Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Year of Confidence

As we make our resolutions for the year ahead, let us go forward with great hope that all things can be possible—with Your help and guidance." (Anonymous)

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6)

God cares about every little detail in our lives, even the little things that we think are too small to take to Him. I pray and talk to God for the most eccentric little things; it's my way of communicating with Him daily. I don't feel that any prayer request is too big or too small and insignificant; our prayers are a chance to reach out to a loving God who longs to communicate about every little detail in our lives!  Some people worry that they shouldn't bother God with the "small" stuff, but if we are in the habit of bringing all of our concerns, worries, and also praises to God daily, it's so much easier to earnestly talk to Him about the "big" stuff. God doesn't want us to worry; He wants us to pray and seek Him constantly about everything. We just need to listen to His still, small voice speaking to our hearts when we pray about everything.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that He hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked Him." (1 John 5:14-15)

Regardless of any situation that is in our heart, God desires us to pray with confidence. And because we are one of His dear children, our powerful God loves us and cares about anything we tell Him! We can ask God for anything and He listens-He will answer. We should have a prayerful attitude at all times so that we can build upon our dependence on God. There have been many times in my life that I have tried to handle situations without first talking to God which just led me to worrying and/or stressing about the decision or commitment I did or did not make. I have learned to try and pray over every little opportunity that comes my way, and it has become natural to pray frequent, spontaneous, and short prayers for any cause or occasion.

Begin the New Year experiencing the joy of talking to God about everything (the big and the small stuff), knowing that He is listening and loves to hear from you! :)

"Don't worry about bringing small things to God, for with God everything is small!" (Kendall)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Enough Time

"The world may pass me by...but as for me, I will sing about your power. I will shout with joy each morning because of your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety in the day of distress." (Psalm 59:16)

My life moves at such a fast pace sometimes that it seems to pass me by before I can really enjoy it, and most of the time I'm running at least ten minutes late! As I rush around from one activity to another (usually starting another before completing the one I began with!), I seem to place all of my priorities on accomplishing tasks on my "to do" list rather than slowing down and putting joy and a positive purpose into each moment. If I don't give myself enough time to clutch and fully experience the activity I am doing, it can leave me with a feeling that my day was unfulfilled and lacking purpose. It takes some discipline on my part to slow down, stop what I am doing and reach out to God; He reminds me that I have a choice and can make the decision that I am not going to hurry and rush through my day. And once I have listened to His words of encouragement and wisdom, I am capable of having more power and effectiveness in the areas I can make a difference, and I actually accomplish more. Slowing down is a conscious choice I have to make and it's not always easy, but it leads me to a greater appreciation for the day and changes meaningless tasks to spiritual productivity and purpose.

"Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-29)

I see so many people running around in such frenzy; they think they have to multitask to accomplish more and that’s when they often miss the beauty of the moment they are in. Many of us place so much emphasis on our to-do list that we can miss our chance to live out our discipleship by making a difference in the life of another. Many times when we are with friends and family, we are distracted by all the things we need to do. What a missed opportunity! The opportunity to connect, share, and make memories with those we love. Sometimes we just need to shut off the outside world and turn all of our attention to the people we are with. We need to slow down and enjoy every moment of our worship time with God, with ourselves, friends, family, and anyone else that He has placed in our lives, and realize the importance of this precious time He has given us. 

It's difficult to know what tomorrow will bring, but time is one thing it will bring and whatever tomorrow does offer, there will be plenty of it to accomplish the important tasks we didn't complete yesterday. It's not the amount of time we have, it is what we are doing with our time! :) 

Linking up to Share His Beauty with Joan at The Beauty in His Grip   

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Living In The Light

“I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

The Christmas season is so full of brilliant lights that shine and cast a spell of wonder and jubilation. The lights remind me of the star that appeared in Bethlehem when Jesus came into the world, and the world was given the light; the light that leads to eternal life. Without this light we would never be able to find our way, because His light gives us freedom, forgiveness, and a new life. Each new day, Jesus shines His light of goodness on us all to guide and protect us. The light of Jesus draws people; it cuts through the spiritual darkness of the world and changes everything! As we were driving around and taking in the beauty of the Christmas lights in the nearby neighborhoods, I was once again reminded of how He shines His light of blessings down on us and how we should take every opportunity to shine our light for Him wherever we go. Shining our light is just one way of expressing our love in glorifying Him.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15) 

The purpose of illuminating our surroundings is to give glory to God and show everyone around us the One who gives it to us! We should put our faith as a lamp upon a stand to light up the whole room so that all may see, hear, and believe. It is our choice whether we let our light shine or keep it hidden, but when people see the light and love of a follower of Christ they are attracted to the light because they want to experience the same light. When we are radiant with the love of our Father it’s catching and it just seems to lift the spirits of those around us. When we take the time to shine our light brightly we are bringing cheer and affecting the lives of others in ways that we don’t even realize!

“For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5)   

We must never shut our lights off from the rest of the world; just knowing that He is us makes us whole and gets our beams shining, and when we are beaming nothing can contain it! Then we shine for all to see, and soon they will have caught the ray of light too and the light of God will make everything clear. Turn it on and get ready; it will be amazing!

Linking up with Tracy on Winsome Wednesday! Merry Christmas everyone! :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Control Freak!

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG)

No one likes to admit being a micromanager. It's like saying you are a bossy, controlling, ego-driven know-it-all! My daughters think they are pretty funny (actually they are!) because they came up with a song recently about me being a micro manager; complete with funny words and a tune! So, I admit it; most of my life I have been taught and expected to take control and be the assertive one, but actually their (well-intended) song got me to thinking about whether I let my life and my mind get too full of things and overlook God’s will and direction in some areas of my life. Do I make it a choice to seek God’s guidance in all things, or am I trusting my own decisions and going my own way? Does God always have my attention or is my attention drawn away by other things?

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it,” whether you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21 ESV)

The holidays can especially be a time when we feel as though there is an abundance of things to accomplish, and we rely on our own self-sufficiently to carry out our goals and tasks. They should be a joyful and blessed time of planning, shopping, decorating, writing cards, socializing, etc. but when the pressure builds we often act as though Christmas depends on our efforts alone! When we put God in charge of Christmas we remember to keep our eyes focused on the true meaning of Christmas and the spirituality and joy the season brings. When we put Him in charge, we experience a season of renewal and strength instead of stress, or anxiety. It takes faith and trust to get to that place of putting our lives and our plans into the Spirit’s hands on a daily basis. The first ingredient in living a worship-filled Christmas season is to let God control and direct us; the pressure is not always on us!

Jeremiah 10:23 says “I know Lord that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course.” Relying on God can be very effective in managing our persistent worries and anxieties, and sometimes we just have to stop and remind ourselves to be totally reliant on Him. If we trust God more with our everyday decisions and choices, and not ourselves, He will give us the guidance we need to help us. He will become the “micromanager” in our lives to help us see clearly and lead us in the way we need to go. We need to trust in God’s infinite knowledge and understanding instead of trying to figure things out and go our own way. With God managing our lives our route and destination is sure, because He knows the way. 

Linking up with Joan today to “Share His Beauty”

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Past is History

“You were taught with regard to your former way of life , to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-23)

Our past does not have to determine our future. It doesn’t mean that we agree with or condone whatever it is we have done; it just means that we no longer choose to let our past actions hold us back. And we should never think there is a limit to what God can do through us! I set limits on myself all the time, and run away in fear and doubt from plans, dreams and desires that dwell in my heart. I have done many things in my life for which I am ashamed and often find myself re-living in the past; wishing to change circumstances that can’t be changed. But God’s desire for me is to let go of my past guilt and look forward to what He will help me become. My job doesn’t end with the failures in my past! As Christians, we are in a continuing education program and must read God’s word and pray for what is good and what is pure so that we can be obedient and look forward to a fuller and more meaningful life.

“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.” (Romans 12:1-2 MSG)

What is something that you really want to do for God? What is holding you back?! Imagine that you are no longer limited by doubts and limitations that you set on yourself. Imagine that these obstacles are no longer able to hold you back. That’s God’s desire; He wants us to be transformed with renewed minds because He has good, pleasing and perfect plans for us. This is serious stuff for me! I have a rich desire and lots of great ideas to help the homeless and less fortunate people in my community, but so far it has just been that; an idea. There lies in me fear and doubt on getting the job done, and I continue to cop-out and wait for the right time and the right place. Every day I tell myself that this is the day for me to make a difference; it’s the moment to transform any confusion, skepticism, and inhibitions into magnificent opportunities and make them real! I know that many of us share these same desires to use the gifts we believe we have and move on to a fuller and more meaningful life of faith and obedience to Christ, we just need to let go of whatever it is in our past that is holding us back, because “yesterday ended last night”! 

Linking up with Tracy on Winsome Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Perfect Fit

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." (Jeremiah 1:5)

Have you ever tried to be someone you're not? In my adolescence years, trying to discover "who" I was meant many awkward attempts at trying to be someone I wasn't, and wearing shoes that just didn't fit. Many times in the past I tried to change and/or modify myself into what others wanted me to be, or to live up to other people's expectations and standards. In the growing corporate culture that I have been influenced by, the word "prospective" is a common noun. It has taken me many years and continued spiritual growth to realize that not being true to me is not a perfect fit, and that it limits my potential to express the creative and unique individual that God created me to be. God chose each one of us to be a unique expression of Himself, and He expresses Himself differently in each of our individual lives.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (Psalm 139:14)

I believe that God has a plan for me, and that He wants to use me just as I am. God's workmanship is perfect, and He has laid out and woven together every moment in my life. I may not always "like" me or my circumstances, but He has something far better in mind than anything I can come up with. Even when I feel unimportant and inferior, I need to stop and remember that God's character goes into the creation of every person, and that I must have as much respect for myself as He has for me. This is key to living the abundant life that He desires for me; seeing my self through His eyes.

"The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb He called me by name...He has hidden me in the shadow of His hand." (Isaiah 49:1)

God created in us all a unique individual as it pleased Him, and to not love, respect, and honor ourselves is to not trust and believe in His will. God considers us His masterpiece; and has always thought of us as valuable. Are you a perfect fit?

"When we must choose between pleasing others or pleasing ourselves, it is right to please others. But when the choice is between pleasing others and pleasing God, pleasing others is wrong." (Unknown)

Linking up with Tracy today on Winsome Wednesday :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Release and Recieve

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

I watched a video called "The Land Between", a message presented by Jeff Manion. It was such a powerful and thought provoking message, however there was one phrase he used that impacted me the most and made me so aware of how essential it is in our Christian lives. The catchphrase was "Release and Receive."

When we give all we have to God, we can receive all  He has to give! As I experience a day with abounding disappointment, annoyance, anxiety, heartbreak...or just distraction (!), I need to open my hands and leave them open to receive! God wants me to experience all that so that I will trust Him; trust Him enough to listen to Him and go His way. He is so much bigger than all of my anxieties put together. Why is it so natural for me to cling to worries and distractions rather than pausing and waiting for God to take charge and lead and direct me?

"Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." (Psalm 55:22)

Sometimes there are twists and turns in the path we travel down, and we need the light of God to walk down that path with faith and assurance. Often the truth is that for many Christians, even though we belong to God through faith in Christ, we still seem to experience doubt and confusion when releasing our cares and concerns to Him and receiving His outstretched hand. But it's really not hard at all, because He is able and willing to take them all! It happens to me all the time; I get caught up in worrying about someone or something and try to figure out a reason or solution before I open His word and my heart to prayer. But once I have entered the end of my path and release it all to God, I experience a feeling of peace and acceptance that completely washes over me and lights my way. What joy! What relief! What took me so long?

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." (Psalm 37:4-6)

I know that God wants me to release everything to Him and trust in Him to provide. I need to pause and wait for His response and let Him take charge of my concerns. It's all in His hands. :)

Linking up with “The Beauty in His Grip” today and “Sharing His Beauty”

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankful in Advance

“You will be made rich 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 NIV)

I have been making a special effort to say “thanks” to God for every special blessing He has in store for me…before I see or realize the blessing. I read a phrase not too long ago that stuck in my mind and has given me so much inspiration…..”Before we ask you for anything we want to thank you for everything.” Not only should I give Him thanks after an answered prayer or blessing, it nourishes my faith to thank Him beforehand, because my faith sees God for who He is before He has to prove it or show me! I’ve always been very thankful to God for what He has done in my life, and prayed for His guidance and direction for what He will do, but to be thankful in advance for how He is going to work all things together for my good gives me the assurance that I need every day that He wants to give me what is best; His good and perfect will.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:11-12)

