Thursday, January 31, 2013

Flooding of my heart. . .after loneliness

God always gives us what we need. Not always what we think we want but what we need.  About six years ago, we moved to beautiful South Carolina. I left behind the sweetest of friends and prayer warriors but was hopeful that the Lord would provide more.  During the time that we moved into our new home, vinyl wall scripture had become a big thing.  So one day while browsing a bookstore. . .we found on clearance a verse that seemed (size wise) to fit a space in our den.  It was, "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10  Little did I know at the time that it was not about decor or even having the words of the Lord on our wall.  It was about a lesson.  The Lord God was teaching a lesson. As our time progressed there we were involved in church. We found many friends who we love but none were those sweet sisters who would curl up on the sofa and pray until tears ran down our faces.  Not only did that make the six years lonely but it was filled to the brim with challenges.  Oh my, what a difficult time it has been.  Due to my recent Old Testament study and readings, I can't help but relate to the Israelites wondering in the desert stubbornly refusing to believe and submit.

During this time, over and over the Lord God has reminded me "Be still and know that I am God".  I honestly feel now that the season was long because I was so incredibly stubborn.  It was so hard for me to rest in Him no matter what.  There were many times over the years that I felt His presence and amazing love.  Still I was filled with anxiety, heartache, confusion and loneliness.  Looking back I  IMG_0253[1]realize that if God weren't so merciful, I could have lost so much more than the six years.  A message that God keeps putting before me right now is this. . .If I don't continually stay filled with Him then anything can get in.  I must have His daily filling and restoration.  Every thought must be tested against His word.  I am far too gullible to the enemies lies.

Last October, we moved again to a small town down the road about 40 minutes.  Not so far really, but in many senses a world away.  As we went to Hobby Lobby looking for somethings to fill the walls of our new home, I couldn't help but be drawn to a rather large cross that is made up of the names of God.  It took a couple of weeks for me to have the courage to buy such a large cross.  But it marks a change in my life.  From "Be still and know that I am God" to seeing who He is more fully.  I love it!  It marks even more of a change though.  I am overwhelmed how God has blessed us these few short months.  He has brought the most loving, caring, beautiful people into our lives.  When Jim and I sit and talk about it. . . .there are no words.  We are stunned! How could we love people and feel so loved in such a short time?  The only explanation is the Holy Spirit. It would take pages for me to tell you all that has happened.  We are overwhelmed by the hand of God and how obedient so many have been.  I even sat on a sofa and poured out tears of love, faith and joy with a sweet sister this week.  Praising God for how He loves us down to every little detail.

Not sure why I am telling you this other than I believe so many people (especially women) are lonely.  They so desperately need a humble sweet prayer partner who will risk revealing the details of her life.  It is not an easy thing. We have no problem sharing health concerns, legal concerns and even money problems to some degree.  But forget about the things that most burden a heart. Just can't risk that.  As we prepared to moved, I prayed desperately that God would provide deep friendships. You know, the kind only found between people who love Christ more than anything else.  Praise God. . .He is faithful and He gives us the desires of our heart when we believe and trust.

I have a feeling that if you are still reading this. . . then you understand.  You either need that friend or you know you need to learn to be that friend.  I know it is hard but it is worth the risk!  I pray you will begin today!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Prayer Request and Study

boomliftI have a prayer request that I have felt the Lord's calling to share here.  Please join with me on this. We have sweet friends serving in Haiti as full-time missionaries. In so many ways their work there is dangerous, but one way is reaching high places in unsafe ways.  They are in great need of a tow-able boom lift.  I won't presume to know how the Lord God will answer this prayer but I believe He will. Please join in prayer that He might hear our cries. Even share this with your Bible Study groups.  I know the Lord is able and willing to answer!

For accountability purposes - I completed week 3, day 1 of the James study.  Oh my word, I love the book of James! There is so much packed in this little book.  It is such sweet enrichment to my soul.

Then for my Old Testament reading, I am on Exodus 10.  The richness of the lives described is amazing. I am daily overwhelmed my how the Lord is using these stories that I already knew to speak new truth. I am also amazed at how exciting these stories have become. For those who love to read a good fiction book, just think how much more exciting it is when you know they are based on a true story. Well, this is even greater. It is exciting like any good fiction book but is ALL a true story.  Praise God for He is a God like no other.

