Morning Thoughts on November 13, 2015

Intentional.

I am reading the bible chronologically this year and I am reading thru the crucifixion accounts in the gospels. The same account with various details coming out, giving a fuller picture. Today I was reading Luke 23 and John 18 – 19 and it resonated more than ever before how intentional Jesus was. He knew what was coming. He loved me, loved all of us that He was willing to go thru the process of taking on my sin, your sin, all our sins so that we could be redeemed.

I wonder as He took each step on the journey from the garden to the cross, if His steps became heavier and heavier. His compassion and love for us propelling him. He was intentional. When I read through John’s account of the events, Jesus spoke sparingly and when He did speak it cut to the heart of the issue and that was it. His intentionality with not just what he said but how he said it. He was intentional in asking for a drink on the cross and then giving up his spirit. He chose to die. He chose to. He intentionally made that choice. He chose to obey the Father.

I am tend to be intentional with stipulations. Its easy to be intentional when its going well. Its difficult to be intentional when life is hard. I am challenged, challenged to look at being intentional from a different angle today. I am challenged and reminded that being intentional is a choice.

I must choose to be intentional.

Intentional with WHAT I am doing.

Intentional with my time.

Intentional with my actions.

Intentional with HOW I respond.

My words.

My emotions.

Intentional with HOW I think.

John 19:17 says “And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha,” (NKJV) today what jumped out at me is the phrase “And He, bearing His cross” we see Jesus talking in the gospels about picking up our cross and following Him. {Matthew 10: 38, Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27) As Jesus was walking with His cross there were people all around Him, I would imagine jeering, throwing insults, not making the walk pleasant. Each step took him one step closer to His death and bearing the sins of the world so that we could be redeemed.  I don’t imagine that it was an easy walk but yet He walked it. He could have not walked it yet He chose to walk it. As I follow Jesus, I have to choose to be more and more intentional at obeying what He says, of allowing Him to be in charge. That intentional choice to follow is not always received well. Yet I see what Jesus went thru so that I could have a relationship with Him, the intentional choice to obey, follow, and be his disciple is worth the cost. How do I be more intentional and in the way Jesus wants me to – with Jesus leading me and walking with me.

Every part of my life is an opportunity to be intentional. What I am seeing as I walk with Jesus is that I can only be intentional as He intends as I choose to let Him be Lord of my life. The greatest intentional choice I have to make is putting down what I want, what I think, what I feel, all the “I” of my life and follow Him. Today I am choosing to follow after Jesus; no matter the response of those around me (good or bad); desiring to be intentional with my words, my actions, my thoughts.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself,and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 (NKJV)

~ personal reflection as I continue to learn to follow Jesus  ~
Gail

It is a matter of My Heart

It has been an uncharacteristically hot summer so far here in the Northwest. Temperatures are soaring in June and early July with what we we normally see in August. There are two ways I can approach it – I can work to keep a positive attitude or I can complain.

I have been reading about the kings of Israel and you see a mixture of behaviors and actions. Some followed God and did was right. Others did not. You see drama, murder, captivity and war. You see kings that started out by following God and then turn away from Him, and you see the consequences that came. In 2 Chronicles 25 we read about King Amaziah, one verse in particular jumped out at me today and its found in verse two. It reads like this “And He did was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart.” (NKJV)

Did you catch that, “he did what was right but his heart was not loyal” (paraphrase 2 Chronicles 25:2). As I read it and thought about it, I was reminded of the verses that I had heard in church yesterday; two specifically found in Colossians 3. Both talk about things in our lives that we should put to death and put away from us as we follow Jesus. (Colossians 3:5 and 3:8) Having a heart attitude of complaining is something that God has been working on me for a long time.

I am challenged to pause and really take a hard look at myself. King Amaziah was what I would call religious, but his heart was not in the right place. It was all about the check boxes. The rules. The to do’s and NOT about the relationship. What do I need to put away, not allow to have a place in my life. What is hindering a fuller relationship with Jesus?

