Monday, June 27, 2011

When, God, When?

Have you been praying about a situation in your life and found yourself waiting for a breakthrough? Are you wondering why the answer hasn't come yet? Do you feel as though victory is passing you by?

Sometimes when we pray long and hard about a situation in our life without receiving any answers, we just learn to live with it. We go on about our business, wondering if or when God will send the answer. But God does hear those prayers, and He’s working out the answers even though we may not know all the details. Our situation can change suddenly—quickly without warning!

But one thing is certain: Before God moves suddenly, we will wait. Waiting for answers is a fact of life—nobody gets out of it. So the question is not if we'll wait, but rather how we’ll wait. And I believe how will determine how long.

Two Ways to Wait

All of us will wait passively, or we'll wait expectantly. A passive person hopes something good will happen and is willing to sit around waiting to see if it does. After a short time, he gives up, saying, "That’s it! I've waited and waited and nothing's happened." The passive person has a lot of wishbone but not much backbone!

The expectant person, on the other hand, is hopeful, believing the answer is just around the corner, due to arrive any minute. His belief is not a passive thing. His heart is full of hope, expecting his problem to be solved at any moment. He wakes up every morning expecting to find his answer. He may wait and wait, but suddenly what he’s been waiting for happens.

Expect It to Happen

It’s just like when a woman is pregnant; it's said that she is expecting a baby. She carries inside her the promise of a baby, and even though she can’t see it, she knows it's there. The moment she learns of her pregnancy, she begins to plan for her baby's arrival. She starts collecting items she'll need and busily gets the nursery ready. She actively prepares for the arrival of the baby because she knows the promise will be fulfilled—it's just a matter of time. She is expectant and she'll wait as long as it takes.

We know the word wait means "to expect" or "to look for." But remember, it also means "to serve" — just like a waiter waits on your table at a restaurant. Our act of waiting isn’t supposed to be spent sitting around passively hoping that something will happen sometime soon.

Be Eager with Faith

Once we've asked God to answer a question or solve a problem, we need to be eagerly awaiting His answer. We need to be serving actively, aggressively and expectantly. When our hearts are eager to hear from God, He loves to rush in suddenly with His solution. In many cases this waiting period actually serves as a time of preparation for the answer. If God answered right away, many of us would be ill-prepared to handle His solution. 

Sometimes we find ourselves in such horrible messes that it's hard to imagine waiting one more second. But we need to keep waiting on God and trusting Him with a sweet and simple faith. Then, in a way we never could've figured out—God moves suddenly! 

Then All of a Sudden...

In the Bible Paul and Silas knew about waiting, and they waited well. Acts 16 tells the story of how they were attacked by a crowd, beaten and thrown in jail. Verse 24 says the jailer put them into the inner prison (the dungeon) and fastened their feet in the stocks. He was making sure they couldn't escape. But about midnight, God showed up. Now it would have been nice if He'd come a little earlier, but Paul and Silas didn’t seem to mind—they just decided to start singing and began to worship the Lord. They began to wait on God.

Verses 25 & 26 say, "But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them, suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone's shackles were unfastened." God answered them suddenly!

When people patiently and expectantly wait on God in the midst of horrible circumstances, suddenly God breaks through.

So don't give up! Don’t stop believing! Stay full of hope and expectation. God's power is limitless, and He'll break through for you.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Worshipful Wednesday

Let us Worship our GOD!! Amazing new song from New Life Worship, Be Thou Exalted

Be Thou my vision, be Thou my joy
My providence and my reward
Be Thou the wisdom that I employ
To trade my worth for Yours

Be Thou my refuge, be Thou my strength
Should my confession err
My heart's sure whisper assuring then
And trust Your every word

Be Thou exalted
Be Thou exalted, Jesus, forever
Be Thou exalted forever

Be Thou my passion, be Thou my zeal
That I may offer Thee
No great procession or vain appeal
But my sincerity

Hallelujah to the Name of all names
Hallelujah, to the God be all praise
Ever holy, worthy
Be Thou exalted, always

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday's Song!!

An amazing song, sang this morning at NorthStar!  Have a blessed Sunday!

Oh You Bring by Hillsong United

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Priority of Worship

In His Presence “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3).

Imagine what it would be like to step inside your church sanctuary on Sunday morning and witness the vision that Isaiah saw. He writes, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings . . . One called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke” (Isaiah 6:1-4).

