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Archive for the ‘Discovering Jesus’ Category

In the days leading up to Christmas I came across the question, “What will you give God for Christmas?”

It was a question that caught me off guard. I always ask God for things when I pray, but I never considered asking God WHAT HE WANTS FROM ME. What can I give God for Christmas? The question humbled me. The question convicted me. God loved me so much that He watched His Son be crucified on the cross for my sins. He gave up His Son so that I may have eternal life. What can I possibly give God when He gave everything for me?

I don’t know. What can I give God?

An open heart that seeks only Him.

Obedience when He leads.

A dedication to prayer and Bible study.

A heart of love and compassion.

A generous spirit.

A discerning spirit that will turn away from the sinful ways of the world.

A heart totally and completely devoted to Him.

A willingness to be an example of Jesus to a hurting world.

These are all things that I can try to give. I can’t promise to give these things, because I am imperfect and I will fail. I can give a willing heart that will TRY to live as Jesus. I think He only wants us to have a willing heart. He knows that we are human with human imperfections. He is not looking for perfection. He is looking for open hearts that are honestly seeking Him and honestly trying to be obedient to His will in this world.

I now challenge you with the same question:

WHAT WILL YOU GIVE GOD?

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I have been reading through The Women Of Christmas, written by Liz Curtis Higgs as an Advent study. The two points that jumped out at me were the faith and obedience of Mary and Joseph. According to the customs of the day, Mary would have been between 12 and 14 when she married Joseph. I can’t imagine what Mary felt when she was visited by the angel. Was she afraid? Did she fully understand what God was asking of her? Did she ever doubt? Did she consider saying NO! Not me? From the little written about the angels visit, if Mary felt any fear or doubt, she didn’t entertain those thoughts for long. It seems that Mary, even at her young age understood that God was blessing HER with this unbelievable gift and she had faith to obey.

And what about Joseph? Was he worried about what the townsfolk might say? Was he worried about his reputation? Did he care about the gossip? We don’t know the answers to these questions, but we do know that he had the faith to obey what the angel told him to do.

Mary and Joseph were facing risks obeying God’s will. Mary could have been stoned as a woman of ill repute. Joseph could have been pressured into handing Mary over to the townsfolk. They could have said NO! God always gives us a choice. God does not force his will upon any of us. They did not have to obey and do God’s will. They could have said no. Mary could have said that she did not want to be the mother of our Messiah. Joseph could have refused to marry Mary. They had a choice. Think of how different the story would be if either of them had refused to obey.

What if Joseph had refused to move to Egypt and had stayed in Bethlehem or Nazareth? Jesus may have been killed when he was a child. It doesn’t say if Joseph or Mary ever wavered in their faith. Being human, I’m sure they moments of hesitation. It seems as if they immediately surrendered those thoughts to God and moved on with the plan of our Father. They trusted God with their lives and with the life of this miracle child.

Do I have that faith? Will I obey even when facing risks? Will I trust God to provide? Will I trust God with my life? Will I walk in faith without hesitation or looking back?

I hope so. I don’t think we really know until we are faced with those situations. I pray that I would have the faith to obey God in any situation. I am constantly growing in my faith. I am on a journey of always seeking to grow closer to the Almighty. Obedience is not easy when you face risks, but there are always risks when you step out to do what God tells you to do.

Will you do it anyways? Will you obey God despite the risks? Will you trust God to provide? Will you trust God with your life? Will you walk in faith without hesitation or looking back?

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This year is coming to a close and I think it is safe to say that it has been a tough year for most people around the world. Covid-19 has caused all of us to rethink our way of life. We have had to adjust to a new normal. Those of us in the United States have had to watch our country disrupt in racial violence and we have become divided by political party in this election year. We, as Christians, have also seen our basic religious freedoms being challenged like never before. It is no wonder that as we head into this Christmas season that we are all weary. We are all searching for peace. We are searching for an answer.

The answer is what Christmas is all about. The answer to all of our uncertainty and turmoil is JESUS. I have not had a horrible year. There have been absolute blessings and like everyone else I have felt the tension of the elections, of Covid 19, of racial divisions, of the war raging against our police officers. How can you not feel it? How can you live in this nation and not be affected by what’s going on? None of this is new. We have been battling the same wars for decades. We will never have complete peace until Jesus returns.

Remember JESUS! He is our peace! He is our hope! He is our joy! He is our refuge! He is our defender! He is the answer to everything that is wrong with the world. I encourage you to read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You will find the answers that you are looking for. You will find Jesus.

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Church was cancelled for the foreseeable future. We are facing restrictions again due the spike in Covid 19 cases in Indiana. It seems like it will never end. We live in fear for ourselves and our families. It has been a tough year, but God has NOT left us!

