I’m going to start doing some short videos that will hopefully be some encouragement in the Word for all my ladies! This video series is called Weak Woman vs Strong Woman
WEAK: For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:6-7)
STRONG: She girds herself with strength and she makes her arms strong. (Proverbs 31:17)
She girds: chagar – she puts on, she is able
She makes: amets – courageous, to be bold, to be alert, to be steadfast minded
Her arms: zeroa – she is a symbol of strength, strong shoulders, sows seed, yields
What does a Strong Woman look like?
This week we start with the S in our acronym.
S in STRONG stands for sensible… “The naive believes everything, but the sensible (wo)man considers his(her) steps.” Proverbs 14:15
T trustworthy: He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter. (Proverbs 11:13) A trustworthy witness will not lie, But a false witness utters lies. (Proverbs 14:5) Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. (1 Timothy 3:11)
R real: And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)
O obedient: But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed (Romans 6:17) As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)
N noble: A woman is strong because she is sensible, trustworthy, real, obedient to God, and noble. In Psalm 45:9 we read, “Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies”. The word noble in this verse is “yaqar” and it means precious, rare, splendid, costly… Oh ladies, be noble. Know your worth!
G is for Gentle. Finishing up our STRONG Woman series with our G.
A strong woman is gentle.
“And Your gentleness makes me great.” (Psalm 18:35)
It’s August! It’s back to school month for most children everywhere in our area. This month Mommas will be sending their kids into school firsts. Perhaps this will be your baby’s first day at preschool, or kindergarten, or elementary, or high school, or even college. Maybe this month will be your child’s first day at a new school or just a first day at the next grade in an old school. Perhaps you are jumping into a brand new adventure and this month will be your kids first day to homeschool. Perhaps you already do homeschool, yet your kids are moving up into the next group in your church or school co-op. A new minister, a new Sunday School class, a new group of kids… so many influencers that you do not yet know surrounding them and becoming their leaders and/or peer group.
It doesn’t matter what your August looks like you can still feel it. The angst of the new, the apprehension of letting go, the wondering of are we making the right choice. The mix of joy as you see them growing up and the deep strange sorrow of knowing that they ARE growing up. Oh how we can see the so many things that will be left behind in the land of smiling tear-filled memories as we watch them take each new step into the world of firsts. Yet, how proud we are as we see them walk into those firsts. How desperately we pray that they will make wise choices while they are there. Or at least quickly learn from their mistakes so that they don’t have to spend forty years circling the same mountain!
As I spent time in the Word this morning I read a passage in 1 Corinthiansthat spoke to my heart concerning my children and I wanted to share it with you…
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
Do you not know that youare God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3:5:17, ESV
Now let me share with you how this translated to my heart this morning…
Yes, you are sending your child into their next unknown. It’s unknown to you and it’s unknown to them, but it’s not unknown to Me. You, dear Momma, are my fellow workman. You simply plant or water, as do the others that are in your child’s life, I alone am the One who causes the growth.
Your child is My field and My building. According to My grace that I have given you, like a skilled master builder, you have been laying a foundation. Now you have to sit back and watch others build on that foundation. Do so in the trust of knowing that no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.
You have taught them and are teaching them the truth of My Word. You continue to plant and water. You continue to be a workman with Me. Remember that we are One, you and Me, we are in this together. It’s not all on you. You are actually nothing apart from Me. So trust Me to guard the foundation of Christ that has been laid in the heart of your child.
Know that others will build on it. Some will build with gold, silver, and precious stones. Some will build with wood, hay, and straw. Trust that I will reveal what is of value and is strong enough to become a part of the foundation. There will be moments when others try to place wood, hay, and straw on that foundation, but I will remove it. My fire will test it and what cannot withstand the test of My fire will be burned up and cleaned away, so that only what is of Christ will remain. If I have to burn it down to the foundation itself, I will, but the foundation will never be destroyed.
Dear sweet Momma, do you not know that your child is My temple? My Spirit dwells within them. Do you not know that if anyone, ANYONE, tries to destroy My temple, I will destroy them? My temple is holy and your child is My temple. So please, just keep planting and watering and working My field and trust Me to protect the building and bring the harvest.
And Momma don’t forget that you are My field and My building too. You too are My temple, and I will also be watching over You.
Yesterday we buried my Daddy-in-Love and today is my Daddy’s birthday. How crazy is it that I would I meet this man and fall head over heels in love with him to find our families have been and would always be so deeply intertwined?
