How Beautiful……

on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.  Isaiah 5:7.

How beautiful it is when I share the Great News of Jesus’ redeeming love and gift of salvation!  How beautiful it is when you tell others about how much God loves them!

For God so loved the world……how beautiful!

Have you noticed that people are starving for love?  It actually explains a lot of the craziness in the world.   People are searching for acceptance and forgiveness just like we were before we accepted God’s grace.  There is a Godspot molded into each one of us that is empty – and it feels empty – until God’s Spirit comes to live inside of us.  The best thing those of us who have found the answer to this emptiness can do is share it with the people in our lives who are still searching.

How beautiful!

I think many of us got turned off by evangelism ‘techniques” we were told to do.  I know I was.   I have discovered that talking about Jesus and his love doesn’t have to be ‘in your face’ and regimented by steps.

I started what I call ‘living my faith out loud’ and it works for me.  This means mixing my faith and my beliefs into regular conversations – not waiting for someone else to bring up God.  My faith is a big part of my life so it should be a big part of my conversations, right?  It’s not just reserved for Bible study group or church people.

I have learned to talk about my beliefs, my experiences, my love for God honestly and naturally – just like I live it.  I bring up examples of real people from the Bible when it relates to something that is happening today.  I share the truth I have learned from reading God’s word or hearing a sermon.

There are no steps – I just include God and my faith in my regular conversations and it opens up that topic for other people to discuss.   When ever someone starts asking questions – even negative ones – I know God is moving in their life.  Something exciting is going on.   I’ll say a quick prayer in my head, ” Father, please give me the words.” and I’ll keep talking about my faith.  My life.  My experiences.  No one can dispute what I say about my own experiences – I’m the expert.

If anyone asks me a question I don’t have an answer to, I refer them to various books I have researched where the authors are reputable.  It’s even better if I have one of those books to hand them.  I don’t have a lot of the technical answers because I like the fact that God is too big to understand.  He is more awesome and more powerful than my 3.5 pound brain can comprehend.

How beautiful!

I’ve also bought a lot of extra Bibles in my time because I love to hand Christians Bibles when they start asking me questions that are answered by God in his Word.  He wants to make his Word come alive for each one of us, individually, as we read it and study it.

God calls each of us to share the Great News – what he has done for us.  We can just talk about gift of grace he offered to us naturally, as part of our conversations.  We can include how he redeemed our lives and has given us a purpose worth living for.

How beautiful!

Please give us the opportunities and the words, Abba Father.

When It’s Big

And bad.

There have been times in my life when huge dark clouds have rolled in and  completely filled the sky over my head.

What do I want to do when this happens?  I want to worry, get anxious and stop sleeping.

What should I do?

When King Hezekiah received a letter from of the King of Assyria telling him that he was going to destroy Hezekiah, Hezekiah went to the temple and spread the letter out before the LORD.

God heard Hezekiah’s prayers and send an angel to kill a hundred and eighty thousand Assyrian soldiers.  When the King of Assyria saw this, he ‘withdrew to his own land in disgrace.”  God won – of course.

Hezekiah knew it would be impossible for him to win the battle before him on his own.  So he laid it down before God.

How many of us have an impossible battle before us right now?  It’s too big.  It’s too hard.  I’m not strong enough.  I can’t do this on my own.

I’m there.  I’ve got a battle that I’m going to be fighting the rest of my life and I cannot possibly be successful if I try to do it by myself.  I need to take Hezekiah’s lead and lay it down before my God who is all-powerful.

Lay it down before my God who wants the best for me.

Lay it down before my God who is in control and can bring good out of every dark cloud.

As I’ve grown in my relationship with God on this journey, I’ve gotten pretty good at laying it down.  But, if I’m not careful, I’m also good at picking it back up.  Are you with me on that?

I need to lay it down….

and leave it at the feet of my Father God who fights my battles for me and who has already won the war.

Here it is, Abba Father.