As a human being I know I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I struggle. I have faults. But because of the grace Jesus has shown me in saving me, I have a relationship with him. Its about my heart. If I am not diligent to nurture the relationship and my heart, my actions and my words can come from a place of doing the right thing, more from a religion stand point and not from the heart standpoint of the relationship. The problem with that is seen over the long run. The kings of the Old Testament show us how we often will stray and make poor choices, listen to the wrong advice when our heart is not where it should be. And then reap the consequences of not keeping our hearts right in following God.

I began today talking about the heat and the choice I have to make about my attitude. The key to my attitude is my heart. It is simple but yet profound. Choosing to thank Jesus for the heat and its benefits helps me not complain. It truly is a matter of my heart. I find the more I let Jesus change my heart even something as simple as the really hot weather can reveal how He has changed me and what I need to continue to bring to Him for His redemptive power.

Today I am thankful for the hot weather, the sunshine that comes with it, the way it helps the gardens grow, and how it helps me to appreciate and to be thankful for the rainy days of winter.

DSC_0025

~ thoughts from my morning devotion

Gail


Photos and Writing Copyrighted 2015 Gail Campbell for use please email theredeemedprodigal@outlook.com
Photos taken in Wenatchee, WA – July 4th 2015 Weekend

Purpose & Journey …..#intentional

“ Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. “ Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

I want to take a look at purpose and how it effects our ability to have an intentional joy filled Jesus focused day. Purpose is the why to what I do. Why are we doing the things we have in our routine, our habits, the things in our schedule. I know that if I am not seeking Jesus in what I should be doing in my day, my purpose for the tasks I am doing is wrong. They have no specific purpose or they are for satisfying me; it usually does not end up with a good result.

Over the past five months I have had the opportunity to look at what I do and why I do it. My plate was cleaned off and an opportunity to fill it with what God had in mind presented itself. I have learned a couple of things about being purposeful in what I do.

Stop and ask Jesus about it, seems simple but its profound. I have a few activities I have done over the years for me, nothing life shattering or mountain moving but I enjoy them. One of those activities, getting my nails done is something I feel like God has asked me to stop doing for a season. Now – its not bad nor is it good, it just is. If I was upset about stopping then my heart is in wrong the place, but as I learn to keep before me that I want to honor God in all I do, that I want His purpose for my life more than I want what I want; it changes my perspective.

For instance one of the things I put on my routine is menu planning, for me this helps with the food budget, better use of my time and one simple way to love my husband and family. I have learned about myself that I do better when I take a few moments and pre-plan out various parts of my schedule, including what we are having for dinner. I don’t waste time or mental energy trying to come up with what is for dinner at dinner time.

This concept of purpose is one that I keep hearing and reading about. Purpose of my goals. Purpose of my life. Purpose for my diet. Purpose for what I am reading. Purpose touches every corner of our life. As we learn from books we read, sermons we hear, people we talk with, studying Scripture, talking with Jesus we are presented with things that help us to live out a life that brings God glory.

Purpose begins with a choice, a choice on my part to choose to run my thoughts, schedule, plan and actions through the right filter. The filter of Jesus. I love the promise in Proverbs – Jesus directs my path; I don’t want to fight him on His plan rather to learn to agree and thrive in it.

Purpose also provides us with direction. If our purpose is to worship and honor God in all we do (Col 3:17) then that should direct us in what we do, why we do it, when we do it. Clarity.

Why do routine and purpose matter in the goal of an intentional joyfilled Jesus focused day? Because it helps us to be on a journey with Jesus and not wandering.

Life is a journey. I believe it, I prefer to look at it as a journey with Jesus learning and growing in who I am and what I am doing.

As we walk through the day it is easy to forget where we are headed and who we are headed with. Our focus can shift to what is next on the list or schedule, or perhaps it shifts to who we are going to be seeing, where our career is going; the upcoming vacation, the weekend. We miss that we are on a journey with Jesus in our day and each day makes up our life. Some days I find myself at home, no specific place I have to be and its easy to get down, to get cynical, or grumpy over the chores that I need to get done. Starting the oh poor me fest because I am able to be at home. I become a grumbler versus praising and choosing joy. The reason – I have lost sight of the purpose of following Jesus, letting Him be in charge of my schedule and where I am at at life and embracing the journey I am on with Him.

