional study during my personal time in the Bible.  I have always had a desire to see other people in the Bible more, but that desire has grown greater throughout this year.  Along with spending time in the Bible, I became intentional about memorizing verses thanks to Beth Moore's blog.  I was challenged with accountability to memorize two verses each month and that exercise alone has been life-changing.  There were times when I would have a verse picked out only to find a few weeks later that I needed that verse in my heart for the circumstance I found myself in.

Another area where I found myself becoming intentional in was my time in prayer.  In all honesty, prior to this spring my prayer life was seriously lacking.  When I would think of it, I would spend time in prayer - the problem was that I didn't think about it enough.  Sure, I prayed every day before writing my blog; however, I wasn't spending "quality time" with my Creator.  Since January, I had felt the Holy Spirit telling me to get up early to spend time with God; however, I couldn't seem to get motivated.  Now I look back and think of how ridiculous it was that I couldn't find the motivation to spend with my loving Father.  In the spring, God used another person to speak to me about getting up early and spending time with Him.  Since then, I have been getting up early and I haven't regretted it!  It is such precious time with my beautiful Savior, and it is time to give Him my concerns and worries and time for me to listen.

All year God has challenged me to see that when I don't live intentionally, I will not have any focus in life.  I will unintentionally not do the things I should because to live the way God wants us to live requires focus and intentional steps to get there.  With that said, I am going to participate in a challenge to focus and live intentionally this year as part of an overall life-style change that God has been doing in me.  I am using the Internet Cafe Devotions to provide accountability with this.  I would encourage you to visit the page they have on this topic because there are links to wonderful tools to help with finding focus and purpose.  I will be creating a page that will mark what steps I am taking to live with greater purpose this year.  I pray that you seek God to show you where you could live with greater focus.


Linking up with LiFT at Internet Cafe Devotions.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Simplicity of Salvation

Acts 13:13-39

Years ago, my husband and I were scanning through the TV and we stopped at a channel that was airing one of Billy Graham's large events.  We listened to him tell the truth of God's salvation for all people with such simplicity and we were awed by the thousands of people that streamed forward to ask forgiveness of their Creator.  It was such a beautiful moment to see so many people declaring that Jesus was their Lord and Savior and that they wanted to follow Him.  I am not a theologian, but I do not believe we need to complicate the message of the gift of salvation that God has given.  The Bible gives us an example of how Paul and Barnabas presented salvation to a synagogue filled with Jews and a few Gentile believers.  Please turn to Acts 13:13-39.

Paul started with a brief history of Israel to set the stage of how God has had His hand on Israel throughout the ages and also to show the ancestry of Jesus.  The Jews had prophecy that said the Messiah would come from the line of King David.  Paul reminded them that John the Baptist told Israel that the coming of the Messiah was here (which also fulfilled prophecy that the Jews knew).  Paul began to speak about the fact that Jesus was innocent yet condemned just as all the prophecies about the Messiah said - which were read every Sabbath in the Synagogue.  But that was not the end...Paul spoke about how God promised that Jesus would not remain in the grave and that promise was fulfilled when Jesus was resurrected.  Finally, Paul told everyone that anyone who believes that through Jesus we receive forgiveness for our sins is made right with God.

It is simple.  I have sinned just as every other person on this earth has sinned.  Our sin created a separation between us and God, our Creator.  The consequence for this sin is death - not just a physical death, but a spiritual death.  But our Creator loves us; He loves us with a passion that is so strong that He sent Jesus (His Word) to come as a humble baby.  Jesus lived a perfect life and sacrificed Himself on the cross to face death in our place.  But God is victorious over death and He resurrected Jesus.  We are told that Jesus shares His victory with us when we believe in Him and through Jesus we have forgiveness of our sins.  No sin is too great for Him - remember, He has conquered death!  For all who believe is made right with God and we have the promise of eternal life.  There really is more to this life than just making it through the day - there is the promise of grace, mercy, and victory through Jesus.  We get to live life with Christ and follow Him.

Do you believe that your salvation comes only from God through Jesus' sacrifice.  Do you choose to live your life with Christ?

Linking up with Brag On God Friday and Spiritual Sundays.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Experience Jesus

John 4:1-30, 39-42

Have you ever noticed that you can hear how wonderful something is, but until you experience it yourself you cannot fully grasp what you are being told?  For example, I had always heard that Disney World in Florida was a great place to go with the family and when our family was given a trip to go to Disney this summer I was full of anticipation.  Even with all the build-up and anticipation I felt, once I was there and experienced the incredible customer service and attractions, I was amazed.  It was an experience like no other, and they bent over backwards to make sure we enjoyed our week-long visit.  There were some people in a Samaritan village that had a similar experience with what they heard about Jesus and then what they experienced with Jesus; please turn to John 4:1-30.

Sometimes, it seemed that Jesus talked in riddles; maybe it was to get us all to think deeper.  Whenever I read this story, I sympathize with this Samaritan woman because I'm not sure if I would have understood what Jesus was saying to me right away.  First He asked for water from the well, but then began to talk about living water where she will never thirst again.  Now, I know that I would be confused!  Instead of explaining in plain language, He revealed that He knew all about her.  She then made a statement that the Messiah will explain everything when He comes.  Jesus then answered, "I AM the Messiah."  I wonder if the earth shook as He spoke the powerful truth of who He is.  As a result, the woman ran to the village to tell everyone to come meet this man who knew everything about her.

The thing I want to focus on is what happened next in John 4:39-42.  The villagers came to meet this man that the woman told them about and asked Him to stay.  He stayed for two more days revealing Himself to even more people.  The end result was what the villagers said in verse 42, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”  They believed because of what the woman told them, but once they experienced Jesus themselves they knew that He is the Savior of the world!  I love that statement they made because it is so true.  At some point we begin to believe that Jesus is who He says He is, but then He touches our heart so we know.  We experience Him in a way that we know He loves us and is our Savior.

Do you believe Jesus is who He says He is?  Have you experienced Him so you know He is your Savior?

