Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Step #2 Resolve to Run The Race

Welcome friends! I am glad you found my blog and I pray that my writings will guide you to finding peace in the presence of God and thankfulness in your trials so that you can live an abundantly free life in Christ.

I will be giving away another copy of Jesus Calling for the month of January! So, leave a comment on my blog and you will have the chance to win this devotional book that changed my life.

Now on to my topic:

Begin today!  Whatever problems, heartache or circumstances surround you, lift up a thank offering to God - even if it is as simple as thanking Him for a cup of coffee and a piece of toast.  Each day that we wake up and find ourselves alive is a gift from God and He is calling us to live it.  Don't waste energy regretting the way things are or thinking about what might have been.  Start at the present moment - accepting things exactly as they are - searching for the direction God is calling you to run in the midst of those circumstances.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,  and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.  Hebrew 12:1,2
You see, God is leading you on a path that is uniquely right for you.  As you journey down this path, you will find it diverges greatly from those around you.  There will be many clamoring voices calling you to stray from the marked path.  Often times, these voices will come from people whom you love and respect.  Do not be fearful to continue on this path with your hand firmly held by the One who loves you.  If you lose sight of path and become confused, just call out the name of Jesus and he will show you the path again (Psalm 16:11).

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
Isaiah 43:1-2

The future is a phantom seeking to spook you.  God rarely shows us what lies ahead on the path of life.  He usually gives us just enough light for the step we are on.  If we could see the mountains that lie ahead, we would become overwhelmed, so God has shielded them from our eyes.  If God is calling you to scale the mountain, He will give you the strength to match the climb, one day at a time.  We seem to think that God empowers us equally each day, but that is not so.  He knows what each day will contain and He empowers us accordingly.
The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze,
and your strength will equal your days.  Deuteronomy 33:25
Look to the Lord and His Strength;
seek His face always.  Psalm 105:4

Determine to run the race that is set before you.  Resist the temptation to look back and wonder what might have been and also resist trying to envision the future without God, anxiety always results.  The best defense against these thoughts is to stay in constant communication with God throughout the day.  Today is the day the Lord has made.  Rejoice and be glad in it!

A prayer for you to pray:
 God of our Lord Jesus Christ, Glorious Father, may you give me today the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know you better.  I pray also that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which I have been called, the riches of my glorious inheritance in the saints and the incomparably great power that is available to me as a believer.  The same power that you, Father, exerted when you raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly realms (Eph. 1:17-18).  I need this strength today to run the race you have marked out for me.  Let me keep my eyes fixed on you that I may walk by faith and not by sight (Heb. 12:1-2).

If you missed step #1, please see Anoint Me With Oil.

Grace and Peace be yours in abundance today~

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Step #1 - Anoint Me With Oil

Annointing OilsImage by alforque via Flickr
Welcome friends! I am glad you found my blog and I pray that my writings will guide you to finding peace in the presence of God and thankfulness in your trials so that you can live an abundantly free life in Christ.

I will be giving away another copy of Jesus Calling for the month of January! So, leave a comment on my blog and you will have the chance to win this devotional book that changed my life.

Now on to my topic:

I had an Ahaah! moment this week.  I've been thinking and praying about you, the reader, as to how I can help you the most.  My highest hit page is Something's Gotta Change.  That's when it hit me... you are looking for change, healing and deliverance.  Duh! 

Does the pain go way down deep?   Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells in your own home?  Do you fee like you are free-falling into a pit with no bottom?  Do you feel like your prayers are hitting the ceiling and falling to the floor?  Are you frequently sick, exhausted and about to lose your mind due to all the strife and anger in your home?  Are you stressed out, about to call it quits, drowning in debt and at the end of your rope? Oh, my friend, you are not alone!  Hang on just a little while longer, it is not a hopeless cause!

Are you longing for healing, deliverance, restoration, peace and joy?  Yes!  I can help you with that, because I have been there.  That was me that I just described in the paragraph above.  Now, don't get me wrong, no one ever arrives - I am still a work in progress, but I have seen miracles, restoration and progress by leaps and bounds in my own family.

