Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Morning Page - Grasping Grace

Good morning! Here in the Midwest, it is a damp and dreary start to the day. However, I did notice driving in to work spring green buds giving a lacy look to all the tree branches.

The town square's flowering trees are budding out daily. So, there's that.





On my mind today is some of the dreaming I did last night.

Most dreams are a garble of the days events and thoughts threaded together in an impossible collage of happenings. But once in awhile, something stands out. If I can remember it clearly hours later, I take notice.

In my dream, I was wandering down hallways of what looked like to be a centuries-old building. I met a chap coming down a staircase who informed me there was a really nice work-out room on the next floor.

Why inform me? I'm certainly never one to avail myself of a work-out room!

However, I AM a curious sort, so I went upstairs to see what they had. Immediately upon entering the room, I spied my nemesis, a series of monkey bars mounted high in a narrow hallway.

Monkey bars and I have a history together. My first broken arm occurred on one. I've avoided them ever since.

Somehow, today, I knew things would be different. I went over to them and LEAPED up and grabbed hold of one of the bars. (This would only happen in a dream). 

At first, I went from bar to bar easily. I felt empowered! However, as time went on, it became more difficult to hang on.

The chap from the hallway wandered into the room and asked how things were going.

I replied that at first it was easy, but now it was difficult to keep from slipping.

He remarked it was a lot like grace. Grace empowers and makes one able to do wonders. But the enemy tries his best to make us loosen our hold on grace. He'd yank it out of our hands if he could.

Then he said, "It's worth everything to hold onto grace."

I remember waking several times throughout the night and telling myself, "I've got to hold onto grace."

Now, I'm wide awake and mulling the dream over. Grace is a gift I didn't earn. God is not going to yank it back from me. A gift is a gift.


For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8 NKJV)

Here is the temptation: to begin to believe it's not enough, to feel that I must do more to earn favor with God. If I just did more, my prayers would be answered. Then I've stepped in the realm of thinking it's all about me, instead of it's all about Him.

Once I've grasped grace, I need to live in the reality of it. Don't let anyone, even myself, talk me out of the wondrous fact of God's love and care. Undeserved, but it is there.

It's worth everything to hold onto grace.

~~~

And that is what is on my mind this morning. What's on yours?


~~~

I'm sharing with Crystal's #FreshMarketFriday and Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth. It's worth your time to visit these great communities!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do - Part 3

Welcome back! Today, we are covering Part 3 of my message, "What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do." You can read part 1, Get Your Eyes on Him, and part 2, Get Peace in Your Heart, by clicking on the links.

I used to work with a Youth Pastor who would lament, "If only God would send me a fax each day telling me what to do, life would be much simpler."


He would show up every morning with a hopeful look on his face, "Has my fax came through yet?"

Sorry, no, it doesn't work that way. He wants you to trust and wait on Him!
After making sure your focus is on Him and that there is nothing between you, the next thing to do is:


