Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Green Pastures

There's a little farm I pass every day when I drive to work. As with most farms, there is always some kind of amusement so usually I try to go a little slower as I pass the that stretch of highway.  Sometimes the new lambs are chasing old unplayable sheep or llamas are lazily chewing or the beauty of it is simply calming.

One morning I was especially caused to pause. Across the beautiful lush green pasture was a llama at the far end up to its shoulder blades in the fence. It hurt my neck just looking at how much it was straining to stretch to reach the long grass on the other side.  Silly llama I thought.  Why stretch so far when there is rich thick grass right under you?

Then the Nathan and David moment hit me upside the head and a voice inside my head scolded, "YOU are the llama!"

How often does something out of reach that is not mine appear so delectable? The greener grass on the other side of the fence. I stretch for it. I am willing to endure pain to get it. I am disillusioned by its appearance.  Satan makes me see things through rose colored glasses.  You'd think by now I would no longer fall for his tricks. I should be able to respond raising my own doubt. Is that grass really more tasty than what I have?  Is that house truly better for me? Is that model phone, dishwasher, oven, sewing machine, fill in the blank really something I need to be completely happy?

If that___________ really was something I needed, would not God give it to me?  A friend of mine often reminds me macaroni and cheese  is "daily bread"  just as much, if not more, than steak.

I, like you, are abundantly blessed with more than I could ever ask for or deserve.  God promises to provide for me when in actuality He blesses my socks off.   Shame on me for wanting more.  God gives what I need when I need it.

Lord, help me keep my neck from stretching and help me to be thankful for all of my blessings on this side of the fence.  (JH)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Peaceful Trust

As darkness covers the town like a blanket and neighbors begin to head off to bed, there is peace.

The dark of night can often bring unrest.  It is during the night sickness escalates, sleep is interrupted by worry and things overall seem worse.  Yet as I go to put my phone on the bedside stand I notice the Bible verse displayed.  Proverbs 3:5-6 telling me to trust in the LORD with all my heart.  This means trust God with everything and to lay it at His feet and leave it there.  Too often we give our troubles to God and quickly take them back.  That is trusting with only part of our heart if it is even trusting at all.

Psalm 139 explains why we should and can trust wholly in God.  He knows everything about us. When we sit, what we think, how we feel.  With Him we are never misunderstood.  There is nowhere we can go that He is not there.  For some this may be intimidating, yet who would want to be separated from a Friend who loves us so very much?  There is no fear in love. Love drives out fear and fear has to do with punishment.  Not to say we don't deserve to be punished, we most certainly do. Thankfully, our Father sees us through the death of His Son  Jesus and finds us washed of our sin.

With Him we are always safe.  Darkness is not dark to Him.  In His loving care we can peacefully sleep and wake again to face a new day of grace.  So, sleep in peace, dear child of God and wake with praise on your tongue that nowhere can you go during your day where God is not with you. (JH)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Life - Death - Life

It’s not by chance that God often uses the picture stories of gardening to teach basic biblical concepts.  It is also no coincidence, but by God’s providence that life began, ended and began again in gardens.  
Life had its beginning in a garden.  It was there in Eden where God place the creatures He created ending with the crown of His creation Adam and Eve.  It was also there from the fruit of a tree that sin was brought into the world.  Due to this sin, in His great love, God declared man to die.  This may sound like an oxymoron or some sick response, especially to those who may be grieving the loss of a loved one.  Yet declaring that each person will die was truly a blessing from our very loving God.  For if people were to never die, we would continue to live in this sinful world forever.  Instead, this earthly life has an end and those who believe in Jesus as their Savior will spend eternity in a paradise that can never be tainted by sin.  In heaven there is no sin, no tears and no more death.