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling truly thankful and announcing it out loud?  It is contagious, and creates an atmosphere that is more positive for not only me, but those around me. It makes me a more likable and uplifting person to be around! But many times we wake up thinking about everything we have to get done that day, or worried about something or someone and feeling overwhelmed.  This can create a negative mindset from the very start of our day and be contagious to those around us. So what if we started to be thankful for just one thing every time we wake up in the morning? When our hearts and minds are open to receive, our actions and outlook begin to change, and we open ourselves up to appreciate and accept every blessing with grace and sincere appreciation. So now when I wake up in the morning, not only am I making an effort to be thankful for that which has already been given to me, but in addition, thanking God for what He has in store for me! The Bible says that, “it is because of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.”(Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV) Let's offer thanksgiving to God in advance for what He is going to do and for the prayers yet to be answered. :)

“When you thank God in advance for that which you choose to experience in your reality, you, in effect, acknowledge that it is there. Thankfulness is thus the most powerful statement to God; an affirmation that even before you ask, He has answered. Therefore, never supplicate. Appreciate.” (Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations With God, Book I)

Linking up with Tracy from "My Daily Walk In His Grace" on Winsome Wednesday! :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Friends That Stick Together

“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Our special close friends and relationships are one of the most precious and delightful gifts that God has blessed us with here on earth, and I think that He often speaks through a friend to offer us guidance, laughter, and joy to help us grow. One of the most important things a friend can do is….listen and be supportive, offering encouragement and positive reinforcement when we going through a challenging situation, or when we are sharing a moment of happiness. Looking back at my thankful journal this week I realize just how many times I thanked God for a time spent or a conversation with a special friend. I feel like they have all been carefully selected for me, and that God has placed each and every one into my life for a special reason. I can’t imagine a day going by without heartfelt fellowship and interaction with the friends that He has placed in my life. The ties of friendship are strengthened by both adversity and joy, and we must nurture, enjoy, and protect them.

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in the community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care-then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.” (Philippians 2:1-2)

I believe that God has given us the freedom and privilege to share and give, and to take advantage of the energy that flows through our life and relationships by participating and interacting with others. When we give the gift of friendship or when we share with someone who is lonely or unhappy we can feel the presence of God flow through us with love and compassion. When I do a good deed for someone it puts love in action! When I give myself away, I can just feel a passage opening up and allowing an abundance of happiness and grace in my heart that no one can ever steal from me. :) Too many times circumstances or the business of my life distracts me from giving and sharing myself with others, but when I do give it results in an experience of love, joy, peace, and caring. We should always be accessible and prepared to be available for our friends, even if we are far away and can only communicate by phone, email, or written correspondence. There are many people who need our friendship, and we should ask God to reveal them to us and seek to become one.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

When we work together, caring for each other, we are an example of Christ putting other’s first, and we experience unity. After all, we are not here on earth only to serve ourselves, but to serve God and others! When we reach outside ourselves for the benefit of another, the satisfaction we experience is so indwelling, and the result can be self-healing; a reflection of hope for ourselves!

Linking up with Heart And Soul Pursuits~A Collection of Proverbs

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The Beauty In His Grip~Sharing His Beauty 

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Guard Your Tongue

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” (Proverbs 11:13)

Do you ever find yourself speaking unkind words about someone? It's so easy (and sometimes contagious!) to get caught up in idle chatter and criticize or point out others flaws. Gossip is human nature and avoiding it can be so hard when you are in a group or confronted head on with it. But is it really healthy to gossip about other people in order to socially engage ourselves with our peers? Why is it so entertaining for people to sit around examining the hardships, difficulties, or differences of others? Sadly, some people thrive on this and just look for opportunities to destroy others. I find myself in these situations often, and my negative thoughts and hurtful words leave me feeling ashamed and remorseful. In 2 Timothy, we are reminded to avoid foolish discussions that lead to more and more ungodliness, and are useless and harmful. The uncontrolled tongue can do terrible damage, and we can't stop the results once it has spoken or reverse the damage it can do.

"Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation." (1 Peter 2:1-3)

Gossip can enter a conversation with no fair warning, so when I catch myself or others speaking unkind words about someone, I know I need to turn the conversation around and make a positive remark about that person instead. :) If I am exposed or engaged in an uncomfortable situation that involves rumors and slander, I'm pretty sure I can choose to remove myself! The choice is mine, and it's not always easy to guard our tongues and refrain from the sinful act of gossip, but if we surrender our natural desires to the Lord, He will help us to remain righteous. I constantly need to examine myself for symptoms of critical and hurtful talk, and pray to God for guidance that He will purify my heart and give me self-control so that I speak words that are pleasing to Him.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

Linking up with Heart and Soul Pursuits in a Collection of Proverbs!

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