I am learning that my focus during the day can be intentional, joy filled and focused on Jesus when I have the right routine / habits in place and my purpose is aligned where it should be: following Jesus. Remembering that this is a journey and God has a specific purpose for me and this day.

Today, and each day moving forward what will you choose, will it be anxiously waiting for the future; rote aimless wandering, or an intentional joy filled Jesus focused day. Its an exciting journey we get to be on with Jesus – embrace it and choose to live to day with Him as the focus and a joy that spills out.

Gail

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Ps 118:24 NKJV

 

Resources that have helped me learn more about this:
The Bible
What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by TerKurst
The Best Yes by TerKurst
Simplify by Bill Hybel

New King James Version Bible, Copyright 1996 Holman Bible Publishers and 1982 Thomas Nelson


Holy Bible. New Living Translation copy right 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc. Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All Rights Reserved.

Routine….#intentional

Colossians 3:17 says And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

My word for 2015 is intentional, I want to be intentional in what I do, why I do it and to look back on this year and believe that I have made the most of each of my days. Over the past few years that has not been something I have done well and I want it changed. One of the things I have realized is that the kind of day I want is an Intentional Joyful Jesus focused day. The question is how? When I started writing on this topic I looked at being aimless and rote as well as anxious were often what my days were filled with. When I wrote the post on Rote Aimless Wandering what I noticed was that each word was the antonym of routine, purpose and journey.

I want you to pause and think about your morning, are there things that you do each day? What about at night before bed, do you have things that you do? For me one of the things I do in the morning is wake up when my husband gets up for work, get a cup of coffee and read my Bible. Usually this happens around when he heads off to work. The kids are sometimes up but not always.

It was not always like that. Sometimes I would get up and start my day, I dabbled quickly with my time with Jesus. It was not a priority. Often my day started with Facebook, e-mail, and work. I have learned that if I spend quality time with Jesus in prayer and reading the Word, my day is so much better. Do you know what makes the day better – its not that circumstances are necessarily any different than before, but my attitude and my focus is different because I have spent time with Jesus.

As I have been looking at routine, I struggle with how much routine is a good thing and when does it become bad. Lets continue to look at the example of my time with Jesus in the morning, the mornings I don’t go through a certain routine the time doesn’t seem as fruitful. The balance is to make sure I am not making it a task box I am checking off but reading, praying, journaling because the benefits of sitting with Jesus are worth the time and energy. I think when it comes to routine, why you are doing it matters.

My schedule also effects my focus, I want to make sure that I am accomplishing what I need to; I have the routine of looking at what I need to do for the day and then working to accomplish those items while remaining open to interruptions. It is easy to get caught up in the to do list or the schedule and miss Jesus walking with me and leading the way.

What is the difference between routine and rote? To me one of the main differences between the two is the thought that goes into it. Rote takes no thinking, you simply go through the motions without much thought. Websters 1828 dictionary defines routine as “any regular habit or practice not accommodated to circumstances.” What routine habits do you have in your day to make it what you would have it be?

Read my bible and journal (non-negotiable)
Review my schedule and schedule what needs to be done
Dinner with my family
Connect with my family
Review my goals for 2015 and work on them (this is a new one for me)
Read
Write
Play the piano
Spend time with my husband talking, relaxing together
Menu plan
Go to sleep and wake up at the same time as my husband
Walk

These are just a few and they all have very specific purposes and roles in my life. I try and have them be something I do routinely so that I stay focused and not distracted from intentionally focused on Jesus.  So why do you have what you have on your list of routine things to do?

Purpose – is there a purpose behind the routine habits, the schedule and the choices we make ……

Gail

Resources:

1828 Websters Dictionary
New King James Version Bible, Copyright 1996 Holman Bible Publishers and 1982 Thomas Nelson

Clarity Leading to Freedom …. #intentional

How do you make the day an intentional day, a day where you are intentional joyful and Jesus focused? At the end of the day what makes you classify it as a day that was joyful and Jesus focused.

