Jesus Wants An Intimate Relationship 30 Days of Gratitude – Day 20

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Today I’m grateful that Jesus wants an intimate relationship with me.  He doesn’t just want to hear from me on Sunday’s or Wednesday nights, He wants to know and be invited into every part of my life.

He is omnipotent (all knowing) so He knows all about my life but that isn’t enough for Him.  He wants to hear it from me.  He wants me to open my heart to all the areas of my life that I might like to call secret.  How do I know this?  John 14:23

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.  My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

“We will come to them and make our home with them”, that is a pretty intimate relationship.  It’s a relationship of love.

We obey His teaching not because it will make us acceptable, we were made acceptable by what Christ did on the cross.  We don’t obey his commands because it will make us worthy.  Christ obeyed the commands of God and that didn’t make Him any more worthy than He had been at the beginning of time, nor did it make the perfect more acceptable.  He obeys God’s commands out of love for the Father.  A love so perfect its hard for us mere humans to understand.  But all the same that love is offered to us and out of an outpouring of that love we should obey His commands.  “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5  If we can live up to this commandment and the other that Jesus gave us “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Then we are obeying His commandments.

I must admit that I’m not always the best at loving the unlovely.  For that I’m truly ashamed of myself.  I don’t always follow through on actions as best as I could.  Sometimes I wonder what they are going to do with the money they ask for and then other times I think there but for the grace of God go I and figure it’s none of my business what they are going to do with it.  My duty is to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and do as He guides me to do.  The rest is their business between them and God.  But maybe you struggle with me on this and maybe we could go to the Father and ask for His help in this matter.

Lord God, make me a more loving person both to You and to my neighbor.  I long to bring you pleasure.  Help me in that desire. Amen.

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

Faith or Fear

A lot of what I’m sharing today I got from a sermon from my pastor Mike Erre called “Faith in an age of Fear”.  I was so impressed by it that I decided to share it and my thoughts on it with you my readers.

Matthew 6:19-34 are our verses for today.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moths and vermin do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where you treasure is there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body if your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light but if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you to much more valuable tan they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers in the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans fun after all these things, and you heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The passage starts about storing up our treasures in heaven.  This is more than just talking about money but where your heart is.  What is your main focus on things of this earth which will decay or the things of God which will never decay?

Then Jesus puts it another way talking about the eye being the lamp of the body.  During Jesus day an unhealthy eye was one who was greedy and cheap and miserly.  The healthy eye was generous, helpful and thought of as good.  The healthy eye would be carrying out God’s will while the unhealthy would not.  One is storing up treasures in heaven the other on earth.

Then He talks about the serving of only one masters either God or money.  How we can’t have it both ways it’s either or.  Either your heart is with God and that is where your treasure is or your heart is elsewhere with some other idol here on earth where moth and vermin destroy and thieves can steal.  Since we can’t take it with us it is important we make the right choice.

Mike Erre made a very good point that in America we see the don’t worry passage and think God is going to give us good things and supply all that we need.  But there are Christians who love the LORD that don’t have food or drink or clothes what do we do about that?

He believes and I agree with him that the don’t worry follows the other passages in the same train of thought.  Let me try and explain the grass of the field is thrown in the fire it is not all good for the grass.  In that day and age the birds of the air were used for sacrifice again not all good for the birds.  What they do have in common is that they don’t worry about their food or death or anything they just exist as God intended them to.

Verse 33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Could this verse in the light that bad things do happen to those that love God, actually mean by seeking his kingdom and righteousness that the things of the kingdom, peace in the midst of turmoil, faith in the face of fear, and joy in the midst of mourning are all ours to have?  Could it mean that there is an even more fulfilling and abundant life to be had than what we are told on this earth via commercials and peer pressure?  I believe the answer to be “Yes!”

I look with new eyes at the do not worry verses and realize that my hope is in God alone and whatever He has in-store for me His grace and mercy will be sufficient for me.

Lord God, let me walk boldly in faith and keep these scriptures ever present in my mind when I am tempted to fall away from a bold walk with you in my journey of faith.  I want to stand confident in Your power, grace, mercy and unchanging will. Lord help me to do just that and confront me when I falter.

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

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 19

Today I’m grateful that the enemy is defeated.  The Serpents head has been crushed.  Christ is the victor and we can live victoriously as long as we rely on God and remember that the battle has already been won.  Something Satan would like us to forget.

I love this quote from, January 14th of “Joy of My Heart: Meditating Daily on God’s Word” by Anne Graham Lotz, it so fittingly portrays what is going on spiritually in our lives.

Although I can remember killing only one snake myself, I was present several times when snakes were killed by others.  Each time I observed a fascinating phenomenon.  After the snake was killed, its body invariably continued to twitch until sundown.  Even though the head was crushed, rendering it powerless, the dead snake’s writhing body was enough to keep me at a distance.

We need to remember that ever since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Satan has been a defeated foe.  His head has been crushed.  As we seek to climb higher in our faith, what we are confronted with is merely the twitching of our defeated foe.  But sundown is coming!  One day even the twitching body of that old Serpent, the devil, will be destroyed.

Now if that isn’t something to be grateful for, I don’t know what is.

Lord help me to always remember that when the enemy attacks he is merely a defeated foe and all I need to do is turn to you.  Don’t let me be fooled by the twitching body of a dead Snake.  Amen.

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!

How Do You Look At The Details Of Your Life?

I love this from Beth Moore in her, “Breaking Free: Day by Day” devotional, this was found on 8/29:

We have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.  –   2 Corinthians 4:7

Here is my personal check list of Scriptures and evaluations that I seek to apply to my life on a regular basis.

  • Is my most important consideration in every undertaking whether or not God could be glorified? (1 Cor. 10:31)
  • Do I desire God’s glory or my own? (John 8:50,54)
  • In my service to others, is my sincere hope that they will somehow see God in me? (1 Pet. 4:10-11)
  • When I am going through hardships, do I turn to God and try to cooperate with Him so He can use them for my good and for His glory? (1 Pet. 4:12-13).

These really got me thinking about the motives behind what I do on a daily basis.  Do I follow the four bullet points that Beth talks about or am I more concerned about myself.  To be honest I’d say it is not as good as I would like it to be.

I want to be used by God not just sit on the sidelines and watch while others have all the fun.  I want others to see God in me.  As a matter of fact that is what I want them to be consumed by God when they look at me.

I want my hardships to be used for my good and for His glory.  That is one of my ultimate goals.  It is my ultimate work goal.  I want to encourage people as much as possible that no matter what it is that they have gone through, our God is greater and He will bring you through to the other side and you will be the better for it.

If I had known nearly 25 years ago what I know now: 1. I never would have believed it possible.  2. It would have saved me a ton of misery if I could have wrapped my mind around it.  Nearly 25 years ago I had made my first of too many to count attempts at suicide.  Now I know that that is not an option for me.  I have better coping skills with the illnesses of Bi-polar and General Anxiety Disorder.  Unless I’m sick I keep my appointments with my doctors and am very strict with myself about taking meds.  I’m getting better about keeping to a stringent sleep schedule, although at times I fail.

Whatever your Achilles heel is, it is my strong belief that you too can live a victorious life, are you going through a ugly divorce?  Allow God to teach you and bring you through.  There are always lessons to be learned no matter what it is that we are going through.  Dealing with issues of abuse?  God can help you there too.  He can help to show you that you’re not the one to blame and that in due time with healing forgiveness can be given for your benefit but that takes time so don’t feel bad if you’re not ready yet.  Going through a loss.  God is the Great Comforter and He longs to comfort you in a way that no human can be.  Once He has comforted you, you will have a more intimate relationship with Him than ever before.

The list could go on and on but it is my fervent hope that you get the idea and whatever you are dealing with the Holy Spirit has already brought it to mind and how He would like to be there for you if you would just trust Him and release yourself to Him.  He is called the Comforter for a reason.  Allow Him to do what He is here to do.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Qualities to Add to Our Life

It seems that God is trying to get a message through to me because similar messages are repeating themselves every time I turn around.

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1:5-8

It is obvious to me that God wants me to increase my faith and to add these qualities to my life.  The qualities that He seems to be focusing on at this time are knowledge, self-control and perseverance.  I have an increasing hunger to get to know Him better and His will in my life.

It has become very obvious to me that I lack self-control.  The areas of my life that I lack it in so much is my eating and my sleep habits and making and sticking to a schedule for my life.  I need God’s guidance in these areas.

If I had more faith, knowledge and self-control I would naturally have more perseverance.  The more faith I have the longer I will trust God and persevere under trials.  With more knowledge of the Word of God, the greater my faith and the stronger my trust and my self-control.

