Sword Fighting Class – Cut out the Doubting

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

We are doing a great job of memorizing James 1!  Keep it up!James 1 2-5

As the verses grow, my prayers to God asking for his help have also grown :)

This is a God thing.  We know it’s his will for us to write his word upon our hearts and minds.  We know he’ll help.

Asking for his help is a wise thing.

And listen to our next verse- verse 6:

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he would doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

Love that verse!  We must believe and not doubt.

When we ask for something that is in God’s will for us, we always receive it.  Always. He has promised us.  We should have no doubt about that.

And when we’re not sure if something is in God’s will for us, this verse tells us we should be praying expecting an answer.

Watching for an answer.  Not doubting that God will answer.

Praying expectantly.

This verse changed how I pray.  After I really understood this, I started praying and immediately watching – expecting an answer.

And God always answers.

Sometimes its ‘no’, other times its ‘yes’ and he often uses the ‘wait’ answer with me. That’s a hard one.  But a very cool one.  Because when I see God move and answer those requests at the right time, it’s a glorious thing.  Worth the wait.

Doubt causes us to be blown and tossed by the winds of life.  The winds of emotion.  The winds of confusion.  The winds of disappointment and anger.  The winds of despair.

We’ve all been caught in those winds.  It’s not a fun place to be.

Dear Father God, Please help us remove all doubt we have about you.  We want to be anchored securely in you..today…always.  When the winds of life blow at us and tug at our spirit, draw us closer to you.  Thank you for helping us to memorize your word, hiding it deep within our hearts, renewing our minds and setting us free.  In the redeeming name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

If You Love Me……

keep my commands.Nov 14 2014 If you love me

God rocked my world through this verse in John over 25 years ago.

I always said I loved Jesus.  I had loved Jesus my entire life.

But was I keeping his commands?

Jesus wasn’t talking to me about all of the laws in the Old Testament or the 10 commandments.  He was pointing out his first and greatest command – to love God with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength.  And the second great command – to love others as I love myself.

I wasn’t doing great at putting God first in my life at that time.  Two active kids, a husband, a career that involved significant travel, a house, 2 cars, family, friends, going to church where I was a member of the choir – my calendar was stretched to a superhuman level already.  I didn’t see any slot where I could fit in more time with God.

But the Holy Spirit was persistent, convicting me BIG TIME that I needed to stop just saying I loved Jesus and start showing it by obeying his first and greatest command.

So I gave up some things, lowered my expectations of other things (like how clean my house was) and re-prioritized.  I got serious about Bible study – both on my own and with a small group – and started to put God first in my life.  One baby step at a time.

And a miracle happened!  Everything started to go better, run smoother, be more fun!  I realized that God wanted me to put him first so he could help me with everything else!  He wanted to help me be a better wife, a better mother ( he gets the credit for my 2 intelligent, mature and responsible grown children), a better employee, a better everything!

He put the pieces of my life together so that they made a great picture.   Before, the pieces just seemed to pile on top of each other – making me crazy……making me feel empty……making me unhappy.  God made sense of it and brought real joy back into my life.

Loving him first made me whole.

The a whole me was much better prepared to deal positively with the rest of my life – as long as I kept God at the center.

Six words changed it all!

Amazing!

I love you, dear Father!

How Far Are You….

from the kingdom of God?

In Mark 10, Jesus tells a man that he answered a question wisely when the man said that we need to love God first, with all of our soul, mind and strength.  Jesus said that the man was ‘not far from the kingdom of God.”Nov 11 2014 2 How Far are you

How far away from the kingdom of God are we?

Are we right in the middle of God’s kingdom – loving him with all of our soul, mind and strength?

Or are we picking a corner of God’s kingdom to hang out in – not ready to give him everything we’ve got?

Do we go to church each week but don’t make time to serve anywhere?

Do we read our Bible but not participate in any small group Bible Studies or classes at church?

What about the opposite?  Are we at church all of the time but we don’t make time to spend with God alone – just us two?

Do we tithe at church but are not willing to give anything above that when we’re asked to bring in toys for the community service project at Christmas?

Do we read God’s word but then forget it as we get on with the rest of our day?

Do we let the Truth of God soak into our souls and open up our hearts to the transforming power of the omnipotent King of the Universe?

Where are we in his kingdom?

Come to the Banquet

Our Father God has prepared a lavish banquet.  His tables are piled high with the very best he has to offer -

* love.Nov 11 2014 1 Come to the Banquet

* grace.

* purpose for our lives.

* joy.

* peace.

* contentment.

* blessing for our families and friends.

*forgiveness.

* wholeness.

*hope.

* provisions for all of our needs.

Everything is ready.  We just need to go to the banquet and accept all of God’s blessings.

Many of us have accepted God’s invitation, have felt his grace, his acceptance and his love.

But sometimes we have problems staying at the banquet – we wander outside to the patio and start to worry and fret, instead of sitting at his table filled with trust that he’s got this.

We wander upstairs to plan and plot and try to control our world instead of relaxing in God’s presence, knowing he’s in charge.

Or we concentrate on the dessert table when we really need to be diving into the meat God has for us in his Word.

We may get distracted by wanting to know all of the ingredients of every dish when God’s desire is that we “Be still …… and know I am God.”

We might leave the party early because we are so busy, our calendars are over-flowing.  We only penciled in one hour for God.  So we miss the fun, we miss the deep relationship we could have had with God if we took the time.  If we made Him our priority.

It’s possible to go to the banquet and accept salvation but miss most of the blessings God has for us here on earth.

