Monday, November 14, 2011

His Compassion Never Fails

Yesterday was an extremely difficult day for me. About 5 or 10 minutes before church, I found out that my friend Dottie, who I've sung with on worship team for 10 years and who I've been friends with almost from that first day, had passed away in her sleep. It came as a shock to all of us who knew and loved her. She had just had surgery on Wednesday because she had excruciating back pain for years. The doctor said she should be feeling 90% better because he had fixed a couple of different things that would have been causing her pain. She had gone back to the hospital Saturday night because she was experiencing a lot of pain. The doctors gave her some more medicines and they seemed to be working so she went back home and went to sleep. She woke up in heaven. I don't know how we sang during both services, but God gave us the strength. I came home and that's when I realized what the date was. It was November 13. That's the same date that my big sister Wendy had passed away. Yesterday was 17 years since my sister went home to be with the Lord. 17 years ago, November 13 landed on a Sunday too. So now I have lost two people I love on Sunday, November 13. 

I woke up around 5 am this morning and immediately I began to think of Dottie. Part of me said "It can't be true! She can't be gone!" while another part of me was so thankful that she was no longer experiencing any pain. Of course, I thought of how much pain all of us who knew and loved her are in. Normally, I do my devotions after I am all ready to start the day, but today I decided to do it before that. My devotional called for me to read Lamentations 3:22-33. I immediately started to cry as I read the passage, but I was also comforted by the words. The verses that stuck out to me the most were the first two and the last two. Verses 22 and 23 say "Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Verses 32 and 33 say "Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone." 

I began to think of how unexpected Dottie's death was. No one was expecting to get that news. My sister's death was also just as unexpected. Who expects a 28 year old woman to die? She was in the hospital after giving birth. She was suppose to be going home that day. I had called her when I came home from church to tell her I had gone to the altar to pray for her babies. Her husband Joe had answered the phone and told me she wasn't feeling well and was trying to rest. He said she'd call me later, so I told him to have her call me at mom and dad's house since that's where I would be. When the phone rang at their house two hours later, I said "that's Wendy!" It wasn't. It was Joe, calling to tell us Wendy had died. Even though Dottie wasn't 28, her death caused just as much shock and sadness to all those who knew and loved her. Yet in both cases, God showed His compassion.

My sister had lost a few babies in her short life, and I don't know if she could have handled losing more. God knew that 2 of her 3 babies were going to die too, so He showed His compassion and called my sister home first. I don't know why, but I had this thought that God needed help with all the babies up in heaven, so He called my sister home to help Him because He knew how much she loved children. That thought has brought comfort to me and others who later experienced the loss of a baby or young child. I was able to share that "My sister is taking care of your child until you get there." She's also taking care of 3 of my children until I get there and can hold them. 

Dottie had a zest for life. She loved to laugh. I'm sure heaven there is a lot more laughter in heaven now that Dottie is there! One of the first thoughts I had was "She's not 90% better (like the doctor had said she'd be after her surgery). She's 100% better!" Maybe the doctor was wrong and she wasn't going to feel 90% better. Maybe the pain was still going to be bad and God knew that, so He showed His compassion by calling her home so that she didn't have to deal with any more pain. I don't know that for sure of course, but it brought me comfort to be reminded that God promised in Lamentations 3:32 that "Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love."

I know that one day I will see Wendy again. I still miss her and will until the day I die, but I know she is in heaven with her Lord and she will be there to meet me when I enter those pearly gates. I also know that I will see Dottie again, as she too had accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior. I will get to hear her laugh again one day and I'll get to sing with her again too. I'm sure she'll be one of those who meets me when I get there. I will never forget either of them while I am still here on earth. Even though I am sad and will cry because I miss them, I know God will give me peace and I am so thankful for His compassion that He shows.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Watch What You Say....And How You Say It

I just had to write on my blog today because God is so awesome and really taught me a lesson this morning. I was doing my devotions this morning and then read the passage where the Hidden Hearts verse for the month is located. The verse I'm memorizing this month is Ephesians 4:29 which says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." As I worked on memorizing this verse, God really opened my eyes to a truth He wanted me to see and hear.

I am a stay at home mom with two children who love to bicker with each other. My oldest is strong-willed and always wants things her way. She can get rather mouthy with me, and I've been struggling for awhile with trying to not get sucked into arguments with her. As soon as I started to read Ephesians 4:29, I felt God speaking to me. I'm going to be brutally honest here and I hope you don't judge me for it. I hope this will show you that I am not perfect, but I am working on it and I will continue to grow and be a better person with God's help! When I read this verse, I knew God was talking to me about the things I say when I get upset, especially to my daughter. I know that I allow myself to let things come out of my mouth that don't build her up. I then read the last part "that it may benefit those who listen". That's when I thought of my son. I know he hears what I am saying to his sister. OUCH. So when I say something that isn't building up my daughter, it hurts her AND it hurts my son who is listening!

This obviously applies to everyone we come into contact with. We should NEVER let ANY unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. What we say should ALWAYS be helpful in building others up. Others are listening to what we say. Does what they hear us say benefit them too or does it hurt them? Wow. What a responsibility we have! I have decided today to renew again my commitment to watch what I say and not let anything come out of my mouth that isn't edifying to everyone who hears it. I want to be performing construction and not destruction. What about you?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Miracles DO Happen When God's People Pray!!

I know I haven't blogged in a long time, but I felt I had to write about a little boy named Jack that I came to find out about on Facebook. A friend of mine posted a prayer request for him. She personally knew the family, and she posted the link to a board called "Praying for Jack Budensiek". I went there and started to follow the story of this little 5 year old boy.

Four weeks ago, Jack and his family were on vacation in Florida. He began to climb up a heavy piece of furniture (I believe it was a dresser) and it fell over on top of him, crushing his skull between the dresser and the tile floor. During the 10 minutes that it took for help to arrive, his dad held his son's lifeless body and begged God to save his son, not to let his son die, and to protect his brain. The doctors didn't hold out much hope of Jack surviving. They thought he was either going to die or have serious brain damage. Miraculously, Jack did survive, and he amazed doctors when he awoke from his coma and began talking and then walking. He hadn't died, and he didn't have brain damage! The doctors said they had never had anyone with as severe an injury as Jack's survive. Most of the doctors just shook their head and all they could say was "this is amazing, simply amazing" when they came in to see Jack. The doctors were talking about releasing Jack once he began eating, but all that changed a week and a day after the initial injury.

