Saturday, June 29, 2013

Prayer Update

Our preparations for going to Zambia are stepping up even more!  I just wanted to let you know that I updated our prayer requests for this mission trip and you can read them here:  http://sharonstimewithgod.blogspot.com/p/zambia-report.html

Please continue to lift us up in prayer; it is the greatest gift you could give us!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Shame Rolled Away

I think one of the greatest hindrances to the ministry God has called us to is our shame.  No matter who you are there is something in your past that you wish you could do over.  No one is perfect which also means that we all wish there were mistakes that we could take out of our past.  Some are small and some are big and we have an enemy who likes to bring  those moments back to our minds, especially if we are stepping into something new that God has planned for us.  Sometimes our shame isn't from something we've done, but from something that has been done to us.  It is almost as if it is one last chance of stopping us from claiming the promises that God has given us.  This morning, I am continuing on in my unprepared study by looking at what happened with the Israelites after they crossed the Jordan River.  Please use the link and read Joshua 5:1-12.

First, I want to point out that in the first few verses, we read that all the kings throughout the region were afraid of the Israelites because of what God had done for them at the Jordan River.  I think this is important because something we need to remember is that when we are stepping out in faith and we begin to do what God has called us to do, we have an enemy who doesn't like to see what is happening.  I believe that is why he uses shame as a way to stop us from moving forward.  The Israelites had their own shame that they were carrying.  They were slaves or the children of slaves. In fact this entire generation hadn't even been circumcised, which was a sign of God's promise.  So, not only were they slaves, they didn't even have the physical mark of God's promise that He had commanded.

But that wasn't going to stop God because God Himself has no shame.  God can dismiss shame and that is exactly what He did at Gilgal.  He told the Israelites to be circumcised and when they obeyed, God told them that he rolled away their shame from their slavery.  This may not sound like a big deal, but it is!  Think of what bothers you from your past.  What is in your past that you hope other people don't find out?  What do you wish didn't exist?  Or maybe everyone knows about your past and you don't think that God could use you because of what you believe people perceive about you?  Shame has a way of stopping us from going forward because it is also full of lies.  But, there is something to remember - God is the One who takes away our shame.

I want to show you a few New Testament verses in relation to our shame.  Luke 24:1-3 says, "But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.  So they went in, but they didn't find the body of the Lord Jesus."  Jesus died because of our sin; He took our shame to the cross.  But three days later the stone that held Jesus in the tomb was rolled away and He rose from the dead!  We have all even experienced a spiritual circumcision; Colossians 2:11 (NLT) says, "When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature."  How incredible is that!?  Romans 10:9-11 (NIV) says, "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  As Scripture says, 'Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.'"  What amazing promises we have!

I don't know about you, but I would rather believe that when God rolled away that stone from Christ's grave He also rolled away our shame.  Christ shares His victory over death with us when we believe Him!  We can believe that we have no shame in Christ.  Instead, God can take those moments of shame and use them for His purpose and show His victory.

Do you beleive that God has rolled away your shame?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Do These Stones Mean?

I used to do a lot of scrap booking when my kiddos were younger; in fact, I used to sell scrap booking supplies and teach classes.  However, as my life got increasingly busier I found it harder to keep up.  I discovered digital software that allows me to make my scrap books on my computer and send it off to have the pages printed for me.  All I have to do is insert the pages in my scrap book!  This discovery was huge for me because I love having pictures, especially pictures of special moments.  It is fun to go through pictures and remember the family times and special moments.  This method has made it more likely that I will have my pictures organized in a way that me and my family will look through.  Going through the story of Joshua crossing the Jordan River made me think of pictures because cameras were thousands of years from being invented.  They had a different way of marking important moments.  Please use the link and read Joshua 4:1-9.

In these verses, we see that this moment was so huge that God told Joshua to take twelve stones out of the river to mark this moment.  Joshua piled the stones at Gilgal and in the river.  Notice what he told the Israelites in Joshua 4:6-7.  He said that later when their children asked, "What do these stones mean?" they would be able to tell them that they were there as a reminder of when God stopped the flow of the Jordan River.  That is absolutely incredible to me!  It makes me think of the great things God has done in my life and wonder how I mark those moments in a way that will make future generations ask, "What does this mean?"

There have been so many moments big and small that God has moved in my life.  How am I sharing those moments with others so that God is given the glory and so that it can build into the faith of other believers?  How am I passing on the incredible things God does even today?  How about you?

