Blessings in Our Lives

Blessings in Our Lives

Grandma's Special Herbs

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us“— 2 Corinthians 4:7

As we enter the Thanksgiving season, I am reminded of legacy. Thanksgiving is traditionally a time of remembering family and the blessings we have. Taking time to remember those blessings can be the challenge. We are so busy with every day life of errands and work and school that we may miss the everyday blessings that God has provided for us. Little things done today, impact the events of tomorrow and ultimately the next generation. But what are we passing on? Are we so overwhelmed with the cares and struggles in our lives that we are missing the blessings? Are the things we are passing on things that last for a moment, a season, or eternity? Are they truly treasures? Are we taking time to unearth the blessings in our lives?

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”                                —-2 Corinthians 4:8-9channeled-whelk

Sometimes we need to hold on to our treasure as the waves crash around us.

It is only then we realize what we are holding onto, what is deep and buried just under the sand, what comes not from ourselves but from Jesus and our relationship with Him,—- is the true treasure.

Are we passing on–how to have peace amidst the stormlove when faced with adversity…. perseverance to stay the coursejoy that comes from God that gives us strength to see joy amidst the everyday struggles and routinesgrace for the moment

To take the time to count our blessings may mean digging away the sand that is keeping it hidden and allowing the waves to wash away the rough edges to make it smooth. We may not recognize the treasure for what it is. We may only see the tip or the edge. It may appear broken and insignificant, but God sees the treasure and the blessings that is beneath. If we allow Him, Jesus has the power to slowly move away the sand and wash away the dirt and reveal the hidden treasure that was there all the time. True treasures transcend our lifetime.  True treasures lay a foundation for our children to stand on and build upon. True treasures and blessings come not from us but from what Jesus has done for us and within us. The power is from Jesus and not from us.

 

 

 

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Dressed for Battle…. Now what?

Dressed for Battle…. Now what?

“…..with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18

Ever hear of the term ‘marching orders’. I grew up in a military town. As a child I would hear my friends talk about their dads or brothers, ‘receiving their orders’. In the military, you are trained and equipped for battle. When that battle occurs, you don’t know. But you are to be ready in season and out. Many times those orders occurred in the middle of the night or on the weekend, or a holiday. Battles are not convenient. Battles are messy. Battles are ugly. Battles are dirty. The battle that God equips us for is a battle for the life and heart of people. It means answering the phone call at 2 am from the woman that gets on your nerves, but who is struggling in her marriage.  It means rearranging your schedule to hold the hand of a sick friend in the hospital as she receives the results of tests that could change her life. It means looking at sin in all its ugliness when every part of you wants to look away.

What are our marching orders? What are we called to do?

What?  “pray and supplication…

Prayer and supplications are requests made to God from deep inside our hearts and soul.  From a childlike confidence, we know that regardless of what we see or people tell us, God can accomplish the impossible.

Are you praying for what looks like the impossible in your self? Your family? Your fellow Christians at church?

When?In all seasons…”

I noticed right away that God didn’t say, “later this afternoon if you get a minute or if you think about it, can you pray for so and so.” No! this is a fixed and definite period of time, a season. There is a reason God has called you to be a such a place and time. He sees the whole battlefield. We are to act Now!

Are you praying now for yourself? Your family? Your fellow Christians at church? Or are you putting off until tomorrow?

How?….in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance…”

First we are to pray in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit  gives us the words to pray, and reminds of the Word of God that is sharper than a two edged sword. Remember, the Holy Spirit wields the sword to make our aim true.

Are you yielding to the Holy Spirit regarding your self? Your family? Your fellow Christians in your church?

Second, we are to be watching. Watching means to be on the alert. Ever hear soldiers talk of ‘taking the first watch’. The one on watch stays awake when others sleep. They are alert to the slightest movement, sound, smell, anything that is a change. While others sleep, they are vigilant.

Are you being vigilant regarding yourself? Your family? Your fellow Christians in your church?

Third, we are to be on alert with perseverance. The word for perseverance, ” proskarterēsis“, is a noun. This is the only time this word is used in scripture. The dictionary defines perseverance as “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, or state; especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.” It implies an unyielding holding on in following a course of action.

It has been said that endurance and perseverance combine to win in the end.When a battle is raging on, the soldier who has perseverance is what you want. By his very nature, he remains steady despite what he sees or has to overcome. He is the one who sees the mountain not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity for God to overcome and be glorified. The one with perseverance is still putting one foot in front of the other while knee deep in mud while the storm is raging. Remember battle is messy.

Are you persevering with areas of your self? Your family? Your fellow Christians at your church?

