Monthly Archives: October 2011
Love One Another
What a blessing to have been in the fellowship of believers yesterday. I say that mostly from hindsight. I started the day so tired, the cold weather affecting my body with fatigue. I was on the worship team and usually have an increased energy that only comes from the Holy Spirit, but yesterday I was drained. I was grateful we had planned another leader and the pastor to take the majority of the service, because I couldn’t get my mind out of the Fibro fog. Yet I ended leaving the church filled with the blessed love of God’s grace given to me by others.
When love happens in the framework of Christians, an amazing thing happens. God’s presence flows from one person to another. It may be with a look, a hug, laughter, or tears. Encouragement comes from people who are listening through God’s ears. Even people that we don’t always get along with, that we’ve had major disagreements with, can be seen through the eyes of love. Because as a Christian, we are looking at others through Christ’s eyes of compassion.
1 John 3:11 & 12 (NLT) says, “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” My first thoughts were, “I agree. Love One Another. Good words.” Then I read vs. 12 – “We must not be like Cain, who belonged, to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous.” I found myself thinking, “I’ve never killed anyone. So this doesn’t apply to me.” WRONG! Ok, I’ve never physically taken someone’s life, but how often have I struggled with my temper, anger, or a desire to get revenge. I have caused pain to others by what I’ve said or done. I’ve torn hearts apart by not looking at someone with the eyes of God’s love.
I have a card I keep posted in my office. I wish I would remember these verses more often:
“You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the LORD forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” Colossians 3:13-15 NLT
I was recently out taking photos of the changing leaves. I came across a park where the differences of colors blended and added a beauty that seemed to enhance the other trees in the area. As I reflected on yesterday morning’s blessed friendships with other believers, I realized that’s what I was seeing in my fellow Christians. When we are reflecting God’s love to someone, we help God’s love shine through them to us as well. We live in a harmony of colors.
One of the best things that happened yesterday was seeing how God has been at work in a relationship where there was hurt in the past. Once we opened our hearts to forgiving each other, God poured out His love and grace on us. We have been able to encourage each other and laugh with each other.
Love One Another – three simple words with such important meaning.
Praising God for His blessings from my sisters and brothers in Christ ~ Faye
Faith on the Journey
This is a week where the rubber hits the road – do I really believe in God being in control of all things?
Background: Sunday morning my team is leading worship. The pastor is preaching on one of the 7 deadly sins – Laziness vs Zeal, or a passion to live for Christ out of gratitude for our salvation. It’s also a Sunday where we will remember the Reformation by looking at the five tenants of the Reformed faith – Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Glory to God Alone. God’s word tells us in Hebrews 11:1 that
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.” or as said in the NIV – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
This week is one of those weeks where what I say I believe has to become reality. I’ve learned of a 30 year old wife who has been diagnosed with bladder cancer; a 50 year old friend who just found out she has Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma; a friend’s dad had a failed surgery on his heart and the doctors are looking for new options; many friends struggles with relationships with family members; the flooding in Bangkok, Thailand is affecting a couple I know. It just seems like everything is coming in waves. Life is full of disappointments, dangers and the unknown. So each day has been spent in a lot of prayers for others. Tonight I went for a walk in a nature setting and just prayed to God about my friends. What a privilege we have to share intimately with God our heartaches. Each day comes with its abundance of problems, but when we put our FAITH in God, each struggle is shared by Someone who is much bigger than you or I.
Faith is the confident assurance, the conviction that God is going ahead of us on our pathway of life. He knows what struggles we will face ahead. He is preparing us for what we will have to deal with in the future. We need to have the confidence that God knows what is best for us, and He loves us so much.
So this is a week where I need to rely heavily on my faith in God otherwise life would be so overwhelming. I rely on Paul’s words in Romans 15:13
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
What an incredible blessing to have the assurance of what we hope for so much so, that we will be filled to overflowing by the Holy Spirit. By the way, while I was pouring out my heart to God, I asked Him to give me some evidence that He was hearing me (sometimes He is silent and I have to trust that He keeps His promise to hear me), but today He blessed me by having two friends come along that very private path. They listened and encouraged me in a way that only God could have done.
