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What I am Most Thankful For……

I love Thanksgiving.  It’s a season for giving thanks, fellowship, serving one another and sharing a meal with each other.  It’s a time we can enjoy each other and share what we are thankful for.

Or maybe it’s not.  Maybe Thanksgiving reveals everything we don’t have and haven’t accomplished.  Thanksgiving may be like a magnifying glass examining the little details of our lives that expose everything we are not.

To cover up our flaws, we assemble the perfect table and meal, making it seem like we have it all together, but really we’re falling apart on the inside.

Can you relate?

Of course, I am thankful for my family, our health and how abundantly blessed we are.  It’s so easy to thank God when things are going well in our lives.  It’s not so easy when they are not.

When things are falling apart and I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread, I am most thankful for Jesus.  I am thankful that even in my messes, I am complete in Jesus.  Even in my suffering, I am blessed.

It’s amazing when Jesus meets us in our messes, our storms, and flaws–He turns them into life’s greatest blessings.  

If I never experienced failure, I would never know the deeper meaning of perseverance–How God makes the impossible, possible.

If I never trained for a marathon, I would never have known the power of God’s strength.

If I never went through the loss of our son, I would never experience the deeper meaning of God’s love and His glorious plan that one day we will see him again.

If I never had trials in my marriage or as a parent, I would never have realized the value in growing my patience and building a stronger foundation in Jesus.  

To remove our messes, our struggles and flaws are to remove God’s glorious blessings.  


What am I Most Thankful For?  Jesus.  

I am not thankful for my trials but am thankful to have Jesus to walk with me in my trials.

When I struggle, I think of Job.  When his cattle was destroyed he still gave thanks.  When his family was killed he still gave thanks to God.  When his crops were destroyed he gave thanks.  When his health was at stake, he gave thanks.  When everything was taken away from him, he never stopped thanking God.  His thankfulness in his devastation produced a greater blessing he could have ever received than if he focused on everything he didn’t have.

No Jesus + Everything = Nothing.

Jesus + Nothing= Everything

Even when I have nothing, I have everything in Jesus.  There is always something to be thankful for.  I am nothing without Jesus.
  
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”  (1 Thes. 5:18)

Behind every trial, there is a greater blessing.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks not just for what we are grateful for.  Thank God for everything in between–the struggle, the trial and our flaws and you will be blessed beyond measure.

When we GIVE THANKS in our trials, it helps us focus on God’s GOODNESS and that His LOVE endures FOREVER.  

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1)

A Thanksgiving Prayer-  

THANK YOU, Lord Jesus, not only for our family, our health and the food we will eat this THANKSGIVING But also for our TRIALS we have endured this year.  We are not thankful for our suffering, but thankful that you are good and know what is BEST for US!

THANK YOU for giving us what we NEED not what we WANT.  You Always have the best plans ever!  THANK YOU for going AHEAD of us and PREPARING  a place for us, even in our STRUGGLES we know this is only our TEMPORARY HOME.

THANK YOU for our circumstances that are beyond our control, they TEACH US to depend and lean on you making us closer to YOU.  THANK YOU for unanswered PRAYERS, they help us to TRUST in you, in your PERFECT PLAN.

THANK YOU for WALKING with US in the fiery furnace.  If you we didn’t have your hand to hold onto we would never know you are ALWAYS with us and will NEVER leave US.  THANK YOU for your FORGIVENESS when we fail and make bad choices.  THANK YOU for your LOVE and ALWAYS being there even in our MESSES.

THANK YOU for our DESPERATE Moments when we feel like we have nothing left, we can always depend on YOUR STRENGTH.  THANK YOU for our roadblocks and detours, they show us that when we follow Jesus, He knows the WAY!

THANK YOU for our failures and losses, they show us there is no greater reward than Jesus.  THANK YOU for your perfect gift of ETERNAL LIFE!  No matter what we go through it does not compare to the glorious reward of HEAVEN when we accept Jesus as our Savior!  THANK YOU for your PERFECT LOVE AND PLAN!  AMEN

What are you Most Thankful For this Thanksgiving?

What will you give Thanks for?

