Friday, June 26, 2009

Sticks & Stones

Yesterday while exercising at the gym, my name was called over the intercom to come to the childcare room. I assumed La-La was fussy due to cutting teeth and was quite surprised to walk in and see Gracie in the arms of Miss Mable, one of the sitters. She was sobbing uncontrollably. Miss Mable couldn't get anything out of her and I was having trouble understanding what she was saying in between her cries. All she would say was "She called me a quitter!" It became obvious I wasn't going to be able to get back to the treadmill, so we packed up our things and left. When we got home and got the kids settled, I sat Gracie down and asked what happened. "I was playing with this older girl and I told her I didn't want to play anymore and that I was finished. And she called me a quitter," Gracie told me and tears began rolling down her face again. I asked her why this upset her and she said, "Because it hurt my feelings! She called me a name!" So we had a long talk about how some people just don't understand how words can hurt other people. I told Gracie, "People call me names every day and it hurts my feelings, too, so I know how you feel." I think she was a bit surprised to hear that some adults still act like kids! I gave her suggestions for how she should handle those kind of things in the future, how she can walk away, and how she can show other people the love of Jesus. "The devil was telling me I should call that girl a name back, but I said no to the devil," she said. I finished my motherly counseling session and asked her if she felt any better. "My mind feels better, but my heart is still sad. Its just going to take me alittle while to get over my sadness," she said. How true that can be.

Whoever said "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" lied through their two front teeth.

When Joshua went to battle the Amelikites along with Moses, there is one particular verse that I take a special liking to. Exodus 17:14 says, "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.'"

I believe when we've been hurt by someone, whether by something they've said or done, if we ask God to help us forget the hurt after we've truly forgiven them, He will help us forget. I can honestly tell you in many cases I've prayed for God to help me forget the hurt someone caused, He's taken away that broken spirit. I've tried to remember why I was mad at someone before, only to realize I couldn't remember the situation or what was said.

The old phrase "forgive and forget" doesn't describe our nature, it describes the nature of God. Scripture says He throws our sins "as far as the east is from the west". However, when we choose to forgive and ask God to help us get over the pain, we're able to move on.

Monday, June 22, 2009

5 Bold Prayers

I'm learning to pray 5 bold prayers. Then again, maybe I should call them 5 "dangerous" prayers. But I believe these prayers will put me in the presence of God:

1) Search me: I have a tendency to be judgemental at times. I really try not to be, but when I see people around me make decisions that I deem as crazy, foolish or nonspiritual, the judge in me comes out. Why can't they see right where this will lead them? I'll think to myself. David felt like this in Psalm 139 but he immediately asked God to examine his own heart. In that same way, I cannot forget to ask God to point out the rebelliousness in my own spirit.

2) Break me: Regardless of how spiritually mature I think I am, there will always be areas in my life in which God needs to work. Maybe its my need to be everything to everybody, my belief that if something is going to get done, I have to do it myself, or maybe its my strong will. But I cannot grow as a Christian until I learn to ask for brokenness.

3) Stretch me: Do you know someone who has a humbling love for others, who has inspiring perseverance, or who has spiritual strength like none you've ever seen before? Chances are, that person has probably asked God to stretch them through life's challenges. This is the kind of prayer you pray when you want to grow.

4) Lead me: Asking God to take my life and do whatever He wants to do with it is risky, to say the least. I'm comfortable with my family, my house, my job and its scary to let God take control, but that's what faith is all about. I've got to believe His plans for me are better than my own.

5) Use me: This is the adventurous prayer because you never know where it will lead. It's exciting to make ourselves available to God so that He can touch someone else through us.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A New Challenge

In February, I shared with you how I had been challenged to pray Ephesians 1:17-21 for myself in asking that God would give me a "spirit of wisdom and revelation that I may know Him better... and know the hope to which He has called me." I had pledged to do it for 6 months so I have one more month to go. I can honestly tell you that God has most certainly been giving me this "increase" in many ways.