How are you marking the God moments in your life?  How are you sharing those moments in a way that will make people see the mighty work of God?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Touching the Water's Edge

This summer, my entire family is going to Zambia as part of a mission team to teach at a music academy.  We are so excited and so blessed that God has given our family this opportunity to serve Him together!  But, there are a lot of things to juggle in the process since my husband and I are also leading the team.  I have been learning that instead of always looking at the larger picture of everything we need to do for both the team and our family that I just need to take each day and look at what I need to accomplish for that day.  Some of the tasks are very small and only take a few minutes and other tasks require scheduling a larger chunk of time to get things done, such as doctor appointments to make sure we are all up to date on our immunizations.  Some tasks while they take time are simple steps and other tasks that seem small feel like very big steps.  For example, while it takes no time out of my day, each and every day I find myself having to let go and trust God's provision for our family's cost for the trip.  No time spent; however, it is a big leap every time I think about it and then hand it over to God.  We all have those things that require little or no time but feel like we're taking a huge leap because of the amount of faith it takes.  Today, I want to finish looking at the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River; please use the link and read Joshua 3:14-17.

Every time I read about this story, it is always so interesting to me.  This was a new generation of Israelites that basically only remembered God doing great things.  They grew up seeing Him part the Red Sea and healing the bitter waters at Marah.  They grew up to witness amazing miracles while they wandered in the desert.  I wonder if they thought that they would cross the Jordan the same way they crossed the Red Sea.  With the Red Sea, God parted it before they stepped foot on the bed of the Sea.  However, God didn't part the waters first this time.  This time, He wanted them to step out in faith first.  He wanted their feet to feel the water before He cleared the water.  Do you see a progression of expectations as their faith in Him grew?

You see, the Israelites at the Red Sea were people who had just been freed from slavery.  Even though they saw the plagues in Egypt and experienced their deliverance, they still felt like slaves running away.  You see that in their reaction as they approached the Red Sea - they thought that Moses brought them there to their death.  But God knew what they needed in order to build their faith in Him; He parted the Red Sea to show His mighty power and protection.  He showed them that there were times when He would fight their battles for them.  But the generation of Israelites that were approaching the Jordan River were a different people.  These were people who spent most of their lives not as slaves but as Bedouins longing for a home.  These were people who witnessed God's mighty works throughout their lives.  God wanted to grow them even more by having them take a step that was seemingly small physically but so giant in their faith.

Have you ever noticed that God doesn't ever seem to do things the same?  I guess if He did, where would be the growth in faith?  We get to witness His incredible creativity, and He grows us in the process.  But we have to be willing to take the small steps that require huge faith; we have to touch the water's edge.  We need to feel the cool water touch our toes and make them a little wet in order to see God stop the flooding waters.

Where is God wanting you to touch the water's edge?  Can you trust that He will do great things and stop the flood waters to let you pass to the other side?

This post is linked with Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, June 24, 2013

To Be A Part of the Plan

I really enjoy watching sporting events such as gymnastics because I am always amazed what the gymnasts are able to do.  Sometimes they seem to do things that a human shouldn't be able to do.  Or what about last week at the US Open Golf championship when Shawn Stefani had a hole in one?  I know it isn't impossible, but what are the chances?  Or how about the seemingly flawless performance of a difficult piece by a musician.  The thing with all those events is that while most of us cannot do them, there really are humans who are gifted and can do them!  But then there are those moments when we get to witness the unmistakable hand of God; such as when someone is healed from a disease that modern medicine had no chance of healing.  That truly is exciting!  The thing that is even crazier is when God chooses to use humans to demonstrate His power.  Even though He doesn't need a human to work with Him, He chooses to empower us so we can experience Him all the more.  The story I am looking at is a moment when God didn't need to have humans participate in His miracle, but He made them fully engaged in the miracle and grew their faith all the more.  Please use the link and read Joshua 3:5-13.

This story amazes me every time I read it!  There are so many things going on to consider, but I want to focus on one thing today.  It is the idea that God told Joshua that He was going to make him a great leader in the eyes of the Israelites; however, notice what Joshua said to the Israelites.  He told them that God would confirm that He was among them because God was going to lead them across the Jordan river.  In our reading tomorrow, we'll see that it was harvest season and the Jordan was at flood stage.  Even now, we all stay away from a river at flood stage, so imagine how incredible that statement was to the Israelites.  But Joshua, instead of telling them that God was making him a great leader, he told the Israelites that God was doing great things.