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10 Thanksgiving Bible Verses

I love Thanksgiving time!  It is a time to gather with family, cook together, eat lots of food and celebrate what we are thankful for.  This year may be a tough season for many of us.  Some of us may have experienced job loss, an unexpected illness or have financial struggles.  The list is endless of what makes our seasons tough.

There is one thing we can always count on, even in our rough seasons—God’s promises.  We may experience storms and struggles in life, but there is always something to be thankful for.  We may not want our circumstances or even like them, but God will use them for His glory and will produce the greatest blessings.

This Thanksgiving let’s give thanks to God not just for the good we are thankful for but for everything in between;  the good, the bad and the ugly.  When we do, we receive God’s greatest blessings when we are thankful in all circumstances (Thes. 5:18).   

Here are 10 Bible verse to Remind us of God’s Goodness-

1.  “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” 2 Corinthians 4:15

2.  “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” 2 Corinthians 9:11

3.  “I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds”  Psalm 9:1

4.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  Philippians 4:6-7

5.  “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” Colossians 3:16-17

6.  “This is the day the Lord has made;  We will rejoice and be glad in it.”  118:24

7. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” 1 Chronicles 16:34

8.  “I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High”  Psalm 7:17

9.  “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

10.  “In that day you will say: “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted”  Isaiah 12:4

There is always something to be thankful for.  

What are you thankful for?

What Bible verses remind you of what you are thankful for?

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Free Printable Thankful Bookmark.  Just click on link to download THANKFUL Book Mark

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Anchored in Hope

I will never forget the time we had to take our daughter to the hospital when she fell off a stool.  It was dinnertime and she was wiggling around on a not so stable wooden stool.  I had asked her to please stop wiggling around because she was going to fall and get hurt.  She was 5 years old at the time and was working on her listening skills.  I turned around to plate my dinner then heard a loud crash and immediate screaming.  I turned to see streams of blood running from my daughter’s finger.  She had smashed her pinkie finger under the wooden stool onto the tile floor.  I immediately picked her up and applied pressure to her finger with a paper towel.

We knew she needed more than stitches.  As I drove her to the hospital, fear filled her mind with what was going to happen when she arrived in the emergency room.  She was deathly afraid of needles and hospitals.  Our son had died a year earlier and her perception of hospitals was, when a person gets sick they might not come home.  I kept reassuring her that the doctors would fix her finger and she definitely was coming home with me.

After the doctors examined her, they confirmed she needed surgery.  In life, there are some things that can only be explained as God orchestrated moments.  Because the next part of the story I never imagined happening, not in a million lifetimes.  Since Brooklyn’s finger was an open wound she needed IV antibiotics.  She needed to stay overnight and receive her surgery in the morning.  We were in the same hospital our son died.  As the attendant was wheeling my daughter down the hall, everything looked so familiar.  I asked, “Are we going to the intensive care unit?”  He said, “Since the new hospital was built, the old intensive care unit is now used for surgery overflow patients.”

If you can even imagine, we were taken to the very unit our son had died only a year and a half prior.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I started questioning God, “Why did you bring me here?”  Our Father in heaven knows exactly what we need to achieve wholehearted healing.  He knew what I needed even when I didn’t.  He knew I needed to face my fears head on even if it hurt.

When we let go of what we hold so tightly onto, God will fill it with something so much greater and better.

Brooklyn had a successful surgery, everything went well.  After we were discharged, I asked Brooklyn, “Will you walk into Bowen’s room with me?”  I knew if God brought me all the way here, I mine as well visit the last place I held our son alive in our arms.  When I walked into the room I received an overwhelming gift of peace that went beyond understanding.  I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with me, telling me ‘You don’t have anything to fear or worry about, I have your son and am taking care of him.’  I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders that I have never felt before.  When I walked towards where God was asking me to go, I received the greatest reward of hope and peace.

I received another gift that day.  The hospital where our son died was a place of horror for me.  That day, God replaced my horrific memory with a new one.  The same emergency room door we walked out of with empty arms, is the same door we walked out of holding onto our daughter’s hand.  God was a replacing our painful memory with a healing one–one that offered an endless amount of hope.

Have you ever felt hopeless in your situation?