Jack's mom was holding him when he suddenly started holding his head and screaming. He then coded! They rushed Jack in to do a cat scan and then into emergency brain surgery. The doctor removed a blood clot that was THREE TIMES the size of his fist! The doctor gave the devastating news to his family: he had done all he could, but he only gave Jack a 20% chance of waking up again. This is when I found out about Jack and was burdened to join this board on Facebook along with 3,000+ other people who were all praying for Jack. I told my children (ages 12 and 7) about Jack, and they prayed for him as well. Every day, they'd ask "How's Little Jack?" My husband also prayed for Jack. The doctors as well as his family knew about the people who were praying for Jack. The doctor even told the family to have them keep praying, and pray we did! 

Five days later, the doctors decided to wean him off of the medications that were keeping Jack in a coma. Doctors didn't know if Jack would wake up, but he did!! They decided to remove the breathing tube, but they weren't sure his brain would know what to do. They tube was removed, and Jack breathed 100% on his own! Five days later, Jack drew some snowmen and wrote his name! The next day, he would nod yes or no and began raising his hand (just like in school) and held it up until his family figured out what he wanted, and then he'd put it down. It was his way of communicating, but he hadn't spoken at all. They could tell he was frustrated about that, so we prayed for his communication to improve. The NEXT MORNING, Jack woke up and spoke the most precious words "Mommy hold me". Over the next few days, he began taking steps and would walk with assistance. A feeding tube had been put in because Jack hadn't had anything to eat or drink since his initial injury. His parents were thrilled one day when he took a sip of water; but he had failed numerous swallow tests so we prayed specifically that Jack would start to eat and drink. The next day, Jack asked his mom for some McDonald's chicken nuggets and fries. She figured he wouldn't be able to eat them, but she bought them anyway. Jack ate three nuggets and over half of the order of fries! He also drank sweet tea! Over the next two days, he ate numerous cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, and fries. He was making up quickly for those three plus weeks of not eating!! Yesterday, Jack was released from the hospital!!!!!!!!!!! 

This morning, I read Psalm 40:3 which says "He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him." I clearly heard the Lord tell me that many are going to put their trust in Him because of what He did in Jack's life. It's been awhile since I prayed so hard for someone, especially someone whom I have never met. It has been truly amazing to see how God kept answering our prayers! What has happened to Jack in the last month is nothing short of a miracle! I have witnessed what happens when God's people pray and I know that Jack is going to have an incredible testimony about the power of prayer. 

I am writing this to let everyone know that God is still performing miracles today! I know God doesn't always answer us the way we want to all the time, but be encouraged to know that God hears all of our prayers! Pray and believe that God WILL answer! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit

The Hidden Hearts group I'm in has two verses for me to memorize this month. They are found in Galatians 5:22-23 and state "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no luck." I knew what the fruits of the Spirit were before I memorized these verses, but God really spoke to me today as I was reading the passage that included these verses.

The passage we are to read this month is Galatians 5:13-26, and then we are to memorize the two verses I quoted above. As I read through the passage, I was struck by verses 16 and 17 which say "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want."  I thought of how I do experience that conflict when I say or do something that is not pleasing to the Lord. 

Then I began to read verses 19-21 which state "The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." At the start of these verses, it was easy for me to think that I didn't have a problem staying away from these. Then I saw one in particular that God seemed to put in bold print: fits of rage. As a mom of two kids, it can be very easy for me to explode when my kids have been fighting non-stop with one another or when they do something I've them a billion times not to do and especially when they choose to lie to me rather than tell the truth and just accept whatever the consequences will be. God has been making me aware of how many times I lose my cool and say things I shouldn't when I get upset. I've been working in this specific area and have gotten better, but I still have times when I simply lose it and I sadly have to admit that I go into what I call a "fit of rage". For me, my fits of rage include me yelling and screaming and saying things that no mom should ever say to her child. There are times I can catch myself before I say something, and then there are other times where I simply let those things fly out of my mouth. I feel horrible every time that happens and I have to go back and apologize for what I said. Problem is, I can't take back what was said. My child or children heard what was said and they probably won't ever forget it. I can only hope and pray that God will help my children be all He wants them to be in spite of my failures.

Since the verses that list the fruit of the Spirit come immediately after these verses, it was easy for me to see that the "fits of rage" that I deal with are clearly a lack of self-control on my part. God gently spoke to me and told me that when I feel myself getting frustrated or even angry, I need to quickly remember the fruit of the Spirit so that I can speak and act in a way that displays those fruit to my kids. I was able to put it into practice today when I instructed my children on how they were to behave and just minutes later, I discovered they had disobeyed me. I went over the fruit of the Spirit with them one by one and helped them to see that they have not been displaying the fruit of the Spirit by the way they were acting. Just a little while ago, I saw my daughter hit her brother. At first, I yelled 'Hey! Go stand in the corner!" I then told her to think about what fruit of the Spirit she was not displaying when she reacted the way she just had. After allowing her to stand in the corner for a few minutes, she came out and I asked her for her answer. At first she just said "all of them" and I had to tell her I wanted specific ones. She was then able to tell me that mostly she had not displayed self-control, kindness and goodness. I told her good, and then added that she should probably have included love in her list because hitting someone the way she had was not showing love. 

Since I was brutally honest in this blog post, you can tell that I am not perfect...and I know that. Thankfully, God knows that too and He is working in and through me on a daily basis. He hasn't given up on me yet, so I haven't given up either. I know that I want to change and become all HE wants me to be. I know He will help me be the best mom I can be to my kids so that they grow up to know, love, and serve Him. What I plan on doing as much as possible from now on is stopping to pray whenever I feel myself getting frustrated or angry. I will pray for God to help me display the fruit of the Spirit in everything I say and do. I am so thankful that God knows my heart and He knows I love Him. I'm also thankful that He loves me enough to show me things that I need to change.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Work At It With All Your Heart

This month's verses to memorize for my Hidden Hearts group is Colossians 3:23-24: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." My first thought upon reading and memorizing those verses was that it can be scary to think about how we are working for the Lord. It definitely should improve how we do things if we kept that in mind! God wanted to teach me so much more about these verses though!