There is another story of death and life occurring in a garden, one that is just as familiar, maybe even too familiar.  Satan taking on the form of a serpent hanging out in a tree and using the fruit from that tree started the temptation leading to sin.  Yet, on another tree cut and bound into the shape of a cross this sin was overtaken.  Here Jesus gave up His life for all sinners wiping out every sin from the beginning to the end of time.  The sentence of death was once again defeated when the garden tomb where Jesus’ body had been  laid was echoingly empty on that first Easter morning.   Jesus victoriously defeated death by coming back to life.

Life, death, life, the cycle of garden activity and even more, the story of creation and salvation.  We don’t know what heaven will be like, but if God is showing us a pattern, might it not be something like a beautiful, lavish garden?  No matter if it is or isn’t we know completely and confidently that it will be perfect and we will be forever with Jesus.  Oh, that we were there! (JH)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Things that I Think

  What do you say to yourself when you are alone?

If you are like me, the words you speak to yourself are not always very encouraging. If we really listened to the words we repeat to ourselves, we’d would never say them aloud to others; they’d be hurtful, self defeating, and rude.
God knows the struggle we have.
The bible asks in Psalm 13:2,  “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
We need to consider the damage that our negative thoughts have in our life, and replace them with the promises God has for us.

The Bible says,
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Listening and believing to what God says through his holy word will build your faith, your belief and your confidence.
As Jesus said, “All things are possible to those who believe!"

Your thoughts determine your attitude and your attitude determines your actions and your actions influence your future. The Bible says, ‘as he thinketh in his heart, so is he’ (Proverbs 23:7). Fill your mind with Godly statements and positive things.  Be filled with wisdom. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Memorize the promises of His word, pray his word, and speak his word to yourself. Let God’s promises sink deep into your heart. Then, let them overflow and speak His promises into other’s lives to let your faith-light shine before all men.
Recently, while on Pinterest, I found a ‘pin’ that substitutes some negative thinking with God’s promises.
Take a few minutes and reflect on how many times you, your family or friends have wrestle with these thoughts too. In the comment section, share other truths from God’s word have you used to replace your negative thinking and let His word be where your treasure is found today.  (rs)

Click here for full size link: "You say...but God says..."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Walk Don't Run

Sometimes when I am driving along I just have to stop.  Perhaps the sun is sculpting the clouds allowing a few rays to filter  through or it is dancing across the water making  it sparkle like a thousand diamonds, or maybe a flock of birds are playfully flying above me causing me to pause.  Too often we hurry along our way looking without seeing what is around us -  Beauty, the needs of others,  so many blessings and reasons to praise our almighty God.  

Many times I’ve sighed to think how sad it was to get my driver’s license.  So excited for the newfound freedom, but the bike got used less and less with the ability to get places faster and eventually found its place on a hook in the garage.  It’s not our lifestyle here in America to usually walk or bike to our destinations and yet, in our hurry we miss so much.
In Jesus’ time walking was the normal means of getting around.  We read several times where the disciples barely made it to a destination that took hours to walk to and they turned around to get back to where they left.  It all took time. 

 What does one do with all that time? Talk, pray, meditate, plan, observe the list goes on….
Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday and yet in all the pomp and circumstance, He did not rush into town on a galloping steed, but slowly on the back of a baby donkey.  Jesus came to Jerusalem to be murdered.  He didn’t wait until the last minute and have His enemies rush Him away,  but came a week ahead of time.  He lived purposefully and even while on the cross, made use of every minute He had left on this earth. 

As  we reach the height of Holy Week, take your time.  Linger in the garden and pray.  Carry the weight of the heavy steps along the Via Dolorosa.  Observe the subtle meanings in the events and feel the very deep love.  The love our Father has for each one of us that send Jesus to the cross. This is a good opportunity to develop the habit of daily bible time.   Steep in God’s Word.

With the shepherds we rush to the manger, but let’s walk ever so slowly the road to Golgotha. (JH)  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


I love being around talkative small children. The world is one big wondrous learning experience and everything is possible. Superpowers, astronauts, president, firefighters, ballerinas - children dream big dreams and nothing holds them back. Adults encourage these big, childlike dreams because we want our children to fulfill their God given purpose.