Our daughter is ten years old now and remembers the day she fell off the stool.  Her finger is a daily reminder of how God restores and renews us.  Whenever she sits on a stool we still mention don’t wiggle around!  It’s amazing the pearls of wisdom that come out of the mouth of babes.  She recently sat on a stool that was anchored to the ground.  She discovered she could wiggle around all she wanted and the stool would never fall.  She said, “I need this stool to keep me safe.”  She recognized there is safety when things are anchored to a strong foundation.

Hebrews 6:18 NLT

“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.”

God keeps His word and promises.

Hebrews 6:19 NIV

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,”

 

Like an anchor holding a ship safely from drifting off,  our hope in Jesus ensures our safety.  A ship’s anchor goes down to the bottom of the ocean to ground it.  Our anchor is secured in the true heavenly sanctuary that anchors to God Himself.

When storms come our way we can be kept safe when our hope is anchored in God. Click To Tweet

 

Are you anchored in Hope?

 

What gives you hope in your storms?

 

God is faithful, He will never leave you.

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The Scars of Life

 

Everyone has a scar.  Whether it be a scar from a childhood fall or an old battle wound, we all have them.  Some scars are more visible than others, whereas some scars are not.  Some scars are intentional to mark a rite of passage into manhood, to indicate which tribe a person is from, or worn as a badge of honor.  Some of the most painful scars of those that lie deep within a person’s soul that they don’t dare let out for fear of the pain it would cause.  Whatever the origin of the scar, there always lies a story.

After trekking 3,000+ miles from Alaska crossing Canada and the United States this past summer, my son had his good share of mosquito bites from all the campgrounds we visited.  Unfortunately, my son is the type of person who has allergic reactions to mosquito bites and as a result, there are welts and scars left behind.  Many times I had to remind him to stop picking at the bites because they would leave a scar.

He said, “I like my scars because they remind me of my stories.”  He was right.  We may not always like the stories behind the scars, but they make up who we are.

Do you have scars?  What story do your scars tell? 

I will never forget a woman I met on an airplane ride on the way to a friend’s wedding.  I sat next to her and her son–in which it was obvious they had both been in some type of accident that resulted in burns on their body.  At the time, I was a nurse in a trauma/burn center so I had an idea of what burn victims went through.  As the plane ride progressed I introduced myself to the woman that I was a nurse who worked with burn victims.  She immediately seemed relieved when I told her who I was.  I asked her, ‘do you mind telling me your story of what happened?’

Behind Every Scar Lies a Story.

Her story is unimaginable one that is a living nightmare.  Her family was driving home when a person under the influence of narcotics crossed the center line of the highway and hit the driver’s side to driver’s side head-on.  Her husband had been driving, she was in the passenger seat and their two sons were sitting in the back seat.  The vehicle burst into flames immediately upon impact.  Nearby witnesses rushed to the scene. Leslie and her son got themselves out of the vehicle.  No one could even go close to the vehicle because of the flames.  Leslie walked toward a Good Samaritan on the highway and asked, “please get my husband and my other son!”  The Good Samaritan saw Leslie wearing a cross necklace and said to her, “ma’am they are in a better place.”

In an instant, she lost her husband and her son.  Because of this man’s negligence, Leslie not only had to deal with multiple surgeries and heal from her burn wounds but also deal with the grief from the loss of her loved ones.  My heart broke for Leslie as she told me her story.  When we were about to exit the plane, I noticed Leslie had a little limp.  I asked her, “Do you want me to get a wheelchair for you?”  She said, “After all my hours of physical therapy, once I was able to get out of the wheelchair, I never had any intentions of getting back into it.  I don’t care how long it takes me to get somewhere, I will never return to that wheelchair again.”  Wow!  Her response amazed me.

Leslie’s story reminds me of the man who was paralyzed for 38 years.  Jesus approached the man and asked ‘Do you want to get well?’  At first, the paralyzed man doesn’t answer yes or no, he responded that he had no one to help him get into the healing pool.

“Then Jesus said to him, “Get up!  Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked”  (John 5:5-8)

Why do you think Jesus told the paralyzed man to pick up his mat first and then walk?

