Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What's your "one" thing? (Re-post from March 2015)

Today's blog will not be on my usual schedule. When I announced the blog's schedule this year, I mentioned that there will be times that the Holy Spirit may lead me another direction.  I feel this is one of those times!


I want to ask us all a question:  What's your one thing?  You know, that one thing that always comes up when you are feeling blue or unhappy?  For example, "I would be happy if only __________. "  Now, there could be a million various answers to this question.  You might say if only: I lost weight, I gained weight, I was married, I was single, I was smart, I wasn't so smart, I was tall, I was short, I had money, I didn't have so much money, I was in the ministry, I wasn't in the ministry, etc.  There always seems to be a "one" thing; the missing part of the happiness equation. 


God is currently taking me on a journey of more emotional healing.  I often tell my husband that I feel like a giant onion and God, one layer at a time, is peeling back each layer and bringing truth and healing.  Now, I will admit that I don't particularly enjoy this process, however, I do love it when God brings healing and freedom. You see, for years I have had many answers I would insert in the blank above.  There would always be "one" thing I felt I was lacking and I would press in for that missing link.  However, each time, I would be sadly disappointed that as soon as my "one" thing was received, another "one" thing would pop up.  Even as a Christian I would struggle with this.  I knew in my head that Jesus was enough but in my heart I struggled.  What causes this discontent?  Why do we look for "things" to fill a spiritual hole?  While I may not know the answer to those questions; I still believe that Jesus is the solution.  (My kids say I say this for everything)  It's not that He doesn't want me to be whole and content; He's very willing to fill that blank up to overflowing and then some.  However, there seems to be a wall up to receiving all that God wants to give me; and the wall is built on my side! Why?  Do I think maybe I don't deserve it or can't attain it, or that I missed my chance? Do I believe what I feel or what God's Word says about me?


I want to suggest that if you are in the spot where I have been,  always looking for that "one" thing, that God wants to bring healing to you.  There IS freedom and joy in Christ.  Satan wants us to believe that we have to settle for whatever comes our way, but Jesus said He came so we could have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) When we received Jesus as our Savior, He began to work in our heart, soul, and mind and He will not stop until we are completely whole! Philippians 1:6 says: He that began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  That is great news to me!  I am literally a work in progress!


If you are a Christian and you are struggling with contentment and joy, I want to encourage you to get alone with God and His Word and pour out your heart to Him.  In addition to that, I want to encourage you to talk with a Christian sister, Pastor, or friend.  Be honest about your feelings and let them pray with you and keep praying for you.  Recently God has used a Christian book to give me great insight to my heart: So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore.  Whatever you do, don't give up hope and believe the lie that you will always be hurting and sad.  There IS abundant life in Jesus, even if you can't see it yet.
Blessings

Monday, September 26, 2016

Does God love you?

There are times when we just flat don't understand what God is up to.   We pray, pray, pray and some situations seem to stay the same. For example, maybe you are in a painful place and you've cried out to God over and over and things seem the same. Or, maybe you have been praying for someone dear to you to have a breakthrough.  The more you pray, the more it seems that person is in bondage. What do we do with situations like these?  Well, some people conclude that God is not listening or paying attention.  Others may conclude that he doesn't care about us personally.   You see, I find in confusing times like these mentioned, what is really revealed is what we TRULY believe about Jesus.
I can totally relate to the questions that pop up in our heads; the doubts, fears, and sadness.  I am human and I experience an array of emotions daily.  However, whether I crumble under them or not depends on my core belief about my Savior.  I can feel disappointed in God's final decision pertaining to a situation and still feel a deep peace that He knows whats going on.  It boils down to this: Do I truly believe God loves me?

I admit there have been many times I wondered if He loved me personally.  I mean I believed generally that He loved humans because He created them.  However, me personally was a different story.  This deep-seated belief that God really didn't love me greatly affected everything in my life.  When something bad happened I assumed that it was because it was "just me" and I haven't accomplished alot nor been a "mighty woman of God" as I have heard others described. See, I had trouble receiving God's love for me.  I still had the mindset that I would have to "earn" the special love that God gave others!  Really?? Satan had me deceived!   Satan knew if I couldn't receive how much God loves me then I would remain in that paralyzed state of insecurity,  disbelief, and fear.  In other words, I was benched..on the sidelines....out of the game....out of the battle!!  God's love for us is a gift and it must be received!  He loves us period. This love is not something we have to earn.  This love is not just for the successful, the beautiful, and the famous. It's for you and me!   In Romans 8 we are told that NOTHING will separate us from God's love for us.  We are ALWAYS loved by our Heavenly Father; even on those days we feel like miserable failures. 

