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Nearness

This week I wanted to share the provided video from Jenn Johnson of Bethel Music on the song Nearness.  A few weeks ago I provided a link to her song In Over My Head.  This entire album, which is a compilation of a number of anointed songs and singers, has been so amazing and become a daily part of my prayer time and getting into God’s presence.  I think you will find the video and the song amazing.  If you want to download the album, which I highly recommend, there’s a link in the video post.  I bought the album as well as the song videos because the beauty of the live production out in the mountains of California are as inspirational as the music.

May you be as touched and changed as we’ve been as we’ve let our Abba speak to us through this amazing music.

Steadfast

Delphiniums at Dusk

Hebrews 6:18-19 (ESV) – 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

 

 

The definition of steadfast is resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.  I think we have been realizing with more and more confidence that our Abba is steadfast, in fact James 1:17 (NKJV) tells us  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (emphasis mine).  Our Heavenly Father has no changing in Him, He is the epitome of steadfast.  We may not always respond to situations with that thought in mind but if we can take the time to pull away from emotions and look to the truth, we will find in the Word the fact that God is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  The steadfast that I want to think about today, though, is not God’s steadfastness, but ours.  The pursuit to have in our spirits a hope that is resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.  James tells us that we should not be like the waves of the sea driven and tossed by the wind, essentially a double minded individual.  I think when it comes to testings it can be challenging to be single minded but that is what God is working to develop in us, a steadfast spirit, a single-mindedness that does not waver during difficult times.

It’s pretty frustrating to go to bed confident and wake up the next morning with frustration, anxiety or fear.  It seems to make no sense that on any given day you can be totally confident in what you feel God is doing in you and in your life but by the time you’ve had lunch all that confidence went the way of your sandwich…it just disappeared!  I don’t know about you, but I want to leave my wishy-washy ways behind, I know it’s not pleasing to God, and I certainly don’t enjoy it!  What can we do to overcome this up and down cycle and become stable, steadfast women of God?

To begin to answer that, let’s take a further look at James to see what he has to say.  James 1:13-14 says 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Here are some key things that can help us recognize what is at the root of this unhealthy cycle.  First, God is not the one causing the wild swings in our emotions.  Picture a fish on a hook and he’s being reeled in and then there’s slack and he swims back out, only to be reeled in again.  That hook in the mouth, that line and that  reel are not the work of our Heavenly Father, it’s the work of the enemy and/or the work of our own emotions which we have not learned to discipline.  I believe if we understand that God is not responsible for our ups and downs it starts the foundation of stability because regardless of what we are feeling we can always remember that our foundation is Christ who is for us and is our firm foundation, our solid rock. 

Next let’s look at the fact, in verse 14, that we are individually tempted when we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed.  Here’s what I see when I read that, I see Peter, eyes on Jesus, walking on the water until he gets distracted by the winds and the waves and turns his eyes away from Jesus to look at his situation…boom! no more walking on the water, but Peter starts to sink.  Does that sound like a familiar event?  I have a conversation or get a phone call, email or letter that reminds me of my problem my mind starts to think about that, my heart begins to beat faster and my emotions really get the ball rolling and before I know it, I’m sinking just like Peter!  Here’s the good news, though, I can begin to turn that whole scenario around by realizing that what I’m feeling isn’t God’s truth on the matter, it’s just my human response to something I feel I can’t do anything about or have no control over, but God is doing something, God can do something and God wants to!

I think the most important thing I am learning is that I need to know what God has to say about what has been done for me through Jesus.  That no matter the situation or circumstance, God is the answer and in all of this He has made a way for me to have His peace, His joy, His love and His rest.  In previous blogs I talk about a number of these topics and there are many scriptures that are there to help erect walls of stability and steadfastness on the firm foundation we talked about earlier.

Being steadfast does not mean we don’t have the opportunity to be pulled away by bad circumstances or emotions, but like it talks about in our very first scripture, Hebrews 6:18-19, it means we’ve decided to have an anchor in Him who is always steadfast!

18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

We can be steadfast because He is steadfast and through the blood of Jesus, we are now in Him.  Peter let Jesus do the work and we can too!

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, again You are reminding me that my hope is in You.  In You my seas are calmed, the winds of adversity have to stop their blowing and peace is found.  I am so grateful that my steadfastness is not dependent on my abilities but by He who is always steadfast, my Jesus.  I can have Your peace, Your joy and Your rest in the most difficult situations because Jesus was victorious and I have my victory in Him.  Holy Spirit, help me remember, when I am afraid, the truth that sets me free and to pull away my attention from those things that so easily beset me back to Him who ensures that I overcome.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

To Know Him

Daisies

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NKJV) – Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

 

Ed & I got to spend a week at my sister and brother-in-law’s place in Dallas last week and it was great to spend time with them.  What makes it fun is that we have a lot of similar interests, so we’re rarely bored and always have something to talk about.  What made it even more special was the time Sam (my sister) and I have been spending once a week doing the study on prayer along with Ashley, my daughter.  How that continues to change us is evident in everything that we do.  We’re in our seventh week and we all agree that this study has been absolutely revolutionizing our understanding of prayer as well as our actual prayers.  It truly has been amazing* and every week has been very impactful, exponentially, not a 10+10 = 20 but a 10×10=100 type of increase week over week, especially as we think back to where we were when we started.

An interesting topic came up at our last study and that was how we see our Heavenly Father.  As you may remember I had extracted a quote from Graham Cooke in my previous blog where he said that God was the kindest, gentlest person he’s ever met.  That theme runs all through this study and as we discussed a section we’d read last week we began talking about how, in our mind, we’ve seen our Heavenly Father.  One view that arose was that God the Father was the bad cop, the stern, white haired patriarch, ready to mete out judgment and Jesus was the good cop, willing to take on our punishment and put us in good standing with the Father.  While we may not have all associated that particular description to our view, there were truths to it that resonated with each of us.  It was startling actually how similar our views of a Heavenly Father who has some type of anger, displeasure or sternness about Him was in each of our perceptions.  The whole reason I began this blog was to have my mind, and hopefully yours as well, renewed from the misconceptions I have lived with my entire life and replace them with the truth, the truth that He is the farthest thing from an angry, displeased and stern being but is loving, kind, slow to anger, patient and He is pleased with us, proud of us and full of joy, laughter and delight for each and every one of us.

