Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Four Step Plan to Experiencing Spritiual Success!

I am always excited to share with you what God is placing on my heart and teaching me. But this week I am especially excited! God revealed to me the other morning during my alone time with Him the very truth that I have been in search of for a long time now. I have asked God and pondered many times in the past the following question: Why do some Christians experience the abundant life that the Bible talks about, having joy and peace and contentment in life, and other Christians never reach that point? I have pondered this question because I want that life and I have made the decision to not settle for anything less. This particular morning God showed me something amazing. He showed me in His Word a 4 step plan to experience spiritual success and He the reason that most Christians never experience a life full of the fruit of the Spirit and contentment.

Romans 5:3-4 says this: “Not only so,” this refers to the fact that was stated before in verse 2 that we can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. But it goes on to say this in verse 3, “but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that...” now pay attention to this part closely. This is what I will be discussing and expanding on. “...suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Now, if you are like me, you have read this a million times and it just kind of got lost on you. It did me. But God in His goodness and grace opened my eyes to the deep importance of this verse! He has given us in this verse a simple 4 step plan to experience spiritual success! How exciting is that! Okay, stay with me and I will explain. We are going to take each step one at a time. Each step is one of the words listed in the above verse, suffering, perseverance, character and hope. My prayer is that when you are finished reading this God will have opened your eyes to see the sufferings of life in a different and new way and that you will be more aware of the importance of following God in all situations. Here we go!

Step 1) Suffering. This word in other areas of the Bible is translated as anguish, affliction, tribulation, persecution, trouble, distress. A more literal translation is a pressing, or pressure. Every one of us experiences sufferings in this lifetime. The Bible assures us that we will (John 16:33). So the question is: What do we do when we experience the pressures or sufferings of life? Do we worry and become anxious. Get scared and live for awhile in great fear. Do we exhaust every effort we have in trying to solve our own troubles, or do we turn to God and seek Him for guidance, strength and comfort. People who do not call themselves Christians and do not follow Christ may not believe that seeking God is the best thing to do. However, I would imagine that most Christians would say that seeking God is the first and best thing we should do. But is that what we do? Try to remember the last trial or suffering that you experienced. What was your first reaction? For me, it was just yesterday when I experienced conflict between me and my husband. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a normal disagreement between spouses. But my first reaction was to become defensive and get angry. Even though I did see the error of my ways fairly quickly and turned immediately to God for forgiveness then guidance and strength, that was not my first reaction. I could have saved my self and my husband some high blood pressure and stress by just turning to God first. By saying “God, show me how to handle this conflict in a manner that honors you and shows love toward my husband.” By not seeking God first and relying on Him during our trials and hard times we complete cut God out of that situation and in a way are saying to Him that we trust ourselves and our own abilities more than we trust Him and His abilities. After all, when we trusted God to save us for eternity, we also received His salvation for a life free of fear and worry here on earth. He does not want us to try to handle things on our own, even if we brought the trouble our way all on our own. It is never to late to turn to God and let Him guide us down the right path. I want to add some encouragement here. By correcting my actions when I realize that I am not turning to God, I am coming closer and closer to making turning to God be my first reaction. And, actually, often it is my first reaction. So, once we are faced with this trouble and turn to God, be it eventually or from the beginning, then we will be enter into our second step, a time of perseverance.

Step 2) Perseverance. To not give up. To keep on keepin' on! A remaining behind. I am going to camp out on this step more than the others because there is a lot involved in this step. So hang in there with me and I think you will be as blessed as I have been. If we are going to have spiritual success, meaning that we experience God here on earth, to sit in His presence and fellowship with Him now, not wait until we get to Heaven, there are a few things that we need to be aware will likely happen during the step of perseverance. Notice I said be aware of and not beware of

