Be Encouraged

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This scripture is one of hundreds of favorites! It is a reminder that our Heavenly Father does not miss a thing. Just as He chose Israel, we are also told we are chosen. He has a purpose and plan for every one of our lives but when difficulties and trials come along we can forget. Sometimes we will wonder; does God see what’s happening? Does He hear our cries? At times it may feel God is far off and distant; He is not! Sometimes when He is silent we can wonder if God is still near; He is! More times than not when I feel any of these, the truth is I am tired or impatient. I want things to happen in my timing rather than in God’s timing. I want to know what I don’t know about the situation. I just want the difficulty to be over.

Thankfully, God knows our hearts. He also knows we are humans and we have weaknesses. Psalm 3:14 reminds us, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” His Word also reminds us that even when we are faithless; He is faithful. Paul told us in 1 Coriinthians 12 that God’s grace is sufficient and in our weaknesses, He is strong! Jeremiah 29:11 and the verses following are a great reminder that our Father knows us; He loves us. God has good plans for us and for our future! He’s not sitting up there idle even when it might seem that way to those of us down here. His timing is perfect and God is always working things out behind the scenes. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Notice it did not say all good things but that all things (even the bad things) can be worked for our good and His glory.

We will always have trials and troubles as long as we walk this earth BUT God is able to help us whatever comes into our path, if we are patient and allow Him to work. In the end, He will redeem it and use if for our good and His glory. Does that mean we will like what we sometimes must walk through? No! What it means is we will not have to walk through it alone and He can and will redeem it and use it to refine us into a better person in the long run. It may not be in our time frame, but it will happen in His perfect timing. I can say with complete honesty, every trail I have struggled with (in hindsight) has worked to make me who I am today. There have been many struggles that I just wanted to go away. There have been great, seemingly senseless losses of loved ones. There have been trials that if you’d asked me then my remark would have been, “I will not survive this!” Do I want to repeat them? NO! I can say with all certainty and confidence looking back on those times that I NEVER walked alone even when it felt as though I did. God never abandoned me even if it felt like it. Lastly, everyone of those experiences have culminated in who I am today and have solidified my faith; taught me to face my fears; and given me hope to go forward and walk this path no matter what the world or the enemy throws my way!

Our God is faithful! He will never leave or forsake His child! Feelings lie and say He has, but He will not!

An Unexpected Reminder

It is a gorgeous day! I sat at my desk this morning enjoying some quiet time; just me and the Lord. I opened the drawer and ran across a small journal.  I opened to the first page and began reading and I was taken aback wondering how on earth I let this little gem get away from me.

Very early last year I heard a lady mention she had would ask one simple question during her morning prayer times. “What is on your heart, Lord?” Next, she would sit quietly and wait before the Lord. Whether it was a scripture reference, a scripture, or hearing the Lord speak quietly to her heart, she would journal her experieince.

As 2015 begin, I set this in motion as part of my quiet time. Today, I looked back on those first few days.  I was amazed at what I found there. I’m not exactly sure what happened in the first weeks of 2015 that became such a distraction, but I didn’t keep it up long enough for it to become a habit. I dropped the ball and did not pick it back up. I fell back into old routines and never looked back until today.  It’s hard to believe that I let distraction detour me after seeing satisfying results.

After reading a few entries, I am amazed what I had written.  Looking at those insights, I am deeply grateful to have found them.  To have a reminder and an opportunity to begin this practice again is execting.  I cant’t wait to see where it will lead.

Taking time to listen more and speak less during prayer, my focus was more on God and His heart and less on myself and my needs. I would read a scripture or Bible passage followed with the question, “what’s on Your heart, Lord?”  Some days a scripture would be impressed upon my heart; sometimes I was prompted to pray for someone in a specific way.  One particular day, I was encouraged by to seek Him first, focus, and trust; He would fill in the blanks and empty places in my life. Other times I was given personal, encouraging words that were very on point for where I was that day.

Example:

Jan. 4, I heard:

Excellence- Not perfection

Excellence =  Your best for where you are.

Your best you.

Ask yourself, Is this my best?

Excellence is equally defined for all…it’s your best, not someone else’s.

