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Joseph Was Obedient

 

Matthew 1:20-25

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 2:13-14

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,

Matthew 2:19-22

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee,

I have been doing a study of Matthew this month. In this Advent season, I wanted to immerse myself in the birth and life of Jesus. What caught my attention was the obedience of Joseph. The Bible tells us about other people who were obedient to God, but what strikes me about Joseph, is that he NEVER questioned the command. Joseph obeyed God without complaint or argument. He NEVER sighed and uttered a doubtful, “But God, WHY?”

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about myself. I can imagine God hesitating in giving me any command, because my response is always the same, “BUT GOD! THAT WILL TAKE ME OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE! DO I HAVE TO?” I kick and scream until the moment passes. If the command seems relatively easy, I may obey after some serious analyzing of the situation. Some of the harder commands I have ignored and hope God doesn’t notice.

CONFESSION:

I now wonder what I have missed out on by not immediately obeying God’s every command. How different would my life be had I obeyed? Do I regret not living a life of obedience like Joseph did? The short answer is Yes! I have sabotaged my own life and I have not brought any glory to God by my disobedience. Has someone suffered because I refused to listen? What blessings have I or someone else missed out on because of my defiance? Looking at it from this perspective, I am deeply sorry I have allowed my fear and unwillingness to keep me from partnering with God in His will on this earth. It is my loss and a deep regret.

SO NOW WHAT?

I use that regret to push myself to do better in the future. If I know that God is commanding me to do something, I need to do it. I need to jump and trust God for the outcome. I need to let go of my need to analyze everything, because there will always be a reason NOT to do something. God did ask the prophets to do some CRAZY things! No good comes from living in regret. Commit to do better and trust God for guidance.

Father God,

I am asking forgiveness for not always obeying when you give me a command. It is not my place to question you. I need to obey you immediately and trust you with the outcome. I am so sorry that I have let you down and have possibly hurt others in my disobedience. I am making a commitment to make obedience a way of life in the future. I will jump first and trust you always. Help me in this, Lord. Give me a heart of obedience. I pray this in Jesus name.

Amen

 

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The most important thing I learned to do as a single mom was to pray. Prayer has changed my life! There are other disciplines that are important to our lives as Christians, but prayer is the main component to an intimate relationship with God. In my 18 years as a single mom, prayer has been my lifeline. The one thing in my life that has allowed me to feel that presence of God. It has been in my crying out that I have felt His arms wrapped around me. In these often tough years, I have learned some things about prayer and I want to share these lessons with you:

  1. Prayer is a constant conversation with God. Yes, there will be times when we need to go and spend some time alone in prayer. Having a dedicated prayer time is very important, but we don’t have to wait until that dedicated time to pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray continually. As we go about our day, we can pray. We can praise when things are going right. We can ask for help when things are going wrong. We can pray when someone or a circumstance needs our immediate prayer. I have gotten to the point that I pray all day. There are times when God will point out a character flaw and I immediately need to repent (shocking I know!) It has brought me so much closer to my heavenly Father. God is with us wherever we go and hears us no matter where we are.
  2. Prayer is praying God’s Word back to Him. There are times when I will come across a Bible verse that really speaks to me and I will rewrite the verse as a prayer back to God. Praying God’s Word back to Him can be very powerful. Not that God ever needs to be reminded of what He has written, but He invites us to remind Him of His Word. He invites us to remind Him of His promises. Praying scripture can be a powerful tool in partnering with God in bringing His will on earth.
  3. Prayer is a partnership with God. The one thing that I have been humbled by is that God invites us to partner with Him in His will. We can change things in this world, when we pray for God’s will on earth. When we pray for God to intervene in situations where evil reigns or where healing is needed, we are partnering with God in bringing His will into our lives and in this world. We can pray for God’s intervention in another part of the world and God will move mountains. Things CAN change when we partner with God through prayer! That is so cool!
  4. God sometimes says NO! This is one of the hard things about prayer. When we are praying for what we feel is God’s will for someone or a situation and God says NO! it can be devastating. When we are praying for the best possible outcome and God says NO! It can be frustrating and it can be a blow to our faith, but here’s the thing: God does not always have to say YES! God is the only one who has the ability to see the whole picture and He answers our prayers based on what is best for us. He doesn’t owe us any explanation in answering the way He does. He only asks us to trust Him.
  5. The Holy Spirit will intervene for us. Romans 8:26-27 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. There have been times when I don’t have any more words to pray and I have to ask the Holy Spirit to intervene and pray on my behalf. There are other times when I have been to exhausted or overwhelmed to pray and my prayer is a simple, “Jesus, don’t let me go.” I know at those times that the Holy Spirit is praying on my behalf and that my prayers will continue to be lifted up to Heaven. 
  6. There is power in numbers. Matthew 18:20 tells us that where 2 or 3 gather in His name that He is there in the midst of them. When we gather together to pray for a situation, strongholds WILL be torn down, chains WILL be broken, prison doors WILL come crashing down. When God’s people join together in unity to pray over a situation EVIL WILL FLEE! When God’s people can get passed the things that keep us apart and really join together in God’s will GOD WILL WORK MIRACLES!!!
  7. Prayer is listening to God. Just as in any other conversation, we have our chance to talk, but we also need to listen to what the other person is saying. This isn’t any different with prayer. We need to take the time to LISTEN to what God has to say to us. God will usually speak through a whispering to the spirit or in some other gentle, subtle way, so we really need to take the time to be still and listen with our hearts. God will give us direction, He will comfort us, He will give us wisdom…IF we quiet the noise around and in us and sit at His feet and listen.
  8. Prayer is NOT one size fits all. Prayer can take many different forms. We can pray with scripture, we can pray with prayer beads, we can pray form prayers, we can pray through song, you get the point. There are as many ways to pray as there are prayers. We can pray standing, kneeling, with hands raised or prostrate on the ground. We can pray in any way that God leads us. There is no right or wrong, as long, as we are putting God at the center of our prayers.
  9. God acts in answer to our prayers. I have learned in my 25 years as a mom that God will act according to my prayers. I am not saying that He is a puppet on a string. I am saying that He loves us as any parent loves their child and will honor our requests, as long as, they are in accordance to His will. I have prayed for the protection and provision of my kids their entire lives and God has kept them safe when they have faced uncertain circumstances. I have trusted that God would bring them out whole and He has.

I have been blessed to have had the best prayer instructor ever: the Holy Spirit. Prayer does not have to be difficult. You learn by doing. I know that as much as I have learned about prayer, it doesn’t even scratch the surface to what I still need to learn. As in all things God, prayer is a journey. Some things will work for us and other things won’t. Take the time to experiment and find what fits you best. The most important thing I can say, is simply, START! You just need to start the conversation and be open to where God leads. Keep your heart open and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you. A life in prayer is one of the most humbling, satisfying, world changing things we can ever do. Take it from me, a single mom of 18 years. I never could have raised five kids without prayer and knowing that God protects, provides, and transforms because I pray.

 

 

The Romans Road

 

I heard about the Romans Road to Salvation many years ago, but had not taken the time to read the corresponding scriptures until recently. My personal salvation story is a little different. I will go into that in another post, but in this one I want to say that I absolutely love the straight forward approach of the Romans Road! I discovered that God had wisely placed in the Bible a road map for leading someone to Christ. It shouldn’t have surprised me, the Bible is full of wisdom for just about any situation we will ever face. Below is the Romans Road to Salvation:

The Problem:

Romans 3:23

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 3:10

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

These verses give us a bleak scenario on the human condition. Paul makes it pretty clear, we have ALL sinned. We ALL fall short of the glory of God and NONE of us is righteous, NOT EVEN ONE! There is not one person on this earth that is living without some sin in his/her life. In some way, shape or form we ALL sin against God. Not one of us is perfect and not one of us will ever be able to say that we are sin free.