    We first need to be aware that we must be intentional and consistent in seeking God. If we don't make sure that we seek Him though time in the Word and prayer everyday, we will slip right back into our old habits of being lazy in our relationship with Him which will in return lead us right back into the worry and fear that we once lived in. If you have still yet to experience the release of fear and worry in your life, it may be because, like I discussed in the first step, you were not turning to God in times of trouble. If you do turn to Him during times of trouble, but you have still yet to experience a life free of worry and fear, it may then be because you have failed to ever push all the way through the time of perseverance to the end. I know, because that is what keep me from it, til now! Perseverance is hard and at times it will seem easier to just give up. But if you do, you will not receive the good that is waiting at the end. If you are realizing, as I did, that you do give up when it gets so hard to push on, don't loose heart. You've got what it takes. Continue reading because I hit on this area more in the “be awares” to come. It is because it will be hard that the intentional and consistent effort of spending time with God is so important. It is through spending time daily with God, always, but especially during the perseverance step, that God will give us the strength and courage we will need to see this thing though to the end.

  • Second, we need to be aware that during this period God will begin to show us areas in our life that need change. Alright, this is a “be aware” moment but not a beware moment! This gets hard and can be scary but trust God that He is taking you to a much better place. Change is not listed in the verse that we are studying, but I know from my personal journey and watching others grow in their relationship with God as well that anytime we seek God and are looking for His will in our lives, He will begin to show us the areas in our life that are not part of His will for us. When God reveals these things, you may be tempted to think that change will be too hard, that you can't do it or it may even be an area that you really enjoy and don't want to change it. But know that God has a plan for your life and it is good (Jeremiah 29:11). He also knows the very things that are keeping you from experiencing that good plan that He has for you. Trust Him when He shows you that there is something in your life that needs to go and let Him help you, in the words of my pastor, to give it the Holy boot!
  • Third, be aware that you got what it takes to make the change, to persevere, and to keep on keepin' on! I know that change and perseverance is easier said than done, but push forward and do so holding fast to this truth, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. ” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT) When we accept Christ, God gives us His Holy Spirit and with it comes power, love and self-discipline. You already have within you what you need to see this thing through!
  • Fourth, be aware that you very likely will experience fear and timidity, or cowardice, but at the same time, be aware that, like the verse above says, it has not come from God. Satan wants to implant fear and timidity in you and if you allow Him to do that, you let him win. KNOW that Satan is working hard to get you to give up, to get lazy once again in your relationship with God, and to keep you from receiving what God has in store for you and leading others to Christ as well. If we have accepted Christ as our Savior then our salvation is guaranteed and Satan knows that he can not take that away from us. The only thing that he can take is our witness and testimony to that salvation. Do not let Satan win. God says to us in His Word that “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Fear is a temptation that is very common to man. So when we are tempted to fear and coward away from following God into the unknown, that is what is unknown to us (very known to God) call out to God to provide you a way out and He will be faithful. All you must do is obey.
  • Fifth, be aware that if we persevere we will receive the reward in God's perfect time. The Bible says that “ If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Tim. 2:12) “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” (Hebrew 10:36) I could go on and on listing verse after verse of God's promises to bring us good if we just endure, continue doing good, do not give up, remain steadfast. As someone who has has finally, after many times of giving up during the perseverance step, by the grace of God began to seen these things through to the end, I can tell you that the rewards He gives is better than a bonus check of all the money in the world! Not only that but looking back now I can see that the things that God wanted me to change were the very things that were bringing me a lot of the sufferings that I was experiencing. Therefore, when we choose not to persevere and we give up, go back to the way things were because we think it will be easier, we have been deceived! Because in doing so we not only keep God from bringing us into the abundant life He has planned for us, where we find an ease in life, but we also choose to hang on to the very thing that is causing us trouble over and over again. For this reason, many Christians never get victory over anger, selfishness, additions, etc. But, OH!!!, when we do the hard thing and follow God to where He wants us to go, then we can have victory, which brings us joy!

Step 3) Character. The third step of character is actually more of a reward than a step and it is intertwined with step two because it is something that we obtain through perseverance. As a matter of fact, the same word translated as character in the NIV is translated as experience in the Kings James Version. Character received though experience. I believe that perseverance through times of sufferings is one way that God prunes us, rids us of the things that produces no good (John 15:1-8) and makes perfect the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, Galatians 5:22-23) that is within us, or makes us more fruitful. When we obtain these traits through endurance and experience they become who we are, hence the word character. It becomes our new norm. Where before we would react with anger to a situation, we now react with patience. Or before, worry, we now have peace! This will bring glory to God and people will want the love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that we have. That is when we can share with them that we received these traits through giving our life to Christ and then following Him to the life He has for us through obedience and perseverance. This is, after all, the ultimate purpose for every Christian here on earth, to bring honor, glory and praise to God and to lead others to Jesus Christ.

