Monthly Archives: January 2014

Come, Holy Spirit, Come

In reading of the New Testament, the reading plan has taken me to the book of Acts. This is such a powerful book!

As I have read through chapters 1-4, I am once again reminded of God’s greatness and strength and my responsibility!

Chapter one:
I was reminded that Jesus did not leave right after his resurrection. I know that there was some time of teaching to the disciples, but had forgotten that it was 40 days. So after going through the emotional ride of Jesus dying and resurrection, the disciples and other followers needed to put aside emotion and focus on the teaching of Jesus as their time with him was limited. While I am trying to put myself in their shoes (or sandals!!), I imaging that there would be this great desire to soak in everything that Jesus said. While Jesus was doing his ministry on earth, he did warn people that he would not be around forever, but I don’t think it really became real to them until he died. These 40 days had to have been very precious to the disciples and followers. They had to wonder how much time they actually had and want to take advantage of every moment — I know that I would.

Then Jesus finally ascends into Heaven and the waiting for the Holy Spirit continues. They disciples go about regular business of picking a replacement for Judas. I guess they re-grouped and made sure that they were ready for the arrival of the Holy Spirit. They prepared, they prayed.

The importance of praying before action was very clear in this chapter. Seeking God’s direction for everything.

Chapter two:
The Holy Spirit arrives!!! People were confused with everyone speaking different languages, but during this whole processed there were many believers made that day. Many joined the church, sold their possessions to help those in need and prayed together. They realized through the teaching of Peter that this was all a fulfillment of the promises made in years past.

God always fulfills his promises. This is so wonderful to remember especially when things are tough, no matter what, God will fulfill his promised — BUT in his time. That last part is always difficult for me as patience is not easy for me.

I was encouraged by the words of Peter to keeping preaching the Good News. Peter had the strength and determination to fulfill God’s plan for him which was to educate people to the true message of salvation.

Chapter Three:
Peter heals a lame beggar and people are shocked! Really??? After all that Jesus did, and all the prophets taught, people were still amazed when Peter helps the lame beggar.

This chapter encourages me to keep teaching people. That no matter how often they have heard the message, they may still not truly believe it. Keep preaching and teaching. Persevere!!!! In times of discouragement, I need to remember Peter’s strength and maybe a little stubbornness in the command given to him to go and preach to all the nations.

I find strength from Peter’s example. His faith is strong, he knows the truth and he was determined to reach as many as he could, no matter of the difficulties he faced.

Chapter Four:
Peter and John met some resistance from others when they preached. We all will. But they persevered and went to the church to seek prayers for the mission. The church of believers united and prayed. They were bold, just like Peter was. They prayed for courage to keep teaching others even if they faced difficulties.

What powerful examples these first century Christians provide us. I know that I will face difficulties but I need to be bold and go forth in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

A few words to really summarize these chapters:
Pray first. Have faith. Keep preaching. Persevere. Be strong. Be Bold. Take Courage.

Remember the importance the early church placed on meeting together for prayer. Pray with one another. Keep focused on the mission. Remove unnecessary things from your life.

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A Raging Battle #madetocrave

This week I began a new Online Bible Study (OBS) with my friends at Proverbs31 ministries. I love these studies, but love the ladies that I meet even more. The support, encouragement and love that comes through these ladies are unbelievable. For this study there is over 40,000 women around the world doing this study. Wow!

Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst is a great book which I almost finished reading last year. The subtitle says it all, “satisfying your deepest desire with God, not food”. While my battle is not with food, this can apply to anything that takes your focus off God.

I have finished the first three chapters of this book and am trying to figure out what my ‘craving’ is that my focus.

In the first chapter, Lysa talks about the little orange monster that chases women around tempting us with whatever our ‘craving’ is. For the last several days, I have been trying to name my little orange monster, but am struggling pin-pointing a name. What do I crave more than God? I so want to say there is nothing that I crave more than God. But I need to be honest. I know that it’s not food. I lead a very busy life with family commitments, ministry obligations that I think is a good starting point of what is taking my focus off God. I hate to admit, but I have a hard time saying ‘no’ so I over commit myself, thus making family time scarce and time for God and my health even scarcer.

I started reading this book last year and since that point, I have delegated a lot of things. While life is not smooth sailing, some of the craziness has calm down. I have started to focus more on God. But I have not taken much effort to take care of me, my health, my high blood pressure. So, my little orange monster is my high blood pressure. I’ve named it. Now what?

I’m not sure whether this is what Lysa had in mind when she was talking about the little orange monster, but it is what is taking part of my life away. The life that God wants me to have. I have been tired, not well which takes time away from my family, from concentrating on God and his plan for me.

So how do I replace these ‘cravings’ to please everyone with prayer? Lysa was able to pray every time that she craved unhealthy food. So every time that someone asks me to take on another project or task, I need to pray first. Is there what God wants me to spend my time on? This will help in simplifying my life.

However, what about the high blood pressure? What can I do to get it to go down? I take the meds, but not working. Yes, going to see the doctor would probably be a good idea and I do have an appointment set up for after vacation. I have read some things that can help — reduce caffeine, exercise, healthier foods (like vegetables & fruits).

