Monday, May 28, 2012

"What Kind of Memorial Is My Marriage?"

I was sitting there in church yesterday morning on Memorial Day and thinking how wonderful our Heavenly Father is to bring such a message right NOW - when our Life Group is in the middle of a a marriage bible study, wanting our relationships to not only be better, but make a difference in our families and in our world.
Our Pastors sermon was on leaving a memorial with our lives within in our personal stories. He referenced Joshua 4 - when Joshua ask his people to build their memorials of 12 stones (their Ebenezers) it was to honor all that God had done, all they had made it through and survived, to show and remind generation after generation what miracles, rescues, what abundance of grace had been bestowed on them, and of all His promises kept.
Joshua 4:4-7 says
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel.
5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”I was thinking, how wonderful that our Pastor literally walked us through how to write our stories – using his as an example – that Heritage, Relationships, etc, each were a stone in our memorial. I was thinking how much our marriages can be a integral stone in our memorial to our generations to come.
WOW, imagine part of the heritage stone of our childrens or friends memorials one day being that " _______ and _________ " (insert your names here) loved me most through how they loved one another, and that they became examples I followed".
Might they one day say my husband and I modeled a marriage of love, grace, compassion, selflessness, forgiveness, kindness, affirmation, a faith in God, and that we placed Him above all? I sure hope so.
Joshua 4:21-24
21 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea[c] when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24 He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”
What an amazing blessing that our marriages could be one more part of building our story, our memorial, and our Ebenezer for those we love - all for HIS GLORY!!!

Joyful on the Journey

what if?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Sleep evaded me and questions swirled about my own life. When will the other shoe drop? What if suffering {like the characters went through} is around the corner for me?

I shut the tear-stained pages of the romantic tragedy that had stirred up these worries. As I lay in bed, the story of a perfect family had me blubbering and sniffling when their blissful existence twisted into heartache and loss. 

This novel messed with my heart big time.

Some girlfriends and I have talked about the "what ifs." What if I lose my job and I can't pay my bills? What if I never find Mr. Right? What if my parents die in a car crash? What if Mr. Right decides one day he doesn't love me anymore?

What if? What if? What if?

As I tossed and turned in bed, I knew I had to redirect my thoughts and take a different path. So I asked myself three other questions instead of the dread-filled what ifs. They shifted my focus from the unknown to the reality that God cares for me.

~What do I know about God and His power over my life?

~When was the last time God brought me through a difficult time and how did I end up on the other side?

~What truths in the Bible do I need to lean on in this fear? I like Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."

We don't need to lie in bed and fret over what ifs like I did. Instead, as we can grip onto the mighty power of God; our trust in Him covers every wondering doubt.

God doesn't promise us a bliss-filled life. But He does promise He's in control and all things work together for our good. The Lord says in Romans 8:28 that no matter what comes our way, He has the ultimate ability and power to work it out for good.

In fact, our what ifs are no big deal to Him—God is more powerful than anything life throws our way. He wants us to come to Him with full-on trust with our what ifs—that He has our best in mind.

If you have your own what ifs, please express them here. Let's take some time to get real about our fears and how we would answer the questions above to get back to truth and trust in the Lord.

Sarah Martin has a series on her blog encouraging young women to RISE UP! and make Jesus famous in every single area of our lives. Check it out by clicking here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Me? Ask for Help?