That being said,  there are some very KEY steps that I learned along the way and I hope to lay them out for you over the next several months.  It is my goal to post one key step each week, so bear with me if the change can't come fast enough.  While you are waiting, write this verse (Psalm 27:14) on a 3x5 card and tape it to your bathroom mirror.  Read it frequently when things seem hopeless.  Also, check out my bookstore to see many other fantastic references that will get the ball rolling at bit faster.  You will need to be a diligent student if you are on a search for deliverance. 

By the way, do you have a Bible?  You will absolutely need one for this journey.  If not, there are several good online references, or at the kindle store for your ipod, Droid,  or Kindle.  Get the Kindle app here.  If you prefer a hard copy, I recommend the NIV version.

Change requires a commitment.  Are you willing to do what it takes?  Fortunately, there is something unique about the type of change I will be laying out for you.  It doesn't simply depend on your own strength, determination or will-power.  You see, when we bring God into the picture and walk with him through the difficulties of life, He says He will give us weapons with divine power to demolish strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).  A stronghold (in the spiritual sense) is simply a thing, idea, mindset or addiction that keeps us in bondage to something false. I will talk more about spiritual strongholds in the weeks to follow.  But for now, just know God will give you the strength that you don't have to overcome any obstacle.  Isn't that great news!

Before I lay out step #1, there is one other important element that should be established and that element is HOPE.  If your situation seems hopeless, I guarantee it is not, so I'm going to dare you to hope again.  Remember, we're dealing with God's divine power now, not just human power.  "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26  If you missed it, please go back and read my post You Gotta Have Hope

Okay, are you ready for step #1?  It's a simple one, but it's not easy!  Anoint me with oil.

The date was October 2009.   I sat in church while my pastor preached on James 5:13-16 which says:
Is any one of you in trouble?  He should pray. 
Is anyone happy?  Let him sing songs of praise. 
Is any one of you sick?  he should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; 
The Lord will raise him up.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 
Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. 
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
There it was as plain as the nose on my face.  My husband, my marriage, my children and my finances were sick.  My heart was pounding as I felt God speaking directly to me. It was time - time to call the elders of the church to pray over us and anoint us with oil in the name of the Lord. 

Yikes!  I told you it wasn't going to be easy, but this is the first step.  For me and my family, this was the beginning step.  To tell you the truth, I didn't even believe it would work and yet I had hope.  If you read this scripture closely, you will see that it says, "the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well."  If it had to depend upon my faith, it surely would have failed.  Good thing for me, it didn't depend on my faith, but rather the faith of the people offering the prayer, specifically, the elders.

It was terribly intimidating to make that call to the church and ask for this ceremony to be done.  At first, I met with a road-block and this even after the pastor had just preached on this passage.  I was so discouraged.  I was told that I couldn't call a special meeting of the elders to pray over us.   But I persevered until I found out that the elders were available every Sunday after each service to pray for anyone.  And so that is what we did.

There were no fireworks, no lightening bolts from heaven, no ranting and raving for healing, just a beautiful anointing and a powerful and effective prayer from the lips of a righteous (but not perfect) group of men and women.  Keep in mind, the key purpose of this anointing is to invoke the divine power of God to bring about healing and deliverance from the pain in our lives.

Did I see a miracle?  No, but looking back, I know it happened, I just couldn't see it with my naked eye.  Sometimes healing is immediate, but more often it is a process.  Sarah Young, in her book Jesus Calling writes about miracles this way (it is written in first person with Jesus speaking to you, the believer).
"Do not fear your weakness, for it is the stage on which My Power and Glory perform most brilliantly.  As you persevere along the path I have prepared for you , depending on My strength to sustain you, expect to see miracles - and you will. Miracles are not always visible to the naked eye, but those who live by faith can see them clearly.  Living by faith rather than sight, enables you to see My Glory."
There it is.  Step #1 in the healing process.  I'm sure you're saying "no way am I going to do that", but I challenge you to step out of your comfort-zone and take a step of faith.  Live by faith and not by sight.  Isn't your life worth it?