In Chapter three it is about coming up with a plan. I need a plan. I need to consult a doctor and get some action steps that can be taken to get my blood pressure into a normal range. I need to start planning meals that are healthy and start doing some exercise. All these things will help.

I have told some friends about my struggle (and now those reading this will know) who are keeping me accountable to making some changes. But it is hard to focus on me. I always put myself last, so how do I change and put me first?

This week’s word for this study is #EMPOWERED. With these simple tools already provided in this study, I do feel empowered.

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of The Lord with my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.” Psalm 84:1-2

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Be Alert!

In the final chapters of Mark’s Gospel (chapters 11-16), there are several messages I felt God was speaking to me.

The first was to be alert to the world around me. Whether this is in regards to false teachings, temptations or whatever else will take my eyes off him. I need to be constantly aware of what is happening around me and know that there are dangers. When I pause to reflect there are so many things and people that can draw me away from my focus — that is God. My life is busy. It’s crazy. Lots of people wanting my time and filling up the hours of my day with activities and tasks. But what is really important.

Over the last week, I was struggling to keep up with these readings and realized that I was rushing through them to get them done. I had to stop and refocus. The purpose I have for reading through the New Testament this year was not to just say that I read it through again, but to gain a new perspective to God’s leading in my life. I needed to not treat this as an assignment for school, but a step in my own faith journey. And God desires my full attention to this goal. So I re-read some chapters and spent some quiet time just trying to be quiet.

And yes, it was extremely difficult to just sit in the quiet and wait for God to say something. But after a couple of attempts, I felt comforted and at peace.

Life is as busy and crazy as I allow it to be. So, what can I stop doing to reduce some of the activities, committees, events that I am involved in? The answer is ….. I don’t have a clue. As I sat in a meeting today that resulted in another thing added to my plate. Is it e ever possible to say ‘no’. I so need to take a class on that — wait, that is just something else. Guess I just keep scheduling time with God and the rest of the work will either get done or is really not that important.

The second message that was clear in several of the readings was the strong need for me to be firm in my faith, in my beliefs. These chapters are the final days of Jesus’ earthly life. It details the physically, emotional pain that he went through for me, for you. He did all this for me, yet I feel like I continually let him down but not standing up for him.

I get so busy doing things that I am now wondering if the message of hope, love, salvation comes through in these activities. I know that it does in most, but I still have some work to do. My prayer is that as I continue to move forward that I am to better show the love of Christ in all my activities, decision and words.

I can get so excited for upcoming projects, and I am really aware that my focus has to be on him, not on the responses I get from others. Currently as part of my ministry, I am working on moving one of our family services to a larger location and expanding what we do. It really involves a shift in the way that we all think as we minister to our neighbours who are struggling. I really want us as an organization to make life-lasting impact on people that we serve. I have never felt so strongly of God’s leading as I do this year with where he is taking us in our family services operations. And as I read the words of Mark’s Gospel I am reminded that my focus has to be clearly and firmly on God, then all other things will become clear.

I know that God has great plans for me. I am determine to put my priorities aside and follow his leading. Whether these will be popular or not, God is in control.

The end of chapter 16 talks about not being shy, but go forth boldly in his name and witness. This is not a direct quote, but Jesus instructs the disciples to go forth. So away I go!

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Open My Eyes, Lord

Making new habits is always difficult for me. I am attempting this year to read through the New Testament in a more prayerful and reflective way then I have every read through scripture before. The new reading plan is great. I did get behind, but have caught up.

As I read through Mark’s gospel I am surprised of the new things that God is opening my eyes to. I have read these verses many times, but I am finding that it is like the first time. So much is coming alive for me. I am reflecting on chapters 6-10 and find that it is more than stories of healing. There is so much more.

Each day as I read a chapter, I have been journaling and asking the question, ‘What is God saying to me?’

Here’s what I have heard…

In ministry there will be people who work along side of me that may never truly believe. In verse 52, “They still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the multiplied loaves, for their hearts were hard and they did not believe.” I am amazed that the people who walked with Jesus, witness all the miracles he performed, received personal teaching from him and yet they did not truly believe that Jesus was the Son of God, our Saviour. As I read these miracles in the past, I always wished that I was that lucky one who could have seen first hand these wonderful miracles. But this time it was different. I still think it would have been amazing to be there, but then I stop and think of all the miracles that continue to happen every day….that I do see. I was reminded to open my eyes all the time to see what The Lord is doing right now, right here. And yes, there will be some people that will walk with me in ministry that will never truly believe. But my call is to tell them, teach them and be the example for them. The rest is up to the Holy Spirit.

In chapter seven, I was made aware that Jesus told a number of people to not tell others what had happened to them, but the did anyways. Today, I think the problem is that we, as Christians, have stopped telling others. This chapter has encouraged me to keep telling the Salvation story, keep teaching those around me, and keep telling my story. I am thinking about our young people at the church, they are full of the Holy Spirit and really on fire for God. They are not afraid to witness to people around them. They have encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and put aside my fear.