I felt inadequate for a few moments. Lacking. Insufficient. Not enough.
Not really an intimidating word you might say. Plowing, mountain climbing, skydiving, big game hunting… those are intimidating words for sure. But curtains? They are to me. I need curtains. CafĂ© curtains to be exact. And when after failing to find what I wanted in stores and online, I was frustrated. There seemed to be only one option left. Homemade curtains. See, I’m not even sure that’s what you call curtains and other fabric things that people make themselves. I’m pretty sure curtains are not considered “from scratch”. But then again, I digress.
Any whoo, I need curtains but instead of taking home economics in high school I chose the vocation rotation – wood working, auto shop, etc. Yep, I was a tom-girl.
And it's funny how after 47 years, I still sometimes have trouble asking for help.
But after someone offered to lend me a sewing machine - and that only resulting in making sweat beads pop out on both my upper lip and under my arm pits! – I decided to take the plunge. And I mean in a HUGE way.
So I swallowed hard and I posted my need - gulp - on Facebook.
In front of God and everybody.
I debated it of course, self consciously. Will someone be aghast that as married woman I don’t know how to sew? Will they think that it’s crazy and just not right that I do not now, and never have owned a sewing machine? Don’t all good moms and wives know how to sew’?

But then God just smiles and leads my heart and mind to His word for assurance…
Romans 12: 3-6 (The Message)
I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without envy or pride, comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

I have plenty of other things that I’m great at, and others that I’m at least ok at. I don’t have to do everything. I can’t do everything. If I try I am not letting God direct and decide what it is I am supposed to spend my time doing. And someone else’s gift and talents are supposed to fill in my gaps, bless me, bless them too because they are able to share their gifts and talents with me, and above all make our relationship even sweeter in the process by serving one another.

My friend Sharon obviously feels the same way because once she saw my post she in-boxed me and said simply, and with excitement, “Lets get those curtains done”... God bless her!

Just think, if I hadn’t asked I wouldn’t be getting the curtains I need (and Hubs and I would be walking around at night forever wondering if anyone was looking in – and laughing of courseJ), my friend wouldn’t be able to enjoy using the gifts and talents God has given her, and I wouldn’t be able to see once again that God equips us all differently but with exactly what we need to accomplish the task at hand. 

I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me  – even if the task at hand is simply to swallow hard and ask for help.

Joyful on the Journey

Friday, May 25, 2012

Taking Every Thought Captive Part 3

Today’s Truth
“[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Friend to Friend
My neighbor, Michael, was a stand-in for Samuel, the nine-year-old son of Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) in the movie The Patriot. For months, Michael wore his hair long with extensions, donned Italian knickers and knee-high stockings and acted the part of an American colonial boy. He traveled to rural South Carolina where part of the movie was filmed and received an education in the production of the silver screen. Michael saw how producers and makeup artists made something appear as though it were real when it wasn’t. 

The movie was rated R for violent content, but his parents let nine-year-old Michael watch it upon release. It was a bloody realistic reenactment of the horrors of the Revolutionary War. However, during the guts and gore, little Michael didn’t even bat an eye. Why? He knew it wasn’t real.

During one scene, Mel Gibson pummeled a British soldier and landed a hatchet square in the middle of his bloody forehead. I covered my eyes. Michael watched nonplussed. His comment?

“That guy walked around the set with that hatchet in his head for three days. We even ate lunch together and he had that hatchet with fake blood glued to his face. It isn’t real.”

Michael knew what was true and it removed all fear. That’s the power of the truth.   Yesterday we looked at step one to taking every thought captive. Today let’s look at step two:
Step One: Realize the Enemy’s True Identity
Step Two: Recognize Satan’s Lies
In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul says, "For we are not unaware of his (Satan's) schemes." So let’s take a few moments and look at his battle plan.

If Satan came to you in a little red suit with a pitchfork and announced himself as the devil, you wouldn’t believe a word he said. But he is cunning and disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). 

When he deceived Eve, he even quoted Scripture – albeit twisted and distorted. He has a collection of old tapes from your past and pushes rewind and play, rewind and play. Oh yes, he knows just which buttons to push. He also uses personal pronouns like “I” instead of “you.” The thoughts sound something like this: “I am a failure. I am a loser. I can’t do anything right. I am ugly.” The thoughts sound like you, feel like you, and before you know it, you think it is you. He did this all throughout Scripture and he still does it today. (See 1 Chronicles 21:1 as an example.)

