Sunday, February 28, 2016

Contented Living Requires Readjusted Thoughts

The word of the week is CONTENT.
pleased and satisfied : not needing more
Are you upset about your job situation? Are you unhappy about being single? Are you longing for a child? Are you disgusted about where you live? Do you desire better health?  Do you wish you had more money? These are all circumstances in our lives that bring discontent. We want a change to happen, and we want it NOW. Is it okay to desire a change? YES! Is it okay to pray for a change? YES! But, the changes won't really help anything if we haven't already learned to be content.
Philippians 4:11-13 - I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (NIV)
Have you considered that maybe God wants you to readjust your thinking and LEARN to be content before He can truly bless you with your desires?

I can think of at least 2 circumstances in my life (I know there are more, but these two stand out the most), that God gave me what I originally desired AFTER I changed my way of thinking.

Special Friends
The first was when I was in college. I was single and probably a little bit too eager about finding a husband. My desire was to become a supportive wife to a Christian man, someone with whom I could share my life and who would serve the Lord along with me. It was hard to be content to be single, even though I was only 20 years old at the time. It was during my last year at the college when I finally accepted I might never get married and told God I was okay with that and wanted to serve Him no matter what. Shortly after I readjusted my thinking, guess who I met? It was David. We quickly became special friends.

Waiting for Baby EL
The same thing sort of happened when David and I were trying to start a family. We struggled with infertility for 2 years, and I was upset about that for quite awhile. It was hard to watch other women around me getting pregnant and having babies and I wondered if it would ever happen to us. Then, one day, David and I were talking and realized we both had somehow become content to be without children if that's what God wanted for us. Over time, we had readjusted our thinking and had learned to be content in our circumstances. Shortly after that, we had a welcome surprise - our daughter, EL!

Each of these situations were learning and growing experiences for me, and I know now that God's timing was best. I have learned that God does want us to be happy, but He wants our happiness to come from fellowship with HIM - not from our circumstances.

So, now I bring the question to you:  Is there something going on in your life that you need to readjust YOUR thinking about?

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Legend of the Easter Robin [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

When robins build a nest on the window ledge at Tressa's Grandmother’s house, Tressa is thrilled, and also concerned. What would happen to the pretty blue eggs laid by the mother robin? In The Legend of the Easter Robin, Tressa watches the robins caring for their eggs, visits with Grandma and learns how to make bird eggs to hang outside on Easter morning, learns how our Heavenly Father cares for the birds, and learns about the legend of the Easter robin (an old Pennsylvania Dutch tale about how robins developed their red breast after one bird had an encounter with Jesus). It is a sweetly illustrated book, and would be an interesting and creative Easter story to share with your child, teaching them about compassion and faith.

For your chance to win a copy of this book, please use the entry form below. Entries will be accepted until Saturday, February 27, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. CST. Must be 18 or older to enter. One entry per mailing address. 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What Does it Mean to Wait for the Lord?

The word of the week is WAIT.
  • It is a short word with a big command.
  • It is one of the hardest things we have to endure, because we are impatient people.
  • It is something EVERYONE (including my family) is doing right now, every day, in some way, for something. 
What exactly does it mean to wait? It means to stay where you are until it’s the right time for something to happen.

There are many verses in the Bible that talk about waiting; more specifically, waiting for the Lord:
Psalm 27:14 - Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (ESV)

Psalm 31:24 - Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Psalm 33:20 - Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 37:7 - Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
Psalm 130:5 - I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

Isaiah 40:31 - but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Lamentations 3:25 - The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Micah 7:7 - But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
Proverbs 20:22 - Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.

What does it mean to wait for the Lord? It means to stay where you are (i.e. remain faithful) until the right time (God’s time) for something to happen.

It means to expect and hope for the best to happen; for God to intervene in your situation.

Why? Because of what it says is Isaiah 64:4 

With help from the Hebrew dictionary, I broke that verse down:
  • FROM OF OLD: since the beginning of the world
  • NO ONE: not one single person in the history of time
  • HAS HEARD OR PERCEIVED BY THE EAR: has become aware of by listening with the ears
  • NO EYE HAS SEEN: and no one has visually recognized
  • A GOD BESIDES YOU: a God other than Elohim (the Creator and Ruler of the world)
  • WHO ACTS: who takes action/does something (works)
  • FOR THOSE WHO WAIT FOR HIM: for those of us who remain faithful as we expect and hope for God to intervene on our behalf, when the time is right.
So, when you put it all together, my own paraphrase says this:

Since the beginning of the world, not one single person in the history of time has become aware of, by listening with the ears, or visually recognizing, a God other than Elohim (the Creator and Ruler of the world) who takes action (works) for those of us who remain faithful as we expect and hope for Him to intervene on our behalf, when the time is right.

In summary, the God of Heaven and Earth, the Maker of the universe, is actively working FOR us. Why? Because He cares about us, and knows what is best for us. We can’t see the future, but He can. So, we need to trust and patiently wait for Him to work on our behalf. Sometimes, things turn out differently that what we envision, but oftentimes, they turn out even better.

Keep hoping, keep trusting, keep waiting for the Lord. It will all work out in His time.