As we grow though, something changes and reality has a tendency to stomp on these dreams. The responsibilities of life pile up and those big dreams are set aside or forgotten altogether. Our days are filled with concerns and challenges like our dwindling saving account, demanding work or school deadlines, health issues, children’s needs, or aging parent’s needs. I remember once as a young mom that I simply dreamed of simply getting all my young children in bed with my insanity in tack. A bubble bath?…..that was way too much to dream for. Maybe you’ve been there too.

The bible tells us that God chose us to be born in this time of history and in this place on earth for a special purpose. He knew us before we were born, and he created us with great love, molded each of our personalities, inserted all our talents, our strengths, and our weaknesses and he knows the potential we have because he place it within us. The things we have in our heart to accomplish, knowing that with God all things are possible, lay in wait for us to draw upon God’s Spirit to empower us to pursue the work he called us to do. Then, the more impossible the dream, the more we can give God the glory for getting it done.

I know. I hear your thoughts as you scrap peanut butter off the light switches or arrive late at your second job to just pay bills. How could God have chosen me to do anything impossible or great when Satan tells me there is nothing special about me? Or when other people are more important than I am; or while my children are having a meltdown in the grocery store and while my bank account is empty? Understandably, to often we let our human reasoning, day to day challenges, the facts, figures and other people’s opinions determine the fate of the special joy of fulfilling a God inspired dream.
What if we chose instead to believe God? What if we scraped off the impossibilities and explored our hearts desires and a willingness to be open to and do God what called us to do?  What if we began the journey, the small steps, to accomplish the very thing he created us for and begin to depend on God’s power to accomplish that thing? It might be to solve a great world need, but it might also be willing to be the vessel to mirror the Lord’s deep love and the gift of salvation to our children, dying parent or an unbelieving neighbor. Be assured, confident and have the courage that God has equipped you with everything you need to fulfill that purpose he placed within you. 

Whatever the dream God has placed in your heart, today I encourage you to rip the label “impossible” off. Toss out the ’I can’t do that” excuse; throw away fears and doubts and renew a childlike spirit within you. Replace it all with the thoughts of what would you do if you knew God would give you the strength to accomplish it?  Let all the talents, strengths, and potential God loving placed within your inmost being take hold, bubble out and bring glory to your God.

If the Lord has planted a seed in your heart, no matter how impossible it sounds, please take a moment to inspire other ladies and leave a comment below. Jot down your dream, or your challenge to fulfill a dream so that others may pray for you. You also can leave a bible passage that you rely upon and have found about fulfilling your purpose and God’s promises.

I will leave you with just a few bible passages to begin your journey. As you read, each time you see (****), insert your name and personalize the word of God and let God speak to you. Be empowered by God’s spirit as you read these assurances and discover your superpower. (rs)

Before I formed (***) in the womb, I knew [her];   before (***) was born I set [her] apart.    (Jer. 1:5a)
You, (***) did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you (***) ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16)

For you created (***) inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;   your works are wonderful, I, (***) know that full well. (Psalm 139;13-14)

For (***) is God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [me] to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Consider the Birds

This is a beautiful time of year!  Each day Spring gently approaches  a little more.  I lay in my bed as a new day dawns, fresh and full of promise and I listen to voices. 
 For several months  the days  have begun in silence as the world was hushed by winter.  Now the happy voices of the birds of the air come together, a new one each day adding to the choir of praise which wakes us from our sleep.

 Some rough and hardy birds remain through the winter protected by the extra feathers God gives for insulation. Other birds fly to warmer climates for a time. Like clockwork, they return. They know nothing of how the winter up north has been while they were away or what temperatures they will return to. 
Day by day new birds see the calendar and         

make their way back north. 
The time is now no matter what the weather.         