Enjoying God’s abundant blessings of hope, joy and peace ~ Faye
The Transforming Process
I talked yesterday about being transformed at Christ’s return and in our daily walk with God. This morning I was challenged with a situation where my attitude needed to be transformed by God because anger, bitterness, frustration were some of the things that were taking control. God’s timing is always perfect – this morning was no exception when I was reading 1 John 3:4-8. John talks about being pure when God dwells in us and being sinners when we let Satan have a foothold. I definitely needed to have some transforming work done on my attitude.
My husband’s hobby is blacksmithing. He’s shared with me the process that happens to form metal through fire. Iron and steel can be formed into something when they are really hot. First he has to have something in mind and creates a design. Whatever he makes, it is always a one-of-a kind object, even when it’s laid over a pattern. Then he has to prepare the fire. He adds the coal, cleans out the clinkers that won’t burn, and uses the blower to breathe oxygen into the fire to bring it to the temperature he needs. He watches the flames as they change color and knows by that color when the fire is at the temperature he needs for the type of metal he is using.
Next he puts the metal into the depth of the fire. He also watches the color of the metal to tell when it is ready to be worked. Once the metal reaches the temperature he wants, he takes it out of the fire and puts it on the anvil, but that doesn’t shape the metal alone. Only when he lifts the hammer and starts to pound does the metal begin to give way to the shape it’s intended to be. But a blacksmith doesn’t just bang away at the metal. It is often a very gentle and intentional strike of the hammer to create the desired effect. After the initial hammer blows, slag begins to flake off of the metal.
What happens next is often like our walk with Christ, the iron being out of the fire begins to get cold and won’t form easily. The blacksmith can actually hear, as well as feel, the change in the temperature of the hammer’s ring on the metal and anvil as the metal cools. So he puts the iron back into the fire to heat it to the color needed then brings the iron to the anvil and hammer again. This process is repeated many times before the desired shape occurs. After the forming process, the remaining slag is brushed off. The metal is set aside to cool, or is quenched to cool more quickly. Depending on the use of the formed metal, a wax coating may be added after it is allowed to cool and then rubbed in to bring out the color of the steel and bring a soft luster to the finish.
The blacksmithing process reminds me of what God does daily in our lives to transform us to be like Him. It’s a long process and it’s not easy, it takes work, fortunately He is patient. Often God takes us to the heat of the fire. He’s always there watching the heat of the fire and the metal to make sure it’s just enough and not too much. Then He begins the process of gently shaping us by the pounding of the hammer. As we are gradually shaped into what He desires us to be, He has to regularly brush the remaining slag off. He inspects us to see how we are growing to be like Him. Occasionally He has to quickly cool us off so we don’t become too brittle if we are too hot.
What a wonderful heavenly Father we have who lovingly takes us through the fire, but won’t let us be consumed. He molds, forms and shapes us to what He wants us to be. How much more quickly it would happen if we would willingly surrender to His molding hands.
God’s abundant blessings come from Isaiah 43:1-3a as an encouragement as well as Psalm 139:13-14
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the One who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Celebrating God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye
Reading 1 John 3:1-3 this morning (following www.goodmorninggirls.org Bible study), and I was truly excited to read John’s opening words – we are God’s children, precious, valued, prized, loved. What a way to go into the day.
1 John 3:2 says, “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure.” – New Living Translation
What a glorious thought that we will be changed to be like Christ when appears/returns. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (NLT) says,
51 “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.”
When Christ returns we will be made to be LIKE HIM. If we live a life with the EAGER EXPECTATION, we will live a life that honors Christ. We will make it a priority to keep ourselves pure. I like how The Message describes it: “All of us who look forward to His Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.” Glistening purity of Jesus’ life – I can’t even come close to describing what that will be like.