As I’ve been studying other areas like prayer, I am even more convinced than when I started this blog, that it is the most important thing that we search and seek until we have a transformed revelation of the character of our Heavenly Father.  It is the foundation on which everything else God asks us to do is built.  In the scripture I started out this blog with, Jeremiah 9:23-24, it reveals that there is nothing to glory in if we don’t know and understand Him.  Let’s take another look at it:  

Thus says the Lord“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;  But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

If you’ve read this scripture before you might have seen the loving-kindness, and thought, “Nice!” but then lost some of the initial enthusiasm as you moved on to judgment and righteousness.  I, of course, can’t speak for more than myself but I believe that the enemy has caused us to focus in on words like judgment and righteousness, holiness and other words that make us feel separated or not good enough to instill in us that “bad cop” persona and then focus on the fact that Jesus came as a man, suffered unimaginable things and then rose again so we could be reconciled with our Heavenly Father and now that’s how Jesus has the “good cop” persona.  Maybe that’s not what you think in your conscious mind, I don’t think I did, but somewhere where I assess God’s character, there has been that type of thinking.  I’m going to assume I’m not alone in it and take a few minutes for us to see why that’s not the truth!

Sin had to be judged, that is true.  God is holy and perfect and He cannot be in fellowship with sin but we have to remember that the reason for His complete rejection of sin is because it is evil, it is designed to separate us from Him and destroy us.  From Adam and Eve’s first sin, God immediately made a way to bridge the gap of sin, through shedding of animal blood, until the time that Jesus shed His perfect blood and once and for all took away all sin (Hebrews 10:23).  But Jesus didn’t do this because our Heavenly Father was going to be upset and judging us.  How do we know this?  We know this because Jesus was very clear that when He walked among us the only thing He was doing was representing our Heavenly Father (John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”)  and this was before He went to the cross.  And remember the most known scripture of all time, John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son…  A son that the Father called His beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased.  Also, there’s Romans 8:32 (NKJV) He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  We could go on and on but the end result is that God the Father, God Jesus and God the Holy Spirit all feel the same about us, are all committed to our good success and love us with a godly love that is far beyond what our human minds can comprehend! 

We see that God exercises loving-kindness, we see that God exercises judgment but not judging us, but judging sin, and all of that was resolved through Jesus. Now let’s look at the fact that God exercises righteousness.  The good news is that that’s been resolved as well!  Our righteousness (our right standing with God, our standing before Him perfect as though we were never impacted by the damage of sin in our lives) is Christ’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  I think we can say it this way, “We who know and understand God, know that out of His loving-kindness has judged sin and made us righteous through Jesus Christ, representing our Heavenly Father who so loved us, sent Jesus to redeem us and be His delight.”  Does that change the way you look at your Heavenly Father?  It is certainly changing the way I see Him.  I’m learning to take scriptures that I’ve let paint in my mind an inaccessible Father, be transformed by God’s Spirit to show that this whole book is a book of our Father’s great love for us and any separation that appears is made of no effect when I understand that in receiving the work that Jesus did I am a beloved daughter of my Heavenly Father.

To know Him, if we can keep that as the focus of this journey, all of these other things will fall into place and we will know love and know joy and know peace and have confidence in a future bright with daily promise.

*  Note:  If you are interested in this study, information is in my last blog as well as on the resource page.  Also, I haven’t forgotten the notes and questions for the Crafted Prayer study.  As you can see it is amazing and transformational  and I underestimated the amount of time it would take to complete, but as James says, waiting produces patience!  I am continuing to work on it and will advise when it is available.  Feel free, though, to purchase the book and read through it and then come back and do the study when it’s finished.  The book, while relatively short, takes going through several times because it is very different than how you’ve probably ever looked at prayer!

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, to know You, Your good character, Your loving-kindness that is my desire.  I pray that the misconceptions and incorrect images I’ve had of You would be replaced with truth.  You are the kindest, most gentlest person we will ever know and I pray that my eyes would be opened to see more and more of Your kindness and more and more of Your gentleness and that any time I feel myself slipping back into old views that the Holy Spirit would help me stop that way of thinking and reveal to me Your true nature, Your loving nature that gave Your beloved son, Jesus, to us to make the way for me to be Your beloved daughter.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

Stillness

 

Stillness

Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

 

Last post I shared about getting with God to hear Him in my time of not being sure what He has next for Ed & me.  I shared about going in with what I thought I would hear and what I ended up actually hearing.  As I’ve been spending more time in this Crafted Prayer study that Sam, Ashley and I are on, the more I realize that stillness is something that many of us are struggling with, whether we realize it or not.  I think Americans are probably some of the most challenged in being still, having a quiet mind.  In our day and age there is so much noise and ways to divert our attention and things to keep our minds occupied that many of us may not even remember if we’ve ever had a peaceful moment in our minds.  The Lord is impressing on me that for us to be able to really hear Him, this is something we need to be willing to do but it’s something we might not know how to do, or even think we will be able to do.

There are a lot of reasons we don’t want to let our mind get too quiet but there is one I want to address that I think might be the biggest hurdle for many.  If we let our internal thoughts have a place, our minds go to things that cause us too much pain and we’ve learned to avoid that at all costs.  I know that the reason many people drink, do various types of drugs, are constantly on the run is because of this very thing.  Stillness and quietness of the mind for them is a thing to avoid at all costs.  I admit, I feel very out of my element here because, although I’ve had some very unpleasant things happen in my life, I know they do not compare to some of the things that have happened to others, maybe have happened to you.  I in no way want to minimize the devastation of the trauma you may have gone or be going through, but I know that for this very reason our Heavenly Father’s healing is needed.  He greatly desires for you to hear Him and what He has to say to you and about you and the enemy’s plan is to keep our Heavenly Father’s voice out of your head is by keeping you away from these thoughts.