I have been wrestling with this question. I am beginning to learn the answer and live out what I am learning, I am far from there though. One of the things I have had to wrestle with is what paralyzes me from being intentional. Routine, purpose and journey play a significant part in making the choice to be intentional, so its frustrating when I run into a roadblock and I struggle to recognize it. The glasses are fogged up – I need them to be wiped clean so I can view clearly.

Clarity began with hearing a sermon a verse I have read before but it has taken on a much deeper meaning than ever before. In Luke 7:23 it says “And blessed is he who is not offended because of me.” (NKJV) As the pastor unpacked this verse a little bit, the point was made that Jesus did not want us to fall away, to be offended because of what happens in our life. When trouble comes, and we know that it will – James tells us that clearly when he speaks that we are to count it all joy when trials come our way (James 1:2). Life will not be easy at times, it will get difficult – the question is what will we do with it when it happens. I realized very quickly as I heard the sermon that I did not want my heart to grow hard in the midst of the hurt nor for me to lean away, avoiding it but rather to trust Jesus and to keep walking.

Clarity continued when I sat down and had coffee with a new friend. I had an opportunity to share part of my story. I found myself talking about what I was learning about forgiveness and a light bulb moment I had recently had. As I shared and afterwords I realized with stark clarity that I had allowed myself to be convinced to remain in a prison cell of my pain. That God had opened the door and wanted me to walk in freedom but the enemy wanted me to stay imprisoned. If he could keep me in the prison cell than I would miss out on what God was dong in my life to its fullest and experience joy as I should. As I wrestled and came to some conclusions about what God was asking me to do, I began to feel more and more freedom begin to be released in my heart. The roadblock was not completely removed but it was close.

The final pieces of the roadblock in my way turned out to be related to some fears and lies I was believing. When I walk with Jesus and let Him lead the way, I have learned that He tends to show me things and / or have me deal with certain areas of my life not in my time frame but in His. He knows best when I am ready to work with Him on it, or when I have the tools needed to be able to do my part in overcoming it. One of the tools that God used was a book called “Simplify” by Bill Hybel; this book in conjunction with reading my bible and working to follow Jesus were instrumental in removing the final pieces of the roadblock. In one of his chapters, Bill talks about fears and forgiveness. The forgiveness chapter had helped me process a forgiveness piece and give myself grace concerning the hurt I had experienced. The fear chapter was riveting – riveting because I arrogantly would have said I was not being paralyzed by any fears; they had all been dealt with. I was wrong, and as I prayed and sought to follow Jesus He revealed the fears and the lies I had been believing that were in the way. Here is what I learned as I let God open my eyes.

One of the first things I had to recognize was the truth – I am moving forward; the Enemy would have me think that I am not moving forward. If He can convince me that I am not in forward motion then I can sit and go in circles. I am not in the same place I was yesterday, a month ago or a year ago. I am choosing to follow Jesus.

Truth – lets look at the fear. Fear wanted me to believe that too much time has passed on me developing my passions for kingdom use. Fear wanted me to believe that my character is not ready for these passions to be rekindled. Truth says that God gave me these passions, these gifts, and if I keep my eyes on Him, if I listen and obey, if I walk with Him that He will use me. He will develop them and in His timing, His way they will be used as HE wants for His Glory. My job is to obey and listen. To trust and push fear out the window and follow.

Fear wanted to cripple my confidence. The enemy has blinded me from seeing clearly. My hurt had played into the lies I had been fed. I had chose to believe something I heard and discount other things said and not allow Jesus to be the final say on the matter. The result was me being guarded and cautious. Not trusting and not walking fully as God wanted me to be walking.

The taste of freedom is sweet. Refreshing. Renewing. To be released from the hold of fear, hurt, and lies over the spirit is powerful. Perspective changed.