I decided to read the section where these verses were found to put them more into context. I started at verse 18 which talks about how wives should submit to their husbands. I thought to myself how that is not always an easy thing to do! I noticed that verses 23 and 24 are actually in a paragraph that begins with verse 22 which tells slaves to obey their earthly masters. My first thought upon reading that was maybe verses 23 and 24 were just geared towards letting slaves know how to focus on how they should think while working for their masters, but God quietly reminded me that we are all sin! I knew immediately that these two verses were very relevant to all of us today!

I then felt I should go back and look at the verses in this section again, which is labeled in my Bible (NIV version) "Instructions for Christian Households". First, Colossians 3:18 addresses wives and tells us that we should submit to our husbands, as is fitting to the Lord. For some women, that is an extremely hard thing to do. Other women may find it easier to do, but they probably found it hard to do at some point in time. There may still be an occasion where they struggle with submitting. Why is it hard for us to submit? I think it is because it is a natural thing for people to want to get their own way. We want to be in control and make our own decisions. When you submit to someone, you are allowing the other person to have control. Submitting is not an easy thing to do. It takes work.

Colossians 3:19 addresses husbands and tells them to love their wives and to not be harsh to them. I know at first you might think that it should be easy for a husband to love his wife. Why then are there so many divorces? Why do so many men cheat on their wives? Men have a very strong sexual urge and sometimes they look elsewhere to get that need met. Husbands need to determine in their hearts to NOT look at another woman in the wrong way or let their minds wander so they don't fall into that sin. It is not easy. It takes work. Also, after a long day at work, it can be easy for a husband to be harsh to his wife, especially if she starts nagging him about something the second he comes through the door. Wives need to be mindful of the fact that their spouse probably needs some time to unwind before you hit them with a list of demands or even with bad news. As much as you may need/want to talk about your day, think of what your husband needs and try to give him some time to relax. For some husbands, it is very easy to just give a gruff or harsh response when they feel disrespected. Men also don't like to be wrong. Of course, women don't like to be wrong either. The problem is that most men do not find it easy to discuss their feelings, so they get harsh when they are hurt or offended. It is possible to overcome this, but it takes work.

Colossians 3:20 addresses children and how they need to obey their parents in everything. Yup, if you are a parent, you know very well how hard it is for children to obey you! When children are told they need to obey EVERYTHING their parents say, I'm sure it would seem like an impossible task for them. It is possible, but it takes work.

Colossians 3:21 tells fathers to not embitter their children or they will become discouraged. Again, most men are not good with expressing their feelings. It can be easy for them to be harsh with their children when their children are disobeying, getting mouthy, arguing, doing poorly in school, etc. If a dad always gives a harsh or critical response to their child, that child can easily become embittered and think that nothing they do is ever good enough. They may even feel unloved by their father. Dads (and moms too!) need to learn the art of thinking before they speak, especially when it comes to speaking to their children. It is definitely not an easy thing to do, especially when their child(ren) are misbehaving for the billionth time, but it is not impossible. It just takes work.

Finally, Colossians 3:22 says "Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord." When I read this verse, I usually think of people who work as the "slaves" and the boss as the "earthly master". It makes it easier to understand then we should always be working to the best of our ability, whether the boss is watching us or not.

After reading all those verses, we then get to verses 23 and 24 which tells us that WHATEVER we do, we are to work at it with ALL our heart. If you noticed in all the previous verses, what we are commanded to do takes WORK to accomplish. No, the things in the verses are not easy to do; but they aren't impossible either! When you put your whole heart into something, you can usually get it done. It especially is easy to keep working at it when you remember that the reward you will receive for doing what the Lord commands far outweighs the hard work you put into it! As Christians, we need to keep in mind that the Lord is always watching us and He wants us to give 100%  in everything we do. Whether it is the job we get paid to do here on earth or whether it is at home being a wife, husband, child, or father, we are to do everything as unto to the Lord. We are serving Him! We will receive an inheritance from Him one day. Eternal life and any riches that we earned while here on earth will be ours when we enter heaven after hearing Him say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of the Lord!" When you look at it that way, doesn't it make it a little easier to decide to do what the Lord commands even though it may not be easy?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Philippians 4:12-13

Philippians 4:12-13 says "I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

I have always loved verse 13 because it is a wonderful reminder that no matter what I may face in life, I can make it through it because Christ will give me the strength I need. I don't remember when verse 12 suddenly became so meaningful to me, but I think it was sometime after I was married.

On Tuesday, May 17, my husband and I will be celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. For the first year and a half, we both worked; but then I had Sarah and we felt my job was to be a stay-at-home mom. God definitely honored that decision and we were always in awe of how things worked out whenever we were in need. We have heard many times "I don't know how you guys make it on just one salary!" and we are always honest and tell people that we often do without things that we'd like to have because they just aren't necessary. We also let them know God has provided for us many times as well. I truly believe that is because we have put our faith in Him. We bring our requests to Him and then trust that He will answer and meet our needs.

The words "I know what it is to be in need" ring so true for us, but it is truly a marvelous thing to be content in the circumstances and have the peace of knowing that God WILL provide for us. I have seen it many times in our marriage where God met our needs in amazing ways. When Sarah began kindergarten, we had been a one-car family for 2 years. I set up doctor appointments in the afternoon so that Bob would be able to take us once he got home from work. He usually picked up the groceries we needed on his way home from work. We knew we couldn't afford to buy another car, so we were content to just make due with the one we had. Our church did a Family Fun Fest and a member of the church donated a car as the grand prize in a raffle. Bob and I chose to not buy any tickets because we didn't want to waste our money (and we felt it was like gambling). Two ladies at the MOPS group I was a part of at church told me that they had bought tickets and if either one of them won the car, they would give it to us. I was surprised and very touched, and so was Bob when I told him, but neither one of us thought too much more about it since we knew it was a long shot. To my amazement, the day after the raffle was held, one of these ladies came up to me at church and asked "I won the car. Do you want it?" Tears flowed down my face and all I could do was nod my head yes and give her a hug. I think I may have been able to mutter a thank you too. Even though we don't have that car anymore, we still remember how those people allowed God to work through them and bless us with something we needed, and we are still very thankful.