Linking up with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

God Saves From Bondage of Sin

Titus 3:3-7

I have been making some changes as I try to fight weight gain such as joining a gym and watching what I eat.  Unfortunately, the holiday season is a difficult time to use self-control.  I have been doing a pretty good job at tracking how many goodies I am eating so I don't overdo it.  I'm sure anyone who has tried to diet or just be in better control of how they're eating can agree with this:  every time I eat something sweet I crave sweet things more intensely.  When I have gone for a period of time without eating something sweet, I find myself not desiring sweet foods as much.  The Bible tells us that sin can be the same way; our sinful desires take over and sin is what we find ourselves wanting.  But there is a better way!  Please read Titus 3:3-7.

In verse three, Paul uses strong language to show what life without God's salvation looks like.  He uses the word, slave, to show how we are tied to our sin when we are without Jesus.  This word in Greek is douleuō and means slave, but it can also mean, "to give oneself up to" (see footnote 1).  Vines uses the word, bondage to describe the word in this context (see footnote 2).  This really does give us an idea of how we either serve God or sin; there really is no other.  We may even think that we are serving ourselves, but when we take a good look, we are serving the sinful desires that we have.  Sin holds us bondage and is not a kind master.

But God, loves us!  Despite how we were living and what we served, He made a plan of salvation for us.  This was not because of anything we did to please Him - remember, living a life of sin means we are serving sin so we cannot please God in that lifestyle.  His plan of salvation was made out of love and grace and mercy.  This grace means that we are declared righteous and that we inherit the hope of eternal life through Jesus.  In verse 7, the Greek uses the word, klēronomos, which is translated as heir.  The idea of being an heir or gaining an inheritance is such a special word picture to me because it implies something you receive after someone dies.  We receive this inheritance because Jesus died on the cross for us and conquered death by rising back to life three days later.  When we believe in this gift of salvation through Jesus, we are no longer a slave to sin, we now serve a master who is also our loving Father.    In fact, Jesus tells us that when we are serving Him, the burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

Do you believe that God broke the bondage of sin through Jesus?  Do you choose to serve God rather than sin?

Linking up with Word Filled Wednesday.

1. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for douleuō (Strong's 1398)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 28 Dec 2011. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Strongs=G1398&t=NLT >


2. Vine, W. E. "Bondage", Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Blue Letter Bible. 1940. 24 June, 1996 28 Dec 2011.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Help In All Troubles

Isaiah 43:10-12

When we are dealing with tangible difficulties, it is easy to rely on a tangible way to get out of that difficulty.  I look back so many times when my husband and I were dealing with difficult situations and we responded out of our human nature rather than remembering that we have a God who cares.  We would pray, but the reality was that we didn't wait to see what God would do and "fix" the problem ourselves.  Those fixes didn't always work the best way because it would either put us in to more debt or put us in another difficult situation.  Unfortunately, this is even after we have also witnessed powerful and amazing ways that God has provided for us and helped us with other difficulties.  Please read what God says in Isaiah 43:10-12.

The first thing that God says is that the nation of Israel are His witnesses.  This was a nation that had a history passed down from generation to generation of God's mighty hand at work.  These are not small stories; theses are stories such as God delivering them from Egypt, God parting the Red Sea, God providing manna in the desert, God drying up a path in the Jordan River (at flood stage), God using the least of the least in Gideon and saving the nation, and so many more stories!  This was a nation that had received many prophecies of what was to come and saw them fulfilled.  This is a nation that a reason to be a witness of who God is!

God reminds them that they are chosen by Him and that He loves them.  He reminds them that there was never a god before Him and there will never be another - He is the One and Only God.  He then reminds them that He is the only one who saves them; there is no one else not even a foreign god that can do this.  Only God can save!

You may feel that this is in Isaiah and God was saying this only to the nation of Israel about their captivity; however, I want to remind you that we can also trust God in this way.  The Bible tells us that when we believe who Jesus is and follow Him, we become a part of the family of God - we are His children.  Please look up John 1:11-13 to see this promise given to all who believe.  God looks at us as His people - His special possession; please look up 1 Peter 2:9-10.  He loves us as His children, His nation, His holy people.  We are now the people of God and we can believe that He is our Savior.

Do you believe that you are God's child, His special possession once you believe who Jesus is?  Do you believe that means that God cares enough to help you with your troubles?

Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Only God Can Save Us

John 3:16

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  I truly enjoy the opportunity to go to church to worship our beautiful Savior, and it is so nice to see all the families together in the sanctuary.  Our church has three services each year on Christmas Eve, but this year we also had a service on Christmas morning since it was a Sunday.  Our worship pastor expressed it so perfectly when he equated it with Easter.  We get to celebrate Easter every year together in church, but it isn't very often that we get to to celebrate Jesus' birth on Christmas morning in church.  How wonderful!  To see what this means for us, please read John 3:16.

Our Christmas is full of traditions starting Christmas Eve by laying out cookies for Santa (even though the kids know that there is no Santa - they still enjoy going through the motions).  On Christmas morning, I make monkey bread and we open our presents by following a modified German tradition; we hide a pickle ornament in the tree and whoever finds it first opens the first present (the true German tradition is that the person to find the pickle gets an extra present).  We also go through our stockings, which the kids enjoy pretending was stuffed by Santa.  Since we celebrate Christmas only once a year, our traditions are very special to us and allow us to enjoy the day all the more.  We find ourselves anticipating celebrating Christmas with our traditions and it makes it even more fun and meaningful because it isn't just a rote activity.

The verse, John 3:16, is a verse that I have known since my preschool days.  It would be very easy to say it by rote without really thinking about what that verse is telling me.  It is part of my Christian upbringing, a tradition of sorts and could get lost in the commonplace files in my mind since it is an idea that I grew up with.  The problem is that it is not a commonplace idea!  This verse explains why Christmas is so special to us and it is what I am looking at all week as part of my Only God study.  I am studying the truth that only God can save us.  In this verse we hear the truth that whoever believes in Jesus (God's Son) will not suffer an eternal death but will live an eternal life. That is an amazing promise that we stake all our hope in!