God chose to allow me to experience what I have during my life. I have faith, trust, hope and believe that HE knows what He is doing. He has allowed me to have my unique experiences so that I can relate to others, so that I can grow, and so that He can heal and receive all the glory.

Monday morning rolled around and joy filled my heart. Confidence about what my next steps should be filled me. Excitement over what God has in store bubbles out.

Having an intentional Jesus focused & joy filled day happens when we rest, trust and believe in Jesus, when we follow Him, and when HE has His way with us. Routine, purpose and journey are three key words that I am learning impact my ability to choose to have these kind of days and not just now and then.

Gail

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17

Resources:

New King James Version Bible, Copyright 1996 Holman Bible Publishers and 1982 Thomas Nelson

Sermon ~ Just Give Me Jesus : Doubting  @ Grace Point

Reflection from the morning….. #intentional

“Give God room to be completely creative.”  pg. 5 Whispers of Hope, Beth Moore

As I read the words on the page today I was humbled and excited. Confirmation and a challenge came across the page to me. I want God to neatly explain to me everything that is on the agenda, everything that He has planned out. Don’t forget the time line – would like that included as well. It’s an arrogant response on my part.

I like order. I enjoy being creative but when it comes to my life and my day, I tend to lean on the side of order than I do on the side of creative.  I love how Beth said to “Give God room”…. I must make the shift and move out of the way so that God can do just that – be creative in me.

The message at church this Sunday talked about Great Faith & not being able to touch bottom. This concept of trusting God and walking obediently even when you are unsure where you are, or where the bottom of the water is. Walk and trust. Today was a confirmation again to have faith, be still, walk and trust. It was also a challenge to me to let go and get out of God’s way.

“If you are His child, God is working in your life in both creative and orderly ways.” pg 5. Whispers of Hope, Beth Moore

My challenge for today and this journey I am on, a journey filled with unknowns, challenge and adventure, full of growth is to trust and surrender to the Creator God and believe, know that He has a plan. If I meet and seek Him each day, follow and obey, I will look back on the day, the week, month, years and see His orderly, creativity in my life and what He has called me to do.

INTENTIONALLY giving God the room, trusting and surrendering to His creative and orderly ways.

~ personal reflection and response ~

Gail

Resource:

Whispers of Hope by Beth Moore (10 week devotional on prayer)

The Day’s Perspective……… choosing not to have an anxious anticipation of the future

Twenty six days into a new year. A bit daunting perhaps but then again a lot of it is perspective.

Twenty – six days into 2015

Three hundred thirty eight days before 2016

Eight hundred fifty one days married to my love

Thirteen thousand four hundred and twelve days (approximately) that I have been here on earth

X Amount of days before the retirement. Or that vacation. Or the birth of a child (or grandchild). Till graduation.

Perspective.

Each day a new adventure awaits. Each day a step on the journey of life. At the end of today when you stop and look back – what will you see? What will you remember? World events. Football scandal. Workload. Not enough sleep. An appointment with the doctor. Time with a friend. Regrets or joys. Should have and could haves. It can wait till tomorrow.

I tend to have one of two views of my today’s, both are a bit faulty. An anxious anticipation of the future and a rote aimless wandering but I think what God wants of me, for all of us is an intentional joyful Jesus focused today. Over the next few days we will take a look at these three views, today let’s look at the first one.

The Anxious Anticipation of the Future

When I have this view I find myself worrying about what has been and what is to come. Food. Weight. Career. Am I accomplishing everything I should? That pesky to-do list. The next meeting, appointment. My calendar weighs heavy on my heart.

The anxious anticipation of the future taints the “interruptions of my day” from being a moment that God is showing up to one of annoyance. Ultimately the question is over control, trust and faith. This view is one in which I am struggling to let Jesus lead my day, to trust that He knows best, and believe that His way is perfect and right. When I adopt this view of my day I become more and more stressed. I find I can not relax. My joy begins to be zapped and wane. If I don’t fight this view, life begins to take on a dreariness. The sun could be shining outside, all my needs are being met and yet I miss that because I am focusing on the wrong parts. I am trying to control and think of the outcomes. Rarely does the future look exactly like we spend our time dreaming about. What I am not saying is that we should not be wise in planning for the future or that goals are wrong. For me, this view keeps me from walking wisely, wisely praying and thinking about the future and pursuing my goals to the finish.