This had to be a glorious sight! But it also was one that conflicted Isaiah’s heart because he knew that he was guilty of sin. Immediately, a godly sense of fear swept over him, and he cried out, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). When we become aware of God’s holy presence, we won’t be able to stop ourselves from worshiping Him and seeking His cleansing for our sins.

However, if we become so entangled with sin and the pleasures of this world, we will fail to sense the need to worship God. In fact, our spirits will be dead to any true praise. Instead, we will yawn and check our watches to see if the preacher is preaching longer than he should.

Isaiah realized there was a problem in his life—it was one that needed to be addressed immediately, so he could do what God had called him to do. Many times, we miss God’s best for our lives because we become too busy for worship. When we take time to worship God for who He is—righteous, loving, and infinite in power—our hearts will be lifted, and our lives will be changed. We will cry out, “Holy are You Lord and worthy to be praised!”

One Minute Please
True worship begins with a heart that is totally turned toward God.

by: Alternative View with Dr. Tony Evans

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Things to Do and Places to Go

East TN is blessed with the mountains and lakes we love, but aso with a lot of smaller parks and places to hang out. Here's a link to the Knoxville Parks and Rec site to find splash pads, disc golf parks, and places to play volleyball.

Grab your blankets, lawn chairs, and picnic basket and head to The Cove at Concord Park for this season's Second Saturday Concerts. Knox County Parks and Recreation has announced the line up for the free concert series presented the second Saturday of June, July, August and September, from 6 until 8 p.m

But it's also a great place to poke around and find other cool TN State Parks and activities you may not know about... like the Rhododendron Gardens Festival at Roane Mountain in Northeast TN this weekend!

Find somewhere to explore, enjoy God's creation, and get out there and gave some fun!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Put a Smile on your Face!

I came across this blog/letter last week, and thought it was a great reminder that we should seek laughter and love in friendships and within our own lives.  Have a great week! - Kim D.

When was the last time you had a good laugh? I'm talking about the rib-splitting kind that causes you to laugh until you cry; the kind of laughing spell that requires you to re-apply your make-up. I had a good, hard laugh the other day and I literally could not breathe. I was doubled over and had a difficult time composing myself. The crazy thing about the scenario that made me laugh so hard is that it probably would not be funny to you, but at the time, and with all the people and circumstances in place, it was hysterical. I find it interesting that different things are funny to different people.

It is important to surround yourself with friends who have no mercy when it comes to making you laugh. I have several friends who are so much fun to be around, and one friend in particular makes me laugh so hard when we are together that I'm surprised we haven't been kicked out of restaurants and other places because we laugh so loud and for long periods of time. If I am having a bad day, I can just think about the last time I was with this friend and she brings a smile to my face. I crave her company. It's important to tune in to people who make you smile. My daughter is another source of laughter for me. She is so funny and has a sense of humor that keeps me doubled over. She is such a gift to me and she makes me laugh on a daily basis. We have so much fun together. One reason I married my husband, among other wonderful things, is his ability to make me laugh. He says to me often, "I can always make you smile." I think that is one of his greatest joys in life. He loves to hear me laugh, and he tells me so. The Bible says, "A merry heart is good medicine." Proverbs 17:22. God's word is full of beautiful truths. I am so glad that laughter is one of His prescriptions for our hearts.

I don't know about you, but I am my own source of comedy. I can do some of the craziest things and get myself into more goofy situations. My saving grace is that I have learned to laugh at myself and laugh at my own mistakes. Some of my friends tell me that I'm the biggest kid they know. Just when I think it's time for me to grow up, I continue to cling to one of my life phrases "Act Old Later." I do have a serious side, but I don't take myself too seriously. Being your own source of comedy is the most fun of all.

Today is a great day to laugh and it's a great day to share laughter. In fact, as I am writing this email, my assistant, Frances, and a group of ladies are outside my office laughing hysterically. I had to stick my head out and get in on the action. Their laughter is beautiful music to my ears and their smiles are priceless.