Seeing Christ as He really is when He appears to us at His second coming is just mind boggling. Knowing that we will be transformed to be like Him in an instant! How amazing. However, did you know Christ appears to you right now? I’ve gone through some disappointments and unmet expectations, especially living with a chronic, progressive disease; and recently have spent a lot of my time taking walks and talking with God. In the past when disappointments and unmet expectations have come, I’ve been quick to talk with family and friends, hoping in doing so it will help resolve the situation or make me feel better. In my times with God, I’m finding that there are times when Christ appears today too. The other day it was not at all in the way I anticipated. I thought He’d have used someone close to me to fill the need I had. But recently Christ has made it very real that He has been walking beside me listening to my heart’s longings, and when I am resting and trusting in Him, He gently guides me closer to Him so I can come along side His desire for my life. He is constantly shaping me to be like Him. I’m really looking forward to the quick transformational change that will happen when Christ returns again. I don’t like the long, drawn-out, painful process that He uses daily to transform me into His image. But I’m very grateful that He walks with me and talks with me when I choose to share with Him my heart’s thoughts. I’m so grateful to have a glimpse of His appearing this side of Heaven and His Second Coming.
May you enjoy the abundant blessing of God walk with you today
I’ve been in a study through www.goodmorninggirls.org looking at 1 John. It’s been a good verse-by-verse study. Today we looked at 1 John 2:28-29:
“And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when He returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from Him in shame. Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children.” – The New International Version
What blessed words from John – Beloved, my precious people, God’s Kids – REMAIN, ABIDE, STAND FIRM/STEADFAST in CHRIST and in so doing enjoy the fellowship of believers in ALL areas of your life. The Message says, “Stay with Christ. Live Deeply in Christ.” J.B. Phillips says, “Live continually in Him.” How often do I let other things pull me away from my time with God? How often do I ABIDE; live deeply/continually IN Christ?
When we pull away from God, our relationships with others suffer. However, when we ABIDE in a close relationship with Christ, we will eagerly await His return and long to share that relationship with others. Imagine the child standing on her tiptoes waiting for daddy to come down the airport runway. She’s bouncing all over the place with anticipation to see her daddy return home from an extended time away. There is such eagerness and anticipation. Do I eagerly ANTICIPATE time with God? John asks, if our Savior would suddenly return or show His presence to us, would we hide our heads in shame and shirk away from Him because we had not REMAINED with Him? I want to live with the focus of the song that just played on the radio – I Can Only Imagine, by MercyMe. How will I respond to Christ’s return? Will I dance or be still, stand or bow down, speak or be speechless, but definitely I don’t want to be among those who have to pull away from Christ in shame. The image that comes to me is of Peter as he denied Christ for the third time as the rooster crowed. When Peter realized Christ’s prophecy came true he went away and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:75) I want to be among the ones eagerly awaiting Him, singing “Alleluia! Glory to God in the Highest! Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!”
When we pull away from God, it becomes more difficult to be with our fellow believers. It also seems like when we do not spend time in the fellowship of believers, we seem to pull away from God more. It’s like God created us to be dependent upon each other. So what?
I said this blog was to focus on God’s Blessings. So it’s not just about how much I spend time ABIDING with God or even EAGERLY AWAITING His return. The blessing that I saw was when I was in the fellowship of believers yesterday. Because of health issues the evening is not the best time for me, so I haven’t been participating in an evening Bible study. However, I decided to try it since it was on a six-week basis. I was blessed by the discussion of the Bible study, but so much more by God’s plan of what happened afterwards. I was able to fellowship and talk to several people, catch up on their lives, and together we encouraged each other in our lives. I came away with a renewed desire to pray earnestly for each of these people and the challenges they are facing. So God’s blessings – I was able to spend time in the fellowship and closeness of fellow believers and in so doing I was able to praise and pray to God all the way home.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
May God abundantly bless you as you eagerly await Christ’s return,
Why Be Persistent in Prayer?
I love it when God answers prayers. I really love it when God answers prayers in ways I never expected or imagined!
I saw a glimpse of His working in someone’s life today and was so blessed. This person has struggled with being hurt and angry and unable to forgive the callous acts of some people. From my perspective, I’d say the person was definitely justified by their reactions after being falsely accused of misdeeds. But I saw first hand God’s grace and peace working through that person as they were kind, compassionate and caring to some of the individuals who had spread lies and rumors about them. The incredible thing is this person is not a professing Christian. God was answering my prayers for this person’s life, and they were seemingly oblivious to them. Fortunately, God wasn’t.
