30 Days of Gratitude – Day 14

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Today I’m grateful for the fact that in Christ I am a new creation.  The old is gone and the new has come.

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.  Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  –  2 Cor.  5:16-21

How can one not be grateful for God making it possible for us to be new that we might be reconciled to Him?  What an honor and blessing!

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God could have wiped His hands of us so many times in history.  With the first sin He could have decided I’m done with them they made their choice against Me, but that’s not who God is.  His love wouldn’t allow Himself to turn His back on humanity when humanity has turned it’s back on Him time and time again.  Anytime that He did divorce Himself of mankind once they cried out to Him, He responded.  That’s just the way of love.

God’s ultimate act of love was; that He loved sinful man so much that He sent Christ to pay the penalty of our sins thus reconciling us to Him and making us new and the righteousness of God through Christ.

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If God never did anything else for me my entire life I would sing His praises my entire life for this awesome blessing!  Hallelujah!!! Praise the Lord, God Almighty!!!  Thank you my Savior for dying for me and all sinners!!!

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 11

Today I’m grateful for what my Savior did for me.  He made it possible for me to accept Him as my Savior.  He paid the price that was needed for all of my sins and all the sins ever committed when He was stripped whipped and beaten and put on the cross for the transgressions of all time.

What a precious gift He gave the world and at what a horrible price.  But after He died on the cross He raised from the dead on the third day.  Breaking death’s victory and making possible for anyone who believes by faith in Jesus Christ what He did for them and repents of their sin and asks Christ into their lives can become a child of God.  Now it is possible to be heirs of the King of Kings through faith in Jesus Christ.

God is good to us in that respect.  Even though man has turned his back on God time and time again.  Yet God seeks out man even to the point of sending His only Son to earth to pay the penalty that we owe.

Which makes Him a just judge because the penalty for sin must be paid but although we are guilty and deserve the penalty of death Jesus Christ came and paid that penalty for each of those willing to accept the gift He did.

I started this 30 days of Gratitude without thinking that I would be facing surgery during this month.  My right elbow is having surgery do to nerve damage.  I’m going to be recuperating for two weeks so I don’t know how or if I’ll be able to continue this series after Thursday.  It is my intention to restart where I’m stopped at when I’ve healed.  Your prayers for my healing is greatly appreciated.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 9

Today I’m grateful for gratitude!  I find the longer I do this the more I find to be grateful for.  The more I find to be grateful for the happier person I am.

I think that if I practiced this for the rest of my life as a daily act of worship, my whole life would change radically.  Now I’m not saying that I will no longer strugglewith Bi-polar disorder or even GAD (General Anxiety Disorder), since these are chemical mishaps in my brain.  What I am saying is that I could very well live a much happier and if not happy, grateful life if I decided to make this a daily practice even on my bad days.

That’s the challenge being consistent and doing it no matter how I feel.  Looking at what to be grateful for will at the least help to regulate my chemicals some in my mind.  The challenge is when you’re not feeling well choosing gratitude in the face of depression.

As the picture above says choosing my thoughts and choosing gratitude to be the forefront could make a radical difference in the way I live my life and the attitude that I have.  Not just around myself and other people but my attitude towards God and all that He has done and is capable of doing.

I truly think that an attitude of gratitude would stretch my faith and isn’t that always a good thing?  May I encourage you to try it with me?   Let’s not just make this a 30 day deal.  Let’s practice this in our lives as an act of worship on a daily basis.  Then let us see where it takes us.  Please comment back to me and let me know the journey God takes you on.  I promise to keep you posted past November on the journey God takes me on and in thatway we can be of an encouragement to one another.  Isn’t that what the body of Christ is all about anyway?

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 5

Today I’m grateful for my old pastor Pastor Gary Richmond.  He came back to speak to us last night at evening chapel and as always it was wonderful!

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  –  Romans 1:20

He showed how throughout nature and God’s creation all sorts of different animals and insects, birds and fish, that there is not really a difference in us emotionally, socially, governing, & intellectually it is only in a matter of degrees between us and them.

Two bobcats showing love.

The mothering instinct.

I learned that as for mazes the dolphin does far better than us.

As the scripture says, all of creation show God’s divine power and nature.  All we have to do is be observant.  What a blessing from God to open up all this to us.

He made the point that the arabian horse must be one of God’s favorites because in Revelation it talks about Christ’s return on a white horse and he figures that could very well mean a white arabian has the honor.