After we were married and I was in our first home combining the his and hers, my Grandmother came over to see our new home. As she walked down the hall and saw the pictures she looked up and said, “Is that Fred and Janie?” Some of you have already heard this story, but I still love to tell it.
Come to find out, my husband’s father’s family and my mother’s family grew up together. My great grandfather and my husband’s grandfather were best friends and fishing buddies. My grandmother knew them all and knew them well.
Then our first married Christmas I am putting ornaments on my tree and my mother walks over to see and notices these homemade angels hanging on my tree. She asks about them, because she has the same ornament hanging on her tree that was a gift from an elderly woman that was a resident of the nursing home she worked at. That woman ended up being my husband’s grandmother on his mother’s side.
In 2012 my husband’s sister was diagnosed with liver cancer that had metastasized from her colon… as she bravely and beautiful fought this ugly disease we learned in April 2014 that my husband’s stepdad had bladder cancer and then in May 2014 that my Daddy had lung cancer. You just had to laugh on the days that we all found ourselves in the oncologists office on the same day. My husband’s sister would laugh and ask the front desk if they had a family plan.
It was April 27th 2015 when we learned that their was nothing more the doctors could do for my husband’s sister and April 30th 2015 when we received the same news on my Daddy. My Daddy went home to be with the Lord on May 2nd and Phillis met him there on May 21st.
Then on December 26th my Daddy-in-Love joined them in heaven. I have no doubt, absolutely NO Doubt that my Daddy and Phillis were the first to greet him and take him to see Jesus face to face. I know the prayers these two offered up on his behalf that he would be ready when he drew his last breathe. I can’t imagine the joy of the moment and the joy on their faces when hearing the news from our Lord as He said, “Guess whose coming home!”
As I stated at the beginning of this post, yesterday December 29th we laid to rest my Daddy-in-Love and today I awake to my Daddy’s first birthday in eternity. He would have been 61 years old today.
I feared the coming of this day. I did not know how I would take it. The Lord has been faithful to meet me in my pits of hurt and doubt and as I have asked Him over and over again the why of all this… He spoke too me in His Word and He confirmed it through a song.
There is a song that our church has sang through this Christmas season that sings, “welcome to our world“. I think here in this modern day western churchianity we have somehow convinced ourselves that becoming a Christian means that Jesus is going to come down here and fix everything in our own little world with a simple “I declare it in the name of Jesus!” We might understand that the whole world is going to go through troubles, but we expect God to make our own little world perfect… that is, perfect in our eyes. That’s not why Jesus came.
He did not come to make our world problem free, He came to help us through this problem filled world until it was time to bring us into His eternally perfect world. As the song sang… welcome to our world. This fallen, broken, dying world that He could have turned His back, but He instead entered into it to save us and bring us to the safety of Himself.
I imagine it more like being trapped in a wooded forest filled with sinkholes, beast, flash floods, etc… kind of like the arena of the Hunger Games. Stuck in this arena of sin we can’t see our way out or through and there’s no hover craft able to drop a basket in and lift us out. The only hope would be for a guide to enter into the arena with us. A guide that knows all the traps and has the knowledge and ability to get us through and out. Jesus is that guide. He entered into the arena. He could have sat back and watched it all from the safety of His capital throne, but He didn’t. He entered in to see that we win the game.
In mine and my husband’s intertwined life, when we said “I do”, we thought the intertwining would begin there at the altar in the covenant of marriage… but the Grand Weaver had us in the works knitting our families together in Him, to Him, and for Him long before either one of us was even thought of in this world. He’s a good, good, God.
I don’t know where we go from here, everything in life has changed these past couple of years… but God has not. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever. He knows the beginning and the end. So we will just keep following Him. He is the only one who knows where we are going and how to get us there anyway.
This month I entered into my 39th year. I felt the Lord impress upon me to turn to Psalm 39 and so I did… and as I read He spoke the hard truth to my heart.
I said, “I will guard my ways That I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle While the wicked are in my presence.” I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, And my sorrow grew worse. My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue: “Lord, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. “Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. “Surely every man walks about as a phantom; Surely they make an uproar for nothing; He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.
“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. “Deliver me from all my transgressions; Make me not the reproach of the foolish. “I have become mute, I do not open my mouth, Because it is You who have done it. “Remove Your plague from me; Because of the opposition of Your hand I am perishing. “With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity; You consume as a moth what is precious to him; Surely every man is a mere breath.