Step 4, Hope! Just like character, hope is also more like a reward than a step. The way that the world sees hope is as wishful thinking that one day, when all is said and done, maybe, just maybe, we will come through this thing called life with some kind of happy ending. However, that is far from the definition of the hope that the Bible speaks of here. This hope that we see in Romans 5:4 and we are told that we receive out of our new character is the ability to know that we will have that happy ending. God places hope in our hearts so that we can see that the future is good for those that love God and keep His commandments. In this hope we can also see the struggles of life for what they truly are, a temporary suffering that God will use to bring us good. Before we persevered and received character and then hope, it was hard to see through our struggles to the good that could come from them. However, God is so good that He allows us to have hope, so that, when the next struggle comes, and it will, although we may not be able to see the exact good that will come through the suffering, we can have hope! We can know that good will come, if we persevere.

God does not bring us any bad. Satan has made that his job. But God can and will take that bad and put it to good use if you will allow Him to do so (Romans 8:28). Only God can take a bad thing and use it to give us a lasting character that brings contentment and hope. And that is only the good that it brings us. Even when we begin to handle new sufferings and trials in the Romans 5 four step way, we may still have pain and troubles that are left over from something that we suffered in our past. It may have been a suffering that was forced on us by someone else or suffering brought upon us by our own sinful actions. But the same 4 steps still apply. Give that suffering and pain to God and ask Him to begin to heal you from that pain and help you to move past it. Although God is very capable of taking that away in an instant, I think the majority of the time we are called to a time of perseverance because as we have already learned, it is through that time of perseverance that we receive character and hope. Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” God will use our struggle, perseverance, character and hope not only to give us a full life but to most importantly lead others to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. WOW! God is great! However, many people face the troubles of this life without believing that our God can do all this with their pain. I can not imagine living without the hope that God's Word gives us and thinking that the pain I have endured is for nothing. This alone is enough reason to take courage and persevere to the end when it gets hard, so that others can witness what wonderful things our God can do. To conclude, I want to revisit the question that I presented earlier: Why do some Christians experience the abundant life that the Bible talks about, having joy and peace and contentment in life, and other Christians never reach that point? Hopefully by now the answer to that question is clear. I pray that God has made this personal for you. Not because I wish to condemn you for what you are doing wrong, but because in order to receive a life of joy, peace and contentment we have to examine what it is that is keeping us from it. This type of life is not just available to preachers and preachers wives. God has intended this life of abundance for every single Christian. I pray that from this moment on, every time we are tempted to give up and go back, that God will make me and you keenly aware of what we will be missing out on if we do and then that He would give us the strength to push onward! Don't give up, my sister or brother in Christ. Don't give Satan even a tiny sliver of pride that he was able to take from you any part of what God wants to use as a witness to His love and what He can do with a hurting heart. Recognize your suffering for what it is, temporary pain for an eternal good. Persevere, and I guarantee that it will be worth it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Calling all Christians

What would you say is your most important job as a mother or father? Before you answer: to love or to provide, let's look at what the Bible has to say about this matter. Malachi 2:15 says “Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” While this verse is referring to the oneness of man and woman as husband and wife, it also makes reference to what God is seeking out of marriage, godly offspring. Every good mother and father that I know teach their children to work hard at school and make good grades so they can get a good job and be successful one day. It is important to instill hard work into our children, godly even, but God showed me that is not the #1 thing I should be focusing on in my home.

