"So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time [IN DUE SEASON] we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit." Galatians 6:9. Use the talents and gifts God has given you and REJOICE in the harvest.
Do you spend all your energy on getting the equipment, but have no plan? I have a friend who has multiple gym memberships and she actually uses all of them! Well, she is helping me with a workout plan. In planning to start an exercise program, I took inventory first:
Free weights- check
Exercise ball- need to get out of the garage but check
Exercise mat- needs cleaning but check
Cute exercise outfit-definitely check
By nature most of us, including myself, feel constricted by the word ‘planning’. It means that we may have to carry it out! It takes time, energy, and commitment. However, we also realize that to achieve anything, planning needs to occur. We plan our vacations, we plan our career goals, we plan our day. I admit some plan more than others, but we usually have some idea. Like most of you, with the New Year, I have been praying and setting all sort of goals. I have begun to realize that this desire to plan comes from God.
God is a planning God. He had a plan when Jesus was born in the manger. Thankfully, God had a plan for our redemption and salvation. In the very beginning, with the story of creation, we can see that God has always had a plan.
From the story of creation, there are seven things we can learn about plans.
Plans usually fall apart unless God is in the center. Genesis 1 says that “In the beginning was God… ” God was at the center of creation. Are you doing what you want or what God has called you to do? Even if you don’t have a plan, God does.
Plans don’t constrict…. they release. I used to think that plans inhibit creativity. God is a creative God. God’s plans saved time because there was no ‘do overs’. He created fish after He created the oceans. He created birds after He created the sky. Because God had the environments in place, He was free to be creative in the embellishments. Like decorating a room, once the walls are up and painted, you can get to the fun part.
Plans need a date on them. Something about the concept of time motivates me to act. God added the time concept when He created the earth. On the first day…on the second day…. on the third day…
Plans require action. Plans don’t do any good sitting on a shelf. God in creation spoke it into being. He took action. The Spirit of God moved…..
Plans need to be flexible and stay on point. Planning can be boring. Having flexibility to enjoy the journey is needed, but don’t loose sight of the ultimate goal. The end result is not the only goal. The goal also includes the things learned and created along the way. God said after each day, “He saw that it was good”. God did not stop until His plans were completed.
Plans require partnerships and accountability. God walked with Adam in the garden of Eden. God brought the animals for Adam to name. God made Eve to be Adam’s partner. Neither could do it alone. God partnered with Adam and Eve. Who are you partnered with? Who are you allied with?
Rest comes when the plans are complete. On the seventh day, after all the work was done, God rested. He did not rest until the plan was done. God had the strength and power to complete the task and finish strong. We will also if we turn to Him.
Ok, Now where in the garage did I put that exercise ball?!?
Princess…..Inside and Out…..Honey, Patricia, Janet, Carol
In God we Trust….four words that bring so much controversy. It is not the world we grew up in and I am sure our parents thought the same way. Songs, videos, books that praise God’s name are viewed as offensive, but when we are in a time of need, we drop to our knees…. from which comes our strength, our hope, our joy. I know we refer to the faith of our ‘founding fathers’ as the basis for this, but it goes deeper than that. It is the very core of our being. It is the empty hole we cannot fill with anything else. Since the beginning of time man has tried to fill that void with all sorts of things from money, daring excitement and adrenaline rushes (natural or man made), sexual pleasure, or just wanting to be in the best house in the best neighborhood with the best job and the best family (the idea of a ‘perfect’ life). All these are fleeting and bring joy for a season.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
As a teenager, I learned that negative emotions can be habit forming and that joy has nothing to do with happy times or happy circumstances. Joy comes from knowing God and knowing that He is there with us always. Jesus will supply all we need physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially. As a teenager, my parents divorced and my mom and my sister and I moved to a new town. I struggled with my identity of who I was and with acceptance as most young girls do. During this time, God brought four ladies, friends of my mom, into my life, Honey, Patricia, Janet and Carol. They filled in the ‘mama’ gaps when my mom could not. What I saw in them was the power of prayer and faith in God and Jesus’ ability to fill that ‘gap’ in my life and bring true joy. Their families and children were not perfect, but their love for Jesus was. I saw a faith and determination to trust Jesus through the hard times and rejoice with Him in the good times. Their relationship with Jesus was and still is a steady anchor in their lives. I wanted that for me; a faith that expressed itself in the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus Christ. A joy that permeated to the core of my being.
Honey had ( and still does) a joy that lights up regardless. I treasure her statement, ” It is not an obstacle but an opportunity for God to overcome.”
