Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We Have a Lot to Shout About!

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.” (Psalm 100:1-2)

  • Music is a vital part of our devotion to God, (whether we are in church, at home, or singing out loud in our cars!) and brings us into His presence and prepares us for worship. It creates an atmosphere of joy that flows from a pure heart and a humble spirit.
“Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains, forests, and every tree!” (Isaiah 44:23)

  • A joyful noise means singing, shouting, and clapping unto God. He is awesome, and we need to shout about and let Him know every day that we are thankful for everything He has done!
“Shout to the Lord, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy!” (Psalm 98:4)

  • Songs are emotional, and affect us in a way that spoken words can’t. They help us to respond to God and His people, fill our hearts with joy and gladness, and cause us to lift our hands in praise!
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

  • Joy comes as we offer up to God the worship and praise of our hearts. Worship is giving to God the adoration, praise and thanksgiving of our hearts. We should be singing to God at all times because He has done marvelous things!
“Praise the Lord! How good to sing praises to our God! How delightful and how fitting!” (Psalm 147:1)

  • Worship is loving God, connecting with God, and giving God thanks for who He is and what He has done for us. Why would we not sing out loud for the joy of it, as a gratitude?
“I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” (Hebrews 2:12)

  • When we sing to each other, we are building each other up. As we sing to each other about God and His love for us, we are expressing our thankful relationship to each other; it is one of the most enthusiastic ways we can communicate!
“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” (Psalms 95:1-2)

  • God tells us that singing will be an important part of worshiping Him in Heaven when we are gathered around Him at the throne. We need to stay in “practice”, and keep in constant song to express our desire to seek God with all of our heart and to love Him with an everlasting love until that glorious day we meet Him face to face!

Linking up today with Tracy at Winsome Wednesday!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Find Your Passion

"To be alive is to find your passion and pursue it with all your heart."

Passion can be defined in many different ways, and we show it through our own unique gifts, emotions, feelings, and/or desires. It has always been my passion to organize and plan my day so that I can get the very most out of it. I enjoy being productive and having lots of energy, and at the end of every day, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have accomplished everything that I set out to do? I think that deep down we all have a desire to make a difference and to know that we are fulfilling a purpose that is bigger than ourselves. It gives us the strength to get through any day with a feeling of genuine appreciation and accomplishment. Many of us can make a difference through words of encouragement, our testimonies, planning a fun event, or just taking the time to sit share, and listen. Whatever we love to do or whatever we are good at becomes our talent. It has always been my belief that when we help others, we are helping ourselves and living the life and character that God has created us to live. God wants us to live as Jesus did, loving one another and sharing our love especially with those who don't know a passion for Jesus. This will create in us the strongest, most emotional passion of love possible; and we should continue to search within ourselves to share His love daily.

“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 12:2 MSG)

What are you called to do? When you’re passionate about something, you don’t mind working hard at it. I love what Louis Giglio wrote in his book The Air I Breathe..."No wonder the whole world is filled with worshipers. Every last one of us has been created with a searching soul designed that way by God so that we would find no rest until we find our rest in Him." Our genuine beauty comes through our passionate desire to live a life with purpose, and we are fulfilled when we live out God’s plan for us. We must be willing to be exposed to many trials in order to discover our greatest passion. He knows what passions lie undiscovered, and He knows how deeply He must go to refine us. He has a call for each of us!  When we believe that we are here for a reason, we can release and let go of any doubts, reservations, or fear and grab hold of the talents we were destined to have. The end result is a life of peaceful love and accomplishment. We all have a passion within us, and we must allow God to reveal it!

“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21 NLT)

Linking up with Joan to "Share His Beauty"

Beauty in His Grip Button

Friday, February 24, 2012

True Friends Leave Footprints

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand,
nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship;
it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one
when he discovers that someone else believes in him
and is willing to trust him. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Isn’t it a blessing that God puts loving and faithful family & friends in our path so that we can hold one another up as we go through misfortune, sickness, or sorrow? I think God has placed some pretty special people in my life who have impacted my life forever, and shown me examples of how to be forgiving, loving, helpful, faithful, and kind. We all have people who have affected our lives, whether from a distance, a kind and generous word, or a good deed. And God has carefully chosen them to shape us into who we are and influence our character. I have been blessed with a lot of thoughtful care and support recently due to illness, while have at the same time witnessed genuine faith, courage and trust in a friend who is beginning a journey of surgery and treatments for cancer; her belief and hope are such an encouragement!

