Psalm 143:8

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8

Friday, January 3, 2014

One Word for 2014 - Ponder

Well, a new year has begun.  I have spent the last several days thinking on what One Word I would choose for this year...or, more correctly, that God has chosen for me.  I've finally decided...after much thought and prayer and listening...that God is calling me to ponder in 2014.

The dictionary defines it as this:
pon·der
: to think about or consider (something) carefully


I sometimes speak...without thinking.  I sometimes act....without considering.  I sometimes make decisions...without praying....without pondering what is the way God would have me go.

So this year...I want to be more like Mary:

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19

I want to take the time to speak words that encourage and uplift.  I want to behave the way God would have me behave...not the way my own selfish flesh would encourage me to behave.  I want to be wise in the decisions I make and seek God's guidance for my choices.  I want to slow down, be more thoughtful and just....ponder...






Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Psalm 111:2

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas - may you unwrap love, joy, peace and hope

A tiny little fist grasps onto a finger...four miniature fingers and a thumb wrapping round with a tight grip...holding on.  That hand grows in size, in strength, in power, in might...as the One who came as a babe shares the love, joy, and hope of His Father in heaven.

That hand now holds you in a grip of grace that imparts strength and peace, as well.

Merry Christmas to all of you.  May the greatest gift you unwrap this season be the one that opens your heart and mind to the wonders of faith in the One God who loves you more than you could ever imagine.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.   John 3:16




Sunday, November 24, 2013

Repost: Give thanks in ALL circumstances

Today I'd like to share a post from September 24, 2011 originally posted here...

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1 Thessalonians 5:17-18  NIV

17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


Give thanks in all circumstances.  All?  Really?  Yep, that's what it says - in all circumstances.  It's easy to give thanks when things go well.  When we are being treated well, when good things happen, when we receive above and beyond our expectations, when the sun is shining and there are no storm clouds on life's horizon.  It's easy to smile, or jump up and down in joy, lift our hands to God and say "Thank you, God. Thank YOU!"


But what about when things aren't so great?  What about when life seems to be about tearing you down instead of building you up?  What about when those bad things that only happen to other people happen to you?  What about when your family members turn their backs on you or your friends suddenly don't want to spend time with you any more?  What about when you lose your job all of  sudden or your car is gone?  What about those times?


How can you say thanks for the times of pain and suffering?


Have you ever looked back on one of those times and realized that in the end, it was a blessing in disguise?  That you learned something big that will affect how you live your life in the future?  What if, through that difficult experience, you gained knowledge to help someone else who might be going through the very same situation?  What if it opened your eyes to see things from someone else's point of view?  What if it taught you something about yourself that needed to change?


"In all circumstances" doesn't mean just the good times, but also the not so good, and yes, even the bad times.  Give thanks in all circumstances.  Hate doing those humdrum chores around the house?  At least you have a house....or dishes to wash...or food to eat off those dishes you have to wash. What about when the car breaks down...AGAIN...but you have friends you can call who will give you a ride, or loan you a car, or even just listen to your frustration and empathize.  The chronic pain you suffer makes you tired and maybe a little blue...but maybe someday someone will cross your path who you can help through the same kind of pain.


We don't know where all these situations and circumstances will ultimately take us.  But we can still give thanks for God's presence, for His undying love, for His foresight and knowledge of how He will use all these things for good in some way.  Jesus came to our earth as a human being to share in all these things with us.  He's been there.  He understands fully what it means to be human, to hurt, to fear, to worry.  He understands the emotions we feel.  He gets the anger.  He knows.  And He is there to help us get through all those things.


So give thanks in all circumstances...and trust Him.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

31 Days - Joy in Perspective, Part 2

Here we are at the end of this series of 31 Days to Choose Joy.  When we put joy in a proper perspective, we see that it is possible to be joyful always...no matter the situation.  It doesn't mean being happy and smiling constantly...it doesn't mean being a Pollyanna wearing rose-colored glasses and trying to convince everyone that everything is just fabulous all the time.

Rather, it means focusing on Jesus.  It means remembering God's faithfulness no matter what is going on in our lives.  It means being grateful and expressing our thanks to God in all things.  It means living a life according to the values He places on our hearts.  It means living consistent with His will for us.  It means staying close to Him through worship, prayer, and studying His Word.  It means loving Him, and loving others according to His commands.  It means choosing joy daily, by choosing to follow Christ. 

Joy comes when we live as one fearfully and wonderfully made. When we accept the truth of who we are in Christ...the truth of what we have in this life as a Christ follower...the truth of what we have in eternity as a saved and beloved Child of God. 

So choose joy.  Choose Him.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

31 Days - Joy in Perspective, Part 1

Over the last month, with my focus on joy, one thing I have learned is that we must look at things with the proper perspective.  We can choose to let the things in life overwhelm and stress us, or we can choose to trust God and choose joy.  

There are things in this life that are going to be difficult.  It's just a fact.  We can pray that those things be taken from us...and sometimes, that prayer will be answered.  But, there are times that it is God's will for us to proceed through those times - for our own good, or for the good of someone else.  It may not seem good at the time...but like Jesus, and even Paul, there is joy before us.

Hebrews 12:1-3

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


Jesus endured the cross and death because He knew the purpose of it...the salvation of those who believe.  We may not always know the purpose of things that are difficult in our lives...but God does.  If we trust God, we can trust that there is a purpose for our sufferings.

Paul understood this, too....

Philippians 1:21-26
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Paul, in prison, is torn between wanting to die and be with Christ and knowing that his purpose in living is not over.

Where is our focus in hard times?  Are we choosing to focus on our own discomfort?  Or on God's purpose and will for us...and the future joy He promises?  It's all in the perspective.  What will you choose?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

31 Days - Psalm 30:5 - Joy in the Morning

So, how was your day? Pretty good...or not?  Did you have a rotten day today?  Did you fail today?  Did you holler at the kids, lose your patience in the long line in the store, snap at your husband, or think nasty thoughts about that other driver?  Did everything you do turn out "wrong" and you felt like nothing got accomplished?  Did your sins today feel so heavy and bad that surely even God is shaking His head at you?  Did you hear the lies in your head that say..."You are not enough"  or "You are a rotten mother/friend/wife, worker" or "You should just crawl in that hole and never come out again because obviously you can't do anything right"?

Take a look at this verse...ponder it for a moment....
 
Psalm 30:5
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

God IS gracious.  God IS forgiving.  God IS loving.  He is a God of second chances and starting over.  

Lamentations 3:21-23 
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

These are words worth memorizing.  Great love, compassion...they are there for us every day.  Even when it feels like we have failed too many times.  Even when it feels like the sin is too great.  Even when it feels like the voice of lies is the loudest thing we hear. 

God is there...He is waiting, strong and patient, with love...to hear your confessions, to wrap you up in forgiveness, to change your heart and make it new.  He is a God of justice, yes, but also a God of compassion. 

He is faithful.  He is merciful.  He is joy. 

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.