Another way God provided for us was just last year when our roof started to leak again. A few years earlier, the one skylight had caused a leak so we chose to just put a whole new roof on. Well, now the other skylight was leaking so we knew it was time to just have those skylights removed and the roof patched. We called the roofer who had done the roof the last time and he quoted us a price. We waited for two weeks, but he didn't show up and he didn't return my calls. Finally, I decided to try calling around to get other quotes. As I drove to worship team rehearsal one night, I told God the specific amount that I wanted to pay. Even the roofer we called first, who we figured was probably quoting us a very low price, was a couple of hundred dollars above the amount I told God I wanted to pay. We had a roofer who would be stopping by the next day and would give us a quote, so now I at least knew what amount he had to hit for us to accept his bid. He came in WAY over what our first roofer quoted us, so we declined and decided to just continue to wait for the first roofer to call. The next Sunday, a couple at church came up to us and gave us an envelope. They simply said they felt God wanted them to give us this. Inside was an amount of money, and I instantly realized the significance of the amount. When I took the amount that I told God I wanted to pay to have our roof fixed and added that to the amount that was in the envelope, it equaled the amount that our roofer was going to charge us! God had shown us again that because we were content in just waiting for Him to work through the situation, He rewarded us by giving us what we had asked.

If you are struggling with finances or any other situation, turn those requests over to God. Then be content in the knowledge that God knows what you need and He will provide for you in His perfect time. If it isn't in His will, then He may not answer the way you want Him to; but continue to be content because God knows what is best! Once you learn to be content in life, you will have such a peace because you know God is the one in control.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Philippians 4:8-9

Yesterday I talked about four verses in Philippians 4 that I had memorized. If you didn't read that post, the verses come from Philippians 4:4-7 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again-Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." As I opened my Bible up to the passage I need to read this month for my "Hidden Hearts" group, I decided to let God lead me as to whether or not there were more verses in this passage that He wanted me to memorize so I could hide them in my heart. His answer was a resounding 'YES!'

So, this morning, I memorized the next two verses in the passage: Philippians 4:8-9 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

The first thing that jumped out at me was the first part of verse 9 "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me - put it into practice." I am not only a mom to two kids, but I also teach them at home, so I was attracted to this verse because I want my kids to do what I tell them to do and learn whatever it is that I'm teaching them. Then I felt God gently point out that the verse says "whatever". Do I really want my kids to put into practice anything that they have heard from me or seen in me? Are the things I say and do always excellent and praiseworthy? Ouch! Sadly, the answer was no.

This morning I ended my devotions with a new desire to live my life in such a way that I am an excellent example of what a Christian should be. I want my kids and anyone who hears or sees me to know that they can put into practice whatever I have said or done. Who is watching what your say and do? Are your words and actions something you want others to put into practice? If not, why not make the same commitment I did and work harder at setting a better example to those around you?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Philippians 4:4-7

I decided to join a women's group at my church called "Hidden Hearts". At the beginning of each month, the pastor's wife will send an e-mail with a Bible verse to memorize. She also includes other verses that are in that passage so you can see the context where the verse you are to memorize comes from. We are to read that passage daily and journal what we feel God is telling us about the verse (or verses). I attended our annual church's women's retreat April 29-May 1 and that's when I first heard about this group. It had been formed a few month's before, but I hadn't been at the event where they first discussed forming it. Anyway, I thought it was a great idea when I heard about it at the retreat, but I forgot to go up after the meeting to sign up and get a journal. This past Sunday, it was announced again and they opened it up to all the ladies at the church. I was singing on worship team so I didn't have a chance right away to go up and get a journal. By the time I had a chance to do so, the journals were all gone. It's GREAT that so many women are interested in this group! Yesterday, I e-mailed the pastor's wife and told her I was interested in joining and she immediately sent me a message with this month's verse and surrounding text. I believe there are about 95 women now involved in "hiding God's Word in their heart". Isn't that awesome?!

The verse we are to memorize this month is Philippians 4:6. The passage is Philippians 4:4-20. I will continue to give the reference for any verse because I learned it is important to also memorize WHERE it is found when you memorize a verse because then you can tell others where it is found. The first thing I noticed when I turned to the passage this morning was that I had already had most of those verses highlighted in my Bible. I went to work on memorizing verse 6 and soon had it memorized. I will continue to say it every day to ensure it really is "hidden in my heart" because I know it can be easy to memorize something one day and not remember it the next! I then started to read the passage and felt compelled to memorize the first few verses. I did read the entire passage then, but I want to journal what I learned by memorizing the verses I did today. I do not have my Bible in front of me, nor do I have the verses written down anywhere in front of me either. This will all be from memory.

Philippians 4:4 says "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" It is easy to rejoice and praise the Lord when things are great, but how about when we are going through a painful or difficult time? How is it possible to rejoice ALWAYS? God brought to mind that He is always with us. We have the promise in the Bible that He will never leave us or forsake us. I have experienced many times that I am able to help someone us as a result of going through a difficult time myself. I especially like the poem "Footprints" because it describes how God carries us when we are going through difficult times. What better reason to rejoice is there than that?!

Philippians 4:5 says "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." I first had to say "OUCH!" when I read and memorized that verse because it is very hard for me to display gentleness when I am frustrated with my kids. When they are not listening or obeying me, it can be very easy to lose my cool and yell. I have been working on this and have made progress, but I definitely have a way to go. I know God doesn't expect me to be perfect because He knows I am human, but I want my kids to see Jesus in me all the time. If I didn't think it was hard to display patience and gentleness to everyone, this verse reminds me that the Lord is near. I took this two ways. First, the Lord is always near us. He hears and sees everything that we do, which is an excellent reminder of how important it is for me to be patient and gentle! I do NOT want the Lord hearing me not displaying gentleness to anyone! I also took "The Lord is near" as a reminder that the Lord will be returning again soon. I don't want to be the reason my kids don't make it to heaven! I don't want to be the reason for even one person to not make it to heaven! This verse helped me to see how important it is for me to really work on always be gentle so that others can see Jesus in me.