The reason God chose Joshua was because he had faith and believed God, but he also was humble enough to know that the great things were done by God and not by humans.  God gave Joshua the instructions, but Joshua still had to step out in faith and give the instructions to everyone else.  But even before Joshua had the instructions, in verse 5 we read that he was already telling the Israelites that God was going to do great things.  Oh, this is such an important thing for me to remember because I am a planner.  I like to have a plan and know what is next; however, God only reveals the part of the plan we need to know at the moment we need to know it.  He may tell us that He is going to provide for us, but we have no idea how or what He is going to use to provide.  However, we can trust that God will do what He says He will do and even though we cannot see the plan, He knows His plan and will engage us in the plan at the right time.  Joshua's faith in God allowed him to be used as a part of God's plan.  He knew that God would do great things and we can know that God still does great things even if we don't know the plan.  I sure want to be a part of God's plans!

Do you believe God will do what He says He will do?  Do you want to be a part of His plans?  Do you trust Him even when you don't know the plan?

This post is linked with Motivating Monday.

Friday, June 21, 2013

God Goes Before

My husband was bit by a rattle snake.  Several years ago, my mom gifted our family with a two week trip around the state of Arizona.  My step dad lived there his entire life and he gave us a tour of some of the highlights in Arizona.  In a period of two weeks, we put three thousand miles on our rental van just in Arizona alone!  One of the places he took us was in an area where the locals call "Devil's Canyon."  This was a place that had unusual piles of boulders that were placed in such a way that it looked like God pulled a bunch of boulders out of His pockets and threw them on the ground.  We were at a museum in this area that had walking paths all around it, so we decided to take a walk.  We were warned to stay on the paths because the staff said that rattle snakes were abundant on the grounds during that time of year, but they usually stayed away from the path.  Long story short...my husband saw an interesting boulder that he thought would make a cool family picture.  I didn't like the idea of running into a snake, so I said that it was a bad idea.  My husband offered to go first in between the boulders to calm my fears and that is when he got bit.  It was just a warning bite and he was fine; however, it definitely added some drama to our trip for a short time!  If we would have let one of the kids go in there first, they would have been bitten; however, my husband knew there was some risk and went first.  God does that for us as well; please use the link and read Joshua 2:23 - 3:5.

When the spies returned, they spoke their confirmation that God had given them the land.  They told the Israelites that the people living in Canaan were afraid of them.  Joshua's response was to move the camp early the next morning to the edge of the Jordan River.  The Israelite officers told the people to let the Ark of the Covenant to go first and to stay a half mile behind.  God was among the Israelites through the Ark of the Covenant, so this meant that God was going before them and clearing their path.  This is such an important thing to remember even now.  When God calls us to something, it is important to remember that He goes before us.  This doesn't mean there will not be risk, but it does mean that He goes before us and clears the way.  When we keep Him before us instead of racing ahead, we will have the opportunity to see Him at work in our circumstances.

The next thing we read in these verses is the fact that Joshua told the people to purify themselves because God was going to do great things.  Something to remember is that when we make sure that we position ourselves so that God is going before us, we will be in a position to see the wonders of His hand.  The things that seem impossible are cleared away before us and increases our faith all the more.  But, we have to stay behind so God can go before us and do His work.  We can anticipate great things when God goes before us.

Do you keep God before you in your sight?  Do you anticipate seeing His works?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Is Your Scarlet Rope?

Yesterday, I left off in the middle of the story of Rehab and the spies, so I want to recap real quick before I jump in to what I want to look at today.  I looked at the fact that Rehab's belief in God was strong enough that it allowed her to make a couple of quick decisions based on her faith.  One thing that I didn't point out was the fact that she was a Canaanite, not an Israelite, yet she heard the stories of God's work that He was the God that she would place her faith in.  She made a declaration that He was above all in heaven and earth and she knew that without Him all was lost.  Today, I want to finish reading the story of her interaction with the Israelite spies; please use the link and read Joshua 2:12-24.