What a lesson in trust. As they fly the air gets colder, they press on. Not knowing how long the landscape will remain desolate, and where they will find food.  Yet, they return, they don't turn back.

God tells us to live without worry. Trust Him in all circumstances and for all things. When you begin to feel concern approaching be reminded by the birds flying by. Put your Hope in God. He's not only trustworthy but loves you so much, He provides abundantly. (JH) 

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

His Wonders to Perform

Recently I heard something that made me just stop.  

I was watching Downton Abbey and the elderly matron sighed, “the Lord works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.”  Hmm. It’s a common enough phrase yet how often we only hear the first half.  One might say it despairingly while shaking their head or in a tone of awe.
His ways certainly are a mystery to us and from Job we learn, how dare we question? (Job 40)
We don’t know how a small hard acorn can sprout and grow into a giant tree.  How does life grow from a burnt forest floor that is nothing but ash and charcoal?  The Lord works in mysterious ways indeed, His wonders to perform.  He works not just good, but shines His glory through situations we consider “bad”.

Look at Paul in prison chains.  Here he had time on his hands and a heart inspired by God to write letters to the Christians in several cities which became books of the bible where these stories of God’s love and encouragement have been handed down for centuries.    What about Moses?  He was taken from his home and sent down a river!  In God’s providence, the little basket stayed afloat and was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter who took him in and raised him as one of her own.  This upbringing was training for later in his adult years.

That was then??  A few weeks ago after sitting for 2 cold dark hours on the side of the road with a flat tire situation I wound up having the opportunity to meet a young woman who has been coming to St. John’s.  Now she has another person she knows when she visits next.   
After  my husband died, I moved back to WI.  I could go on and on telling you how  God has used that very sad and difficult experience to  grow my faith and use me. 

What about you? How often can’t you look back to situations that were unpleasant at the time only to look back and realize how God worked it for the good of His kingdom? 

His wonders to perform and perform He does!  Shepherd boy kills giant.  Boy’s lunch feeds over 5,000 people in the countryside.   God is using me.  God is using you.  All these statements, while true, are hard to understand yet in them God is glorified.

Be alert, be on the watch and be awed at His performance.  (JH)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Give UP

      These paintings were inspired by Eph 5:18b, "Be filled with the Spirit" for a painting project at a women's retreat.

     At first glance theses sample paintings might not appear as any great work of art. Simple and maybe even childish, but that is the beauty of them.

     So often I hear people say they are not artistic. In whose eyes? What is artistic? Art can be very subjective and many people who once enjoyed creating have stopped due to a comment made by someone trying to box in this person's interpretation of what they see. Did Picasso and Rembrandt interpret a bowl of fruit the same way? Was one of them wrong?

     As in the journey of life, the joy of painting is the process not always the outcome. The relaxing feeling of leading a brush over a canvass. The beauty of color as different hues are mixed together and the design of lines, thick or thin varying by the twist of the hand. Doesn't that make you think of God's palette?  Variations of colors blended together along with different lines and textures bring about the beauty of oneness of His people, the family of God.  No two anything are exactly the same yet He uses our differences to enhance each other.  Romans chapter 12 says, "for just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us."

    The special talents that make up you are exactly what God knows you need for those opportunities He has planned for you to be His hands and feet.  Like tools in a tool box, God has equipped you.

     Being filled with the Spirit is using the talents and strengths God has given you for His glory. Remember Romans 12:4-6 when Satan wants to make you feel inferior. Don't compare your actions or outcomes to anyone else. Instead, thank God for the special gifts that by His grace only you have been given.  Then use those gifts freely and completely.  Give them up as a fragrant offering.

God loves the cheerful giver of time and talent and when you use your gifts in this way, whatever you do is a masterpiece to Him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

MY Valentine

This may seem after the fact, but read on....