The mat, in this man’s story, represents a place of dysfunction which allowed him to lay paralyzed for 38 years.  Jesus tells the man to pick up his mat, so he couldn’t revisit his place of dysfunction again.  Jesus desired for the man to be fully healed not stay in a place of sickness.  It was probably hard for this man to live his new life as a healed walking man.  The only life this man knew for 38 years, was one of begging and lying paralyzed on his mat.   But then Jesus came and changed everything not only for this man but for us as well.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;  The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes, we are healed”  Isaiah 53:5

Jesus desires for us to be healed wholeheartedly in Him–He was wounded for our transgressions.  Our scars tell our story.  When we hide behind our scars we omit God’s greater story.

How do you choose to present your scars?  In shame and disgrace?  Or to tell God’s story of restoration, healing, and grace?

Jesus came to heal the sick–he was bruised for our iniquities.

“When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Mark 2:17).  

There is healing found in the wounds of Jesus--by his stripes, we are healed. Click To Tweet

Our scars remind us of God’s story of what He is able to do in our lives.

Not every scar is visible.

Do you carry around deep scars that lie within afraid to reveal your story?

Leslie told me she was glad her scars were outwardly visible.  She said these scars were a reminder to others of the deep scars she had inside.  The scars she had outside were nothing compared to the pain of the scars she carried around inside.  I love how Leslie’s story progressed because she allowed for God’s love to progressively heal her.  It wasn’t a quick and easy process, it has been a long hard journey and continues to be hard some days.  If you can imagine she even came to the place of forgiveness to the man who took her family away from her.  Her willingness to forgive and trust in God’s plan allowed for her to stand on the path to wholehearted healing and never live in that place of brokenness again.

How do you carry your scars?  Do you allow for God’s greater story to be told?

Jesus has scars too.

The scars in life can be hard and painful.  Nobody knows our scars better than Jesus because he has scars too.  His scars tell the greatest story ever told–one of redemption, forgiveness, healing, love, restoration, and grace.  There is healing in the scars of Jesus.  He died for all of us–so we could be healed.  In verse 53 of Isaiah “by his stripes we are healed,” the Greek word healed is sózó which is translated saved, healed or rescue.  The origin of the word comes from safe or well.  Jesus came so we could be saved, healed and rescued from our iniquities and pain!

You are loved, my friend! I pray you seek Jesus for your wholehearted healing.  He has the power to heal, forgive and resurrect our circumstances into something greater!

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The reference from the Greek word sózó came from the website http://www.biblehub.com/greek/4982.htm.

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The Origin of Truth

Have you ever wondered what makes a word come into existence?  The first American dictionary published by Noah Webster wasn’t published until 1828 and contained around 70,000 definitions of words.  It makes me wonder how the validity of definitions survived all that time.

The way a word gets into the dictionary is by usage.  Citing a word consistently in enough publications over time gives the word credibility.  Once decided the word has been widely used on a consistent basis it is then considered for entry into the dictionary.  Every year over 1700 new words are added to the Webster dictionary.  Today the Webster-Merriam dictionary has close to 500,000 definitions in the unabridged version and 165,000 in the collegiate version.  That is a lot of new words since 1828! [1]

This makes me wonder if new words can emerge and come into existence, then where do their definitions originate?

Are these definitions of words something we make and come up with?

As new definitions emerge and change as each era progresses, The Bible is one book that never changes its definitions.  Of course, we need to add definitions for when new technology emerges.  However, we can always count on the Bible because its origin of truth stays the same and never changes.

Why can we depend and trust that the Bible is a dependable source of truth?

Even though the Bible was written by the pen of imperfect men, these words were not from them but from God.  There is much dispute in whether the meaning of the messages in the Bible has been lost or changed with each new translation that emerges.  However, each chapter of the Bible has been authenticated by author, place, and events that occurred with writings of historians that existed at that time.  The Bible has been around since the time of Moses delivering the 10 commandments (1,400 BC), to the completion of the Hebrew manuscripts which include the 39 books of the Old Testament (500 AD), to the completion of the Greek manuscripts including the 27 books of the New Testament (1st Century AD) to present day.[2]

God’s truth can be trusted because…….

God’s truth has existed from the beginning of creation.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1

God spoke life into existence.

“God created man in His own image;  in the image of God He created him;  male and female He created them.”  Genesis 1:27

God created truth.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”  John 1:1-3

God’s Words breathe life into our lives.