I can already hear some of you saying, "Oh, so I can do anything I want and God's just sitting up there with a big smile on His face?"  Now, I want to ask you something; do you love your children?  Do they ever do anything that disappoints you or makes you mad?  Does that change your love for them?  Of course not!!  On the other hand, sometimes the choices our children make do hinder our fellowship with them.  You see, when we receive (really receive and believe in our heart) God's love for us, then and only then we can start really loving Him back! Our hearts began to WANT to do things that please Him when we receive His unchanging strong love for us.

Today you may be going through a very hard time.  Maybe you are dealing with an addiction or you are in a lonely marriage. Maybe your last baby left home or you feel you have missed God's calling for your life.  Maybe you feel that God is ignoring your prayers for your prodigal son or daughter.  Maybe you feel that He is ignoring your request for a financial breakthrough. Wherever you find yourself today,  I want to encourage you to stop and ask yourself:  Do I really believe and receive God's personal love for me?  Do I really believe He wants the best for me? If you don't, take the time to talk with God.  Tell him everything (He already knows how you really feel) and repent for believing your feelings over HIS word.  Ask Him to open your eyes to the ways He loves you and to help you start receiving His love deep in your heart. It's when we line up our belief's with God's Word, that we can start receiving His wonderful, unending, unconditional love for us personally!  Oh how freeing it is to realize that the God of the universe, who is in control of everything, loves us and is true to His Word.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God

Ephesians 3:17b-19

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Where's your focus? (Re-post from April 2015)

Joy and peace are fruits of the Holy Spirit.  When we, children of God, lose our joy and peace, it can often be traced back to a certain place in which we gradually got our eyes off of the Lord.   This recently happened to me. As I have mentioned before, God has been taking me through a healing journey of peeling back the "layers" of my heart.  I often compare this process to that of peeling back layers of an onion; when you pull one layer back, another is exposed.  Deep layers of insecurity and fear have been exposed and my eyes opened.  I am now "walking out" the deep truths that God has shown me: that I am secure IN HIM and that I CAN trust His heart towards me.  How do I walk this out?  Well, the Lord gives me "exercises" in which I can practice.  These exercises can be painful yet, just like physical exercise, will prove to be for my good. 
Recently, I was in a certain situation in which insecurity reared it's ugly head.  My first thought was to counteract that fear with a scripture.  I did.  I had victory over the trap that was set before me.  I felt strengthened.   Satan hated that God had the victory in what in the past was an easy score.  A few days passed and Satan had a plan to hit me again, only with more force.  It was a time when I was physically tired and was frankly caught off guard.  Now, I want to remind us all that the Bible warns us to be alert and watchful because our enemy wants to devour us. (Ephesians 6) However, I was too busy looking at myself to notice that the enemy was gaining ground.  Next thing I knew, another temptation passed by and I took the bait.  I let an insecure thought have it's way in my mind.  Then I acted upon it; I agreed with the lie that I needed to be afraid.   Within hours my whole attitude had changed.  I was looking at other people and comparing myself with them.  I felt an urge to try to control situations in order to "make sure" that I wouldn't get hurt, etc.  Wow!  What happened? I went from joy, peace, and security to being an emotional mess.  I asked God to show me what was going on.  Why I am falling back into this trap of insecurity?


It was in my quiet time that God shined His light onto this situation.  He led me to Psalms 73.  I want to share a little background with you.  This Psalm was written by Asaph, a temple choir leader.  Asaph had let his focus fall on people.  He started comparing their lives with his life.  He wondered why it appeared things were much better for others; how they seemed to have it all together while not even honoring God.  Then he began to question his walk with God.  It wasn't until He put his focus back on God ( where it should have been in the first place) that the truth won out and he felt secure once again.  Listen as He turns to God and pours out his heart in verses 21-26:
THEN I REALIZED THAT MY HEART WAS BITTER, AND I WAS ALL TORN UP INSIDE.  I WAS SO FOOLISH AND IGNORANT- I MUST HAVE SEEMED LIKE A SENSELESS ANIMAL TO YOU.  YET I STILL BELONG TO YOU; YOU HOLD MY RIGHT HAND.  YOU GUIDE ME WITH YOUR COUNSEL, LEADING ME TO A GLORIOUS DESTINY.  WHOM HAVE I IN HEAVEN BUT YOU?  I DESIRE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING ON EARTH.  MY HEALTH MAY FAIL, AND MY SPIRIT MAY GROW WEAK, BUT GOD REMAINS THE STRENGTH OF MY HEART; HE IS MINE FOREVER.

