STAND FIRM

be-strong

Stand Firm!  These two words often come into my mind, they are used      throughout scripture in different places.

I normally choose a word for the year.  I have been feeling led to make my one word for 2017 joy.  I have joy; it is not dependent of my circumstances, it is mine because I have Christ in me.  It is a great word.  Yesterday I was introduced to the thought of choosing a phrase; then, it may be “choose joy “or “focus on joy”.  I naturally go to James, Consider it great joy when you encounter various trials… Joy would come as character is being developed, but as you go through the trial, you would have to choose, or focus on joy instead of current circumstances.

Following events in my life lately, I am not sure if joy is what I need to focus on, as nice and comfortable as it may sound.  I do need to find it sometimes as it seems to be hiding, but I am not sure if it needs to be my focus for the new year. The phrase Stand firm, words used in a study I recently completed on the Armor of God, might speak to me now.  I am certain that the devil was not happy about that study as here are a number of ladies in my church now focusing on watching for his schemes and attacks —> BAM, in he waltzes!

Standing firm may not always be easy, but God has directed us to stand firm.  We are to let our yes be yes and our no be no.  We are to stand for the truth of his word and not “dance with the devil” (not biblical words, but I think you know what  I mean).  We need to be on gurard, always.

When Jesus saw defiance at the temple, he showed he would not stand for it.  Sometimes when we stand firm against the schemes of the devil, others may not look at it as you do.  That is when you need to STAND FIRM.  The devil is not soft sweet (except when he is trying to lure in his prey), we need to be on guard, to be watchful, to stand firm against him and not be swayed into the grips of the devil.

A few weeks ago my post included Wisdom’s Gentleness.  Sometimes though, gentleness has been used up and we need to stand our ground firmly and boldly.  I try to follow the example of Christ, when he saw the money changers using his temple for their own cause, he was bold and fierce.  He was not comprimizing.  We may not need to throw over tables, but we may need to move against what others would like and we may even feel judgement.

God is my judge, he can make beauty out of ashes when we stand with him, armored for battle, doing it all in love.  Love for one another, love for God and love for his truth.

So, what have I decided on for 2017?

A word or a phrase?  What will it be?

I don’t have to decide now, all I have to decide is to “Put on all of God’s armor so that I will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”

??????????????

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Wisdom’s Gentleness

In the book of Hebrews, we are told that God’s word is alive and active…that it is.  Two weeks ago I read the book of James, then yesterday I read again and it spoke differently to me. How is that?  I suppose that is the alive and active part grows, adapts and changes to what we need at any given time in our life.  The Holy Spirit guides us as we dig into the word.

When we are humble, and seeking for what the Lord has for us to grow, the word of God will speak, we need only listen for him.  Be still, and know.  How many times have I read about the tongue, a horse, steering of a ship and fire in James 3?  I taught on it.  Yet it still has a new lesson for me.  A lesson on humility, a lesson on wisdom and a lesson on gentleness.  If you have not read James in a while, go and read it.  It is not a long book.

What words spoke to me differently this time than in the past? Verse 13 “Who is wise and understanding among you?  He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness.” (HCSB)

As I praise and worship my Father with my mouth, I pray not to be cursing my brother or sister with the same.  I pray my actions and my words show wisdom’s gentleness as I go about my life.  May my worship and praise to the King be reflected in my life and in my actions.

Perhaps since our ladies group this year is seeking to “Gain a Heart of Wisdom” those words just jumped out at me. Earlier this summer, I looked up all sorts of verses on wisdom.  There are many!  This verse was not on my list. Perhaps is was timely, wisdom’s gentleness, I planted that seed in my head, wisdom’s gentleness.  I want my speech to be seasoned with gentleness.  I kept reading those words, and I believe they took root when I needed them to act.  Living and active, God’s word ~ Yes, it is!

I have been contemplating my word for 2017, I thought it would be joy, but now I am thinking it may be gentleness.  The Holy Spirit is always working on my heart, for that I am thankful.  God is so good, don’t you think?  His grace and gentleness abounds.

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I pray you bask in his grace and gentleness as you enter into this holiday season.  