 

God IS the TRUTH.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

Words make up who we are and say a lot about our identity and world.  If you were to look up the topmost trending words on the Merriam-Webster dictionary website people have looked up in the past week, you would be astonished.  It says a lot of what is going on in our world.  The topmost searched word right now is fascism.  Other words include white supremacist, bigot, bigotry, Neo-Nazi, terrorism, and communism.  These words have to be among the most hateful and evil words that exist and yet are at the forefront of our world.

We may have our differences and not always agree with each other, but can choose what we use our words for.  We were never meant to live in a world full of hate and evil–but in a world full of God’s love.

God desires our world to be filled with His love--not hate and evil. Click To Tweet

In a world of hate and chaos, God’s truth will always bring us freedom.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

Our words have the ability to speak life and truth into the lives of others (Prov. 18:21).  Our words can make a difference in someone’s day by being kind and loving (Eph. 4:32).  Our words can build another’s confidence by encouraging and building them up (1Thes. 5:11).  Our words can change the lives of those who persecute us by praying for them (Matt. 5:44).  Our world will always be filled with evil when we use our words to destroy, slander, gossip or hate.  There is freedom when our words are used to encourage, love, build and pray.

We can’t change the definition to words to fit into the box that we desire them to.  Trusting in emerging definitions can be dangerous over time.  Changing the truth to our own desires is a slippery, dangerous slope to walk.  When we trust in God’s truth and love we will find eternal protection and wholehearted healing.

God’s truth will always keep us straight on our paths.  

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,And lean not on your own understanding;  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct[a] your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

If you ever have doubts about God’s truth, test it.  Our words can be destroyed in an instant.  God’s words can never be destroyed and will always last till the end of time.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”  Isaiah 40:8 

Have you ever questioned where your source of truth originated and whether you can trust it?

Have you ever been caught on the slippery slope of finding your truth in emerging definitions?

God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when God’s Word is alive and active in our lives!

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  1. Info was obtained from Wikipedia.
  2. Bible history info was gathered from this site.  For a more detailed instruction of a historical timeline of how the Bible evolved over time visit http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/.

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Where is Your Hometown?

I hope you enjoyed last week’s post Where do I fit in?  Do you ever feel like a stranger in your own skin?  Starting over in a new place can be exciting but also difficult.  I have to learn where the kid’s new school is, where the grocery store is, the vet, my work, the park, and anywhere else we need to go.  When I look around nothing is familiar and feel like a foreigner in a new land.

Starting over means meeting new people and asking simple questions like ‘Where are you from?’  Being in the military, these simple questions can be tricky to answer!  There is not a short and easy answer to give.  I was born and grew up on the east coast, moved to AZ for 10 years, then lived in Alaska now we live in Colorado.  So I guess I’m from the east coast and lived in AZ for most of my married life.

We all come from different walks of life.  Some of us grew up in the inner city and are used to taking the subway or bus for transportation.  Some of us grew up in neighborhoods and walked to school.  We knew all of our neighbors by name and even got together once in awhile.  Some of us grew up in the suburbs where the nearest neighbor was a half a mile away, but you could still call on them to borrow a cup or milk or an egg.  Whatever walk of life we come from, all of us come from somewhere that we can call our hometown.  There may be circumstances in life that don’t allow us to visit or go back to our hometowns, but we always know where our home is when God’s love resides in our hearts.

This is not our home.

Philippians 3:20 (NIV), “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,”

Paul was reminding the Philippians in this verse as Christians, we are merely aliens living in this world, our citizenship is in heaven not here.  We live in the world but are not of the world.  He encourages them, even when there is trouble in this world, we are in union with the things of Christ, not of this world.

1 Chronicles 29:15 (NLT), “We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.”

As Christians, we can rejoice because the life we live here on earth is only but a moment compared to the eternal life we live in heaven.  Our lives will only be a trace of God’s creation once we go to heaven.  There are so many times I miss my family and friends.  I wish I lived in the same town as them and yearn to be closer to them.  I am reminded that wherever I live this is only my temporary home–heaven is my final destination.

1 Peter 2:11-12 (NLT), “Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.  Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.”

In this new life and town we are living, God reminds me, it doesn’t matter where I reside, His love always brings me home.

In a world filled with hate and violence–God’s love brings us home.

In a world filled with destruction–God’s love brings us home.

In a world filled with devastation–God’s love brings us home.  

Home is where the heart is.