 

Sword Fighting Class – The Verse and Chapter Numbers Disappear

God has some things he wants me to know.  He has some things he wants you to have an in-depth understanding of – that’s why we’re memorizing.  And it’s here – in the book of James, Chapter 2.   So we begin,

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.

Interesting – God’s going to speak to us about favoritism.  What a hot topic in our world today!  He’s got to things he wants to teach us and he wants us to really get this – that’s why we’re memorizing it.  God’s going to use this truth as we go about our lives  – watch for him.  He’s moving.

Some suggestions for how to memorize:

I’ll be writing everything we have memorized down every week – it helps me get most of the words right as I write them over and over.

I also write them on index cards and put them in my car.  Every car ride with me is a Sword Fighting Class, whether I’m alone or not.  I have to say them out loud, too, because otherwise they just don’t stick.  So I will say the new verse several times and then add it to the verses I’ve already memorized and say all of it several times.  Depending on how long the car ride is, I will also start with Chapter 1 and go all the way through at least once a week to review it all and keep the communication channels with God wide open.

I have discovered that one of the huge blessings of memorizing scripture is that the verse numbers and chapter numbers fall away and I am hearing the scripture like it was told to the Israelites back when it was written.  God’s word flows and ebbs so much better without all of the stops and spaces.  It makes so much more sense.

Thank you, Abba Father, for helping us etch your word upon our hearts and minds.

Raising My Game

If you have been following my blog for a while, you might remember the time several years ago when God had challenged me to raise my game and take my faith walk to the next level – by memorizing James 1.

I invited you along and called it my Sword Fighting Class because God’s word is the offensive weapon in our Armor of God.  This is how we face the trials and problems of our lives.  God’s word guides us as we wake up each day and take our next step. We are wandering on the dark path unless we let God shine his light of truth into our lives through his Word.  When it’s etched on our brains, God can use it all day in every situation when there are no Bibles or Bible aps in sight.

God and I had an amazing time working through James 1 together.  I have a terrible memory – you never want me on your trivia team – but I can remember scripture.  That’s God.  Through memorizing James 1, I experienced a whole new facet of my relationship with my Father God.   It was awesome to have a firsthand seat as I watched God move in my life and make this happen.

Since then, I have realized I don’t just know James 1 by heart – I feel the words of James 1, my brain uses the truths in James 1 all of the time to make decisions and  my spirit resonates with the wisdom God revealed to me through James.

Since then, God has helped me memorize Proverbs 2 and 3 and Psalm 46.

Now God has given me a new challenge.  Memorize James.  Yes, all of James – the rest of the book.

There is obviously more God wants me to know and understand.  He also wants to prove to me again that he can do this in my life – I just have to do my part.  And God asked me to invite you along on this journey.

The reality is that God commands us to etch his word on our hearts and minds.  We like to treat it as if it were an option – based on how good our memory is or how much time we have.  If we want to do what God commands us to do, memorizing scripture is not an option.  We’re deceiving ourselves if we look at it that way.

James tells us several times to stop deceiving ourselves.  That’s one of the things I really like about James.

I’m planning to add a verse every week, sometimes adding a couple together since they make more sense together and then taking a couple of weeks to get those totally added to the rest.  I’m starting with James 2 – you can start there with me even if you haven’t gotten James 1 down yet.

God is going to do some amazing things in our lives as we open up our minds, soak in his word and let him change our thinking from the inside out.  It happened to me with James 1 – I’m excited to see it happen again in the rest of James.

And it doesn’t matter how long it takes, right?  God will bless us each step of the way.  He has promised and he always keeps his promises….

So, let’s begin.  Watch for my first Sword Fighting Class tomorrow.

A Great Light Has Come!

Isaiah 9, 2018 – 

I was once walking in darkness, but now I have seen a great light.  An everlasting light has dawned in my soul.

As I praise God, he increases my joy.  He has broken the bondage of sin in my life.

The battle is his and he has already won!

For unto me – and you – a child was born,  God gave us his only son.  He came from heaven with all authority and power.

He is our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, Everlasting Father, our Prince of Peace.  There is no end to his greatness.  He does what is right and just – now and forever.