It never looks the same on any two people because

We are all different; different maturity levels, talents, gifts, and different stages of life.

I do not want you to be someone else; but to be uniquely who you are.

Verse:  “Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness,”John 1:16

I believe finding the journal was a divine appointment; a reminder. Many doubt and question does God still speak to His children today. All I can tell you is He speaks to me. Sometimes it is through His Word, other times it is a nudging, prompting, a well timed word from someone unexpected, and sometimes it is a still small voice only heard by my heart.  His Word says God is the same, yesterday, today and forever, so if He spoke to His people in ancient times, surely He still does! The question is are we ever still and quiet enough to hear? I sure hope so!!

Grace, peace and blessings to you!

Are We Really Who We Think We Are?

 

Have you ever considered how we develop our worldview?  The formative years of our lives are considered to be between birth and age five. What we are exposed to and taught during early childhood has great influence on who we become, how we see ourselves, and our motivation in life. That, however, does not mean we are limited by those influences and mindsets; yet is can be where we get stuck in our thinking.

In John 3, Nicodemus, a prominent leader of the Pharisees, came to Jesus at night to ask Jesus about His teaching on second birth.  He is seeking to understand something physically, “how can I again enter into my mother’s womb to be born again?”  Rebirth is not a physical phenomena, Nicodemus is looking from an earthy perspective not from a heavenly one.  Jesus explains:

“Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit. “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” John 3:5-8 (MSG)  

     Jesus describes rebirth as our submitting to God and His original plan for us. He is speaking of us placing our faith and our lives in Jesus Christ; accepting His death, burial and resurrection as the payment for our short-comings, mistakes and rebellion against God and His Word. Salvation covers our faults by Jesus sacrifice on the cross. His resurrection conquers death and gives us new life. When we make the faith decision, we then become part of the Kingdom of God. We are now born from above. But what does that really mean?

Imagine for a moment growing up in a very small village in a meager household with only one parent, an aunt, or a caregiver.  Suddenly, when you’re almost grown, two people come into your life and claim they are your long lost parents. You were taken from them when you were quit small. It is apparent that they have been searching for you, they love you, and missed you very much. They sweep you back to this grand palace with everything you could need at your disposial.  Might it take a while before you actually are comfortable with your new situation and what is available to you? Are truly ready to step into your new role? Are you up to the challenge of what is expected and how you are to act in your new role? Would it be east to fall back into the ways of your old life? How do you break the old mindset? Can you fit into this new place?  First, you have to want it. Even so, it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, it is a transforming process.

Stepping into a new role effectively requires a new mindset; a renewing of one’s thinking and perspective, otherwise we will be less than effective in our new life.  We must know who we are and what is expected of us.  Mastering this requires us to be intentional, surrendered and patient because it is a process. It is possible as believers in Christ, for us to be quick to enjoy the benefits of being part of the Kingdom; yet be much slower to renew our thinking and become Kingdom thinkers. We must desire and seek Him and His wisdom. As we walk by His Spirit, we begin to look more Christ-like and be transformed from glory to glory.

“To this day, in fact, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.”            2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NABRE)

God has call us kings and priests and ambassadors. (Revelation 1:6) (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) How do we renew our thinking to think and act from the Kingdom perspective in order to represent Him will?  When in a pinch, do we respond as Jesus would rather than from our nature? Have we learned to respond in love, rather than defend ourselves or retaliate when pressed?  Most of us know that His Word is part of the transforming answer but do we understand the Holy Spirit’s roll in the transformation? Do we believe 1 Corinthians 2:16? We can have the mind of Christ in our situations!

For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him?  But we have the mind of Christ. “ 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (HCSB)

Lord, give us grace, strength and desire to: Make our own attitude like that of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 2:5)  and “Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:15)

 

Well Placed Confidence

This morning I woke up still trying to unravel a puzzle. Most Sunday evenings, a couple of friends and I get together to fellowship and study God’s Word. Currently we are working our way through the Book of Ezekiel and are focused on idolatry and Israel’s problems with it and punishment for it. Prophecy can be a interesting study but It can also be very challenging. As we read the commentary on this particular passage, the section about original meaning was helpful and clear but as we read the sections bridging context and application for today we were perplexed by some of the statements we read. Perhaps because we were looking at it from this side of the cross and his focus was more from just the Ezekiel context. Next, I opened my Bible to Psalm 49; captioned “Misplaced Trust in Wealth” (HCSB). The NASB captions it “Confidence in God Rather Than Riches”.