I don’t have to wait to live in my hometown to feel at home.  Wherever God’s love is present, I am always home.   Peter warns us in this verse to not give into the evil worldly desires but to rise up against them, so others will know our actions are from God.  Starting over in a new town can be hard, but I don’t feel like a stranger when God’s love resides in my heart.  His love turns a stranger into a friend.  He is the one who provides for my every need.

In this world, we will have troubles and struggles but stay faithful my friend, God is holding them in His hands.

Romans 12:12, 'Do not be overcome by evil, overcome evil with good.' Click To Tweet

Where is Your Hometown?  Do you struggle with not living in your Hometown?

 

Have you ever felt like a stranger in your own skin?  How or in what way?

 

God’s love and grace are transformational.  We become victorious when His word is alive and active in our lives!

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Training For Heaven

The other day my daughter and I were on our way to a youth ski race. Kids on different ski teams compete against each other by going down the slalom course. The top 3 kids who achieve the fastest time in their age group win a medal. Usually my daughter is excited to go to ski team to have the opportunity to ski for a few hours. But this day she was having a little trouble. She groaned and complained how she didn’t want to go. She didn’t want to compete, she just wanted to ski.

I tried to sugar coat the situation and encourage her, she was going to have fun. She had already won three medals in the three races she competed in. In my attempt to encourage her I said, “Don’t you want to win another medal?” Her response was very convicting. She said, “I’ve already won enough medals, I don’t need another one.”

She was right.

Honestly, I didn’t care if she won or not. I just wanted her to to have fun and do the best she could. It was more about changing the attitude of her heart and working through it. Then I was convicted by her words.

How many times have I been trapped in the lie of achieving more? And when was it ever enough? Click To TweetI am reminded of when Paul was speaking to the Corinthians of the imperishable crown.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets a prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Paul was using the analogy of running a race to represent how are we living our physical and spiritual lives? In the worldly races we run, there will only be prizes given to the top winners. Even though everyone participates in the race, not everyone wins a prize. Only those who perform and achieve the best times win. Paul was teaching the Corinthians, what is the point in running a race to obtain a prize in which we only receive ourselves? If we are going to go through the training and effort in running the race, we should not do it just for ourselves. We should run to obtain the crown that lasts forever in which everyone receives who runs the race.

Paul’s words asks a deeper question. ‘What race are we running anyway?’ ‘Are we training to win another medal or training for heaven?’

Even though my daughter had performed very well in her previous three races, unfortunately this day she was disqualified. She assumed because she did so well previously she would do the same in this race as well. At the end of the race she had missed a ski gate. In the ski race, if a racer misses the ski gate they are disqualified—their time doesn’t count and are ineligible to receive a prize.

“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:26-27

Paul was warning the Corinthians don’t become lackadaisical when running the race, be purposeful and intentional. When we run aimlessly, we become careless and lack discipline to complete the race to the end.

Oh how we can become disqualified from the race when we allow sin to reign and rule in our lives. We can become overly confident that we have already received and obtained the prize of heaven and become lax in our walk as Christians. God showed me an important reminder that day. He made me question what race am I really running, and what am I running it for?

Am I running to win a crown that will perish or the imperishable crown of life that is everlasting?

Don’t become disqualified from the race, keep your eyes on the prize. The race we run as Christians has already been won. When we participate in the race, we partake in the victory of Jesus—receiving a crown that never perishes! There is no greater prize a runner could receive than the reward of heaven. Heaven is the ultimate prize. That day with my daughter was a reminder to stay focused on the reward of heaven, so we can endure and persevere to the end.

Paul leaves us with words of encouragement. He knows the race we run as Christians will be hard. He knows it will take discipline and training. In all of our efforts, Paul reminds us we are all in training for heaven. When we run the race for the Lord, we will never be disqualified from receiving the greatest reward ever in heaven.

Keep running the race, keep fighting the good fight, You are victorious in Jesus Christ!

This post was first published on www.akchristianwomensministry.com.


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Vacuum lines, Bleach in the Sink and Jesus

You might be thinking what do vacuum lines on the carpet, bleach in the sink and Jesus have to do with one another? Actually they have a lot to do with one another. I have a confession to make. I am guilty of quickly vacuuming my house, making vacuum lines on the carpet and spraying bleach in the sink right before my husband gets home from work, to give my house the ‘appearance’ it has been cleaned.