There is so much amazing hope in this one verse - God loves us!  Isn't it wonderful to know that our Creator loves us?  In fact, we learn in Ephesians 3:18-19 that we can never fully understand the greatness of His love for us, but we can experience it.  We also learn in John 3:16 that out of His love, God gave us His One and Only Son.  This week, I plan to explore even more what that means.  This verse tells us that anyone who believes in Jesus will experience eternal life.  This means anyone one in the world...this is not meant for the really good people who have earned His love.  This means that anyone, no matter what they have done, can have this gift.  How amazing!

What do you stake your hope in?

Linking up with The Beauty In His Grip.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Our God Is With Us

Luke 2:1-20

Merry Christmas!  The entire story of Christ's birth in a very broken world is so beautiful.  Our God is not a distant God who watches things from afar without a care; He is a God who cares and loves us and chose to live among us.  If you have any question as to who Jesus is, please read Philippians 2:5-11 or read His own words in John 10:27-30.  As Matthew wrote in Matthew 1:22-23, "All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”  How amazing it is that He came to earth to be Immanuel - God With Us.  Let's read through that glorious event in Luke 2:1-20.

There really isn't much more I can say!  It is such a simple story of our Savior humbling Himself by coming to be with us as a baby.  Once more, I love how God chose shepherds to spread the message of the Messiah and not the priests and highly educated.  He chose the average person because He came for all people.

May you be blessed as you go to worship at a local church tonight!

Linking up with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Our Savior Came As A Baby

Luke 2:1-7

Can you believe that Christmas is almost upon us?  For me, the weeks have flown by as we coordinated unpacking our boxes from our move in the midst of concerts and Christmas gatherings.  Are you ready?  Has the craziness gotten the best of you, or are you approaching the day with anticipation and joy?  Do you still have a little more shopping to do or are you all done?  I have to laugh because Christmas falls on Sunday this year, and I have heard people trying to figure out they are going to fit church in with their Christmas plans.  When you really think about it, it really should be the other way around!  I've been guilty of that attitude as well and then I remember that it is silly to look at it that way.  The whole reason we celebrate Christmas is to be a reminder of Christ's birth and to give God glory for such an amazing event.  Let's all remind ourselves the reason for our joy and read Luke 2:1-7.

I find the written account of Christ's birth interesting because what would seem to be the climax of the story (His birth) is mentioned in verse 7.  One verse...unless you count verse six's mention of, "the time came for her baby to be born."  Now, I understand that each birth is different and every woman is different in the way labor plays out, but for anyone who has witnessed the birth of a child or has personally given birth to a child, this seems like a bit of injustice to the story.  How long did the young couple search for a place to stop so Jesus could be born?  How long did Mary have to walk around the city of Bethlehem while laboring?  How did they find their final resting place?  Was there anyone like a mid-wife to help with the birth?

The thing is, those questions are asking for details that don't change the story.  What really matters is that our Savior not only humbled Himself to become a human, but He came as a helpless baby.  He came in position to be completely dependent of the care of what He created.  He had parents just like the rest of us and had to wait for them to feed Him and change Him and He had to trust them.  Think about that!  Our Creator came and for a time was dependent on His creation.  That just emphasizes how much He was willing to sacrifice to bring us back to Him!  What a beautiful Savior; what an incredible God.

What does it mean to you that Jesus came as a baby?

Linking up with Brag On God Friday.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Disruption

Matthew 1:18-24

Something I have learned about following God is that I can make my own plans but He has a way of disrupting them.  In fact, Proverbs 16:9 says, "We can make our own plans, but the Lord determines our steps."  God may have a plan He placed on my heart; however, what steps are taken to get there are often a lot different than what I envisioned.  Following God is an adventure that can bring twists and turns that are not always easy, but always worth the journey.  Yesterday, I looked at Mary's visit from Gabriel and her reaction to the news that even though she was a virgin she would become pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Today, I want to look at Joseph's story; please turn to Matthew 1:18-24.

The thing I want to point out is the culture in which Mary and Joseph were living.  This was Jewish Israel, and getting pregnant before getting married was something that could be punishable by death.  It makes Mary's response to Gabriel even more remarkable because she knew she was risking her reputation.  In Joseph's story, we see that Joseph struggled with what to do with the news that Mary was pregnant.  They were engaged to be married, which was different in their culture than in ours.  This meant that a lifetime commitment was already made and in order to break the engagement, they would have to have a divorce.  Joseph could have called Mary out and had her suffer not only disgrace, but she would potentially face consequences for becoming pregnant.

Instead, because Joseph was a man who cared, he was considering divorcing her quietly so she wouldn't face public disgrace.  Since Joseph was known to follow the law carefully, if he married pregnant Mary, he risked humiliation as well because all people would think that he was the biological father of the baby.  But Joseph's steps were going to change drastically when he had a visit from an angel in a dream.  Joseph found himself taking Mary as his wife despite the risk of humiliation.

I'm not at all saying that God wants to humiliate us, I'm just saying that sometimes following Him means that we are going to have to do something out of the cultural norm and face scrutiny.  When my husband was called into ministry, he was enjoying his job as an elementary and middle school band teacher.  He was looking at recruiting the largest number of students for the next year the school had ever seen and he was good at what he did.  No one understood when he chose to leave a good job he loved to go into ministry - he  disappointed colleagues and faced scrutiny.  This was a twist in the road that neither us saw when we got married, but we have never regretted following God in the journey.  Jesus' presence on earth was a disruption in a way that no one expected.  Who knew a little baby could cause such a stir?

How has God disrupted your plans?  Did you follow Him when He did?

Linking up with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Becoming Human Is Not Impossible With God

Luke 1:26-38

I have heard and read the "Christmas Story" countless times in my life and it still touches me today.  It touches me because of the hope it represents for all people.  It represents the hope that comes from our God being willing to humble Himself and come to earth as a human baby and grow up to take our punishment.  It represents the hope that we can have a right relationship with our Creator.  This week, I have explored that only God is both God and human and what that means for us.  Yesterday, I explored how we are to have a humble spirit in the same way Christ did when He came to earth.  On Monday, I explored how the Word of God became human - which is Jesus.  Today, I want to look again at the power of God's spoken word; please read Luke 1:26-38.