By putting on the Armor of God, we have the equipment needed to win the battle. Now we need to embrace the heart or quality of perseverance to stay the course with our fellow believers. We are called to come alongside with prayer and support, holding fast not to what the world says, but what the Word of God says.

photo from www.freepik.com
photo from http://www.freepik.com

 

 

Gazebo Gallery:

Describe your Battle Won!

Princess…Inside and Out…Spiritual Mamas

Princess…Inside and Out…Spiritual Mamas

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.

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photo from www.freepik.com
photo from http://www.freepik.com

Gazebo Gallery:

Look around for the ‘spiritual mamas’ in your life. What characteristics did they impart to you?

A Time to Love….A Time to Hate

A Time to Love….A Time to Hate

A Time to Love and a Time to Hate…A Time for War and a Time for Peace. Ecclesiastes 3:8.

A time to love and a time to hate. Hmmm. So there is a time to hate? This was confusing for me. How many times have we told our children and ourselves not to have ‘hate’ in our hearts. Leviticus 19:17 says ‘ Do not hate your brother in your heart.’  I have seen the result of this in the town my mom was raised in. In the town there is a railroad track that runs down the middle of it. Jimmy Stewart in the movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, said that the sound of a train was one of the three best sounds in the world. My grandfather would have had to agree with you. He was a railroad man. He loved trains and delighted in taking my sister and me to the little park and ride the train that was there. If there was a model train displayed, he took us to watch it go around and around through the miniature mountains and  small towns with figurines waving at the train as it chugged past. The railroad provided for his family and brought goods to the town and helped the town grow. The railroad also divided the town in half geographically and in the minds of the people. Proverbs 10:12 says ‘Hatred stirs up dissension.” That has certainly been the case here. Praise God, today He is bringing unity!

What does ‘hate’ mean?

‘Hate’ is a word that gets thrown around easily. I hate cleaning the bathrooms (when will boys ever hit the toilet, thank you very much!) I hate it when it is pretty and sunny and then rains when we go on vacation. I mostly hate it when I see people settle for second best. I hate it when people do not rise to their potential that everyone around them sees they have, but they don’t. I hate it when people can believe something for others but not believe it for themselves. I had a friend say once it is easy to believe for blessing for a business that blesses a ministry or for a ministry that is blessing other people, but not for their own family. Why not, does God not love their own family any less? Anyway, I digress. If God says there is a time to hate then maybe we need to find out what God hates.

First of all the word ‘hate’ in Ecclesiastes is the Hebrew word ‘sane’ it means to hate as in the case of an enemy; to despise, to turn against. In researching commentaries on this I found that some believe this was a ‘hyperbole’ or exaggeration. Others that it is not talking about  heart attitude but rather a ‘distancing or separating’ . Regardless, there definitely seems to be a time when God says to distance, separate from things.

What are we to hate then?

In Proverbs 6:16 the same word is used for hate.

“These six things the Lord hates, indeed, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath], and he who sows discord among his brethren.” (Amplified version)

What I don’t see on the list is race, politics, geographical region, income level, etc. With all the latest political talk the word ‘hate’ is easily thrown around today , but are we talking about the outside of the person or the inside. Interesting that the seventh one, the one that is an ‘abomination’ to the Lord, is ‘he who sows discord among his brethren.’ God is a god of unity.

“How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, Flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes. It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.”(Psalm 133, Message version)

Some say they are over 40 things listed in the Bible that God hates. Forty in the Bible is a number for chastisement, not judgement. It points to action of grace leading to and ending in revival and renewal. So  even if there are things God hates, His ultimate desire is to ask forgiveness and receive the His grace and have revival and renewal in our lives.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:1-10, NIV)

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God made us to love and do good works. I think God hates  things that go against His nature and  against the good plan He has for each of us. If anyone has kids you know what is like to want the best for your kids. You don’t want to see them hurt, let down, disappointed, getting second best. God sees us the same way. He has things planned for us, good things. The things God hates are things that keep us from experiencing those good things, they keep us from having joy, peace, love, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith,  righteousness, and truth. (Ephesians 5:9, 22). If liking things that God hates is going to keep me from these things, keep me from the good works Jesus has planned for me, then I am going to start hating some things. Unfortunately, I don’t see cleaning bathrooms on the list God! Oh well, need to get over that one.

Here are some helpful links:

 http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/40.html 

http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/34323-take-a-biblical-stand-at-the-polls

photo from www.freepik.com
photo from http://www.freepik.com

 

Gazebo Gallery:

Besides cleaning bathrooms, what is on your ‘hate’ list?