As you look at Christmas, look at it simply, look at it as it is; a wonderful gift of love to you from a gracious Father.  fullsizeoutput_718

Acting on Acts … Ride on a Cloud!

Flag and a cross

Our reading through the bible with Good Morning Girls kicks off the fall season in the book of Acts today. Acts is the story of the church, when it began and struggles the early Christians faced.  In reading this book, what can I read that would be a call to action?  What was the first verse that really spoke to me?  Was I influenced because we just had a three week sermon series on Resurrection? Possibly, in chapter 1:9 I read “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on,  t he was lifted up, and  u a cloud took him out of their sight.”  This was after Jesus resurrection from the tomb, after he spent 40 more days on earth in his resurrected body.  So what can I glean from this?

As I continue my hunt for old testament pictures of Jesus, did I expect to find it here in the first chapter of the book of Acts?  No, but I did!  God brought Jesus up on a cloud.  So what does that picture say to me? It brings me back to the Old Testament. In Isaiah 14:14
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ –  Is this a fulfillment of prophecy? More research on it to be done, but it  was Lucifer saying he would make himself “like”… but only Jesus ascended above the heights of the clouds to be with the Father, from earth on a cloud that would take him even higher than the clouds!
I also thought about the pillar of cloud and what it represented in the scriptures.  That pillar of cloud showed the people that God was with them, it showed them he was leading them and they could trust him and follow.  So I look at God’s lifting Jesus up on the cloud, Jesus is God and he had been present on earth living among the people. I see Jesus pictured in that pillar of cloud in that way.  Jesus leads people to God ~ I love this Old Testament picture even more now that I consider it through the first chapter of Acts!

So what else did that cloud do for the people of Israel? It brought them to a place of worship (Ex 33:10) and it caused nations to talk about God (Nu 14:14).  Christians all over the world worship Jesus for who he is and for what he has done for them.

Just before crossing the red sea the pillar of cloud separated the people of God and the people against God (Exodus 14:19-20).  Jesus separates God’s children from children of the world.  In the first chapter of John we are told this…   The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  The right to become children of God, available to all people, given to those who receive him and believe in his name. Jesus is the separation, in John 14:6 Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  The right to become children of God, available to all people, given to those who receive him and believe in his name. 

… JESUS now lifted back to the Father on a cloud… the same things that were done by the pillar of cloud for the Jewish people through out their journey home, I see now in this picture of Jesus going up on the cloud to be with God.

Look forward, look at what Paul wrote in his letter to the  Thessalonians “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”1 Thes. 4:17
For the Christian that hope of eternity is the hope that keeps us in peace through anything the devil throws at us! Hope, peace, joy… in Jesus!

I then thought about Elijah on the cloud, and the song by Robin Mark “These are the days of Elijah”, a song I love, but now has new meaning for me because of The story behind These are the Days of Elijah; after reading this, watch our Marines singing Days of Elijah!

These are Elijah Days, God is here, he is in control, we can bring new life to the hurting. We have the message of salvation, we have the love of Jesus, we can share the message and share his love.  On this Labor Day, be thankful for those who serve and labor for us, celebrate that as you consider ways to serve others.

Living Sacrifice

relaxing with a cup of cocoa

I have just completed reading the book of Matthew, fresh in my mind is the Lord’s last days.  The sacrifice he made for me, the sacrifice he made for you.  Now I begin the book of Leviticus… not knowing what to expect… how will it speak to me, a book of laws that the Jewish people would not be able to full fill completely? Chapters one and two showed me Jesus! Pure, loving and perfect.

God was very specific in how sacrifice was to be made, whether it be a blood sacrifice or a grain offering.  It was to be pure and perfect.. Jesus was that!  It of course then would be held as important to the one offering it… Jesus again! In these chapters of Leviticus, the offerings made would be a sweet aroma to the LORD.