Step 3.     Get Your Praise On
Let’s go back to our first example – Jehoshaphat. 
 2 Chronicles 20:21-22
21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:“Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.”22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.
Before every battle, praise. God inhabits the praise of His people. When you are praising, you are making room for Him to manifest His presence.
Also, you can’t speak words of doubt whenever you are praising in faith!
The song saying Praise the Lord for His mercy endures forever in verse 21 is the same song the children of Israel sang when they transported the ark to Jerusalem and also at the temple dedication.
Can't you picture it? Before the army, the choir marches out first, praising God and singing! What an unexpected battle plan! I'm sure the enemy was puzzled.
My HCSB Study bible says that the MOMENT they began singing and praising the Lord set ambushments against their enemies.
What if at the MOMENT you start praising, your answer is released and on its way? 
He is worthy of all praise, honor and glory. When you don't know what to do, you know you can always give Him praise.

~~~

I'm sharing this post at Jennifer Duke's Lee's link-up, #TellHisStory.

Friday, March 17, 2017

What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do - Part 2

Welcome back to my series on What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do.

Life is messy and things happen.

When troubles arise for the believer, I feel there are 6 things helpful to do. Last week, in part one, we covered the first step extensively, which was to get our eyes on the Lord.

Whatever has your full attention will be the main focus of your life. Which do you want it to be? God or your problem?




Today, the next step will be discussed:


Get Peace in Your Heart



·        What's the first thing you do when you are called by God?  You get rid of any sin in your life. God called Gideon to get rid of the place where Baal was worshiped on HIS OWN FATHER'S LAND!

·        I think it is worth mentioning: If you are experiencing trouble, ask yourself is there anything I’ve done I need to make right? I’m not saying problems always come because of sin, but let us each examine our own thoughts and attitudes first.

I’m currently reading "The Daniel Prayer" by Anne Graham Lotz. It’s a wonderful book on prayer and I encourage all of you to read it. She shared about how important confession of personal sin is to have results in our prayer life.

She told of reading a pamphlet by Charles Finney, “Preparing the Heart for Revival.” He wrote that to experience revival, we must look to our own hearts, to examine the state of our own minds, to reflect on past actions. 

Things to ask ourselves: have I neglected things I know I should be doing out of love for God and family? Is my concern for lost souls fading? Have I become critical of others? Is there any hypocrisy in my life? [Finney suggests we review our motives THREE times!]

It takes courage to honestly assess and acknowledge our shortcomings, but when one is desperate to hear from God, it's worth the pain.

I undertook this little assessment myself. During my second review of myself, I recalled an incident that happened some months ago. (Okay, a year ago.) I had bought some placemats at WalMart and when I got home, seeing the placemats were rolled up together, I realized after checking my receipt I'd only been charged for one placemat instead of four. Feeling very virtuous, I laid aside the money for three placemats and the receipt in my wallet determining to pay for the placemats my next trip. WalMart is my second home, after all.

However, somehow I never seemed to make time to actually go by the service desk and pay for them. You know how it is, I'd glance at my watch and say, "Well, I'm running late ... I'll do it next time." 

I'm sure you figured out, next time never came. What's worse, a little voice began to say to me, "WalMart makes a lot of money off me anyway."

All this came to mind. I knew what I had to do. Of course, by now, I'd lost the receipt. I went to the Service Desk and explained my dilemma. 

"Do you have the receipt?"

"No."

"Are there any placemats like those still in the department where we could scan them?"

"No," I said, hanging my head even lower ...

"Well, we appreciate your honesty but we can't take money without accounting for it. Thanks for coming."

Goodness, I owe WalMart $4.50 and can't get them to take it!

Just to make sure I learned my lesson, God had me give that money away so that I can at least say I didn't get free placemats!

Some may feel this is a small thing but there's a scripture in the Song of Solomon about the little foxes that spoil the vines. Little things can ruin a great harvest!

You can confidently approach the throne to find help in time of need when you are at peace with God. It’s worth everything.

It’s also worth mentioning here that when you focus on God’s love for you, it really helps you to have peace in your heart. I love that line from the song “Good Father:”

“You’re a good good, Father, that’s who You are, that’s who You are,
And I’m loved by you, that’s who I am, that’s who I am.”

That song has a biblical basis:

 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1 NIV)

Next time you look in the mirror, say “Hello, I’m Jerralea, child of God, and I’m loved by the Father.” That thought can really be a mood-lifter!

So, to recap:  When troubles come our way, we fix our eyes on Jesus, and we make sure we have peace in our heart, that all is well between us and the Father.

See you next week for step 3!

~~~~

I'm sharing this with the communities at #TellHisStory, #FreshMarketFriday and Grace&Truth.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Morning Page - Talking about Do Not Fear - 03.10.17

As I type this, I'm kind of smiling to myself, because it takes me all day to get a Morning Page done ... because. Life. Interrupts.

On my mind today is the fact we are having Spring-like weather, yet snow is forecast for this weekend. We've not had snow all winter... Hello! Welcome to the Midwest!

In any event, it looks like Saturday would be a good SOUP day. I love feeding my people soup. So warm and comforting ... so easy ... and there is just something about chopping up all those veggies as I listen to Pandora. It makes my heart happy.

Something else that makes my heart happy -  this passage I read the other day in the book, "Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship by N.T. Wright:


Do you know what the most frequent command in the Bible turns out to be? What instruction, what order, is given, again and again, by God, by angels, by Jesus, by prophets and apostles? What do you think ‘ “Be good”? “Be holy, for I am holy?” Or negatively, “Don’t sin? Don’t be immoral? No the most frequent command in the Bible is: “Don’t be afraid.” Don’t be afraid. Fear not. Don’t be afraid.” 

The fact God tells His children, "Don't be afraid," more than any other command just really resonates with me. How loving! How kind! And how surprising! I figured His most repeated admonition would be some variation of "Get it together," or, "Quit messing up!"

Don't get me wrong. He is holy. And sin cannot be in His presence. But He made a way for for the righteousness of Christ to be the lens through which He looks at you.