Sometimes it is easier to give the house the ‘appearance’ it has been cleaned than actually cleaning it, so my husband doesn’t wonder ‘what did you do all day’ if the house wasn’t cleaned? The funny thing about only doing the minimal cleaning job, the house doesn’t stay cleaned for very long and quickly goes back into it’s unclean state. Vacuum lines and the smell of bleach eventually fade away.

It makes me think how this relates to life. There can be so much focus and emphasis on trying to maintain the appearance that everything is okay on the outside but really it is falling apart on the inside. It is only a matter of time before everything starts to fall apart because trying to keep up with ‘the appearance’ everything is okay becomes exhausting.

Have you been there? Can you relate? Have you tried to maintain a life with the appearance that everything is great in your life, but really it’s not? Or are you trying to maintain an image to others but really living a double life? External appearances and images are temporary and will never last forever.

“All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field, the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” 1 Peter 3:24-25

I am guilty of slipping into the mindset it’s just easier to do the minimal work instead of really doing what I am suppose to do. It isn’t until Jesus gently puts his hands on my face and whispers into my ear, ‘That life of keeping up the appearance everything is okay will never sustain or fulfill you the way I can eternally.’

Who am I really fooling? God knows what is in my heart. Why do I try so hard to seek the approval of the world instead of God? The only way to keep a heart pure and focused on Jesus is by spending time with him in his word and prayer everyday. His words are what keep us clean and last.

He accepts and loves us despite our shortcomings. We don’t have to earn his love or approval he accepts us just the way we are. Accepting God’s truth for us will set us free from the bondage of finding approval in worldly acceptance. We will always fall short.

We don’t have to try to be something we are not. When God’s love shines through our life, we will never have to keep up with external appearances again. The precious blood of Jesus redeems us, pays the price for us, it is what will endure forever, maintain and sustain us, transforming us from the inside out.

His love will never fail you. His love is greater. You are loved!

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.” Psalm 119:9

Going deeper: Psalm 119 is a devotional about the word of God. To read more about having a heart that is pure read Psalm 119:9-16.

Can you relate to this post? Have appearances ever been greater than God in your life?

Where do you seek your acceptance and approval? I would love to hear from you!  Leave your comments below.

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The Power of An Invitation

I will never forget the first time I attended my first Bible study in 2012.  I had been a Christian my whole life, went to church, read the Bible, but never attended a formal Bible study.  I could name a million reasons why I didn’t attend before then;  busy with motherhood, I worked during the week, I had to take care of the house, etc.  It’s funny how God has a way to always point you in the right direction.

I was at a point in my relationship with God where I knew He wanted me to take the next step towards a deeper relationship with him;  but I didn’t know how.  One day I was standing in the preschool parking lot talking with a friend, pouring out my heart to her.  I had just started to attend the same church as her.  As she was listening to me, she had opened the door to something bigger than I could have ever imagined.  She invited me to a Women’s Bible Study at the new  church I was attending.  I immediately accepted the invitation.  I was excited, because I knew God had used her that day not only to invite me, but to point me in the right direction towards what He had desired for me.

The day I stepped foot into my first Bible Study, I was hooked and I never looked back.  Once I started, I couldn’t get enough.  I wanted more.  Her  invitation to Bible study changed my life.  I never knew how much I was missing until I entered into God’s presence, opened up the Scriptures and allowed God’s truth into my heart.  My friend was faithful in listening to God, to invite me that day.  I only had to enter through the open door, God did the rest.

 

God used my friend in a big way that day.  I am so glad she listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to invite me that day.  Her invitation changed my life.  God’s words are what transforms our hearts, nourishes our souls, and gives life to our spirits.  God’s love is not meant to be hidden, but shared with everyone.

Just imagine if the three wise men never accepted God’s invitation to see the birth of baby Jesus.  They would have missed out on seeing the birth of their king.

Just imagine if Paul didn’t accept God’s invitation that day on the road to Damascus when he was blinded by the light.  We would have never seen God’s ability to  transform Paul’s heart, from someone who persecuted Christians to someone who risked His life to save them.