Patricia showed me how still waters can run deep. She has integrity and showed me how to stand on principles of God and not to compromise. God has His best for you, don’t settle for anything less.
Janet, a prayer warrior (then and now), showed me where my source of strength needed to come from— the word of God, my relationship with Jesus and prayer. Through Janet, I learned that in order to be as Psalm 1 states” tree planted by the waters that produces fruit in due season”, then I needed to take time and be open and honest with God. I needed to allow the healing blood of Jesus to forgive.Our own abilities and intellect can only go so far and will only produce temporary fixes in our lives, but Jesus’ fixes are deep and permanent.
Carol showed me that Jesus is the source of wisdom and discernment, not my own mental understanding. I watched her stop many times and pray before making a decision and it didn’t matter the size of the decision. I could tell by the look on her face that she wasn’t just pondering the situation, but was saying,”Ok God, what do you want me to do?” Wisdom, understanding and discernment come from a spiritual ear and heart tuned to hear God’s voice. In order to hear God’s voice I needed to know Him and in order to know Him I needed to read His word.
Through these ‘spiritual mamas’ I learned to not dwell on my own short comings, failures, inadequacies and struggles, but instead to develop a love for God and to trust Him.” All things are possible to him who believes, ‘ Mark 9:23.Thank you Jesus for the praying ‘spiritual mamas’ in my life.
Look around for the ‘spiritual mamas’ in your life. What characteristics did they impart to you?
There are two women in the Bible who I feel represent two sides of every woman. They are Mary and Martha. Mary and Martha are first mentioned in Luke 10:38-42 when Jesus and the 12 disciples decided to stop in and visit, while ‘on their way’.
Martha had a servant heart that was full of action. Mary had a devotional heart that sprang from her time at the feet of Christ. Mary and Martha were not only sisters by blood but they also had a spiritual relationship based on their faith in Christ. I grew up with Marthas, from my grandmother to my mom. But as any Martha can tell you, you need the Mary side of you to be the center point that drives you. The Mary side is the one that sits at the feet of Jesus and lays every care and struggle there. It is the part of you that cries out, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me, ” and means it with the very depth of your being. The Mary side, the side that allows the Holy Spirit to teach and guide you, is the side that supports the Martha. Being a Martha by nature, God has brought some Marys in my life to remind me of this principle. They have been used to keep me on track. They have shown me again the joy and peace of staying close to God and having that intimate relationship that comes from spending time in the Word of God and from spending time with our face on the floor in prayer.
A Princess…Inside and Out…Crystal
One such Mary is Crystal. I lived with her and her family for a few months before I married. After having spent most of my teenage years in a home of a single mom, God knew I needed to see another side. During those months, I saw a woman who prayed for her husband and children. She had quiet times and enjoyed that time in the Word of God. She opened her home to college students like myself who needed some extra love and attention. She took things lightly and always had a smile on her face. She knew who her source of strength was. She was quick to cast her cares onto Jesus and allow His peace to flow. I know many a prayer was said over me as I struggled with that balance of “I can do it myself” and “I need to allow God to work through me:. She started her day with Jesus and it flowed through everything she did. She sat at the feet of Jesus with her whole heart as Mary did. In Luke 10:39, the word ‘sat’ (parakathezomai) means to ‘to make to sit down’. It is the only time it is used in the Bible. Mary had the same choices as Martha and she made herself choose to sit down at the feet of Jesus. Mary not only physically heard the teachings of Jesus but she also learned from what she heard. She was obedient to His voice. It was not a one time thing. It was active and continual, i.e. she kept on hearing. Mary sat close to Jesus physically and close to Him with her heart to not only hear instructions with her physical ears but to incorporate them into her very being. The words of Jesus became a part of her. Mary and Crystal were yielded to Jesus.
Martha was ‘cumbered’ with serving. Cumbered (perispao) means that she was drawn away. Her actions were good but they were drawing her heart away from Jesus. Martha was said to be doing ‘much serving’. Serving and ministry of helps were Martha’s calling. The gift of hospitality flowed in her life. How many of you invite 12 plus people over for dinner at the last minute! Martha is quickly overwhelmed and goes to Jesus and asks Him to encourage Mary to help (synantilambanomai), i.e. come alongside, share in the bearing, to take hold with another. This word is only used one other time in the New Testament. In Romans 8:24-26, it is used in reference to the Holly Spirit helping us in our weaknesses. Martha was feeling left in a lurch, abandoned, alone in her calling. But was she really? Jesus was right there. Martha was being distracted mentally when she needed to be at the feet of Jesus refreshing her mind and spirit for the calling that was so evident in her life.
