Monday, October 27, 2008

Say What?!

The other day I finished reading the book of Psalm and I wondered what book of the Bible I should read next. The name "James" popped into my mind so quickly that I literally said "OK God, the book of James it is!". As I opened my Bible this morning to James, I noticed there were many verses in Chapter 1 that were underlined. I quickly realized that God definitely had told me to read James for a reason and I was excited to see what God wanted to teach me. There is definitely a lot to "chew on" in chapter one so I decided that I'm going to spend a few days at least just reading the chapter over and over again and focusing on each verse, one at a time.

There were two verses though that stood out at me this morning. I was journaling about the first one, God showed me how the second one related to what He was trying to show me. I just love when God does that!! James 1: 2 says "Consider it pure job, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds". Now I know this verse continues in verse 3 that "the testing of your faith develops perseverance", but I was focused on just what it said in verse 2. How many times do I praise the Lord or am even just happy when I am faced with a trial? hmm...probably...never! The Lord brought to my mind how frustrated I can get with teaching my kids at home. The first thing I thought of was that I should be happy that I even have the opportunity to teach my kids at home! I know that in my frustration, I don't always say the nicest things. That thought led me right to the other verse that stood out in my reading. Verse 26 says "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." OUCH!!!!! That was like a knife straight through the heart! God definitely was letting me know that I have to watch what I say because my Christian witness depends on it!

This may just have been verses that God was using to speak to me, but I also felt like I needed to share it on I'm being obedient and typing this out for everyone to see. I know it is hard to be thankful for the trials that come your way, but we know that God will teach us something through those trials and for that we can be thankful. I also know it can be very hard to watch what comes out of your mouth when frustrations are at their peak, but we must keep in mind that someone is always watching us. If we claim to be Christians, our actions AND our words must always point others to Christ.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ask Him!

As most of you can probably tell, I've been reading through the book of Psalms for the past few months. Last Thursday, I went to worship team rehearsal and discovered that our worship team leader had decided that our worship team was going to read through the book of Psalms together. We are going to do one chapter every Thursday night before we begin rehearsals.

Tomorrow we will be on Chapter 2 so I decided to do as our worship team leader asked and read the chapter ahead of time. I guess I figured that I was going to be able to share a lot of what God had shown me the past few months as we worked through the book together, but God showed me that my plans were not His plans!

I didn't have any verses underlined in Chapter 2 and as I started to read, I thought that this was probably one of the chapters where none of the verses really jumped out at me and I wouldn't really have much if anything to share. Well then I read verse 8: "Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possessions." It was almost like God shone a light on that verse this time around!

Even though this verse is speaking to kings, I knew God was speaking directly to me. I thought of all the times when I don't think something is that important so I don't bring it to God. How can God give us the desires of our heart, if we don't tell Him what they are?! Yes, I know God knows everything. He knows our hearts and He knows our thoughts, but He also tells us to ASK HIM for what we want. I pictured God sitting up in heaven on His throne, knowing exactly what is on our hearts, and yelling "ASK ME FOR IT!!!!" God WANTS to give us so much, and all He wants us to do is ask Him for it!! Now I know I can't say "I want a million dollars God!" and it will magically show up, but I know that I can and should tell God the desires of my heart because then He can give them to me in His time if it is in His will.

So don't just hold in all those hopes and dreams, tell God about them! Ask Him to give them to you! Then don't be surpised when they start to come true! God is our loving, heavenly father. He is just waiting for you to ask Him for what you want/need.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Corinthians 13

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

As I mentioned in my previous post, our pastor has been doing an awesome serious about "Trusting Steadily, Hoping Unswervingly, Loving Extravagantly". It can be a challenge to trust, hope, or love at times. It becomes an even bigger challenge to trust STEADILY (free from change, variation, or interruption; uniform), hope UNSWERVINGLY (constant, steady, not veering or turning aside), and love EXTRAVAGANTLY (going beyond what is deserved or justifiable).

I included I Corinthians 13 in this post because in order to love extravagantly, you need to know exactly what love is. Go back and reread I Corinthians 13: 4-7, but replace the word "love" or "it" (where it refers to love) each time with your name. OUCH! I definitely can't say that I'm able to do all of those things all the time. I definitely struggle with patience and not being easily angered. As a mom to a very strong-willed daughter and a hyber little boy, I don't seem to have any patience some days and I can get angry way too easily.

I have been challenged these past few weeks to get better at living the way God wants me to. Unfortunately, Satan knows it! He's been throwing a lot of stuff my way and I hate to admit it, but I have failed miserably quite a few times this week. However, I'm NOT giving up! I know what I need to work on and am determined to succeed at getting better. I know I can't do it in my own strength. I need to ask God each day for help, which I admit I haven't always done. I'm sure you already know this, but I'm going to say it anyway: I'm not perfect!! I need God's help each and every day to help me react in a Godly, Christlike manner! I know it is going to be hard; but I know with God's help, I CAN DO IT!