Over the last months, through this blog, we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about who our Heavenly Father is versus how we believed our thought He was.  How loving and kind He is and that His love for us is so great our human minds cannot comprehend it.  In Graham Cooke’s Crafted Prayer book Graham says this about God and it is so very sweet, “God is very generous and the kindest Person I have ever met. He wants us to know what His will is. He longs to release His children from worry and fear.”  Our Heavenly Father wants us to know that we can trust Him.  We can surrender to Him, let go of whatever is causing our pain, and He promises to carry our burden for us.  Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30 (NKJV) 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  He wants to do a great exchange, on the cross He bore our sicknesses, diseases, curses, and all the sin we’ve committed or that has been committed against us and took that upon Himself.  In exchange He asks us to take His yoke upon ourselves and in that we will find a gentle, loving Savior who will give us rest for our souls.  This, I pray, is a journey you are on or are willing to begin because it is the path to rest in Him and the ability to be still and be in a place where you can more clearly hear the voice of Your loving Heavenly Father and begin to become a part of that heavenly dialogue about who He created you to be, what His plans are for You and the amazing purpose you were carefully crafted by Him for.

There is an amazing devotional that you might want to do that I think will help us, as daughter’s of our Heavenly Father, begin or expand this journey of healing.  It’s called, He Is My All: Living in the Truth of God’s Love for Me by Debbie Alsdorf (I’ll have the link below in the Resource section).  Day by day she does an absolutely amazing job of walking us through the scriptures and showing how much we are loved, how important we are to our Heavenly Father and what an incredible plan He has for every single one of us.  It certainly has impacted my life and I’m sure that it contributed to my ability to begin this next phase of my journey in becoming still and being able to begin to more clearly hear God’s voice as part of our Crafted Prayer study.  Now I’m not afraid to let my mind be quiet for fear of painful thoughts I was wanting to avoid.  Instead, I’ve been able to experience that rest and delight that God said He wanted me to experience while He brings about my desires and secret petitions of my heart (Ps. 37:4).

If we can pursue peace (Ps. 34:14…crave peace and pursue (go after) it!) with a diligence, as though we cannot live without it (and honestly, we can’t live well without it), we will be able to find rest and stillness.  Our Heavenly Father wants this for us because as He says in Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  He wants us to understand the experience of Him being God, God over every aspect of our life and future.

Once you’ve reached the place where you are ready to be still, I’ve also provided a Stillness Exercise that we’ve been using as part of our Crafted Prayer study.  I, of course, also highly recommend the whole study because it will absolutely revolutionize your prayer life and interactions with your Heavenly Father, but if, right now, you are just wanting to work on stillness, I believe you will find this very helpful.

This week I may have put a pretty big challenge out there but I am thoroughly convinced that it is worth it and every one of us will find it transformational.  I love the parable of the pearl of great price, it goes like this:

Matthew 13:45-47 (AMP)

45 Again the kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a dealer in search of fine and [a]precious pearls,

46 Who, on finding a single pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it.

There are some things that are worth selling all you have and going after, and I believe this is one of them!  I know God will meet you where you are and bless you as you search for Him with all of your heart.

 

 

Resources:

He Is My All Devotional  http://www.amazon.com/He-My-All-Living-Design4living/dp/1434768368/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423667472&sr=1-1&keywords=he+is+my+all+debbie+alsdorf

Stillness Exercise https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-7dYLuQ9g3nakktUEdFY3VweXM&usp=sharing

Note:  I’m still working on the notes and questions for the Crafted Prayer study, should have them up on the Resource Page later this week.

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, I have been learning about who You are but it is even more important that I just know You.  Things and events have affected me and made it difficult and painful to be still, but You are found in the stillness.  Yours is a peaceful and quiet voice but it is also a passionate and powerful voice.  I surrender, I choose to surrender to You because You are the kindest and gentlest person I will ever know.  I lay down all my obstacles and give them to You, You alone know what to do with them.  You promised if I would seek you and search for you with all my heart that I would find You.  Nothing is more important than that.  Jesus has saved me, and I am Your daughter and I want to really know You and know what all You have for me.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

Not What I Thought

Sunflower in the sun

Psalm 139:17 (NASB) – How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

 

I mentioned in an earlier post some of the changes God has been making in my circumstances and situations (released from a job, still have a second home to sell, etc.) and I have been very confident that these were all God working a change in my life and while there have been a few anxieties, for the most part I’ve felt very good about the changes.  So time goes by and we start to wonder, “Ok God, we know where we were isn’t where You wanted us to stay but where are we going?”  Like we talked about with Abram, God told him to get out but all He said was He’d take him to a place He would show Him.  No specific destination provided.  At the first stage of the journey that’s not so worrisome but as time goes by and you still don’t know where you are headed, it starts to become a more persistent question, “Where, Lord, are You taking us?  Where are we supposed to be?”  So we’re working to be patient, because we know that patience only comes through the testing and trying of our faith (James 1:2-4) but waiting without knowing what you are waiting for is almost impossible, at least for us, that is certainly the case!

While we’re waiting my sister, Sam, and my daughter, Ashley, and I start a new study on a short book called Crafted Prayer by Graham Cooke.  I’ve been praying and journaling for a really long time.  Praying probably for over 40 years and journaling for at least 20 and we’re reading and studying this book on prayer and learning how to really get into the presence of God and I realize how many areas of my prayer life have been out of sync.  Life has been so busy and the world around me so loud, I really can’t keep my mind quiet or still, which are significant areas in order to be in God’s presence.  The three of us laughed because we each saw this, that to be still and quiet in our minds seemed a monumental task because our minds were so busy.  Busy with thoughts of our day, busy with trying to solve the most current problem, busy thinking about other people, busy trying to figure out what God was doing in our lives…you get the idea.  I began to realize that I needed to get into a place where I could hear God, because how was I going to know what He was doing and get in agreement with it?   What if I couldn’t hear Him speaking because my mind was crammed packed with all this stuff?!  So, excitedly I began studying Graham’s teachings and day after day and week after week I began making progress in being able to get my thoughts off of everything else and quiet my mind to be in a place to hear God.  I was so thrilled because now I could be in a place to get direction and clarity and not only know that we’d been called out but where we were being called to!!!