Greater love has no one than this; that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

…people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime

Who do we call when…
                   …..we need advice
                             …..we need a shoulder to lean on
                                      …..we want to share joyful news
                                                …..we need to get away and play!

It’s so important to carefully choose the people we associate with because they have such an influence in our lives. Our real friends and family are people who stick by us no matter what “moment” we are living in, because they care about us…they love us…they understand us…they rejoice with us…they suffer with us!  We are blessed when they also have pure hearts that love the Lord so that they can encourage and motivate us to stumble and not fall; rejoice and sing praises out loud. They help us to clearly see and fulfill the vision that God puts into our hearts. They may seem like a Godsend, and they are! The bible tells us to choose our friends carefully, and when we allow God’s intervention, one of the first things we may see is that He starts pruning out those He doesn’t want in our lives, and bringing in those He does.

The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of
the wicked leads them astray (Proverbs 12:26)

My family and friends near, my wonderful blogger friends, and my family and friends far, have given me endless faith, encouragement, and support; they have brought me peace and happiness that I could never experience otherwise! The encouragement we give to each other blesses each of us in a unique and special way, and we must always protect and embrace it!

.Let us never give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-
and all the more as you see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

He Uses Storms to Make Rainbows

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT)

A very special friend of mine received confirmation that she has a very aggressive form of breast cancer, one that requires immediate treatment.  Her doctor set up appointments with the surgeon and oncologist and informed her and her husband that she will require surgery, chemo and radiation. This sudden news caught me completely off guard, and immediately I called on the One who is able to conquer all, because when everything around us seems like it is crumbling, we are able to see God like never before. I am reminded of how we face a lot of unexpected storms and unpredictable circumstances in our lives; things may be going well and WHAM, a storm comes rolling in! There are many storms that we have to face in life that can leave us scared, devastated, and lonely. Many of them can leave us feeling totally helpless and abandoned, but I know that every experience that God exposes us to is meant to make us stronger. He is our “umbrella” of hope, waiting to offer shelter and protection through even the stormiest of situations.

 “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1 NLT)

There are many of us who are going through some kind of a battle in which we just can’t see the end in sight; we live in a world in which there are so many unexpected pains and challenges that it can be overwhelming. We can either rise to the challenges we face or we can let them push us down. Are we asking God where He is in all of this? I am sure His reply would be that even in the most turbulent conditions we encounter, we must keep our minds on His Word and His promises because He is the light in the midst of the storm. What is our response? If we think for a moment that God doesn’t have our situation under control, then we need to think again! We will not be defeated because we are a conqueror through Christ and He is not about to let us fail.

“The way a rainbow springs out of the sky on a rainy day-that’s what it was like, it turned out to be the Glory of God! (Ezekiel 1:28 MSG)

When the darkness of a storm surrounds us, is it possible to not be anxious about anything? There is nothing too difficult for our God, and every trial and situation we endure is allowed by Him for a purpose. And the truth is that the strength to cope with every painful burden is with us in Christ! God reveals His power to us through all of our painful situations and struggles, and we have to remember that no matter how terrible the storm there’s a rainbow waiting to manifest itself! “For every storm there is a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer.” (Irish Proverb)

Dear Lord, I pray that you make your promise and your hope real to my loving friend who is struggling in a painful circumstance, and that You will help her to know that You are with her no matter how weary she becomes. Strengthen her in Your will, and give her peace to hold onto Your truth. Amen

Linking up with Tracy at My Daily Walk in His Grace

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Abounding Faith

“Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” (Corrie ten Boom)

Do you stand firm in your faith? It can be challenging, right? It may be a long hard climb, and a long wait clouded by fear and doubt. But genuine faith is strengthened when we wait and believe that God’s promise will be fulfilled. There really should never be any doubt in my mind that God is always listening to my requests, desires, and dreams. True faith is never blind; instead we should all have abounding faith that is overflowing with the kind of trust we have in God that harbors no doubt, and asks no questions. Awesome thought isn’t it; to have faith so abounding with assurance and confidence, that we can blindly believe, trust, and follow God’s word and faithfully wait for Him to take care of our problems and concerns? How comforting to know that we can just sit back and wait for God to handle things for us! Faith is the victory in overcoming anxiety. We can go to sleep at night and wake up without a single burden because we know our burdens are on His shoulders.