We all know what Valentines Day is or is expected to be.  Hallmark does a good job of creating the "mood".  The mood of expectations almost to the point of demands.  It can truly set the poor, committed yet unaware lover up for disaster if he happens to forget this one day of the year.  

What were your expectations last Sunday?  Did you give or receive thoughtful gifts or set time aside to be with a special person?     Perhaps you are in a strained relationship and Valentine's Day came and went like any other, dashing your hopes to the ground. For some, it is "single's awareness day" making one feel like a second class citizen if they are not sitting in a romantic restaurant with a starry eyed member of the opposite sex.

This day that retailers have created to be quite profitable by laying guilt on those who don't lavish their loved one with flowers and chocolate and shiny things have completely lost touch with the true essence of Valentine.  Yes, he was a real person.  A Christian martyr, in fact.  The story goes he befriended a blind girl and as he was headed toward the arena of hungry lions, tore a piece of paper into a heart shape so she would be reminded of how much Jesus loved her.

There it is, a True Valentine, so full of commitment that he gave up his life for the One he loved.  Sounds like someone else we know, right?  JESUS IS the TRUE VALENTINE.  He loves through thick and thin and will NEVER LEAVE you.  No matter how awful you and I behave, he will never get tired of us.  He completely understands us.  Everything He did while here on earth was out of love for us and for His Father to the point of being tortured, hanging on a humiliating cross for the whole world to see and finally dying.  All for undeserving me and undeserving you.  Do you realize that even if you were the only person in the world, Jesus would have still died for YOU?  That's how much JESUS LOVES YOU.

So what will you give your Valentine?  Does your heart overflow for Him and yearn to be with Him above all else?  How will you show Jesus how much you love him?  Relationships are a two way, contact sport.  God longs to have your attention and love.  Spend time with Him and listen closely to what He says in His word.  Love others more than you love yourself because by showing love to others you show your love for God.  Like a deer pants for water, desire your LORD.

February 14 is just another day on the calendar.  True LOVE is shown every day and doesn't need Hallmark to dictate how. As my pastor ended his sermon on Sunday, Feb 14.  Hear God saying, "I love YOU!"  Then, no matter your circumstances in life, you can love the unlovable and know you are not alone because you are filled with the true love of your Valentine. (JH)


A litter of kittens being

Have you ever watched a mama cat begin to wean her kittens? At first, she will just get up and move away. As the process continues, that mama cat will do a low growl, use her paw to bat away or even nip at the little ones who simply want to nurse and be filled. The mama cat knows the exact timing to urge her kittens from depending solely on her to feeding themselves. Horses do this same thing. Cows do it too. In fact, all of God’s creatures eventually become self-feeders. They learn to feed themselves. They must or they will die.

Sensory and cognitive

Somewhere during that first and second year of life, human babies desire to feed themselves. First, it is with their fingers  and then with the toddler sized spoon. They miss their mouth, food ends up in their hair, up their nose, on the floor (ceiling, wall, etc). Learning to feed themselves, is time consuming, messy process. It might be easier and less messy if parents just kept spoon feeding that child their nourishment. Then as adults, they could go to their own home and make the mess that come with learning to feed themselves. Pretty silly, right? So, somewhere along the way, self-feeding becomes easy, automatic and can be neatly, and quickly accomplished.

Are you a self-feeder? Oh, most of us are very capable of indulging ourselves with food. Sometimes too much too often. But how about with God’s word? Has church sliced, diced and pureed God’s word into a smoothie that is full of nourishment, but easy to take in and then scamper through the day? Has Pastor cut up and spoonfed the meat of the bible, with all its amazing lessons and messages, that you are now intimidated to try to feed yourself?

Now don’t get me wrong. I love church. Our pastors are amazing servants of God and speak his word in truth and purity in the way I can savor and truly appreciate.  I thoroughly enjoy being in fellowship with other believers. In fact, I need to be with other believers and hear the Pastor’s message. But just being fed whatever scripture lesson our church calendar says or digesting the universal message pastor thinks the congregation needs, simply may not be enough to nourish my soul.