The big day arrived, I’d set aside a week to take as much time as I needed to get in God’s presence, utilize the tools provided in teaching and even wrote out what I was hoping to get out of this week, the desire for direction and clarity and expectation of seeing what God was bringing us to.  First day, I’ve started with praise and thanksgiving, I’ve stilled my mind and I begin listening to the voice of God and what I hear is not at all what I expected.  He tells me He’s pleased with us and has great love for us.  He tells me to have peace, rest, stillness and enjoyment.  He tells me He wants us to enjoy His presence and have confidence in what He can do.  This is all very beautiful but it doesn’t feel like clarity or direction.  In fact, it feels like more waiting.  But it’s so clear, I know that to do or say anything else would be contrary to what He is speaking.   So, I receive those words and commit to being obedient and to take joy in the fact that He wants us to just be in Him right now.  It goes against our human nature big time, where it’s all about doing, but as we continue to walk this journey of discovering our Heavenly Father, we continue to see that He isn’t as enamored with our doing as He is our relationship with Him.  Accomplishing things pleases us, but when done outside of relationship with Him, it doesn’t please Him.  We’re at a place that we really want to move forward in God’s plan for us and that means laying down our desire to do something and surrendering to Him.

A couple more days go by and through a teaching I was watching, God brings the scripture that this is all about, the why He is having us wait in His presence.

Psalm 37:4-7 (AMP)

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.

And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shining sun of] the noonday.

Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.

It was so amazing to hear through His word why He was asking us to wait and enjoy His presence.  As we delight in Him He’s bringing about our desires and the things we are longing for but don’t really even know.  He’s inviting us to trust Him and He is promising to bring to pass these things and then we get to go in the righteousness He’s given us as be as bright as the noonday sun without worrying about what we see around us.  How awesome and totally amazing is that??

I didn’t get what I thought I wanted, basically a map to lead me to my next “thing” but I got something so much greater.  I received a revelation on how much my Father thinks about me, and that His greatest desire is that I enjoy Him and take confidence that He is taking care of me and my loved ones.   It’s not by my striving and efforts, but my dependence on Him and knowing that He is faithful.  He is constantly working and blessing and because of Jesus I have everything that I need to be led to the place He will be showing us.

My sister shared something I think is a big shift, she said she is learning to pray less for her circumstances and more for her heart to be aligned with Him and trusting His plans.  To be a trusting and faithful servant.  How does that speak to you today?  In whatever your situation is, He is there, He is working on your behalf and He has so many amazing thoughts toward you to bless you and your circumstances.  Believe it or not, you can relax in Him and delight in Him with the confidence that He is working all of these things out in His grand design.  I smile because we may not get what we’re asking for, but in His loving kindness He is giving us something so much more incredible, His presence, in addition to taking care of the circumstances.  So…It’s not what I thought but truly greater than I was able to imagine.

Resources

Crafted Prayer by Graham Cooke https://www.brilliantbookhouse.com/crafted-prayer-1.html  I highly recommend this book and on my resource page I will be posting the weekly study and questions we did to really dig into this study.  Will try and have them up by next week.

In Over My Head by Bethel Music https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=915507638479694  Ashley passed along this song and the song itself is incredible and so is the video.  It has blessed me tremendously as I’ve spent time in prayer and worship.

 

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, I am so thankful that Your thoughts towards me are thoughts of peace, thoughts to give me a hope and a future.  You have told us that we can come and pray to You and You will hear us, hear me.  You are gathering me and bringing me to Your place.  I am so thankful of every situation and circumstance that has brought me to this place where I am seeking You and being found of You.  Abba, I am searching for You with all of my heart because You love me.  I love You because You first loved me.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

Fear and Faith

cupped flower seedling

Mark 4:26-29 (AMP) – And He said, The kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed upon the ground, And then continues sleeping and rising night and day while the seed sprouts and grows and [a]increases—he knows not how. The earth produces [acting] by itself—first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe and permits, immediately he [b]sends forth [the reapers] and puts in the sickle, because the harvest stands ready. 

 

Most of us are probably familiar with the scripture in Hebrews (11:6) that tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God.  Taking that all by itself it can be quite a stumbling block because there are so many ways the enemy can accuse us of having inadequate faith and therefore not being pleasing to God.  Over the weeks and months we’ve looked at a lot of scriptures and discussed that this journey of revelation of what it means to be our Heavenly Father’s Daughter is about understanding what He is for us.  He’s not trying to make this an obstacle course, where only the strong survive!  No, Jesus said He came so that none should perish.  It’s the Father’s heart that everyone find their place in Him, and everything that is being done and has been done is based upon the foundation that He loves us and is for us and wants amazingly wonderful, abundant things for us.  The enemy, however, is after just the opposite.  He wants us to be separated from our Heavenly Father and if he can’t keep us from a salvation experience in accepting Jesus as our savior, his next target, an unceasing one, is to keep us from understanding who we become when we are transferred from darkness into light.

There is so much for us as children of God but a foundational area we must become grounded in is overcoming fear and becoming women of faith.  Fear is pretty easy to identify, but faith has become so convoluted by the enemy and religion it’s made it difficult for us to see it how God intended it, which is simple.  God’s way for us is always simple and I mean that it’s not complicated.  As I said, God’s not trying to put us through obstacle courses, nor is He requiring we all be members of Mensa to come to Him.  In fact, just the opposite, He said we needed to come to Him in the simplicity of a little child.  When you’re grown, sometimes it can be difficult to take on the simplicity of childhood, but that is what we are to do and that is how we need to view what God asks of us.

I love the scriptures in Mark 4 speaking about the farmer as Jesus is giving us an example that I think we can all understand.  I come from a family of gardeners.  My Mom loves to garden and she’s gardened my whole life.  We’ve had small gardens and HUGE gardens over the years and this is how it works (in it’s simplest form), you prepare the ground for the type of vegetable you are going to grow, you plant the seed…and you wait.  That’s it.  The only part we can do is prepare the soil and stick the seed in the ground everything else happens without us.  Now yes, we water and we weed (which is also applicable to our faith) but the seed cracking open, the little roots coming out and the seedling breaking the ground, the growth, the ripening, the bearing of fruit, none of that happens by our efforts.  So according to Mark 4, what does the farmer do after he’s planted his seed?  He waits!  He gets up each day, he goes to bed each day over and over again and while he’s going about his daily life his seed is springing forth, growing and increasing and Jesus says, “he knows not how…”  Our faith is the part where, even though we don’t know how, we know that the seed planted is growing and increasing until it’s mature and ready to be harvested.  That’s faith, trusting that what God says He will do and be is exactly who He is and how He is behaving.  That is what God is saying we have to have to please Him; trust that He is who He says He is and is doing what He has promised to do.  The confidence to go to bed each night with peace in our heart and get up each morning with that same expectation that everything that needs to happen is happening for that seed to become what it was designed to become.  That’s where the watering and weeding come in.  In order for us to have that expectation we need to read the Word, His promises to remind us what He is doing and pluck out the doubt that satan tries to plant with our seed to choke it out or strangle it.  Our job is to keep up our trust through the power that comes in God’s word.