It seems to be a common thought process among mothers and fathers today that our most important responsibility to our kids is to love and provide for them or just to make sure they don't kill themselves or someone else! I say that halfway kidding but in reality that is the extent of parenting within some homes today. Obviously loving, providing and protecting them is important, but we must not neglect the very important job of teaching them the Word of God and providing them with an example of how to live a godly life so that our godly offspring may one day also produce godly offspring and so forth and so forth. Maybe your kids are grown and now have kids of their own. Maybe you feel like you fell short in this responsibility to your kids. Let me encourage you by saying it is not too late. If we still have breath, then God still means for us to be teaching the Word of God to others. Psalms 71:18 says “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” Just because your children are grown and have children of their own is not a reason to throw in the towel. On the contrary, I think this is a very crucial time to be continuing to pass down the the truths of God's Words to your adult children and your grandchildren. As a young mother of 3 young children myself, I can attest to this. I need the spiritual guidance of my mother and father just as much now as I am trying to raise my own godly offspring as I needed it when I was a child. However, parents, we have to take full responsibility of raising our children in the ways of the Lord. We have to be careful not hand this off to anyone else.

Sadly, parents, I especially, have been guilty of thinking that it is the church's job to teach our children the Word of God. While we should make sure that the church we attend does teach the Word of God, we can not give to the church the full responsibility of training and molding our children to reflect Christ. My pastor said the other night that we have 500 families in our children's department alone. My church is somewhat of a big church so it is easy to see that there is no way that the church can provide the time and attention to each individual child that is required to teach and guide them effectively. But you might be thinking, “We go to a small church. We have only 5 children in our entire church! Surely the church can handle those 5?” Whether you are at a big church or a small church, I want you to consider this. If you go to church every time the door is open, usually Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night, that is still only somewhere around 6 hours a week. There are still 162 more hours in a week that our children are being influenced and soaking in teachings everywhere from school or daycare to what they see on TV. I think that most people would agree that what our society teaches us about beauty, happiness and success is not what we want our children to grow up believing. True beauty is not on the outside and does not depend on the shape of our body or the color of our hair. Happiness does not come by working 60 hours a week in order to become wealthy only to find out that you have neglected your family in the processes. And success is not defined by how much money you have. We parents need to be weaving into the hearts of our children what the Bible says about beauty, happiness and success. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30) In regards to happiness and success the word of God says “If they obey and serve Him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.” (Job 36:11) We can not take this job of discipling our children lightly. You can be assured that Satan is not taking lightly what he has made his job, to lead them away from God. Let's live by the following words and teach our children to do the same, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) (emphasis mine) If we long for all of these things for our children (success, financial stability, wonderful spouses, etc...) we must teach our children to seek first God's righteousness and He will add unto them all these things in accordance to His will.

Traditions are something I really enjoy. I love the idea of doing something that my mom did, and that her mother did and so on, and then passing that down to my children. Maybe, hopefully, they will one day pass it down to their children as well. But over time, traditions change. I wanted to share some examples of this with you so I enlisted the help of my mom and dad. I asked them to think about a tradition that they did when they were little, that their moms and dads did with them, and that is still carried on today or maybe not. They both gave wonderful examples. My mom remembered that every year on Easter, mothers went to church wearing a corsage. She said that usually the husband gave the corsage to the wife, and if he was a great husband, he would make sure that the corsage matched the new Easter dress!
Mothers day was another time that women or girls got corsages. This time, however, it was normally bought by the woman of the house. Usually just a red or white single rose but, if affordable, a red or white corsage. The red rose was worn by the women or girls whose mothers were still alive and white was worn if the mother had passed on. I remember doing this as a child. I have memories of my mother pinning the red rose on my dress and explaining to me what it represented. I also remember her wearing a white rose, as her mother had passed on to be with the Lord a few years before that. We still attend at that same church today and that tradition is no longer recognized there. As a matter of fact, I had forgotten that we ever even observed that tradition until my mom reminded me of it today.

Here is another example of a tradition that my father gave. He said that when he was little, everyone ate at the dinner table together, no exceptions. He said that from as far back as he could remember until the day he left his parents house, he could not remember one time not eating dinner that way. Also, he said, you ate what was cooked. If you didn't eat what was cooked and put on your plate, you didn't eat. And adults got their food first, then the kids. I assume this was out of respect for the elders of the family. Today in our society, many families do not eat together anymore and many parents cook to cater to the kids liking rather than what would be the most nutritional or affordable meal. When we go to my grandmother's house today, the kids still eat what has been prepared, but one tradition has been turned upside down, the kids go first, then the adults.