I always imagine how young Mary must have been so startled by Gabriel's visit - especially as he was telling her that even though she was a virgin, she would still give birth to a baby boy.  I love the beautiful faith that Mary demonstrates in this part of the story as well.  These few verses are amazing to me and there are so many things that I could focus on, but today I want to focus on a few things that were spoken by Gabriel and Mary in this interaction.  In verse 37 the NLT says, "For nothing is impossible with God."  I LOVE that!  Because nothing is impossible with God. - there is always hope.  After looking at BlueLetterBible.com, I think the NIV translates it a little closer to the original Greek.  It says, "For no word from God will ever fail."

The Greek translated as "word" is rhēma, which can mean the spoken word.  This is not the same Word mentioned in John 1:1 that I looked at on Monday.  The "Word" mentioned in John 1:1 is logos, which also means a spoken word, but it can also mean a mandate or decree.  Logos also represents God's moral precepts and it is also used in reference to prophecy.  Rhēma can be translated as "what one has spoken" (please see footnote 1.).  So basically, the verse could be looked at as "No word from God is impossible."  The other thing that caught my attention is that the word translated as "impossible" is adynateō, which is a verb.  This caught my eye because the English word "impossible" is an adjective.  I have to admit that it is hard for me to grasp the idea of impossible being a verb or an action since I have always learned it as a description.  According to Vine's, it could best be translated into English as "shall be impossible."  To me, this gives a more ongoing relationship to the word than what our English translation can convey.  Another way to look at is the fact that adynateō can also be translated as weak, so we could read this sentence as, "No word from God is powerless."  Either way, this is a powerful statement made by Gabriel!

Knowing this, Mary's response is absolutely innocent and beautiful.  She says, "May your word to me be fulfilled."  Once again, the word, rhēma is used in this sentence.  I wonder if she said this as a direct response to Gabriel's statement about God's word.  I wonder if she was recognizing that Gabriel was giving her a direct statement from God, so she understood that it was not impossible.  When God speaks to us, we can trust that there is power in what He says.  We can trust that whatever God says is possible and will be done with His power.

Do you believe that everything God says is done in His power?

Linking up with Word Filled Wednesday and iFellowship Blog Hop.

1. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for rhēma (Strong's 4487)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 20 Dec 2011. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Strongs=G4487&t=NLT >

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Attitude of Christ

Philippians 2:5-11

I don't know about you, but humility can be difficult for me.  When I feel like I'm being treated unfairly the ugly monster of pride sneaks out and wants to take over.  It is in those moments when I do something I later regret or say something that I wish I could take back.  Pride betrays me every time I entertain it and yet I find myself going to visit pride from time to time.  Pride doesn't necessarily mean that you feel you are better than everyone else, but pride definitely makes you feel that you deserve better.  Pride is not part of the attitude of Christ and pride was definitely not a part of the Word becoming flesh and living among us.  Please read Philippians 2:5-11.

Picture the Creator of everything creating the world to enjoy.  Picture Him creating humans so He can interact with them and enjoy their companionship.  Now picture the pain He must have felt when humans betrayed Him and followed their own desires and yet He spared them.  Imagine the Creator setting aside for Him a people that are His treasured possession on whom He wants to pour out His love.  Once again, imagine the pain He felt when His special possession chose to worship other gods who are not even real rather than worshiping their very own Creator.  God could have destroyed everything and started over; however, that is not what He did.  The King of Kings didn't allow His position to create a wall between us and Him; instead, He humbled Himself and allowed the risk of rejection by coming to earth to live among us.

The attitude of Christ was not about getting what was due Him; rather, it was about love and humility.  It really is amazing that our Creator didn't think it was more important to display His glory and majesty; He felt it was more important to remind us and show us how much He loved us.  Pride would never have allowed that! He exercised humility by coming as a human to earth knowing full well that many people would not believe Him.  He risked total rejection to give us a chance for salvation.  He could have come in a way that no one would deny His Lordship; however, He chose to live among us.  He chose to come as the very thing that He created rather than coming as the Creator.  He came to a world that is wounded, broken, and full of pain in order to display the greatest act of love this world will ever witness.

So, when I feel the need to get what I deserve through the ugliness of pride I need to remember that Christ did not come to get what was due to Him; He came to take the punishment I earned.  That is the attitude of Christ, and that is the attitude He wants to see in us.  Humility never betrays because when I respond with an attitude of humility, I show Christ's love rather than self-love.

Do you display the humility of our Creator coming to earth as a human?

Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Only God Is God And Human

John 1:1-18

I love Christmas, and my reasons are different today than when I was a child.  As a child, Christmas was exciting because I knew that meant that I would get a lot of gifts.  I enjoyed the story of Christ coming to earth and enjoyed going to church to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  However, as an adult I am touched beyond words that our Messiah would humble Himself and become human in order to give us life.  Today, I am starting week four of my "Only God" study.  So far, I have studied how God is the only God, only God is our Provider, and only God is our Creator.  This week, I am studying that only God is both God and human.  It is an amazing truth that Christianity is built on and I want to look at this truth and what that means for all people.  Since I looked at God as our Creator just last week, I thought that it would be great to show the perspective of where Jesus entered the scene.  Please look up John 1:1-18.

Throughout last week, I explored how God spoke all of creation into existence, but I didn't focus on what exactly that meant in relation to Jesus.  Thinking of Genesis 1, John 1 gives us an idea of where Jesus was.  We are told that in the beginning was the Word [of God].  Just as we read in Genesis 1, John 1 tells us that God created the world through His Word.  We also see that the Word gave life to everything.  If you scroll down a few verses to John 1:14 it tells us, "So the Word became human and made his home among us.  He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.  And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son."  So we now are getting a glimpse of the fact that the Word is God and He became human.  We also see that the Word is God's Son.  Putting all that knowledge together, we know that everything was created through Jesus.  1 Corinthians 8:6 says, "But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life."

Verse 16 tells us, "From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.  For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is Himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us."  God gifted us with unfailing love and faithfulness through Jesus and has revealed Himself through Jesus.  All this week, I plan to explore the fact that Jesus humbled Himself and came to earth so that we could be free.  It is the most incredible gift we have been given and one that should be celebrated every day of the year.

Do you believe that God loves you enough to humble Himself and become human?

Linking up with Sharing His Beauty.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Memory Verse #24!