Now the opposite of faith is fear.  We have fear because we aren’t able to trust God.  The reason we doubt God is because we have believed or we believe a lie that the enemy has told us about our Heavenly Father and we live our life based upon the lie versus the truth.  We all have them, we all live them.  In our farming scenario, a farmer living in fear would behave very differently than the farmer Jesus described.  He wouldn’t plant his seed and peacefully go to bed and rise each day, no he would daily be inspecting the plot of earth where the seeds were planted, he’d be testing the soil and watching the horizon fretfully for the right amount of rain and the right amount of sun at the right times.  He’d be pulling up the little plants to look at their roots and check their growth and then try and replant them back hoping he hadn’t killed it.  He’d freak out when bugs showed up or the plants just didn’t seem to be growing fast enough or increasing quickly enough.  You get the idea, he’d be all over that plot of land and by the time they finally reached harvest he’d be a stressed out mess, with a mediocre harvest and already worrying about the next thing.  I have to believe we’ve all been this kind of farmer.  Maybe it’s our kids, or our job or our finances, any number of things really.  This is what your life looks like when you are living out of fear vs. living on faith.

Faith and fear do not coexist.  You can only have one or the other and that is why Hebrews says it is impossible to please God without faith.  Who is pleased when someone doesn’t trust them, is constantly looking over their shoulder and telling them what to do and how to do it?  I hate that!!  Imagine how God feels about it :)  If He loves us (and He absolutely does!!), and if He’s the creator of all (which He is!), then He’s the expert of all, why in the world do we think we need to get involved in the process?  We’ve believed the lies of the enemy and he doesn’t tell us what it is we are actually doing, we’ve all been led to believe that worrying is natural, if we’re good mother’s we worry about our kids.  God says godly mothers do not worry, they trust.  Godly mothers pray the Word over their children, they shower them with love and affection, they tell them how amazing they are and how proud they are of them (regardless of their mistakes!!), just like God tells us (which is a far cry from what the world pressures us to be).  How can God see us this way?  Because God knows the outcome, He’s proud of us based on who we become in Christ and everything He sees and says is based on that person, not the messy, troubled broken person we are in the middle.

I encourage you to think about the areas where you have fear and study the versus in Mark about the farmer.  Let the Holy Spirit reveal God’s faithfulness to you so that you can go to bed at night in peace, rise up in expectation and go to the Word to water your seeds with faith and pluck out the weeds of doubt and fear the enemy will be trying to plant.  Like I said, it’s simple, but again we know simple isn’t always easy and waiting is probably the very hardest part.  But we’ve studied that God has told us not to be anxious and He knows we need all of these things so when Jesus said that the farmer sleeps and rises and all these things are happening and he doesn’t know how, that is what He wants for us, to enjoy our lives, have faith (trust) in Him and when the harvest is ready we are there to reap all of the goodness that our Heavenly Father grew for us!!

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, I want to be a faithful farmer.  I desire to do my part and prepare the ground of my heart and plant the seeds of Your word.  I desire to go to bed in peace and rise up in expectancy.  I desire to water the seeds with the water of Your Word and pluck out the weeds that the enemy tries to plant of doubt and skepticism.  You have shown Yourself to be faithful and true to Your Word and I certainly do not know better than You!  I pray that the Holy Spirit would empower me to be patient when my seed is growing and be excited about what You are growing in and around me.  I choose to live a life of faith and forsake a life of fears.  Jesus came that I might have life and have it more abundantly!  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

Message in a Bubble

 

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV) - The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV) – The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

 

Yesterday I was going through my journal.  I do that now and then, go back to a similar date a year ago to see what was going on in my life then.  Yesterday was different, though, I pulled out all the journals I had here with me in Florida and was able to go back to 2010.  So I read what studying and praying I was doing each year around this time over the last five years.  I was actually surprised because my studying and praying wasn’t a whole lot different year over year.  I really expected to see some big advancements in my life that would be truly noticeable as I jumped from one year to the next.  I spent some time thinking about that, and pondering on why that was the case?  God is continuing to bring home that this process of growing, becoming closer to Him and being transformed into Christ’s image is a one step at a time journey.  He’s saying to me and to you…There are no shortcuts!!  My mind responds to that with a resounding…Darn!!  I thought it could be faster, I thought I could be faster in my pace, in my accomplishments, in getting some kind of prize for having “made it”!

I laugh because that is my nature, I’m very competitive (you can thank my Dad for that!), and to me succeeding a lot of the time has been represented in winning at something.  But our Heavenly Father is telling us, we’re looking at this all wrong.  This isn’t a competition, or something that if we do it really fast we’ll get to the end quicker.  This is a life long journey of getting to know who we are in Christ and learning about a Heavenly Father who loves us and does things in the most intricate and detailed ways and says in 1 Timothy 6:17  to trust … in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  As I looked at my journal over that 5 year span I realized that the studying I did and the prayers that I prayed were steps to preparing a life that year over year is becoming richer and sweeter because I’m have a deeper understanding of what those words meant, both mine and in the scriptures.