“But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”—Luke 10:42
‘Needful’ comes from ‘chreia’, a noun meaning ‘what is necessary for life.’ It is used in the New Testament in reference to needs of the spirit that only God and the Holy Spirit can fill. (Example Matthew 3:14, Hebrews 7:11, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:31;Romans 12:13; 1 Corinthians 12:21-24). Mary and Crystal chose that good, joyful, excellent, pleasant, agreeable part that is ready to bear fruit in their life. Crystal, like Mary, incorporated the word of Jesus into her heart to such an extent that it ‘shall not be taken away.’
A Princess…Inside and Out…Jen
Mary was transparent with Jesus. Her heart was in passive mode to receive. As a Martha type person, I am usually not passive about anything. Then I met Jen. Jen talked about being ‘transparent’ with God. I thought I was transparent until I heard her talk about it. I heard not only the words but I saw a deeper level of relationship with Jesus in her life. Martha had a relationship with Jesus just like Mary. Jen and Mary chose to open their hearts in such a way that their very lives depended on it. Jen is new in my life. God knew I needed to meet her when I did not know I needed to. With Jen, her life depends on that open transparent relationship with Christ. With us typical Marthas, we are usually ‘capable’ people who as I like to say, ‘Get the job done.’ We need to be reminded that we can only go so far without being more transparent with Jesus and the Holy Spirit and open to the words of Jesus to change us from the inside out. I think Marthas fight this intimacy because we do not want to see what is really in our hearts. You know the areas that we keep only to ourselves. The areas that we are ‘busy’ covering up. Jen reminded me that those areas even existed. We forget that Jesus knows everything about us anyway.
It is at the feet of Jesus and on our knees in prayer and in the word of God that we choose the part that cannot be ‘taken away’.
When we sit at the feet of Jesus with our hearts open to hear and understand His word, then we are changed in such a way that we cannot return to our original state. It is here that the Holy Spirit breaks down every wall and barrier in our heart and mind., It is here that we have joy and peace, It is here that our burdens become light. It is not easy. It means making deliberate choices to spend time in prayer and studying the word of God. It means being willing to change. It means being honest with ourselves. It means as Jen says, being transparent before God. It means reaching out to serve not only physically but with your heart. The rewards are worth it. It it the Mary times that provide the oil that makes the Martha times run. Praise God for the Mary’s in my life!
As you have therefore received Christ, (even) Jesus the Lord, walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots (of your being) firmly and deeply planted (in Him, fixed and founded in Him), being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving….Colossians 2:6-8 (Amplified version)
Please share about the Martha’s and Mary’s in your life……
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies…Proverbs 31:10
The first post is from my mom. All girls are first impacted by our mothers. Good and bad they have an influence. My mom loves the Lord, but she, like many of us, has had struggles through out her life that have stolen joy and peace. In many areas she has allowed God to restore that joy and peace. Other areas she still struggles, just like all of us. This is something she wrote that I promised I would share. It was written in 1982 so some references, i.e. ERA (Equal Rights Ammendment ) are dated. Mom stated that she woke up in the middle of the night and these words were going through her head and she put them to paper. At the time she was divorced with 2 daughters and not dating anyone.
Aprons, Green Berets, And Spiritual Warfare
by Caroline Churchill
Sept 1982 Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
Every well trained army has always had its “special forces,” its secret weapons; its Green Berets. God, too, is forming an army, an army that is well trained and equipped for the battle that is at hand. In a quiet, most obscure place, hidden and ignored by the passing eye, camouflaged with an apron and a dust mop, God has been training one of his most strategic weapons; His women! In the seclusion of the laundry room, behind the kitchen sink, rocking the cradle, God has chosen His Handmaidens who have been willing to surrender their will to the authority of the Most High God. Women who have been “set apart,” whose heart attitudes have been one of recognizing that He is Lord and apart from Him they can do nothing in their own strength or power. Women who have said ” I place myself and all my affairs, lovingly into the hands of the Father. ” Women who have a teachable spirit, who are willing to be molded into the image of Christ. Women who recognize that their place is a place of walking beside their men as their ” helpmate, ” not usurping authority over them nor sitting at their feet as a slave.
God is calling forth these mighty women into their place of completeness in Christ. As in the Garden of Eden, when Eve walked beside Adam in the coolness of the evening and fellowships with the Lord. God is restoring this rightful created place of God’s women.
A woman who is not in competition with Adam, but who recognizes that her role is a completion of men. A virtuous woman, well equipped for the business world, who is able to buy and sell and who is able to give added insight to business men to complete the logical thinking of men.
