Below are a few of the previous posts published during my initial blog experience. I chose a few of my favorites to share here. Hope you enjoy.
Let It Rain
Have you ever thought of troubles as a blessing? Life is not trouble-free, so we all have trials. In fact, troubles will be multiplied because we are Christ-followers. But can troubles be a blessing? Troubles, like rain, can be a blessing when our drought-dry hearts need God.
Until just a week ago, my hometown was suffering from a lack of rain. Brief periods of precipitation dotted the past few months, but there had been no real downpour. Without rain, the ground turned hard, and dust blew through the air. Our lawn changed from a lush emerald- green to a sad shade of yellow. As the days grew short and the nights grew cool, the leaves on the dogwood tree in our front yard did not turn flaming red as they usually do in autumn. Instead, the leaves simply turned brown and dropped to the ground as if they were too tired to hang on. Flowers withered and disappeared. Despite my constant watering and attention, possible blooms decided to hide until the weather changed. You get the picture--the weather was dry, and the ground was thirsty.
When I thought all hope of refreshment was gone, the weatherperson predicted rain for the weekend. Usually, I would have been annoyed about the appearance of rain in the forecast for the weekend. I had plans. I always have plans for the weekend and rain would usually mess with my plans. Not this time, I welcomed the rain. Let it rain, let it rain.
My spiritual life can get like the recent dirt-dry weather. I can go along with the same expectations for each day. New day, same forecast. Read my Bible, pray, move on, and on Sundays go to church. After a while, my heart gets hard and dusty. No bumps in the road. No major problems. Without knowing or noticing, I have begun to wander away from seeking God. In no time, I have lost track of God’s presence. Where did He go?
He did not go anywhere. He is unchanging, faithful and never leaves us alone. What changed was my attitude toward seeking His presence. In my “heart drought,” I began to rely on myself and the resources at hand to make it through each day. No problems, no troubles…I got this.
I needed some rain, and God sent troubles.
I am not the only one who ever needed trouble to bring my thoughts and drought-hardened heart back to God. The Israelites, God’s chosen people, turned from God and lived for themselves repeatedly. Many times in the Old Testament, the Israelites needed a reminder of God’s presence and power. In most cases, the reminder came in the form of sort of trouble--an enemy, captivity, or physical need. It was in the midst of these troubles they returned to God and were blessed. In the book of Malachi, God reminds His people that He has never changed, if fact, that is the reason they escaped destruction although they continued to disobey. It is us that moves away, not God. “Now return to me, and I will return to you…” (Malachi 3:6-7)
Not all troubles, however, are a rebuke to turn our attention back to God. Troubles should remind us of who God is. Troubles create an opportunity for us to know God like we do not in times of relative calm. It is in the midst of troubles that we find God and experience his love, grace, mercy and peace. We feel His love when we are comforted during the loss of a loved one. His grace is visible when we need the means to endure pain and difficulties of any kind. We experience his mercy when we admit our failure. Peace comes when we trust Him to work out trials in a way that gives Him glory. Troubles let us live in the midst of God’s presence.
The apostles knew troubles, too, yet considered each trial a blessing. Jesus’ brother James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds…” (James 1:2) Troubles, trials, and difficulties help us rely on God and remain in His presence. Next time the weatherperson predicts rain, or you see a storm coming, look for the blessing of God’s presence and experience His love, grace, mercy, and peace.
Everyone has a monogram. Everyone has two or three initials that represent your full name. A monogram is shorthand for who you are. Currently it is fashionable to display that monogram on just about everything from polo shirts, pillows, and purses to dishes and doors. And I like to be trendy, so my family name initial is proudly displayed on the front door of our home. There is a large white "T" hanging where a wreath should go.
A proper monogram is also important. When my husband and I were choosing a name for our son, we were careful not give him a monogram that spelled something silly, like “rat,” or “ant.” A monogram tells the world to whom we belong. Our son was born into our family and his monogram includes our name. I belong to my husband and therefore display the first initial of his last name, the letter “T,” in my monogram. However, if I want the world to know who I really am, I should add the letter “G.”
The letter “G” more accurately represents my family name. I belong to the family of God and if you are a “Jesus Girl” like me, you do, too. In Ephesians 1:5 Paul writes about our adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ. We were given a new name. In fact, it is God’s pleasure and will that we are his children. Read 1 John 3:1:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of
God! And that is what we are!