So, you may ask, what does all of this have to do with bubbles?  You did title this blog, Message in a Bubble.  Glad you asked!  As I’ve been seeking to have a clearer and encompassing understanding of how much I am loved by my Heavenly Father, I realize that I’ve been praying prayers and scriptures over the years that have spoken of His great love for me.  One of the sweetest evidences of that was a simple bubble.  Now don’t laugh, but several months back when things were very emotionally difficult because of a situation I had not yet been released from, I was in the shower and was just trying to understand why no matter what I prayed, no matter what I studied, I could not shake this pressure and feelings of anxiousness.  I knew all the right scriptures, I’d  also read some really great books on trust, but those feelings I could not shake.  While looking up a small, beautiful bubble came floating down from my shampoo bottle.  In that bubble I felt the love of my Heavenly Father, felt Him saying to me that as delicate and iridescent and whimsical as that bubble was, it was an expression of His delight over me.  Romans 8 tells us that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.  That bubble, to me, was Him reminding me that as I continue to pursue this journey of understanding what it means to be My Father’s Daughter, how much He loves me, and that that love will continue to overtake the obstacles I feel I am facing in this world.  It was His message to me that I am greatly loved and as Zephaniah 3:17 says He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

Here’s my encouragement to you today, it may feel as though things aren’t changing, you aren’t changing, but they are and you are.  Let the Holy Spirit teach you that this isn’t a competition and we certainly aren’t running a sprint.  This is an adventure and the glory of it is that we get to enjoy all of the beauty along the way.  If we will not be in a hurry we will have a rich, fulfilling experience during our time on earth.  You can rest in the truth that God is not late 2 Peter 3:9  tells us  The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.  If we can rest in the knowledge that God will get us where we need to be at the right time, then we can focus on the incredible messages He sends us, sometimes it is something as simple as a bubble.

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, the world I live in is in such a hurry, I am in such a hurry.  Help me understand that You, Abba, are not in a hurry.  You hold me in Your hand and have designed all of my days, days that are filled with delightful and glorious things that I miss because I haven’t allowed myself to enjoy You or the journey.  My steps are ordered by You and I pray that with the help of Your precious Holy Spirit that I will learn to not allow the pressures of this world to dictate how I live my life, but instead allow the truth of Your Word to free me from a life of rushing, pressure, anxiety and missing Your great expressions of love, delight and song over me.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

Sharp Turn Ahead!

sharp turn ahead

Genesis 12:1-3 (NKJV) Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God had some pretty amazing plans for Abram.  In fact, he was going to go from Abram (meaning “father of height”) to Abraham (meaning “father of multitudes”).  God lets Abram know that He is going to make him a great nation, He’s going to bless him and make his name great, that he is going to be a blessing and God is going to bless those who bless Abram and curse those who curse him and to sum it all up God lets him know that through him all of the families of the earth shall be blessed.  WOW!  I mean, really, that’s way more than wow!!

There’s a little catch though.  Abram has to get out of his country, leave his family, leave his father’s house and go to some place that God is going to show him.  Hmmm…quite a request God.  Here’s all these really amazing, actually more than amazing, things that God is promising Abram, that God says He’s going to do, but how does Abram know God’s going to do them?  And why does Abram have to leave these things behind in order for God to do them?  Seems like if God was God He could do all those things and leave Abram right where He is.  It seems like it could really be a blessing to Abram’s family to see God do all of that, why does he have to “get out”?

I don’t know about you but God is doing some of that “get out” with my husband, Ed & I.  He’s been taking us out of familiar territory and piece by piece dismantling what is familiar and comfortable and calling us into something that is very unfamiliar and, on a daily basis, extremely uncomfortable.  One day not too long ago I think Ed said if he had one more thing happen that he had to deal with emotionally his head was going to explode!  The stress on our human nature is so great that it feels like God is pulling you apart limb by limb.  That’s seems extreme but when we’re going through the emotions of “getting out”, God prying our death grip off of the things we’ve been holding onto, some our entire lives, can feel like an excruciatingly painful exercise.  Many times it hurts so bad we quit.  We don’t let God loose our grip and we stay right where we are.  I’m here to encourage you to not give up, to not quit but to let God see you through this emotionally painful and difficult time and get you to the other side.

Why?  That’s such a great question.  Similar to the earlier question of why Abram had to “get out” and go.  Not just go, but follow God.  God has each and every one of us on a journey, not a way stop.  His plan includes taking us from glory to glory and if we can’t follow Him into these sharp, unexpected turns we’re going to become stagnant.  We weren’t meant to be lakes, we are meant to be rivers.  We are meant to rush and flow and expand and contract and sometimes overrun our borders.  In order for Abram to become who his Heavenly Father created him to be God needed him to leave behind all that was comfortable and follow Him.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  Just like when Jesus started calling His disciples and saying  Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 (NKJV)   Each time Jesus said that, they dropped whatever they were doing and followed Him No questions asked, no asking to give them a few minutes to finish what they were doing or go tell someone where they were going; just drop it right there, leave all your stuff and follow Jesus.

God has a way about Him that is very unexpected, at least unexpected to us!  If we don’t get comfortable with the uncomfortable we’re going to live a life of dissatisfaction but believe it or not, we were actually made and designed by Him to be able to follow when He calls.  Jesus said in  John 10:27 (NKJV)  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. The fact that we fight that many times is actually counter to how we were created which is why we become so miserable when we are disobedient.  Don’t confuse comfortable with satisfied.  If you have been asking yourself why you feel dissatisfied when it feels like you have everything you want, that is probably a good sign that God has been calling you to “get out” and come up higher.  Not only higher, but deeper.  Our Heavenly Father isn’t ok with us being comfortable, He wants to continually draw us into a deeper relationship with Him that then pours out of us blessings upon others.  Don’t you love the promise God made Abram?  …And in you all of the families of the earth will be blessed.  We are Abraham’s seed (Galatians 3:29) and we were created to be blessings to all of the families on the earth.  The death grip that God is trying to loose you from is something that is keeping you in a place you’re no longer supposed to be, or maybe were never supposed to be.  His goal for you is to be fulfilling your purpose, going about doing good, and overcoming evil with good.