Satan knows exactly which lies to whisper in your ear. He has watched you over the years and is well acquainted with your insecurities, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Do you tend to get discouraged? He will plant seeds of discouragement in your mind. Do you tend to feel rejection and loneliness? He will put ideas that you are rejected in your mind. But are they true? No they are not. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. You are loved and chosen by God. That is the truth. 

Here’s a simple exercise.  If you aren’t sure if a thought is of the enemy, attach, “In Jesus Name,” to the end of it. For example: “I can’t stand that woman, in Jesus’ Name.”  “I don’t love my husband, in Jesus’ Name.”  “I am a loser, in Jesus Name.”  Just doesn’t fit, does it? That is not a fail-safe method for detecting the truth versus a lie, but it is a quick litmus test that takes us in the right direction.

Step two in taking every thought captive is Recognizing Satan’s Lies.

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, Help me to recognize Satan’s lies. I know the only way to recognize a lie is to know the truth. I pray that the Holy Spirit will convict me when I am believing a lie and that He will help me see Your truth.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Think of some of the negative thoughts that have run through your mind this week. Now attach “in Jesus’ Name” to the end of that thought. What does that reveal?

What are some lies that you have believed about who you are? For example: I am a loser. I can’t do anything right. I am used goods. I can never be forgiven. I am too far gone.

Friend, each one of those statements is a lie of the enemy. Now, who does God say that you are? Not sure? 

Girlfriends in God - 

Brave in the Face of Fear

While fixing some goodies to take to bible study tonight (Angela Thomas' "Brave") I'm thinking about this weeks homework we just finished. The topic was fear. Fear can cripple, wound, take up residence, and become second nature if we arent careful. I love that it resonates again what God gave me this past weekend as I was speaking at a retreat (I love the way He weaves those things through every part of our life when we are open to it and looking for it). Courage, strength, and bravery isnt in trying to just make it thru with your head down, fix it, or in trying to carry and endure alone whats causing your fear. Courage, strength, and being brave means turning to the only one who can truly offer comfort, peace, take the fear from you, and make good out of whatever is troubling me.

"Whatever makes you tremble inside, God is able to work it out, bring it under His control, and sustain you through it" (Angela Thomas)

There are several occurences in my life that have literally caused me to tremble in fear. Taken me to my knees in an instant. What I wish I would remember more quickly when that happens is that there is nothing too small or too big that can keep God from coming to me with comfort, peace, and His sovereignty - even if the thing that makes me tremble is a result of my own doing.
2 Cor. 3-4 "Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion, and the God of all comfort who comforts us in ALL our troubles"

So many times I cry out to God so quickly them move on to my husband and friends to help me fix it, before finally longing for the only One who can, and then crawl back into His presence.
Psalm 27:1 "Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?"

I can be so stubborn, so fearful sometimes. But isnt is so good to know He created us to need Him in our darkest hour, and what causes us to tremble is something He saw coming long ago. So we become brave - we run to Him, crawl up in His lap, acknowledge our need, ask HIM to deal with it, and when we crawl back down to stand in His strength - we leave the fear in his hands. All we have to do them is pray, keep our eyes on Him, and obediently do only what He asks.

I dont know about you, but I feel better already :)

Joyful on the Journey

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Taking Every Thought Captive Part 2

Today’s Truth
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV).
Friend to Friend
In my last devotion, we looked at 2 Corinthians 10:5 and the idea of taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We compared it to roping a calf in a lassoing contest. Every spiritual battle is won or lost at the threshold of the mind; right as the calf comes bursting through the door. Let’s look at four simple steps for taking every thought captive and lassoing those runaway thoughts.
Realize the Enemy’s True Identity
On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, after I got my son off to school and my husband off to work, I took a long walk through my neighborhood. The sky was crystal clear blue with a gentle breeze. It was a gorgeous cool North Carolina fall day with just a hint of color on the leaves. There was nothing special on my schedule - just the ordinary. However, one hour later, because of a horrendous terrorist attack on our country in New York City and Washington, DC, by evil personified, the day turned into anything but ordinary. I watched in horror as the television played and replayed the airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.