I've been moved here recently to fast. I picked up a book last week on prayer and fasting. This book discusses in details the ten secrets to spiritual strength and the purpose for fasting. Without going into details, the book gives biblical references as they pertain to fasts and different people in the Bible who declared fasts and why. Fasting is not done to manipulate God, but is done to be more intimate with God and to see His will more clearly.

The author of this book, Ronnie Floyd, has done numerous fasts: a meal fast, 1 day, 3 day, and several 40 day fasts! He even suggests keeping a fasting journal and to write in the journal what you want God to reveal to you at the conclusion of that particular fast. I've heard other people say before they had done non-food fasts, like a fast from watching television, fasting from the computer, and even speaking fasts.

In my own life, I have some things before me that I need the Lord to make clearer, so I've decided to fast. Although I won't discuss when I'm fasting, I hope to share with you later what the outcome is. The increase I've received isn't enough, as I want more and more every single day. When we experience God's holiness through fasting and prayer--giving up what is natural to attain a spiritual goal or breakthrough--we will never be the same.

This week I've been studying more of Psalm 25:12, "Who, then, is the man that fears that Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity and his descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear him, he makes his covenant known to them."

Wow, need I say more?

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Glory of God

Many times in the scripture, you read "you will see the glory of God". So I wondered...what is the glory of God? It is something we see on earth or something we must wait to see in heaven? Is it an epiphany moment or an event in which the sky opens up and angels sing? What is the 'glory of God'?

John 11 is the story of the death of Lazarus. Lazarus was Mary and Martha's brother and Jesus loved that whole family. Jesus was sent word about Lazarus' sickness but Jesus was in another town, Jerusalem. Jesus said in verse 4, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." In verse 14, Jesus knows Lazarus is dead. By the time Jesus had gotten to Lazarus' hometown of Bethany, he had been dead for 4 days. When Jesus got to the tomb, He told Martha to roll away the stone to the entrance. Martha seemed horrified and said, "for he (Lazarus) has been there for days." During that time, the Jews believed that on the fourth day of someone's death, the face began to decompose. I think Martha was afraid of what they may see and who could blame her?

Jesus said again in verse 40, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" And then be proceeds to lift up an audible prayer to the Father basically saying to God, "I know you but the people around these parts need to see what you can do when all hope seems lost." (Note: that is the 'Barbie translation' of verse 41)

Then, Jesus tells Lazarus to "come out" and sure enough, he does.

So what is the 'glory of God'? Well, I believe it can be many things, but in this instance, I believe it is the revealed power of God. When circumstances are conquered, it brings glory to God, literally, as Jesus did in this case, or spiritually, as in the case of those who with God's help live above their physical limitations. To 'see the glory of God' is when you see something happen that cannot be explained any other way. When God wants to reveal His glory, He will take away all human capability so the miracle or outcome can only be explained as God having taken control.

I witnessed this first hand when my brother had a massive heart attack in July 2007. You can read more in my blog archives on my August 10, 2007 blog entry "An Address In Heaven".

Back to the story of Lazarus' death and raising, notice what the Bible says about all of those Jews standing around watching all of this in verse 45, "Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in Him." That was a miracle in itself!

You see, many times we wonder why God won't move in a certain area of our life. God won't move until He believes all other human solutions and answers are taken away so that He can step in and solve the problem and He can get the glory for it. When that happens, that's when we get to see the 'glory of God'!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Real Love

Isn't it funny how we can be someone's favorite one minute and then be on their bad list the next? Sweet Will told me the other day that he was mad at me. "You don't let me stay outside all day to play," he said in his 3 year old tone. I explained how he can play as long as he wants to during the day, but when the sun goes down, its time to come inside. "You make me act ugly when you tell me 'no'!" he said. By that point, I knew I was not Will's favorite mommy for the next 5 minutes.

Say the word "brussel sprouts" and just the thought of it makes my stomach turn. I've tried to like them, but I just can't. Mention "watermelon" and just give me enough time to get a fork and a bib and I'm there with you!

