Saturday, May 25, 2013

Don't Stop Knocking

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

Have you ever stopped to visit someone, knocked on their door, and no one answers? It’s obvious that someone is home because there are cars in the driveway, you can hear music coming from the stereo, and the dog is barking. It can be very frustrating when we have something to say and no one will open the door and listen! Or maybe we are knocking on the wrong door; ever done that? We keep knocking on that door and we finally just give up and walk away! Often this is the way we pray; we ask for something and when we don’t get an answer immediately, or we don’t like the answer that is sent to us we give up and walk away. We really don’t know what to do because we have prayed, and we are confused and discouraged because we haven’t seen or heard an answer to our request, so we simply quit asking and decide we will figure things out for ourselves.

“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:8)

All of us have been in a situation that required perseverance, and I believe that God often delays answers to our prayers to cultivate persistence in us.  We have to approach every closed door that we come to until the right door opens; we need to keep knocking until we get an answer. The very fact that we continue to ask, seek, and knock demonstrates that we are truly dependent on God; true prayer means business, and it keeps on asking and asking with persistence and faith. God is waiting for the persistent prayers of His people, and for those who continue to knock, the door will be opened.      

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)

Sometimes it is hard to keep going in prayer. We struggle with doubts, and things start crowding into our lives and distract us from faithful prayer. Sometimes we cry out to silence and feel like no one is there, but He is there! Faith shouldn’t die if the answers come slowly; the delay may be God’s way of working His will in our lives. He always answers our prayers in one of three ways…


                             …Not yet…

                                       …I have something better for you…

…maybe not in ways we had hoped, but in ways that He knows are best. He doesn’t always give us what we ask for right away; our patience has to be stretched in order to grow and become stronger, and He will make us wait in order for us to grow. His ways may not look like our ways, but they are always better than our ways.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)

Whether we have prayed once, twice, or countless times, and even if we find ourselves discouraged, we need an attitude of persistence, bound by obedience, to pray again and again. He longs to reach out His hands to our needs as long as we keep asking… keep seeking…and keep knocking. If we keep pursuing, we will see God’s promise in clear view, so we have to keep on knocking until the promised door is open, because only God opens doors that no one can shut!
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Home Brew

“Every wise woman builds up her household, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” (Proverbs 14:1)

I am sure you have heard it said many times that if Mama ain’t happy, no one is! Do you create happy in your home?

It’s been said that the woman sets the tone for the home, yet all too often we use every bit of energy we possess to be cheerful, outgoing, and “all together” during our busy days interacting with co-workers, volunteers, social activities, etc. Or maybe we have experienced a day of extreme business, tension, conflict, and anxiety. Regardless of the circumstances, by the time we arrive home we are often exhausted and our good moods have been wiped out (we may even be a little on the grouchy side!) We often just need some alone and quiet time; we certainly aren’t in the mood to fulfill our responsibilities to home and family.

Sound familiar? What’s brewing in your home?

Even though it can be difficult to sustain a joyful and uplifting atmosphere at home, (and let’s face it, most of us just aren’t equipped to be a “Martha”!) the attitudes we walk into the door with and the simple things we do, set the mood in our homes. Wouldn’t we all like to be the perfect model of the Proverbs 31 Woman, better known to some as a woman of noble character?

I can just imagine my day going like this…

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." (31:26)

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” (31:28)

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” (31:25)

How would our lives and the lives of our families be different if we took greater care with our attitudes when we enter our homes? If we valued our time spent with them every bit as much as the time we spend encouraging and working with others? Our homes and our families are one of the most sacred places; a place where our language should be full of wisdom and kindness, support and praise. It’s a place where our husbands and our children can look to us for encouragement, trust, understanding, and diligence.

Is that what is brewing in your home?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (I Corinthians 13:4,5,7)

Sometimes we just have to ask ourselves what (or maybe who) is so important that it would keep us from wanting to brew happiness and encouragement to our family? When we love, respect, and lift up our husbands and children as the Bible instructs us in 1 Corinthians 13, we are fulfilling not only the greatest need in their lives, but also ours to unite us into one. Being a wife and mother is a high calling and it bears eternal value; we should embrace this role that God has assigned to us.  There are always going to be times when we just want to lock ourselves in the bathroom just for a moment of sanity and quiet, but if we haven’t taken the time to serve and share ourselves with our loved ones; if our homes aren’t a place of peace, love, and joy, then we are not fulfilling our God given purpose. What we brew in our homes should be mixed with love, honor and respect and we should embrace (and sing praises!) all of our work with joy , with purpose, and with value.
I am thankful to be guest posting this week at Tracy’s (a beautiful friend and sister in Christ!) on “Encourage 24/7”
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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Aging With Grace