Wow!  That was me!  I had inadvertently gotten my focus off of God and back on me.  When this happens, I tend to fight God for control of my life.  I find myself trying to "take care" of my own situations and protect myself.  I traded joy and peace for fear and control.  Bad trade!


I want to encourage you to be a fruit inspector today; inspect your spiritual fruit.  Do you have love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control? If not, check your focus.  Are you focusing on God and His Word or is your focus on others, the world, or your fears?  When your focus is off of God, you are just one thought away from defeat.



Monday, August 22, 2016

Changes

   In this world things are constantly changing.  We are growing older each day.  The seasons are either coming or going.  New buildings are being built and old buildings are being torn down. Change can be scary.  Change can be uncomfortable.  Change can be exciting.  Change can bring about good or bad.  Either way, no doubt about it; things are forever changing.

I have experienced many changes this Summer, and even though they have been good changes, they have brought about an array of emotions.    In May, our youngest son graduated High School.  In July our first precious grandson was born.  In August, our youngest moved out of state to college.  Now I admit, my head is still spinning a little.  (My heart is spinning as well)  While all of these changes are blessings, they can leave you a little unsettled.  As a new grandmother, I have a new role to play.  I  have a tiny little one that will watch how I live, what I believe, and how I love.  As our son graduates and moves away, I change roles as I step back and let him go with God.  One thing all of these changes have brought was an even deeper need for daily surrendering my life, will, and emotions to Christ.  As I cling to God and pour out my heart to Him, I am reminded of the life-giving truth that Christ does not change.  As the Bible tells us in Hebrews, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!  He does not change with the seasons.  He does not change with the popular vote.  He is the Anchor to all truth and life.  In addition to His steadfastness, He promises us in Romans 8 that NOTHING can separate us from His love; nothing!

Are you experiencing change?   Is your life at a crossroads that leaves you a little lost?  Has someone very close to you moved away or even went home to Heaven?  Has your career suddenly ended or changed? Have you moved away from home for the very first time? Has your spouse walked out on you and your family?  I want to remind you that you can have hope even though your world may be spinning out of control!  When we receive Jesus as our Savior, He promises to never leave us nor forsake us!  He promises to finish the work He starts in us!  He tells us in His word that His love will forever be ours and nothing will change that.   In this world change will come; however, we can stand firm on the never-changing love and Person of the Lord Jesus Christ!

JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER
Hebrews 13:8


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

From My Heart: Frozen (Re-post from March 2015)

