A Girl Can Dream {2.7.18}

Several years ago (about six I think), my daughter called and asked me to pray about something. She had a dream on her heart. It was a dream with a goal, that she would be home more with her family. This dream involved a shared passion/hobby both of us have. I was certainly all onboard with her idea because I could see myself in the middle of it with her. But, more than that, she was seeking God FIRST – I had to honor that! I knew that what seemed impossible from our perspectives for many reasons, was entirely possible with God if it was within His will for her life. So, we began praying and God began working. dare to dream

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

As the years progressed though, it became apparent that the details of the dream she originally had in mind was not going to materialize. Then upon further reflection, knew that the original idea would not produce the goal she sought. So, we kept praying and watching.

Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

God gave her creative ideas, wisdom, contacts, etc. He closed one door but opened so many more that we knew He was intimately involved. She kept on going where He led, learning as she went along. She has had many successes through her obedience to God’s call and direction rather than doggedly going down the original path she had envisioned. Yesterday was another one of those successes. It made me think of God’s Word and specifically, how He gives us skills when we need them, words when we need to speak them, and direction when we feel lost. I was remembering the words in Exodus where God was directing the Israelites to build the tabernacle. It says that He gave them the skills they needed to create what He designed. He has done the same for my daughter and we are so thankful.

Exodus 35:35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers.”

A dear friend recently shared how God had answered her prayer. She had been praying for a financial need. She knew God was able and trusted Him to provide. She didn’t know how but knew that He could send money in the mail to her if He so chose.

1 Timothy 5:5 “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.”

However, like she shared, God didn’t give her money, he gave her a job. But, it wasn’t just any job. It was a job doing things she enjoys! How like God to orchestrate things in our lives that we have no idea of and then putting them before us as a gift of love. Did God answer her financial need? He sure did. And, in the process she is meeting new people and sharing the good news. She was blessed and is now blessing others. Sometimes God gives us our hearts desire even when we haven’t thought to ask him for it. psalm 37.4

Why do I share these two stories? Because they both began and continued being bathed in prayer. If we are going to delight ourselves in the Lord, we must know Him, speak with Him, listen to His Word. Prayer is our part of the conversation; God’s Word is his part (along with wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit). Both of these women sought God’s will, not their own. They shared their desires of course, along with their needs but they ultimately trusted God with the outcome. God always delivers – just what we NEED, and just WHEN we need it.

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

Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

So, my friends. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Our God is able!

Matthew 19:26 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Progressive Dinners {1.27.18}

As I lay in bed last night before sleep, I began praising and thanking God. One praise was for the blessing of new relationships with other believers. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to meet with fellow Christians and discuss God’s Word and how He is working in our lives. I began thinking about the Bible study class I am in with a wonderful group of ladies. We meet for one hour each week during Sunday School. We have been meeting together for a few years now. As I was going back through our studies of the past year or so, I had to thank God for the journey He has taken us on. It seems like one study grew us right into another on a closer and more active walk with God. While I was praising God for that and His immense love, patience and grace, He put a thought into my head of progressive dinners. progressive dinner

Have you ever experienced a progressive dinner? You start out at someone’s home with maybe an appetizer. You eat, drink and get to know each other a little better. Then you move onto another home. Maybe this one is a salad or soup. You sit down with everyone and again, eat, drink and share life. Then after a bit, you move on again – to the main course this time. Same thing, you enjoy dinner, conversing with one another. Finally you end up the meeting at another home where dessert is served – the pièce de résistance– a sweet ending for the night. More conversation ensues and by the end of the night, you know much more about each other than when you started. You are fully satisfied from an evening well spent.

God showed me that just like my Bible study group’s journey, our Christian walk is kind of like a progressive dinner. We begin when we admit we are sinners in need of a savior. We believe in God, that His Word is truth, and accept the gift of salvation offered to all who put their trust in Jesus Christ. But, salvation is not the end of the journey, it is only the beginning. It’s like the appetizer. Then as we head on our journey down that narrow path, it’s kind of like when you are driving to the next home for your entrée or main course. Through the reading and teaching of God’s Word, fellowship, encouragement and accountability of other believers, we grow and become fully satisfied as if we had a delicious meal. All the time remembering that we are not on this journey alone. Others are walking with us toward our destination.  We reach heaven – the sweet ending to our journey, the dessert course so to speak. home in heavenHowever, this is not the end at all – it’s just the beginning of eternity. How sweet it is to be loved by Jesus!