Like that toddler learning to eat, when we attempt  to read, understand and digest bible verses or stories, at first it can feel like a time consumingly slow, messy process where sometimes we can get egg all over our faces.

In Romans 15:4 it says,For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

Scripture was written to teach us. Attending church and hearing Pastor’s message certainly can teach us. But we are also encouraged to get into God’s word for form that personal relationship with God and learn from the people contained within those pages. They’re not just stories. They are experiences God put in there to encourage and give us hope.  When we open the pages of the bible, we can dig into God’s word and let the sweetness of his words be honey on our lips, so we can experience God on a more personal level.

But becoming a self feeder and forming a personal relationship with God may feel intimidating. We think that we won’t understand, or that it will be too challenging, too hard, or too strange or too time consuming. In Isaiah  chapter 55:14, God says that his word will never return empty. Through our daily reading of the bible, the time when we fill our soul with God’s message, he gives us insight on how we can face our individual daily challenges with his peace and assurance that, no matter the circumstance, he is with us. Yep. It might be messy and make us uncomfortable, but God has a message just for you in those pages, one to give you hope and encouragement. We just need to dig in.

Original (1800 × 2710) The bible is full of  stories to take in, savor, mull around, sniff out the meaning, and digest the message God has for YOU! Don’t be intimidated, nervous or apprehensive. Become a self-feeder. Get messy. Ask questions and keep asking. Dig in like you would dig into a hot fudge sundae with whip cream and cherries on top and taste the blessings, promises, and reassurance straight from the hand of God.  (rs)

For your consideration today:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Ephesians 1:17

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8:3

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deuteronomy 32:2

So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
***Lysa TerKeurst has a youtube that was originally used to promote the release of her newest book at the time -2009. In it she relates her experience of cutting up a pineapple and the sweet fruit inside to digging into God’s word. The illustrated picture message will be one that stick with you and may help if you are ready to dig into God’s word for yourself. You can find it here:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Don't Stop Talking

Face it, ladies, we like to talk. We talk about, well… everything… and to the utmost detail.   Agreed?  

Have you ever got the feeling while talking to someone that perhaps they stopped listening before you were finished speaking? 
God says, “talk to me.” Matthew 11:28 Not only will He never stop listening, but He is always interested!  He won’t get bored and tune you out, He is attentive.  Psalm 34:15.

Talking to God is so awesome.  The God who keeps the seasons in order, who paints beautiful sunsets, who turns on the stars at night and rises the sun each morning, who watches over our daily activities and protects the tiniest living thing is our Father.  This all powerful God is ready, willing and able to listen anytime, any place.  We call it prayer, but it is simply talking to our “Abba” dear Father. 

Would you be with a friend or husband or child and not talk with them? God is always with you.  He longs to be included in your day. 
The Old Testament priests had the Holy of Holies inner sanctuary, the publican crouched in the corner of the altar.  Where is your special place with Jesus? A certain chair? A garden bench?  At the kitchen table before the house wakes up?

Of course it is good to have that special time and place where you have intentional, focused prayer, but remember God is always with you. He’s riding in the car with you, beside you as you do your daily chores, sitting with you at the bedside of a loved one.  He will never leave you or forsake you.  Deut. 31:6  

The power of prayer is your greatest weapon against the trials of this world.  Be a prayer warrior.  Pray without stopping.  Nothing is too insignificant to talk with God about.  He is with you waiting to listen. Then be sure to give Him time to “talk”.  Listen to what He has to say by reading His word.  Conversation is a two way street.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Give It and Leave It