As I mentioned earlier, God’s prying our fingers off of some things that we’ve gotten comfortable with.  It’s been very unsettling and scary at times.  When God says He wants us to follow Him to a land He will show us, and He’s not sharing with us where that is, what that looks like and how long it’s going to take to get there; that’s just downright hard to swallow.  Have you ever watched one of those movies where the hero of the film has complete understanding of what’s going on and something bad is about to happen to someone (usually a female!) and he runs in and tells her, “We have to leave right this instant!”, and we the viewers, also know what’s coming and we know he’s right, she needs to grab his hand and get the heck out of Dodge.  But it seems like invariably she looks at him and asks, “Why?  What’s going on?  I need to go get…”  Don’t you want to scream at the screen (and sometimes I do), “Girl, get out!!”  It’s easy in those scenarios to know why she needs to leave, but when we’re her, we do the same things she does.  We ask why.  We want to take care of some things, we probably don’t even want to go at all some times, but this is why God provided us an accounting of what He did with Abram and with Abram’s obedience we see the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Abraham, in the Bible, is called the friend of God.

James 2:23

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.
I think that tells us something.  That as we pursue a deeper relationship with God, that fear of what He’s asking us to do is going to lessen because we’re going to know His character.  He loves us, He wants the best for us and as He sees things that are holding us back or keeping us from what He designed us to accomplish, He’s going to tell us to “get out”.  It’s not a punishment, it’s a promotion.  Jesus told the disciples that greater things we would do because He was going to the Father (John 14:12).  So don’t be afraid, let your fingers relax from what you are holding on so tightly to.  He is happy to assure you that what He is doing is for your good but we are going to have to trust Him.  God didn’t tell Abram where he was going, He didn’t tell him why he had to leave his family but He did impart to him the incredible knowledge of what Abram would receive for his obedience.  Us too.  He’s promised us joy and peace and greater things when we are following Him.  If this is hard for you, commit to spending more time with Him in prayer and reading His Word.  He promises that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:32).
As Ed & I embark on this journey, know that we understand that our human nature fights this and we’re praying that, like us, the truth of what God has promised is greater than the fear of the unknown.  We know that we want to be all our Heavenly Father created us to be and the only way to do that is when He says, “Get out”, to follow Abram and the disciples’ examples and drop whatever we’re doing and follow Him!!
A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, our hope is in You and it’s not about what we see, hear or think.  It’s about the truth of Your Word, Your promises and that Jesus has already ensured our victory.  My hope is in You and I pray that the Holy Spirit be large in me so I can do what You show me and be who You’ve created me to be.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

 

Well Hello!

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NKJV) - Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait in the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not  faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NKJV) – Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait in the Lord Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

 

Whew!  I made it through 2014, not completely unscathed but no irreparable damage.  I’m excited about this new year and not in the same way we get excited about the chance at a fresh start but with a sense that this is going to be a very different year, and different in a good, positive and productive way.  God started the preparation for this year in a very cool way.  We were a week or so into December and my daughter, Ashley, texted my sister and I and asked us to do an Advent devotional with her from SheReadsTruth.  Even though we were coming in late we decided to start at the beginning and each day, whomever was able to get to the devotional first, would write their thoughts on that days study and send it to the other two in an email and text and let us know that we had started.  We just keep adding to the same email so that we have each of our thoughts from when we started to that day.

I’ve never done an Advent devotional but as a Christian whose celebrated the true meaning of Christmas since she was born I kinda wondered if this would be boring.  I laugh at that now because it’s been anything but boring and absolutely amazing doing this with my daughter and my sister.  It’s awesome to read something and then get three different perspectives and especially the differences that come from generational gaps.  My sister and I are in our 40’s and Ashley is in her mid 20’s and while there are unique perspectives in our views due to our ages and experiences there are also a lot of similarities in the message and theme we are getting from the Holy Spirit as we embarked on this journey.  As we embark on a new path that is this new year I felt compelled to share some of the insights that we’ve come away with as we’ve trod through the period leading up to the birth of our Savior.  It’s fitting really, to have the opportunity to really meditate on this event as we look to our Heavenly Father in inquiry, wondering what this new year has for us.  I’m expecting some amazing experiences and breakthroughs as I feel that through this process I’m in a much better position to hear Him more clearly and be much more sensitive to His leadings.

  • Belief – As we looked at the old testament and our forefathers we saw people who believed when there was no physical reason to believe, in fact there was every reason to doubt and yet time and again these pillars of our Christian heritage chose to believe God over their circumstances.  Not perfectly but even in their broken human nature they kept pressing on forward into God’s promises.
  • Hope – When things got to a place where they felt they just couldn’t see how God was going to do what He promised they would continue to choose to have hope.  The enemy, satan, tries to strip us of hope but we are not those without hope and the promise of a Savior and all that He would and did do for us they believed without even truly understanding how transformational His work would be.
  • Heritage – Regardless of where we come from we have a heritage of faith once we enter God’s family.  We are made daughter’s of our Heavenly Father and with that comes a heritage and a legacy that we are now a part of.  It’s brought a thankfulness for my earthly family who have been Christians for many generations and it’s also brought a sense of pride as a mother that I am ushering my children into a spiritual heritage that has so much history and influence on this generation and generations to come.
  • The Unexpected – If you really take a look at how God does what He does it is NEVER how we humans think it should be done.  Even though Jesus’ birth was foretold and passed down generation to generation very few people believed it when He arrived because He didn’t come through a mighty king, born in a palace and announced to the world.  He did have some fanfare, a group of shepherds got heralded by a huge choir of angels, three whole wise men saw His coming in a dream and, hmmm, that was about it.  Oh, and he was born in a barn.  God continues to remind us that His ways are not the world’s ways so I’m not sure why we keep looking for Him to do things the way we think they should be done!
  • He’s in Control – God orchestrated each step of the way and nothing that satan does or man does stops His plan forward.  We all kept being reminded that if we let God be God in our lives He will see that we receive what He’s promised us in His Word.  The Old Testament is full of promises and prophecies and God kept them every single time.  There’s comfort in that knowledge and God keeps reminding us, He is faithful!
  • He is Light – If we let Him He will show us where we need to let Him in, areas we think we’ve got hidden or just aren’t ready to let Him deal with yet.  He is the light of the world and He wants to be light and truth to us in every area of our life.
  • Audacity – The audacity of what God does in the middle of what appears to be mundane circumstances and the audacity of His children to grab hold and believe!