“I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.”  – Revelation 6:2

“11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  14The armies of heaven were following him, on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’  He treads the winepress of the fury o the wrath of  God Almighty.  16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS”

–  Revelation 19:11-16

Whatever horse gets the honor of charging our Lord in the second coming that too is something to look forward to with gratitude.

I love when God peaks through to show His power in the storm and darkness.  All through nature there are so many lessons to be learned.  Thank You Lord.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Wealth and Christ

Matthew 8:28-34 tells a story of two demon possessed men and of their freedom from that possession and the towns reaction.  This version of the story comes from The Voice Bible which is written in such a way as to tell it as a story.

28Eventually Jesus came to the other side of sea, to the region of the Gadarenes.  There, two men who lived near the tombs and were possessed by demons came out to the seaside and met Jesus.  They were flailing about, so violent that they obstructed the path of anyone who came their way.

Demons (screaming at Jesus): 29Why are You here? Have you come to torture us even before the judgment day, O Son of God?

30A ways off, though still visible, was a large herd of pigs.

Demons: 31If You cast us out of the bodies of these two men, do send us into that heard of pigs!

Jesus: 32Very well then, go!

And the demons flew out of the bodies of the two flailing men, they set upon the pigs, and every last pig rushed over a steep bank into the sea and drowned. 33The pig herders (totally undone, as you can imagine) took off; they headed straight for town, where they told everyone what they’d just seen – even about the demon-possessed men.  34And so the whole town came out to see Jesus for themselves.  And when they saw Him, they begged Him to leave their area.

When confronted with Christ and the miracle He had done for the demon-possessed men, they didn’t welcome Him they did the exact opposite.

The herd of pigs signified wealth.  Often we are asked by God what are we going to do with our finances.  For some this can be a difficult thing.  Possibly you have come about difficult times financially, still setting some aside for the work of God is Biblical.  How much is between your heart and God, the Holy Spirit.  Maybe God has blessed you despite these difficult times and you find it easy to give, praise the Lord.

Perhaps you have great wealth and have been sensing that it was time to share that wealth with others but it has been difficult for you to let go of it.  May I encourage you that there are greater treasures in heaven than you could ever amount for yourself here on earth.  Please listen to that voice prodding you to be generous with what you have.

God has blessed you with the amount of income that He has chosen.  Yes you may be an entrepreneur but it is God who has blessed your business as He has seen fit.  And it is God who will either continue to bless that income or take it away.  His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts our thoughts.  So whether rich or poor be grateful for what you have because God promises to supply all your needs if you seek Him.

Unfortunately this town never got to learn that blessed promise and wonderful joy.  Because when they were faced with the face of the Savior they chose wealth over salvation.  How sad that a whole town could be more concerned with their wealth and all that encompasses than learning about the man that can free men from demon-possession.  One would hope such a miracle would have people asking for more miracles of healing in their lives rather than looking at their pocketbooks and being fearful of what more money this Man might take from them.

This town is the perfect example of how it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.

This town is also a reminder to us who follow Christ to keep our priorities in order.  It is just as easy for us to allow wealth to cause an area of a hardened heart and that gives the enemy a foothold in our life that we don’t want to happen.  We must listen to the Holy Spirit and obey it’s voice when It calls us to action in our giving.

We must only have one Master at all times.  So check yourself and ask God if you are in line with His will in this area.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Who Is Your Identity?

Who are you?  Are you identifying yourself by your profession?  Perhaps you are identifying yourself as a husband or wife and putting everything you have into that relationship.  Perhaps your a mom and you are identifying yourself as a mom or in how your children behave or have matured and grown up?  Are you a student and identify yourself as such? Do you allow your grades to speak for who you are?  If you are identifying yourself in any of these ways or any other way other than in respect to Christ that is not your true identity.

I have mistakenly looked for my identity in nearly all of these except for mom, since God never blessed me with children.  When I was put on disability and lost my identity of a professional and it was very difficult when asked what I do to answer the question.  You see here I was (if I remember correctly) in my early 30’s and out of the workforce.  What was to be my identity?

I have had and continue to have the identity of daughter and sister but that never seemed enough.

When I went into early retirement as was suggested to call it by some, I became a student and although I love learning and am fairly good at it.  This too was not enough.

Actually being put on disability was a blessing because I had been so busy with work that I hadn’t realized how empty I was.  It was sometime after that and not without heartache and dealing with my pride that I came to realize that my identity comes from Christ and being in Christ.

Galatians 3:26-29 says this about our identity;

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior your identity belongs to Christ.  As you can see in Galatians 3:26-29 we who have been baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ.  It is Christ in us that the world must see and who we must identify ourselves with.

As the scripture says there is no distinguishing among us. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.”  In today’s terms: Their is neither Baptist nor Methodist nor Lutheran nor Evangelical nor Charismatic nor Catholic, poor nor rich, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  There also isn’t doctor nor plumber, teacher nor homemaker, wife nor aunt, student nor retired.  There are followers of Christ which have clothed themselves in Christ Jesus.

The above list of denominations and non-denominational churches is incomplete I just listed what came to mind and am sure given time I could think of a number of other to add to this list.  Most importantly, instead of the different denominations and non-demominationals waring of non-fundamentals of the faith, let us do as the Bible teaches us and find our common ground and be united in that.  We are letting these insignificant things (in comparison to the fundamentals of our faith) to be used by the enemy to pull the Church (followers of Jesus) apart rather than being unified.  This is exactly what he wants because it destroys our witness to the world.  Church wake up!  It is time we take back what the enemy has cunningly got us to let go of.  There should be unity in love of the Church this is what will attract unbelievers to us.

When you find your true identity – either a follower of Christ or not.  One of three things will happen.

  1. Knowing your identity in Christ as a believer and follower that place in your heart that you were trying to fill with other identities will find peace and wholeness.
  2. If you are not a believer or follower of Christ but you heed the tugging in your heart that this could be the answer to that whole you feel – pray this simple prayer: Lord I see myself as the sinner I am and ask You to forgive me of all my sins.  I accept what Jesus did on the cross as a sacrifice for me so that I might have forgiveness of my sins and fellowship with you.  Lord help me to live the new life that I’ve just begun and bring believers around me to help me grow in You. Amen!
  3. If you are not a believer nor follower of Christ and you choose not to say the above pray and let Christ into your life, you can look through every profession, toy, relationship, or book other than the Bible and you will never fill that God shaped whole you feel.  You know the emptiness that nothing seems to fill.  It’s there for a reason.  God put it there so you would choose Him.  He also gave you free choice so you can run from Him all you want, He’s a gentleman He won’t force Himself on you.  But let me worn you the longer you run the harder your heart becomes.  The harder your heart becomes the less likely you are to turn to Him.  The reason I mention this is that hell is a very real place and if you don’t like things here on earth you have no idea what awaits you separated eternally from a loving and holy God.  It scares me to think that anyone I know would be sent to such a horrible place.  So please reconsider God’s gracious gift of forgiveness.  We’ve all sinned and fallen short of what God in His righteousness requires which is perfection.  Only one man ever walked the earth and did not sin, and that man is our Lord and Savior  Jesus Christ.

So let’s stop looking in all the wrong places and seek out Christ in the Bible and learn about Him so that we have a better understanding of our true identity.

Joy – A Fellow  Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

God Trusts You, Do You Trust God?

God trusts you, do you trust God?

I’ve been a Christian for a long time and there have been times that have felt like a dry spell, times of refreshment, desert times, and honeymoon times, but through it all God has taught me one constant, that no matter how it feels He is always there and all I need to do is trust Him through whatever time I’m going through.  Just as Mother Teresa has said there are times when, “I just wish He didn’t trust me so much!”  But none the less God is faithful and He knows what is best despite our lack of faith and trust.

He will pray to God, and God will delight in him.  That man will behold His face with a shout of joy.  –  Job 33:26

Now if ever there was a man who was familiar with difficulties it was Job but look at the promise God gives him for his faithfulness to God.  God delights in our prayers, there is an awesome thought.  That alone should get me on my knees more often.  And if that weren’t enough we will behold His face one day the later seems to me like a well duh moment, of course we’ll shout for joy!  What we’ve been imagining for all so long we will no longer have to imagine, we will actually be in the presence of our God. Hurrah! Hallelujah! And Amen!!

But on the way to getting to that place God calls us to grow in Christ.  To become more and more like Him each day.

My journey has me on the discovery of past to overcome and move on in the here and now.  I praise God that things that where once just suspicions are now actual memories and I no longer doubt myself but am doing the work I need to do to move on from here.  It isn’t always fun, work rarely is, but it is necessary and freeing.   For that I am so grateful to God.  I’m making progress that I’ve never been able to make before and a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

You have begun to live a new life, in which you are being made new ad are becoming like the One who made you.  –  Colossians 3:10

As you go through the journey that God has in store for you to bring you to the perfect place that He has in mind for you, may I give you some advise to surrender to the Masters hands?  He knows the pattern of the cloth that He is weaving you into.  While you see the underside with all it’s dark threads of depression or deep red threads of pain, there are other threads you are less aware of that when it is finished in the Master Weaver’s hands will make a cloth so beautiful as you could never imagine.  Trust the Master and allow Him entrance into all the areas of your life.