Do you ever feel like your strength is dried up?  We fight against time, weight loss/gain, disappointments, unkind people, our own weaknesses and we could go on.  Don’t you just get weary of it all? 
Jesus spoke to His disciples and promised. “In this world you will have trouble.”  John 16:33 Trouble, yes, we expect some, but sometimes if feels like life is a continuous battle?  What does your battlefield look like?  What are your weapons…anger, impatience, harsh words?   It’s how you approach this battle that counts.  Do you stand tall in the face of trials with all of Your might or do you fall on your knees and gather your Strength?
 Jesus not only offers us to cast our cares on Him Psalm 55:22 but He impresses cast all your cares on Me 1 Peter 5:7.  How do we transfer this weight?  Pray and pray continuously.
 Prayer is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal!  We are quick to share our thoughts with friends or sometimes anyone who will listen.  Why is it we are not as quick to tell our Brother, the one who can and longs to actually help?  To pray is to talk with our God,  the One who has all things under His control and knows all things.  With His voice, not even a shout, he can calm the raging storm.  Certainly your “storm” is on His radar.
Oh, dear weary traveler, fall down and leave your heavy load at Jesus’ feet.  He asks for it.  “Come to me you weary, I will give you rest” Matthew11:28.  No matter how heavy your heart, the shoulders that carried the weight of the sins of the whole world surely won’t buckle under the pressure of your problems. 
Drop those worries and cares as if you are standing at the side of a cavern.  Feel the weight slide off your shoulders as those rocks fall deeper,  farther into the abyss and let God’s peace fill your soul.  Too often we “give” our cares to God like a yo-yo.   Give them, take them back.  Give them, take them back.
Kneel at Jesus’ feet and lay your burden down, not to be picked up again then dance away rejoicing.  Yes, Jesus promises trouble John 16:33 but read on, He continues… “ But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

(This is a part of a series on prayer.  More to come)


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Popcorn Prayers and Wrestling Matches

Prayer is the simple act of worship where we, as believers in Jesus Christ,  can speak boldly and confidently to God from our heart. When we pray through the lens of a believer,  God hears our prayers (John 16:23). But an unbeliever's prayer will fall on deaf ears (Hebrews 11:6). As believers, we can thank and ask God for anyone, anything, anytime, anywhere using our own heartfelt words.

Often, our prayer life can find us doing popcorn prayers. Random prayers that simply pop in our heads and are quickly whispered to God. Prayers of thanksgiving, healing, safety, of praise. Nothing wrong with those quick sporadic prayers. God knows our heart, and what we need at that moment and he will listen.

Other times, our prayer life can seem like a wrestling match. So many thing vie for our attention that our minds wrestle with staying on the task of speaking to God. Interruptions, time demands, deadlines, grocery lists, washer or dryer buzzing, kids fighting all distract us. Our prayers may travel down many unrelated tangents until we give into our demands and stop praying. Satan is perfectly happy keeping us distracted from conversing with God.

Then, too, we can simply be too busy and we forget to pause and take time to listen for God’s reply.  

God’s reply? YES! God communicates back to us through his Holy Word, the Bible.

When we devote even short amounts of time on a daily basis to be reading his word, he can give us the instruction and comfort we may need to handle the circumstances he sees heading our way. When we read bible stories and the way God’s people of the past reacted and handled situations in their life, we become better prepared to face life with the peace only he can provide. He loves us and he wants to prepare us, interrupt us and sometimes rearrange us to protect us from our natural, sometimes sinful, responses to our circumstances. When we spend time in our bibles, our hearts are better prepared to deal with our daily lives.

A favorite bible story is about Jesus on a 40 day fast, alone in the desert, when he is visited by the devil in the beginning verses of Matthew chapter 4. Satan tempts Jesus three times. In each case, Jesus used God’s word to fight off the temptations he was facing. Jesus knew God’s word well enough that he was prepared to use it.

As we dig into God’s word, he too will prepare us to face our days. We can pray God’s word back to him and be strengthened.