I could go on, and actually we are still in the middle of the devotional and planning our next one but I’m so thankful that Ashley asked us to do this because it caused me to take something I took for granted (the season of Christmas) and dig into it and because we started late I’m not ending the thought of the work of Jesus’ birth on Christmas but taking it into my embracing the joy of a new year!  So, as we start this year my focus is not on my plans but on the One who made it possible for me to have hope, expectation and the knowledge that I am perfectly suited for what He will use me to do and be just as our forefathers were each perfectly suited for their role in the time they lived.  I say, “Well hello!” to a new year and I’m excited to see what God has for each one of us that we are specifically suited for!

Resources:  http://shereadstruth.com/

A Daughter’s Prayer – Abba, this is it, we’re all the way in.  Because of Jesus we can have the same faith as Abraham.  We are having the audacity to have the trust in You that comes when everything around us screams, “Impossible!”  We dare to hope, believe, rely on and trust You.  We have the audacity to believe and be confident in the fact that Your promises apply to us.  We won’t be defeated or turned away or denied.  We are the righteousness of God in Christ!  We are who God says we are and we have what God says we have and no devil is going to keep us from the love of our Abba.  Our Abba who runs to us, showers us with affection and overcomes us with gifts and honor even though we don’t deserve it.  We are children of the Most High and we are His workmanship, created for good works in Christ!  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

 

That’s a Wrap!

dandelion in the wind

Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV) – Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Wow!  2014 is rapidly closing and I don’t know about you but it feels like it just started.  I know that as you get older the years do seem to go faster but surely the pace in which this year flew by isn’t only those advancing years but a sign of the times.  Regardless of why the days, weeks and months are moving by so quickly, coming to the end of the year always brings about thoughts of what happened that year and usually some excitement that a new fresh year is upon us and we’re inspired to dream about the could be’s of that fresh start.

In reading Paul’s words of Philippians 3:13-14 it brings to mind a couple of things related to closing out a year and starting a new one and how that pertains to our life as a daughter of our Heavenly Father.  My first thought is towards the past, usually the last year.  For me 2014 was quite a wild ride and brought about experiences I did not anticipate when the year started and a lot of questions of what plans God had for me in this phase of my life and how He was going to take care of various situations.  I think it’s normal to have some regrets when looking back at decisions made and the way we handled difficult events wishing we would have had a better attitude or reacted differently when we were in the situation.  So how much time should I spend evaluating my past behavior?  Over the last couple of years the sense I’m getting is a lot less than I tend to.  One of the ways the enemy ties us up is to get us to spend way too much time in what ifs, if onlys and regrets.  We humans can be very hard on ourselves but God says His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) and I’ve taken that to mean that God realizes that we will stumble and fall and that He’s made a way for us to get back up, dust ourselves off (or maybe we need Him to dust us off!) and move forward.

As we wrap up 2014 what do you see when you look back on your year?  Are there things you wince at, hurts that still are painful or a list of if onlys that run through your mind?  If so, I think now is a really great time to let God’s grace, goodness and mercy to wash over you and turn over to your Heavenly Father those regrets, frustrations and anything that could hold you back as we start the year of 2015.  My encouragement to you is to take some time and let the Holy Spirit reveal to you where you may have some unresolved issues and let yourself put those things in God’s capable hands.  Do you need to forgive someone who hurt you, then do!  Do you need to ask for someone to forgive you, take that step!  Are you upset with how something did or didn’t turn out or confused as to why you had seemingly bad circumstances happen in your life and are questioning God as to why those things were allowed to happen?  While I certainly can’t speak to your particular circumstance, this I can say, God knows, He’s got it covered if you will let Him be in control and what lies ahead is more amazing than any of us can even imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

I mentioned this has been a crazy year for me and thought I would share a few things.  I’ve worked at the same company for almost 20 years.  Our company was bought out in 2012 and I was offered the top position for my department, which I accepted, and had been leading that for the last 2 years.  Mergers are very challenging and before the acquisition our company had been going through a lot of financial challenges ending in it going through bankruptcy.  As you can imagine morale had been tested for quite a while and then over half way through this year I was laid off.  Now having never been through that, it’s quite an experience and add to that that we have a home up north that we need to sell, a bit of pressure when you are now out of a job!  I’m going into 2015 still unemployed and still with an extra home and I have a choice before me, do I dwell on what happened and wonder why these things are, or do I follow Paul’s example and, “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”   I’m choosing to be excited about what 2015 holds for me and I believe with all my heart that everything that happened in 2014, whether I thought it was good or bad, was a stepping stone to something far greater.  God says He knows the plans He has for me and that His thoughts for me are for my good and not for evil.  So I’ve placed my employment and sale of our home in His hands and know that exactly what needs to happen is going to happen and I have no regrets.  Instead I have peace, joy and anticipation to have a testimony to share as God works far above anything I could ask or hope.

I’d like you to join me in letting our Heavenly Father take into His hands the events of 2014, letting them go into His capable hands and say with confidence and peace, “That’s a Wrap!”

Resource (and update):  After posting yesterday’s blog my sister and I were talking and unbeknownst to me their sermon was on some similar things as what I posted here.  Don’t you love how God does that?  They also had a handout to help in looking at how God showed up for them in this past year and I wanted to provide a link in case you would like a tool to help you or you and your family see God’s fingerprints in your life this last year.

Antioch Community Church – Dallas, TX

Last Week’s sermon:
Remembrance

by Joe Paolino

Here’s a digital copy of the handout from the sermon: 
Walking with Jesus Plan
This handout will help you reflect upon the goodness of God in your life in 2014, help you receive His grace presently, and challenge you to make a plan for this upcoming year. Blessings to you Antioch Dallas!

A Daughter’s Prayer – May we not look back at yesterday, as our past is in your hands of grace and mercy.  May we not look forward to tomorrow, as this too You hold in Your hands and all that we are and all we need is found in You.  We live today, the grace You have apportioned for me, like Your manna for the Israelites.  You provided for me today all I need.  Your abundant goodness is available to me and all that I need I have in You.  Holy Spirit, may the eyes and ears of my heart be open.  May I see Your goodness all around me and recognize Your hand.  I have great expectations of good because I am in Christ and I am seated at the right hand of my Abba Father, in heavenly realms.  May Your goodness and mercy overtake us.  I expect good things, good things for my family and friends and all those you bring across our path.  May all that my hands touch have Your anointing on it.  In Jesus’ name, amen.