Thanksgiving is next week! We usually do a community Thanksgiving meal for the family, neighbors, homeless, those alone and we deliver to those who can’t get out, but this year we can’t do our dinner. We will be doing a smaller version for our kids and their families. Last year we served 101 people. As much as we are disappointed to be giving this up, we are also weary and ready for a smaller, simpler holiday.

This has been a year of changes and transitions. We are finding ourselves having to do things differently and re-think the way some things have always been done. We have had to find a new normal. There is goodness. In the midst of the negativity and sadness, we have to choose to find the goodness. God is good. God is love. We have to choose to find the positive in life or we will die. Maybe not physically, but our hearts and our spirits will gradually die from the negativity and harshness of the world. We have to choose to unplug from the negativity and plug into what is good.

GOOD NEWS! I found a local non-profit that is willing to work with me on creating my single mom ministry (L.I.F.E Discipleship program and Blessing Boxes) in the new year. I am really excited about this! I am also very nervous! God is pushing me out of my comfort zone and it scares me. Will I have the knowledge and skills to develop a full fledged ministry? Taking it one step at a time I can do this. With God by my side, I can do this.

Remember always, choose faith over fear. Choose God over the hate in this world. Be blessed my friends!

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This week has been a tense one as we waited impatiently to see who our next President would be. We are a nation divided over which man will save us from ourselves. We are asking a lot from one person. We expect one man to become our savior that will make this nation a utopia. It would take a lot to make it what it never was. From this nations birth, we have struggled with racial tensions. We pride ourselves for being a nation of immigrants, but we stole land from the Native Americans and forced them onto reservations where they have lived in poverty and deal with generational issues like alcoholism. We forced them to assimilate to the white culture that began to surround them. We brought Africans over to become slaves on plantations. They were treated horribly and forced to segregate because of color. The Japanese were forced into internment camps in the West. Those with Middle Eastern roots are ostracized because of our fear of radical Islam. Those from Mexico and South America work 7 days a week in the fields struggling to feed their families and forced to live in squalor. This is our history as a nation.

We have a history of division. North against South, Christians against non-Christians, Christians against Christians, whites against every one else. Throw in a pandemic on top of all of it and we become a nation of exhausted and weary citizens. We are tired of fighting oppression, fighting a pandemic, fighting racism, and fighting each other, but we refuse to embrace the only answer to our problems.

1967 Detroit, 5 days of violence, burning, and looting ended in 43 people dead, 342 injured, nearly 1,400 buildings burned and some 7,000 National Guard and U.S. Army troops called into service. Racial tensions were high, along with tensions with the police. Same scenario, different decade. We repeat history, fighting the same issues, the same way and we expect different results.

There is an answer.

His name is JESUS.

We keep fighting hate with hate and it doesn’t work. Why don’t we try something different? Why don’t we try love? Why don’t we try compassion? Why don’t we try to find unity instead of finding reasons to hate each other? Why don’t we give Jesus a chance?

If we want change in this nation it is time to start fighting differently.

We need to start fighting the hate with love…

JESUS!

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Commandment #6: You shall NOT murder!

Matthew 5:21-22

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

According to Biblestudytools.com Raca is a term of reproach meaning “worthless” while fool in this passage means a downright wicked person.

Pastor John picked a perfect time to remind us that murder is not just a physical act, but can be an act we commit in our hearts. I am weary of the hate and anger that is dividing this country right now. Even Christians are being divided by political ties and bashing each other for belonging to the “wrong” party. We call each other names because we don’t agree and even wish death upon those who don’t think as we do. Yes, even Christians are acting this way and it breaks my heart.

As Christians our only concern is to follow the will of God and God’s Word. If we seek God’s will on all of the issues then we will know who to vote for. God’s will is not going to be one way for some and another way for someone else. The Bible does not change. If we as members of the Church of America follow Jesus and do what is right by Him then we shouldn’t be divided. This division and hate is caused by Satan and we are falling into his trap. We used to be a nation based on God’s will and Godly values, but we allowed Satan to gain a foothold and now we think that it is okay to follow the ways of the world.

WAKE UP CHURCH OF AMERICA!

We are murdering each other with our name calling, disrespect, and judgmental attitudes. Any time we bash someone or judge someone because they belong to a different political party, we commit murder. Any time we look down on someone because they live in poverty or are homeless, we commit murder.

I have allowed this election to stir up my anxieties and fear. I have allowed the hate to cause me to live in fear about the future of this country. The hate that is coming from every corner (Christians can be the worst offenders!) is exhausting and I tend to internalize it all.

