{She Reads Truth} A Fresh Start & God’s Renewal

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone is having an amazing 2014 already. This year I hope to blog more often and connect with more readers. And more importantly, I hope to become even closer to God. 2013 was a crazy busy year. I am still experiencing the fruits of that year – like waiting for my baby to be born (which will be soon).

I’ve returned to one of my favorite places to get closer to God and his word and that is by participating in She Reads Truth. Since finding that web site about a year and a half ago, it has really helped me to deepen my relationship with the Lord. So, I am definitely trying to make time and space for SRT in my prayer life this year. It would be great if you would join us.

She Reads Truth has just launched a new plan. It is called “A Fresh Start.” I don’t know about you but this theme is perfect for my life right now. God always allows us (beckons us) to start anew with Him. So, it is also no surprise that our  Day 1 and Day 2 bible readings were in Genesis – chapters 1 & 2. Both chapters showed us how God created everything. He is our Creator. He knew the end of the story in the beginning.  He knew we would sin but still gave us life and always loves us. This thought is just too powerful for words.

There is one author

God also created both man and woman in His image. (Genesis 1:26-27). and he didn’t exalt either sex over the other or devalue the other sex. As  a woman, I found these bible verses so comforting and life affirming. One sex is not better or greater than the other. Thank you God!

I was also challenged by the same affirming verse. If we are created in God’s image, what does it mean? My study bible came in handy here. It said that (1) we are reflections of God’s glory; (2) we have the ability to reflect his character in love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness; (3) it is the basis for our self-worth. So if God created me in his image, I have to live up to that. I need to work on being more loving, patient, forgiving, kind and faithful.

I also realized that if we are created in God’s image, we have God’s power in us (the Holy Spirit). Genesis 2:7 says that “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”  God breathed us.

God created the entire world with his thoughts and words. And the bible often talks about the power of our words and the renewing of our minds. Being created in God’s image gives us the ability to create through our thoughts and words because of God’s power in us. It is a God working through us. We should be very mindful and prayerful about our thoughts and words this year.  This is my goal and prayer.

The Old is New

I’m left with feeling so thankful for God’s constant love and renewal.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Cor 5:17.

Thank you SRT and God for giving me this message. I’d love to hear what is on your hearts and in your minds as you begin 2014. Do you feel a sense of renewal? Are you praying to become closer to God too?

Praying for God’s renewal,
Hope

{Five Minute Friday} Last: So the last will be first, and the first last.

“So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” Matthew 20:16 NKJV

{Today I’m joining the wonderful LisaJo of thegypsymama and a beautiful community of bloggers for the 5 minute Friday writing prompt. Today the word is LAST.}

So many thoughts come to mind with the word “Last.” I immediately think about a conversation that I had last night with a new friend who is a sister in faith. She talked about her life before Christ. And she mentioned that she always had to be first – first in her school and in her career. She constantly needed to be on top. And then she learned that she didn’t need to be first because she had Jesus. She just needed to do her best in the eyes of Christ.

Although I have never been a person to constantly need to be first in terms of competition with others, I have always set really (really!) high standards and goals for myself. And even though there seems to be nothing wrong with setting goals and working hard to achieve them. I wasn’t doing what God wanted me to do or what Jesus wanted for my life. I was doing what “I” wanted and thought was right. I set the goals and I only {without God} set out to achieve them. This was my way of thinking and behaving before I began a life with Christ. It is wrong thinking, not biblical, and not what God calls us to do.

It’s hard when we are taught by modern American culture that we are to be ambitious, goal-oriented, and competitive. We are to live in this dog eat dog world. This is the manner in which we, as Americans, are supposed to live, survive, and thrive. However, this is not the life that God calls us to live.

“So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” Matthew 20:16 NKJV

Life is not a race. And more importantly, no matter what – we are called to follow Christ and what he wants for our lives. We are to strive to have life with Christ. And those of us that truly follow Jesus, with their hearts and souls, will have the greatest reward – salvation and eternal life with Jesus Christ. His heavenly reward exceeds anything on planet Earth. It doesn’t matter whether we were first here or last here – we are all equal in Christ.

I’m still learning this lesson. God is working (working hard I’m sure) to continue to show me how I am supposed to live. I know that I am finding such peace and rest in the Lord when I focus on Him – and not whether I am first to achieve my numerous goals.