Amazingly, we never saw it coming. As I thought about that, God reminded me: That's how the enemy always attacks. When you least expect it.

Let’s think about another monumental day in our country’s history. On December 31, 1999, the country and the world braced for the potentially disastrous effects of Y2K.  Families and businesses alike prepared for months for what might occur as the clock ticked past 11:59 PM and into the new millennium. We held our breaths, clasped our hands and braced ourselves. Yes, we were ready. What happened? Nothing. The new millennium came without incident.

Oh dear friends, do you see the correlation? There is an enemy who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy (John 
10:10). His name is Satan. He desires to destroy us just as sure as the hijackers drove those airplanes into, and toppled, the twin towers in New York City.

Satan has other names – the devil, the accuser of the brethren, a liar, the father of lies, and the deceiver. A deceiver is someone who presents a lie in such a way, it sounds like the truth. He can make you believe something is not true when itis and make you believe something is true when it isn’t. He speaks in your own voice. The thoughts feel like you, because they are the old you that he has memorized so well. He’s not very creative, but he is very effective and he uses the same methods with us he’s used since the beginning of time.

The first step to changing the way we think is to recognize the enemy’s true identity.  It’s not your mother; it’s not your father; it’s not the person who abused you as a child.  The real enemy is Satan himself and he uses your past hurts and failures as cannon fodder to wound you. If you don’t have sufficient ammo in your past, he concocts some of his own.

Let’s Pray
Heavenly Father, I know that I cannot win a battle if I do not know who I am fighting.  Help me to recognize the enemy’s true identity. Spiritual warfare is very real. Today, I put on the armor of God and stand firm against the powers of the enemy. I am more than a conqueror through the power of Jesus Christ.
In His Name I pray and stand,
Now It’s Your Turn
Can you think of a time when you blamed someone for a difficulty in your life when it might have been an attack of the enemy?

Go back and read John 10:10. What does the enemy desire to do?

What is he called in John 8:44?

Why do you think it is important to know who the real enemy is in order to win the battle?

Girlfriends in God - and share you answer.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Taking Every Thought Captive Part 1

 “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB).

Several years ago, my family went on an excursion out West. We flew to Nevada, rented a car, and then proceeded to log in 2500 miles in ten days. One of our stops was Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Cowboy Country.

On Saturday night, we attended the local rodeo. There we sat, three city slickers among whoopin’ hollerin’ locals. The cowboys’ skills entertained and amazed those of us who thought a Bronco was a 4-wheel drive. Cowboys, young and old, rode bucking broncos, raced around barrels, and conquered angry bulls. But the most thrilling event was the lassoing contest.

We all sat on the edge of our seats as the cowboy waited, poised in his saddle, anticipating the calf’s release from the chute. The corral door swung open and the calf burst from the gate. The cowboy exploded through a second door with lasso in hand, and pursued the bucking, twisting, galloping animal. He lassoed the calf’s neck, threw him to the ground, quickly wrapped the rope around his legs, tied them securely in place, and immediately jumped up and raised his arms in victory. As the victor stood receiving his applause, his trained steed took three steps backward to secure the rope in place.

The timer continued to run for a few seconds to make sure the calf was indeed captive.  Then the cowboy’s time was posted on the scoreboard. Time and time again, cowhands lassoed little calves, secured their captives, and raised their hands in victory. Only a few times did a calf escape the rope and make his way out the door on the other end of the corral.

I’ll admit that I was feeling a bit sorry for the little calves, even though they were released as soon as the time was logged. The first time one escaped the lasso, I applauded wildly.  Angry onlookers let me know with a glare that cheering for the calf was not acceptable.  As I continued to watch the contest, the Lord prodded my mind and told me to look and learn. Suddenly it hit me. This event was a perfect picture of what Paul described in today’s truth.