I allowed my focus to be taken off of my King Jesus. I allowed Satan to cause me to live in fear of the future. It doesn’t matter who wins this election, God has been and always will be in control. HIS will is all that matters. I have to keep my focus on God and not on the things and circumstances of this world.

Instead of murder in our hearts, can’t we live with love and compassion in our hearts. As Christians, can’t we drop our grudges and allow love to bridge this great divide that is causing the Church of America to implode.

I am tired. I am tired of it all and I pray that we can survive this. Will we ever learn? Maybe. I don’t know.

There is always hope in Jesus!

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The last 2 weeks have been about the 10 Commandments and community. I have officially become a member of the First Baptist Church of Terre Haute. I am excited about this and I can’t wait until the Covid restrictions are lifted and church life and fellowship can resume.

Commandment #3: Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain.

Pastor John gave me something to think about on this one. He said that it is not just “using the Lord’s name in a blasphemous way” that is a sin, it is also living in such a way that brings disrespect or dishonor to the Lord. Anything that we as Christians do that would give God a bad reputation can be included under this commandment. I had never thought of it that way.

Commandment #4: Keep the Sabbath Holy.

This is a tough one and one in which I have heard Christians say isn’t valid anymore. I believe it is. God rested on the seventh day. He knows that in order to be healthy and perform at our peak levels that we need to rest. I think we have flexibility in that, but I think we need one day a week of rest and moments every day where we can rest our bodies and our minds. If God rested and I’m sure that Jesus rested than why would He expect anything different for us?

The Fall is upon us and the wind is blowing and their is a chill in the air. A wonderful time for family and community. God is around us always and I see Him in everything I do.

 

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Matthew 6:24

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

This past Sunday, we started a sermon series on the Ten Commandments. Commandment #1 is: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. It gave me something to reflect on this week. Do I have other gods before the ONE true God? Do I serve 2 masters?

Honestly, I have to ask myself if my worry, anxiety and fear is a god? Do I have more fear than I have faith? Does my worry outweigh my faith? I have to answer yes to both. I can not serve fear and step out of my comfort zone to do God’s will. I can not worry about tomorrow and have the faith that God will provide. I can not seek the approval of man (or woman) and also seek the approval of God. It is one or the other. It can not be both.

In other news, I became a member of the First Baptist Church of Terre Haute, Indiana this past Sunday. It is the church that Cherokee, Chris and their 5 kids attend. It has been exactly 10 years since we made the difficult decision to leave our family home church of 7 years. I attended other churches on my own, but none of them felt right. Churches are NOT one size fits all. I like a church that is in a traditional church building. I like a traditional sanctuary where light pours in through windows and there is no darkness to be found. I felt uncomfortable in the churches where the sanctuaries were dark and painted black. I felt like it was sacrilegious to have spot lights, smoke and treat a worship service like a rock concert. Sanctuaries are supposed to be filled with light, not darkness. It bothered me. I like the traditional church experience and sense of family/community. That’s just me. The most important thing is that I have to feel Jesus. It was not easy to make a commitment, but when I moved back from Georgia I knew that in order to move ahead, I needed to make that commitment. I needed to find that church home. I feel at peace with my decision. I am putting God first in all things and I am trusting Him with my life.

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Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 

Isaiah 7:9

…If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.

 

God continues to refine my character. I’m sure that will always be the case, since I am human and will continue to make mistakes and sin. These last 2 weeks, God has given me these 2 verses in my Bible study time to reflect on.

Search me God, and know my heart – I can not hide anything from God. He already knows my secrets, my sin, my hidden skeletons that I try to keep from everyone else. God knows it all! I don’t want to keep anything from God and I don’t want to live in a way that would make me want to hide things from God. I want to live with a pure heart. I want to live in such a way that God is glorified in everything I do.

Dear Lord,

Search me and know my heart. If there is any sin lurking in the dark recesses of my heart, reveal it and give me the strength and courage to confront the sin that separates me from you. I don’t want to live a lie. I want everything laid bare before your throne. Forgive me for those things that do not please you and purify my heart.

Test me and know my anxious thoughts – The Word of God says that we are not to be anxious for anything. When we become anxious about a situation, the devil wins. When we allow anxiety to creep in, we are disconnecting ourselves from God, because we are believing that God can not work in the situation that we are facing. I have written before about my anxiety. God knows every anxious thought that I have. He knows what causes me to worry. I want to live a life free of the anxiety and worry. I want God to test me and find the faith that I write about. I want God to find me faithful in living my Christian life.

Dear Father in heaven,

Test me, Lord, and find me faithful and not fearful. Help me to face my circumstances from a faith-filled perspective and not a fear-filled perspective. I know that you are all powerful and are more than capable of performing life changing miracles on my behalf. Help me to live that out in my Christian walk. Faith over fear. 