Why do you think all these traditions have changed or have ceased to be recognized? It is because generation after generation, and slowly throughout the years, we have allowed small changes to our traditions. Maybe we only taught the parts that we liked or just what we thought applied to our generation. Maybe sometimes we were too tired to teach them correctly so we let some things slip through the cracks. Can you see where I am going with this? Throughout the years, the way that the Word of God is being taught in the home has changed. When my grandmother's mother was alive, the Bible was known as truth, nonnegotiable. Now, many people either believe only the parts that they want to believe or just things that they feel apply to our generation or they completely disregard the Bible altogether. I am not implying that the Word of God is just a “tradition.” It is the truth by which we should all live our lives. What I am saying, however, is that we have to step up and start to teach our children the whole truth of God's Word. Not just the parts that we like or agree with. Not just the parts that we think apply to our generation. We can't let being too tired keep us from taking the time to teach God's precepts to our children in everyday situations. If we do not do as Psalms 71:18 says and declare God's power and might to the next generation, just like the examples of traditions that I gave, one day, and not too long from now, there will be little to no evidence that the principles of the Bible were ever taught or practiced or ever even existed in our nation. That is where we are headed.

The teaching of God's Word has to be number one priority in a Christian home. If you feel inadequate or too tired to put this into practice, realize that that is a lie that Satan wants you to believe in an attempt to keep you from living the life God has planned for you. Hold tight to the truth of this verse where God says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) and rely on God to be your strength and give you the ability to teach your children. If you say that you are too busy, then, sister, I must say in love that you should rearrange your priorities and place God at the top. Then kick something that is on the bottom of the priority list to the curb! If we must, we can go to sleep a few minutes earlier in order to wake up a few minutes earlier and spend time with God. I know this is easier said than done but please hear my heart on this. My intention is not to make you feel guilty. I have been on both sides of this and since I stopped making excuses and started making time with God and discipling my own children a priority, I have seen God work mightily in my family! I want you to experience the same thing in your home and for generations to come to experience that as well.

Okay,” you say, “I want to teach the whole truth of the Bible to my children but I myself don't know the Bible. How can I teach something that I don't know?” The answer is simple. You learn the Bible. As I just mentioned, I have been on both sides of this and I asked the same question. And because I was and still am determined to leave a godly legacy for my children and their children and not let “good enough” be “good enough”, I sought God as to what I should do. God revealed to me that I should learn, then I teach them what I learned. How simple is that really?! In technique it is no different than teaching them what we have learned about the rules of our favorite sport or how to make a ponytail. But the result of teaching God's Word is far more rewarding than any other teaching we can give our kids.

But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pursuing Goals God's Way

I shared with you last week that there were some things God had placed on my heart and that I felt Him calling me to focus on praying through those things for a few days. And that is exactly what I have been doing. God was calling me to Him to reveal to me a specific thing that He wanted me to do. I am so excited about it, but, at the same time I know it is going to take a lot of hard work, discipline and prayer.  He also revealed that in order to accomplish this task He has for me, I must change the way that I pursue my goals. I must pursue them God's way.

In the past, I have not been successful with the goals I have set. God has shown me why those have failed and has shown me how He wants me to pursue this goal, and I believe all goals, that He has for me. While there are many things I was doing wrong, I want to share with you three of the ones that I struggle with the most.

  1. I must wait on the Lord. Many times throughout Scripture we are told to wait on the Lord. One verse in particular reads “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” (Psalm 5:3) I was real good about laying my request before God. I was not too good about waiting expectantly. I must wait for God to tell me if what I want is what He wants and if so, then how to do it and when to act. I need not rush out but to be patient but to “wait expectantly” to hear from God. We can expect His response.  We just have to be patient and trust that when His time is right He will respond. But until He does, we wait on the Lord.  God does not give us the whole plan in detail from the start. He tells us in Psalm 119:105 that His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. The thing about lamps is that they only illuminate for us our next step on the path, not the complete journey or even 5 steps ahead. God wants us to take that next step when He reveals it to us trusting that He is leading us in the right direction. That is called walking in faith which is difficult at times because we don't know what lies ahead.  However, walking in faith can come much easier when we realize that the One leading us is the only One that is able to see the path from the beginning to the end. Knowing this should give us peace because from God's viewpoint, He can see which paths will lead to life and which will lead to death. God will always lead us down the path that leads to life. All we have to do is follow the next step that He reveals to us.