Those calves reminded me of wild and wooly thoughts that burst forth from the stable of my mind at times: negative, rebellious, fearful, angry, worrisome, jealous, degrading thoughts that are untamed and unruly, bucking, jumping and running wild across pleasant plains. And when my thoughts are ungodly, my reaction should be like the cowboy’s: ride up hot on the thought’s heels, lasso it with the truth, tie it up securely, and throw it in the dust. My response should be just like the cowboy’s trusty trained horse who, automatically, because of practice, takes three steps backward to make sure the deceptive thought “ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
Trained because of practice. Taking every thought captive. Yes siree. Let’s lasso those thoughts little sister, tie ‘em up, and throw em’ back in the dust where they came from in the first place. Then we can raise our arms in victory with all the heavenly hosts applauding in victory. And believe me, the faster we do it, the better.

Let’s Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, sometimes my thoughts run wild. I believe things are true when they aren’t and don’t believe things are true when they are. Help me to take every thought captive that is not of You. Fill me with 
Your Truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn?
When is the last time you had a runaway thought that was not godly?
At what point did you realize the thought was not of God?
Look up Philippians 4:8 and meditate on this litmus test for our thoughts.
Pick one of the guidelines from Philippians 4:8 and tell me which one you are going to focus on today.

Girlfriends In God

Friday, May 18, 2012

The dangers of hasty decisions

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. - Proverbs 21:5

The photographer for a well-known magazine was assigned to take photos of a great forest fire. The problem was that smoke at the scene hampered him. So he frantically called his home office to hire a plane. “It will be waiting for you at the airport!” he was assured by his editor.

As soon as he got to the small, rural airport, sure enough, a plane was warming up near the runway. So the reporter jumped in with his equipment and yelled, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” The pilot swung the plane into the wind and soon they were in the air.

“Fly over the north side of the fire,” said the photographer, “and make three or four low, level passes.” “Why?” asked the pilot. “Because I’m going to take pictures!” said the photographer with great exasperation. “I’m a photographer, and photographers take pictures!”

After a long pause the pilot said, “You mean you’re not the instructor?”

Many times, in order to make the quickest decision possible, it can be easy to sacrifice our God-given wisdom for the sake of expediency. And all too often, these hasty decisions result in negative outcomes, because when not all the facts are known, bad choices can very easily be made.

Yet the wisdom of the Psalms tells us in today’s passage that diligent planning and seeking the Lord’s will ultimately result in our good. So instead of making decisions too quickly, spend time praying and seeking wise counsel to make the best choices possible!
Prayer Challenge
Pray and ask God to give you wisdom and patience to make decisions that honor Him.
Visit the Senior Living Ministries website

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Habit of Having No Habits

If these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful . . . —2 Peter 1:8

When we first begin to form a habit, we are fully aware of it. There are times when we are aware of becoming virtuous and godly, but this awareness should only be a stage we quickly pass through as we grow spiritually. If we stop at this stage, we will develop a sense of spiritual pride. The right thing to do with godly habits is to immerse them in the life of the Lord until they become such a spontaneous expression of our lives that we are no longer aware of them. Our spiritual life continually causes us to focus our attention inwardly for the determined purpose of self-examination, because each of us has some qualities we have not yet added to our lives.

Your god may be your little Christian habit— the habit of prayer or Bible reading at certain times of your day.

Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes. We say, “I can’t do that right now; this is my time alone with God.” No, this is your time alone with your habit. There is a quality that is still lacking in you. Identify your shortcoming and then look for opportunities to work into your life that missing quality.

Love means that there are no visible habits— that your habits are so immersed in the Lord that you practice them without realizing it. If you are consciously aware of your own holiness, you place limitations on yourself from doing certain things— things God is not restricting you from at all. This means there is a missing quality that needs to be added to your life. The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere. Is there someplace where you are not at home with God? Then allow God to work through whatever that particular circumstance may be until you increase in Him, adding His qualities. Your life will then become the simple life of a child.