“For I know the plans that I have for you, ” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”  –  Jeremiah 29:11

You see God promises that His plans are for our good.  So you can trust Him.

I have been through the dry spells and the desert times when you feel like you are all alone in what you are going through.  I have cried out to God, “Where are You?” “Don’t You see me?” “Don’t You care?” You want to know a secret? I have even cried out, “I don’t want to die right now cause I don’t want to  see You!  I hate You!  How could you let them institutionalize me!  He won!  If You came down here in the form of a man I would beat You!”  I might have well cried it out it was what was on my heart at the time and God already knew it.  I’m sure the nurses in the psych ward thought I was in the right place.  I misunderstood and thought I’d been institutionalized when it was just another in many psych ward visits.  You see my ex had gotten an attorney to see if he and my mother-in-law could institutionalize me, thus the rant when I thought I was.  But God as always was faithful and saw me through. Another lesson in trust.

He will always be there for me, I know that now.  My moments of doubt still come but they last far shorter than they used to instead of weeks or months they may last days or moments on a good day.  Then I remember all my Father has brought me through and I laugh to myself that I even questioned for a second that He wouldn’t have this covered too.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

God’s Greater than I

No big news here is it.  Or is it?  Are you like me finding yourself trying to do things on your own volition?  I’ve learned that when I do that I’m putting myself in the place of God with my pride and effectively saying that, “I’m great enough for this I don’t need You God.”  How foolish can I be?  There is nothing that isn’t something that God is intimately interested in.  He wants all of our lives and everything that is going on in our lives.  That’s how intimate He desires to be with us.

If you are married or have been you know how that spouse wants to know you in order to understand and know how best to help you with any of your quirks.  Well God is a gentleman and although He is God and knows already He won’t force Himself in where He hasn’t been invited.

When we fill ourself up with “I”, we lessen the room for God in our lives.  The room that He desires so much.

I found this photo on Facebook and it really inspired me.

It makes me think that possibly I should have titled this piece “God’s Greater than i”.  Using the “i” in referring to myself gives me the impression that i’m not so important and reminds me that someone else far greater than myself has my best interest at heart and He is the one that should be capitalized and given the prominence.

What does “He>i” really me?  To me, i must get out of God’s way in the plans He has for my life.  i must decrease as He increases in me.  In turning all the hidden places into His loving hands, i am humbling myself and decreasing and allowing God full reign in my life which is how it should be.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  –  2 Corinthians 12:9a

Although, this in context is regarding Paul’s thorn in the flesh, I believe the statement from God to be true of the weaknesses that we may be fearful of letting  go and letting God take care of them.  Again a matter of pride.  Although it seems like fear and believe me I’d rather believe it was fear than an area of pride in my life but the thing behind the fear is pride.

Let me explain.  When we are fearful to turn our finances over to God or our children over to God or our spouse over to God or our job over to God or an addiction over to God, whatever it might be that we are fearful of, what is it that we are really saying?  I’m fearful because I can’t control these things and that scares me.  Now let’s look a little deeper into that fear logic says that, if we are fearful of something that is out of our control to turn it over to the one who is in control of everything would 1. Be the logical thing to do and 2. Would ease our spirits of the fear.  If these two things are true why don’t we do this?  Pride.  That hateful word.  We are not always logical beings and although it would be best for us to turn it over and let God have it, we hold on to it as if some how, sometime, some way, we will be able to fix it on our own.  Do you see the pride behind the fear now?  Even in our fearfulness we want to do it all on our own.

Perhaps you are riddled with guilt behind your fear that there is no way God could help you because you are so guilty.  Can I let you in on a secret?  You too have fallen victim to pride.  Who are you that what you have done is so bad that Christ cannot forgive you?  You must be someone special because Christ died and rose from the dead once and for all for the sins of all.

I think this says it all when it comes to pride and sin.