Lord help me to add to my faith, if that means by experiences that are uncomfortable that need to be gone through, I’m ready to do whatever it takes to increase my faith in You that we might be closer.  Help me to live a a life of goodness.  Give me a thirst for Your Word that I might have ever increasing  knowledge.  Lord, help me to develop the Fruit of the Spirit self-control.  I long to be pleasing to You and not let You down.  Please let me develop perseverance that I might withstand under trials and peer pressure, so that I might be pleasing to You and mature in the faith.  Lord, help me to develop godliness that I might be a good representative of You.  Give me brotherly kindness that I might help to bring unity to the body of Christ.  Heavenly Father give me love for that is the most important quality of all.  Give me the love that You have for those who know You and those who don’t know You.  I want to love as You love, unconditionally.  Thank you for loving me enough to answer my prayers.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

What Should People Be Saying About You?

In Proverbs 27:21 it says,

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.

When I read this I got to thinking, what kind of life am I living?  Yes I get some very nice words for my blogs on occasion but is that enough?  What is God calling me to do?  I’m to be a light at the top of a hill.  A beckon that guides the way.  That is something people are grateful for and may even praise.  Not that I am anything of myself without God and ultimately all the praise goes to Him.  But am I causing people to praise Him?  I fear not.

I want my works to withstand God’s testing.  I want my Heavenly Father to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”  I don’t want to be one that makes it as just one who barely made it through with what little effort put in burnt in the flames.

Lord, make me a powerhouse for You.  I want to hear the praises rise to glorify You and cause people to come to You by the droves.  Lord, give me a fire that burns within me that cannot be quenched.  Cause me to call those who don’t know You to You.  I want to be used mightily of You.

I know this is going to take work on my part and I’m ready to go into the hidden areas of my life and release them to You for healing and renewal.  I give You every part of me, the horrible parts of my past, the things that scare me about the present and the hopes and dreams and fears of my tomorrows.  They are all Yours Lord.  I put them and leave them at the foot of the cross.  Help me not to return to them unless You need me to to learn and grow, other than that I release them to Your mighty power and wisdom.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

What is Your Heart Reflecting?

In Proverbs 27:19 it states:

As water reflects the face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.

When I read that it got me thinking, what am I reflecting?  Am I reflecting confidence, steadfastness, peace, self-control?  If I have faith and trust in the Lord that is firm and unshakable, as it should be, for He is worthy of that faith and trust, then I would automatically exude confidence and steadfastness.  But do I?  Would I be likely to hear my Lord say, “Oh, you or little faith.”  More often than I care to admit I think I would.

If I rest in the shadow of His wings would I not naturally have peace in my life?  But is that what I do or do I fret and worry and try to do things on my own strength rather than rest in His strength.

If I allow myself to be controlled by the Fruit of the Spirit and develop that in my life would I not reflect self-control?  Yet do I yield to the Spirit on a daily basis or even hourly basis?  No not always, not even usually if I’m honest with myself.

Lord, I want to reflect confidence that comes from You so that others may learn that precious gift.  I want to be steadfast in my faith, firm and unshakable, help me to reflect this so that others will be attracted to the best You have to offer.  Lastly, Father I want to reflect a trust in You that will bring others to a saving knowledge of You.  And if You will, may I also reflect wisdom and discernment, so that people will be drawn to the words of my mouth because they come from You.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Little Clay Pots

This is reposted from the writer Anne Graham Lotz from her devotional: “The Joy of My Heart: Meditating Daily on God’s Word”

“You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and we are the work of Your hand.”   –     Isaiah 64:8  NKJV

The principle that suffering leads to glory is illustrated in Scripture by a vivid description of clay on the Potter’s wheel – clay that was once cracked, shattered, and broken, clay that was totally useless and ugly.  The Potter took the clay and broke it down even further, grinding it into dust then moistening it with water before He put it on His wheel and began to remake it into a vessel pleasing to Himself.  The cracks and chips became soft and pliable to the Potter’s touch.  But the clay was still soft and weak, the color dull and drab.  So the Potter placed the vessel into the fiery kiln, carefully keeping His eye on it as He submitted it to the raging heat.  At a timer He alone determined was sufficient, the Potter withdrew the pot from the furnace.  The blazing heat had radically transformed into a vessel of strength and glorious, multicolored beauty.

You and I are just little clay pots destined for glory!

Let’s let God do the work that He wants to do in our life.  Let’s become the clay pots that He has in mind for us.  It is not just a matter of obedience but of faith and trust and living a life that is fulfilling that brings glory to God.  I can’t think of a better way to live.  Can you?

Joy – 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!