Seasons

lemonThe Christmas decorations were placed back in their rightful containers. Some were wrapped with care, others placed without protection. They will stay in those boxes until the end of the year when we again celebrate the season. It’s always a sad time, packing away the trinkets. Many carry precious memories. But life moves on and it’s time for the next season. So we put them away until Christmas comes again.

Our lives are marked by seasons. Some seasons overflow with joy. We celebrate. We embrace the blessings God provides. We are thankful. Seasons of joy are what we live for. They excite us. They remind us we are loved. They give us a reason to celebrate. But would we honestly understand true joy without pain?

No one looks forward to seasons of pain. Not one person hopes for struggles. People don’t ask for hardship or tragedy or dark times and yet they come. They come because it is in those times we see strength. We persevere. We fall to our knees and beg for God to walk with us. It’s in those difficult times we understand God and His love a little more. And when we struggle through coming to the end of another season, we are forever changed. Our perception has been altered. The world around us hasn’t changed but the way we see it has. And joy, what about joy? Joy is that much sweeter.

Each January, we make promises and resolve to live better. It all sounds great but I have far more failed resolutions than successful ones. For me, change doesn’t come because of a date on the calendar or the time on a watch. My life changes through experiences. Those experiences are called seasons. And each season is important. It adds to my life. It changes me. It makes me the person God intended. As hard as life can be sometimes, I wouldn’t give up any seasons, good or difficult.

So, for the New Year I hope to look more intently to see God. I want to be thankful when life is grand and all of my prayers are answered. And I want to see His gentle hand when things seem unfair. More than anything, I want to use those seasons and memories and experiences to bless the people He places in my path.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance,  perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4 NIV)

Random Thoughts

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Writing was pushed to the side last week. I was too busy to put words to paper but I wanted to share some of the things that really spoke to me.

It began last Sunday with my pastor’s sermon. He used the scripture, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6 NASB) I had always applied this scripture to me. I am being perfected. I am becoming more like Christ. But he had a new spin. He explained when God uses us to do a good work, that work doesn’t die. God continues to bring His plan to pass even if we are not a part of it anymore. I was so encouraged and reminded that when God sets out to do anything, He never leaves it undone. And although we may never see the finished product, the Lord is still working. Your efforts are never a waste.

A few days later I read a blog post by Beth Moore. She is, by far, my favorite Bible teacher. She makes me laugh until I cry while striking the deepest part of my heart. She truly is gifted. She wrote a blog about memories. She shared some memories she’d like to forget. And she reminisced about precious things she cherished. Ultimately she came to this conclusion:

“So, today, Lord, I want to say to You that I am thankful. Because I remember. I remember the ditch You pulled me out of. I remember the hopelessness I’ve felt and the fears that I had no future. I remember a time when I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. And I remember that the sun came up the next morning and the next and the next, glistening without fail on a heap of fresh mercies. I want to say that You have been right all along. And that life is such a gift. And it is precious. And passes with such haste. What we can hope is that there would be no waste.”

Every struggle and every joy creates a memory and that is a gift.  I do love her heart!!

Finally, I read a devotion in a Bible my hubby gave me almost 20 years ago. That man still makes me smile when I see him and shake my head in disbelief we’ve been together so long.  Warren Wiersbe writes in Live Like a King,

If life is to be rich and meaningful, then our joys must be the highest possible; and Jesus tells us that the highest joy possible is to see God.”

Know God is always working, even when you think He’s forgotten about you. Your memories are a gift. Use them to see His blessings in and through your life. And joy; always seek joy. We serve a God who is compassionate… and strong …and most of all, loving.

A Change of Heart

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“Thank you Lord that we have a roof over our heads. Thank you for the food on the table. Thank you for giving us all that we need and also things we want. Amen.” Those were some words Jonah, my 12-year-old prayed last night. My hubby looked athim and asked, “Where did that come from?” I just smiled.