Praying that you are living your best life in Christ,
Hope

Five Minute Friday

{She Reads Truth} Abigail’s Story & Speaking Life

So, today I’m joining with the ladies of She Reads Truth as they study the Women in the Bible. {Note: I’m playing a little catch-up on the series, so this study was actually a few days ago.} Today, my studies focused on the story of Abigail, which can be found in 1 Samuel 25:2-44. Her story was brand new to me, like so many of the women of the bible. I find myself really looking forward to learning more and more about the rarely told stories of the heroines of the bible.

Abigail’s story really touched me because of her quiet strength, determination, courage, and discernment. A little background (from the words of She Reads Truth): Abigail was gifted with beauty and intelligence, but had the misfortune of having a fool for a husband, the surly and mean Nabal (1 Samuel 25: 3). His foolishness, anger and impulsivity, left Abigail scrambling to try to prevent disaster on her household at the hands of David and his men.

For me, her story is unique. Many biblical stories and teachings call on women to follow their husbands because the husbands are the head of the homes. In this novel story, God used her, and her alone, to become a vessel of truth and speak to David’s heart without her husband’s knowledge or input. Due to Abigail’s careful words to David, humble nature, and quiet strength, she was able to save her entire household from destruction.

Her story has challenged me in so many ways. It has made me really think that women are sometimes called separate and apart from their husbands to serve their households. It also makes me think that God is not calling on us to be weak or in the background. We are to listen for God’s words and learn discernment. We, as women, must know how to listen for God’s call in every situation – whether it is in our households, our marriages, our outside the home. We have to lead and serve when we are called to do so or when our husbands simply cannot. And we have to know when and the difference.

The other way Abigail’s story moved me was her quiet strength and the careful words that she used to speak to David. She spoke in such a way that David’s heart could hear her heart and God’s Truth. I really wish that I could speak that way to everyone that I come in contact with. Don’t you? I know that I haven’t yet mastered the spiritual discipline and practice of going to prayer before speaking and acting, especially in areas of my life where it truly counts. Abigail highlights the power of obedience to God and the beautiful results.

I know that I will meditate on Abigail’s story and God’s words in Proverbs 15:1-4 (ESV):

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh words stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

My prayer: Lord, help me today and every day listen for your call on my life and my tongue. Help me to hear your voice and obey your message. Lord, I ask that you train me to become a speaker of your Truth and impart life to those I meet. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Abigail’s story and the power of our tongues. What are you praying for?

Wishing you much hope, joy, and peace this week,
Hope

Linking up with this community!


SheReadsTruth

Marina Del Rey

Turning Disappointment into Thankfulness

Marina Del Rey

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  – Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)

Life has a way of disappointing. Yes, being downright disappointing at times. No matter how hard I work and try, I can becomed saddened by the state of things. I’m rarely melancholy but when I am, it can be a little hard to shake. So, today I am going straight to God for his comfort, understanding, and wisdom.

And because God knew that I was feeling down, in our prayer time He directed me to read my Jesus Calling devotional. {I absolutely love this book. I even have the bible.}

For February 23, it says

Be on guard against the pit of self-pity. When you are weary or unwell, this demonic trap is the greatest danger you face. Don’t even go near the edge of the pit. Its edges crumble easily, and before you know it, you are way down. It is ever so much harder to get out of the pit than to keep a safe distance from it. That is why I tell you to be on guard.

There are several ways to protect yourself from self-pity. When you are occupied with praising and thanking Me, it is impossible to feel sorry for yourself. Also, the closer you live to Me, the more distance there is between you and the pit. Live in the Light of My Presence by fixing your eyes on Me. Then you will be able to run with endurance the race that is set before you, without stumbling or falling.

Thank you God. I need to turn my thoughts to gratitude and thankfulness rather than focusing on things that I don’t have or don’t see in my life. I need to praise You for all that you have given me — all of my many blessings. I don’t fully understand some of the things in my life Lord, but I know that you will use everything for my good. 

And I remembered Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to Hispurpose. (NASB)

And because I knew it was God speaking to me, I decided to read The Message‘s version and found these words.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)

Wow! God always finds a way to comfort me, bless me, and speak to {exactly} where I am. And I am so thankful.

wishing you a day of gratitude and thankfulness in the Lord,

Hope

{She Reads Truth} A Request for A Forgiving Heart Prayer

So today I need help with forgiveness Lord.