I spent many years not believing I was a member of God’s family and I mostly acted like I didn’t belong either. I was your textbook case prodigal daughter. Examples of selfish choices and outright rebellion are scattered throughout my past. My life looked more like I belonged to a gang than to God. But God didn’t give up on me. In Isaiah 49 God reminds his people that He has not forgotten them. “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hand,” He reminds. Like a perfect father, He was always there. Through the years of sin, He was there quickening my heart to remember my family name and return to him. When I reached the end of myself, just like the prodigal son, I returned. Not to scorn and shame but to open arms and blessings.
My story and so many like it, prove we are always His children. Once we are adopted by God and become a “Jesus Girl” (or guy), we are His for always and share in the inheritance with his Son, Jesus. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Believe me, I have tried. Your proof and certificate of adoption can be found in the Word of God. Look at Ephesians 1:13-15:
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of
your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy
Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are
God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
We should start a new fashion trend. All us girls of God (and guys) should start adding “G” to our monograms. People would ask, “What does the “G” stand for?” That question could open the door to an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with someone who needs a new monogram. Or, you may need a new monogram for yourself. Jesus is waiting for you to accept the offer of adoption into the family of God and get your new name, child of God.
Prayer: Father, Abba, God, thank you for adopting us as your children. You lavish immeasurable love on us, your children. We did nothing for it, nor can we do enough to repay you. We are saved because of your great love. Although we try, I did, to make you stop loving us, it will never happen. Your love endures forever. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
ONE WORD: BEGINNING
December 1, 2014
I'm “In the beginning God…” Genesis 1:1
You have to start somewhere and the beginning is a good place… well…to begin. And so, this is the beginning of my effort to share how one word can inspire, encourage, teach, enlighten, and brighten our lives as well as convict, rebuke, and restore. God’s Word, is filled with thousands upon thousands of words meant as a specific lesson for every reader. It is while I am in God’s Word where I am most struck by a single word. Almost every time I read my Bible, a single word will leap from a line of scripture and I know God is teaching me a lesson. Sometimes the word can be as simple as the word “all.” Three little letters represent a huge amount of whatever it refers to. Scripture says “cast all your cares…” With such a small word God is commanding us to leave everything to Him and most of us have a lot to leave in His hands. Other times it might be a word like “Ebenezer.” Not really a word that comes up in conversation but means “stone of help.” God’s everlasting kindness has been my “Ebenezer” in times of despair. My hope is to share with you what I have learned from one word and encourage you to find your own “one word.”
Please know that I do not profess to be a Bible scholar, although I love to read and study the Bible and I love God with all my being. In fact, most of my Bible knowledge comes from a passionate love of the Word of God and an eagerness to learn all I can about scripture. Over the past several years I have completed just about every Beth Moore women’s bible study every published. When I couldn’t find a subject covered by Beth’s Living Proof Ministries, I would turn to various other Lifeway writers. Along the way I dragged every willing and unwilling woman in my small church congregation. I can hear their groans now as I consider a new Bible study for the spring. So, although I am not a documented Bible scholar, every word I hope to discuss here I will look at through the lens of God’s revelation and leading.
This being the first installment, it seemed appropriate to begin with “beginning.”
As most of us know, “beginning” is one of the first four words of the Bible…
Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God…”
The word “beginning” implies that something that was happening stopped and something new began. To begin something new we stop doing something old. For instance, because I was gaining weight, I stopped eating sweets and began exercising most days. However, God does not have a beginning, or an end for that matter. He was, is and always will be. He did not stop doing anything to begin creating the universe. It is for us, His creations, a beginning was created.
In John 1:1-2, the apostle John writes,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.”
So you see, because God knew from the beginning we would need redemption He already had a plan in place. That plan was Jesus.
Thankfully we are blessed with many “beginnings.” Marriages are the beginnings of a new life together. New jobs are the beginnings of new careers. Accepting Jesus as your Savior is a new beginning and a new life as well. My “beginning” came when I surrendered my life to Jesus as a little girl. I lost my way more than once but Jesus showed up every time and offered me a new beginning. He offers us forgiveness and the opportunity to stop doing something old and begin something new. Are you ready to stop the old and begin the new? If you have already begun a new beginning, tell us your story below. Until next time, thank you for joining me for this beginning and please come back in a few days for the next one word installment.