  1. In order to reach God's goals for me I must realize that rewards are received by sowing and reaping, and not expect instant gratification. Again, I must be patient and wait on God's timing. God desires that I work hard in doing His good work so that in His time, I will reap the reward. The good I do today may not always bring me a reward today. We are told that we should “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) When we do not see our goals through, the problem can be found in either one of two places: our goals or our expectations. Failure to do the first step of laying our request before God and waiting expectantly for His response can lead us to pursuing goals that are our own, not God's. This can consequently lead to us giving up before we reap the reward. And here is the reason. Jesus says in John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (emphasis mine) If we can do nothing apart from God, then it makes sense that the goals we set apart from God would lead to failure.
    Sometimes, the problem lies in our expectations. Often times even when we are doing the will of our Father in Heaven, we are still tempted not to see things through. To start things and not finish them.  If we are tempted to do this, it likely that we are thinking we should have already seen the fruits of our labor, but no harvest has come. If a farmer sows a seed and then reaps the harvest before the proper time, before the crop is ripe, he will miss out on the best possible harvest. Only God knows when the harvest is ripe for the picking. If we follow God's Word, do not grow weary in doing good and do not give up, then at the proper time, in God's perfect timing, we will reap the full and compete reward. We can not even begin to imagine the wonderful ripe harvest God has in store for us if we remain faithful.
  2. Lastly, I must have balance. Now, I don't know for sure that this is required necessarily to reach a specific goal God has set before us. However, I do know that God is making it clear to me that I must seek balance in my life if the goal He has set before me is a long term goal. Let me explain. I have a tendency when I am excited about doing something to start and not want to stop or do anything else until I am finished. However, by doing this, I often neglect the other parts of my life. For instance, if I am not careful, I will spend the majority of my day writing a blog post I am very excited about sharing in an attempt to get in on the blog that day. Consequently, my work and/or housework gets behind. The Word of God says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) I'm sure you have heard the saying “A place for everything and everything in it's place,” Well, I have made up my own version. “A time for everything and everything in it's time.” I have to make sure that I set aside a time to do all of my responsibilities that I have as a working wife and mother. I also must try, as much as possible, to keep my tasks within the time frame I have set for it. You may not struggle with this like I do and I hope that you don't. But for me, without this balance, I end up putting too much energy and time into the one thing I am most excited about and then I am left without enough energy and time for all the other jobs I have.   I also realize that sometimes God places unexpected things or people in our daily lives.  In these cases, I must always be ready to say yes to God at any time and in any situation and not let my schedule keep me from doing the good work that He may place in my life today.  My schedule is meant to help me keep balance in my life with everyday chores and task, but it should not be so set in stone that I am too busy to love on someone that God places in my path to help or share the gospel with.

Jeremiah 29:11 says “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 hope and a future. “ I do not know all the plans that God has for me in the future. I also do not know all the details for the plans that He has revealed to me now. I do know, however, that all He has planned for me is good. I so long to do good, to honor God in my life. Even in the things that seem mundane. Picking up toys a million and one times a day can seem very unrewarding.  However, we are told in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that in whatever we do, we should do it to the glory of the Lord.  God also says that if I do not grow weary and give up, then in due time I will reap my harvest. Proverbs 31 describes a woman of noble character. She makes it her lives work to tend to her husband, kids and home. She works hard to seemingly no reward. But at the end of the chapter it says...”Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” That, my friend, is reward if you ask me. However, I have made a choice to always strive to do what is good even if I never see reward this side of Heaven. My hope lies in the promises of God and that He is faithful to fulfill those promises. Payday is coming soon, sister! Keep up the good work!

Monday, October 3, 2011

I'm taking a break

I am so grateful and humbled that people would come here to read the things that I write about what God is teaching me.  I am thankful for the opportunity to share these things.  I am, however, going to take a short break for a few days.  There are some things that God has placed on my heart and I feel like He wants me to take a few days to focus on praying through them.  They are not bad things, very good things as a matter of fact.  I intend on continuing the blog. I just wanted to let people know that I have not stopped writing and I will be back.  I want to leave you with a question.  I am going to take a "poll" that will be located on the right side of the home page of this blog.  I have a reason for doing this.  I'm not sure how well it is going to work because as I have found out, some of the features on here do not work like it says it is going to. When the page loads, if the poll is not working properly, try reloading the page.  If that still doesn't work, if you would please take time to post a comment here or send an email to learningonourwayhome@yahoo.com and give me your answer to the poll. If you leave a comment on this post, it will not be anonymous.  However, voting on the poll is.  If you send an email, I will be the only one to read it.  In any case, please answer honestly.  I will start the poll by admitting that it would be hard for me to think of the one area that I need the most counsel in because there are so many areas in which I need help.  Thank you so much in advance for participating in this poll. 
I can't wait to meet with you here again very soon!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Good Practices for Reading God's Word

I was recently presented this question, "Do you use a daily devotional and if not how do you go about reading your Bible?" She then asked me if I had any advice about that. I told her that in fact I do because the same question played over and over in my mind as well for along time. As I began to ask God about this, He showed me few things that I was doing wrong!

Devotional books and study guides are just fine, however, when I first began to read them, I used them in the wrong way. Instead of using them as tools to help me better understand the Bible, I let it replace my Bible. Since most devotional books and Bible studies have the Scripture written at the top of the page or out in the margin, out of laziness, I would not open my Bible to read the verse straight from the source. That was not wise.

The Word of God says that all Scripture is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) meaning that although it was written by men, we can trust that God, in His sovereignty, inspired these men to write down the words that He had for us. And since God is in control of all things, we can rest assured that what is in our Bible is there because He wanted it there and He allowed for it to be there. Therefore, the Word of God should be the truth by which everything else is compared. While God can still inspire people today to write and speak about the truth of His Word, He also tells us in Matthew 24:11 that "many false prophets will appear and deceive many people." I believe this is one reason the perfect Word of God tells us to test everything. (1 Thessalonians 5:21) While devotional books (as well as Bible Study books and blogs like this one) can be encouraging and useful to help explain the Word of God, we should only trust the Word of God for complete truth. Therefore, we should ALWAYS compare everything next to the Word of God to make sure it lines up with what His Word says. I have made it a habit to go into every book that I read or every sermon that I hear with skepticism, especially if it is the first time I have read or heard this particular author or speaker. For example, I have listened to my pastor preach the Word of God for a long time now. But, the first few times I heard him, I listened skeptically, making sure that He spoke and taught the truths of God’s Word. And he did. Because of his consistency in teaching God's truths, I have grown to trust his teachings. However, I still open my Bible to read for myself the Scripture he is speaking on that day. We should not rely on our teachers to read the verses for us. If he or she accidentally says aloud “does” when the verse actually reads “doesn't” that would completely change what that verse is saying.

When we read the Word of God everyday, we learn more and more about the truths of God. We are then better able to decipher God’s truth from Satan’s lies. I heard once that the people who are trained to identify counterfeit money do not study the different ways that money can be counterfeited. They study the real money so that when the fake ones come along they can recognize it. In the same way, we should study the real truth in God’s Word so that when the “fake thing” comes along, we will recognize it.

Psalms 119:18 says, "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law." (Don't take my word for it, go look it up!) :) This is another very important part of Bible study: asking God to open our eyes. God showed me that I should always ask Him to open my eyes before I read His Word so that I can understand it. With out Him doing this for us we can not understand the "wonderful things" He has for us. God's thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways. (Isaiah 55:8) His thoughts and ways are on a level so far beyond what we could ever understand by ourselves. We need Him to help us understand His Word.

God, please open my eyes and show me the wonderful things you have for me in your law. Show me how to put these things into practice so that I can honor you with my life. In Jesus name! Amen