The spies gave an oath that they would protect her family when they came to attack Jericho only if she hung the scarlet rope in her window.  Rehab had such a strong resolve that she left that rope hanging from her window from that moment on (Joshua 2:21).  She could have taken it out of the window and waited until the word came that the Israelites were coming; however, she decided to keep it in the window the entire time!  That amazes me!  I think that it was great risk she took because it was evidence of her helping the spies, but she continued to stake her life on God rather than her fellow Jericho neighbors.  She had so much resolve based on her faith that she wasn't going to take that scarlet rope out of the window.

We can actually have the growth and faith in God to make the quick decisions that we sometimes have to make; however, we have to have the resolve to follow through.  Once again, Rehab left a wonderful example for us to consider.  Instead of putting away the rope to take out later, she left it out (with risk) and probably looked at it every day as a reminder of the oath the spies made with her.  I think of how that it so important when we make a godly decision.  The decision has been made, but what if you have to wait for the action or results?  What is the scarlet rope that needs to hang in the window?  What should we leave out in order for our faith to be displayed?  How can our scarlet rope be our reminder of the things to come?  When we leave our "scarlet rope" out, we can remember the good things that God has planned for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

What is your scarlet rope?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Seizing the Opportunity

Usually in life, we have time to pray about our decisions and to discuss opportunities with wise people.  However, sometimes we have to make a quick decision that requires a leap of faith.  We don't have time to go and discuss with our friends and family; we just have to make a decision.  It is in those moments when we should be relying on our faith and leaning on God to give us the wisdom and strength to make our decision.  The verses I am looking at in the Bible show us the faith of Rehab and how that shaped a couple of very important decisions that changed her life forever.  Please use the link and read Joshua 2:1-13.

In these verses, we see that Joshua sent two spies to go and see what conditions were like in Canaan, particularly in Jericho.  They found Rehab and she brought them into her home and protected them from soldiers looking for them.  That was her first quick decision she made that give us a hint of her faith.  The next thing she did was declare what she believed about God.  She told the spies that everyone was afraid because the God of the Israelites was the God of heaven and earth.  She knew there was no greater god.  In her declaration of faith in God, she asked the spies to guarantee her safety along with the rest of her family.

The thing I find interesting is that when she referenced the God of Israel, she used the name Yahweh.  This is the name that God called Himself when He first called Moses and this was the name the Israelites held sacred.  This shows us that His fame had already reached into Canaan.  Rehab declared that all of Canaan had heard the great works God had already done for the Israelites and she declared her faith in Him.  It was her faith in who God is that propelled her to make the decisions to hide the spies and ask for safety in return.

The thing that I keep thinking about is that it is such an incredible model for us today.  As we see that these very important decisions were based on what she knew and believed about God, we need to do the same.  There will be times when we are faced with an opportunity where a choice needs to be made.  Personally, I don't want to flounder in that moment; I want to have a faith that allows me to trust God.  Here comes my broken record moment: this faith is developed in a consistent walk with God.  If we only read the Bible every now and then or only pray when we have a great need, we really haven't taken the time to learn who God is.  Rehab had the time invested in hearing the stories about God and chose to believe.  How much time have you invested in learning about God by reading the Bible and talking with fellow believers?  How much time have you invested in prayer, learning to listen to God's voice?  The investment we make into our relationship with God now will help us at the moment when we don't have time.

Will you be prepared to seize the opportunity when it comes?

This post is linked with Winsome Wednesday.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Be Strong and Courageous

I don't know if this happens because we've been married for twenty years, but it is interesting how my husband and I often react exactly the same way with our kiddos.  For example, just this morning we both said exactly the same thing at the same time when one of our kids was looking for something.  Who knows, maybe it is because the answer was that simple or maybe it is because of consistency.  Either way, it was a clear message of what he needed to do because we both were obviously unified in our response.  There are times when God tells us something and we hear it multiple times from Him or He uses other people to confirm what we are hearing from Him.  When that happens, I know that it is something God wants to make sure I hear and understand.  As I continue on in my "Unprepared" study, I am looking at Joshua's call to lead the Israelites into Israel (Canaan).  Please use the link and read Joshua 1.

"Be strong and courageous."  In Joshua 1:6-9, God told Joshua to be strong and courageous 3 times.  I know when I tell my kids something three times, it is a clear message that it is important and they need to listen.  Setting aside the idea that a message like that could be overwhelming, God wanted to make sure that the message was clear and that Joshua would understand how important it was.  But notice Joshua's response.  He began to command the troops to prepare to enter the promise land.  He gave clear instructions that God was giving them the land and that everyone should get their possessions ready to move.  He wasn't just preparing for battle, he was preparing to win!  He believed God when God told Him that He was with him.