Philippians 2:12-13 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

At first I thought this “progressive dinner” term was kind of strange but then as I thought of all the references of bread, milk, etc. in scriptures, it’s not strange at all. Walking out our faith (salvation) is like life itself. As babies we begin on milk and then as we grow and mature, we eat more substantial food.

 Matthew 4:4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

 1 Peter 2:2-3Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

 Hebrews 5:12-14In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

 I will never view progressive dinners the same way again.  God has placed a feast in front of us. I want to enjoy the entire meal, the company I am journeying with and get to the sweet, sweet ending!

Slow Down – You Move Too Fast {1.24.18}

Does this title bring to your mind a song from the past? Does “Feelin’Groovy” sound familiar? This is what came to my mind the other day as I was reading. I love to read. I think I always have, ever since I learned how.reading little girl And I love to read a book that I can hold in my hand. That sounds pretty funny coming from a person who writes a blog that people read on-line. But, hey – I’m keeping it real. If I’m reading a novel, the bigger the better. Or better yet, a series of books. I like something I can really get my teeth into and rest a while. My Mom on the other hand likes small, short books she can get through quickly. We are all uniquely made in more ways than one.

When our kids were growing up I had little time to read but now that we’re empty nesters It’s a non-issue. Now my only problem is that I can get so lost in reading that nothing else gets done. Does the word dust bunny come to mind? So, I have to take breaks from reading and make myself focus on other things (like quilting for instance). Hobbies – aren’t they wonderful? [side note: I really do manage to get chores done too.]

One book I don’t take a break from though is the Bible. It’s a book you can really get your teeth into. It’s a book that can really get its teeth into you. It’s a book you can read and re-read and never get bored. You can find something new speaking to you each time. The problem for me is that I tend to go too fast. I am a fast reader but often I have to go back and reread something because it didn’t stick in my brain. reading womanThis was brought to my attention again the other day when I once more came across the term “meditation” in a book I am reading. We’ve all heard the word and sometimes we get a mental picture of someone in a yoga class closing their eyes, crossing their legs and chanting. That’s not what either the author of my book or God mean when they use the term. In my book, it says that Biblical meditation means taking a verse of the Bible and seriously pondering its meaning, thinking through what it means in our lives and situations today. It’s applying God’s truth to our lives and allowing Him to speak to us through it. Not only is it to meditate on His Word but to meditate on what He has done in our lives. How He has proved Himself faithful, over and over again, to all whose trust is in Him.

So, as we are at the beginning of a new year, I am committed to meditating on God’s Word and writing down truths He speaks to me. Prayer and reading go hand in hand. It’s a two-way communication with the creator of all, the I Am, The Lord. When I find myself moving too fast when reading, I’ll sing that song to myself and slow down. I pray that God shows you all a time when you can sit with Him and read His love letter to us all – the Bible. God Bless!

AGE – It’s only a Number {1.16.18}

Have you ever thought you (or someone else) was too young or too old? Too young to know, understand or do? Too old to dream, make a difference or contribute? I think that maybe we put entirely too much emphasis on age. As I began my annual journey of reading through the Bible this January, I was once again struck by the ages of people whom God used to effect change in the world – for His Glory and His Purpose. It doesn’t seem to matter to God what a person’s age in years is. It doesn’t seem to matter to God what station or situation in life in which a person lives. AGEGod uses all kinds of people in all ages, stations and situations in life. He chooses how to use each of us according to His plan for our lives and His working in our lives. He created us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. So, I ask myself…why would I ever doubt that God could do something for His Kingdom using me? I had a friend tell me once that if God can use a donkey, He can certainly use me. Don’t worry, I wasn’t offended by being categorized with a donkey. I got her message loud and clear and it has encouraged me many times over the years.

While I was thinking about this “age” thing, I started to remember all the different aged people God used to bring about His Will in His Time. Reminding myself that some of these things took many years. We are not very patient as a world today, are we? We are so used to immediate communication, gratification, etc. that we don’t like to wait for anything or anyone. But, some things just take time and we can trust that God knows the right time.