Last week, Jonah was arguing the point that if I were to go and get a job, we could afford more stuff. He was specifically thinking of a video game console along with games and a cell phone. I guess I have used, “We can’t afford it,” as my standard answer when he asks for something. This time we had a discussion about wants and needs. Apparently, it made an impression because last night his prayer was one of thankfulness rather than requests.

Jonah didn’t get to this opinion overnight. He obviously spent some time thinking about our talk. We talked about why I stay home and how important it is to and his Dad and me. We also talked about what we do have. For some, it may not seem like much but when we started to look at what we had, he saw we did have more than we needed. His opinion didn’t change just because I said so. It was altered because our discussion went to the heart.

Transformation doesn’t happen the instant we are saved. These things take time. They take work. Mostly they require a spirit willing to learn. Some lessons are painful and humbling. Others come through scripture or a sermon. But the idea is that change happens gradually. We can’t expect a lifetime of bad habits to disappear because we follow Jesus. He gently takes one at a time and shows us what He desires for that area of our lives.

Let God take the time He needs to work in your heart. He doesn’t expect perfection, only a teachable heart. It will happen.

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. (Romans 8:25-26 NIV)

And for the record, I fully expect Jonah to continue to ask for stuff. Only now, I won’t tell him we can’t afford it, I’ll ask him if we really NEED it. He’s already working up a plan to save his own money for any “wants” he might have:)

A Change of Heart

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“Thank you Lord that we have a roof over our heads. Thank you for the food on the table. Thank you for giving us all that we need and also things we want. Amen.” Those were some words Jonah, my 12-year-old prayed last night. My hubby looked athim and asked, “Where did that come from?” I just smiled.

Last week, Jonah was arguing the point that if I were to go and get a job, we could afford more stuff. He was specifically thinking of a video game console along with games and a cell phone. I guess I have used, “We can’t afford it,” as my standard answer when he asks for something. This time we had a discussion about wants and needs. Apparently, it made an impression because last night his prayer was one of thankfulness rather than requests.

Jonah didn’t get to this opinion overnight. He obviously spent some time thinking about our talk. We talked about why I stay home and how important it is to and his Dad and me. We also talked about what we do have. For some, it may not seem like much but when we started to look at what we had, he saw we did have more than we needed. His opinion didn’t change just because I said so. It was altered because our discussion went to the heart.

Transformation doesn’t happen the instant we are saved. These things take time. They take work. Mostly they require a spirit willing to learn. Some lessons are painful and humbling. Others come through scripture or a sermon. But the idea is that change happens gradually. We can’t expect a lifetime of bad habits to disappear because we follow Jesus. He gently takes one at a time and shows us what He desires for that area of our lives.

Let God take the time He needs to work in your heart. He doesn’t expect perfection, only a teachable heart. It will happen.

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. (Romans 8:25-26 NIV)

And for the record, I fully expect Jonah to continue to ask for stuff. Only now, I won’t tell him we can’t afford it, I’ll ask him if we really NEED it. He’s already working up a plan to save his own money for any “wants” he might have:)

A Change of Heart

video

“Thank you Lord that we have a roof over our heads. Thank you for the food on the table. Thank you for giving us all that we need and also things we want. Amen.” Those were some words Jonah, my 12-year-old prayed last night. My hubby looked athim and asked, “Where did that come from?” I just smiled.

Last week, Jonah was arguing the point that if I were to go and get a job, we could afford more stuff. He was specifically thinking of a video game console along with games and a cell phone. I guess I have used, “We can’t afford it,” as my standard answer when he asks for something. This time we had a discussion about wants and needs. Apparently, it made an impression because last night his prayer was one of thankfulness rather than requests.

Jonah didn’t get to this opinion overnight. He obviously spent some time thinking about our talk. We talked about why I stay home and how important it is to and his Dad and me. We also talked about what we do have. For some, it may not seem like much but when we started to look at what we had, he saw we did have more than we needed. His opinion didn’t change just because I said so. It was altered because our discussion went to the heart.

Transformation doesn’t happen the instant we are saved. These things take time. They take work. Mostly they require a spirit willing to learn. Some lessons are painful and humbling. Others come through scripture or a sermon. But the idea is that change happens gradually. We can’t expect a lifetime of bad habits to disappear because we follow Jesus. He gently takes one at a time and shows us what He desires for that area of our lives.

