facebook friend.

The other morning I was sitting outside, drinking coffee and enjoying the beautiful weather. I had my Bible open and was reading the day’s lesson in my study group’s current series, A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit: 5 Habits From the Book of Ruth by Nicki Koziarz.

Someone walking by stopped and looked from my books to me and said, “Oh. You are doing your spiritual part of your life.” After I replied, “Yes, I’m doing my Bible study lesson,” and he walked on, I kept thinking about his words.. doing .. your .. part of your life..

This person has known me for many years and has been a regular church attendee for as long as I have known him. His comment was not one that I would expect from a fellow Christian. Something just did not feel right about his awkward words and behavior.

Two questions kept running through my mind:

(1) Does my faith in God encompass my entire life and being or just “a part” of it?

As Christians, we are commanded to live out each day in a Christ-like manner, displaying the love of God in every facet of our lives. As I strive to meet this commandment, am I exuding the love of God in all my daily activities? Do I walk each day on the path God has laid for me?

(2) How can I encourage fellow Christians to seek a [more active] relationship with God?

Going to church does not equal having a relationship with God. I have many Facebook friends; however, I do not have a personal relationship with each person, only the ones that I engage with in community and fellowship. God desires more than Facebook friend status; He desires for us to be actively engaged in a personal relationship with Him. Yes, He wants a personal relationship with you, with me.. not just a select few of us, but everyone!

The following passage is from the letter written to the church at Phillipi. In it, the apostle Paul reminds the community of new believers that the goal they are striving towards is Jesus Christ, trusting Him and knowing Him in a personal relationship. Faith is strengthened within a community of believers working towards a common goal and encouraging each other along the way. Paul suggests that practice makes perfect, as he urges the church to imitate him in his walk of humble dependence on Christ.

“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.” -Philippians 3:12-21, HCSB

Let your faith infiltrate every part of your life. Let the perfect love of Christ absorb into every fiber of your being. Allow God to work through you and display His majesty in all that you do. Encourage one another to walk in faith at all times and to seek the leading of God. Set good examples for fellow Christians to follow, and mimic the Christ-like behaviors you see others displaying. We become what we practice.

HCSB = Holman Christian Standard Bible

lovers gonna love.

This post is inspired by one of my new tanks from the light blonde shop. I am borderline obsessed with all these super cute tees and tanks hand-made by a fellow Jesus-loving lady. You absolutely must check it out!

Lovers gonna love. Haters gonna hate. Most of us prefer to be called lovers, although we are often tempted to behave as haters. It is so easy to be selfish, yet so difficult to be selfless. God knew when he created us that we would struggle to love others. The flesh innately knows how to hate, so we must depend on God to teach us to love.

“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.” – Psalm 32:10, ESV

God pours his spirit of love into our hearts when we accept Christ as our Savior. Don’t miss that. His perfect love POURS directly into our hearts… no filters, no rations, just pure love.

God promises to the Israelite captives in Babylon: “I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” – Isaiah 44:3b, ESV

Paul reminds the church: “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:5, ESV

This outpouring of love is available for us anytime and anywhere. Faith in God offers us a limitless supply of His perfect love, pure and holy, and all we must do is ask. His love is like a well that never runs dry and never quits providing.

“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear … We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:18a-19, HCSB

God’s love is steadfast, as in, it is not subject to change. He promises us that his mercies will never run out, they will never expire, and He will renew them for us each and every morning. Yes! Every single morning.. not just Monday mornings.. and they are never-ending. I find great comfort in knowing that when I ‘run out’ of love, God can refill my tank and send me back on my way to do his work.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV

We must remember that, as Christians, we are not only called to love those of OUR choosing, but to love everyone. Loving others takes on different forms in different situations. Sometimes we show love from afar with our prayers, sometimes we show love up close with our compassion, and sometimes we show love by not showing hate. Refraining from hating requires us to let go of our judgements and trying to look at the person as Jesus does. It is hardest for me when the other person is showing hatred to me or someone close to me; however, there is no “unless scenario” in the following passage. [Translation = we still are called to love!]

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen. And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother.– 1 John 4:20-21, HCSB

Seriously, John? The beloved disciple did not pen this letter from a luxurious yacht on the Mediterranean. He had walked with Jesus in his earthly ministry and had survived the subsequent condemnation, repression, hatred, and violence shown to the known followers of Christ in those early days. He relocated to Ephesus after the Romans destroyed his church in Jerusalem around A.D. 70, where he most likely wrote this letter.

The man had every reason to hate! (I would have!) Instead, John looked to Christ for his strength of heart and source of love. Faith gave John the ability to look beyond all the haters and still be willing and able to trust God and His Word whole-heartedly.

Lovers gonna love. Haters gonna hate. Faith will do the same for us as it did for John when we focus our eyes on Jesus instead of our surroundings. Choose God. His love is PERFECT!

ESV = English Standard Version. HCSB = Holman Christian Standard Bible

never a dull moment.

There are times when I feel that my life is lacking somehow because I am not married, nor do I have children. I imagine we all have these thoughts at times.. that our lives are just not complete somehow. We are blind to the richness of our current situations when we become focused on what we lack, or what we THINK we lack.

It is just too easy to feel less than or inadequate because our lives do not match up to those of our peers. We quickly fall into a tailspin of worry over our external timelines and internal time clocks. My previous posts Standing on an hourglass and my plans. both speak to those worries.

