Monday, January 27, 2014

Short. Sweet.

So let's be real.  I am a horrible blogger.  I am going to blog when I can.  There are lots of things going on.  I am very much still in the Word, however, blogging about it is not so easy.  There are so many things I want to say and so many questions I want answered, but I can't write it all down in a short write up.  Please forgive me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Peace. Grace.

Have you ever paid attention to the way Paul starts his letters to the different churches?  It's all about God's love and grace and peace.

"To [you then] all God's beloved ones in Rome, called to be saints and designated for a consecrated life:  Grace and spiritual blessing and peace be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 1:7 AMP)

"To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those consecrated and purified and made holy in Christ Jesus, [who are] selected and called to be saints (God's people), together with all those who in any place call upon and give honor to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:  Grace (favor and spiritual blessing) be to you and [heart] peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:2-3 AMP)

"Grace and spiritual blessing be to you and [soul] peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)." (Galatians 1:3 AMP)

"May grace (God's unmerited favor) and spiritual peace [which means peace with God and harmony, unity, and undisturbedness] be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 1:2 AMP)

Those are just a few.  There's still 2 Corinthians, Colossians, Philippians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, etc.  As I was flipping through deciding where to begin today this thought really stuck out to me.  Paul's letters aren't always praising the actions of the groups he writes to.  In all reality, the majority of the time he is having to correct their ways.  BUT each and every time he is completely genuine and sincere with the intent of showing God's love and grace.  He isn't giving them rules to follow.  He isn't trying to maintain power and control over them. He is inspiring them and enlightening them to a fuller life.  A life with heart peace and soul peace.

{Side Note}Another reason I love the Amplified translation:  it doesn't generalize literal translations.  There are several different kinds of "peace".  The peace spoken in the Bible isn't that everything in your life is going smoothly.  It's the inner peace of soul and heart.

What if, what if, each of us began our ramblings or corrections how Paul began his.  What I imagine is words of love overflowing from our hearts, God's grace shining like a beacon from our lips, and inward peace as a breeze through the air.  If we begin our responses first by seeing each person as a child of God, as our brother or sister, will our encouragement and correction take a different form than if we are just thinking of some far off person we see only sin covering?

Going further, what if you started treating yourself and talking to yourself as Paul does his flock?

May the peace, love, and grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ fill your heart and soul.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pray It and It Will Come.

I am a firm believer in prayer; not because I receive exactly what I ask for or because I get it right when I ask, but because He hears and answers every single one.  Sometimes it takes me a while to see where the prayers were answered; however, those are usually the greatest treasures of all.  He has so much more in store for us than our little brains can ever imagine.

The first few years of youth group we had a girl's retreat each spring.  It was your typical girly getaway complete with nail painting, mud masks, chick flicks, and chocolate.  The topic was always something to do with purity and boys which was always somewhat awkward and way too giddy.  I remember one of my friends telling me they weren't going to attend because girls of our age don't need to be focusing on such things so much.  I tried to agree with her back then.  Now I will freely say that I encourage each and every parent of teenagers to teach them to pray for their future spouses and focus on Christ's love.  It's not encouraging them to only focus on getting married and forgetting their own passions and gifts.  It's investing in their future.

At these retreats we were asked to make lists of the characteristics we wanted in a husband.  We wrote down prayers and prayed them aloud.  I never stopped after my teenage years.  At Oklahoma Christian I had a paper stuck to my apartment mirror with a list of things I wanted in a partner.  I prayed it every time I saw the paper.  I use to just sit and wonder where this man was and if I had already met him or seen him across the room.

I keep saying I am in awe of how God has worked in my life in the last year especially, but I really should have just expected it because I've been praying for it the majority of my life.  I have, by no means, been perfect, but I have stayed faithful and followed where God has lead me.  This man I am going to marry is my encourager.  He is a man of God.  I knew God had plans for us before we were officially dating.  I knew it because I was constantly in prayer.

He talks to us.  It may not be verbally, but listen and you will hear.  As in 1 Kings, sometimes His voice is in the unexpected.

"And he said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord."  And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  And after the wind an earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.  And behold, there came a voice to him..." (1 Kings 19:11-13 ESV)

So go pray!  Talk to our King!  He will answer!  Stay faithful and see the vast replies you receive. Remember the Words of Matthew:

"Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.  For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8)        

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fire. Water.

I have been venturing into Song of Solomon quite a bit lately since beginning the planning process of our wedding.  Solomon was a brilliant lyricist.  I may end up doing a week or so on his verses.  Not only is this a story of a couple, but it is a description of our relationship with Christ as His bride.

When I was in high school we sang the words of Song of Solomon 8:6-7.  It was breathtaking.