But I absolutely love what God did for Joshua next.  Notice the response Joshua got when he gave instructions to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh.  They let him know that they would follow and obey and then in verse 18, they said, "Be strong and courageous!"  I just cannot help but think of what a confirmation that had to be for Joshua's heart.  It was just another reminder that God gave him of the call that was placed on his life.  Joshua had been ready to inherit the land 40 years ago and he finally was going to experience God's amazing power going before them in the land of Canaan.  Joshua believed God's promises when he was younger, and he was still resolved to believe them 40 years later.  As a result, Joshua was given a large task with a lot of encouragement from God.

Just like Joshua modeled for us, when God sends us we can trust Him.  We can trust that God knows what He is doing and when we follow Him we will have the opportunity to see the amazing things He will do.  God doesn't need us to do anything; however, He chooses to use us so we can experience Him more intimately and fully.  He just wants us to prepare the troops and go when He sends us.  We can be strong and courageous when we remember that God already knows what He will accomplish.

Has God spoken a clear call for you?  Do you trust that He is with you?

This post is linked with Inspire Me Monday.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Missed Opportunity

The idea of standing in front of a group of people and talking was enough to send a great amount of fear through me.  In fact, if I knew weeks before hand that I was to stand up in front of the class to do a report or presentation, I would feel sick to my stomach from that moment on.  I suffered from terrible performance anxiety in high school and would find myself shaking from head to toe as I played a simple two or three measure solo in band (I still am not fond of playing solos, but I can handle it so much better, now!).  It is kind of crazy to think that I became a music major since I struggled so much in that area, but my love for music and desire to be a music therapist was stronger than my fear.  Even with that performance anxiety, I was still more comfortable playing a solo in front of people than standing up and speaking to a crowd.  I was in a big enough school that there were a couple of different classes that would help fulfill the state required credit for public speaking.  I took acting and interpretation because I knew that even though it still was scary, I would be up there with other people.  I survived high school and college, and actually was forced into many performance opportunities in music school that even though I was still very nervous I became better at handling it.  With all that said, reading through today's reading is something I relate to so much!  Moses also was afraid of public speaking!  Please use the link and read Exodus 4:1-17.

In Exodus 4:1 (NLT) we get to see another protest by Moses, "What if they won’t believe me or listen to me?"  Moses was already concerned about credibility.  Maybe his prior actions of murdering an abusive slave driver in front of the Israelites was coming back to his mind.  Maybe he just thought everything sounded so far fetched that he would come across as a mad man.  Who knows, but credibility was definitely a huge concern of his.  God's answer was to empower him with a couple of miracles to show that God's hand was on him and that he was really called to lead Israel out of Egypt.  Then Moses offered up one more protest in Exodus 4:10 (NLT), "O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled."  Oh, how I can relate to that!  What is inside my head never comes out right when I speak it.  It sounds so much better in my head, but I get tongue tied when I try to convey it to others.  But God's answer was to remind him who was the One who gave people speech and that He would be with Moses and give him the right words to say.

“Lord, please! Send anyone else.”  That was Moses' response in Exodus 4:13 (NLT).  Can you relate to this?  Can you relate to the feeling that this task was so much bigger and you felt that there was no way you would be able to accomplish it?  But this cry of Moses angered God.  God still provided for Moses by having Aaron do the speaking for him, but God really wanted Moses to do it.  You see, God had picked Moses for a unique job.  God has also picked you for a unique job.  This doesn't mean that you will be doing public speaking or leading thousands of people, but it does mean that God wired you to do the job that He has set aside for you.  He will use those who are willing to be used, so when we say "no," we miss an opportunity to see God's power at work.  Maybe part of the story would have been that despite Moses' tongue-tied speaking, everyone would have been convinced.  Or, maybe God would have made him an elegant speaker at the necessary moments.  We will never know, but we have the opportunity to see God's work in our lives.  We don't have to miss the opportunity to see what God does in spite of our weaknesses.

Will you say "yes" to God's call for you?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Who Am I To Do This Job?