My Utmost for His Highest

Monday, May 14, 2012

Seasons Change

He changes the times and the seasons. —Daniel 2:21

Years ago, I enjoyed a good job as part of a church staff. I had a thriving ministry, a regular paycheck, and plenty of opportunities to do what I loved and felt called to do. Then there came a time when God spoke to me about leaving that job and taking my ministry "to the north, south, east, and west."

I heard Him say, "This season in your life is complete; I am finished with you in this place."

In my heart, I knew God had spoken. Nevertheless, I had a mixture of excitement and fear about starting my own ministry. I wanted to venture beyond what I had known to that point, but I was afraid of making a mistake and losing what I had. I wanted to see what God would do, but I was afraid to take such a big step into unknown territory. Sometimes God gets finished with something and we keep hanging on to it.

My spirit wanted to step out, but my flesh wanted to stay. I had a lot of security in the position God was calling me to leave, and I didn't want to give it up. But, eventually I did obey Him and today I enjoy ministry around the world. Remember that God changes things and when He does we must be willing to follow His leading.
God's word for you today: Listen for God's voice to lead you when you need to make changes in your life.

From the book Hearing from God Each Morning: 365 Daily Devotions by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2010 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

How Do You Honor Your Mother?

Read | Exodus 20:12

The command to "honor...your mother" is not a suggestion, and there are no exemptions. Her character or effectiveness as a parent is not the issue. God established this guideline for Israel because a respectful home was crucial to their future success as a nation. The same is true for us today. God blesses our homes when we respect our mothers with words, attitudes, and actions.

Love her unconditionally. We're called to love our moms as God does. He didn't qualify His love for us with expectations and conditions that must first be met. He simply lavished His affection upon us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8).

Show her compassionate forgiveness. Since there are no perfect mothers, at times we'll have to forgive them. If your mom seems harsh or unloving, show her compassion. She may have experienced hardships as a child that wounded her spirit.

Remember her gratefully. Thank Mom this Mother's Day for all she did for you as a child. But don't let it end there. Nothing is more hurtful than feeling forgotten. Make room for her in your busy schedule. After all, she made countless sacrifices for you.

Treat her kindly. Let your mother know that she's valued. Take time to listen attentively when she speaks, and help herout when she is in need.
Does your mother feel loved and honored? What can you do that will bring a big smile to her face? In our adult years, it's easy to distance ourselves from our moms because life gets hectic and multiple demands steal our time. Make it a habit to pray for her daily and contact her regularly.

Copyright 2012 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jump Right In!

When you woke up this morning, God gave you a gift called "today" wrapped in a twenty-four-hour period of time. We must always remember how precious this gift is because we can never get back time that has gone by. In fact, your time is the most valuable commodity in this life that you have. It's more valuable than money because you can make more money, but you can't make more time.

Scripture tells us to make the most of our time and every opportunity God has given us. That means we have to be careful how we live and how we approach our days. We can't live this day unfocused, unhappy, negative or defeated because God has entrusted us with an assignment and deposited precious gifts and talents on the inside of each of us. You are a person of destiny, and you have a purpose to live out. The more you use your God-given potential, the more fulfilled and happy you will be. You have to look for those doors of opportunity and be ready to move forward to what God has for you. It's not always easy to step through a door of opportunity. Everyone has things that come against them—fear, distractions, things that steal your time—but sometimes when an opportunity comes from God, we have to be bold and just go for it! We can't waste precious time going needlessly back and forth.