“Oh God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me oh God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.” (Psalm 71:17-18 NLT)

Is aging just a bunch of bad news? Absolutely not (even though some days can surely be challenging)! There are some days when the older we get we can feel this way, but even though age may stop us from certain activities or make us feel left behind, it never ends our desire to tell others about the wonderful grace of God, and everything we have seen God do in our many years of life.  Getting older is not a time to merely exist, but a time to grow and bloom and age with grace. It is a time we discover our true selves; the persons we were created to be. We all know what a mature Christian looks like; they will have the fruit of the spirit: love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  A mature Christian is someone who has been on this journey for a while; they are bearing fruit and are content and satisfied with Jesus. In the Bible, the aged are perceived as resourceful people with valuable gifts to share for the good of everyone; and both the blessings and responsibilities of aging are to be accepted with gratitude and in a sense of stewardship.

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” (Acts20:24 NLT)

What do you see happening in your life over the next few years? Do you have a vision? What is more important to you-what you get out of life or what you put into it? Here are some thoughts on aging:
Becoming older means accumulating and cherishing precious memories.

Becoming older means keeping all doors and options open and not hesitating to try new things.

Becoming older is the opportunity to be still, and in that stillness, become more and more conscious of the timeless happiness and freedom we have received in His grace.

Becoming older is to hold on to an attitude of blessing, love, and support for others — and to express it in a tangible form.

Becoming older is the opportunity to become more and more aware of the wonder and magic present in even the most humble moment.

Becoming older means taking care of our bodies so that we can feel stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.
Becoming older means that time is running out and what are we waiting for????

The scriptures are full of promises of how we are blessed as we age, so growing old should be occasion to rejoice with a deepened commitment to do whatever the Lord enables one us do. What does God expect of us as we age? His plan for us as we mature is to develop a walk that involves habits of trust, praise, and hope with a lifestyle that nourishes and feeds the many wonderful people that crossed our lives. We can serve as mentors, teaching wisdom and virtue. And above all else…we can love. Love remains our last and best gift to others. The time of old age can be a joyful time of harvest if we have sown the seeds of good fruit.

“Old is authentic. Old is genuine. Old is valuable.” (Billy Graham)

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hot, Cold, or Lukewarm?

We might be lukewarm if we…

…tend to choose popular over what is right

          …neglect to share our faith with family, friends, and neighbors

                    …desire approval from others more than from God

                             …continuously find ourselves “playing it safe”

…consider praying as a last resort

These are just a few signs of a lukewarm Christian!

“He who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 6-8)

Have you ever thought about the many benefits of hot and cold water? We typically enjoy drinking liquids that are either hot or cold. Additionally, hot water boosts our immunity and can act as a natural remedy to remove toxins and waste from our bodies, while cold water increases blood flow and has many benefits for numerous health conditions; both hot and cold water have therapeutic and even culinary uses. Lukewarm water on the other hand is barely warm, unpleasant, and useless. And just as we find lukewarm water the least appealing of all, God finds lukewarm Christians the most distasteful kind of believer.

·         Hot water people are full of passion and are on fire for God; they devote themselves to the works of Christ, share their faith, love, and enthusiasm.

·         Coldwater people are those who are wondering, lost and just need to be reached.

·         The lukewarm Christian is one who does everything halfheartedly, and who is described as unauthentic and hypocritical. Their spiritual needs are more concerned with physical and worldly needs, and they only rely and follow God half way.

The bible makes it very clear; being a lukewarm Christian is not considered good in the eyes of the Lord. When He deals with the lukewarm believer, He is angered by his half way measures!

“So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot not cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16)

We might be lukewarm if we…

…say we love God, but don’t allow Him to control our lives…

…focus only on our own daily agendas and to-do lists…

          …require worldly pleasures, and give out our left-overs…

                   …don’t trust God when the unexpected happens…

                             …lack conviction or enthusiasm…

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? (Matthew 5:13)

The good news is that there is a cure for lukewarm Christians! If we have grown too comfortable or self-reliant we must recognize our condition and have a sincere desire to change. When we ask the Lord to help us with this battle, He will be willing as long as we are faithful and obedient. He is more than willing to discipline and correct our attitude in order for us to repent and be on fire for Him again. With all of our hearts we have to make sure that no relationship, selfish interest, worldly possession, or profession falls from the desire to give God all the glory. We have to keep striving and advancing toward the highest standard of excellence, and in everything we think or do praise His name. When we allow God to change our priorities and attitudes, He will lead us on to reach the reward of our high calling. We must think the thoughts of His Word with Him and do that which would please Him. He won’t allow us to remain lukewarm if the desires of our hearts are to serve Him with joy and all our strength!

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