Growing

It is coming very quickly – 2019.

New Year’s resolutions have gotten a bad rep because so many of us break them within a day or two of making them.  I’m a goal-oriented person so I like them……..

as long as I limit them to things I REALLY want to do.  I try to stay away from making resolutions that sound really good but I’m not really committed to making them happen.

Here’s one that I’m totally committed to continue making happen in 2019 –

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Savior, Jesus Christ.”

These are the words Peter uses to close out his second letter.  There are several other things I would like to accomplish in 2019 but this one I am definitely going to do.  And I have a plan.  Please feel free to join me in any or all of these –

*I’m going to read the entire Bible again – for the 8th year in a row.  I have found that reading the entire revelation of God feeds my soul much more than hitting various chapters or verses.  I love the chronological Bible because the natural progression through history makes more sense to me and helps me understand what God is saying.  I bought a new chronological Bible for 2019 to see a different perspective since some of the actual dating of events is not confirmed.

*I’m going to continue to memorize scripture.  My big goal is to memorize the entire book of James.  Yep, all of it.  Yep, it will take years, especially since I don’t have a good memory. It’s a God-sized task and I know he’s up for it.  So far, God has helped me memorize James 1 and most of James 2.  He constantly blesses me by speaking to me through these words that he has etched on my heart and mind.

*I’m going to continue in a women’s Bible study group that I’ve been a part of for almost 20 years.  This is a serious group which meets every Thursday of the year except for Thanksgiving.  We have homework every week.  Preparing for the study is one of the benefits of the study – it gives us extra one on one time with God.

*Last year, my husband and I moved an hour away from our old church and God hasn’t pointed out our new church home to us yet.  I’m sure he will make our new spiritual family obvious to us in 2019 and I’m looking forward to that.

I’m committed to this plan and I’m confident that God will use it to grow my faith in 2019.

What are your goals for 2019?

Do you have a plan?

Please help us be intentional in growing our faith, Abba Father. 

Don’t Be Fooled – It’s not OK

Hearing his whispers…..

seeing him move….

recognizing the coincidences that happen all around me are really ‘God-incidences’.   My sensitivity to the movement of the Holy Spirit is a vital part of my daily walk with God.  He shows me what the pieces of the puzzle look like and then I watch him put them into place.  I  try to be aware of him moving around me and open my eyes to what he is orchestrating right in front of me.

This sensitivity to the Holy Spirit has increased as my knowledge of God and my personal relationship with him has grown.  I see him working his purposes out in my world – using every opportunity to love me and bless me.  He is training me as he puts me in many situations which stretch my faith and cause me to ask for wisdom.

This sensitivity to the Holy Spirit also makes me more aware of the things on earth that are not from God –

lies….

deceit….

greed……

lack of respect…….

sexual depravity…..

I feel my heart recoiling from these characteristics of Satan which are very alive in our culture.  I can’t stand them.  Satan wins when we give into evil and say its ok for us.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect.  I have struggled and do struggle with a variety of all of these things throughout my life.  But I always knew it was wrong.

It really disturbs me when I see some of Satan’s work being widely accepted within our culture.  I hear people say, ‘it doesn’t hurt anyone so its good’.

No, it’s not good.  It’s not ok.  Participating in and condoning these things degrades the culture we all live in.  It exposes children to these evils way before they are mature enough to correctly deal with these issues – filling their minds with a twisted truth which will haunt them the rest of their lives.  It all gives Satan a bigger foothold in our world as his infectious evil grows.

As my sensitivity towards God increases, all of this gradually bothers me more and more….

and it drives me to continual prayers for the people in the diseased and darkened culture around me.

I lay my world at your feet, Abba, with the knowledge that you hear us, you love us and you want the best for us.  Heal our souls, Father.

 

My Ancient Prayer

Paul prayed words like these over the Colossians thousands of years ago and today I pray them over you and I:

Dear Father, please fill us with the knowledge of your will by giving us wisdom and understanding through the Holy Spirit.

May we live a life that pleases you.  Help us do good works which bear much fruit for your Kingdom.

Guide us, Father, as we grow closer to you.  Please strengthen us with your power and might, giving us great endurance and patience as we run this race of faith.

Thank you, Abba, for adopting us into your Kingdom of light.  We lift our praises to you for rescuing us from the slavery of sin and darkness.  You have bought us and we live eternally in the presence of the Son you love, our Savior, who redeemed our souls.

You are an awesome Father who has listened and answered the prayers of your children for thousands of years.  We know you are listening today.  We love you. 

In the redeeming name of Jesus we pray, 

Everyone agreed and said, “Amen”.

24/7/365

Five more days until Christmas.

Five more days before we celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Well, that’s not really true.  We actually start celebrating the birth of our Savior way before the 25th of December.  We are celebrating him when we put up our Christmas lights.   Jesus is the Light of the World.

We begin celebrating when we start buying gifts for one another.  Jesus was God’s perfect gift to us.

We start celebrating Jesus’ birth when we invite friends and neighbors over for Christmas festivities.  Jesus loved us first and wants us to share that love with others every day – not just on Christmas.

My celebration of Jesus’ birth can’t be limited to just one day or one month.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life for me every day.

He is my hope.   He fulfilled God’s promise of grace providing a way for me to have a personal relationship with my Abba Father.

So I celebrate Jesus’ birth and life every day.  I am grateful for his death and resurrection every day.  I look forward to seeing my Savior standing next to my Father in heaven someday.

And Christmas is still a special time for me because the rest of the world joins in to celebrate.

Happy Birthday, Jesus.