God never fails to remind me that my life is complete, just as it is.. right here, right now. Whenever I start to feel down (please note: not IF I feel down but WHEN I feel down), God always reminds me of my blessed life in the most simple and sometimes humorous ways. I remember that it is He that dictates my completion, my wholeness and my worth. He deems me valuable; therefore, I am.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17, ESV

Just last week, I was having an off morning and feeling that my life was sub par and boring. I feared that I was missing out on the excitement in life that surely comes with a husband and children. Woe is me! Near the peak of my supposed boring day, I hear a splish-splash in my bathroom. I realize with horror that I left the door ajar while I was running a mixture of bleach and detergent through my tub to clean the jets. Oh yes, Annabelle was in the tub playing and drinking the potent cleaning concoction! Just having a grand time! Just a little bleach!

After the initial shock and mild profanity, I got her out of the tub and washed her off and then begin to laugh. I was laughing so hard that I was nearly in tears. I realized that God was showing me that there is never a dull moment in my life! There are no limits with God. He is the author of creativity. He showed this pity party planner. that her life is indeed full through the devious act of a mischievous cocker spaniel. He will do the same for you.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act… Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” – Psalm 37:5,7, ESV

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is all about perspective. There will always be someone who has more money, a bigger house, a better job, a better wardrobe. Perhaps you envy the family or the doting husband of your friend. Remember that where we are is where God has placed us, and we are to trust completely and wholly in His purpose, even when we cannot see His reason or the road ahead.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction things not seen… And without faith it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to [Him] must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” – Hebrews 11:1,6, ESV

So even though we are not where we thought we would be in life, or we are longing for more in our current situations, we just need to have faith? Surely not! I find that talking about having faith and trusting God and seeking Him is far easier than the actions. The words alone are simple; the words in action are daunting and scary.

Trusting my future completely to God is scary at least, and attempting to draw near to Him seems impossible. I am a mere human. How can I possibly please God? Through God’s loving grace.. that’s right, G-R-A-C-E! This grace covers all our human short-comings and doubtful tendencies and allows us to draw near to the Almighty God with eager hearts of trust and open minds of faith.

Let us spend less time worrying about what we have not yet achieved or do not yet possess and spend more time seeking God and strengthening our faith in Him and His promises for us. Take comfort in knowing that you are RIGHT WHERE God wants you to be. You may be in a season that is short but bearable or a season that you never want to end. Either way, know that you are never alone, and that God has great purpose for your life in the right here and right now.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:4-5, ESV

You heard the man! Paul tells us that everything God has made is good. That includes you and your life. What we need is less complaining about our situations and more action to better ourselves. Be thankful. Look at your life with new eyes, and count your blessings, even if running water and coffee is all you can think of! Open your Bible, read His Words of truth, and talk to God! A moment spent with God is never a moment wasted. The same is not true for time spent complaining.

ESV = English Standard Version Bible

Start 2017 with 40 Days of Prayer Scripture – LifeWay Women All Access

With 2016 coming to a close, take a moment to reflect on the past year. Praise God for all the blessings and seek His comfort for all the rest. Realize the mind tends to overshadow the gains with the losses. Allow Him to heal those painful areas and make you new.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  – Ezekiel 36:26, ESV

With a new year comes new ideas and resolutions, desires for growth and improvement, and plans for change. I encourage you to consider a new kind of resolution in 2017… one that will result in more growth and change than you [and Pinterest] can ever imagine! Spend time with God every day in scripture and prayer. Resolve to make Him a part of your everyday life. Be intentional. Seek Him with a genuine heart and an open mind. He welcomes us all, whether we come mourning with heavy hearts, dancing with light hearts, or flaming with angry hearts.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  – Colossians 3:2, ESV 

Lifeway Women has developed a plan to help us be present in the Word and spend quiet time daily in God’s presence. 40 Days of Prayer is a guide with daily readings from the book of Psalms along with prayer and time / space for your personal reflection.

Just think of the power of women around the world praying and reading the beautiful Psalms together for 40 days! Think of  just a few of the magnificent stories in the Bible of those who obediently accepted God’s invitation to be in His presence for 40 days:

  • Noah built a boat in the desert and then spent 40 days and nights with his family and animals aboard. He survived a devastating flood! (Genesis 7-8)
  • Moses entered God’s presence on Mount Sinai and neither ate nor drank for 40 days and nights, then received the Ten Commandments. He maybe lost weight and watched a miracle take place! (Exodus 34)
  • The giant Philistine stood ominously before Israel for 40 days and nights before young David slayed him with a sling and stones. David became king! (1 Samuel 17)
  • Jesus spent 40 days and nights fasting in the wilderness, with wild animals and Satan’s temptations. Angels ministered to him during that time! (Mark 13)

This series starts January 1st! Follow the link below to sign up online. You may choose to receive your daily lessons via email or download a PDF version for viewing or printing.

2017. A new year full of new possibilities! A new space with time for God. A new heart to desire and seek God. Start the year off right. Seek God joyfully each and every day! I hope you find this resource from Lifeway Women inspiring and inviting!!

“I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” – Psalm 145:1-3, ESV (David’s song of praise)

 

Source: Start 2017 with 40 Days of Prayer Scripture – LifeWay Women All Access