I know a few people who have been on several mission trips.  No, not teens and college students who don't have to worry about family time and juggling vacation time at work.  I'm talking about adults who are still in the workforce and have gone on trips every year for the past several years while sacrificing vacation time.  When talking with one of my friends, they admitted that they often wonder why God has chosen them to be the one who gets to go.  I can tell you that being an observer of my friends' lives, it is because they obey God - when He calls they say yes.  I also want to point out the difference in attitude; they understand that it is an honor to serve God.  They're amazed that they get to serve Him!  But what about when God calls us to something that seems so much bigger than what we feel ready to do?  For example, I also spoke with another person who told me about their anxiety before their first mission trip but they went because they knew that it was what God wanted.  This person continued to tell me that once they were on the mission trip, they knew God was with them and all the anxiety went away.  Being willing to step out in obedience doesn't mean we are comfortable with the call.  In fact, taking the first step is sometimes the hardest step to take.  I want to continue to look at Moses' call this morning; please use the link and read Exodus 3.

Notice the wording of the NLT in these verses; we see that two times "Moses protested."  But also notice that God had an answer for each of his protests.  Moses' first protest was to say, "Who am I to appear before Pharaoh?  Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11).  Isn't that a question we can all relate to?  We have all had those moments when we felt that we were not the best person for the job we were given.  But notice that God didn't reassure him by telling him that he had all the personal experience he needed to get the job done.  God didn't tell him that He picked Moses because he was the best qualified candidate.  Instead God said, "I will be with you," Exodus 3:12 (NLT).

In a sense, that kind of brings our focus back around, doesn't it?  You see, it wasn't all about Moses it was all about God.  God was with Him, and God is with us!  If you are familiar with Moses' story, you know that he actually had the perfect experience.  He was an Israelite, yet he grew up a prince of Egypt adopted by Pharaoh's daughter.  He grew up in the courts and understood the Egyptian culture.  He understood how he needed to present himself before Pharaoh.    He was educated.  But he also knew the culture of Israel.  He worshiped God and he cared about his fellow countrymen who were being mistreated as slaves in Egypt.  But God didn't tell him all of that; instead God told Him that He was with him.  In the end, it really isn't about our experience, it is about having God with us every step of the way.  That is the success factor in doing what God has called us to do!  If we are relying solely on our skills, experience and talent we will never get an opportunity to see what God can do in spite of us.  So, even if you are feeling completely inadequate to take even the first step; you can know that if God called you to the task He is with you.  The focus isn't who we are - it is who is God?

Are you wondering who you are to do the task, or are you focusing on who God is?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What Kind of Confirmation Is That?

When reading books written by some great teachers or leaders in the Christian faith, I have noticed a pattern - at one point in time they didn't feel up to the job God put before them.  In fact, I think if they were comfortable with the call God placed on their life, they probably didn't have a full picture of what the job would be.  I'm not saying that we cannot be confident in our call; God wants us to have confidence that He has prepared us for where we are now and He will prepare us for what is ahead.  He wants our confidence to be in Him.  When my mission team was discussing the feeling of being unprepared, one person pointed out that if we were feeling completely prepared for what was next in our lives, then we would be relying on ourselves and not giving the glory to God.  With that thought in mind, we can pretty much expect that if we are willing to follow God's lead we will given a task that seems so much bigger than ourselves.  This reminds us of Who is in charge and Who is empowering us.  Today, I want to start looking at Moses' call to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  Please use the link and read Exodus 3.

We are not all going to have a burning bush moment in the literal sense; however, some of us hear God's call in a moment of revelation.  I know many pastors who felt and answered God's call to ministry at a moment at camp.  But that isn't the way it always works.  Some of us grow into our call and over a series of events feel a confirmation of what God wants us to do.  Confirmation is a wonderful thing...it is a comfortable thing.  I like comfortable; I like it a lot.  And I also like having clear confirmation, which is why a particular phrase in this chapter stuck out at me in big, bold letters.  In Exodus 3:12 (NLT) God said to Moses, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”  Hmm...what kind of confirmation is that?

That is a confirmation that God gave Moses for after the fact.  This wasn't a confirmation that would help Moses right at that moment, this would confirm the call after he lead the people out of Egypt.  Perhaps God felt that the burning bush was confirmation enough for now, but either way don't you find it interesting that God would tell Moses a moment of confirmation would come after he did what he was told?  Knowing the story of Moses, I wonder if God knew that Moses would be distraught and would need the encouragement and confirmation when he was worshiping God on the mountain after the fact.  Either way, we see that the confirmation was neither something that Moses asked for but something God told him was in his future.