How powerful would it be to:
  • Pray for your husband and ask that God would keep his mind sharp and focused. That his thoughts would not be conformed to this world, but would be transformed and renewed by the power of God. (Romans 12:2)
  • Pray for your children and ask that no unwholesome talk would proceed from them, but only what is good for building others up. Pray that your children would always speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15, 29), that they’d be quick to flee from temptation, to turn away from evil, and to faithfully pursue wisdom, righteousness, peace, love, and truth. (2 Timothy 2:22; Psalm 34:14; Proverbs 4:5-7)
  • Pray for a hurting friend and ask that they may humble themselves under God’s mighty hand, so that he may lift them up in due time.  May they cast all anxiety on him.  Help them to be alert and of sober mind.  May they resist the roaring enemy lion and stand firm in the faith.  Remind and encourage him that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings (I Peter 5:6-9).
  • Pray for a boss or coworker to give victory over seeking the praise of people. Help them to be ready to give to the Lord’s work without expecting any recognition from others. (Matthew 6:2)
  • Pray for your pastor and ask the Lord to help him to proclaim the kingdom of God and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance (Acts 28:31).
  • Pray for yourself or bible study friends Psalm 86:11 that the Lord would teach us his ways so we may rely on his faithfulness and that he would give us an undivided heart, and that we may fear his name and that as we draw closer to him, he will draw nearer to us. (James 4:8)
We underestimate the power made available to us when we don’t spend enough time with God. Instead of filling your prayer time with only your words, take time to focus on what our powerful God is communicating back through his word.

You can spend time praying and meditating on passages that touch you, journal your thoughts and prayers and jot down how God answers them. And don’t worry if at first all you hear is silence. Keep sitting at his feet. He is faithful and will draw our hearts out of the chaos of our lives into the sweetness of his presence. Pray Jeremiah 29: 12-14.

Prayer is powerful. Join us at 5pm this Sunday, January 31st in the church basement to watch the family friendly movie, War Room. See how Ms Clara changes the lives of a family through her prayer life. Pastor will be available for questions and pizza will be served. (rs)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How do you spend your soul?

What does YOUR soul long for, that deep down thing you long to do? 
Do you carve out time in your day for this longing and guard that time or do other people’s requests dictate your schedule?  There’s a distinct difference between being proactive or reactive when it comes to how you approach your schedule.  When other people’s requests dictate the decisions we make, we can quickly become exhausted from living reactive instead of proactive lives.
An overwhelmed soul leaves you longing and living with an unfulfilled emptiness.

“The decisions we make dictate the schedules we keep.  The schedules we keep determine the lives we live.  The lives we live determine how we spend our souls.” Lysa Terkeurst.

This is more than selfishly making “ME time.”  What we are talking about here is making intentional decisions to honor God with the time we have .  

In Philippians 2:3-7 Paul talks about the unity of the church through humility. Giving voice to the passion God has placed in you.  Why?   “… to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul”  Deuteronomy 10:12.  Having the right attitude and unselfishly letting your passion out and come to fruition so that you may serve others.  This is mission work, right?  To not only preach, but live the Gospel.  A little farther down Paul says then you will shine like stars in the universe (Philippians 2:14-16).

God places many people in our lives so that we may serve them.  It is not enough to be given the opportunities, we must take the time to see them and act.  It’s about being the woman who makes intentional decisions to find her way to serve others and shine.

You know, you are not alone in this.  God doesn’t give you the direction and then leave you out there hanging.  Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  He gives instruction so we can know His direction.

How we spend our souls matter.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:20-22  (Read these passages for yourself, God has more to say to you here.)

Things won’t change by simply trying harder, the approach of how you make decisions must change.  So, what is your longing?  What patterns must you change to create new, more proactive habits to live a more intentional life for God?

Don’t get so locked in to your overwhelmed schedule  that you haphazardly spend your soul.  Never was a woman so fulfilled as when she chooses to underwhelm her schedule so she can let God overwhelm her soul.

What will God accomplish and allow you to experience through you obedience to Him?   (JH)