Now for my next question, "When was the last time you made someone laugh?" Laughter is that gift we receive and it's important for us to turn that gift around and share it with others. Laughter is contagious. It helps us, and others enter a new realm of joy and it helps us rise above our circumstances. I will leave you with this thought from Nehemiah 8:10, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Rejoice, in the Lord always, sisters, again I say rejoice. Find His strength in the laughter of friends and family. Surround yourself with something that makes you laugh or someone who lifts your spirit. Laugh and trust that God is in control. No matter what your circumstances, today is a great day to laugh.

by: Cheryle J. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Slow It Down

“God called the light ‘day’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning…” Genesis 1:5 (NIV)
I was reading my Bible one day and noticed a huge “mistake” in scripture. Everyone knows that morning comes first, and then evening follows. Right? But there it was in black and white. Genesis 1:5 read “and there was evening, and there was morning.”

Of course, it was no mistake. God started with evening — a time of rest — and a day’s productivity resulted.
We live in a culture where rest is often viewed in a negative light. When we work, we work hard. When we play, we play hard. We know how to fill our time with e-mail, activities, carpool, cleaning, aerobics, and our list of tasks. But do we know how to rest?

Nineteen years ago at the ripe age of 32 I was diagnosed with cancer. When I found out, I blurted, “I don’t have time for cancer!” But cancer didn’t consult my schedule. My life changed as I put aside a lot of things I once thought were absolutely vital as I went through chemo, surgery, and radiation.

One beautiful result that emerged from that difficult time was a new list of priorities. I learned how to climb between the sheets and put aside my worries. To rest my body and my mind. To slow down when life became crazy and to weigh what was important, and what was not. Before long I began to see evening as the first part of my day. From rest, sprang morning; I had earned a good day’s work.

It’s a concept that changed my life. Not just physically, but also spiritually. Recently I had two speaking events sandwiched together. As the date approached, my time with my Heavenly Father became “evening.” I prepared, but spiritually rested as I communed with God. Once I arrived in the city where I was to speak, I closed the door of my hotel room and listened to the heart of my Father instead of going over my notes. Out of rest, sprang true ministry. I was refreshed and filled by His presence, instead of my efforts.

How often do we run out of steam because we are out of balance? I wish I could say I was forever cured. But I’m not. There are times that I have to slow it down and reconsider my priorities all over again. And if physical rest or spiritual rest has been pushed to last place, I have to put it all on the table and let The Boss help me sort through it so I can put “evening” back where it belongs.
Dear Lord, when I push You to last place, I miss out on hearing Your voice. When I keep going until I drop, I get all tangled up in my to-do list. I know that life is busy, but help me to discern between what is important, and what is not. Reorganize my life, and reveal true rest that only comes from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Give Thanks!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

—I Chronicles 16:34

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Truth in the Inner Being

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin! For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful]. Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart. (Psalm 51:1-6)

The heading under this psalm reads: "A Psalm of David; when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had sinned with Bathsheba." David cried out for mercy because he had sinned with Bathsheba, and when he learned she was pregnant, he had had her husband murdered in battle.

After David confessed his sin, Nathan said to him, "The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord and given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is born to you shall surely die" (2 Samuel 12:13–14).

That's the first lesson I want you to grasp from this incident. When you fail God, you harm yourself, but you also bring dishonor to His name. Whenever you take a false step, there are those who watch and gleefully point their fingers. The two always go together. Not only do you bring disgrace on the name of the Lord, but you fail yourself. You knew the right but chose the wrong.

As if that were not enough, the evil one also whispers, "See how bad you are. God won't forgive you. It's too awful." Of course, he's lying, because that's what he does best. Don't listen to those words, because there is no sin you've committed that God won't forgive. You may have to carry scars or pay the penalty, but God wipes away the sin.

There's something else to learn from this: You need to face reality. You sinned. You disobeyed God. What will you do about your sin? You can plead excuses (and most of us are good at that), or you can follow David's example. When the prophet said, "You are the man . . ." (2 Samuel 12:7), the king did not deny his wrongdoing or try to justify his actions. David admitted he had sinned and confessed.

He wrote in the psalm quoted earlier: "For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment" (vs. 3–4).

If you follow Jesus Christ, not only are you declaring to yourself, to your family, and to the world your trust in the Savior, but you are also declaring your stand for truth. It's easy for us to deceive ourselves, but God has called us to be totally, completely, and scrupulously honest in our inner being. Don't look at what others may get away with or how they justify their behavior. We can't blame others, the devil, or circumstances.

When you fail, remind yourself that the greatest king of Israel cried out to God and said, "My sin is ever before me" (v. 3). Those sins, failures, or shortcomings (or whatever you may choose to call them) will always be there until you admit them and confess them to the Lord; only then can you know the joy of living with integrity and in truth.