Just what is it that we humans are tempted to put our trust in? Could it be that we are trusting in something other than in God; even those of us who confess Jesus and profess to be Christians? When something comes up, small or large, do we first try to fix it ourselves before seeking Him and His wisdom for the situation?  Maybe you haven’t, but I have. At one point in my thirties, I was suffering with some undiagnosed  joint pain and walking at that time was pretty painful. We were running low on groceries and I had a family to feed. Shopping was imperative and I had to go.  The only parking spots were about thirty-five cars out from the door. I had a nudging that I should pray. I ignored it at first thinking that’s silly to bother God with this. It seems strange now when I am not suffering the malady that I would have considered this small.  Over-working the joints at that time had the potential put me in bed for a day or two afterwards, yet still I considered it small and not worthy of bothering God with prayer.

I repeatedly circled and nothing was available.  As I thought of walking that far, as well as around the rather large store; I became concerned about being able to accomplish the task at hand. I felt that nudge again, so I prayed driving down the lane. I proceeded up the next lane. As I rounded one more time, back-up lights switched on and the very first spot became available and it wasn’t a handicapped spot. That day proved to me once and for all that God is concerned about even the things we consider small in our lives.

Through Paul, God tells us “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:6-7 NJKV 

     Where do we place our confidence? In ourself? Our family or friends? Our financial standing? Our position or lack of position? When struggles, trials or troubles reach our way, where do we tend to turn first? Wisdom tells us to seek God first; pray. How often do we run to Him first? In light of these questions, the next one that comes to mind is: If God is not the first place we run as believers; is it possible that the place we choose to run may actually be an idol in our life? I have heard it said anything that we exalt over God in our life or anything that keeps us from placing Him first in our life is an idol. If that is true, is seeking to solve our problems ourself outside of prayer and His wisdom for the situation idolatry? Hmmm, Selah. (pause and reflect)

How about when someone does something and the gut reaction is to call a trusted friend rather than hit my knees? Or just react with a knee-jerk reaction? Oh, I guarantee that I have been in each of these places more than once. Yet as I study wisdom as defined by scripture, I am challenged to run not walk into a quiet place and seek God first. I am not saying it is easy or convenient but I will say that when I manage to follow through and do it things turn out a great deal better.

It is far from easy to hold your tongue in a volatile situation and say let me get back to you so that you can take time to seek His face about a situation. Nor is it easy to have the mind to not panic when you get some really bad news. I vividly remember one sunny afternoon answering my phone. It was my daughter, who had only been driving for a short time. She had an accident on a winding, hilly road fifteen minutes away from our home. She had run off the road and hit a tree. A young lady a couple of years older came along and saw the wreckage. She stopped and let my daughter sit in her car until I arrived.

That call sucked the breath right out of me and all I could do was pray! I had to get to my baby girl and fast! I didn’t know if I could drive I was shaking so badly. God got me there quickly and safely. Thankfully, other than some bruises and scrapes, she was fine. Those who saw the car damage were amazed she walked away with little injury.  The car had actually jumped a big culvert rather than careening into it. A tree finally stopped the car.  The scar in that tree remains even to this day! God’s protection and provision was very evident. He got me to the scene safely and even before the officer arrived to question my very shy daughter. It is easy to run straight to God when you are in crisis mode but will we choose to seek His wisdom more routinely? Will we seek to make it more and more a part of every day life?

Just a few wisdom scriptures to ponder today:

“Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.” 

Psalm 90:12

“The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel: That people may know wisdom and discipline, may understand intelligent sayings; May receive instruction in wise conduct, in what is right, just and fair” Proverbs 1:1-3

Proverbs 2

“Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding, for she is more profitable than silver, and her revenue is better than gold.” Proverbs 3:13-14

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!