“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears; For I am a stranger with You, A sojourner like all my fathers. “Turn Your gaze away from me, that I may smile again Before I depart and am no more.”
I have been walking faithfully with the Lord since Psalm 25. He used Psalm 25 to bring me back into fellowship with Him three days before my 25th birthday. Last year I survived Psalm 38. I didn’t think I would… but He is faithful. Now I step into Psalm 39.
The 39th Psalm begins with David sharing how he stayed silent. He stayed silent and guarded his mouth with a muzzle while the wicked were in his presence. Perhaps he stayed silent as to not say something cruel. Perhaps he stayed silent so as not to offend. Perhaps he stayed silent in order to protect himself. Perhaps he stayed silent in order to not reveal his position. It doesn’t really matter the why of the silence, because the result of the silence was felt regardless of the reason for it.
He shares that in his choice of silence while in the presence of the wicked, he EVEN refrained from good.
His sorrow grew worse.
His heart was hot.
His musing burned within him.
I have a tendency to be hurt and just tuck it in and walk away. Then the hurt just turns in me, over and over and over, as if on instant replay. I read Psalm 39:3 and I get the picture of someone using friction to start a fire. The musing is like rubbing the two sticks together and the more you rub them the breakdown of the wood creates the smolder and the smolder the fire.
When we try to suppress our hurt or when we wrestle with the realities of evil and pain in this life, regardless of their source, apart from God we create this friction, this burning, and if we refuse to bring it to the throne of God and wrestle it out WITH Him, it will indeed destroy us.
I understand where David was at… in his attempt to not screw up around the wicked, he stopped doing anything. He just quit. Have you been there beloved? Have you been trying to serve God with a full and obedient heart and have found yourself being attacked on every side from those you never expected it to come, in a way that you never expected to be? Blindsided by those you never before would have labeled “wicked”? Wounded, have you found that you now just refrain even from doing good?
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.
2 Thessalonians 3:13
And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
In Psalm 39:4 I can see David in his hurt and in his inner churning and heart burning throwing his hands up to God and crying out… basically saying, “What is the point!?!?“
I know that cry… I have made it myself.
I have learned truly how short life is and how we are indeed a mere breath. We have a very short time on this earth. Even if we live to see a hundred plus… to those who are separated from us that time is simply not enough. We desire more. We desire eternity. Indeed, even a hundred years is as a mere breathe.
I watch our American world today and listen to the things that we are in such an uproar over and stressed out concerning and I agree with the words of David in Psalm 39:6…
Surely every man walks about as a phantom; Surely they make an uproar for nothing; He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.
There is only one thing that matters… Is my heart in the hands of God? Is my soul alive with the Spirit of God? Do I possess Christ? Am I sojourner with the LORD? Really… does Christ possess me?
When I am at my wits end, when I have stepped into a pit of hurt and confusion and darkness and I no longer know up from down and have even found myself questioning the goodness of the God I cry out to and trust in… when I remember that my heart is His and that all souls that are in His Son are safe in His hands… I find myself on my knees remembering my hope alone is in Him.
I know He alone holds the answers. I know He alone is sovereign. I know that good or bad, joyful or painful, He for some reason has allowed it. I know that anything not in Him will be consumed as a moth. This includes this earthly body.
Which included my Daddy, and my Phillis, and now my Daddy-in Law who is preparing to enter into eternity. Which includes myself, my children, my friends, my co-workers, my schoolmates, strangers that I pass on the street… our bodies will perish, but there is one thing that is eternal in this life and that is our souls.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Christ came to save souls. Christ saved my soul, in order to use my soul, my mind, my might, my strength, my body to serve Him to save other souls.
People are what matter.
God loves people.
God sent His Son to save people.
I have learned that when I find myself hurt and churning here in this life, it’s because I have made something consumable more precious than what is not consumable… which is an eternal soul.
Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inheritthe imperishable.Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:50-57
And then there is the grand conclusion…
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Oh beloved of God… NEVER allow any hurt by what is perishable and consumable to keep you from doing good and investing in what is not perishable or consumable… which is the human soul.
Your toil is not in vain when it is in the LORD… for nothing IN HIM will be destroyed.
Tonight at my parents home my mother brought up the question… a question every one who professes to be a believer should ask, “when was the last time I shared the gospel to someone or led someone to Christ?”