Chapter 8 encourages me to be more confident in my faith and not doubt what is possible with God. To be firm in my belief that He is Lord and anything is possible with Him. I need to lay aside my doubts and fears and just be obedient to God and his plan for my life. Chapter 9 is along the same lines. Encouraging me to continue to be faithful and believe in him. To Pray. To allow God to cleanse me and make me into the woman he wants me to be.

In chapter 10, I am challenged by God to protect my marriage, have the faith of a child and to give everything to God. Jesus is challenged by the teachers of the law on his views of divorce. I realize that this part of Scripture can be interpreted in different ways and I am not going to say that divorce is right or wrong. What I felt God saying to me is that I said vows before God with my husband, before God we became one. God joined us together and we should let no man/woman separate us. Marriages are sacred and should be protected. They take work, but when both parties are committed to God, then all things are possible. The last part of the chapter about giving my all to God has been a theme in a lot of things this past week. It is a great reminder to me to look at every part of my life and ensure that I have given it over to God.

I am reminded of a song, ‘All to Jesus I surrender, All to Jesus I freely give’ I can’t remember the rest of the words. But I am reminded that I need to freely give it all to God, not hold anything back.

My prayer this week is for me to break free of anything that is holding me back from fulfilling God’s calling on my life.

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A New Focus –

I need a new focus.  What does this imply?   That my current focus is bad or wrong?   As I think about this new year and where I want my focus to be I have come to the conclusion that I don’t necessary need a new focus, but a clearer focus.

I need to clear out the clutter in all areas of my life.   So this past week while I have had some time off, I have started to clean out cupboards of unused, unwanted items.   I love looking at a cupboard that is organized!    As I was cleaning out one of the many ‘junk’ drawers  in the kitchen (yes, there was more than one!), I came across some art work that William had done at church awhile back.     It was a ‘speak’ balloon (like the ones used in cartoons) that had a very important message on it.   It said ‘GO TELL’.    That was it, just the two words.  When I asked him if he remember what this was about, he very calmly said that we are to Go Tell others about Jesus.    Impressed that he remembered and gave thanks to our youth worker that comes up with these lessons.

Go Tell…

Well, over the last few days I have been doing the readings through the book of Mark.  Today I read chapter four.  But I took a moment to reflect back over the last three chapters and what God has been saying to me through these stories of Jesus.

The biggest message that I heard was that there are a lot of people still needing to hear the Gospel message and we, as Christians, need to be telling it.  We need to Go Tell.    It came through in several of the stories the importance of not giving up on the unsaved, the unbelievers, but to continue to plant seeds.

Another important message that I read today was the encouraging words to let my light shine all the time.  Not to hide it, but to be who I am in Christ in all circumstances, not to blend into the environment or crowd.  But to remain shining bright.   This further encouraged me to continue to focus on spending more time in the Scriptures this year and less time doing meaningless things (TV, facebook).

Mark ends chapter four with a story that gives us assurance that Jesus is with us during all the storms of life.    Jesus reminds the disciples (and us) that we should not be afraid when experiencing difficulties, we just need to continue to have faith in him.

“And he asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?” (Mark 4:40, NLT).

As I continue to go forth and tell others about Jesus, I will hold firm to the faith that he is with me and be who he created me to be.

Have a blessed day!

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A Whole New World

It’s the start of a new year.  A fresh start to set goals and make changes.   I have stopped making New Year Resolutions as they don’t last.   Even setting goals doesn’t always end up getting done.   But 2014 is going to be different.

Over the last few days I have reflected on 2013 and all of its blessings and challenges.   The one question that I have been asking myself is ‘Am I a better person, have I grown over the last 12 months.?’    I am sure I would get a positive answer from my hubby, but I tend to be a more critical than him in this area.   Honestly, I think I have grown closer to God during the difficult growth moments of the past year and for that I am celebrating.   I still have a ways to go.

So here’s my plan!

I have always wanted to read through the Bible in a study, reflective way.   I have read it through before a couple of times but it was just to read it and get it done.   I felt that some reading plans rushed you through the texts, not giving you enough time to really reflect, take in what God was saying.

A friend and fellow OBS girl has come to my aid.   She blogged about a reading plan 5x5x5 Reading plan from Discipleship Journal.   I looked at it and LOVE IT!!!    It is reading the whole NT in 2014.

What does the 5x5x5 stand for?   5 minutes a day, 5 days a week and 5 ways to dig deeper!    So easy, and fits into my hour with God in the morning very nicely.

I am confident now that I can do this, but could alway use prayers!

My plan is not only to journal through this year, but also to blog occasionally what God is saying to me during this time.

Today I read the first chapter of Mark’s gospel and three things jumped out at me.

First,  I need to spend time alone with God in prayer every morning (verse 35).  Secondly, I need dig deeper into his Word and truly develop a strong, deep relationship with him so that I can truly know him.  (verse 24).  And lastly, that as I do the first two items, I will become amazed at God’s greatness. (verse 22).

Chapter 1 of Mark is packed with messages from God.   These were just what I need to hear today.   For me it confirmed that my focus for all areas of my life is clearly on God.   A perfect way to start a new day, a new year.

Be blessed!

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