See if there is any offensive way in me – Sin keeps me disconnected from God. He will not answer my prayers when there is sin in my life.

Dear Father, 

Convict me of any sin that is living in me. Despite the discomfort, prune me to bring about the fruit of the Spirit that will glorify you. I don’t want to live a life disconnected from you. I don’t want sin in my life. I am willing to do the hard work. Transform me. Purify my heart. 

Lead me in the way everlasting – I want to always be on the narrow path. I don’t want anything to lead me astray. It isn’t easy. I get distracted by the shiny things in life and need the Holy Spirit to redirect me and bring me back to the path of life.

Dear Abba Father,

Guide me down the narrow path. Please don’t allow me to be distracted by the things of this world. Those things keep me from obeying your commands and doing your will. You are my #1 priority and my focus needs to be on you always. 

If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all – I want to stand firm. I don’t want my fear of man to keep me from standing firm in my belief in God. I do not want to be the person who spouts her Christianity, but then falls to the world when push comes to shove. That possibility bothers me and it is something that I wrestle with.

Dear Holy of holies,

I want to stand firm in my faith. Give me that courage to stand firm in my relationship with you. I know that you have covered me with your wings and that you are my refuge in the day of trouble. Help me not to give in or run, but to stand against those who challenge your name. YOU are the ALMIGHTY, the ALL POWERFUL, ONE AND ONLY GOD and no one will ever change that. 

Amen

Sometimes, I like to break a verse down and pray it back to God or apply it to my life. The Word of God is ALIVE and can transform our lives if we allow it too. I love my Bible study time and my prayer time. Whatever brings me closer to God is a good thing!

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I have been reading You Are The Girl For The Job, By Jess Connolly. In the book she talks about overcoming the fear of not being good enough to pursue whatever God is leading us to pursue. She reminds us that throughout the Bible God chose the unequipped, uneducated, every day, ordinary people to accomplish His goals.

Moses had a stutter and had murdered a man

David was a shepherd, had an affair with a married woman AND had her husband killed so he could have her as his own

Rahab was a prostitute and is now in the genealogy of Jesus

Paul killed Christians

Peter denied Jesus 3 times

The disciples were known to bicker and argue about who was the most important of them

The disciples were also known to lack faith at times

Matthew was a tax collector (a job that was looked down upon in Bible times)

The women in Luke chapter 8 who traveled with and supported Jesus and the disciples had all been healed of some ailment/demon possession

The list goes on…

None of these people or any other person in the Bible was perfect, besides Jesus Himself. God can and does use people of all skill levels, walks of life, social status, education level, etc. It doesn’t matter who I am. It doesn’t matter who you are. God has a purpose that is tailor made for me. God has a purpose that is tailor made for you.

I need to let go of the I’m not good enough mindset and remember the God who created me does NOT make mistakes. I have to quit listening to voices around me that say that what I am pursuing is a waste of time. I need to tune out those who tell me that I need to get a real job, because that is the only way to have an income, that somehow I am lesser than because I am choosing to pursue God’s work instead of joining the others on the hamster wheel of life.

I choose to put my faith in the God of all resources. I have faults, idiosyncrasies, quirks, and imperfections. I also have certain skills, passions, and gifts that make me who I am. God challenges us sometimes. He pushes us to do what we feel we are not equipped to do. And we doubt our own ability instead of focusing on HIS ability.

Maybe that is because the Church itself judges us and our abilities instead of letting us serve where our passion lies. We can not serve on the worship team unless we are a good enough singer/musician. We can not be a speaker unless we are eloquent and do not stutter. We can not share unless what we are sharing fits in with the agenda of the leaders. Jesus chose those who were willing to follow Him. The Church of today says that if we are to serve then we need to at least appear to be perfect. A willingness to serve is not good enough. A passion for a specific area is not good enough. For all intents and purposes Paul was an enemy of Jesus, but God used him anyway. God chose Paul to be the role model of the apostles.

Never let anyone tell you that you aren’t the girl for the job! I may not have a paying job right now. I may be socially awkward and I get tongue tied when in public, but I don’t care. I am 100% focused on God and what He says He needs me to do right now.

I AM THE GIRL FOR THE JOB!!!

YOU ARE THE GIRL FOR THE JOB!!!

Don’t let anyone tell you differently. God’s opinion is the only one that matters.

*I started doing these Discovering Jesus posts to discuss what I am learning on a weekly basis as I grow as a Christian. Life as a Christian is a process and we are ALWAYS growing and learning new things. These are posts from my heart and may seem fragmented at times as I am working through and trying to grasp issues myself. I hope that they help you as well.

 

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