Philippians 4:6 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." I'll be honest. After reading verse 5, I was a little anxious! When I read the first part of verse 6, I just had to smile. I don't think it was a coincidence at all that the words of this verse came when they did. It's a wonderful reminder that we don't need to be anxious about ANYTHING because we know we can come to God with our requests. We also can be thankful when we come to God in prayer because we know that He will hear us, and He will answer us in His perfect timing too.

Philippians 4:7 says "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." This is the perfect verse to summarize the previous three verses. If we rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, if we are gentle so that ALL can see it, and if we do not allow ourselves to be anxious about anything, but instead thankfully bring our requests to God in prayer....we will have the PEACE of God! I have experienced God's peace and it is indeed beyond understanding. I can't explain why I feel this indescribable peace in the midst of trials and difficulties, but I know it is there and I know it is from God. How wonderful to think that we can have this peace guarding our hearts and minds, so we won't feel worried about anything because we know God is in control. Instead of being worried, we can be thankful and rejoice!

I know this I hope that something I said will help someone see the wonderful promises that can be found in these four verses. I hope it will also encourage someone to decide to hide God's Word in your heart. How amazing it will be to be able to quote scripture whenever you need it because it is hidden in your heart. I will try to post the verse each month that I am working on as well as the passage to read daily that includes this verse in case anyone chooses to also be a member of the "Hidden Hearts" group.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tear Down the Wall

In Ephesians 2:11-22, Paul talks about how the Jews and the Gentiles are reconciled through Christ. I especially like verses 14-16 which say "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility."

Yesterday, a friend of mine made a comment that hurt me. I could have decided to not say anything and just hold in the hurt, but I have learned that is not the best thing to do. Holding in hurt only gives the devil a foothold. He will cause that hurt to eat away at you, and a wall usually goes up between you and that person who hurt you. If you put up enough walls, soon no one can get close to you. That is NOT what God wants! There are always going to be people who disagree with you, and you will not always agree with others on all issues. God made each and every one of us and we are all different. There are definitely issues that are "hot topics" that people usually have passionate opinions on and won't be easily swayed to believe a different way. This was the case yesterday. I gave my opinion on an issue and my friend didn't agree with me. I admit that I was very hurt at first, but I knew I needed to address it with her instead of holding it in. I typed out a message to her and I really tried to make sure I didn't say anything to hurt her. After a little while, I hadn't heard from her so I went back and reread what I had said. I noticed that I might have said some things in a way that may have been taken wrong. I quickly wrote another note explaining that I hope I hadn't hurt her and I apologized if I had. My friend wrote back shortly thereafter and apologized as well. I don't think either one of us wanted this disagreement to harm our friendship.

There will always be something that you disagree with others on. How do you handle it when someone disagrees with you? What do you do if someone says something that hurts you? Do you confront that person or hold it in? If you confront, is it done lovingly or do you try to hurt them the way you were hurt? Holding hurt in builds walls, but so does constantly being hurt by harshly spoken words. Ephesians 4: 2-3 says "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Let's all work to build unity among others instead of walls. If you know you have built a wall between you and someone else, do whatever you can to tear down that wall. Go to that person and apologize. If they had hurt you, be honest about what they said and how it made you feel. Even if that relationship can't be saved, you tore down a wall that won't get in the way of another relationship. Don't allow those walls to be built!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is There Light in Your Eyes?

This morning I read Luke 11: 34 which says "Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness." Initially, I thought of how there are certain people that I can just look in their eyes and can tell that they are "evil". There is such a darkness in their eyes that I can tell that there is something very bad about that them. I then thought of this question: What do people see when they look in MY eyes? I know I am not perfect, but I am a Christian so I am sure there is more light than darkness. I could have allowed myself to say "Of course people see light when they look in my eyes!" and felt pretty good about myself. God had a way of putting this into perspective though by asking me another question that really made me think. He asked "How brightly is that light in your eyes shining?" Ouch! Yes, there are things in my life that I am struggling with. God is working on areas of my life that He wants me to be better in. I truly believe that sin in my life dims the light that people are able to see when they look at me. I made a new commitment to God to do my best to ensure that the light people see in my eyes when they look at me becomes brighter and brighter. What do people see when they look in YOUR eyes? Is there a light in your eyes? How bright is that light? What can you do to make that light brighter?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

God's Perfect Timing

Yesterday I was made aware of how amazing God's timing can be. My husband works as a security screener at a nearby airport and therefore he's an essential government employee. He came home from work yesterday and told me that if the government budget is not passed by Friday, he will have to work for free. If an employee doesn't show up for work, they will be fired. Any time off that they did have previously scheduled and approved will not be allowed until the budget is passed. After the budget is passed, they will receive all the pay that they are due.

If this had happened just a month or two ago, this would have sent us into a panic. For the most part, we live paycheck to paycheck. We are a one income family and depend on his paycheck every two weeks. So why were we not sent into a panic? We received our income tax return the other week and have enough money in the bank now for awhile. The beginning of every year is always a scary time for us as we hope that we get that check from the government before our money runs out. As soon as I heard my husband's announcement, I just had to breathe a sigh of thanks to God that this occured at the perfect time. We don't need to panic because we know we'll be ok, unless of course it takes quite a few months before the budget gets passed.

I had read about the budget not being passed on Tuesday and, to be honest, I was actually hoping that the Republicans don't sign the budget if they are holding out because they know Obama has stuff in the budget that isn't necessary. I have confidence that they are trying to help decrease the enormous deficit instead of continuing to increase it like Obama has consistently done. I had read about the millions of dollars the president wants to sent to other countries who will never pay us back, and I have to believe that there are some intelligent men who are voting to not pass this budget because they realize we should be helping our country get out of debt instead of going further into debt giving money away to countries who don't need it. That may not be a popular opinion with everyone, but it is my opinion. Since this is my blog, I should be able to voice my please don't attack me! LOL! Thankfully, my husband shares the same opinion as me and we are both praying that the budget gets passed only when it is the best for our country. It is a scary thought to think that it could take a long time before the budget gets passed and we could run out of money, but God has given me a peace by showing me that this happened in His perfect timing so I don't need to worry right now. He's in control and He will continue to take care of us!