 For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been His counselor?” Romans 11:33-34

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?” Ephesians 1:7-9

May wisdom and understanding be ours!

 

Abundant Wisdom-Only One True Source

Greetings!

I just Googled wisdom and who knew there are “about 230,000,000 results for wisdom in 0.32 seconds”! From dictionary definitions to blogs to Psychology Today, the web is full of  information on wisdom. Everyone has an opinion. One article gives us the thirty-two key dimensions of critical thinking. You can find information on wisdom from many differing religious views, from scientific views, from the educational community and almost any view point you could possible hold. Can you imagine researching wisdom by this method? Suppose you are truly looking for wisdom in a particular situation. You could spend several lifetimes searching and never get through all of the information if you are depending of the web because more and more information is added daily. It was exhausting just reading a few of the things available.

I ask myself:

  • Is this  wise use of my time?
  • Did I learn anything beneficial?
  • Was it worth the time I spent; effort in proportion to outcome?
  • What percentage of my time was wasted?

James 1:5-6 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”

Most of us have times we are stumped and in desperate need of wisdom and often need it “yesterday”. The last resort many times even for believers is to ask God; to earnestly seek Him in prayer for the very thing we are standing in need of. Whether we think it is too small to bother God with,  that He is too far away, or that He has much bigger things to deal with; often we just do not seek His help. Sometimes we are just too self-sufficient, too stubborn or just lack the faith to take God at His Word. Yet James if very clear in it’s promise; God’s promise! Ask Him and do not doubt, when you lack wisdom. He gives generously (simply, openly, frankly, sincerely-Strong’s G574-BlueLetterBible); and without reproach or shame.

Solomon made the choice to ask for wisdom because of his young age, for understanding and the ability to discern between right and wrong in order to judge rightly when it came to God’s people.  (1 Kings 3)  Just as James promises us wisdom when we ask; God was pleased to grant Solomon’s request. in fact, God was so pleased that in addition He gave Solomon riches, glory and a long life and promised there would never be another among the kings like Solomon all of his days.(verses 10-16)  Then Solomon’s wisdom was tested…beginning in verse 16 conflict arose. Two women living in the same house, three days after one had given birth the other also gave birth. There were no others in the house to witness what happened next. One of the women’s son died during the night because she laid on it and she switched her baby for the other, leaving that lady to think it was her child that died. After closely looking at the baby, she realized that it was not her child but the baby of the first woman. The dispute was taken before the king for resolution. what came next though quite harsh sounding was actually quite genius and a great example of God giving Solomon discernment and wisdom. The king declared, “divide the child into and give each woman half!” all the while knowing that the true mother of the child would never agree to that arrangement but would rather give her child up altogether than to allow that child to be killed and divided between them. The mother who had lost her child had nothing more to loose and agreed with the King, the child should be divided. By this declaration, it became clear who the mother of the living child was and he was returned to her. Justice was served.

Depending on the translation there are at least two hundred and twelve different scriptures on wisdom throughout the Bible. That number increases if you include similar words like wise, understanding, learning, justice, insight,knowledge, reason, etc. Even so, it is no where near as overwhelming as 230,000,000 entries and you can bet the wisdom you find within the covers of the Bible will be much more helpful than what you find any other place.

That being said, here are a few more words of wisdom that I have uncovered today, I hope that they will bless you!

  • Job 28:22-24   “Abaddon and Death say, ‘With our ears we have heard a report of it.’ “God understands its way, And He knows its place. “For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.”
  • Job 28:26-28   when He established a limit for the rain and a path for the lightning, He considered wisdom and evaluated it; He established it and examined it.”
  • Job 28:28  “He said to mankind, “The fear of the Lord is this: wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding.”

  • Psalm 37: 29-31   “The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it permanently. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom; his tongue speaks what is just. The instruction of his God is in his heart; his steps do not falter.”

  •  Psalm 90: 11-12    ” Who understands the power of Your anger? Your wrath matches the fear that is due You. Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. Lord—how long? Turn and have compassion on Your servants.”

  •  Psalm 104:23-25  “Man goes out to his work and to his labor until evening. How countless are Your works, Lord!  In wisdom You have made them all;

    the earth is full of Your creatures. Here is the sea, vast and wide,
    teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.”