God wants our obedience and trust and He knows exactly what we need and will provide it right when we need it.  God knows when will need confirmation, and He will give it to us at the moment He ordained.  Sometimes the confirmation is clear and wonderful to give us confidence to take the first steps, but sometimes the confirmation comes while we are in the middle of what we are doing. Maybe it will come at a moment of despair.  Either way, we can know that He is with us and even if we feel unprepared He is fully and completely prepared.

Have you been waiting for confirmation?  Does God just want you to take a few steps of faith first?

This post is linked with Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Unprepared

Up until yesterday, I honestly wasn't sure what I was going to study next.  I don't like being in that kind of situation because even though I have been known to procrastinate, I really prefer to have a plan.  So, when I wrote my last post for the book of Matthew on Friday, I wanted to tell you what was coming next but I just didn't have a clue.  Then the sermon I heard yesterday made me realize what God was leading me to.  In fact, the last post I wrote on Matthew also leads perfectly in to my next study.  The sermon from yesterday was titled "Unprepared," which is a word I'm sure all of us know and understand.  There is just nothing worse than walking into a situation feeling unprepared.  I find the irony not at all coincidental that I was feeling unprepared to write this post over the weekend, yet that is exactly where God is leading me: unprepared.

I'm not saying that we can throw caution to the wind and not prepare for anything, but what I am saying is that often God calls us to something that we feel completely unprepared for.  For example, my husband and I are leading a mission team for the first time and it is a very humbling place to be.  We will prepare as best we can by praying for ourselves and for the entire team and we will meet with our team weekly leading up to the trip and we will do all things, but when all is said and done it will still be our first time going as a leader.  But with that said, I also know that God is with us and He will give us what we need right when we need it.

The sermon this weekend was even on the same verses I blogged about on Friday:  Matthew 28:16-20!  It was such a wonderful reminder and confirmation of where I felt God leading me with those verses.  We are called to go and make disciples and no matter how much or little knowledge we have, God has us prepared for where we are right now.  So, this study that I am starting will be a journey throughout the Old and New Testament looking at individuals whose lives were changed because God called them to something they felt unprepared for.  I'm pretty excited about this because I know that we will all walk away inspired to do what we have been called to do in this very moment.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
Are you feeling unprepared?

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Great Call

Today marks my final day of looking at the book of Matthew.  Even though I have taken much longer than I expected to go through the book, it has been a wonderful journey for me and I hope that you have been blessed as well.  Matthew took us through the life of Jesus and showed us the fulfillment of prophecy and also showed us the heart of Jesus.  We read about the things that amazed Jesus.  We had an opportunity to peek in the life of His disciples while they spent three years walking, eating, and sleeping with Jesus.  They ate what He ate, they walked where He walked, and they slept in the same places He slept.  Jesus' relationship with the disciples modeled for us what it meant to be their "Rabbi" and what it meant to be a disciple.  With that thought in mind, please use the link and read Matthew 28:16-20.

After spending three years with Jesus, we see that when the disciples met up with Him in Galilee there was absolute belief and some doubt among them.  But notice that even with some of the doubt, Jesus still gave them their next assignment which would be their life-long assignment from Him.  He told them that He had authority over all things, and then with His authority He told them to go into all nations and make disciples and baptize them.  He told them to teach the new disciples all the commands He taught them and to remember that He is always with them.  The disciples were to make disciples.

I want to challenge you for a moment because I think we would all agree that none of us know everything there is to know about God.  But, even without a full and complete knowledge we are still called as disciples to make disciples.  Do you see how amazing that is?  I think one reason why that seems so amazing is that we come from an educational structure that tells us that we need to know certain things before we can contribute to someone else's learning.  Don't get me wrong and assume something that I am not saying: there still are basic truths we all must know before we can disciple someone.  In order to teach math, we must know that one plus one equals two.  In order to teach someone to read, we need to be able to read as well.  However, we don't need to have all knowledge in math to teach someone math.  For example, when I was in eighth grade, I enjoyed playing the flute.  There was a beginner flutist in my school that needed help so I gave her weekly flute lessons.  Even though I hadn't studied at a college level at that point, I could teach her fingerings and how to improve her tone.  I had a teacher that had taught me those things to me so clearly that I was able to pass it on even though I was still young and learning.  But an amazing thing happened to me in the process - I became a better musician because teaching it to someone else helped solidify the skills I already had and was pushing me to learn new skills.