The Consequences:

Romans 5:12

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We learned in the verses above that we all have sin in our lives. The consequences of that sin is death. BUT God gives us the GIFT of eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

No Excuses:

Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

God has shown and continues to show us His eternal power and and divine nature. Look around you; the beautiful sunset over the ocean, trees decked out in their Fall finest, skyscrapers that seem to touch the clouds, the list goes on and on. God has shown us His power. There is no excuse for living in sin, but in His grace God gave us a way out:

The Solution:

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God sent His only son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sins. Christ died for us, so that we may live eternally. God loved us that much!

The Response:

Romans 10:9-10

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

We CAN have eternal life in Heaven after this life is over. We have to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and it is only through Him that we be saved from our sin and the eternal fires of Hell. We have to declare with our mouth that Jesus is Lord. It is when we profess our faith and share our faith with others that God works in our hearts and transforms our lives.

The Assurance:

Romans 10:13

for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

God promised that when we profess Jesus as our Savior and call on the name of the Lord we WILL be saved! How reassuring to know that even though life may one struggle after another, but if we call on God, we WILL be saved and spend eternal life in Heaven.

The Promise:

Romans 5:1

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Romans 8:1

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God promises three things in these verses if we believe that Jesus was raised from the dead to save us from our sins and if we profess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord:

  1. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. We are no longer condemned in our sin.
  3. Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.

If you are someone who has been wondering what a life in Christ is all about or you are ready to take the next step, the Romans Road is a great place to start and you are always invited to contact me and we can go through it together. I am always here to share how God has worked in my heart and my life and to walk with you as you discover Jesus in your own life. God Bless!

JESUS IS LORD!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After months of gathering documentation, attorney meetings and court appearances, our prayers were answered, but not in the way we wanted or expected. My daughter, Cherokee and Son-in-law, Chris were fighting for permanent custody of Chris’s two sons; 9 year old Haydon and 4 year old Keaton. He shares 50/50 custody with his ex-wife and the arrangement has been stressful and is not in the best interest of the boys. Cherokee and Chris were given the news this past Thursday that permanent custody would NOT be granted. We were all disappointed, sad and angry at the judge’s decision.

I then found myself asking God, “WHY?” I prayed! Others prayed! This was not some attempt to get back at an ex. This was sincerely for the health and well-being of the boys. Why would God not give Chris custody of his sons? Why would justice and safety for the boys not be God’s will? Why would God leave these young children in an unsafe situation when we love them so much and can make sure they are safe and cared for?

All questions I may never have answers for. I have come to understand that God doesn’t owe us any explanations on anything He does. We may never know the ultimate reasoning for this decision. Sometimes we pray and are still heartbroken by the outcome.

THEN WHY DO WE PRAY?

I’m not even going to pretend to know why prayers that seem to be reasonable and appropriate are answered with a resounding NO! I am just as confused by God’s actions as everyone else. However, I can say this:

I will NEVER stop praying!

and

I will NEVER stop believing!

Why do I continue to pray? Why do I continue to believe? It’s simple really. Even in a life of struggle, I have seen the manifestation of the goodness of God. I have seen the answers to unspoken prayers and the protection of my children when the only answer could be: THAT WAS GOD! He continues to work good into my life even when He answers no. Without God, there is no hope. No hope in the goodness of people. No hope that all things will work out for the better. No hope that death was defeated and the enemy crushed forever.

When we stop praying the enemy laughs. When we stop believing the enemy wins. Did God answer NO! to your prayer? Are you confused? Are you angry? I urge you to keep praying. We can only see what’s in front of us. God can see the whole picture. He knows what is coming and He knows what is best for us. I know that God loves Haydon and Keaton even more than we ever could. He has every hair on their heads numbered and He will protect them and keep them safe. We have to choose to believe. I WILL continue to pray that God reveals His will in this situation. I choose to believe that this is not over. He is still at work and will bring good where we only see injustice and sadness.