    Proverbs 2:1-9  “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding,
     if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up success for the upright; He is a shield for those who live with integrity so that He may guard the paths of justice and protect the way of His loyal followers. Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and integrity—every good path. For wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart.”

     May 2016 be a year of seeking true wisdom from above and may God’s goodness, mercy and grace be apparent all along the journey!

 

It Started in the Garden

The search for wisdom is an age old search. In fact, we are told it began in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:6 tells us, ” The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” NABRE   The search for wisdom is apparently as old as mankind itself.  His Word tells us that “He (God) has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”   Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB  Is it possible that our need to learn and grow, to seek wisdom, is innate to us? Could it be that this is just a part of that eternity that God has placed in our heart? A yearning to know more about God? To seek and understand Him? It certainly seems reasonable to me. God created us for relationship; with Him and with others and if there is one thing needed in relationships, I submit to you it is wisdom! Wisdom when to speak and when to keep quiet; wisdom in decisions that must be made; wisdom to know and understand each other; and wisdom to know and understand ourselves.

Where does wisdom originate? According to scripture, wisdom or more specifically the spirit of wisdom comes from God. “You are to instruct all the skilled craftsmen, whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom, to make Aaron’s garments for consecrating him to serve Me as priest. Exodus 28:3  Also, “I have filled him with God’s Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and ability in every craft. Exodus 31:3 (Also, Exodus 35:31; 36:1 & 2)

Wisdom is sought after, it’s not automatic. We must desire and seek after wisdom. Here’s an interesting example. When King David, known as the man after God’s on heart, died; his son, Solomon began his reign as king. One night God appeared to Solomon in a dream telling him He, God, would give Solomon whatever he asked. This was Solomon’s reply: ““You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father, because he walked before you with fidelity, justice, and an upright heart; and you have continued this great kindness toward him today, giving him a son to sit upon his throne. Now, Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act— I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:6-9

God was very pleased at Solomon. Not only was he granted wisdom and discernment beyond any man prior to Solomon or after; but because of his unselfish request, God also gave  him riches, glory and a long life. Not only proving God as the source of wisdom but also wisdom is quite important to God! There are many things recorded about the great wisdom of Solomon through his reign.

Job tells us this about wisdom: “Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding comes with long life. Wisdom and strength belong to God; counsel and understanding are His.” Job 12:12-13  HCSB  “When He established a limit for the rain and a path for the lightning, He considered wisdom and evaluated it; He established it and examined it. He said to mankind, “The fear of the Lord is this: wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding.” Job 28:26-28 HCSB

Psalm 111:9-10   “He has sent redemption to His people. He has ordained His covenant forever. His name is holy and awe-inspiring. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.”  

We learned with Solomon and Job that wisdom is a gift from God and begins with the “fear of the Lord”. What is the fear of the Lord?  The original word for fear in this verse is yir ‘ah, meaning fear, terror, awesome, terror (object causing fear), respect, reverence, piety, and revered. It’s root word, yare, is an adjective meaning fearing, reverent, afraid.  Basically, God wants us to have an understanding of who He is; His sovereignty, character, goodness, and power. Our job is to view Him appropriately for who He is and have reverence and respect for who He is and consequently see our selves in comparison to His greatness and might. In our culture that is often hard to do. We have been programed over many years to think of everyone as equals and no one greater than another. In a democracy, we are encouraged to think this way.  Even in the Word we are told: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28  We are equal in Christ, but we are not equal to Christ or to God.

If you are in a conflict of opinion, action or ideas with an equal, compromise or a meeting of the minds may be in order; however, if it is with a superior, most likely the superior will prevail because of his or her place of authority.  Typically, authority comes because of a measure of wisdom that has been gained bringing recognition to our abilities in a particular area. God, as the Creator and Designer is the ultimate authority and expert. Wisdom belongs to Him and it comes from Him, there is no greater authority; therefore with great respect and reverence our job is to acknowledge His position and seek His wisdom.  His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways,
my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Blessings, Grace and Peace to you!