This is the message for you from this final meditation; this is the message of the entire book: Strive to live with truth in your inner being. You—you and God—are the only ones who know what's in your heart. Live in honesty and truth.

Holy God, David prayed, "You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart." Through Jesus Christ, I plead with You to help me desire truth in my inner being, to live in such a way that I'm as honest and as open with You as I can become. I know that the life You honor is the life You bless. Amen.

From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2006 by Joyce Meyer.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dont Build a Nest in a Tote Bag!

Yesterday morning I washed one of my huge canvas totes that I use when we spend time on the boat, go to the beach or travel anywhere that I need bulky space taking items like large fluffy towels or such to go with us.
In fact that's what I packed in them this time - large fluffy beach towels for the lake over Memorial Day weekend. But when those came back home in our dirty clothes bag I used it to put our unused food items in and something leaked. Something very stinky that I suspect was was the container of onions and peppers for the fajitas we didn't make. So I placed the bag in our washer. But it being the large bulky item it is, I decided to dry it by hanging it outside.
Last night before bed I checked it but even the intense heat of yesterday hadn't dried it thoroughly enough so I decided to leave it hanging for a few more hours over night on our side entry stoop.
This morning after I had a couple cups of coffee I remembered it was still out there and decided to go check it again. Imagine my surprise to find strands of moss, grass, a few small twigs and two of those things that fall from certain trees each spring that we always referred to as 'helicopters' when I was a kid.
I stood there peering down in the bag for a few moments honestly perplexed. I mean it was hanging on the storm door handle. How did the stuff get in there? Why? It's a very thick heavy canvas material. What in the world?
Then it dawned on me. Birds!
And I stood there on my stoop in the morning sun imagining how some small bird, or pair of birds, worked so extremely diligently to attempt to get enough materials in this canvas bag hanging on our door to build a nest.
With the canvas handles both looped close together on the door knob it couldn't have been easy even if the bird(s) didn't enter the bag themselves. It was still quite a job either way. How strong was the desire to be secure and have place to feel at home and at peace that they would risk being at our kitchen door so many times where we come and go? Did they work at it even in the cloak of darkness? How did they go about deciding what materials to gather? But most of all in my heart I was questioning with bewilderment - why rush to nest in the bag instead of in the huge strong provided silver maple tree just a few feet away, up high where it would be safe?
Then a piece if scripture came to my mind... something about a sparrow choosing to nest on the altar of God. What was that? It was in the old testament for sure. Somewhere in Proverbs or maybe Psalm?
So I got to digging and sure enough there it was - Psalm 84:3 "Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar"
What a wise choice - no more a secure location could be found!
I had lunch with a friend yesterday and part of our conversation immediately sprang back to mind as well in that moment. We were talking after lunch about trusting God with our inadequacies, with our secrets revealed, and with our children - with everything. And how when we do that its just the most blessed feeling of security and provision that there is!
We had been talking about some of the times in our lives that we each realized just how trustworthy He truly is.
As I sat with my bible open to His Word I began praising Him and thanking Him for this full circle moment for me! As I face more uncertainties, I am grateful He used that lunch time conversation yesterday to encourage me that He is STILL THERE. That we can do ALL things with a supernatural strength when we place our security and trust in Him!
And here He was confirming for me with this small unfinished nest in a canvas tote bag what happens if I don't think through living in a safe place, when my home and heart are depending on perilous things. I must always make my safe place in Him. I must place my heart, my life, my family, and my all in His care. I must live as near to His altar as possible at all times, where the ultimate sacrifice was made. Because that is the only true place of rest, joy, peace, life, protection for me, for my family, the only place of blessings, strength, and of provision

Read the song with me that David wrote so long ago in Psalm 84...

1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
4 What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises.
5 What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
7 They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
8 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer. Listen, O God of Jacob.
9 O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield! Show favor to the one you have anointed.
10 A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.
12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.

As I pulled the pieces of the unfinished nest from the bag and prayed for the birds to find a safer choice, I then prayed for myself, my family, my friends, my church, for you - that we all would truly seek to nest around HIS altar, where the protection of the blood of Christ, the power of our sovereign Heavenly Father, and the wisdom of the ages can house us and keep us!

Chick Chat with Marisa