If God has NO! to your prayer and you are struggling to make sense of it, please contact me. I don’t know all the answers, but maybe together we can continue to pray and find the hope that is buried underneath the confusion, anger and sadness. God IS good and He continues to have our best interest at heart. NEVER STOP PRAYING! NEVER STOP BELIEVING!

 

Day 9: The Wrap Up

 

God makes it clear in the Bible that we are to live in community. There are several verses in the New Testament that give us direction on doing life with ONE ANOTHER. In the previous eight days I have given some ways that God gives us to do life together:

Day 1: Love One Another

Day 2: Pray For One Another

Day 3: Agree With One Another

Day 4: Accept One Another

Day 5: Serve One Another

Day 6: Encourage One Another

Day 7: Live In Harmony And Peace With One Another

Day 8: Teach One Another

As Christians, we are to do life in community. Community looks different for each of us. For some it may mean the traditional church on Sundays and actively participating in other events as they come up. For some it may mean living in an intentional christian community who live together and are intimately involved in each other’s lives. Still, for others it might mean belonging to an organic house church community who share life through meals, Bible studies and other life events. Each of us is called to live out community in our own unique way. What is right for one person may not be right for someone else. As long as we are actively participating in a christian community that is intentional about following Jesus, we are living out God’s call for us to live in community. I personally believe that church should be an extension of the family. I have had my own personal struggles with the Church, but I can’t deny that longing that God has placed in my heart for community with other believers. We are stronger together. That is the way God intended it to be. Even Jesus was called to live in community and if it was right for Jesus, it has to be right for us.

 

Romans 15:14

I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

Colossians 3:16

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

1 Timothy 4:13

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

In Matthew 28:19 Jesus tells us to go and make disciples of all nations. In verse 20, He tells us how. Jesus tells us to make disciples by teaching them to obey everything He has commanded us. Jesus, Himself made disciples by teaching others to obey God’s commands. He was the master teacher. He was the ultimate role model in how to teach and make disciples. Below I list five things that Jesus did in teaching and making disciples:

  1. Build Relationships– Jesus spent from one to three years teaching the disciples. They were together all the time. They traveled and did life together. In this time, Jesus came to know the disciples intimately and they came to know Him intimately. Jesus was building relationships with these disciples that He would later send out into the world to teach and multiply. Building relationships is important in the teaching relationship. In today’s world spending every moment with each other probably isn’t feasible, but if we are going to teach others what it means to obey and follow Jesus, we need to invest the time in building the relationship. It may take one to three years of spending quality time with someone to make a disciple that is ready to go out and make disciples of their own, but that time invested will never be wasted.
  2. Practiced Patience– I’m sure there were times when Jesus shook His head in frustration with the twelve. They didn’t always understand the parables and needed Jesus to break it down for them. They weren’t all educated. Some of them were blue collar fishermen who needed everything spelled out for them. Jesus did not yell at them and call them dummies. he was patient in His teaching and broke things down for them when needed. We need to be patient when we are teaching and making disciples. We all have different learning styles and we need to be willing to adapt our teaching style to the person we are teaching.
  3. Admonish in Love– Admonish means to reprimand, rebuke or scold. Jesus did occasionally have to reprimand the disciples. They didn’t always get things right and He had to set them straight, but He admonished them in love. He never made them feel bad about making mistakes or messing things up. Jesus corrected the disciples from a place of love, building them up instead of tearing them down. No one is perfect. Those that we teach or disciple WILL make mistakes. Be careful to admonish from a place of love. Make sure you are building up and not tearing down.
  4. Encouraged– Jesus was an encourager. When He confronted a person who was living in sin, He did not condemn, but encouraged them to sin no more. Jesus never made the disciples feel like they would never make it as a disciple. He encouraged them in their God-given purpose and sent them out believing in themselves. We will all stumble in our relationship with God. We will all stray from the path as we follow Jesus. We need to remember to encourage those we are teaching because we ourselves are imperfect. We all need to be encouraged, especially when we are learning something new. We need to send our students out believing in themselves and the message they are sent out to share.
  5. Equipped– Jesus made sure that the twelve were ready to be sent out to teach and make disciples of their own. He made sure they were prepared to answer the hard questions of being a disciple and following Jesus. Jesus made sure they were ready to give the Gospel message clearly so that others would understand. Jesus took the time making sure that the faith of the twelve was strong enough to handle the attacks of the enemy and those who opposed Jesus. He took the time to make sure that the twelve were ready to give an answer as to why they believed in Jesus. He sent them out prepared, ready to face whatever situations they encountered. We need to make sure that those we are teaching are equipped to answer the hard questions. We need to make sure that they are ready to share their own testimony of how Jesus has worked in their lives. We need to make sure that they are ready to share the Gospel message in a way that others will understand. Our students need to be sent out prepared to face whatever Satan throws at them, with a faith strong enough to face whatever they encounter.