Not invited to church… but shared the gospel and led to Christ. Is my life a pathway to the Lord for those watching it being lived out? Am I a light in the darkness?
(This post was updated on December 25th, 2015 at 11:30pm)
When you step into a journey of the unknown I have learned it is very easy to lose your way. As I pondered how to describe this step I thought of an experience I had back in October. Our girls are in theatre. I usually always help backstage in some way. In theatre the lights go out because the scenes must be changed in the dark.
On one particular show day I had to leave in between shows for a doctor’s appointment. I stepped back into the backstage area at the exact moment that the grand was being pulled open for the first scene. When I rushed on stage to do the scene change my eyes had not yet adjusted to my new environment. I was blind and useless. I had to stop where I was and not move and close my eyes and allow my self time to adjust in order to find my way again. It took until the next scene change before my eyes were ready because I had stepped backstage from a beautiful sun shining day.
Sometimes this journey of life is like my theatre experience above. Sometimes God throws us into a new environment within a familiar environment and we can find ourselves in a panic in our new unknown. Everything comes to a standstill in our spirit and we feel paralyzed and blind. In that moment it is easy for fear to grip our hearts.
I have also learned that the adjustment from seeing in the light to seeing in the darkness takes much longer the brighter the previous light, and it’s definitely much harder to go from light to darkness than it is from darkness to light.
I know that in this new environment of ours, an environment absent of those who have NEVER been absent from our life, has placed us on a journey we never thought we would be on. We have gone from being in their light to a darkness that we have never experienced before. The Spirit has reminded me of John 5:35-36 and how the disciples of John must have felt when he was taken away from them.
Everything we thought would be, no longer will be, and although we are walking in familiar territory, darkness has fallen on the land, because the familiar is now no longer familiar. It has changed. The future plans dreamed and prepared for are gone.
It is here where vision can be lost.
I know I lost sight of mine. I really just wanted to curl up in the fetal position and throw in the towel. In one moment everything that you thought was, now isn’t; and everything, every, thing, is now unfamiliar territory, even the mundane simple routine things of life.
In the book of Mark there is an interaction between Jesus and a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. In Mark 10:46-52this man heard the voice of Jesus and began crying out to Him. Jesus stopped and told His disciples to call him to come to Him. Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak and jumped up and came to Jesus. When Jesus asked him what he wanted from Him, Bartimaeus said, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!”
The fact that he said he wanted to regain his sight implies that at one time he could see. He too was in familiar territory that now was made unfamiliar by the presence of darkness that his eyes (physical and spiritual) just simply could not adjust to. As I read this, and listened to Phil Waldrep teach on this passage of Scripture last month, in the margin of my Bible I wrote, “I need to regain my sight”
I realized that not only was I grieving, but I had entered a journey into the unknown with my once known gone. I was in new territory. I had just had the lights turned out on me and I was on a familiar stage in the midst of a scene change but I was blind and useless. I was trying to go throw the routine motions because in my head I knew where everything was supposed to go and be, but really I was a mess, and was going to make a mess if I did not stop and stand still and give my eyes time to adjust.
I asked God to help me see. I have been asking God to help me see. However, just like that day in the theatre He has been slow in this eye adjustment, but He is indeed restoring my sight.
For one He has reminded me that people are always watching us even when we have no clue that they are. He has also reminded us that He is good, through simple laugh out loud ways, He has reminded us that He loves us and is on His throne.
In November, my husband and I snuck away to the beach alone. While there, in the stillness, separated from the regular routine of life we were able to reconnect with our God and with one another. I have been stuck on my Exodus Part Two book since my Daddy took a turn for the worse in January and while at the beach God gave me two devotions for this book. This renewed my spirit to finish it, not just Exodus, but the entire series.
Also one night while waiting to eat, my husband and I were sitting out on the deck of a restaurant holding hands just talking, and this group of older men turned the corner and one of them said, “Well aren’t you two just the cutest couple we have seen here all week.”
Then, while at the beach, my husband won tickets to our home state ultimate college football rivalry game, The Iron Bowl. We were home from the beach for a week, then we had Thanksgiving, which was so VERY HARD for us and then the next day we left for Auburn.
We parked and walked almost two miles to the stadium, While walking to the game we stopped at the infamous Tiger Walk to see the players and while standing there we had a couple come up and say, “We have been behind y’all watching y’all walk for a while and we just wanted you tell you that you two are the cutest things!”