All you have to do is turn from your sin and accept it!

Once that is done, there is no more reason to fear.

None!

And that, my friend, is enough to make this morning and every morning a good day. Oh, yeah, there's still going to be tests, trials and struggles. We're not in paradise, yet.

But seriously, if you are convinced He is absolutely committed to you as His child, why in the world would you be afraid?


And randomly, because this has nothing to do with anything, I was going through some pictures and realized this picture of Malia is similar to a picture of me as a teenager:





I never once thought before that we looked anything alike ... but now I see it! (Except one of us parted her hair on the wrong side...)


So what does your morning look like?


~~~

I'm sharing this post with the communities at Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth and Crystal Twaddell's #FreshMarketFriday. Go visit - you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What to Do When You Don't Know What To Do - Part 1

We are all going to have struggles in life. That’s a given. If anyone has told you, “Give your life to Christ and everything will be rosy from then on,” well … they were wrong.
Although Jesus said He came to give us an abundant life, one that is fulfilling and rewarding, He did not say it would be trouble-free.
So, the question is, when troubles come your way, what do you do? In this case, I’m not just talking about the everyday kind of things that happen in life such as the refrigerator breaking down, but I’m talking about the heavy stuff. You got a pink slip at work or a bad diagnosis from the Doctor. Or maybe there is a broken relationship you just can’t seem to fix. Misunderstandings. Accusations. Something happens out of your control and you are powerless to fix it.

I feel God has given me 6 steps to do when I’m feeling stuck in a situation that is bigger than me. He has given biblical examples I can use and I want to share them with you.
 

Today, I will be sharing step one with you:
1.     Get Your Eyes on Him
The first thing to do when overwhelmed with a problem is take your eyes off the problem and put them on Him. (The more you look at the problem, the bigger it’s going to get.)
God is bigger than your problem. I don’t care what it is. Think of the worst thing that could possibly happen and He is bigger than that.
Jehoshaphat is my first example. Look at 2 Chronicles 20:5-12. Click on the link to read the whole thing.
Two things I want to point out here: 
·        Jehoshaphat reminded himself and those listening WHO GOD IS. He said are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land? When praying for impossible things, first remind yourself of who God is and His attributes. If you are praying for healing, start by praising Him for BEING the healer, for the stripes He took for our healing, etc. If you are praying for your children, praise Him for being the ultimate parent, if you have need focus on Him being Jehovah-Jireh, our provider, etc.
·        And then, in verse 12, the smartest thing Jehoshaphat said, “nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” Total trust. Basically, he is saying Father I am powerless so I am watching you for deliverance.
Get Your Eyes on Him. Think about it. If your focus is always on Him, all the stuff on life is not going to overwhelm you nearly as much! If your eyes are on Jesus, you will see when He moves. You’ll be in sync with Him. 
Now, let's consider Gideon. The bible says he and the children of Israel faced an army so vast it. Could. Not. Be. Numbered!
You think you got troubles?
You remember the story of Gideon, right? You can find him in chapters 6-7 of Judges.

Here is the backstory:  Basically, Israel had 40 years rest from fighting off their enemies and what happened?  They got complacent and "did evil in the sight of the Lord."

Same old story ...  (Focus on Judges 6:1-6)

·        So, in order to get their attention and turn their hearts toward Him, God allowed the Midianites to come against them. A horde of enemies that were without number.

·        The Midianites would swoop down during harvest time and ravage Israel so that their hard work came to nothing. They were deprived of the basic necessities of life.

·        So THEN the Israelites cried out to the Lord. WHY did they not call out to the Lord the first year? Stubborn, much?

·        So, in answer to the Israelites prayer, He sends a delivering judge.


Check out Judges 6:11-13:



·        The pre-incarnate Jesus finds Gideon threshing wheat, not on top of a hill or high place so the wind could blow away the chaff, but in a low place, both literally and spiritually.

·        The Lord called Gideon a man of valor, but all Gideon could do is question God.  (Isn't this just like us?)

·        Gideon thought God had forsaken His people.  Are we guilty of thinking God has forsaken us?

Now examine Judges 6:14-16:

·        Gideon thought of himself as the least of his family.

·        God told him "Surely, I will be with you."

·        No matter what we are facing, we can be sure that God has not forsaken us, He is with us. God told Moses the same thing in Exodus 3:12, and Jesus told all believers He would be with them ALWAYS, UNTIL THE END OF THE AGE, in Matthew 28:20.
So we see that both Jehoshaphat and Gideon had to get their eyes off the trouble around them and put their focus on God who is always with us.
Would you like to know what happened to both Jehoshaphat and Gideon? Come back next week and we'll find out together!
Remember, the first step to do when you don't know what to do is to get your eyes on Him!
~~~
Have you faced, or are you facing, an impossible situation? What is the first thing you do? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
~~~

I'm linking this post with the community at Jennifer Dukes Lee's #TellHisStory, because my story is I need to keep my eyes on Him.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Wrapping up the Month with Thankfulness

As spring creeps in slowly (she keeps retreating and then advancing!), it's time to reflect on February.




There are many things to be filled with gratitude such as NO SNOW days at all this winter. (Although, sometimes I like a snow day - as long as there is still power and internet ...)

During recent weeks, I've been reading Anne Graham Lotz. First, I read The Daniel Prayer, which revolutionized my thinking on prayer time - especially my quiet time, or Daily Offering, as I like to call it.

Then, after reading The Daniel Prayer, I dove into her book, The Magnificent Obsession. Here is a gem from her writings that I've been mulling over:


“The incredible truth is that God the Father not only extends an offer to you to belong to His Son, He has chosen you for that purpose! (Eph. 1:4) Out of all of the daughters of Eve and the sons of Adam, the Father took the initiative and sent His Holy Spirit, His Servant, into the world to search for you. When the Servant found you, He began to convince you to accept the Father’s offer. (John 16:6-15)
... Anne Graham Lotz, The Magnificent Obsession, pg. 253

This passage really spoke to me as I was writing a message for my monthly turn at speaking, "For Such a Time as This." 

You were uniquely created and specifically placed for such a time as this. It is no accident you are where you are!

I found so many examples of this idea that I actually did not include Anne's quote in my message, so I wanted to share it with you here on the Journey.

In the classroom:

Our adult Sunday School class finished up Philippians mid-February. I love that book so much. I started to say especially the fourth chapter but really all of it is so rich. 

"being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ..." Philippians 1:6 NKJV

In spite of my many mess-ups, I have hope. God will complete a good work in me. It doesn't say, "if you try hard enough." Because it's all about what He can do in me, not what I do with me!

In the family:

February was a good month for us as we celebrated our 41st anniversary and discovered our newest grandbaby will be a girl.

Once, Jim and I thought we would never be parents. God has been so good to us! We now have three children and soon will have three grandchildren. He is truly a miracle-working God.

On the blog:

Things have been quiet, but I assure you, it is but the calm before a storm of posts head your way. I've been promising a series on "What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do," so those will be forthcoming ASAP.

My favorite February post was entitled, "Rescued," based on a thought-provoking dream I had last December.

And that's a wrap for February. I'm excited for March and spring and all manner of growing things!

What are YOU looking forward to in the coming month?