Although I’ve gotten better with forgiving others, due to the Lord working on me, I’m struggling to forgive others. A certain person has made me so angry and frustrated with their behavior over the weekend. And I’m honestly not trying to “be right.” I just resented the way I was spoken to and treated. It really hurt me. Its challenging to work so hard on a relationship and do what the other person asks, only to have those behaviors become not good enough too. So, I’m feeling very angry and frustrated. And I am having a difficult time moving through it. I’m still processing all that happened.

But I know I need to forgive. I know that I can be stubborn at times. I am usually very slow to anger but also slow to forgive. I don’t have the words in my vocabulary to piece together an apology right now.  I feel stuck today. I’m calling on the Lord to really help me.

I was doing the She Reads Truth devotional today, which was designed to help us figure out the toxic people in our lives. And I’m still working on figuring out those. I have distanced myself from some toxic people in my life but I’m not sure {it’s incredibly doubtful} that I’ve forgiven them. I am still holding resentments.

We had to read 2 Timothy 2:14-26. And one verse stuck out to me.

“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” 2 Timothy 2:23-25 ESV

These words just stood out in bold on the page. I know I didn’t correct with gentleness. I was too hurt to do so. And I definitely didn’t call on God before I talked about my feelings and the situation. And I should have… I need to…Maybe if I call on God sooner, then I wouldn’t get so hurt in these heated discussions, and I would be able to forgive a lot quicker.

My prayer today is for God to work on my heart. God, please help me to forgive. Please soften my heart and comfort my soul.  Please give me the love, strength, courage, and forgiveness to release this tie on my heart and soul. Please continue to build my forgiving abilities. Thank you Lord for listening and always loving me.

wishing you a week of love and forgiveness,

Hope

Linking up with these communities!


SheReadsTruth

The Ramsay Grace Blog

Sunroom - Office Door

Meeting God in the Secret Place

Sunroom - Door to my prayer place

Sunroom – Door to my prayer place

“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6 [NKJV]

This morning I awoke to Oswald Chambers thoughts on Prayer Choice and Prayer Conflict in his daily devotional entitled “My Utmost for His Highest.” [If you are not reading this blessed text, you should be. You can even read it free online.]

When I saw the title I immediately thought, I don’t have a prayer conflict. I love to pray. I do however need to get serious with my time committed to God each morning.

I’ve noticed that if I don’t stick to reading the Word first thing in the morning or allowing extra time in the morning to do so, the day just gets away. And I usually get around to reading the bible later in the day… but it’s risky.

Life always has a way of getting in the way. Emails. Phone calls. Or in my case last week, freak accidents and emergencies.

All of these “life reasons” make it even more critical to put God first. And for me, that means meeting with God in the secret place, first thing in the morning. And I believe meeting God first allows Him to order our day.

Chambers writes:

Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on a wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God.

Amen. I don’t know about you all but I need God’s stamp on everything in my life. I need his stamp on my thoughts, words, and actions. I need God’s presence in my family, in my relationships, and even in my neighborhood.

Dave Lomas, the pastor of Reality SF, the church I’ve been attending recently, asked the congregation in his message “We are Theological”: “Are you individually allowing the ultimate reality of Jesus to shape your daily reality?” And he said we must be radically centered on God.

Being centered on God means meeting Him in secret prayer, private prayer. It means being disciplined, controlling our thoughts and emotions, and not allowing our minds to wander during this special time.

We focus our hearts and minds on God – so we hear Him.

Chambers writes:

When we live in the secret place it becomes impossible for us to doubt God, we become more sure of Him than of anything else.

I’m seeking to live in the secret place where my faith is so strong and unwavering that I never doubt God. With steadfast faith, God will become the center of our lives.

Then, we become a people centered around Jesus, and live lives centered on Jesus. God is ordering our day. With God, we will have renewed strength to meet all of life’s challenges.

Those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. Isaiah 40:31 [AMP]

Will you join me in the morning and meet with God in the secret place? Do you have any advice for keeping this morning appointment? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Wishing you hope, peace, and joy,

-Hope

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