Jesus’ sacrifice was an atonement for our sins, it was to restore a right relationship between God and us.  In all of our shortcomings, Jesus pain, suffering and crucifixion  was an act of love for us, a gift of grace.  So, I think about this all, and focus on that gift…

With all the things going on in our day to day lives, we can get distracted from his grace.   Sacrifice ~ made for me ~ love ~ grace.  The Old Testament can seem old, just as it is called.  But it is filled with pictures from what is new!  As a new Christian, one of the first verses on my own I committed to memory was Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ESV

I am reading through the bible with Good Morning Girls. (http://womenlivingwell.org/2015/04/introduction-to-leviticus-resources-chapters-1-5/) We are being guided to look at Leviticus as a book of Worship… I looked at that verse I memorized so many years ago and wanted to see it in a fresh new light… so on to more modern translations I turn.  I love that we can see the word in so many different versions!  Here, The Message puts it so clearly,

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

This also goes along with what our message was about on Sunday in King Solomon’s life.  Things around us can pull us away slowly, gradually. The key words I took from that was “start well ~ finish well”.   When we Focus on Grace,  keep our attention on God, he brings out our best!  Our best attitudes, our best character, it gives us gratitude for what he has done for us and given us.  It helps us to look at all things around us, things going on in our lives that may seem like interruptions, and see them as opportunities! It will help us to finish well!  I hope to live my everyday, ordinary life for Him, as a living sacrifice.  As I do that, I have peace and joy because of his mercies and grace.

Whatever season you are in, God is on the throne!  He is able, he is faithful.  Focus on His Grace and live in gratitude. Pace your live before him!

  

Blogging through the bible…For Such A Time As This

Esther 1 Esther 3 Esther 4
I love the book of Esther…having completed an in depth study with Beth Moore less than a year ago, I was entering this study looking at the first 10 days rather light heartily. Certainly, I would remember what I learned last year.  Instead, the Lord showed me that every time is fresh and new, like looking out the window and seeing the snow that blanketed the ground overnight. Seeing a view like that is fresh and new, even if you are not looking forward to going out in it or driving in it, you still love and appreciate it’s beauty.


I see Esther, poor in spirit, humble and obedient. I see Mordecai, gently leading and guiding her, standing firm on what God has taught him. I see the pride of the King and Haman…now we go on to the rest of the story… focusing on what is good and how we can apply this story of the orphaned little girl whom God used in a mighty way. We all have our story, we all can be used by God, we all have the power to influence people. May God bless you all on this journey!

So, now, having read half of the book of Esther, new nuggets are coming out at me.  From chapter 1, I am reminded that my Lord, King Jesus, freely offers forgiveness and grace!  I have an inheritance with the Father that cannot be repealed as Queen Vashti’s was by her earthly King.  My inheritance is set; it cannot be given away to someone else. Through his eyes of  love God sees his children as perfect and complete, none better than another.  Reading this reinforces in my mind the desire to do my best, for him, in whatever I do.  He gave his best for me.

The King may have exchanged Vashti for Esther, but, God had a plan for Ester’s life and for his people.  He was preparing the way for that to come to pass. God’s fingerprints cover the book of Esther, even though his name may not be mentioned.  

Pride, what do we know about it from bible?  We have all heard the famous verse, “Pride comes before the fall”.  Well, think about those words, the fall of Adam and Eve came about from pride. Pride seems to be at the root of most sin.  We see in Esther great pride of Haman and also of the King Ahasuerus.  Haman’s pride was so great he ordered every Jew be killed and even after that was ordered he became filled with wrath against Mordecai for not bowing down and trembling before him.  Oh, my, Haman, if he only knew the gallows he was having built would be used for his own death and all the mighty honor he was having the king give would not be going to him, but to Mordecai.  

The drama continues in the book of Esther, like a play of drama, pride, passion, rising and falling.  The story encompasses it all!  The story, of the little orphan girl, the girl who’s course was set for the purpose of saving the lives of the people of her heritage in her kingdom.  We know the end of her story.  God wrote it perfectly.  

She allowed it to be carried out because of her pure heart and her respect for her adopted father, Mordecai.  Her obedience to his leading in her life put her in the proper place for such a time as this.  Our obedience and respect for our Father will put us in place for his story of our lives to be perfectly cast and acted out…we are now living in our for such a time as this. How we respond is up to us.    

 Have a listen to Mandisa’s song about Esther

 

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