Then a friend had gifted us with some Titan tickets several months ago, which just happened to be for the game following the Iron Bowl. It just happened to be pouring down rain for this game, and my body and cold and rain simply do not get alone. We also had another mile walk to the stadium. On the walk my shoe came untied and my husband bent over and tied it for me. We walked a little further and lo and behold the OTHER shoe came untied and once again he bent over to tie my shoe. While he was tying my shoe this lady comes up and pats us on the back and says, “Now that’s true love right there!”
Then we got to the stadium and as we were walking to our seats, which would have had us sitting in the rain, this man stopped us. He asked us where we were sitting and then asked if we wanted to stay dry? He had two extra club seating tickets that he wanted to give us as a gift. We were hesitate at first to accept them, thinking this had to be a racket, but it wasn’t. It was simply a kind gesture. We walked into a carpeted area with leather seats and big screen tv’s and indoor concessions. It was nice and it was dry.
What did all these comments and experiences mean and how did God use them to restore my vision?
One He reminded me that He was with us. He had not forgotten us. He had not forsaken me and the visions that I felt so certain that He had given me for my life in service to Him. He reminded me that me and my husband have always been a great team and somehow people see something in us that we don’t so easily see in ourselves.
Two He reminded me that people are watching us. He reminded me that sometimes our greatest ministry as Christians is to those that we don’t even know are paying any attention to us. It’s those that are watching us interact with our spouses and with our kids. It’s those that are seeing how we handle and walk through the every day things of life.
So as I step deeper still into this journey of the unknown I am thankful that I have a very Known God to lead me through it. I am thankful that darkness and light are the same to Him. I am thankful that He is the One that holds us together when we feel like falling apart.
It’s been a really long time since I wrote any poetry. This past month my husband and I had an opportunity to sneak away for a few days to the beach and as I sat on a quiet, uncrowded, chilly beach I, for the first time in a while, wrote out a poem to my God…
My God I come to Thee
To lift my hands and sing.
My voice I do raise
That my tongue might give Thee praise.
Wholly I surrender to Thy own will and way
Knowing Thou art good and holy is Thy name.
Thy justice I can trust
When I am hurt by deeds unrighteous.
Thy mercy I can find
When the world has crushed my mind.
When my heart and soul feels faint
I know that Thou art still my strength.
When the winds and waves crash round
I know that the Rock on which I stand shall never let me drown.
Thy unchanging love which never fails me not
Shall hold me steady still when I forget what Thou hath taught.
Thy own faithfulness carries me when I am found faithless.
Thy righteousness covers me when exposed by flesh’s weakness.
When tears fill my eyes and no words can I find
Thy Spirit gently comes and guards me like a lion.
He utters and He groans with the voice of my unknowns
For He knows how to pray when all my words are gone.
When sins effect has wounded in depths no man can reach
Thy hand my God is able to heal the hurts so deep.
Thy Son who came and lived on earth to sympathize
Understands the pain of here and does not condemn me in my cries.
I adore Thee. I adore Thee. My God Thee I adore.
I thank Thee and I praise Thee for all that Thou restore.
By Thy cross, not hell, not death, nor any scheme of man
Has power to ever stop Thy will or Thy plan.
Although I cannot always see
In this valley of the shadow so deep
I hear Thy word tell me that my sight I do not need.
By faith I take each step
Trusting in all Thy promises that Thou has already kept.
Knowing that Thou art good and this life is not the end.
For by the blood of Thy Son Thou has called me friend.
So into Thy loving hands my soul I do commit.
I am bought by Thee and at Thy feet I sit.
My ear is leaning in to hear what Thou wouldst speak.
My hands and feet are Thine to use as Thou see fit.
When you walk though a season like my family is currently traveling through you deal with every emotion known to the heart. I have never felt the depth of hurt that I have in the past couple of years. My faith was shattered and shook in and from all directions. I saw ugly things that have changed me forever. There are people that I will never see the same this side of eternity.
There are words in my heart that I so desire to speak, yet I stay silent as I wait upon the Lord. I have learned that I could and probably can forgive anything, but I cannot restore until someone sees the need to seek that forgiveness. It’s a whole new depth to the gospel that I have come to understand. There is a difference in knowing someone has the ability to forgive and actually coming to that someone and asking for that forgiveness. However, I have learned that in this it is okay to shake the dust off my feet and leave that to my God. I am not obligated to carry that burden.