BIBLE HUB - Text Analysis of Isaiah 64:4
BIBLE.ORG - Waiting on the Lord

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Created for More by Jonathan Malm [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

Do you enjoy painting, designing, drawing, writing, preaching, dancing, acting, crafting, sewing, photography, baking, cooking, etc.? In other words, do you like to CREATE, whether it be for a hobby or for a job? If so, there is a new book, Created for More by Jonathan Malm that you might want to check out.  It is a short 30-day devotional that could be the spark you are looking for to help jump start your devotional life, as well as provide challenges for enhancing your creativity.

Malm points out that we are all uniquely made by God, and we each see things differently in this world but, sometimes, when we are expressing our creativity, we make things too complicated. He writes, "Creativity isn't some excessively complicated thing. It's simple. Just show others what you see." 

Each devotion has a Scripture reference, a short message, a prayer starter, a summary to help you change the way you think, and a challenge.  

I did not do any of the challenges listed at the end of each devotion. They just didn't excite me. I guess I was looking for more specific ways to help me be more creative in my writing; but, to me, they were too vague and just didn't provide enough motivation. However, I read through everything else in the devotions. I enjoyed them because they were different than the usual devotions I have read, and they gave an interesting perspective on how creativity reflects our creative God.

If you are interested in reading this book, I would be happy to pass my copy along. Just leave a comment below with your contact info, or send me an e-mail. I will randomly choose the winner on Saturday, February 20, 2016, at 8:00 p.m. CST. One entry per person. USA only.

NOTE: I recently joined the blog review team for Moody Publishers, and received this book free for the purpose of this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Unconditional Love

The word of the week is UNCONDITIONAL
not limited in any way : complete and absolute
Today is Valentine's Day. What better day than today to talk about unconditional love

Did you know there are promises in God's Word that tell us He does, and always will, love us unconditionally? His love is not limited in any way. It is complete and absolute. It is not based on anything we do or don't do for Him. He loves us simply because He created us and we are His people.
Romans 5:8 - But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV)
Jeremiah 31:3 - The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. (NASB)
Titus 3:4-5 - But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  (ESV)

Isn't it wonderful to know that God loves us unconditionally? I think it is. But, now, here's some food for thought:

Do we love Him back with that same kind of unconditional love?

It is easy to love a God who favorably answers our prayers, am I right? But, what about when our prayers are not answered to our liking, or if we think He is not answering them as soon as we think He should? Do we still love Him and serve Him, JUST BECAUSE HE IS OUR CREATOR?

One of my favorite lines from the movie "Facing the Giants" is when the main character asks his wife:  "If God doesn't give you what you want, will you still love Him?"  She had no answer at that moment, because her earthly desires were overpowering her thoughts. It was hard for her to love Him unconditionally. As time went on, she did finally realize that God's plans for her life may not be what SHE had envisioned. So, she chose to love Him no matter the circumstances. 

What about you? If God doesn't give you what you want, will YOU still love Him?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Making God Your Own

The word of the week is OWN.  
belonging to oneself : used to express immediate or direct kinship (own son)

When we take ownership of something, how does it affect our relationship with it? It usually causes us to have more of a connection to it, or even an admiration for it, don't you think? If you own a pet cat, think about your cat in relation to all the other cats in the world. You might say, "That cat is nice" about any cat in the world. But, for your own cat, you would say, "This is MY cat. He is special."

Think about your car, your house, your child, your friends, and so on.You might say, "Look at all the nice cars in the lot." But, when someone asks which car is yours, you could say, "Here is MY car." The same would be true for anything else you own.

What about God? Do you feel as if God is an impersonal God who doesn't really care about you? Is He just someone who is "out there," someone who created the world but doesn't really have anything to do with you? If that is what you think, then you haven't made Him YOURS. 

Take a look at how many times King David uses the word MY in Psalm 18:1-3 when referring to the Lord, HIS God.  

Psalm 18:1-3 - “I love You, O Lord, my strength.” The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. 

In these verses, God was a personal God to David, meaning He was working for him and helping him through life.  He wasn't just "out there" and letting David fend for himself. David understood that.

But, maybe you are asking, "How do I make God my own?" The short answer is that you make Him your own when you DRAW NEAR to Him; and, in order to draw near to Him, you must do two things:

Hebrews 11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (ESV)

Romans 1:18-20 - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (NASB)

Since the creation of the world, God has made Himself known. You just have to open your eyes, and your hearts, to see it.

Jeremiah 29:13You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (NASB)

How do you seek Him?
  • Most important, accept Jesus as your personal Savior. Trust Him for the forgiveness of your sins and ask Him to make things right between you and God. (Go to this page to learn more about WHY WE NEED SALVATION.)
  • Get to know Him better by studying His Word (the Holy Bible). The words in the pages of the Bible are God's personal letter to you. Find out what He has to say. 
  • Talk to Him as if He is in the same room as you and not just up there somewhere in the clouds. Prayer is your very own personal connection to a God who hears you and understands your needs. 
When you seek God in this manner, you WILL find Him, and you WILL be drawing near to Him. You will be making Him your own.

Draw near to Him today, and He will draw near to you.