Jesus told us to teach others to obey His commands. We are to teach new Christians how to be a disciple. Jesus gave us a blue print for teaching and discipling. There are those around us that we can be teaching right now. Our family members, co-workers, neighbors, and friends all need to know the Gospel message. We need to be ready to teach those around us how to follow Jesus and be disciples that glorify and multiply. It won’t always be easy. There will be challenging times that make you want to quit, but don’t give up! Remember that Jesus never gives up on us and He expects us to always follow His example.

 

 

 

Romans 12:16-21

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

2 Corinthians 13:11

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Romans 14:19

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

1 Peter 3:11

They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.

God makes it clear through His Word that we are to live in peace and harmony with others. It isn’t always easy to seek peace. We live in a time when anger is the go to emotion for most of us and I will admit that I have too quickly turned to anger in many situations when I should have tried harder to seek peace. Most of us rush around in a hurry and our tempers flare whenever anyone gets in our way. We are so “me” focused that we have no compassion or patience for anyone else. This isn’t the way we are supposed to live. Fortunately for us, God doesn’t tell us to live in peace without telling us HOW to live in peace. Below, I have listed five ways that we can live at peace with those around us:

  1. Romans 14:13– Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
  2. 1 Corinthians 12:25– so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
  3. Galatians 6:2– Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
  4. James 5:9– Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
  5. 1 Peter 4:9– Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

I think God spells it out pretty clearly without any further explanation from me on how He expects us to live. If we live as God is telling us than living at peace with others will be so much easier.

The Challenge: Ask yourself these questions; Is there anyone I am living in judgement of? Why do I judge that person and how can I help them instead of judging them? Is there someone in my life that needs some help carrying their burden? How can I help to ease that person’s burden? Do I have concern for others who may be struggling? If not, Why? How can I show my concern for those who need a helping hand? How can I show concern for those who need Jesus? Do I go about my day grumbling? Why? How can I find the blessings in my day instead of grumbling about the things that irritate me? Do I have the opportunity to show hospitality to anyone? How can I show hospitality with a gracious attitude, instead of grumbling and making that person feel unwelcome? What other ways can I find to live in harmony with those around me? What ways can I bring peace to my community?

 

Living in harmony with EVERYONE is not always easy. People get on our nerves and the last thing we want is to make peace with them. But, if we want to live as God instructs us to then we MUST find a way to live in harmony and peace with those we live with and whose lives our lives touch. When we each do our part to bring peace to the world, Satan loses ground. When we reach out to create harmony in our communities, Satan loses a battle. Satan wants to keep us wrapped up in our anger, hurt feelings, selfishness, and busyness. As long as we are wrapped up in negativity, we can not accomplish anything for God. God is a God of peace and harmony. Why would we want to continue to live in our anger? Why would we want to continue to live in a world of chaos and fear? Why do we continue to allow Satan to keep us tied up in our selfishness? Why are we blind to the fact that living in peace is so much better for ALL of us? Why do we refuse to allow the peace of God to abide in us? Questions we ALL need to reflect on and answer for ourselves. Let me leave you with the following promises of God:

Proverbs 16:7

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

James 3:18

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Seek Peace in ALL you do and God will bless you! Peace be with you!