You see THAT is what it means to forgive. In Matthew 6:15,
But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
The word forgive is aphiémi and it means I send away, release, remit, forgive. It also means to lay aside, leave, let go, omit, to depart from one and leave him to himself, so that all mutual claims are abandoned, to leave, go away from one; to depart from anyone, to give up a thing to one.
Sometimes to forgive is to simply let go and walk away. To forgive is to simply give up the hurt to God and let Him deal with it. He alone knows what is going on in the heart. He alone knows the motive, so it’s safe to release our pain to Him and trust Him to make it right in His time.
Today is the first day of the last month of the year. This month we remember the day that God kept a promise that He made way back when sin made its first ugly stain.
And between your seed and her seed… Genesis 3:15
The need for forgiveness has its beginning way back there in the garden. Our God was the first to extend the forgiveness He asks us to extend. He never asks of us what He is not willing to do Himself.
Wednesday night during my Sermon on the Mount Precept study as I sat and watched the accompanying Kay Arthur video with the rest of the class the Lord spoke to my heart. He has a way of doing that in His still small voice. When He thundered from the top of Mount Sinai from His cloud of glory the people shook with fear, so today in and through Christ by His Holy Spirit He chooses the still small voice… which means only those who have ears to hear will hear. So beloved, make sure your ears are open when you are asking.
This past Wednesday Kay was teaching us from Matthew 6:1-18 and the majority of this passage of Scripture is on prayer. As Kay covered the index sentences of the Lord’s Prayer I was writing my allegiance is to Your Kingdom, Your will be done… and in that moment the Lord spoke and I wrote His words to me, “I did answer your prayer, just not with your will”
What I have learned clearly this past year is how often we say, “God didn’t answer my prayers” when what we really mean is “God didn’t give me what I asked for.” The two simply are not synonymous.
Just because I didn’t get what I asked for does not mean that God didn’t answer my prayers. God did. I asked him to heal my Daddy, and He answered, “I have” (from Psalm 30:2)
I asked God to let them see Ashleigh get married and He answered, “No… in My book were all written the days that were ordained for them, when as yet there was not one of them” (from Psalm 139:16).
Just because God didn’t do my will, does not mean that He was deaf to my prayer or that He didn’t answer.
In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.
Jesus WAS heard, but He STILL went to the cross.
saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
Prayer is about open communication with the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe. Prayer is having the freedom to sit down and chat with the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Prayer is the opportunity to be first in line, every time, and with all the time needed to meet face to face and one on one with the Wonderful Counselor and the Great Physician.
Prayer is not the fast food window where I put in my order my way and get exactly what I asked for in 30 minutes or less or the next meal is free.
He is God and we are not.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?
This past Monday morning as I listened to my Bible study lesson with Phil Waldrep he made the statement that demons can assess our spiritual condition as they can tell when we have not been praying. I know this to be true. The spiritual forces of darkness are not ignorant of our weaknesses and the enemy of our soul is always lurking about seeking whom he may devour.
Evil is always looking for the open door.
Usually when I review books I try to bend them as little as possible and keep them as new as I can because I usually give them away to someone else to be blessed by them. However, when I opened up The Battle Plan for Prayer I grabbed my pen… this one was staying with me.
Prayer has been difficult for me for a while. I have shared that before here on my blog. It was during a forty day fast as I was trying to find my footing with my God again after a very rough couple of years that He chose to bring both my Daddy and my Sister-in-Law home to Him. I cannot begin to explain to you the storm that blew across my soul during that time and has been waging since… yet my roots have held.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord.
For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.
Beloved if you are going to be able to stand firm through times of drought and still be able to bear fruit you must be a man or woman of prayer. You must know how to pray according to the will of God and not your own whims. Had I not been firmly rooted in the Word yesterday, I know that I would have not been able to stand in the storms of today.
I haven’t seen the movie War Room yet, but I have read several of the books affiliated with it and I must say that thus far this one has been my favorite.
The Kendrick brothers take the topic or prayer and look at it through the headings of: Enlistment, Basic Training, Conditioning, Strategies, Targets, Ammunition, and Reinforcements. Whether you are a seasoned prayer warrior or a brand new baby believer, this book is an excellent tool to revive, enhance, or begin your prayer life.