It's like getting into a cold swimming pool on a warm day. You can walk over to the edge and stick your toe in first. Maybe you splash your hand in the water, but that doesn't really help you get used to the temperature. In fact, going in slowly sometimes makes the whole process a bigger deal than it needs to be. It prolongs the inevitable because it doesn't matter how slowly you try to get in, the water is still going to feel cold to each new body part that hits the water. You can spend twenty minutes trying to get into the pool that way, but it's a whole lot easier if you just jump right in! It only takes a second for your body to adjust to the temperature so you can enjoy your swim that much sooner and not waste valuable time.

The same is true in life. When an opportunity shows up and you know it is right for you, don't let fear hold you back. Don't give yourself time to reason it all out because you can easily talk yourself right out of a God-given opportunity! You can come up with every excuse in the book to stay right where you are, where it's comfortable. Of course, that doesn't mean that you should just jump into every opportunity just like you wouldn't just jump into every pool you see. No, it has to be the right time and the right conditions; but when you know it's right, go for it! Don't waste precious and valuable time. Remember, if God gives you the opportunity, He has already given you the ability to accomplish it.

When I first began speaking at Lakewood, I didn't give myself time to reason it all out in my mind because I knew I would talk myself out of it. Instead of thinking about all the reasons I couldn't do it, I started thinking about all the reasons I could do it. I encouraged myself and allowed the Word of God to empower me. And yes, I was scared! But I knew that God wanted me to step into my position and begin encouraging people. So I took a step of faith, and He was right there with me. I dove right in, and the more I did it, the easier it became. I pressed through my feelings and gained victory, and that is exactly what God wants for you. He wants you to overcome your fear so you can do what He has called you to do.

Today, don't shrink back and hide your talent or let excuses keep you from God's best. He wants you to live a fulfilled life. He wants you to be refreshed and make the most of every opportunity He's given you. Be a faithful steward of your time, and don't let worry or fear hold you back. You are equipped, you are able, and you are not alone. The water is just right, so c'mon and jump right in!

Be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days (Ephesians 5:15–16, NLT).

Posted by Victoria Osteen

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When God Tells You...

By Brenda Flury Greig

I will make the coffee! I will operate the lights! I will …I kept offering up to God all that I was willing to do, yet He was saying He wanted me to write and speak. As part of this quest, He brought the Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference to my attention. That was two years ago.

I reservedly complied by signing up for the conference, along with the speaking critique and a publisher meeting. I felt the whole thing was really out of my realm. You see, as an introvert, I would rather starve than eat at a table with a bunch of strangers, and all meals were provided as part of the conference! Yes, that meant I had an unlimited opportunity to meet women from all over the country…yippee…I sighed sarcastically.

The opening celebration was powerful, with hundreds of women filling the conference full of love and excitement for Christ. The singing shouted to the heavens as each woman poured out her heart, except me. I was the shy, Minnesotan way in the back, singing quietly, knowing that even raising one hand in the air to worship would be way over the top! There I stood. Very nervous, fully certain that everyone else had polished their writing and speaking skills as to be on the brink of the fame. I had come barely prepared.

The usual small talk around the table started and the woman next to me asked, “Are you a speaker or writer?” Choking on my last swig of coffee, I stammered, “neither really, I would just like to make the coffee or something.” Needless-to-say, the conversation stopped in its tracks!

Thankfully, the opening speaker came up on stage to take my mind off myself. She spoke funny, inspiring, caring girl-type words in an attempt to ease the anxiety in the room with assurance that the loving staff, coaches, agents, publishers, and evaluators were all there to help us use our talents to fulfill all that God had in mind for us. I just want to make the coffee, I reminded God.

Off to the first breakout on “Ten Tips to Wow Publishers.” I couldn’t help but think how bizarre it was for me. Here I am in a room with others that know what a publisher, editor, and agent do! I had a rough idea …but still just wanted to make coffee. The next breakout told us how to promote our book. The steps included speaking engagements and the development of a blog…a what? I didn’t even know what that was!