The other day, I caught myself wondering how long things would be good between the neighbors and us. For those who may not know, we've lived here for 9 years and have had trouble with the one neighbor almost from day one. We have tried to be patient and kind, but it was not easy when the neighbor would consistently do stuff just to tick my husband off. My husband did lose his temper a few times, but he never hit the neighbor (even though he REALLY wanted to a number of times!). Most of the time, he'd come inside and gripe and complain to me about how mad or frustrated he was about something the neighbor was doing. I gladly listened and tried my best to calm him down. I was thankful I had a husband who was doing everything he could to protect his family. I understood his anger and frustration, but I also knew it didn't do any good to allow the neighbor to see that because it just made him try all the harder because he knew he was getting to my husband. Last year, the neighbor's mom fell and broke her elbow. She was laying outside yelling for help and I never heard her because she was at the back of their house and I was at the front of our house with the air conditioner on. When I finally did hear a commotion, I immediately went to see if there was anything I could do to help. It didn't matter to me that it was the neighbors who hated us. I simply asked "Do you need help?" Even though they had already called the ambulance and there wasn't anything I could do, it softened their hearts knowing that I had asked. Over the course of that week, I asked the son a few times how his mom was and he always spoke kindly to us. I brought them cookies at Christmas and the mom hugged me. My husband has been able to talk to the neighbor a few times in the last year and no arguing has occured. It startled me the first time I heard my husband talking outside and realized he was talking to the neighbor and no one was screaming or cursing (my husband doesn't curse but we sure have heard the neighbor use some colorful language!). Anyway, I caught myself wondering this week how much longer this friendliness between us would last. Yesterday, my husband saw an ambulance outside and I went to check what was wrong. I saw the paramedics at the neighbor's house. The son happened to turn around so I asked, "Is everything ok?". He told me his mom had fallen and hurt her leg. I said I was sorry and then went back inside. When he returned from the hospital, I went out and asked how his mom was. He said she had broken her femur near the kneecap and it would take about 6 weeks for it to heal. I told him I would be praying for her and he thanked me. I then went inside and thanked God for yet another opportunity to show our neighbor's that we care inspite of everything we have gone through with them.

This morning, I woke up and the first thing on my mind was how this situation with the budget and my husband possibly having to work for free for awhile was on my mind. I smiled as I again thought, "This couldn't have happened at a better time." I picked up my Bible to do my devotions and one verse really caught my attention because of one particular word in it: peace. Hebrews 12:11 says "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." I am fully aware how painful a father's discipline can be! My dad believed in spanking, and all I can say is OUCH!! I then thought of the two situations I shared with you above: finances and our neighbors. We have struggled for years regarding our finances. Has it been pleasant? No! But we always tried to stay faithful to God and trust that He would supply our needs, which He always did. Today, God showed me that because we are now experiencing the peace mentioned in that verse because we have gone through difficult times and stayed true to Him. We have gone through difficult times with the neighbors and even though we may not have handled things exactly the way He wanted us to, we tried our best to display God's love and forgiveness to them. We now are experiencing peace in this situation because we endured those difficult times and kept trusting that God would see us through and keep us safe.

I am so thankful for God's perfect timing and for the peace that only He can give. It isn't fun to go through difficulties or discipline, but we have God's promise that better times are ahead if we stay true to Him and learn from those difficult times or those times when God needed to discipline us. He loves us. He wants the best for us. It may not seem like it when we are in the midst of a trying time, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that He WILL allow you to experience a wonderful peace if you stay faithful to Him.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Asking for Help

I don't know how I did it, but the spine in my upper back between the shoulder blades must have a bone or two out of place. Last night was when the pain started and nothing I have done since then has eased the pain. Picking up my head, sitting up, and even taking a deep breath all cause a tremendous amount of pain to surge through me. My husband is at work so I had my kids try to massage it and apply as much pressure as they could to the area in an effort to try and pop the bone or bones back into place. My son even sat on my back and rocked back and forth to no avail. I finally told them to stop and then proceeded to try and get up from the floor so I could start my day. Once I finally was able to get up, which took quite a while because of how painful it was to move, I decided to start by doing my devotions.

I turned to the passage in II Timothy 2:1-7 and began reading. I actually laughed when I read verse 3 which says "Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus." Yup, God has a great sense of humor sometimes. I finished reading the devotional and then picked up my journal to write. The first thing I said was how hard it was to concentrate on His word when I was in so much pain. I really thought I was just going to cry out to Him for healing so that my back would stop hurting, but He had something else He wanted me to realize.

He brought to mind that I didn't ask the kids to help me when I was trying to get up from the floor. They were both there and could see how much pain I was in. I know if I had asked them to help, they would have gladly done whatever they could have to help me. I don't even remember if one of them had asked "Can I help?", but I know my answer would have been "no" because I wouldn't have wanted one of them to get hurt or to feel bad if they weren't successful in their efforts to help me get up. I then had the dreaded "Why" questions pop into my head. Why had I not asked for their help? Why did I do it on my own and suffer with all that pain when I probably wouldn't have felt so much pain if I had asked for help? I'm sure you can see where this is headed too. God was using exactly what I was going through to teach me a valuable lesson.

Why had I not asked my kids for their help? I didn't want one of them to get hurt. I'm much bigger than they are and I don't know that they would have been much help anyway. Then God asked "Why don't you ask ME for help when you need it?" I certainly couldn't answer that the same way I answered the first question! God is so much bigger and more powerful than me. I realized though that there are times I do try to do things on my own and I struggle through it, when I could have had it so much easier had I just asked God for His help. That's when I realized that the second why question that had popped into my head could also be applied here. Why did I do it on my own and suffer with all that pain when I probably wouldn't have felt so much pain if I had asked for help? When someone assists you in getting up, your muscles don't have to work as hard and therefore the pain would more than likely have been lessened since my muscles wouldn't have been pulling on the bones that are out of alignment in my back and causing me pain. How many times have I tried to do things on my own and had to go through pain because I didn't ask God for help first? God doesn't want us to be in pain. He loves us! He wants to help us! WHY would I not ask for help from my all-powerful Savior?! Why would I choose to suffer and struggle to get through something when I could simply ask God to help me and lessen or even remove that pain?