A prayer for you to pray this week:
"Lord, I pray that You would give me an added measure of faith today.  Enlarge my ability to believe in You, Your Word and Your promises.  Where I have formerly felt hopeless, enable me to hope again.  Empower me with your divine weapons to fight off the fiery darts of the evil one who roams around as a roaring lion, seeking to devour me.  I pray that out of your glorious riches you would strengthen me with power in my inner being to step out of my comfort zone and pursue you as my healer.   I will be strong and take heart as I wait upon You."
Grace and peace be yours in abundance today~
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Eye Is The Lamp Of The Body

A diya - Indian oil lamp.Image via Wikipedia
Welcome friends! I am glad you found my blog and I pray that my writings will guide you to finding peace in the presence of God and thankfulness in your trials so that you can live an abundantly free life in Christ.

I will be giving away another copy of Jesus Calling for the month of January! So, leave a comment on my blog and you will have the chance to win this devotional book that changed my life.

Now on to my topic:

This week I met up with a dear friend whom I haven't seen much this past year.  It seemed like no time had past between us at all as we quickly caught up with each other .  As she was telling me about her children and their activities, their private school education, their family's ski vacation, their Christmas gifts and as she looked like a million bucks from head to foot, I found myself running a mental total of the thousands and thousands of dollars all these things cost.  Not only does she have the tangible things in life but the intangible things as well like an emotionally stable husband with a well-paying job.   By the time I got to my car, I was in an all-out mind battle with jealousy. 

Now, I've been down this road before.  Call it what you want, "keeping up with the Joneses" or "Conspicuous consumption", this pattern of thinking has landed me in the ditch every time.   A few years ago, after 17 years of marriage and much financial disappointment, I came to a point of crisis of faith.  I questioned, "Is God really good?"  In my mind's eye, He had not been very good to me.  I had a husband who was "mentally ill" (see What I Believe) and couldn't hold a job, my marriage was falling apart, we were struggling financially and I was left carrying more than my share of providing income and managing my household than I had bargained for.  And from my perspective, my hopes and dreams had gone down the tubes.  While my friends, on the other hand, were going on vacation, buying new cars and sending out Christmas letters with beautiful family pictures, just to let me know how well things were going for them...ahem!  Alas, the eyes are the lamp of the body and from what I could see, things had become very dark. 

In the midst of my darkness, God took the blinders off my eyes to see this very important truth.
19,20) Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth...  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven... For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22)  The eye is the lamp of the body.  If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light,

23)  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24)  No one can serve two masters, either he will hate the one and love the other, or  will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.  Matthew 6:22-24

Do verses 22 and 23 seem out of place?  What do our eyes have to do with seeking treasure or serving money?  Apparently, a lot.  It is our eyes that give us our perspective on how we view ourselves and those around us.   Our perspective has to do with the position of the heart.  I guess my eyes were bad because my whole body was full of darkness.  I had a really hard time reconciling the desires of my heart with the promises of God.  I questioned God about whether He would give me the desires of my heart. 

Have you ever questioned God about His promises?  You know what?  It's okay to ask as long as you also seek His answer. How quickly I forget how truly blessed I am.  Never have I gone without a meal, shivered for lack of heat, wondered if I would have enough baby formula or diapers, been homeless or without a car.  But, oh, how my eyes hurt from viewing life from my glass-half-empty, pity-party perspective.

In your eyes, are things looking pretty bleak?  Is the darkness stealing your life away?  Have you forgotten what joy feels like?  If you have a moment, turn on some instrumental music and take time to soak in this verse.

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you as well.  Matthew 6:33

Pray that God would help you to seek Him first every day and set your perspective in perfect order.  Ask Him to heal your eyes so that your whole body will be full of light and the darkness will not steal your life away.  And as you seek God first, all these other things will be added to you as well.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance today~
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

You Hold The Key!