Monday, October 13, 2008

No Record

Our pastor has been doing a series entitled "Trusting Steadily, Hoping Unswervingly, Loving Extravagently". I Corinthians 13 was running through my head this morning and I thought that I was going to write about that, but I think I'll do that tomorrow now (or sometime this week hopefully!) because I think God wanted me to write something different today. I picked up my Bible to do my daily devotions and started to read Psalm 130. Well I didn't get very far before a verse leaped off the page and I just knew that God had led me to a topic for today's blog.

Psalm 130: 3 says "If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?" As I already mentioned, I was already thinking about I Corinthians 13 so I instantly thought of verse 5 that says "love....keeps no record of wrongs". It is not easy to forget when someone says or does something that hurts us. It's easy to hold onto that "sin" so that we feel justified by our attitude towards that person. What about me though? Am I perfect? Obviously the answer to that is a huge NO!!!!!!!! Have I ever said or done something to hurt someone else? Whether it was intentional or not, sadly my answer is YES. What right then do I have to hold it against someone who has hurt me?

Thank God that He doesn't hold our sins against us! Thank God that He has FORGIVEN us and doesn't remember our sins! I need to daily ask God for His forgiveness because I know I still say and do things that are not pleasing to Him. I try to ask for forgiveness right away when I know I said or did something that hurt someone or just plain wasn't nice, but I'm sure there are things I don't know were taken the wrong way. I was just really impressed this morning to write about this because it is something God seems to be reminding me forgive and FORGET when someone hurts me because HE has forgiven and forgotten ME for what I've done!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Where Does My Help Come From?

Psalm 121: 1-2 says "I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth." When I first read that this morning, I pictured myself standing in a valley with mountains surrounding me. Those mountains are obstacles to me. How can I possibly get out of this valley? How can I possibly make it over those mountains? HELP!!!! Then I realized that my God created those mountains! He knows every foothold, nook, cranny, ledge, etc. that will help me to successfully make it over those mountains! He can show me exactly what I need to do to make it safely over the obstacle that was before me. All I need to do is ask Him for His help!

Psalm 121: 7-8 says "The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." WOW! What an awesome promise!!! It doesn't matter what obstacle I may have to face today or in the future. My God is going to be right there beside me EVERY time!

I don't know what you are going through. I don't know what obstacles you are going to have to face today or in the near or even distant future. I do know that God is going to be with you, so I know that you can make it over (or through) any obstacles that come your way! All you need to do is ask Him for His help.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

No, I Didn't Forget about My Blog

I know I don't have too many people who read my blog (that I know of anyway), but I figured I better get back on here and write something so you don't think I fell off the face of the earth or disappeared into thin air or something! Life has just been extremely busy since school started back up. Sarah is in 4th grade this year and cyberschooling her hasn't gotten much easier in our second year doing it! I'm also trying to get Micah prepared for school since he will be in kindergarten next year. ACK! When did he get that old?! I'm teaching him the letters of the alphabet so that he can recognize them as well as how to write them and what sound they make. He is doing pretty good with recognizing most of the letters as well as what sound they make! There are a few that he just can't seem to grasp though, which has proven to be very frustrating for me when I have remind him "this is a J" for the billionth time!

I read Psalm 118 the other morning and discovered there are 3 songs that came to mind as I read through that chapter. Verse 1 says "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." Well of course that immediately set me to singing the song "Forever". I'm sure you know it; but if not (or if you just aren't sure), it is the sixth song on my playlist, as sung by Michael W. Smith. Verse 24 says "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Well now I was singing that little chorus, which I haven't heard in a LONG time so it was kind of neat to be reminded of it! The first part of verse 26 says "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord", which again reminded me of a song I haven't heard in a little while! Verse 29 is the last verse in that chapter and it is exactly the same as verse 1, which I found to be kind of cool!

Obviously it was hard to concentrate on reading the whole chapter with all those songs popping into my head; however, one verse did grab my attention. Verse 14 says "The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." I put in bold the part of that verse that just made me smile. I don't think I would have ever thought to say the Lord is "my song" if someone asked me what the Lord means to me, but that truly would be a very fitting thing to say considering my love for music and the fact that singing is such a big part of my life. It is so easy to worship the Lord when I sing or just listen to certain songs. As I type this, I am listening to the songs on my playlist and have had to stop quite a few times to just raise my hands and worship the Lord. I want the Lord to truly be my song! I want to just think about the Lord and feel the way I do when I am listening to praise music and am ushered into His presence through the words and music of those songs. I have a feeling I would be a much calmer person if I focused on worshipping the Lord and all He is, especially during all those stressful times that come along! I am going to work on that!