Here are few examples of young people God used for His purposes (in no particular order):

Boy Reading the holy bible·         John 6:8 (God used a little boy with 2 fish and 5 loaves to feed over 5,000 people – a lesson for His disciples and everyone else then and now)

·         1 Timothy 4:11-14 (Timothy, a young messenger of God)

·         2 Kings 22:1-2 (King Josiah – age 8! The scriptures say he was upright before the Lord)

·         David – a young shepherd boy who became King (and yes…that was a long time coming)

·         Samuel – a young boy dedicated to God and hearing from God in a special way

·         Joseph – his story and purpose took years to fulfill

·         Mary, Mother of Jesus – a teenager who bore the Christ Child

·         Esther – another teenager (an orphan who became queen and was used by God to save her people)

And what about old (or should I say elderly) people? Some seemed to begin their ministry at an age where nowadays we might think their usefulness was close to being over – NOT SO WITH GOD! He says in Psalm 92:14 “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.”Bible - old hands

·         Abraham and Sarah are great examples. Talk about having children late in life – this was really pushing it to the extreme. But remember, with GOD, nothing is impossible! After all, He is the creator. He can certainly recreate something any time He wants!

·         Moses – I love the story of Moses because we can see (with the benefit of scriptures) how his story unfolds from birth to end. He didn’t know the full impact of his life as he submitted to God. It’s in looking back through our lives that we see what God has done – even with us (broken vessels as we are).

·         Noah – This is a wonderful story of trusting in God when not only do you not see, you can’t even comprehend. Remember, it had never rained yet. He didn’t know how God would accomplish what He said, he couldn’t imagine it. He trusted anyway.

·         Joshua – God told him, “You are very old…” but there is still much to do and I want to do it through you.

·         Anna (the prophetess) – She was very old but worshipped God day and night with fasting and praying. God blessed her with seeing the Christ child – Jesus.

So, does age really matter?  Not to God. What matters to Him is whether we are fully committed and submitted to Him.age 2 Nothing is too small (no one is too young) and nothing is too large (no one is too old) to be used by God in a mighty way. The real question is…will we allow Him to guide, direct and use us for His glory and His kingdom? Or, do we just want to keep to ourselves until Jesus returns? It’s a serious question I must ask myself every day and maybe you should too.

I hope as you read scriptures you will notice the young and old God used and remember that He can use you too! If you have a dream that you think is well past or too far out of reach – pray about it. It just might be that God has given you that dream and is waiting for you step out in faith so He can fulfill it through you.

I will end with a couple of scriptures for us to ponder.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Acts 2:17-18 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”

It’s never too early or too late to be used by God. Let’s remember – nothing is impossible where God is concerned. Have a blessed day and don’t forget to be a blessing to someone else.

Out on a Limb {1.6.18}

Have you ever felt like you went “out on a limb”?

I know what I think of when I use or hear that phrase, but I wanted to look it up to see what the dictionary said. Here goes…

          Difficult, awkward or vulnerable position; take a risk or act boldly and uncompromisingly

Yep, that’s what I thought.

There have been times in my past where I have gone “out on a limb” and wondered if I’d end up hanging myself so to speak. Other times I have gone “out on a limb” for someone else. One thing is for sure – you must be committed to it, whatever it is. Sometimes we do it simply because it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes we do it because someone asked us to or we want to help them. Sometimes we just act or speak too quickly and then regret it. Even been there?out on limb - cartoon

Recently I went “out on a limb” for God. We were having a house built and I felt very strongly that I should pray over the house but also write scriptures on the wall boards and floor as it was framed. So, I mentioned it to my husband and we both agreed that we should do that. I shared about it in a previous post that you can read by clicking here. We ended up with 29 scriptures throughout the house and I kept a listing of each one and where it was located. We felt good about that (pride?). We even got a few positive comments from people who were in and out during construction. However, I had not thought through the negative possibilities (at least they seem negative when they come at you). Look at the definition above one more time. It says boldly and uncompromisingly. No turning back. It/You are “out there” now.

While we had boldly identified ourselves with God and as followers of Jesus, we had no idea of the many times throughout this building process that we would be called upon to “walk the talk” or “walk the writings”. It seemed like if it could go wrong, it did. Don’t get me wrong, we love our new home but let’s just say that things did not go according to plan (or the plans as drawn up). Repeatedly we have had temptations to show either ourselves and our own inclinations (act ugly) or act Christ-like. I wish I could say that we always acted and reacted in a Christ-like manner, but I know we didn’t. Even if it was just among ourselves or our family members, we found ourselves frustrated and acting as such. I just hope our witness was not damaged and that God and Christ were somehow glorified in and through it all. We’re moved in but things still aren’t done so the challenges and temptations are still here. The good news is that we are very much aware of it. A lot of prayers have and are going up during this process and that’s always a good thing. out on limb-mark twain

So, as a warning to myself and all of you, the next time you go ““out on a limb””, expect to be challenged. The good news is that if we stay on the limb, attached to THE VINE, we’ll get through it and hopefully grow through it. Jesus says it best in John 15 (see below).