Unlock the secretImage by jainaj via Flickr
Welcome friends!  I am glad you found my blog and I pray that my writings will guide you to finding peace in the presence of God and thankfulness in your trials so that you can live an abundantly free life in Christ.

The winner of last month's book give-away is Cheryl Bixby!  Congratulations!  Thank you for your comments.  A copy of Jesus Calling is coming your way very soon!  I hope this book will be as much of a blessing to you as it has been to me.

I will be giving away another copy of Jesus Calling for the month of January!  So, leave a comment on my blog and you will have the chance to win this book.

Now on to my topic:

Everyone's talking about resolutions.  Have you made some resolutions for 2011?  Will you resolve to lose weight, lose the wrinkles, eat less, exercise more, make more money, pursue happiness or raise successful children?  I'm sure you have your own hopes and dreams to add to this list.

Those are all worthwhile resolutions!  To phrase it differently, we want to be blessed with all the good things in life and none of the bad!  In 2009, my resolution was just to survive.  I wanted my marriage to survive, I wanted enough money to pay the bills, I wanted better mental and physical health for my husband and my children.  I desired happiness, less stress, more sleep and the ability to laugh, which I found increasingly difficult.

I remember growing up in Florida, my family would often drive over to the beach and my dad would gaze out over the Gulf of Mexico, at sunset, with a far-away look in his eyes.  I would ask, "Dad, what are you looking for?"  He replied, "I'm waiting for my ship to come in!"   I guess that was no more silly than my digging in the sand hoping to find buried treasure!

In 2010, I dug my shovel deep into the Word of God hoping to find a treasure buried there which I had heard about.  A treasure that contained abundant riches and blessings and a key to unlock the secret formula for happiness and success.  One day, as I was digging, my shovel hit on a promise:
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.
Isaiah 33:6
In that moment I realized that the treasure chest was filled with salvation, wisdom and knowledge.  They are the true treasures.  Proverbs says,
Blessed is the man (woman) who finds wisdom for it is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.  It is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with it. (Proverbs 3:13-14)
Knowledge is to help us understand the issues of life and wisdom is to know what to do about them.  Looking at the verse in Isaiah, however, I realized that there is a key to unlocking this treasure... the fear of the Lord.  So I dug my shovel in again looking for the key.  What exactly is the fear of the Lord?  Guess what?  I found it!  Here it is!
Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Whoever of you loves life and
Desires to see many good days.
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.  Psalm 34:11-14
Did you know that the fear of the Lord is found in the spoken word?  I held the key!  It was my very own words!  From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  Whatever we put in, will come out, so turn away from things that don't fill your heart with truth. 

I had to take a good hard look at what I was putting into my heart.  The biggest thing I allowed into my heart was lies from the enemy.  Lies like I need a fully-remodeled house, a nicer car, another nicer car, money to put my kids in all kinds of activities, a summer vacation, a winter vacation, daily coffee at Starbucks, dinner out (frequently), very cool clothes, shoes, accessories and sports equipment for all six of us, etc., etc. When these desires weren't fulfilled, I got angry and I blamed my husband for not living up to my expectations and the lifestyles of the people around me.  And the words of destruction started pouring out of my heart and my mouth.

It is not true that God does not want us to have a nice home, nice cars and nice clothes, but what He wanted to teach me is that true happiness does not depend on these things.  God wants to give us good things.  If we go back to that same chapter in Psalms, look what it says:
Fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing!
Lions may grow weak and hungry,
But those who seek the Lord lack
no good thing!  Psalm 34: 7-9
This year, I am resolved to seek wisdom since it yields better returns than gold, and I will unlock this treasure by fearing the Lord; in other words, I will be watching my words. 

The battle is for your mind.  Don't let the enemy breathe those lies into your ears where they go straight to your heart and eventually out of your mouth.  Do you have your armor on?
 My purpose is that (you and I) may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that (we) may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that (we) may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Colossians 2:2-3
Grace and peace be yours in abundance today~
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