Imagine if the Disciples and the Apostles never accepted God’s invitation to become followers of Christ.  We would have missed out on the greatest message ever told. We would have never seen God’s ability through the Holy Spirit to grow the church.

We are merely vessels God uses to carry out His greater plan.  We are all apart of God’s great amazing story of the gospel.  If we never shared it with anyone, imagine how many  people miss out on the beautiful message of the gospel.

The worse thing a person can say is ‘No.’  God will continue to pursue their hearts.  You only need to be faithful in prayer of how God can use you.  

There will always be 101 things keeping us away from studying the Bible.  Not one of those reasons are ever good enough to keep us away from spending time with God.  When we give God the time He has given us, He will provide all the time we need to get everything else accomplished that He desires for us.

Have you been prompted to invite someone to church or Bible study?  You never know how God will use you to impact the life of someone else.  Your invitation might be the very thing a person needs to take their next step.

Have you ever accepted an invitation that changed your life?

How has Bible Study impacted your life?  

To learn more about why studying the Bible is so important Click Here.

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This post was first published on www.akchristianwomensministry.com.


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Why is it Important to Be Alert?

I will never forget the day I went hiking on a popular Alaskan trail this summer with a friend and all of our kids. It was a beautiful day. We came prepared wearing our hiking gear, brought our bear spray, filled our camelbacks with water and brought snacks for the kids. We were the first hikers of the day to set off on the trail.

As we approached the pseudo summit, we had stopped to take a water and snack break. As we were looking around at the beautiful mountain, I had spotted something across the field about 500 ft. from us. I could see something pacing back and forth. At first I thought it was a dog, but then soon realized it was a wolf! Right next to the pacing wolf was another wolf!
We immediately put our dogs back on their leashes and instructed the kids to get together in a huddle around us, stay together to go back down the mountain. As we were walking off the mountain we were praying for God to please keep us safe and protect us from the attack of the wolf pack! I am happy to report we made it safely off the mountain, but were so glad we were alert to our surroundings. If we were not paying attention, the situation could have been so much worse.

Our situation on the mountain that day reminds me of when Jesus took the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray (Matthew 26:-45). Jesus knew the time was approaching when Judas was going to betray Him and be taken away by the Roman soldiers. In the garden, Jesus is overwhelmed with sorrow and asks Peter and two other men to keep watch while Jesus prayed. When Jesus returned from praying, He finds His disciples sleeping. Jesus says, “could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matt. 26:41).

According to Mark 14:41, Jesus goes away and comes back two more times, each time telling the disciples to keep watch and pray. But each time Jesus returns, He found the disciples sleeping. After the third time, of warning the disciples to keep watch and pray, it was too late. A crowd armed with swords and Roman soldiers appeared to take Jesus away.

Jesus knew before the crowd and soldiers came, they were about to be faced with threatening circumstances. Jesus wanted His disciples to not waver in the face of temptation. He was trying to warn them to keep watch and pray so they would not fall victim when confronted with threatening circumstances. Instead the disciples fell asleep.

How much more prepared would the disciples had been if they were alert and listened to God’s instructions?

Jesus was trying to warn the disciples that night in the garden, to remain physically and spiritually awake to keep them from falling into sin. Having an encounter with the wolves that day was a reminder how important it is to be alert not only to our physical surroundings, but our spiritual surroundings as well. Satan can be so quick and deceiving. Like the wolves, he is lurking around ready to attack at any moment.

What a great important reminder to stay awake and alert to Satan’s schemes, because he is sneaky! I for one have been a victim and didn’t even realize it.

Just as Jesus instructed the disciples to keep watch and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, is what He asks us to do.

Stay alert in prayer; it will keep you close to God’s truth and ready in threatening circumstances. Click To Tweet
Even though we were prepared for the hike that day, we weren’t necessarily prepared for our encounter with the wolves (a threatening situation). God heard our prayers that day and kept us safe as we hiked off the mountain. In that situation, our prayers are what kept us safe.

We become more alert and watchful when we are devoted in prayer.

“Devote yourself to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2 NLT

“Be alert and always keep praying.” Ephesians 6:18b NIV

How do you stay spiritually awake?

How has staying alert and watchful kept you safe?

Did you enjoy this blogpost? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!

This post was first published on www.akchristianwomensministry.com.


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