As I have read through the stories of the plagues, the Lord spoke to me about how we often harden our hearts. It could be regarding anything the Lord calls us to do.  As Christians, how often have we not even heard or understood because we didn't know it was from the Lord or didn't have a Godly fear. I thought. . . I read this story so often thinking poorly of Pharaoh when my own sin is no less.  How humbling.  If you are a non-Christian, is the Lord calling you to Himself?  If so, don't drag it out. The pain caused along the way is not worth it.  The eternal punishment is definitely not worth it. As Pharaoh discovered, in the end it doesn't matter what we believe.  God is still God.  We can be obedient and feel His love and peace. . . or go down a path that leads to death and destruction.

Father, please help us to be obedient. Please help us to not act like Pharaoh continuously going back on our word.  Lord, please press your truth upon our hearts and minds that we might truly know that you are God (and there is none like you).  Father, please make us hungry every day for your Word.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Money Worries

I have pledged to myself to make this blog more applicable by letting my guard down. This is not easy. After years of leading Bible Studies, I have learned to keep things pretty impersonal. This is both to not burden people with the details of my life and for fear that I won't seem worthy to the task. Which by the way, I am far from ever being.  It is only by the grace of God that I can take the next breath. Anyway. . .here goes starting with some light reading from James.

"2 Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass[c] he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.[d] 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."

Unfortunately those who truly know me know this. . .I am often concerned with figuring out how to help with the family finances.  My husband is most always very gracious and rarely ask for any kind of help. But I feel responsible. As a homeschool mom, it simply cannot be my priority.  Wanting to be self sufficient (urg) that does not sit well lots of times.  Today as I went through my Bible Study, it was a visit to a lesson the Lord has graciously laid on my lap on multiple occasions. Therefore, rather than realize He was telling me something. . .I thought it was review. How foolish!  Rather than review, it was another opportunity to learn.

See I thought it was about needing to take care of the poor (and it is). However, He was pointing to my own sin. How I have refused to see how He has continually provided. How I refused to do what He called me to do and rest in Him.  Praise Him for His patience and His willingness to cut to the chase and speak directly to us.  I am humbled before the Almightly God! He is my provider! He is my King! Praise His name!


"The Lord will provide"

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Time with the Lord

Like always, time spent with the Lord has been such a blessing.  It is so incredible how He blesses us when we do this simple thing.  I spent time reading about Abraham.  His story leaped off the page as if it were the first time I had heard it.  It impressed me that even after he strayed, he would go back and build an alter before the Lord. He would then be greatly blessed.  The Lord God impressed upon me that for us this alter before the Lord is built in our hearts.  Gentle tears flowed as I eagerly moved forward through the chapters of Genesis.  They were tears of joy, peace and understanding.  The Lord's love is so great.  Praise Him for how He speaks through His Word.   Other things I enjoyed is how very specific prayers were answered, how He allowed Abraham to push the issue regarding Sodom And Gomorrah, and the beautiful picture left by Abraham's obedience with Issac. Despite the failures of Abraham, his faith in the Lord was strong.  The beautiful scriptures gave way to a sweet prayer time before the Lord.  I am so humbled by God. I know He will be faithful and answer my prayers. There are many things that I would love to change and cannot. . .but I trust in the Lord!

The James study is also going well.  The battle of taking the good news to the gentiles was much harder than I had realized before. Between the Old Testament reading and doing this study about the time period when Christianity was born. . .I realize that the condition of our world today is not hopeless. God is able to win any battle and has in fact already won!!!!

Also, our sermons for the last two weeks have pressed upon me.  Particularly giving an understanding of the Armour of God that I had not had before.  We have talked about several of the parts so far but not all.  I am hoping to put together a post regarding the parts once the sermons are complete.  I believe that this will be greatly helpful to others if I can find the words to express it correctly. I also hope that these words are encouraging to you. If you are not experiencing a quiet time then I hope it will make you excited to.  It is so worth it.

Then Abraham drew near. . .Genesis 18:23

Lord, please help me to draw near to you.



Friday, January 11, 2013

Sounds crazy!

Day 4 of the James study is complete.  I am loving this study so far.  Mostly I love that it helps me stay on track.  It is funny how it works.  By having the daily lesson that I feel I must do to stay on track. . .I end up doing lots more.  I am also reading through the Old Testament to help with the Old Testament study.  I am on Chapter 12 of Genesis right now.  I do the Bible study in the early mornings and then do the reading in the afternoons. It is hard to stop and take time to sit down in the afternoon but I am enjoying the reading.  Some thoughts:

From Galatians 1 - After Paul's conversion, he spent time allowing God to teach him for two to three years.  Wow! The strength of his testimony was that it was directly from God and not just a passed down story. Paul immediately went to Arabia after his conversion where the risen Jesus taught him "by revelation" for the next two to three years (Galatians 1:11-18).  This really reiterated to me that we must spend time with the Lord.  We cannot depend on pastors and teachers to do our homework for us.  It would like paying the smart kid at school to do the work and trying to take the reward.  Besides who would want to miss the sweet fellowship that comes from spending time with Him? Not me. Yes, I do get off track and it saddens me since I know what I am missing.   Praise God that time spent with Him is addictive. It makes us want more and more!