The book is meant to be gone through slowly and purposely. The goal is to read a chapter a day. Each chapter is just a few pages long. Read, meditate on the Scriptures shared, and by all means pray. Really pray.
Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak
Even if it feels like your prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling… pray anyway. Pray in faith. Pray in faith that the God who promised to hear and answer is able and faithful. His ears are not deaf and He gathers the prayers of His saints… every single one.
Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.
I received this book free for an honest review… and I am so very grateful that I did. Do I recommend it? Yes, yes indeed I do.
What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again. All things are wearisome;
Sitting with my family the other night watching the premier of “The Voice” I was reminded of this post that I began several days before. Sometimes the Lord will simply place a thought in my heart and then will build on it before He ever gives me the sit down and be still time to write it out. This thought pulls all the way back to an overnight trip that my husband and I took back in August.
I had been scrolling through colleges and looking at seminary degrees and researching and on our way to our destination I asked him what he thought about me going back to school and getting a degree in Biblical counseling. He then said, “why is just being a wife and mother not enough?”
As we sat down and watched “The Voice” there were at least two contestants that had abandoned their families to pursue their “musical dreams” and they claimed to be doing so for their kids, so they could show them that it was okay to go after their dreams.
After the second one my husband and I both looked at each other and then asked our girls which they thought the children of these two would have preferred… Watching their parents forsake those they claimed to love in order to pursue a personal dream or to have them forsake a personal dream in order to be there for the one’s they claimed to love. It didn’t take a second for our girls to answer. They knew that those kids would rather have had their family together.
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends
How easily we have allowed Satan to destroy our families and our faith through the shallow promises of fame and mountaintop highs. When did being a faithful spouse, a loving parent, a loyal employer and/or employee stop being enough?
And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
In this same week we watched an episode of “The Waltons”. In this episode Olivia had taken a job as a seamstress and she was amazing at her trade. So much so that the owner of the business wanted her to run that store while she opened another one in another town. This coming with week long trips to fashion shows in New York. Olivia flattered struggled with many sleepless nights as to what she should do… deciding that her first priority was to her family she declined the opportunity. That’s quite the opposite of the stories of many today.
I believe it so often has boiled down to the fact that we have forgotten the sacredness of the ordinary. This is not immune to the church or even to my own heart. Perhaps we just might have set ourselves up to live as Phil Waldrep stated earlier this week “from mountaintop experience to mountaintop experience“. We drag ourselves through the daily routine simply to get us through to the next big thing. Whether it be the end of our school or work week living Friday night to Friday night or in our spiritual walk living Sunday morning to Sunday morning or conference to conference but,
Discipleship isn’t about running from mountain-top experience to mountain-top experience. It is about denying yourself, taking up the cross and following Jesus. ~ Phil Waldrep
Our lives are scheduled from schools start to Fall Break to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years to Valentines to Easter to Spring Break to Summer Vacation. Our church life seldom looks any different than our kids school schedule or the Wal-Mart seasonal decoration aisles.
While the calendar may seem to set us up to live from one major holiday to the next, what if there is far more to expect from the rest of our days? While holy days mark events that dramatically shape both religious and secular worldviews, our ordinary days give us the space to live these events out. In the repetitive rhythm of the church calendar, human hearts are invited to beat expectantly of a greater kingdom. Ordinary time is never ordinary, for God’s presence always involves the unexpected.
~ Jill Carattini
I am sure you have heard the saying about the dash. When these bodies have breathed their last and our spirit returns to the One who gave it to us, we are down to two mountaintop experiences. The day of our birth and the day of our death. Yet these two mountaintop experiences are not what define us… but it is instead the valley of the dash.
Strangers from the time of the laying of the stone until the day of the destruction of the earth will walk by and see the mountaintops, but only those that were a part of your ordinary everyday life will have a clue about that dash.
So we can live our lives so that people who never met us or really knew us can quote the dates of our mountaintops to mountaintops as we hop from one to the next or we can instead choose to dwell long and purposeful in the valley of the dash. Working not for fame, but from faith. Faith that the Lord is there in the ordinary. After all He laid aside the glory of heaven and became ordinary for us…
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
Just an ordinary Baby from an ordinary girl who married an ordinary man who would teach Him the way he had been commanded by their Heavenly Father in and through ordinary life. An ordinary Baby who would grow to become an ordinary Kid with questions, who would become an ordinary Man who would teach other ordinary men to do extraordinary things for the Extraordinary God in the midst of ordinary days. Who would die on a cross with ordinary thieves so that ordinary girls like me might be saved.