“The fundamental act of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.” (Hebrews 11:1-3 MSG)

I know that are many times I let circumstances dictate the path I take. But if I will just wait to receive God’s word, I can turn my eyes away from the circumstance and focus on the greatness and faithfulness of God. It just makes no sense for me to cast my cares on God and then take them back again! I am perfectly content knowing that He is in charge, so why do I still have the urge to self-manage my life sometimes? How much easier would my life be if I would trust God with the results in all of my life circumstances? 

“It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6-MSG)

The only way God is going to have trust and faith in me, is if I approach Him with boundless faith, and actually walk the life of faith by putting it into action. By reaching out with the most abounding faith and confidence, I can be assured that His power can accomplish all things. Our genuine faith allows us to believe that God is true and trustworthy and can be relied upon completely. Faith gives us the assurance that God is able to fulfill all His promises, and it builds confidence, permitting us to place our life in God’s care for safekeeping.

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22 ESV)

Linking up with Joan today in Sharing His Beauty...

Beauty in His Grip Button

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

He Loved Us First

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up. It never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
(I Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT)

What is the greatest commandment? Loving God with everything we have, and then others as ourselves. Now I have to admit, I struggle with the second part of His commandment at times; it’s so easy to love people when they are loveable, but not so easy when they’re not. Face it; some people just make it difficult to love them at all times! However, I know that I am accountable for my attitude and actions toward them, and I know I have to focus on the value of each individual as seen through the eyes of God. When God tells us that love is patient and kind, He means that we can’t become irritable when others fail to our expectations; He means that we are to look for the best in them and build them up instead of tearing them down. When we love the unlovable, we are demonstrating God’s type of love, because love comes from God.

“You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important; love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

Love is exhibited by our acts of tolerance and not easily offended. Love cares more about others than it does for ourselves! It’s so important to try and understand other people by placing ourselves in each other’s shoes. While loving others is not always that easy, we don’t have to do it alone , we can follow Christ’s example and rely on the grace of God to support our journey! John Burke wrote "Jesus made it clear that what matters most to God, second only to staying in loving connection to Him, is how we love people.” We exhibit love to one another by remembering that God first loved us. We should concentrate on all we can do to show our love for God and others. One of my favorite worship songs is “One Thing Remains” because of the powerful message that His love never fails, never gives up, and never runs out on me! His love is stronger than anything or any circumstance, and He just won’t let us go! We were created to do two things on earth; learn to love God and learn to love all people, and once we are secure in His love for us, we can be more forgiving, understanding and patient with even the hardest of those to love.

“We love because He first loved us” (I John 4:19)

Linking up with Debbie today at Heart Choices!

Heart Choices

Monday, February 13, 2012

Setting Our Priorities

“Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: Give careful thought to your ways.  You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” (Haggai 1:5-6 NIV)   
  • We are pressured and pushed from all sides in our daily schedules
  • We find ourselves rushing through life to attend the necessary 
  • We soon have little left to give as we run out of energy

Do you ever get frustrated trying to prioritize all the demands put upon you, always trying to make everything and everyone perfect and happy? Sometimes the harder we work at fulfilling all our passions and promises, the less we have because we are ignoring our spiritual lives. Multi-tasking is a word we hear almost daily; the pressure we feel to do as many things as possible to acquire more stuff and please more people has become the “new normal”. In a world that is moving too fast, and living in a culture that places so many demands on our time, we must decide Who and What are really the most important things in our life, and not allow things or conditions to side-track us away from God’s claim on our life and priorities. What have we done with the resources that have been made available to us? Have we been faithful in the tasks that have been assigned? 

  • He wants to be the One who sets the priorities…
  • He wants us to give ourselves daily to Him…
  • He wants to be first in everything we do…
“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)

Our # 1 priority in life should be to live with a passion and purpose to grow into a deeper, more satisfying relationship with God. And our priorities are reflected in how we use our resources; if we aren’t putting God first and aren’t finding enough time for Him and His word because of our busy schedules, then it’s time to give our “to-do” lists a major overhaul!  We were created to have fellowship and experience God’s plans for our lives, but sometimes because of our stubborn self-will, we choose to go our own independent way. But when God is in His rightful place in our schedules, our time will be more productive and we will harvest more in less time; we will find that our stress level is less. He wants us to honor and obey Him, following His direction and putting all else aside. Jesus calls us to a higher mission than to worry about finding comfort, personal, and material things in this life; our busy schedules and ways can be self-serving and used as an excuse not to serve God or do His work, and we have the choice to make time for Him and keep our schedules and lives in perfect and complete balance.

Linking up with Joan to “Share His Beauty”

Beauty in His Grip Button