Two verses quickly come to mind when I am struggling with this view. The first is found in Matthew 6:25 – 34. In these verses Jesus is teaching on the hillside & uses the example of the birds and the flowers. He asks us to consider them. When you stop and think about the birds we see flying about – do they worry about their food, their lodging, their covering? They simply live as they were designed to live. The flowers with their petals, their growth they are not thinking about if they have enough water or sunshine. God cares about us and the details of our lives even more than the birds and the flowers. We don’t live like that though, we tend to live as if its an inconvenience to ask God for what we need. More than that, some of us go through life and don’t stop and acknowledge the source of all we have. Verse 33 gives us a tool for helping to fight the anxious anticipation of the future, it says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt 6:33 NKJV). Jesus ends with telling us not to worry about tomorrow, today has enough trouble. Its true – stop and think about it. Look at one of your days – did worrying about the future help or hinder you. Was it a day that had not turmoil. No kids arguing. No interruptions to your to do list, your well planned out day or perhaps your impromptu day. It doesn’t happen; something will be different than I had planned or thought out. I can waste a lot of energy worrying about the days to follow.

When I think of what worry looks like in my life it looks like this: blood pressure raised; thoughts focused not on the hear and now; mind conversations that do not point me to Jesus but rather point me away. I feel restless. I am irritable and react quickly to things not going as I think they should.

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Phil 4:6-7 The Message)

Prayer. Choosing to allow Christ to displace the worry at the center. When we choose the anxious anticipation of the future as our view for our day we are not keeping Jesus at the center, we are choosing to allow what we think or want to happen to be the focus.

My prayer for you and I as we work to have Jesus at the center. I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul.

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4:8-9 The Message

“Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.”

Proverbs 15:4 and the Project

Have you ever had a project that never seemed to finish? You know which I am talking about. You work on it a few minutes here and a few minutes over there. You can see progress but it doesn’t seem significant. You can see the finish line but it just never seems to get there, you are tempted to give up. Tempted to stop or pause and do something different. Yet instinctively you know that if you will just keep going you will make it to the end. Next thing you know you are at the finish line, it is finished. Completed. Well done.

crossstichcelticchristmasA

I had one of those moments this week. I have a cross stitch project I have been working on for well over 5 years. Life has taken some interesting twists and turns; I have worked on this project for pockets of time over the years. I almost stopped working on it this week; but my husband encouraged me to keep working on it. Telling me how close I was to being finished. I am glad that I didn’t stop. Now the project is in the final stages of completion and I can sense the feeling of accomplishment and pride over finishing.

crossstichcelticchristmasC

The words my husband spoke made the difference.crossstichcelticchristmasB

Are your words to yourself helping or hurting the journey you are on?

Jesus is in the redemption business. Scripture says that He is making all things new. Do you find yourself impatient with Jesus and His time line in redeeming your life? Like the story of my project, we find ourselves at times in our journey of life wanting to stop being diligent in an area we know God wants to change and redeem us. Change is hard. Being intentional with our words and actions is not the easy way of doing things. The reward outweighs the work to get there.

Our words can stall us on this journey. They can help us or they can hinder us. The dialog of my mind is something God has been drawing my attention to lately. Proverbs 15:4 says “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” How is your self talk? Is it building you up or tearing you down? Is it encouraging you to continue to take the next steps that Jesus is calling you to take?