John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 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.”

Exchanging Gifts {12.24.17)

Merry Christmas to you all! I couldn’t miss this opportunity to celebrate with you the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. After all, Christmas is a celebration of His gift to the world. The gift is free to any who will enter into a gift exchange with Jesus. He offers His life and love in exchange for our life offered to believe in and serve Him. If we enter into this gift exchange He offers the greatest gift of all – eternal life – in heaven. We will never get a better gift offering. We can read about His glorious birth in the gospel of Luke. Chapter 1 and 2 tell about His birth. As we celebrate this Christmas, let’s not forget the reason we have to celebrate – Christ!

The Birth of Jesus Foretoldnativity

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

shepherds and angelAnd there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Power Couple {10.6.17}

POWER. Some have it. Some think they have it. Some want it. Some abuse it. Some use it wisely.

WISDOM. That’s the key ingredient needed when you have been given power. Wisdom comes from God.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been studying the book of Esther. It’s quite an intriguing story (true story I might add).  I’ve been thinking about Esther and how she not only pushed the envelope, she pushed it all the way out of the box. Let’s take a look at her bold actions and statements as we view the marriage of King Xerxes and Queen Esther – the power couple.

Queen Esther: She had been brought with many, many other young girls to be prepared to be presented to the king. Of all the girls presented, she was the one King Xerxes chose as queen. Even so, she could not come into the King’s presence unless summoned. To go to him on her own could mean her immediate death. The only exception would be if the king granted her favor by extending his gold scepter to her. Then her life would be spared. I know…this sounds crazy in our world today here in the United States but, that was the culture. Even today if we traveled much outside of our country, we would find similar things that would seem bizarre to us. The thing was, the king was the ruler. If he gave you an order or asked you a question, you better hop to it, queen or not.

King Xerxes: He had the power. He didn’t always use it wisely. He was swayed by others. He gave power to those who used it with evil intent. He seemed quite shallow at times. His actions made me think that he was living in his own little world and didn’t realize much about what was happening around him. He had the power of life or death in his hands and could use it at will. Others were at his mercy. But even though all of these things appear true, we see glimpses of his kindness and compassion.power couple

Here are some things that just amaze me about this power couple’s marriage story:

Esther’s boldness and courage. First of all, she did go before the king without being summoned. Not only that but when he asked her what was wrong, she didn’t answer him. Instead, she put him off by inviting him to a banquet later that day and said she would answer him then. So, at the banquet, the king asked her once again and once again, she put him off. This time until the next day. She said she would tell him if he would come to a banquet tomorrow. That next day she finally told him what was troubling her and made her request (to spare her life and the lives of her people). There is SO MUCH to this story. I hope you take a look at it again or for the first time. But, when I think about it – she not only went into the king’s presence when she could have been killed just for that. She also refused to answer him. Not once, but twice. That’s either bold courage or foolishness.

King Xerxes kindness and compassion. He certainly wasn’t always kind or compassionate. In previous chapters of the book of Esther, we find him proud and easily led. But, in this part of their story, he looks upon Esther with kindness and grants her favor. First of all, he doesn’t have her killed for daring to come to him uninvited. Then when he asked her a question, she refused to answer but put him off instead, not only once, but twice! Still I can just feel the kindness and care he has for her dripping off the pages. He seemed really concerned about her needs or wishes. It wasn’t “all about him” this time. It was about her.

So, it makes you wonder doesn’t it? What changed Esther, the young innocent girl to the bold and courageous Queen Esther? What changed the prideful and self-indulgent King Xerxes into the compassionate husband? The key is found in Esther 4:15-17. The key is GOD – fasting and praying to GOD, the only one who can change hearts and situations. He can turn what we see as our worst nightmare into our greatest triumph. He can change a heart of stone into a compassionate heart of flesh. He can turn a coward into a brave warrior. Simply – GOD can!

The next time you feel like God is leading you to something, be brave dear friend. If God calls us to something, He will provide. We can count on it because we can count on Him. I pray for the giving and receiving of blessings for you today.