Psalm 90:12                                                                                                                                                    “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”

Grace Stoppers

   

 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-23‬ HCSB)

      For the last six weeks, a friend and I have been studying the fruit of the Spirit together. We began with an overview of the Book of Galatians and a few a couple of weeks began to study each of the listed fruit, one per week. This weeks fruit: Patience; oh yes,I heard those groans! If only I had a dollar for everyone who has ever told me “Don’t pray for patience; you’ll get it, but it won’t be fun or pretty in the meantime.”! I would be sitting somewhere warm on a sunny beach enjoying the roar of the ocean and the sun beating down on my face as I write instead of looking out at glistening trees, a cold but gentle wind blowing, and a misty rain gently watering them. Oh how I miss the warm sunshine! 

      Hopefully that provided a little recovery time from the shock of that much dreaded word, patience. We are learning through studying this particular fruit that there are two types of patience mentioned in the New Testament. One is patience through circumstances and the other is patience with people. Patience with people is the type of peace referred to in the fruit of the Spirit. Interestingly, though we are studying this fruit, we first tackled the patience with circumstances and learned that hope is the key to having patience when facing difficult situations; hope coming from the Greek word elpis, meaning hope-the desire of some good with the expectation of getting it. That’s pretty straight forward. As long as we have hope, we tend to be able to press through the less than enjoyable aspects that we sometimes face. Without hope, we find it much more challenging!

     The second patience, patience with people can get much more complex, especially in those closest relationships. Hope may be important in these relationships but perhaps mercy is even more important when we endeavor to grow in patience with the people in our circles of influence and with people in general. Mercy or compassion can be a powerful tool especially when it comes to having patience with people. 

      Just an example from my own life: many years ago, my husband and I were having breakfast in a local restaurant. A customer comes in and is seated across from out table. From the very beginning, nothing went right in her opinion and everyone within a ten table radius was aware. People were getting up and leaving be cause of the scene. We had a birds eye view and could not help but hear as things escalated.  This young waitress did not deserve the treatment she was receiving. As we continued to witness this spectacle, I pointed out to my husband that even if she was performing poorly it was no way to treat her. Maybe she broke up with her boyfriend/spouse, had a sick child, a family member sick or dying. We have no idea what people are dealing with in their lives! We went to the register to pay and Kevin gave me his keys. Then he addressed the manager and explained that we had observed everything and the server had done nothing to deserve what was happening. He then asked me to wait in the car (which I did though it was a hard request to follow).  He said he then said a quick prayer and with the same compassion and mercy I had expressed for the server; he approached this lady sitting with her two adult daughters.  He was very respectful and asked if he could join them for a moment. Then my sweet husband who looked about eighteen with his ‘baby face’, proceeded to ask her with great respect if she’d ever considered that the young server might be struggling with some kind of life trauma or tragedy or had spent the night up with a small child that was sick and sleepless? (We knew this one well as young parents ourselves!)  Kevin said her daughters looked so relived and this lady’s whole countenance changed. They all thanked him and he started out to the car. I met him at the door where the manager thanked him…it had been a while and I must admit I was a little concerned and I decided I needed to check on him.

     In the end, mercy, compassion and patience triumphs! We may not always see results right away and it is possible we may not see results at all. Nevertheless, it is a seed that is well worth sowing! (Lord, please give me the grace and wisdom to remember this life lesson!) Why?  Because even if it does not touch the person benefiting from it, others see. Even if it doesn’t touch the lives of observers, it changes us! It is a sure way to teach us to be more Christ-like by walking in the Spirit and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit; an intentional though momentary choice to live beyond that moment, beyond our circumstances and beyond our own little world in a place where grace flows freely.

      Grace flows freely where love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control abound.  Why Grace Stoppers then? There are also those things which clog and even stop the flow of grace. Let’s list just a few:

  • Hate, joylessness, discord, impatience, meanness, doubt, harshness, selfishness
  • Anger
  • Unforgiveness
  • Hopelessness 
  • Bitterness
  • Jealousy

Help us, oh Father God, to lay these down! Help us to walk by the Spirit, in the fruit of the Spirit 

and in the Mighty name of Jesus!