The Lord Almighty has done all of this –

for me.

Thank you, Jesus

What Does He Want?

Trying to follow God can be confusing.

It can be difficult.

It can seem like a long checklist of things we need to do.  And then there’s that other checklist of things we have to give up.

When I feel like this, I know Satan is whispering his lies into my head because these lists are not from God.  Jesus told us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and love others as ourselves.   These two commandments include all of the laws he cared about.  No list.

The Prophet Micah simply states, “What does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Not a long list of to-do’s.  And nothing on the list tells me I have to give up anything.

I have found, as I have been learning how to walk humbly with God, that he transforms my thinking and I want to give up things that aren’t good for me.

I want to act justly.

I want to love mercy.  These aren’t ‘have to’s’.

Yes, there are times when following God is still confusing and it’s still difficult.  But that’s not because of checklists.

And, yes, I have given up some things – because I wanted to.  I have given up my plans for my life, trying to do things my way and trying to be in control.

Now I submit to his will and his plans and I’m confident that he is in control.

There’s another thing I’ve given up – my heart.  It’s his.

I love you, Abba Father.

My Peace

“He will come from Bethlehem”.

Micah shared this prophecy with the people of Israel over 700 years before Jesus was born.  Micah told them the Great Shepherd would stand in strength and majesty, keeping his flock secure while his greatness stretched out to the ends of the earth.

“And he will be our peace”.

Jesus stands today at the right hand of God our Father.  As my shepherd, he cares for me, feeds me and provides for me.  He guides and directs me.  He gives me strength and security.

His greatness stretches far beyond the ends of the earth.

He is – and always will be – my peace.

Thank you, Jesus.

Soften My Heart

Isaiah 6, 2018:

Help me hear and understand you, Father.

Help me see, Father.  I want to see more than just what’s on the surface.

Soften my heart towards the things you care about.

Open my ears, Abba.  Open my eyes to your truth.

When I am close to you, I see you.  I hear you.

I open my heart to you now, Father

I am turning to you.

Heal me, make me whole.

It’s Not Okay

I’m surprised at how often I find myself doing it – rationalizing.

Making up excuses for bad choices.

Telling myself that something is ‘not that bad’.

Do you do this, too?

Do you tell yourself “everyone’s doing it” or “no one will ever know” when you think about doing something wrong?

God’s words through Isaiah are very clear about our tendency to rationalize away bad decisions.  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter”.

Woe to me when I call evil good…..or call evil okay…..or call evil just easier.  These words echo through my head as I recommit to stop rationalizing things.

I need to be discerning – don’t accept evil as good, don’t call shades of darkness light.

I need to be wise – this doesn’t mean I go around judging other people.  God is their judge.  I’m focusing on my behavior and my values and my choices.  I’m focusing on calling good good and calling evil evil in my life.

Stop the excuses, stop the rationalizing.

Please open my eyes, Abba Father.

 

What If?

What if our sin and rebellion showed on the outside?

I’m reading in 1 Chronicles how God gave King Uzziah leprosy because of the king’s unfaithfulness.   Everyone could see the king’s sin.

On second thought, I think our sins also show on the outside.  We don’t have leprosy but some of us have broken relationships that are easy to see.  And these relationships broke because of our lack of forgiveness and patience.

Others of us have very difficult situations on our lives that are no secret and are direct consequences for bad choices we made.

Many of us have anger and frustration because of our selfishness and lack of self-control.  Those of us who ignore God or fail to live our life by faith, can be filled with fear because we trust other things like money, careers and relationships to give us security.  This stresses us out because we know – deep inside – that these things are not secure.

Yep – all of this shows on the outside.

But it begins on the inside  – with our heart.  That’s why God starts his transformation on the inside.

God has brought his love and light and truth and grace into my heart – transforming me one step at a time.  And – gradually – it begins to show on the outside.

God wants to do the same transformation for you –

will you let him?

Thank you for your transforming love and grace, Abba Father.