From today's post title you might think I am going to talk about the popular Disney movie that all the kids love.  However, I want to talk about another kind of frozen; being frozen with fear.  Now, I'm not talking about the kind of fear you feel when one of your kids jumps out at you from behind the door.  I am talking about an emotional fear.  I am talking about how you feel when you are in a situation or discussion in which you know something's wrong but instead of saying something or making a decision to draw a healthy boundary, you freeze.  A couple of days ago a dear friend and I met for lunch.  Among the many things we discussed, we kept coming back to this type of "frozen" fear.  For example, you are having a conversation with several family members and before you know it, the conversation lands on a family member not present.  Someone then proceeds to bash the absentee family member with all kinds of slander and you feel that awful twisting feeling in your stomach.  You know you should say something; something like, "I am sorry you feel that way, however, I don't feel the same and would rather not talk anymore about it".  But instead of drawing a boundary line, you freeze.  You have a fear that if you said anything you would be chopped down like a weed in a garden.  This is the type of "frozen" I am talking about today. Another example would be that you are out with a group of  Christian friends having a "ladies night" and someone suggests going to a place you feel you shouldn't go.  After all, all your friends are Christians and they think it's ok, so if you oppose them you will really stick out like a sore thumb.  So, instead of saying anything, you freeze.  You go ahead and sacrifice your convictions because of fear.  The fear of rejection is real and strong.  However, it is NOT bigger than God or more powerful than His Holy Spirit.  As I have said recently, I am a work in progress and certainly have not arrived, but day by day I am getting healing and getting stronger.  I am learning that it's okay if I tell the truth in love, even when it's not popular. In fact, telling the truth is loving others.  Even the Bible says in Ephesians 4 that when we become mature Christians we will speak the truth in love, growing more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body, the church. (Ephesians 4:15 NLT)
Overcoming this type of fear, the fear of rejection, is a HUGE thing; it's a God thing!  Only with His power, peace, strength, and wisdom can we break free from the worry of upsetting someone or losing their friendship. The good news is that He is more than willing, if we ask.  Through Christ we can be set free of this fear and many others.  Will you cry out to God today?  He wants you free more than you do!
One last thing!  I want to make sure you understand I am not referring to going around starting arguments or always having to state your opinion. Like the old saying goes: A bulldog can whip a skunk any old day, but is it worth it?   I am referring to the times you feel very strongly about something and know you need to speak up but you let fear overcome you and you just freeze.  I am SO glad God is patient with us and loves us through it all.  Don't be surprised as you seek freedom in this area if you don't find yourself in these situations more often.  After all, each time you speak the truth in love, even when it's hard, you will get stronger and know that you really can do ALL things through Christ who gives you the strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Lightbulb Moment

Have you ever had a moment in which it seemed a lightbulb suddenly turned on and you could see a situation clearly that had been cloudy before?  Well, recently I have had one of those moments.  Actually, several of those moments.  I was reminded once again what was really important in this life. 

A few weeks ago, we went to visit a special mentor of ours.  This man is in his eighties and still teaches bible studies.  We have been mentored by him off and on for about 20 years.  Even though now our visits are few and far between, they are always special and usually leave a lasting mark on our hearts.  Recently, as we once again sat down with our special friend, he shared with us what he thought was the most important thing in this life; loving Christ.  God had been reminding me of that truth over and over in the weeks before our visit.  However, as our friend spoke those words, the "light bulb" went on and I received it as confirmation.   God just wants me to love Him.   Think about that a minute.   Now, our flesh might resist that simple thought.  Love Him?   Shouldn't we DO more?

In Matthew 22:35-37, a Pharisee asked Jesus what was the most important commandment in the law.  What do you think His answer was?  Work as hard as you can?  Strive to help as many people as you can?  Memorize all of the Bible?  Give all you have to the poor?  No, the simple answer was: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.   Simply love Him.

You see, when you love someone it changes you.  You begin to want to know that person better...in fact you want to know all you can about that person.  You want to spend time with that person.  You want to bring joy to that person.   If we love Christ above all else, "the doing" will come naturally. Out of love you will want to spend time with Him and in His Word.  Out of love you will want to share His love with others.  Out of love you will want to bring joy to Him.  It makes life a whole lot more simpler.

What if you don't feel you love Christ?  Or what if you don't feel you love Him enough?  Well, here is the most awesome thing: Christ will give you the love to love Him and others. Receive His love for you! He loves you dearly.  The fruit of His Spirit contains love.  When you are His child and filled with His Spirit by surrendering all, you will have love!  Also, He tells us in His word that anything we ask according to His will, He will do it.  Simply ask Him to help you love Him more! (1 John 5:14-15, Galatians 5:22-23, Romans 8:28-37)  That is what I want my life to be about; loving Christ.

I want to encourage you to look into your heart and ask yourself why you do the things you do?  Be very honest with yourself.   If you are very busy "doing" for Christ but have left out "loving" Him, you have missed the point. (1 Cor. 13)   Let's fall back in love with our Savior today!







Monday, February 22, 2016

Long time...no write!

I really can't believe we are in mid-February of 2016.  Doesn't time fly when you are living??  We have been very busy the past months with ministry, family, and everyday life.  Even though I have taken a break from blogging, I haven't been taking a break from God.  In fact, over these past few months the Lord has taken me on a deeper journey with Him; a journey that's about loving Him more than loving self... A journey that's challenged me to examine the motives of my heart even more closely. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing with you some of the truths the Lord has shown me.   Thank you for praying for me, my family, and Hopeful Heart Blog.  Til next post.....