A Very Bad Trade

If I watch enough of today’s news….

and read enough Facebook posts….

and hear enough ‘discussion’ on talk radio or podcasts……

I will be very confused on what is true.  I won’t know what’s really going on.  I will hear some opinions that I agree with (so they are right 🙂 and other’s I don’t agree with (so they are obviously wrong).

If I listen to all of these voices, my own perspective will lean one way…..

and then the other.   Oh, that sounds good – I’ll climb on that bandwagon!

Look around!  This is happening every day.  If I had to pick one word that I think describes our current culture the best, I would have to pick ‘confused’.

Paul nails it in Romans 1, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised.  Amen.”

There are way too many loud voices in our world spouting all kinds of lies.  Since we are so digitally ‘connected’ these lies continue to spread and start to look like something people generally believe.

It’s scarey.  Because it’s still lies, no matter how many people believe it.

I am reminded of what is true whenever I sit down with my Bible in my lap.  It gives me the chance turn off all of the voices around me and listen to God speak truth into my head and heart, feeding my soul.  God’s words cut through the cacophony and confusion, providing a solid foundation that does not change as the winds of the world shift and swirl around me.

God is my compass and he is the solid ground I stand on.  His Word is my map which he is using to point out to me – one step at a time – the path that is taking me home…

where I will praise my Creator forever.

Amen.  Let it be so, Abba Father.

Don’t Waste Your Time

I’m amazed by how much time some people spend on trying to predict the end of the world.  There are whole religious groups that keep coming up with a new ‘date’ when Jesus is coming again to earth.

I know other people – and not just a few people – who study Revelations excessively, tearing it apart and memorizing it in an effort to figure out the final events leading up to Satan being thrown into his eternal lake of fire.   Yep, Satan is finally going to get his reward for messing around in our lives, lying to us and distracting us.  That’s my favorite part of Revelations.  And it will happen after Jesus comes back so I don’t have to watch for that –  he will have all of my attention.

All of this effort people put into predicting the end of the world doesn’t make sense to me.

Jesus told his disciples (and us) that it is not for us to know the date and time the Father had chosen for his return.  What part of that don’t we understand?

Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians that ‘the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night’.  After reading this, my conclusion is that all the predictions are going to be wrong.

All of them.

I shouldn’t waste my time on them.  You shouldn’t waste any time on them, either.  Trying to figure out the events leading up to the end of the world is not how God wants me to use my time here on earth.  I have personally learned a huge lesson on just how short my time is here – I’m a whisper.  I need to use that time well.

Paul goes on to say, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

THIS is what I need to be doing.

Encouraging others.  Building others up.

Loving God.  Loving others.

Jesus was very clear on how we are to spend our remaining days here on earth.

The end will come when nobody expects it.  Don’t worry – none of us will miss it because……

 

Please help us focus on the right priorities during our short time here on earth, Abba Father.

 

I Have Received the Message

A message has been sent to me and to you.  And part of the message is to pass the message we hear on to others.

Paul tells us in Acts. 23, “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.”

I have heard this message because God sent it to me.  You have heard this message because God sent it to you.

When I heard this message and accepted God’s free gift of grace, I became free.  My eternal life with God started right away – while I am still here on earth.

Life here on this broken planet makes more sense to me the closer my relationship with God becomes.  God’s blessings flow down on me despite my circumstances here in this place where Satan prowls.

After receiving the message, I have the responsibility to pass it on to others.  That’s what I’m doing.  And I will continue to do this until the day that Jesus takes my hand and I step into heaven.

This same message of grace and freedom has been sent to you.  Have you accepted it?  Have you passed it on?

Please help us share your Great News with others, Abba Father.

What’s Next?

I know God is in control.

My entire life, I have experienced the goodness of God and his faithfulness.

I trust God’s promises that he is working things out in a good way for me.

It’s just hard to see the good sometimes.  It’s difficult to understand how God will accomplish his plan through the circumstances he has orchestrated in my life.

As I’m reading through Acts 10, I just have to stop and underline, “While Peter was wondering about  the meaning of the vision.”

Peter had just seen a vision of a sheet coming down from heaven containing all kinds of animals which Jewish law forbade him to eat. “Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter, kill and eat.”  Peter responded that he had never eaten any of these unclean animals.  And the voice replied, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This happened 3 times before the sheet was taken back up to heaven and didn’t appear again.

What was that all about?  The law about not eating unclean animals went way back to Moses’ time.  Surely God wasn’t changing the law after hundreds of years?  What was going on?

I’ve been there.  I am there.  I know God is working his purposes out in my life but I see things happening that just don’t make sense.  Then I’m left wondering about the meaning of what just happened – just like Peter.

And, while I’m wondering – just like Peter – God starts to reveal his purposes.  While I’m wondering, God opens my eyes to the next step of his plan.

One of the next lines in this scripture is “while Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you.  So get up and go downstairs.  Do not hesitate to go with them for I have sent them.”

Do not hesitate.

I have experienced the Holy Spirit actually talking to me in my mind – explaining what is happening.  More often, he will direct my attention to what’s happening in a way that opens my eyes to what God is doing and the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.

The Spirit told Peter, “Do not hesitate.”  That takes a lot of trust.

This account of Peter’s experience encourages me.  God was changing the law and he was accomplishing it through Peter’s immediate obedience.  God was teaching Peter very important lessons regarding his plan for the Gentiles.  God was flipping Peter’s religious world upside down, making him lead the way into this new and controversial area.

Peter obeyed.

And the Holy Spirit poured out upon the the Gentiles through Peter’s words.  Everyone believed and was baptized.

Peter would never be the same.  He didn’t know any of this was going to happen when he started getting the vision.  He just hung in there, believed, trusted and obeyed.

Just like I need to do when I’m left wondering what God is doing.

Just like you need to do.

Please help me be obedient, Abba.