So here’s an idea, why don’t we stop the devil in his tracks and not allow him to trick us with this false pride anymore?  Why don’t we confess our sin of pride to the Lord and then ask Him what area of your life does He need entry in?  I’ve been doing this for a while and I can assure you He will let you know where He needs entrance.  Try and think of this as an exciting new adventure that you are taking with your lover for that is truly what you are doing with the lover of your soul.  I can attest that your relationship with the Lord will be a rich blessing and far more intimate than ever before.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart

The Truth Will Set You Free

It is no fun living in bondage.  As a believer that has lived under bondage for far too long let me encourage you to take your fears to the cross and ask Christ for wisdom in what the truth is that has you bound.

With the help of my counselor I did that today and learned a lie that I had been believing for far too long.  The enemy knew my past, something I had hidden much of from myself as a means to cope, and was using it to keep me in bondage.

Today for the first time in decades of therapy  I was strong enough to look at some very difficult things.  It’s not that I hadn’t had inklings that these things had happened but with no memory I doubted myself.  The Lord very graciously brought these things back to memory for me today and with that truth came freedom.

I finally became aware of the lie I had been believing the majority of my life, “If I was pretty, men would hurt me.”  I have been the victim of multiple rapes starting at the age of 10.  But until today, I only had suspicions of them and no actual memories.  God is His goodness knew two things today.  One that I was now strong enough to handle the truth and two that I needed to know the truth for real healing to happen.  I feel finally as though a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.  The self-doubt, questions, confusion is all gone now that I know the truth.

No I would prefer that this had not happened to me but knowing it, explains so many things in my life.  Why as soon as I start getting thin and getting compliments on how pretty I look I turn to food in an attempt to alter my appearance.  Since I believed the lie, “If I’m pretty, men would hurt me.”  I did what I could to make myself unattractive.  Yet another part of me wanted to feel and look pretty because I equated it with love.  Definitely not the right kind of love.

When I had blossomed to 350 pounds I hated myself and the very sight of me.  I avoided mirrors and the scale.  I didn’t want to know the truth of how bad it had gotten.  The things that I wanted to do to myself are too horrible to mention.  Suffice it to say I was miserable. Now 98 pounds lighter I’m learning to love myself.  I’m still not satisfied with my weight but I am hopeful with todays revelation I will stop sabotaging myself on my journey to a healthy weight.

Isn’t this picture true we are the elephant with God’s help big enough to escape the bounds of these chains and these chains are the enemy and all his lies tricking us into thinking that we are stuck in our bondage.

This is the biggest revelation God has given me about how the truth truly does set you free.  I’ve been in bondage to food and I feel it grip released on me.  I praise God for that.  I know that it is nothing of my own it is totally from Him and the gift of showing me the truth of my life.

My part was to be willing and open to His guidance.  Isn’t that all He asks of us on a daily basis?  After this revelation my fear has gone and I’m more willing to trust Him and His will for my life, wherever that takes me.

My hope for you is that you didn’t have to go through the same things I have.  But I also hope that you will learn to be open to God’s guidance and free from fear.  I also pray that you learn the blessed truth of how the truth really does set you free.  So don’t be fooled like the elephant be the triumphant child of God that you are!

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Are We Living As Christ Would Have Us?

There have been a lot of things that have been done in the name of Christ, some good and some not so good.  There have been majestic Cathedrals built by artisans over ages to honor Him.  There have been celebrities giving all the glory to Jesus Christ for their success.  Yet there have also been horrific things done in His name as well.  The crusades is one of the darkest time in the history of Christendom.  War was waged all because those calling themselves Christians thought that those who were not Christians should die.  This is not what the love of Christ is all about.

I know that the crusades may seem like a rather harsh example of not doing or rather walking the walk that God would have us walk, but in God’s eyes sin is sin.  Whether we are killing people in Christ’s name or killing His image in their sight, it is all the same to God.

Let me explain what I mean by killing His image.  Every time we do something that is contrary to following Christ those watching us we are actually destroying His image, because we are representatives of Him.

I know that for me there have been times when I have not been a good representative of Christ.  Much to my dismay I have given cause for others not to have a desire to come to Christ, which is our commission.

I have learned to be more responsible about how I act and what I say and how I say it.  Sometimes silence is the best and just allow the world to see your walk.

Most importantly we need to love people.  These are not only the people in the church (because unity is important) but the people outside of the church.  Those who don’t know Christ as their Savior need to see His love and the only way they can do that is for them to see that through you and me.

This is how Christ wants us to live, loving Him with all our heart and soul and mind and then to others as you love yourself.  It seems simply enough but to put it into action on a daily basis is impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!