From Genesis - To be sure there is no theology in this thought. . .but wonder if Noah ever thought he was crazy. I often have thought about how other people probably thought Noah was crazy but wonder if Noah doubted.  Did he ever think, what if I am going insane and that isn't God speaking to me?  How easy it is to explain away the Lord's voice and yet how hard it is to really listen.  Sadly, I know there are times when I have explained it away. We like to put God in a box. . .don't we?  We decide what He can and can't do and leave no room for Him to be God in our lives.

My prayer today is that I would be humble before the Lord. I believe with my whole heart that I must be.  I want to be teachable and willing to listen to Him no matter how crazy it may seem.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Heart, Soul & Mind

I am so excited today!  I have enjoyed some study time and now I am enjoying a nice bowl of Cream of Wheat (trying to not let it drip as I rush forward to write this).  I so want to be wholly owned by the Heavenly Father - Heart, Soul and Mind. I want to surrender my will to His will. I want to drink in all that He wants to teach me and be obedient to His guiding. I cannot wait to see what new thing He will do in my life.

I started an Old Testament class.  We have only had the first class and already it was amazing.  As I listened,  the Lord opened my eyes in a whole new way to Moses and why He wrote much of what He wrote.  I also have a fresh understanding as to why the Israelites spent so much desert time.  Their lives are so important to the precious God breathed book that I am studying.  As I listened to the introduction for this class, it was clear. . . this is what I was longing for.  I was so incredibly excited I could hardly sit still.  Finally, something that would tie together all the Bible studies to make it all more cohesive.  I also began to understand more about differences in churches.  I know I have said it before but understand what your church or denomination believes and why.  It is very important as it colors all you are taught there.  On a slightly separate note, pray and be obedient if you feel that you are not where the Holy Spirit is leading you. It is so easy to stay put but not always God's best for us.  Sometimes we must make changes to learn and do all He wants for us.

I also started the workbook study.  Today I completed the second day of Beth Moore's study James.  The workbook is available at Lifeway Christian Bookstores or online.  So far it is incredible! I also love the way she has given options to do a deeper study in this workbook.  Her ability to help you be there and feel the things that Jesus' earthly family felt are amazing. I think it is going to be the perfect balance to my Old Testament study. I bet the Lord will even use them together to teach new things.

Another big excitement is that I got a brand new Bible.  I am now using the English Standard Version (ESV) and love it.  I have used it for a couple of weeks without making marks or writing in it. But at last I am making it my own.  I love to write in the margins and mark what God is teaching.  The perfectly smooth clean pages are starting to look loved.

At this point I am thinking this blog might provide accountability.  I usually concentrate on one thing at a time but my hunger for the Lord will not allow that right now.  I feel almost guilty to set this much time aside to study but also feel that it is what I need to do right now.  Please pray with me that I can stay on course and the Lord God will bless the time spent studying His Word.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year

Well Christmas and New Years are past.  I have to say that it was truly a wonderful time for our family this year. The Lord has been so good to us.  We had beautiful church services, great family time and really just a sense of peace. So now to move forward with 2013.  I don't do resolutions. Not against them. . . just not interested. Truly I just know that I will fail.  In my power, I have no power.  But still I can't help but think of things I need to change with a fresh new year.

Over the years, I have done lots of group Bible studies. One such study was what the Lord used to capture my attention and turn my heart to Him.  So they are precious to me.  But the last year, again God has been working and I feel the need to take another step.  My vision for this year is a go both deeper and wider.  By deeper I mean to spend more time in the Word than in a workbook. By wider, I want to get a better over-all grasp of scripture (putting the pieces grasped through workbook studies together more cohesively). That is my goal.  Now saying that, I purchased yet another workbook so it is going to take determination. So I step forward prayerfully that the Lord will help me to do what He has set in my heart.  I will post here from time to time and let you know how it is going.

We are also trying to be much more intentional about being host/hostesses.  It is a simple way to show love as God commanded. Plus we are already making some amazing new friends as we do this.  I do find that this requires putting pride aside. I would love to make a big meal every time we have company. . .but I was reminded (the hard way through failure and expense) that this is not the way to go. Simple inexpensive foods but very welcoming home is the winner!  May the Lord bless the effort and those who dine with us. Be sure to check my blog from time to time Family Faith & Dinner. You may see some of these meals there in the future.