 Praying you are blessed with His grace, His peace and Fruit that remains!

 

 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.”(‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-23‬ MSG)

Your Kingdom Come

     Today, while reading Revelation 5, the following scripture was the focus of my study:  “They were singing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (‭Revelation‬ ‭5‬:‭9-10‬ NET)      Because I have been researching on our identity in Christ a lot lately, these two verses stood out among all the others. Why? In these two small verses we learn that Jesus’ obedience to His Father cost Him His life, which He willing laid down; His blood has purchased people from every nation, language and tribe; Jesus has appointed those people (His followers) as kings and priests to serve God; and lastly that His people will reign on earth.  We have been commissioned to represent Jesus on the earth by making disciples. (Matthew 28:19) What did this look like? When John the Baptist drew the people, he would call out repent and be baptized for the Kingdom of God is at hand. When Jesus began His ministry, that Kingdom, though not what the world has expected had come. (Matthew 12:28 and Luke 11:20 tell us this.)       Acts 10 tells us this about Jesus: “…37you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39“We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross”      Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and went around doing good. Full of the Holy Spirit, He walked in and by the Spirit. This tells us according to Galatians 5 that His life looked like this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Then goes on to tell us:  “Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-26‬ NET)      Isaiah 53 tells us this about Jesus… “He sprouted up like a twig before God, like a root out of parched soil; He had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow Him. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭53‬:‭2‬ NET) I mention this to point out that it was not Christ’s looks that drew them to follow Him according to scripture. Based on Galatians; it was His personality as He submitted His life to the Holy Spirit and walked in the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus went about doing good; teaching; making disciples; healing; bringing deliverance; exemplifying the character of God by walking in the Spirit exuding love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! He showed mercy, grace and compassion when interacting with people. Consider the woman at the well. She was a Samaritan and a woman. She came to the well in the heat of the day to avoid towns people because of their treatment. Jesus shows her kindness and compassion and strikes up a conversation; a Jewish man speaking to a Samaritan! A woman! How could this be? By the time the disciples were returning, He had confirmed her truthfulness of her lack of a husband and had lovingly pointed out her past. Why do I think it was done in love and compassion? She went back to her town, to people who disapproved of her, and she told them about Jesus and her encounter. They all came to see Jesus. Why would she do this unless it was the fruit of the Spirit is His life and in His conversation with her?  He responded a little differently with the religious leaders who knew God’s Word and taught it, yet did not observe it themselves He was less gentle and more to the point because they knew the Scriptures.      Jesus set the example of what the Kingdom of God looks like and entreated us to walk as He walked.  He set an example of being loving and compassionate with people gently teaching them and speaking the truth in love. This is why they followed Him!  Based on this, I am positive beyond a doubt His success was because He exemplified the fruit of the Spirit! There is absolutely no indication that Jesus used guilt, fear or shame, those are tactics of the enemy who comes to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10) Jesus came to give life to us! Kingdom life. He came to purchase us for God, bring us into the Kingdom, empower us with the Holy Spirit and infuse us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.      Can you just imagine what would happen if all His people choose to walk this way? It seems a little to hard to believe that we could but if we had a revelation of our true identity in Christ, who God says we truly are and walked in that, I believe we would live in a noticeably different world than the one we often see around us. Grace and peace to you! Blessings

Why Do I Love the Word?

What an interesting question that was posed today in the current Bible study I am doing! Why do you love God’s Word? It was followed with this proposal…consider a friend or acquaintance asked you this question because they did not understand your love for the Bible and you were too taken off guard to respond at the time. Now, you sit down to write a note or letter to explain… How would you explain? So here goes lets give it a try…

 