~~~

I'm sharing this post with Susanne's Friday Fave Five, Emily Freeman's What We Learned This Winter, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth, and Crystal Twaddell's #FreshMarketFriday link-ups. Please consider visiting these communities. You will find a wealth of wonderful words!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Weekly Wrap-Up and a F.F.F.

What a week!

1. It's been spring-like here in the Midwest ... I actually wore sandals to work two different days! The sun has been shining. It's all good except it makes thoughts of playing hooky easy to entertain.

2.  Last week, I mentioned we were attending a gender-reveal party for our third grandchild. It's a girl!!!

Of course, already having both a grandson and a granddaughter, I had no preferences. I'm excited to welcome this little one to the family. I have found out grandkids make life special.

Actually any child brings joy to a family. Be sure and hug the little people in your lives today.

3.  I'm still whittling the to do list down. Always a good thing.

4.  Daffodils! A nice lady named Donna decided to share some of hers with me. They make the pile on my desk much nicer.


5. Something new: My friend, Michele Morin, from Living our Days mentioned praying the Examen each night.  I found the website and thought it was so cool. Guided prayer to help you reflect on your day, it still requires you to put your prayer in your own words. You can save them or even print them out. You might want to give it a try.

I'm working on a message for my March Wednesday night lesson.  The theme is "For Such a Time as This," which of course talks about Esther, but also some others will be discussed. God has a plan for each of us and you are uniquely positioned to be right where you are at this point in your Journey. More about this later ...

And so ends another week on the Journey. How did YOUR week go? I'd love to know. Leave a comment and share, or consider linking up at Susanne's space, Living to Tell the Story. It's a great community!