I don't know what you are going through, but I do know that God is able to help. There is nothing He can't do. Don't struggle through it alone. Allow God to help ease the load. Be free from the pain that struggling through it in your own power causes. Feel God's power as He works. Don't be afraid to ask for help!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Look Ahead, Not Behind

I have become increasingly aware of the fact that I need to work on being more patient with my children, especially my strong-willed daughter. I also know that I tend to say things I shouldn't when I get upset, and then I go back later and apologize for what I said. I want my children to know how to handle difficult situations in a Godly way and I was not setting a very good example! The other Sunday, the pastor at church did a sermon and at the end, we wrote down our sin that we struggle with on a small piece of paper. We then walked up to a cross and nailed that piece of paper to the cross, putting our sin back where it belonged. I knew immediately what I wanted to write on that paper. I wrote how I needed to be more patient and watch what I say when I am angry or frustrated. It felt wonderful to put that sin back on the cross and walk away!

This week, God has been dealing with me on all of this again. On Monday, I read Philippians 2:4 in my devotions. It says, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." My first thought upon reading that verse was "Ouch! I hear you, Lord!" I knew God was reminding me of how I want my kids to listen to what I am saying, but I don't want to listen to what they have to say. If they are disobeying, I don't want to listen to their excuses. I just want them to listen to what I saying. It was clear to me that I needed to learn to listen to them more so I could show them that they are important to me. I know I am constantly telling my daughter that she needs to not talk so much and she needs to listen more. I remind her that she has two ears and one mouth so she is suppose to listen twice as much as she talks. I guess God was letting me know to take my own advice! I too need to learn to talk less and listen more.

Yesterday morning, my devotions were flooded with verses and statements that spoke so clearly to me. Proverbs 15:1 says "A soft answer turns away wrath." and James 1:19 tells us to be "slow to speak". At the very end of the devotional (I use Our Daily Bread) is usually a poem and what I call the thought for the day. Yesterday's poem was the following by someone with the last name of Hess:

Lord, set a guard upon my lips,
My tongue control today,
Help me evaluate each thought
And watch each word I say.

The thought for the day was "Bite your tongue before your tongue bites others."
Again I was amazed at how God made it crystal clear to me what He was trying to teach me. I finished up my devotions by praying and simply letting God know that I would obey His word. Little did I know just how quickly all this would be put to the test.

Yesterday, my daughter tested me to my maximum. In the afternoon, she did something that definitely deserved punishment. When I discovered what she did, I didn't use a gentle voice. I screamed at the top of my lungs. I was so angry and so hurt by what she had done that I lost it. Later, I felt horrible when I realized that I had again failed God in the way I had handled things. Yes, my daughter needed to know that what she had done was wrong and she needed to suffer the consequences for her actions; but I knew I should have walked away until I could calmly and rationally speak to her about how wrong it was for her to do what she had done. I felt so defeated. Then my nephew Timothy called me. He had seen my status on Facebook that said I needed prayer and he wanted to make sure I was ok. We talked for awhile and one thing he said to me really stuck in my head. He said "God chose you to be Sarah's mom because He knew you would be the best person to teach her God's ways." I'm amazed at the wisdom of this young man, and I am truly blessed to be called his aunt! I'm so proud of the fact that he recently has accepted the call into the ministry! He's going to be an amazing pastor!

This morning, I picked up my Bible to do my devotions and quietly said "Lord, I need to hear your voice." My throat had started to hurt last night and it was still hurting this morning. I knew my cold seems to be coming back and I felt that this was my punishment for screaming at my daughter. God already knew how I was feeling, and that I needed to hear from Him. He answered me in such an amazing way that I could only cry out of thanksgiving for His love for me. A few verses in I Samuel 12 seemed to leap out of the page as I read them. The first verse I noticed was verse 20 which says "Do not be afraid, Samuel replied. You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart." Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt that even though I had failed, the Lord was telling me to not turn away from Him. He wanted me to just continue to serve Him with all my heart. The next verse that jumped out at me was verse 22 which says "For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own." Again I was overwhelmed. God wasn't rejecting me. I belong to Him! I am one of His people and He was pleased when He made me! Next came verse 23b which says, "I will teach you the way that is good and right." I cried again because that is my goal! That is what I want to do with my kids! I want to teach them what is good and right. It was just as if God was showing me that He would show me what is good and right so that I could accomplish what my goal is too! The final verse I read was verse 24 which says, "But be sure to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you." God was reminding me to remember all that He has already done for me. He has forgiven me before and He will continue to do so as long as I seek His forgiveness. I can continue to faithfully serve the Lord with all my heart because He is faithful to forgive me and show me what He wants me to do.

As if all these verses weren't enough, God continued to speak to me through the poem and thought for the day. The poem was by D. De Haan. It said:

Sins confessed you must forget;
Look not back to yesterday-
Full of failure and regret;
Look ahead and seek God's way.

Finally, the thought for the day was "Don't let yesterday's failures bankrupt tomorrow's efforts." Wow! I so needed to read that! God was so clearly telling me to forget about my failure yesterday. He had already forgiven and forgotten about it. I just needed to look ahead and keep trying my best to live my life His way. 

I don't know who else may read this, but I know that God wanted me to share what He has been teaching me. Usually that means someone else will need to hear these things too. No matter what your sin may be or what you struggle with, I know God will forgive you too. Don't give up! It's easy to get frustrated and feel defeated when you keep failing at something you are trying so hard to overcome. We are human and God loves each and every one of us just the way we are. Don't allow yourself to be defeated by your failures. Ask for His help and keep pressing forward!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Through the Difficulties

Don't you just love it when you are doing your devotions and God tells you something that you really needed to hear? That is what happened to me this morning, and I just knew that I had to share it on here. I hope it helps someone else the way it helped me.