Four Quick Thoughts that I took away after studying Proverbs 15:4 today:
1. Being intentional with my words, my actions, my thoughts requires me to pay attention to what I am thinking, to what I say. If I am using words that bring life then my heart must be such that it is a natural outflow.
2. What I speak is an outpouring of what is in my heart; am I agreeing with Jesus in what He is redeeming and changing in my life? Am I fighting it? Am I giving up – what we think & speak is important to help us overcome those moments of doubts and wanting to give up.
3. Are we going to speak perversion and break our spirit or will we persevere and speak in such a way that life is breathed into our spirit; that we are agreeing with what God says about us and what He says we are to be doing.
4. We don’t always see the results of walking with Jesus right away; it can be easy to doubt but that is when what we say to ourselves and others is vital; I have been presented with this concept over the past week from a few different angles; there is going to be times on this journey where I don’t want to keep going, where it is frustrating and I lose sight of the point and the reason why I am doing this. I must then be ready to remind myself of ‘why’ I am doing that. Our why as followers can simply be because that action; that thought; that word is what Jesus says I am to do as His follower. Ex. Love your neighbor

Careful, thoughtful speech is a facet and outpouring of wisdom.

Gail

Resources:
~ Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study’s Next Study is all on words. It is Keep it Shut, Karen Ehman’s newest book. The study starts on the 26th of January. CLICK HERE for More Information
~ A group of us are going to be getting together locally to discuss the book and follow the OBS as well. E-mail me for more information if you are interested.
~ Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman

 

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Anticipation of Christmas……. Advent 2014, Christmas Eve

 

“And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of teh Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son I her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1: 35-37 NKJV)

It is Christmas Eve. One more sleep and then Christmas is here. The air is electrified with excitement. Anticipation. Celebration. World-wide people celebrating the birth of a baby. Each culture slightly different.

In our house the excitement is building. Presents have appeared under the tree at the fireplace. The advent ornaments are just about finished, just two left. The stockings have disappeared. Time seems to creep slowly by.

While we are not near family, I know that family is gathering and spending time together. Eating. Talking. Playing games. Watching movies. Laughing.

Today our family will put together the gingerbread train. Attend the Christmas Eve service. Laugh. Eat. Spend time together. Christmas music playing through out the house. Look at the Christmas lights as we drive tonight.

Waiting.

Since we live after the event of Jesus birth we have an advantage that Mary and Joseph didn’t have at that time, we can read the entire story in a matter of moments. Reading through the account of events in the book of Luke today. You read of people who had to wait. Some of them could see the evidence of what God was doing, like Elizabeth and Zacharias (the parents of John the Baptist) or Mary and Joseph. Others just had hope of a promise to them. Such as Simeon in the temple.

In part because our culture is filled with instant responses the concept of waiting is not an easy one. The anticipation of Christmas mounts and builds. For children its the presents under the tree. For parents its watching their kids faces as they open their presents. Its also a time of year when people pause and reflect on what has been and what is possibly to come. Its a time of year where we anticipate and find ourselves hopeful for miracles. A new job. Health restored. Family reunited. Peace. We anticipate and almost sense that there is a power at work around us that could take all the “downs” and make them “ups”.

It took 9 months before Jesus was born, and that was after years of anticipating God moving and sending Jesus to earth. I wonder what it was like for Mary as she anticipated the birth of Jesus. She went to see her cousin Elizabeth for the first part of her pregnancy. I don’t think it was an accident, I would imagine it was a time of encouragement for her. Both her and Elizabeth had been blessed with miracles, both sons were part of the greatest event to happen on earth – the coming of the savior. One would prepare the way for Jesus, and the other was Jesus.

The other day we were working on our Jesse tree ornament and talking through the various stories of the Bible we had read about. I realized as we were talking that without faith one has trouble believing in the virgin birth; there is no other way to believe it. Growing up hearing the story its not something I have stopped to think about much. As we were talking the other piece that emerged was that no matter what you believe, this event in history; the birth of Jesus is a pivotal part of the world’s history. Our calendar is set in a new direction (count of years) back to the birth of Jesus. Culture may try and word it otherwise but it is set to the birth of Jesus. It is 2014 because of the birth of Jesus.

Are you in a season of waiting right now?

Waiting for God to give direction.

Waiting for God to heal.

Waiting for God to mend a broken heart.

Waiting for an answered prayer.