James 1:5-6

I cannot believe that I just typed "Memory Verse #24!"  This has been quite a journey throughout the year as I experienced God's Word truly doing an active work in my heart.  I began this as a challenge that Beth Moore issued on her blog to plant God's Word in our hearts, but it has been so life changing that I do not want to stop.  With that said, my small group has begun Beth Moore's new Bible study on the book of James and she encourages (not requires) participants to memorize the book of James over a period of five months.  I have no idea if I will have it done in five months (although I will try), but that is my focus as I approach the new year.  So, without further ado, I introduce you to my last memory verses of 2012:  James 1:5-6.

Verse 5 has always been an encouraging verse to me because I want to have wisdom to know how to behave, respond (not react), and live as a child of God.  This is a promise that if we ask God for wisdom we can trust that He will give it to us.  I believe that wisdom is a gift that God gives freely, yet it should be highly treasured.    And this verse also tells us that God will never rebuke us for asking for wisdom because this is the kind of gift that God delights in giving us.

Verse 6 is warning and a piece of wisdom handed down to us when James tells us not to waver in our belief of God.  We are given a word picture of a wave tossed about by the wind.  If we allow ourselves to be tossed about in our belief, we will be like the picture above and eventually crash onto shore or into an obstacle such as the picture above.  Stand firm and believe that what God says is truth.

Do you believe and ask God for wisdom?

Linking up with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Our Creator Is Our Redeemer

Chestnut Ridge, Orchard Park NY

Isaiah 54:4-6

I like this picture because this is a tree that decided it didn't matter what obstacles the roots faced, it was still going to grow.  The roots of the tree decided to grow on top of the limestone ridge until it could find some more soil to dig into.  When you think about the way God created trees, He made them to grow in environments that just doesn't seem to allow anything to grow.  He created them to seek out a more fertile soil to grow in, and He created us to seek Him.  Before we know Him, we know something is missing and we keep searching, but when we find Him, we find a love to sink our roots into and plant ourselves firmly so we can grow.  Life without God can be like that limestone; it is not good ground to sink our roots into.  But there is a hope for all those difficulties life throws at us once we know our Creator.  He can turn any difficulty into something that reflects His glory.  Please turn to Isaiah 54:4-6.

Those verses are so beautiful to me; especially because I struggled with shame from my childhood for many years before I believed how God saw me.  I was kind of like the roots of this tree knowing that God had something more for me and tried to find a place to sink my roots into.  I was still growing, but not in the way God wanted me to grow.  I knew He was my Creator and that He loved me, but I just didn't understand what that meant for me here on earth.  Once I began to fully grasp and understand His unending love for me I found my roots digging deep down in the rich soil of His love.  When I believed in His love and how He saw me as His beloved child, my shame was stripped away.

All this week, I have looked at the fact that only God created the world and what that means for us.  Today, consider what God is telling us in these verses.  Our Creator will one day be our husband.  Our Creator is the one who redeems us.  Things like sorrow and shame will be forgotten - they will not even be a distant memory!  What a beautiful promise for those who believe in their Creator's love for them and choose to follow Him.  God created the world, He created beauty, He created you and breathed His breath in you, and He loves you.  Our Creator wants to spend eternity with us; that is amazing and wonderful to me.

Do you believe in your Creator's love for you?  Are you sinking your roots deep down into His love?

Linking up with Brag On God Friday and Gathering At the Internet Cafe.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Breath of God

Victoria Falls
Genesis 2:7

I have focused on posts in the past about how we are children of God once we choose to believe in the gift of grace given to us through Jesus.  I've looked at what that means for us as His children and how we can live with confidence knowing that we are dearly loved.  Earlier in the week I looked at the creation story, but today I want to explore the creation of man and woman.  I want to look at what it means to be created by our loving Father and Creator.  Please turn to Genesis 2:7.

A friend pointed out to me that we were created entirely different from everything else in creation.  Looking at Genesis 1, we can see that the world was created by God speaking it into existence.  In Genesis 2:7, we see that God formed man.  I think that is awesome, because if He wanted to speak us into existence, He could have.  Instead, He formed us.  Look at Genesis 2:21-24.  Once again, we see that God didn't just speak woman into existence; instead, God formed her from the man.  Now look back at Genesis 1:26-27.  We see that we were created in God's image!  God made us unique from everything else He created because we are made in His image.  The last thing that I want to point out is back in Genesis 2:7, where we see that God breathed "the breath of life" into Adam.

So, we know that we are formed in His image and have His breath in us.  What a beautiful thought!  To me, this makes the whole creation of human seem so much more intimate.  I love the idea that we have the breath of God in us - the breath of life.  As I have looked at what it means that God is our creator, it is wonderful to see that He loves us enough to give us His breath.

Are you living as though you have God's breath in you?

Linking up with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Our Creator Knows Our Troubles

Isaiah 40:27-31

All this week, I am including pictures of God's creation.  Monday's picture was the backyard of the duplex we just moved out of, Tuesday's picture is at Letchworth State Park (which is known as the "Grand Canyon of the East") and is about an hour and half east of where we live.  Even though I am not a fan of cold weather and driving in snow, God knew that I would enjoy the immense beauty of what He created in Western New York.  Today's picture is of a sunset at Lake Erie in November - only God could craft something so simple yet so breath taking!  This picture was taken with the camera on my cell phone while my family was walking along the shore.  For some people, the idea that God created all this diversity and beauty makes them believe that He is above all our worries and troubles, but that is so far from the truth!  Please turn to Isaiah 40:27-31.

I think these are beautiful verses full of hope and love!  Just as God created amazing wonders such as the Grand Canyon or Victoria Falls, he also created simple pleasures such as a sunset on Lake Erie.  In fact, I love the idea of sunsets, because the colors that are found in the sunset happen because of clouds or some other type of pollution.  It is when the sun gets closer to the horizon that it shines through those elements and creates different colors in the sky.  I remember my mom explaining that some of the magnificent sunsets we were seeing in 1980 were a result of the ash that was thrown into the atmosphere from Mount Saint Helens.  You see, God has a way of turning our problems and troubles into beauty when we let Him shine through them.

So, if God can make something not so great into a beautiful sunset with simplicity, what makes us think that He cannot understand our troubles?  I love verse 28, "Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding."  Our troubles are not too much for Him, nor do they overwhelm Him.  We can trust in our wonderful and powerful Creator and know that He cares.  Isaiah 46:4 says, "I will be your God throughout your lifetime, even when your hair is white with age.  I made you and I will care for you.  I will carry you along and save you."  We can trust that our Creator cares.

We are told in verse 31 that when we put our trust in Him, we will find new strength and we will soar like the eagles.  What an incredible promise!  Not only will God care for us and help us with our troubles, our strength will be renewed and will not grow weary.  We can believe that not only is nothing too great for our God, but nothing is too small for Him to notice as well.

Are you putting your trust in our loving Creator?  Do you believe that He cares about all of your troubles - big and small?

Linking up with iFellowship Blog Hop and Word Filled Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

God Is No Idol!

Jeremiah 10:12-16

Last night, as my husband and I were heading out for the evening, we had a beautiful view of the moon.  In our new home, we are surrounded by trees (which I love) and the moon was still low on the horizon and bright orange.  When we were getting in to the car, we saw it peeking through the bottom of the trees and it was amazing.  It immediately reminded of what an amazing Creator we have!  Only God could have thought of creating the moon that would have a different view each evening, reflecting different colors throughout the year.  Throughout the ages, there have been societies that worshiped the moon (or feared the moon) rather than worshiped the Creator of the moon.  Please read Jeremiah 10:12-16 to see God's view of worshiping anything other than the Almighty Creator.

Jeremiah 10:12 says, "But God made the earth by His power, and he preserves it by His wisdom."  There was no other power that created the earth, only God with His unending power.  The Israelites were surrounded by pagan societies that had an image for their gods.  The Israelites; however, had no image to show who they worshiped.  I think we still struggle with that today and want to have an image to God.  He is a complete mystery to us because we cannot see Him or physically touch Him.  I wonder if that is the reason that we sometimes mix things up a bit and find ourselves worshiping something that was created rather than the Creator Himself.

Since the cultures of the day had many gods and images to worship, they created idols to represent their gods and goddesses.  God had some strong words for the people who create idols:  foolish, disgraced, and they are without knowledge.  God also says this of idols:  "These idols have no breath or power.  Idols are worthless; they are ridiculous lies!"  He calls idols ridiculous lies - that is a very strong statement!  People could choose to worship the only living God and Creator of everything, and instead they carve something from wood or stone and set it on an alter to worship it.

God is not an idol and He controls the universe - everything is in His hands.  We may look at this section of scripture and think that we have everything figured out better than the Israelites and the ancient pagan cultures; however, we create our own idols even now.  Money is created by human hands and has become central to everything we do.  We may not literally bow down to it; however, money dictates how we live our lives - it dictates how we spend our time.  Money isn't evil; however, it is too easy to misplace our trust in money rather than the creator of the universe.

Do you put your trust and worship to an empty idol or in the One and Only Living God?

Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Only God Is Creator

Genesis 1

I am starting my third week of my "Only God" study, where I am looking at how we could declare, "Only God!" in our lives.  The first week I explored how God is really the only god and last week I studied how only God is our provider.  This week, I want to look at how only God is our Creator.  I am blessed to work at a church, where sitting right across from me is a pastor who used to teach at a seminary, so I attempt to glean as much information as I can from him.  He told me something very interesting about a speculation as to why God has the creation story in the Bible, but it was over a month ago so hopefully I'm remembering it correctly.  He said that when God had Moses write the first five books of the Bible, they were surrounded by poly-theistic societies, meaning that they worshiped several deities.  Even the culture they left behind in Egypt had different gods the Egyptians recognized.  So, when God declared Himself the Creator of everything, He was establishing the fact that He was the Most High God in addition to being the only God.  I thought that was interesting.  Please read the creation story found in Genesis 1.

I grew up in the church and went to a parochial school, so I have heard the creation story countless times; however, I love reading the story in the Bible!  It seems that I am reminded of something each time I read it.  If you are like me and have heard and read the story more times that you can remember, try reading it in a different version from what you normally read to get a fresh perspective.  If you use the link I created for Genesis 1, it will take you to BibleGateway.com, where you can choose any version you would like to read from.

When you read through the account of creation, you don't get details on it everything except that God spoke everything into existence.  I don't know about you, but it amazes me that God is so powerful that He spoke everything into existence.  He didn't need anything other than His spoken word.  I am always humbled and amazed when I think of the power of His Word and His amazing creativity.  This morning, as I am typing this out I am next to a table in my living room that has a Christmas cactus and violets on the top.  The contrast between the two both in looks and type of flower and even the difference between their need for watering shows His amazing creativity.  Looking out my window, I am seeing a huge variety of trees and plants with a creek running through it covered lightly with snow.  How did God think of all this?  It makes me want to worship Him all the more.

When was the last time you exalted God as Creator of everything?  When was the last time you allowed yourself to be amazed by His creativity and power?

Linking up with The Beauty In His Grip.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Through Christ

John 15:5-8

Last week, I had asked for prayer as I spoke to over 500 women and I am so blessed to say that God was there!  I had been praying that everything I said would be led by the Holy Spirit, and the very things I felt heavily impressed to share were the very things that I have gotten the most feedback on.  I shared my testimony, which isn't an easy story to share, but God led me to focus on the things He wanted me to focus on.  I love it when He shows up and we get to be a part of it!  It did get me thinking today about how it was only possible for me to do what I did through Him.  Also, I am who I am only by the work He has done in me.  As I was thinking about that (again), these verses came across my plate today - John 15:5-8.

Knowing that apart from Him I am completely lost makes me want to be permanently attached to Him. I don’t want to do life without Him; however, these verses indicate that it is possible to not remain in Christ. The visual we are given is that when we do not remain in Him, we are like a branch that falls off the vine and dries up. Since it is Christmas, that visual is real as people use boughs off of fir trees to decorate and make wreaths. By the end of the Christmas season, they are not looking as good because they are no longer alive and they are in the process of drying up.

I don’t want to be like a dead, dried up branch. Jesus tells us how to prevent that from happening in our hearts in verse 7 when He says, “But if you remain in me and my words remain in you…”  How do we do that?  I believe that in order to remain in Him, I need to spend time in prayer.  Not just prayer asking for needs, but prayer just seeking Him.  To remain in His word is to spend time in the Bible.  These things keep our relationship from going stagnant.

After spending a week on God's provision, I love that we receive when we seek Him.  We bear fruit to bring glory to God.  I want my life to reflect my beautiful Savior!  I don't want the glory, all glory goes to my Heavenly Father!

Linking up with Spiritual Sundays.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Where Do We Store Our Riches?

Luke 12:13-21

All week long, I have looked at how God is the only One who truly provides for us.  We may think that by working hard we are independent and self-reliant; however, the reality is that God is in complete control and provides for us through our jobs, natural events, and by using other people.  I explored the fact that because He provides for our needs so generously, we should be used by Him to provide for the needs of others.  Today, the verses I am looking at is a little hard to read because it takes a look at how God views selfishness.  Please turn to Luke 12:13-21.

One thing that I noticed while my husband and I were moving was that we own a lot of stuff that we are no longer using.  Sometimes carrying a literal burden such as boxes and boxes of books has a way of opening your eyes to what you have that is not necessary.  The reality is, if we didn't have room to store the books in our apartment, did we really need them?  The parable that Jesus is telling in these verses shows a similar problem.  The farmer had fertile ground that produced more crops than he could use.  In fact, the harvest didn't even fit in his barns.  Instead of using the excess that was given to him to give to the poor, he stored up what he would never be able to use anyway.

Jesus calls the farmer a fool because no one (including himself) will ever get to enjoy the blessings that were given to him.  I think this is an important point to show how this makes God feel.  Earlier this year, on of my children desperately wanted a particular item for their birthday.  My husband and I happily gave it to them only to watch it sitting unused.  We didn't spend a lot of money on this item; however, it is disappointing seeing no one using this item.  When we are selfishly holding on to the good things that God has given us without using it ourselves, it hurts God.  This was a gift given to us either to provide a need or to share with others.  Our comfort doesn't need to come in the fact that we own the item.

Jesus reminds us that it is far more important to be storing up our treasures in the kingdom of God.  In verse 21 He says, “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”  Our relationship with God should be getting richer each day - that is what God wants from us.  As we build up our relationship with God, we will develop perspective on our "things."

Are you building a rich relationship with God or are you storing riches on earth?

Linking up with Brag On God Friday.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Trust In Money or God?

1 Timothy 6:17-19

This summer, my husband and I were blessed by a trip to Disney that his parents provided for the entire family.  This was a trip that we wouldn't have been able to provide at this point in time and we were so grateful for their gift.  Over the years, my husband and I have witnessed God's provision in amazing ways, and I felt Him impress on my heart that He enjoys giving to us.  But through this trip, I saw how God pointed out that He enjoys giving us fun as well.  Even with all His provision that I have experienced, I still find myself panicking when a need surpasses our budget.  I find myself trusting more in the money which feels tangible, rather putting my absolute trust in God.  The Bible is very clear that the opposite should happen; please look up 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

These verses tell us that we shouldn't put our trust in money which is unreliable.  What seems to be a reliable and tangible thing to trust in, proves to be unreliable.  Our trust should be put in God, because He is the only One who provides.  This verse tells us that God even provides things for our enjoyment.  Earlier this week, I looked at the fact that when we make His kingdom our priority, He will provide all our needs.  Yesterday, I explored that He provides generously so that He can use us to provide for the needs of others.  When we read through these verses, we are reminded again that God provides for us so we can share His blessings with others.

The other thing that I noticed is that we are reminded to do good things.  Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we have been created anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things that God has planned for us long ago.  So, one way to look at these verses is that He provides us all we need to do the good things He planned for us.  Instead of storing up treasures for ourselves in a life that will end, we will be storing up treasures for our eternal life with Christ.  When we do these things, we bring glory to God, who provides both our needs and things that we can enjoy.  We just need to keep our perspective on why God has given us these things and keep our trust in Him.  When we trust Him, we are more willing to share what He has given us.

Are you trusting God or money?  Do you trust God enough with your provision to share with others?

Linking up with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

God Gives So We Give

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

During the Christmas season, we hear messages of generosity.  People donate to food banks during the holiday season more than any other time of year.  Various businesses and churches may have a giving tree on display so people can buy Christmas gifts for families in need.  This is a wonderful way to reach out to others and even be able to do so anonymously.  In fact, it is wonderful to see that for many people Christmas isn't all about getting gifts, it is about giving to others.  For those who follow Christ, it isn't just a good idea to give generously to those in need, it is something we are told to do.  As I have been exploring how only God provides our needs, I want to look at what our response should be.  Please look up 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.

Paul begins with an analogy about a farmer who plants seeds; he either plants sparingly or generously.  Whatever he plants is what he sows.  I have heard this used to tell people that if they give generously, they will receive generously; however, I believe that is taking this verse out of context.  If you continue to read further on in this chapter you will see that Paul comes back to the farming analogy again in verse 10, "For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you." God is the one who provides seed for the farmer to sow! I think the way to look at these verses is that God gives to each person so they can give generously to those in need.

Verse 11 tells us that the reason that we receive from God so we can give to others. Paul explains that there are two things that happen when we give generously: the needs of others will be met and in return they will give God the glory. All of this is to give glory to God. I think all of this happens when we have a healthy perspective on who is the one who is our Provider. When we remember that everything that we have comes from God and it all really belongs to Him, we can have a more generous outlook when it comes to our money and possession.

What about the Christ followers who are out of work and are on the receiving end? This economy has been hard on many families who are on the receiving end of generosity for the first time. There are other ways that we are able to give generously. You have other gifts that God wants you to share with others. Perhaps you are an organizer and could help organize efforts to help others in need. Perhaps you have the gift of encouragement and you could visit and encourage those who are unable to leave their home or you could visit a nursing home. Perhaps you could generously give of your time by volunteering at your church or a local ministry while the kids are at school.

No matter what God has given you, He has also given you the opportunity to share it with others. Sometimes we can be in a spot where it can be difficult to see how can do it; pray to God to reveal what it is that He would like you to do and He will reveal it to you. Remember, the greatest gift He has given us is His unfailing love and grace and we are to share that with others. One way to share His love is to give to others. God gives to us so we will give to others.