Dear Father, Please help us to stay at the banquet, bowed and blessed at your feet.  Today.  And everyday.

Sword Fighting Class – Growing Wise

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Nice work! Here’s our next verse on our journey to memorize James 1:

‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without fault, and it will be given to him.’

Love this!  Who doesn’t need wisdom?James 1 2-5

And God gives us generous amounts of wisdom when we ask.

I need to remember this today!  I need to remember this everyday!

When I remember to remember this, I will ask God first when I’m making a decision.  And it always works out better than it would have without his wisdom.  Always.

Especially people issues….relationship issues…….family issues.

I’m glad we’re memorizing this.  As we etch God’s words onto our hearts and minds, God is changing us.  He is renewing our minds.  He is helping us grow more wise.

Thank you, dear Father!

 

I want to be…

like the Samaritan Leper.

He came back to Jesus after Jesus healed him.  He came back praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.

He was one of ten lepers that Jesus healed in Luke 17 as he travelled to Jerusalem.

Jesus healed them all.

This man was the only one that came back to say thank you.

Jesus had redeemed the leper’s life from pain and death.  And the leper came back to show his gratitude for what Jesus had done for him.

Jesus did the same thing for you and me.  He redeemed our lives from pain, death and eternal separation from the only source of good things in this universe – our Father God.

For the rest of our lives here on this planet, let our first response be gratitude to God.

Dear Jesus, We are very grateful for all of the things you are and for what you have done for us.  Help us live lives full of gratitude, counting the blessings we have received from you each day.  Thank you.  In your redeeming name we pray, Amen.

We Know His Voice

Nov 5 2014 We know his voice 1We can follow Jesus, our Great Shepherd.  We can know what he is telling us -

when we know his voice.

And we know his voice by reading his word to us.  We know what he is saying to us when we don’t have a Bible in front of us because we have read his words before.  We’ve read it many times.   We’ve heard this before.  We’ve prayed about it many times.

We know his voice.

And we listen to his voice.

We let Jesus change us…..Nov 5 we know his voice 3. jpg

transform us…

renew our minds so that we think thoughts that are more like his.

We let Jesus change our hearts so that, more and more, we love the things that he loves.

Baby step by baby step we are becoming more like Jesus.

And it becomes easier to hear him with every step.

Because we’re closer.

Let’s keep moving closer.

Thank you, dear Jesus, for being our personal shepherd.  We love hearing your voice! 

The Best Exchange

It sounds daunting.  Nov 3 2014 the exchange

It sounds challenging.

It sounds like it’s too hard, too much.

We must deny ourselves….

- summit our will.

- decide to do what God wants instead of what we want.

It’s not natural.

Not normal.

It’s normal for us to look out for #1.

It’s natural for us to be self-centered and Captains of our own Universe.

But Jesus came and turned our universe upside down – inside out.

He tells us to deny our sovereignty over our space and submit to him in order to save our lives.

By denying ourselves and letting God reign as King of our Universe, we gain it all!

All of the important stuff.

The stuff that counts.

Forget the big houses, new cars, and money……that’s just stuff.

We’re talking about the most important things like ….

purpose for your life…

and peace…

and love….

And how about joy?

How much joy do you have in your life?

Everything good comes down from the Father of Heavenly Lights. (This is one of my favorite verses from James 1 that we’re eventually going to memorize in our Sword Fighting Class)

So we exchange our frustrating, disappointing, heart-breaking attempts to control of our life for God’s control of our life and he makes his dreams for us come true.

I love that exchange!

Don’t you?

Thank you, dear Father.

Who is in Control?

Jesus could walk on the water because he created the water – he could make it do anything he wanted.gdtDSC_0611

Jesus could feed five thousand people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish because he created bread and fish.  He could make them do anything he wanted.

Both of these things are impossible for us because we are not God.

Sometimes we try to act like God – we try very hard to control the world around us.  This sin goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.  That’s what Eve wanted – she wanted to be like God.

But we aren’t God.gdtDSC_0647

So all of our efforts to control the world just cause anger, frustration and disappointment for us.

The lesson God has for us – if we choose to learn it – is that God is the only one in control.  When we truly let him take control of our lives, we find the peace and contentment that God wants us to have.

I was able to visit Israel earlier this year and spent an afternoon on the Sea of Galilee (pictures).  We saw the place where Jesus fed the 5000.  We spent several hours in the middle of the sea, imagining the figure of Jesus walking out on the water towards us and watching our ship captain show us how the disciples fished with a net.gdtDSC_0642

We are so blessed to have the Word of God available to us 24/7.  We know the historical accounts of Jesus’ life here on earth and we have his role-model for how we should live our lives.

Jesus created all of this – he knows how it should work.  Jesus reminds us through his word today to take courage and don’t be afraid.  We just need to give up trying to control everything and trust him.

God’s got this!

Thank you, dear Father!

Sword Fighting Class – Fighting through the tough stuff

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

Do you have that part memorized?  Our journey to memorize James 1 continues and we’re adding verse 4 this week: James 1

‘Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’

Mature.

Complete.

What awesome words!  Who doesn’t want to be mature and complete?

God is telling us that we get mature and complete by persevering with joy through our trials.

Persevering – a hard thing to do.

We like to give up when the going gets tough.

Our culture teaches us to choose the ‘easy’ way, the fast way, the immediate gratification way.

God says that those choices don’t lead to maturity and completeness.

We must choose the harder way of persevering, seeking God and growing in his wisdom through our trials.

Please help us persevere, dear Father.