The information in that dash is reserved only for those who were there for the ordinary. The ordinary matters. It’s easy to claim to live for Jesus up there on that mountaintop, and sometimes instead of living Jesus out in the valley of the shadow of death we just want to throw up a tabernacle right there up top, but Jesus brought Peter, James, and John down from the mountain (Mark 9).
Live for Him in the ordinary. It’s never just another ordinary day.
David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them off.
1 Samuel 17:39
The past couple of weeks I have been teaching my preschoolers about doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing, about how wisdom comes from being willing to listen, and about how not giving up because something is hard produces perseverance. Perseverance is a big word for preschoolers… and well it’s a big word for adults too. And walking it out is a big undertaking for me these days.
My preschoolers have been working on learning Colossians 3:17 “whatever I do and whatever I say should be for Jesus and give Him praise” (paraphrased), Proverbs 1:5 “wise people listen, wise people learn” (paraphrased),and James 1:2-3 “consider it all joy when you face trials and hard things knowing that this testing of your faith is being used by God to produce perseverance” (paraphrased). These are tough verses to swallow. Easy to memorize and quote (especially the paraphrased version), but a different story in the actual living it out process. In our chapel time we have been learning from David.
Earlier this week as I read again the story of David and Goliath the Lord caused a verse to jump out to me that He had not before. In teaching the children about perseverance I pulled a “suppose this” out of 1 Samuel 17. I said, Suppose that when David was a boy out with his sheep and he picked up that sling and tried to use it, suppose he missed his target on the first try or couldn’t even get the rock to stay in the sling? Suppose that when that happened he would have thrown that sling down and stomped away and quit. Would he have ever been able to defeat Goliath that day that he stood before him or would he have joined all the others who were shaking in their boots in fear?
David was able to stand in confidence before this enemy with just a sling because he had practiced with it and tested it. God had helped him use it to defeat animals that were coming to kill, steal, and destroy his sheep and therefore David knew he could trust God to help him use it to defeat Goliath as well. This sling had proven to be a faithful tool in the hands of David as he faced lesser foes which allowed David to confidently step before this greater enemy. Through the testing of this sling in the pasture defending sheep David had learned to trust God and this sling and was ready to use it on the battlefield defending all of Israel.
It was 1 Samuel 17:39 and the word tested that jumped out at me as never before as I read it in light of James 1:2-3.
David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” And David took them off.
David refused to use Saul’s armor, not just because it did not fit, but because he personally had not tested it. David would not stand before the enemy and trust in anything that he had not yet proven to be faithful through lesser circumstances.
In James 1:2-3 the word for perseverance in the Greek is hupomoné and it means properly, remaining under, endurance; steadfastness, especially as God enables the believer to “remain (endure) under” the challenges He allots in life.
Precious one are you under some challenges? Are you willing to stay under those challenges until God removes them or changes them?
We can look at 1 Samuel 17:39 in light of James 1:2-3 in at least two ways…
We are tools in the hands of our God. If He is to use us to fight the powers of darkness and deliver others from the taunting threats of Satan He has to test us. He has to work us against lesser circumstances in order to prepare us for greater ones. We must be proven.
In Romans 5:3-5 we read, “we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (underline mine). In order for God to use us for the glory of His Son, His name, and His kingdom we must be tested and proven. The only way to be tested is by facing trials. It sucks, I get it. But we have a choice. We can say throw me down and walk away, I don’t want to be used by You God. Or we can say, alright, Your will be done. Get me ready.
David had a sling. We have a sword, (“and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” Ephesians 6:17). David had to learn how to use that sling. We have to learn how to use our sword.
In order for David to be able to trust in his sling. He had to have opportunities to use it. He might have started out with just aiming at trees and bushes and rocks, but that’s not the same as facing an enemy that is out for blood. It’s one thing to win Bible drills and ace that Seminary exam on hermeneutics, but it’s another thing to trust in the Word of God when it comes to quoting it in the face of hurt and disappointment. David had to learn to hit a bush before he could learn to hit a bear and he had to be prepared to stand before a bear before he could be prepared to stand before Goliath.
So I ask again… Precious one are you under some challenges? Are you willing to stay under those challenges until God removes them or changes them?
The writing and teachings of Nicole Love Halbrooks Vaughn