This year is a year of waiting for me. As I read the Christmas story I am reminded to be patient, to trust and to not rush the waiting. Each moment. Each step is important to the story God is writing. Joy in each moment.

The answer to your and my prayers, desires, and hopes God alone knows how it will be answered and when it will be answered. I do know and believe this with all my heart though – the time of waiting we find ourselves in is good for us IF we choose to trust and believe God. We grow. We learn. We have a chance to pray and seek Jesus as never before. Our faith is strengthened. Our reliance continues to be more and more on God. Like Mary and all the other people in the Christmas story who did not know what time would bring, we don’t know what will come or what our story will bring but God does. Believe. Trust. Rest in Christmas Hope – in one person, the person of Jesus.

“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45 NKJV

christmasevejessetree2014

~ Merry Christmas ~
Gail

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copy right 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc. Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All Rights Reserved.

Hope thru the tears ….Advent 2014, December 9

The word for this Christmas resonating with me and seen all around me is “HOPE”. Our weather today has been torrential down pour of rain and wind, as I drove away from the mall over in the distance was a big clear rainbow. The storm was clearing and painted in the sky was a rainbow, a promise that God will not destroy the world by water again. It was a beautiful reminder of hope and that when the storms in life come they are not forever. Storms come and go but one thing is certain we experience them. And even more certain – God sees it and is right there with me.

Today’s advent reading was the story of Joseph, specifically honing in on his conversation with his brothers after his father’s death. Joseph had gone through quite the journey. He had been sold to slavery. A house servant. Accused and thrown in jail. Interpreter of dreams. Second in command of all of Egypt and working to prepare for a drought and save Israel and Egypt. You can read the full story in Genesis 37-50.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

This morning when I read the verse 20 the tears spilled over. You see I try and be strong, I try and look for how God is working when life gets rough. God’s grace and love for me is overwhelming. I can not be strong and receive His tender love in the recesses of my heart that need to feel His touch. Isaiah says “For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said “ In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15 NASB) Strength to God and strength to me often don’t look the same. I tend to think that being strong means I have to have it all together, no tears, all the answers, guarded. The verse in Isaiah talks about strength means trusting, being quiet.  As we talked about yesterday – to cease striving. I must be still. I must be quiet. I must be vulnerable I must trust that He will and is taking the storms of life and working them for my good.

“The Cross stands as the epitome of evil. If God can transfigure the greatest evil into the greatest Gift, then He intends to turn whatever you’re experiencing now into a gift. You cannot be undone. “ Pg 81 The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

Joy, being thankful? The places in my heart that hurt, are torn, are crying – they are experiencing God’s amazing grace and love. The storm may seem ugly now, but I believe that God is good & He is not done. Hope believes in the silver lining, the silver lining of grace, peace, healing, and love. That God will use all the torn and messy parts of my life for good. Its easy for us to see how God can use our gifts, our talents, our skills…..its difficult for us to believe that He can use the messy parts.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

My prayer is that God meets you right where you are, in whatever or wherever you find yourself in life. That you will experience God’s amazing grace. His powerful, wonderful, and redemptive love. Peace, rest, grace, truth meet you right where you are. Restoring and strengthening your hope that God is good and that he loves you. He has a purpose and a plan for you, for me, for each of us.

Like the rainbow that appeared in the sky by the mall, we experience the clearing of the clouds and the rainbow in our own lives. All around us are beautiful reminders that God is right there with us. Allowing us to smile, a smile that comes from the depths of who we are out for the world to see.

A fun gift/blessing / joy that I see from the window in my office – the lights on the neighbors tree…..doesn’t look very pretty during the day but its beautiful at night. It turns the tree with no leaves into a beautiful expression of the holiday season. Situations in our life can look like that tree – we see barren branches and a string of life – but we need power, we need Jesus to shine His light and make it beautiful. He is making and does make us beautiful, a beautiful reflection of Him.

My challenge to you and I – choose joy, choose to find things to be thankful for.

~ a personal response this Advent Season

Gail

Advent Resources
Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience printables & much more, including the book

Scripture quotations taken from the The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

%d bloggers like this: