Thursday, November 7, 2013

When Everything is Fine and When It's Not

Unlocking Joy - Keys to Understanding Joy

Can I really have joy at all times?

What does the response to the question, "Hi how are you?" typically answered?  Usually I'm fine...

What does this really mean to you?  Are you really honestly fine?

Can we honestly define fine?

How do you you know deep down that God is good?  Whatever crosses your path....cancer and everything else.

Read Luke 17:11-19 The Story of the 10 Lepers
My attention is drawn to two words in this passage of scripture.  The first word is found in verse 14, "And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed."  As they went walking towards the temple to show themselves to the priests they were cleansed.  This speaks of the outside change that occurs in our lives.  A physical difference occurs.  This is visible to those around us.  For lepers this would be a hugs deal to not have the mark of infected skin.  Now that had the ability to enter the temple and participate with others and actually have fellowship. As I read on later in verse 19 am am struck by the second word, "And He said to them arise, go your way, your faith has made you well. The leper who returned to thank Jesus was made whole.  His faith resulted in wholeness.  In the Greek the word wholeness is sozo, which means salvation. This is very interesting and a huge nugget of truth I have stumbled upon.  I dig a bit deeper  and discover that because this man had faith to boldly so thank you it had a profound effect upon his salvation -- how appropriate to say thank you to Jesus.  We say thank you to Jesus when we partake of the communion.  We break break and drink the cup and remember, we are thankful.  This act of thanking God reminds us of the cross and what Jesus did for each one of us.  We remember grace is a gift.  It is the gift of salvation we are thankful for.

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." Titus 2:11

Now we can say that thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives.

"Whoever offers praise glorifies me. And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God."  Psalm 50:23

Thanksgiving results in a full-life -- the abundant life -- the blessed life.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who morn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure i heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5: 3-10

What is the opposite of thankfulness?
Ingratitude - Ungratefulness

This is the robber of joy.  It stops us dead in our tracks and replaces our joy with a negative attitude and a heart that stinks full of ingratitude and ungratefulness.

So what is the key to unlocking joy?

I have four keys that have helped me in my battle for joy.  I will outline them here and then in the next few posts I will expand on each key.

Key #1
We must learn like Paul...Philippians 4:11-12
Learn to be content
Takes Practice

Key #2
That I might know Him...Philippians 3:10-11
Takes quality time
Need to get my mind engaged

Key #3
Work out your own salvation...Philippians 2:12
Requires discipline
Holy habits

Key #4
Not only to believe in Him, but to suffer...Philippians 1:29
Experience growth
Christ magnified in us

Am I really willing to do the hard work to have joy always?

Can I really do something to help my self break this bad habit of ungratefulness?

I hope to answer these questions over the next few posts...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

For Love's Sake

It's why we mothers do what we do everyday.  We love.

We love because He first loved us.

We bend over to pick up dirty clothes, lost Legos, cereal crumbs and items of unknown origination created in boys dream-lands.  It is a never ending job.  Just like love it never ends, never gives up and is always present. A mother's love never grows weary.  There are the sleepless nights of infant feeding and stumbling in the dark to find a place to feed a hungry babe.  It is tireless, thankless and relentless work.  Yet love wells up in a mother's heart and is able to accomplish the task at hand.

Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8

Five loads of clean laundry sit piled like a mountain on my bedroom floor waiting to be folded and tucked into drawers.  The dishes clatter against themselves as the dishwasher purrs like a kitten. My list of today's to dos sits open on the kitchen counter.  The dogs, cats, chickens and horse have all been feed.  The baby still slumbers as I tip toe around the house before the light dawns. Love will awaken soon.  My heart is drawn to sit and rest in the stillness of the morning. I sit in my big brown comfy chair and read about Love. 

"And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold [water
in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, 
he shall by no means lose his reward." 
Matthew 10:42

So I sit like Mary at the feet of Jesus (Love incarnate) and drink.  My soul is quenched for the moment.  My heart is filled once again to overflowing so I can give away love for the day.  This is the epi power of the Holy Spirit. My cup sits full to the brim with love overflowing.  I pray it spills out to all I come in contact with.  It's what I need to survive the day.  Love is at war for my mind, my Spirit, my heart and my flesh.  

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength
 of my heart and my portion forever. 
Psalm 73:26 

Love comes alive in me as I continue to sit.  I draw near to Him and He draws near to me.  The baby cries and I arise to fetch Love...a gift.  I cuddle Love and kiss and speak Love to him. I am filled to overflowing. I think my heart is about to burst.  My cup runs over. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Say On, I'm Just Saying

 Some thoughts on obedience...

Honestly the struggle is far greater than these words I can type. My faith journey has often felt like a roller coaster.  Sometimes I am waiting in a long line to get on the ride I think I want to ride.  Only to find out that I don't meet the requirements for that ride.  Other times I'm pressing hard to the daily grind climbing a steep incline to the top. Still other times I find myself gripped with fear as I spin upside down and out of control. But then the best times are those that I raise my hands in pure delight and enjoy the wind blowing in my face as the coaster zooms up and down.  That's the ride we call our faith journey.  It looks different for all of us.  Yet there are some boundaries or guidelines our Father lays out for us to keep us safe along the ride.  If we choose to obey then the ride is much more enjoyable along the length of the journey.

To be perfectly honest this topic of obedience hits home hard. It touches all areas of family life, personal spiritual growth and parenting.  It is especially close to my heart as I am preparing to welcome another little boy into the world very soon.  Parenting is just one of those areas that God gives us opportunities for growth and development. Over the last 5 months I have embarked on a new journey of Homeschooling.  I haven't broadcasted the news that I am now a Homeschooling Mom due to several factors.  It's just one of those personal things.  Yet I feel now that some of the struggles I have been experiencing warrant being written about here.  I will just say that the decision to home school was totally a God thing and a mutual agreement between my husband, myself and God.  Many factors contributed to this decision.  The biggest reason was that our little seven year old boy needed to be home with his mom and dad.  So that is what we have done.  It has been a huge blessing to all of us.  It has required lots more than I thought, yet the rewards outweigh the cost.  It has been a huge lesson in obedience.

I have had some time to think about my role as a mom and really take my job as one, in a different light.  The privilege of raising children certainly is a gift from above.  It must be taken seriously and with a great amount of prayer.  I have come to this conclusion:  obedience is the channel in which God's blessings flow.  It's how we begin to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Now teaching this concept to children isn't easy.  Aren't we are still children?  I think this will be a struggle for the rest of my faith journey this side of glory.  It's one of those I'm continually in the process of learning.  Thank God for grace!

It all begins in the garden.  God gave Adam and Eve everything they needed.  Just like parents we provide our kids with food, clothing and shelter.  We often forget one other rather important thing God provided for Adam and Eve: a boundary line. The instructions to live in the garden be fruitful, multiply and take care of it we remember.  It's the part about you can have all of this place, just not this one tree.  The tree was the boundary. This represents God's role as a loving parent speaking to his children, I love you so much that I have given you all of this, yet it is your choice to enjoy what I have provided and not cross this line.  Children will continually test the boundary line.  How far can I go with out getting in trouble.  God placed a boundary line even in the garden for his two children.  He also said there would be a consequence if they did cross the line.  This is how we as parents deal with our kids.  We demonstrate love by providing for their needs as well as setting up rules for them to follow.  Another words the rules require obedience.  For a child this is a hard thing.  The child is asking does my mom or dad love me?  Do they accept me?  So they continually test the boundary line in search of love and acceptance. God does the same thing with his children.  He asks us to love him with all our hearts, minds and strength.  He gives us free will to choose the gift of salvation, requiring only faith to believe.  Believing then leads to obedience because of the love He showed us through His Son Jesus. 

"So Samuel said: "Has the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, to heed than the fat of rams." 
1 Samuel 15:22

It is better to obey than to sacrifice. This is pleasing to the Lord.  When His children obey He is happy.  I find myself repeating this often as a parent.  It makes Jesus sad when we disobey.  When we choose to do things our own way He is sad.  Like a parent becomes disappointed in a child when he defiantly disobeys.  How this must crush the Father's heart!  As a mom I taste this bitterness.  Yet, with grace and love we continually offer correction in the form of consequences in order to teach obedience.  There is a fine line between breaking Spirit and will. 

It's my job to lay out the rules and make clear lines as to the consequences when obedience is not chosen.  Our heavenly father does the same thing.  The words discipline, struggle, hardship, trial, and even suffering come to mind.  All of these things God uses to teach us to trust Him as our loving father, not to punish us because we are bad.  These tools have become a new resource to me in a different light.  Consequences indeed can seem like a punishment to a child for good reason.  Yet they are a tool that demonstrates love.  I love my child so much that I want him to listen to my instruction and choose obedience because he wants to please me.  Just like my Father above, I want to please Him too. There is only one time in the entire Bible where a command is given specifically to children.  It's the only one directly giving instruction to their job as kids.

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Ephesians 6:1

The only way a child will learn to hear the voice of God is to practice by hearing and obeying the voice of his parents. This realization for myself has forced me to examine my own heart and attitude toward obeying God. It is a reminder to me to be listening for that voice of correction or that voice that says you should do that.  Sometimes I just skip doing things I know I should do and other times I do things I know I shouldn't.  Both are sins.  I have to model this as a parent so my child can learn this lesson. 

So the roller coaster keeps on climbing only to take dips and twists, loops and jerks.  I hold on tight at times.  Other times I am filled with adrenaline and the thrill of the ride.  It certainly is not one I want to miss.

"And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people,
 say on."  Acts 13:15

Monday, May 13, 2013

Silencing the Voice of the Rabshakeh

It has been way too long since I have sat down to write.  I must admit I have missed this.  For a season now I have felt a need to unplug and disconnect from the blog world.  Many changed have taken place in our family and my priorities needed some fine tuning.  As you know by know I am expecting a baby to arrive the end of June.  This of course is a HUGE answer to prayer considering all that has taken place in my life over the last two years.

Today I am celebrating my two year anniversary of victory over cancer!

I have felt like a chapter in my life had been completed and it was time to move on from writing on this blog.  But over the last 5 months the Lord has begun to stir in me and prompt me to return to writing.  You could say I feel compelled.  It is a calling.  One cannot and should not ignore a calling.  Especially if it truly is the Lord's calling. For a long time now I struggled with wanting to write more.  But what would I say?  Did I really have anything worthy of reading that would bring hope and encouragement.  So far the longest time I silenced the voice in my head.  Later I would say.  I have prayed that the Lord would give me words to write.  It hasn't come till now.  Just in this last week I have begun to put some of the pieces together that He has been building for me. So now the task at hand is to pick up the pieces and build a story out of them.  God doesn't waste anything.  He uses it all for His glory.  For too long I have quenched the Spirit. 

So you are probably wondering who the voice of the Rabshakeh is.  Good question.  The Rabshakeh can be found on the pages of the OT in 2 Kings Chapters 18 & 19.  The Rabshakeh is the mouthpiece or orator for the king of Assyria Sennachrib. King Hezekiah of Judah (southern kingdom) has found himself with no options other than to pay tribute money to the King of Assyria.  The northern kingdom has all ready been taken away captive.  The temple and kingdom have been stripped of all riches. Sennachrib does not come in person but sends a delegation to speak to the people and king Hezekiah.  It is in this exchange of words that the Rabshakeh insults the name of the Lord and questions the authority, power and ability of God to save his people.  He stands above the people speaking in Hebrew so they would all understand the message, don't trust the King, he won't save you.  You should make peace with Assyria and become our subjects.  It's the words of the Rabshakeh that derail. Like the Enemy, the Deceiver, the Thief who comes to steal kill and destroy.  The voices splinter and cut away at the promises of who my God is.  It twist's the truth and causes me to doubt the very character of God.  This is a dangerous place.  Thankfully, Hezekiah had given the people instruction to not respond and hold their peace.  If I could only hold my tongue. 