Leaving the room at the end of that session, I realized I wasn’t really hungry so I could skip lunch and go back to my hotel room for a minute. Well, minutes turned to hours and yes, I hid out in my hotel room for the rest of the conference! I reminded God that He made me this shy introvert, so I think its best I just stay home to care for my husband and occasionally volunteer at church. Assured that He understood the wisdom in my reasoning I comfortably got back on the plane to return to my safety net. Ahhhh.

Afterwards, I was convicted numerous times by the Holy Spirit about my disobedience. Recently, while facilitating a Twelve Step group, everyone fell silent when asked to share a time of obedience or disobedience in their life. In an attempt to spur conversation, I shared about the clear directive I heard from God and my subsequent decision to hide out in my hotel room. One of the participants replied, “You never know, God is a God of second chances.” I chuckled and moved on.

That night I arrived home and checked my emails to discover the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference Director was announcing the conference had been full but now had a limited number of openings! I thought “No….you’ve got to be kidding!” Out of curiosity I checked the costs of the flight, hotel and conference to discover it would be approximately $1,400. “Well, there you have it,” I proclaimed. We don’t have an extra $14 dollars let alone $1,400 so that’s it! While lying in bed, I shared the story with my husband and he agreed there was surely not $1,400 somewhere in our budget. Relieved, I claimed the day and went off to sleep.

The next evening my husband came home from work and said, “Honey, you know those two people I recruited and hired at work? Well Human Resources told me today that there is a $700 recruiting bonus for each one!” I stood in silence staring at him. No matter how I calculated it, $700 plus $700 equaled $1,400. Yikes.

Quietly, but with a stern intent, my husband said, “I believe God wants you to go to that conference.” I stuttered and stammered questioning the validity of that conclusion. In another attempt to sway his thinking, I reminded him that his Jeep needs air conditioning and wouldn’t he rather have air in the Jeep? The answer remained…no. I was to go to the conference…again.

On the first morning of the conference, I found myself having breakfast with about eight other women. The question of prior attendance came up and everyone else was attending for the first time. When I mentioned this was my second time, they all fixated on me intently and began asking what it was like, was the writing critique hard, did I have a meeting with a publisher, etc. I proceeded to share from my heart what God had called me to do two years ago and how I had disobeyed. I shared my regret and sadness over disappointing Him; and how I ended up here today. It was as if God put His arms around each and every woman at the table and said “Be strong for I am with you!”

It was a magnificent conference and I have been blessed many times over for my obedience to Him. I continue to write and submit articles on a regular basis. My greatest desire, to write a book, is in the making. So when God tells you to do something, just do it!

Brenda Flury Greig has been described as passionate, inspiring and very authentic. She is a devoted follower of Christ who delights in leading Bible Studies, facilitating Twelve Step groups and walking one-on-one with others in their journey to sobriety. Brenda lives in Minnesota with her husband and their German Shepherds and Yorkies.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Are You Really Trusting God?

My beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. —1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

The ability to be steadfast indicates trust in the Lord. Think about it: if I were to say, “I am trusting God,” but then I stay anxious and upset, then I am not really trusting God. If I were to say, “I’m trusting God,” but I sink into depression and despair, then I am not really trusting God. If I say I trust God and worry or lose my joy, then I am not really trusting God.

When we truly trust God, we are able to enter into His rest and allow our hearts to settle into a place of unshakable confidence in Him. The enemy will not completely go away, but he will become more of a nuisance than a major problem to us.

As long as we are on Earth, doing our best to love and serve God, the enemy will be on the prowl around us. Part of God’s design for our spiritual growth includes developing spiritual muscles as we learn to resist the enemy.

The apostle Paul understood this well, so he did not pray that people would never have trouble; he prayed that they would have perseverance, that they would be steadfast and immovable, really trusting the Lord. God wants you to enter His rest and He will work on your behalf.

God’s word for you today: Really trust the Lord.

From the book Hearing from God Each Morning: 365 Daily Devotions by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2010 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.