Disciples that produce disciples...it is an incredible yet simple plan that God constructed.  Do you think He did it that way knowing that not only would more people be entering His kingdom as we made more disciples, but we would also grow in our own faith by producing disciples?  The simplicity is so amazing yet so effective!  This is our call - go and make disciples that make disciples that make disciples....  Imagine if every one of us who believe took this and understood that this call is for all of us.  But notice that Jesus didn't say what it had to look like.  This is because we are each different and given different skills; He just wants us to use what He has given us to make disciples.  So, if you are struggling to know what God has called you to do just go back to the basics of the original call.  Use what you have been given and make disciples.  What a great call it is!

Are you making disciples that make disciples?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our Greatest Hope

There really is nothing in life that I could possibly compare today's story to because it is God's greatest miracle and our greatest source of hope.  With that said, I am just going to jump right in and ask you to use the link and read Matthew 28:1-15.

Even though this is the story in the Bible that I have known and read since I was a very young child, it was very fresh to me this morning and there were details that just stuck out at me today.  Let me list them for you:

1. I love the fact that we are told that an angel rolled away the stone and sat on it!
2. The guards fainted but Mary and Mary did not.
3. The angel told Mary and Mary that Jesus was going ahead of them into Galilee and to tell the disciples - this was just what Jesus told the disciples would happen!
4. Jesus met the women on their way to tell the disciples.  He told them to tell the disciples that He would meet them in Galilee.
5. When the guards told the priests what happened, they were bribed to tell everyone that the disciples stole his body.

So many things to talk about, but this is just a blog post!  Okay, first I want to say that it is this resurrection that we place all our hope in.  Jesus' death on the cross was His mercy and forgiveness for us and He took our punishment on His shoulders.  But His resurrection is the victory over death that He shares with us.  There is no enemy that can keep Him in the grave!

Here's the thing, even though the priests heard the truth of His resurrection, they still refused to follow Jesus.  In fact, they did everything they could to keep others from knowing what really happened.  Think about that for a moment...even with the truth in front of them, they still refused to accept who Jesus is.  And they also wanted to keep others from accepting the truth.  This is a reality we still face today.  Even though we have experienced and know that this victory and truth is life changing, the enemy doesn't want people to know.  Don't be discouraged; God is greater and two thousand years later, He is still transforming lives through this incredible act of love and power.  So, we continue to plant seeds knowing that it will not fall on fresh soil every time but we know that some seeds will fall on a heart that is ready and hungry for the truth.  And when we see someone come to an understanding of God's love for them, there is nothing like it!  No matter what lies circulate in this world, we still need to share our greatest hope with the world.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Secure It As Best You Can

Security isn't a guarantee, is it?  No matter how secure we think something is, there will eventually be someone who will figure out how to break the security.  A good example is internet security.  Even governments have had issues with people getting past all their security and making their way into their computers.  The verses I am looking at today remind me of how fragile our man-made security is.  Please use the link and read Matthew 27:57-66.

The first thing that comes to mind when I read these verses is: can you imagine how difficult it had to be to bury the one you believed was the Messiah?  How beautiful of Joseph to provide his own tomb in order to give Jesus a proper burial.  There are so many places I want to go with that idea - what happens when we give God our (metaphorically speaking) tombs.  Hmm...I'll let you run with that thought on your own.

But the thing that was really impressed upon me to consider is the fact that the Pharisees knew what Jesus had said about His resurrection and they thought they could secure the tomb to prevent someone from stealing His body and starting rumors.  Don't you find it interesting that Jesus' disciples struggled to understand what He was saying about His resurrection, but the Pharisees understood?  But, I also find it just like us humans to think they could actually secure the tomb.  In fact, Pilate's words, "secure it as best you can..." almost seems to indicate that even he knew that it could only be secured so much.  But something that we have to remember is that true security only lies in God and any time we rely on human security, there will be a point of failure.  And one thing we can always know to be true - there is no security system in this world that can ever keep God out!

There are two things that I can think of that we can take away with that idea.  The first is that we need to trust in God and put all our security in Him.  The other is that no matter how much we guard in our hearts, if God wants to break in and bring new life He can and He will.  How much better is it to have God reside in our hearts rather than us guard a bunch of past hurts and sin that only bring death?

Where is your security?  What are you trying to guard in your heart?

This post is linked with Soli Deo Gloria.