Dear Friend,

I was taken aback a bit by your question today and needed a little time to process

your inquiry because many emotions rose up within me at that moment. Too many to

put into words immediately.  God’s Word is life and health to me! Without it, I would

not be the person I am… I probably would not be alive and certainly would not even

resemble the person you know.  His Word has been the source of strength to carry on in

the darkest of days, when sorrow, grief and loss were so very overwhelming that easily I

could have crawled into a dark hole, given up and disappeared. It has brought comfort

and peace in the most frightening of times; it has been my source of encouragement

when all seemed lost and I felt totally alone; it has been a well of hope springing up in

the driest of deserts; a balm to heal my heart when it has been wounded or too heartsick

to even move. His Word has been freedom to a soul held captive by her circumstances

and it has flooded joy into a heart teaching me that joy is available even in the times

where happiness is elusive and circumstances are challenging. When I have been wise, it

has offered me the keys to navigate through every passage on this journey of life. When I

have been foolish, He has drawn me back to it to lovingly shine light on the areas that

could have been better navigated and teach me better ways for the future.  Yes, it is life;

strength; comfort; peace; encouragement; healing; freedom; joy; direction; and

instruction. God’s Word also displays my Father’s character, shows the greatness of His

love, and tells me who I am In Christ. In Him, we are called friend; son or daughter;

beloved; accepted; redeemed; justified; set apart; precious; blameless; chosen; and

kings and priests…just to name a few. It contains everything needed to live a victorious

life and to avoid the pitfalls life tends to throw our way. It is a precious gift and a much

needed tool for my life.  Dear friend, I hope this at least in part answers your question

and thank you! for challenging me with this question. It is good to be challenged; to be

able put words to such deeply felt emotions and beliefs and to bring to remembrance

why we hold something or someone so dear and precious. It keeps it fresh to us and

prevents us from taking it for granted!

 

Grace and peace to you my friend!

Days of Grace-Day 6

Have you met Hannah? If not, I am pleased to introduce you to her. Today, we will look at another woman spoken of in the Word of God, her name is Hannah. Hannah lives with her husband Elkanah from the hill country of Ephraim. They are mentioned beginning in First Samuel chapter one. One of the first things we learn is Hannah is not Elkanah’s only wife. To make life even more difficult for her, she shared her husband with another wife, Peninnah. Peninnah had been blessed with children; Hannah had none.

    Elkanah was a man of God, we know this because he made a yearly journey to worship and sacrifice to the Lord. When the time for sacrifice came he gave portions to Peninnah and her children, but to Hannah he would give a double portion because he loved Hannah. Hannah suffered greatly because of her inability to have children. If it were not enough, Peninnah made it a rivalry and did not miss a chance to remind Hannah of her lack of fruitfulness. In verse 8 we see Elkanah as he tries to comfort Hannah saying, ” “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad ? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” I am sure she appreciated her husband’s attempt at comfort, but Hannah wanted more than anything to give her husband children. She went up to the temple. Hannah bowed in prayer, weeping greatly in her cries to the Lord.  Eli, the priest saw her there and rebuked her thinking that she was drunk.  One would think that might have been the tipping point for Hannah. Here she is childless, broken-hearted, suffering taunting and provocation from her rival and now she was also misunderstood completely by the priest who thought she was crying uncontrollably because she was drunk. But no, Hannah answered Eli calmly, ”  “No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit ; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the LORD.  “Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.” 1 Samuel 1:15-16 Eli’s, response was, “Go in peace, may the Lord grant you your request.” Hannah, in verse 18 responded, “And she said , Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat , and her countenance was no more sad.”

The following day Elkanah and Hannah went early to bow and worship the Lord and began their journey home to Ramah. After a while, The Lord remembered Hannah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel because she “requested him from the Lord.” verse 20.  Not only did our friend Hannah find grace in Eli’s sight, she also found grace and compassion in God’s sight and He answered her prayer. In gratitude, she raised young Samuel, dedicated him to the Lord, and when he was weaned this young boy served the Lord in the temple alongside Eli the priest.  1 Samuel 2:21 goes on to tell us that God remembered Hannah, at least one translation says ‘was gracious to Hannah’ and she had another three sons and two daughters. As for Samuel, he was raised in the temple and called by God to be a prophet in Israel and later a judge over Israel. God heard Hannah’s cries and He had a plan greater than she could have ever imagined. We may not always understand when we go through difficult trying times or times of suffering.  This I do know looking back in hindsight on my life’s circumstances and at the stories we are seeing in this journey. There is always a greater plan and God among all His other attributes is a God of mercy and grace.

Grace and blessings to you!


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