Let God take the time He needs to work in your heart. He doesn’t expect perfection, only a teachable heart. It will happen.

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. (Romans 8:25-26 NIV)

And for the record, I fully expect Jonah to continue to ask for stuff. Only now, I won’t tell him we can’t afford it, I’ll ask him if we really NEED it. He’s already working up a plan to save his own money for any “wants” he might have:)

Prayer Warrior Wednesday ~ Pray Without Ceasing

 

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(Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”(1 Thes. 5:16-18 NASB)

We live in a fast paced society. We want everything now. We don’t like to wait. A business is considered “customer friendly” if it can deliver the needs of their customer in record time. And we love it. We are treated as if we matter. And if we don’t get what we want, in a timely manner, we’ll just take our business elsewhere. We hold the power because we hold the money. If we are not completely satisfied, we move on.

Our thinking has to be completely reversed when we consider God’s timing. He’s not in a hurry. He doesn’t have customers to satisfy. And He certainly doesn’t bow down to our demands. But we demand anyways. We become discouraged easily. And we are tempted to walk away when things are hard. I admit it; there have been times I’ve thrown my hands up in frustration wondering where God is. I’ve pleaded for relief. I’ve begged for reassurance. After my tantrum, God comes quietly to remind that He has not forgotten. He is still working even when I don’t see. His work takes time because He works everything out perfectly.

In our scripture today, Paul encourages believers to “pray without ceasing”. Paul knew there was power in prayer. He knew that the enemy was constantly battling to discourage and dissuade believers. He knew the war was a fierce one and believers need to push through. We can’t give up on the calling of God. If He has called us to pray about something or for someone, we can’t give up. We have to persevere. We have to stay strong.

I encourage you today to remain faithful in prayer. If the answer isn’t coming, don’t be discouraged because God is working. You may not see it. You may not feel it. But if He has laid something on your heart, pray. There is a battle going on that you cannot see and God uses prayer warriors to fight the battle with Him. So pray and don’t stop until you see the hand of God and the blessing of His answer.

Obedience

Rembrandt - Apostle Paul - WGA19120

Rembrandt – Apostle Paul – WGA19120 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“There is somebody waiting on the other side of your obedience.” Those were the words spoken as I listened to a sermon. It has become part of my Sunday morning routine. Our family worships on Saturday night. On Sunday mornings, I find myself sitting in front of the television with my cup of coffee watching a local pastor share his sermon. He is currently going through a series in Philippians.

In his sermons, this pastor is talking about Paul and his obedience. He is talking about his dedication, passion and determination to spread the gospel. Paul was a man who formerly murdered Christians and now he was enduring every trial imaginable in order to spread the gospel. He was being obedient to his God. And many, many were brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus because of it.

I think God calls the most unlikely of men (and women) so His glory may shine. He chooses the individuals who cannot possibly have any strength on their own. Paul was met with many skeptics along the way. Disciples of Jesus were leery of trusting a man who persecuted Christian. They wondered if his conversion was genuine or a masterful plan to deceive them. Can you blame them? It seemed unimaginable that such a powerful enemy of Christianity had now become a believer.

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do; Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God as called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 13-14 NIV)

Paul remembered where he came from, but he didn’t let that cripple him. I imagine his former life was hard for him to face. He must have encountered friends and family members of those he killed. I imagine the enemy was relentless in his attacks against Paul. I wonder if he had nightmares and how many times he questioned God’s calling on his life. Did he ask forgiveness for each life he took? Some suggest the “thorn in his side” was the memories of his former life. I just don’t think Paul had it easy. And yet he remained obedient.

It is unlikely we are murderers, but we are sinners. Our sin is just as tragic as Paul’s and yet God calls us. We are guilty but we are invited into grace. Paul said he forgot what was behind him but strained toward the future. I think we should be mindful of where we came from but I agree with Paul, we can’t live there. We must press on because “There is somebody waiting on the other side of our obedience.”