"Set a guard over my mouth Oh Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips." Psalm 141:3

Hezekiah chose to seek God for direction. Is this where I go for direction?  Is this my first choice?  Do I go to the very throne room of God in prayer and not the phone?  In order to silence the voice of fear I must hear from God.  I can't do that with out it costing me something.  My unbelief is wrapped up in my lack of faith.  My faith is wrapped up in my commitment level to seek Him with all my heart, mind and soul. I must silence the thief of unbelief.

"Without faith it is impossible to please God'" Hebrews 11:6

These voices come is all sorts of packages.  It may be difficult to recognize them with out spirtual eyes.  This is why the Word is so clear in telling us to keep being filled of the Spirit.  It may mean that some good things that come our way really aren't what the Lord whould have us be about.  It means that some good things in the worlds eyes may not be good for me right now.

"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful;  all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify." 1 Corinthians 10:23

Our family has been through some stormy seasons.  We have trusted in our faith to pull us through. Prayer has been the lifeline and anchor in the storm. When the circumstances surrounding you seem to overwhelm and all that can be seen is the storm itself where do you turn?  Do I listen to the voices?  Like the voice of the Rabshakeh who questions and insults the very name of God? Do I let those threats steal my joy and strength?  Do I believe the promises of God over my circumstances?

It's in the example of Hezekiah's response to a letter sent from the King of Assyria that we find some answers.  Hezekiah takes the letter and spreads it before the Lord.  He then remembers who God is, His very character, the things He has done.  His prayer is actually very simple. 

"O LORD our God, I pray save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone." 2 Kings 19:19

Do I remember to take my circumstances and spread them before the Lord?  Do I lay them out before Him in prayer and make know my requests?  The only way to quench to voice of the Rabshakeh is to lift my voice against him to the Lord.  It is in this place that the enemy must flee. The Assyrians did not know defeat was on it's way.

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12

In the end one angel destroys 185,000 Assyrians.  God overcomes.  We are more than conquerers.

"Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen." Ephesians 3:20

I have more to write.  The voice has been silenced.

If you want to hear more about King Sennacrib and the Rabshakeh you can download podcast sermons from Calvary Chapel Buhl of Pastor Jackie Roberts.  I highly recommend it, time well invested!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Miracle Child

The miracle we celebrate at Christmas never loses its wonder.  To think of the ultimate plan for all mankind to come as a baby and save the world, amazing!  Only God could think of something so great and awesome.  But that is God, always doing things far beyond what human minds can think, dream or comprehend.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?" Romans 11:33-34 NKJV
During this season we pause to reflect on the wonder of the miracle child we call Jesus. Conceived by the Virgin Mary and pledged to be married to Joseph.  We don’t know much about Mary and Joseph’s background. Yet we can conclude they both loved God with all their hearts and desired to serve Him. My own heart is drawn to Mary’s dilemma: pregnant, unwed and faced with bringing the Son of God, the Savior of all mankind into the world.  Not knowing if Joseph would accuse her of wrong doing and possibly be stoned to death.  He could even leave her before they were together. Yet Mary pondered all these things in her heart.  (See Luke 2:19) She learned the holy discipline of pondering the deep things of God.  Mary understood what it meant to treasure the very words and promises from an Angel.  This season may we never forget the Word who became flesh in the form of a baby just for us.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11
“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.” James 1:7
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
"For with God nothing will be impossible." Luke 1:37
Let us ponder and treasure the miracle of Christmas – Christ himself – Christ alone!  There is no better gift!  We look forward to what God has in store for our family in 2013.  An additional treasure will be joining our family come June.  We are expecting a baby! What a treasure and what a gift!  God is so good! Wishing you a blessed 2013!

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