Ever been talking with someone and they mention another person's name and immediately, you have a negative feeling about that other person? There are names out there that just give off negative connotations like: Hilter, Jezebel, Lucifer. Those names probably weren't on your list of possible names when you had to name your child.

First Corinthians 13 says, "Love is kind. Love bears all thing, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." Aren't you glad that when our name is mentioned, God doesn't think ill about us? He bears with us through the unwise decisions we've made in the past, He believes the absolute best about you, He endures with us through the ups and downs of our life, and His love for us never fails. It never changes and just because we may have a bad day, God's love for us doesn't. He sees us as spotless lambs through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. He has great affection for you and me.

I don't know about you, but that puts a spring in my step!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Barbie is away for a few days and will return later this week.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Leftovers

Have you ever thought about how important your spoken words are? Just the other day, I was folding clothes on the bed and Gracie was 'helping' me. Will came in the room and said, "Gracie, please come play with me!" Gracie told Will rather matter-of-factly, "I'm busy Will. I don't have time to dilly-dally around!" Hmmmm....wonder where she's heard that before?

Genesis 1 says the Spirit of God moved on the face of the earth, but nothing happened until God said something. The Holy Spirit will move upon you, but nothing is going to happen in your life until you say something. This God-kind of faith will work for anyone and will work on anything.

Mark 11:23 says, "For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith." Jesus said, "You shall have whatsoever you say, because of your faith." Notice, He didn't say that you would have the leftovers or second best. When you limit your faith, it limits the blessings God wants to give you. Jesus didn't say that you would have what others said about you; He said that you have what you say.

Matthew 17:20 says, "For verily I say unto you, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you." Here, Jesus used the example of a mountain in this scripture to reference our authority over demons and evil spirits. When you and I speak, our words have an impact not only on the seen, but on the unseen. I've been making sure to speak things outloud just for the devil's benefit because I want to make sure he heard me say it! That mountain is something that seems too big for you--something that seems impossible.

Then, I read the story of the Roman centurion in Matthew 8. Jesus had told him, "I'll come to your house and heal your servant." But the centurion replied, "No, you don't need to come to my house. Speak the Word only, and my servant shall be healed." Jesus was floored! He turned to His disciples and said in verse 10, "I have not found such a great faith in all of Israel!" It was almost like He was looking for somebody who had faith and was thinking, "I wonder if I can find any faith here?"

After hearing 17:20 all of my life, I thought all I had to do was 'speak'. But notice Jesus said nothing happens with that mountain in our life until we have faith. He said, "if ye have faith..." then the rest will come. Our words have alot to do with what blessings we have in this life. And I don't know about you, but I don't want leftover blessings because I wasn't exercising my spoken faith.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Faith = Trust

Where there is no faith, there is no trust. Think about it, happily married couples have faith in their spouses. Because of that faith, they trust each other. Where there is faith, there is trust.

Elizabeth said it best in Luke 1:45 when Mary came to tell her that she was expecting Jesus, "Blessed is the one who has believed that everything the Lord has said will be accomplished." Elizabeth was telling Mary, "Girl, because you trust in God, you're going to witness some marvelous things!" David said in Psalm 145:13, "The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made."

The key to walking daily in victory and joy is found in those words. Until we "get it on the inside" that God is faithful--that He will fulfill the promises He has given you--then we can't apply it to our everyday life. Trust is what the Bible calls that deep-seated belief that God will do everything exactly as He has said. So we must trust in the truth of God's Word, trust that God is faithful, trust that God is loving towards us, trust that God is working all things together for His glory and our good (even when our circumstances tell us otherwise) and trust that relinquishes the right to say, "But Lord!" or "What if...?"

Every time we trust God, He proves Himself faithful and worthy of our trust. Trust begets trust, which in turn builds more trust in a never-ending upward cycle.

Over the last few days, I've been concentrating on Psalm 9:10, "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." Get a hold of that!