"Set me like a seal upon your heart, like a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy is as hard and cruel as Sheol (the place of the dead).  Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame [the very flame of the Lord]!  Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.  If a man would offer all the goods of his house for love, he would be utterly scorned and despised." (Song of Solomon 8:6-7 AMP)

Just sink in those Words of affirmation.  No, seriously.  Close your eyes and take it in.  God's love for us is powerful.  It is stronger than rushing water.  It is burning brighter and hotter than any flame we have experienced.  It is all encompassing.

We all have a desire to be wanted.  We all have a desire to be known.  I've never been married, but I have been in a "marriage" with my forever truest love, Jesus, for many years.  He knows me inside and out.  He knows my weaknesses and stayed with me even when I wasn't completely there with Him.  If I'm not mistaken, that's our example of how relationships should work.  It's not always lovey-dovey, romantic love.  It is a "vehement flame", an unquenchable desire for goodness.  It's putting God first and an intimate relationship with each other.  It's vulnerability that no one else may see.

God's love is here.  It is now.  We can never know love on earth without knowing His love first.  He is love!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Do. Believe.

I know, I know, I missed yesterday's post.  Saturday and Sunday were purposeful.  I am going to take a break on the weekends.  Yesterday; however, was not a planned break day.  I simply couldn't take a break to write all the things I was praying and pleading.  It was a stressful day to say the least.

Which brings me to where my thoughts are today.  Satan is real.  He is here to kill, steal, and destroy.  It's not an easy task to identify truth vs. the lies he tells you when you are right in the thicket.  I am so incredibly thankful for the relationship I have with my Creator, because He pulls me out of the briars.  Satan says, "You aren't worthy, you don't have the skill set, you are a failure."  God says,"I love you, try again, I created you to do many wonderful things."

I don't like messing up or making mistakes.  I want to do things right the first time and move on to the next thing.  I'd like to think that mistakes are unnecessary, but then I think of all the times in the Bible that mistakes are made and it paints a part of God's magnificent masterpiece.  There's Joseph's brothers, Moses, David, and so many others that played major roles in His kingdom who made mistake after mistake.

I am a priceless work of art.  You are a timeless masterpiece!  Believe it!      

Friday, January 10, 2014

Renewal. Refreshing.

There is a well-known verse that I have fallen in love with.  It came to my attention back in 2009 while I was living in Honduras.  I started reading Proverbs for the month and it wasn't necessarily the well-known part that stuck out to me, but the next two verses.  Most of us have heard to trust in the Lord our God with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding.  Sometimes that is easier said than done.  I'm easily persuaded by my own knowledge...meager as it may be.  Sometimes human logic is so enticing that I fall into the pit.

I'll give you two different versions of the four verses.  I personally love the Amplified bible because it gives you several different definitions of the translations to get a fuller meaning.  The English Standard Version is much simpler.

"Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil.  It shall be health to your nerves and sinews, and marrow and moistening to your bones." (Proverbs 3:5-8 AMP)

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones." (Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV)

I am soothed just by repeating His words.  Having all trust in our Lord and Savior gives us relaxation.  It takes away all worry.  Be confident that His way is the way.  Give up human logic.  Sometimes things just don't make sense, but why strain our brains with an attempt to understand?  God is wholly good.  Give your mental, physical, and spiritual health a break and sink into the welcoming arms of Christ, of God our Father.  Acknowledge Him as the one and only and your whole being will be uplifted.  Sing praise to Him.  Shout to Him.  Love Him.

I kind of want to do a dance in my office right now.  He is wonderful.  He is exhilarating.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Strong. Content.

Have you ever been so discontented in your present circumstances that it wears on your whole mental status?  I certainly have and it was one of the largest growing experiences of my life.  I say that as if it's only happened once.  It's occurred several times.  It's amazing what God uses to strengthen us and draw us closer to Him.

Paul seems to have the greatest examples of these trying times, yet he learns to be fully content in each day.  He writes to the Philippians about being content in all circumstances saying:

"...for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.  I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance.  I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having sufficiency and being in want.  I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]." (Philippians 4:11-13 AMP)

It's not that we won't face hardships or hit lows in our life and spiritual life.  It's that we have a hope in Christ for redemption.  This is where contentment is found.  If we lose that hope and joy we allow Satan to mangle our mental state.  When we look to Christ for our needs He will provide the strength to prevail.  

"I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency."  HELLO!!  We don't need anything but our Savior.  We've been given everything else as luxury.  Don't lose sight of His life for your own.  Live for Him; everything else is for the birds.  

That doesn't mean to give up on working and learning.  That's a part of living for Him.  Use your gifts and talents that God has so graciously created in you.  Do so for His glory so that all others can see His magnificence.  When tribulations occur look heavenward and He will provide the strength you need.