Isaiah 43:2 says "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." We all face difficulties in our life, but their severity will be different. When our struggle is minor, it may just take a little work to get through needing to swim across a swimming pool in order to get out. Isn't it an amazing thing to know that God promises that He will always be there, even if we don't feel like we need His help? Other times, it may feel like we are in a raging river and everything we do is a struggle. We may feel like we are drowning, but God promises that those "waves" won't sweep over us! We will make it across our "river"! Then there are those extremely difficult times, like walking through a fire. Fire refines and purifies. It is during these darkest and hardest times that God is getting rid of junk in our lives and is purifying us so that WHEN we make it out of the "fire", we are more like Him. Even in the midst of these times, God promises that we will not be hurt or destroyed. It may feel that way, but God's promises are true. We just need to trust in His promises and keep moving forward.

Did you notice that this verse always says when? WHEN you go through the water, WHEN you go through the river, WHEN you go through the fire. It's not IF we face a difficult situation, it's WHEN you face it. We have to face difficulties in order for God to teach us what He wants us to learn. The verse also points out that we have to go THROUGH the difficult times. It would be nice to just be able to avoid them somehow, but that would not allow us to experience God's presence and see how He works in and through us as a result of what we just went through.

God simply let me know this morning that I have to go through the difficult times that come along so that I can be purified and made more like Him. I realized how many times I have disappointed Him because I didn't handle the difficult situation the way He wanted me to; and therefore, I didn't learn what He was trying to teach me. He pointed out an ongoing situation that I continue to struggle in. It was an ouch moment for a little bit, but then I had to smile because I knew that He was pointing it out to me because He loves me. He wanted me to be aware of the fact that He wants and needs me to learn how to deal with this so I can be more like Him. I know I probably won't be successful immediately, but I have a whole new outlook and I am more optimistic that He will work ALL things out for His good if I am faithful in doing things HIS way instead of my own.

Obviously I don't know what every person who read this blog is going through. What I do know is this: God WILL be there WHEN you go through a difficult time. You WILL make it through the difficulties and you'll be stronger because of it! NOTHING can harm or destroy you when you rely on God's strength and wisdom to see you through. BELIEVE in His promises because they are always true! God wants to teach you something through these difficulties you face. WHEN you make it through, you will be more like Christ. Trust Him!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Who Are You Trying to Please?

It amazes me how often God speaks so clearly to people, even though we may not always hear it. Sometimes we don't hear it because we aren't listening. Sometimes we don't hear it because we don't want to. Whenever I pick up the Bible to read, I try my best to listen to what God may be saying to me. That isn't always easy to do when my little boy seems to know exactly when I pick up my Bible to do devotions and somehow that means he's suppose to come into my room and start chatting away. LOL! Some days he doesn't like to hear "Please go back upstairs and play so that mommy can read her Bible and do devotions.", but he's learning that it's important for mommy to do that and he's usually good about going back upstairs to play for a few more minutes.

Yesterday in my devotions was one of those times that God spoke to me loud and clear. In I Thessalonians 2:4b, Paul says, "We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts." Then again in verse 6a, he says: "We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else". I immediately thought of the fact that I had just sang on worship team the day before and I could almost hear God reminding me of that and asking "Who are you trying to please?"

I have been singing in front of people ever since I was a little girl. As I have gotten older, I have become aware of how easy it can be to love hearing the compliments I receive after I have sung. It's easy to think of how all eyes are on you as you are standing up in front of everyone. I have seen how some people focused too much on that attention and their ministry did not seem to be as effective. I realized it was because their focus was not where it should have been. I always try to keep in mind that I am not singing at the front of the church to get attention from people or to hear others tell me how nice I sing. I do my best to focus on one thing: I am singing for God, and God alone!

I then thought of how easy it can be to seek approval from people. We all want people to like us. We enjoy getting compliments from people. I'm not saying it is wrong to give or receive a compliment, but we shouldn't be doing something just to get those compliments. Whenever we do something, we should be doing it to the best of our ability. It's easy to see that would please people when we do this; but more importantly, it pleases God! In Colossians 3:23-24 it says "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

So, now for the challenge. The next time you are doing something, stop and think "Who am I trying to please?" If the answer is anyone other than God, then try to get your focus back where it needs to be.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

God Sees Everything

As I read my devotions today, I noticed that a particular sentence kept reappearing. In Matthew 6, Jesus said three times: "Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." It is found in verses 4,6, and 18 and was said in regard to giving, praying, and fasting. We are not to do things just so other people notice and praise us for what we did. If we do that, we've already received our reward here on earth and we won't receive one in heaven. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather receive a reward from God Himself than from anyone here on earth!

What came to my mind each time I read "Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." was the fact that I sing on the worship team at my church. I know God has given me the gift of singing, but I am obviously not using that gift "in secret". Yes, I do sing when no one else can hear me; but I can't sing in secret when I'm standing up on the stage. It was then that I realized God was reminding me of my attitude when I was singing. It can be easy to get into the mindset of wanting to hear compliments from people when you are doing something up front for all to see. It can be easy to feel upset when the same people always get solos, and you are not one of those who get one. I've dealt with these feelings a lot, but Satan continues to try to trip me up and get me to focus on the wrong things. What I have tried to do is keep my focus on God. He is the one I'm singing to. He is the one who has given me this gift and I want to praise Him with it. I don't need to hear other people tell me how pretty I sounded. I don't need to sing a solo so everyone can hear just my voice. God hears ME every time that I sing, even if no one else can!! God wants me to focus on HIM when I sing, not anyone else. When I keep my focus on Him, I am worshipping Him the way He wants and He accepts that offering.

I'm sure there are others who may read this blog that are using a gift or talent that God has given to them and it something public, that all can see. Maybe you are discouraged because you feel that no one cares or appreciates what you do. Maybe you never hear "thank you" for what you do. I understand that it can be easy to get frustrated and maybe even cause you to consider quitting what you are doing. I just want to encourage you to NOT get discouraged when people don't acknowledge all that you do. Be reminded of the promise that GOD sees what is done "in secret". To me, "in secret" refers to that what people cannot see. God sees your heart and therefore your motives. Others may not know what your true motives are for doing things, but God does. You WILL be rewarded if you are doing what God has called you to do if you are doing it with pure motives. Hearing God say "Thank You!" will be far better than hearing it from people here on earth! Persevere! Keep doing what you are doing and don't let Satan get you discouraged when he tries to tell you no one notices or cares. He is a liar! GOD notices and He cares!