Do you remember where your gifts come from? Do you remember who your Provider is? Are you giving to others out of the love you have received from God?

Linking up with iFellowship Blog Hop and Word Filled Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Only God Knows What We Need

Matthew 6:25-34

When I was in middle school, there was a Christian song that was popular called, "Shopping List."  This was a song that was meant to be funny; however, it also had an important message that God doesn't exist to give us everything we want.  It was about the Christian who only came to God when they wanted something.  I heard this message in multiple places, so I became cautious of asking God for anything and then I would be full of worry because I wasn't trusting in Him.  Now swing the pendulum in the other direction and consider the teachings that tell us that when we are in a relationship with God, we can be living the life.  There is a belief that if we have enough faith, whatever we ask of God we will receive.  There has to be a balance in there somewhere! This week, I am looking at the fact that only God is our Provider and today I want to look at how only God knows what we truly need.  Please read Matthew 6:25-34.

In these verses, I actually feel like Jesus is telling us that God knows what we need even better than we know what we need.  I think of it kind of like parenting a young baby.  When a baby is born, he/she may not be able to interpret their discomfort and understand that their diaper needs to be changed; however, the parent can understand that a dirty diaper is not healthy and will put a clean diaper on the baby.  I even remember my infant children protesting loudly as I was changing their but then becoming very happy when a dry diaper was put on them.  Just as the parent will always feed, change and care for their child God will always care for us.  We are told in verse 33 that instead of worrying about our needs, we are to seek the kingdom of God more than anything else and God will supply all our needs.

This doesn't mean that we are not to ask God for anything, but that shouldn't be the purpose for our living.  When we are seeking God for convenience, that is when we could face a crisis of faith.  If our relationship with God is based on perfect health and comfortable living we may find ourselves struggling when God doesn't provide to us in that way.  But there is also a balance because we shouldn't be depending solely on ourselves for our needs - that just leads to a life full of stress.  When we forget that God is our Provider, the worries of life will take over.  Jesus tells us that those kind of worries are what dominate the thoughts of unbelievers.  Seeking God's kingdom and righteous living are to be for God's children and we can trust that God knows what we need.  It makes me wonder what I am sure that I need that God knows is really a want.

Do you trust that God knows your needs and will provide?  Do you seek after God above all else?

Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays and Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Only God Is Our Provider

Jeremiah 14:22

I just moved to a house last week, and we moved so much stuff that we are not even using - to the point where we are planning to go through it all to give what we are not using to someone who could use it.  I was keeping things just in case I would need it again some day.  Instead, I should trust that God will provide what I need when I need it.  This week, as I continue on in my "Only God" study I want to explore how Only God is our provider.  Please look up Jeremiah 14:22.

Jeremiah 14 talks of the drought that God sent on Israel because they were not obeying Him.  Israel was surrounded by countries that worshiped pagan gods that sometimes required child sacrifice.  Unfortunately, Israel often found itself getting mixed up in the pagan worship of false gods.  God had given Israel warnings through the prophets only to see them return to their pagan worship.  God explains to Jeremiah that the Israel was suffering from the lack of rain due to their behavior.  Israel had turned so far from God that even the prophets were lying to the Israelites in their prophecies telling them that God would not bring war or famine.  Jeremiah 14:22 is the prayer that Jeremiah called out to God.

It is so easy for us to look at the Israelites and wonder how it was that they could worship a god that didn't exist and used pagan practices while praying to gods such as Baal and Ashtorath.  They prayed to pagan gods of fertility for provision rather to the One and Only God who would have been delighted to hear their prayers.  But we do it as well, and sometimes I think those of us who live in a "Western" culture struggle with this even more.  How often do we depend on our money to give us what we need?  We easily find comfort in our stuff.  It is even to the point where we have mixed up the difference between needs and wants.  This verse reminds us that only God is the one who can really provide what we need (including the rain).

Are you depending on your money or things, or are you depending on God as your Provider?

Linking up with Sharing His Beauty.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Memory Verse # 23

James 1:2-4

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."

Troubles are an opportunity for joy?  Not just joy - great joy.  How does that work?  I don't know about you, but it is hard when I am facing trials to have joy.  I think some of it is perspective.  I have had trials through life, and when I learn to give them to God, I grow closer to Him and He grows my faith.  It is when I am on the other side of the trial that I see that I am becoming more of the person that Christ wants me to be.  I also see that I have something new to share with people how God is working in my life.  Afterward, I can have joy because of what God has done.  But trials as an opportunity for great joy?


According to blueletterbible.com, the word chara is the Greek for joy.  It can mean "the cause or occasion of joy - of person's who are one's joy," (see footnote 1).  I began to think about that and how God is my joy.  All this year, God has been showing me focus - focus on Him.  I think when we are in a time of struggling or trials, we can keep our focus on Him.  When I focus on Him and all He has done for me, I am so overwhelmed by love and joy that it nearly brings me to my knees.  When we can learn to change our focus on to Him in the midst of a trial, we can learn endurance (which can mean continuing on in our faith even when it is difficult).  Through the refocusing and endurance, we really can have joy knowing that God has something great He is doing in us.


Some of you are in the middle of great trials right now, and I want you to know that God is with you.  You are not alone.  Pray for the ability to focus on God - it is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that you are able to do it.  Even if you have to take it moment by moment, pray for eyes to see God working in you.  We have a great God who does great things and we can have joy knowing that He is greater than everything.


Linking up with Brag on God Friday.


You can read my post on Hope at Seeds of Faith Women.


1. Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for chara (Strong's 5479)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 2 Dec 2011. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Strongs=G5479&t=NLT >

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Update

Hi Everyone!  As I take a quick lunch break at work I just wanted to update you and let you know that our move is complete.  Now I just feel scattered and disorganized!  I shared with you that I am sharing my testimony in an earlier post, and that is coming up tomorrow and Saturday.  I wrote out my talk; however, I ask for your prayers that I will say only what God wants me to say.  Please pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to guide me.  Next week, I will be up and running again.  My internet is supposed to be installed today. (Yeah!)