{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

{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

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{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

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heaven

{She Reads Truth} Revelations and Heaven Prayers

heaven

heaven

“Holy, Holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, is, and is to come!” Revelations 4:8  ESV

Today, as part of the She Reads Truth bible study, we had to read Revelations 4. And I honestly believe this daily bible study is sent straight from God to me (and others too of course – smile). It always deals with something on my heart or a topic I’ve been struggling with. Today’s topic – heaven. I thought I’d share my prayer to God.

Lord, I don’t think I understand Heaven. Is this where you live? I thought you lived everywhere. Lord, I find Heaven super confusing. I don’t have any idea what are 24 thrones, 24 elders, or the animals with all eyes and six pairs of wings. I don’t know much about any of it. I just know that I want to be wherever you are – always…

For awhile my bible study friends were asking me if I believed in Heaven. And like then, as like now, I say I don’t know. It’s not because I really don’t believe in it. And it’s definitely not because I don’t want to be where you are. It’s because Heaven, like you Lord, is so God-big – it’s beyond my humanly understanding.

I’m getting the sense from my prayers and talks with you, Lord, that my lack of understanding of Heaven is OK for now. Because I believe in you, God, and I truly love you.

Any maybe, just maybe, if I continue to praise you, worship you, and follow you with all my heart and soul Lord — I will get a glimpse of heaven.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelations 4:11 ESV

Wishing you peaceful ponderings of heaven,

Hope

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Freedom

True Freedom Is When We Trust In Him

Freedom

Freedom

“When we trust in Him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go.” Ephesians 3:13 (The Message)

I keep reading bibles verses that apply to my life and to my glorious group that is reading “Anything” by Jennie Allen. {It’s still not too late to join, check out my posts here and here.}

I pray that each of us is hearing God’s voice deep within our hearts and souls as we work on surrendering our lives to Him. For in Him, we have great freedom!

blessings,

Hope

P.S. I’m so thankful for She Reads Truth and their Ephesians bible study! Join in.

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She Reads Truth - Galatians

[She Reads Truth] Faith or Works?

She Reads Truth - Galatians

She Reads Truth – Galatians

The online bible study group, She Reads Truth, is always vastly changing my mind about my life with God.

Most recently we’ve been studying Galatians. And the theme is “Faith or Works.” In chapter 3, Paul is discussing how we just need to have faith in Jesus and not rely on our works or actions as previously believed in the Old Testament. And I had several passages make a major difference in my understanding of God.

“Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Galatians 3:3 (NIV)

This verse made me realize that we are Spirit first and human second. It’s like the saying that we are spirit beings having a human experience. So, how could we think that entry into God’s world – heaven – or even into relationship with Him – the Ultimate Spirit – could be achieved solely through the flesh’s works? We have to choose him with our spirit selves, in other words, by our hearts — by faith.

An overarching message that I hear almost every time I read the bible is that God wants us. He wants our hearts. He wants our souls. Neither the heart nor the soul refer to our works.

“So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” Galatians 3:11 (NLT)

This teaching makes so much sense to me because if being with God was solely dependent on our human choices and actions, we’d fail over and over again. It would be pitiful!

The only perfect person was Jesus. Thank God we don’t have to rely on our works or being perfect to get to heaven or be in relationship with Him.

The Message version of 3:11-12 states that

“Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself into more rule-keeping . . . . The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.” 

Heck, what if we get the “rules” wrong? What if we live the “wrong” rules, but still had Jesus in our hearts? I just can’t fathom Jesus Christ, closing himself off to me because I broke a rule and repented but gave him my heart and my soul — meaning I had complete faith in Him.

I’m good at following rules, well, most of the time. I’ve committed a large portion of my life to studying and obtaining degrees so that I can do “good” works. Yet, I’m not convinced that if I help tell others stories or prevent the earth’s waters from being polluted that I get a pass into heaven. No, I think God wants more than that.

God is bigger than rules.

And if all we needed were rules, why did Jesus come and die on the cross? I love this verse.

“He became the curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse.” Galatians 3:13 (MSG)

Amazing! Christ came to be the curse so that we would not be cursed. His very coming and dying on the cross removed the rule-keeping requirement. He redeemed us. We gained grace and the Holy Spirit because of Jesus — not rules.

In other words, He came to give us grace — if we believe in him … if we have FAITH.

The bible has repeatedly shown us how we, as man, fall short of the rules. Jesus wants us to strive to be more like him and have complete faith in him. We must learn to live like Him… Dare I say, live from our hearts . . . it’s not as simple as complying with “rules.”

Maybe the more we have faith and strive to be closer and better in Christ, our works and actions will also change?  What an awesome by-product… now that’s a paradigm shift.

Thank you God. I’m learning and listening.

Wishing you hope, peace, and joy,

Hope

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