Satan has tried to destroy this woman because he has always known that if he could lure her away- trick her with a tempting apple of ERA- get her out of her role as a helpmate and dazzle her into” worldly wisdom, ” seduce her with terms as “unisex,” “equal opportunity, ” that he would have an open target on the men.
The Jezebel spirit has had the reign! But she is dying as God brings forth His women- His virtuous women, that He has crowned with glory and honor. As this woman comes forth, the men whose eyes have been blinded will open so they too will return to their role of keeper, protector of the Garden. For they equally have allowed this poisonous serpent to come in! But Christ came and ended all that ! For through Christ, their eyes and their hearts will realize that women need their strength, tenderness, compassion, and understanding. These women long for the Keeper of the Garden to put his protective arms around them and say “we understand.” We are here to guard and protect. These men will stand in the gap and recognize what a jewel they have been given.
God is coming forth with His women who He has trained, He has taught, He has spoken to. These mighty women are saying to Satan-“Enough!” You will not trick us anymore. We see you for what you are! You will not trick us anymore! You will not take our unborn children. You will not have our sons and daughters with sickness, drugs or alcohol, or worries and cares for the world. You will not seduce or accuse us anymore by your lies! We will keep our homes in order. We will train our young women how to care for and love their husbands. We will teach and discipline our children out of the power and love of our Heavenly Father.
Rest, oh women of God, do not press in this battle because God is going to use you as a mighty secret weapon, but He will be the power. He is placing you in the field where the harvest is ripe. He will show you the stones that need to be removed. He holds the plans for each one of you individually and as a group. Do not worry about the time, the place–you will be sent. This information will be made known to you when needed. Be thou ready, be trained in the Word. His strength will be sufficient for the task chosen for you. You will hear the call. You will flow in Him. For the battle is not yours He will be the victor. He will have all the credit and all the glory. And all the world will know that it was not by your strength or your might, but by Him! Praise to God forever more!
Where has God sent you ? How has He prepared and trained you to be His secret weapon?
See, Princesses do not paint their own bedrooms. They do not caulk holes in the walls, which is why my arms hurt. They don’t wash and paint base-boards, which is why my back hurts. Princesses don’t paint their own door frames…which is why mine probably have to be sanded and redone due to dried drips going down the sides….which is why Chuck is laughing his Heavenly butt off!! —– Sara Stophel ( a princess in more ways than one)**
We all have idea of what a Princess is. Is she weak and fragile or strong and harsh. Maybe she is a combination of both, strong when needed to govern and tempered with tenderness and mercy in comforting her fellow men. When we look in the Bible we see women who are strong, confident, gentle, loving, caring, joyful. God created women to be such a mixture of all of these things. I take comfort in knowing that I can
Be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.—- Philippines 1:6.
I love this verse. It means that God is not done with me yet! It means that Sara will eventually have her trim painted and it not drip!! More than that it means that what the Holy Spirit starts……… He completes .! None of this ‘If I only I was……” or ” I wish I could have the personality of……” or maybe if ” I could do…..”. We as women tend to allow God to start His perfect work in us only to pick up and try and complete it by our own strength and ideas of how it should be done. The phrase ‘ that he began’ in Philippines 1:6 is used only once in more in the New Testament, in Galatians 3:3:
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?– Galatians 3:3.
Lord let us be true princesses who allow You to complete Your perfect work in us with the power of Your Holy Spirit.
I am reminded that Princesses are a compilation of the wisdom and knowledge of the Princesses who have gone before them. Godly women who have instilled their wisdom, love and prayers into our lives. As I have thought about the many women throughout my life who were there when I needed love, support, encouragement, I am amazed, because I see that the Holy Spirit was indeed working to complete that good work. Is that work complete? No, not at all, but I am thankful for God’s grace and mercy that I am not forgotten, abandoned, or alone. I am a Princess of the most high God.
I will be sharing some things I have learned from women who have touched my life. Not that I am anyone special or unique. I am just someone who loves God with all my heart just like many of you. Someone who cannot go through one day without His strength, mercy, love. My prayer is that as you read some of these posts you will also be encouraged and strengthened as I was when these people entered my life. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to work God’s perfect work within our lives and we will not be tempted to pick up the reigns of our life and try and complete it with human effort.
** Sara Stophel is a dear friend whose husband is in heaven singing praises to God as he did on earth. Her posts this past year have been humorous and truthful as she is allowing the Holy Spirit to complete His perfect work in her life and the life of her children. She has given me permission to copy and paste her posts in the hopes that they will encourage others.