How often have I prayed for this person? Almost every day for the past several years. Have I seen God answering those prayers for opportunities to share my faith, witness that person be changed and transformed by the saving grace of Christ – not yet. Some days it seems so strange to continue to pray for them when God doesn’t seem to allow them to hear His call. But God is so good. When I least expected it, basically while the person was in the very presence of his enemies, God blew me away by the transformation I saw in this person. The person volunteered to be of assistance in the future if needed, answered questions to help the individuals proceed, and best of all, left the meeting calm and filled with a peace that they would not normally have had given the circumstances. Even more surprising, I was there as a friend and hadn’t spent time specifically praying for the meeting today, yet God answered previous prayers for healing and blessed several people.
Psalm 77:11-14 says, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all Your work, and meditate on Your might deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your might among the peoples.”
I’m praying and hoping I remember this day of the LORD’s deeds for I saw His transforming power. It has given me renewed courage and strength to continually pray for this person’s faith and relationship with God. It has encouraged me to continue to pray for a wayward loved one. Everything is in God’s timing, not mine. Even though I don’t see an answer to my prayers right away, God hears them, and in His perfect time, He will answer the prayers of a persistent heart. I encourage you to think about God’s deeds in your life from today and in the past. Write down a few of them. Share them with others to encourage them in their walk of faith. Tell your children of the ways God has blessed you. Help others remember the mighty deeds of the LORD.
God’s richest blessings ~ Faye
I love God’s sense of humor!
So I’ve started this writing/blog thing and I made it clear, it wasn’t what I was planning on doing. Last night I was reading a devotional on Hannah, which I figured I’d use for my Weds Bible study, but God had other ideas. As I read the article it showed how Hannah sought God’s will – she poured out her heart and she boldly requested His involvement. Well believe me, that’s what I’ve been doing the past few weeks, asking God, “Is He really sure about this venture?”. When I was at the end of the reading, it was like God was confirming for me, “Yes,” because the author wrote — “The truth is, it’s possible that we have been singled out so that God can reveal Himself to us in a new way. Unanswered prayer does not mean prayer refused or ignored. It may instead indicated that the Lord is at work on a much larger scale than we can know or imagine, becuase He indeed (here’s where I broke out laughing), ‘is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think’ (Ephesians 3:20).” God used MY verse! Needless to say, He got my attention. [Ginger Garrett, In Touch, October 2011]
However, He wasn’t done. This morning I was flipping through my day calendar [Reflections from the Heart of God, Roy Lessin] reading a few days because I was behind about 9 days. I think God intentionally had me miss the past 9 days until this morning because He KNEW I would still need the confirmation. So, Oct 5 says, “God is leading you on a prepared pathway and will perfectly lead you into the plans He has for your life. Take each step without concern about where the path is taking you. He has gone ahead of you like a scout who has already checked out the trail. Nothing that is ahead will take Him by surprise!” The next day was from Deuteronomy 31:8 – “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” GREAT CONFIRMATION. But I’m still arguing with Him, “are You really sure about this?” Crazy, I should know better than to argue with God’s plans. The next day said, “For each STEP that GOD ASKS YOU TO TAKE today there will be GRACE, for each DECISION there will be DIRECTION, and for each TASK there will be STRENGTH.”
I’ve been asking God how I should fill my time over the past year and a half and God’s decided to do it in a way that is out of my comfort zone, but where I can share how incredibly every day He does bless us abundantly. He has shown me He will walk with me, in fact, He’s been there ahead of me making sure the way is clear for me if I follow His leading. How precious a God we serve. The final page of the calendar said, “You may not know all the details of your journey or clearly seewhere the trail is leading, but God will always give you enough light to take the next step.” Rejoicing in God’s timing and humor!
God’s richest blessings,
What am I doing now? (or more accurately) What does God have planned now?
It has been a period of waiting and watching, seeing where God is leading after being unexpectedly underemployed since February 2010. During this time I’ve felt God’s leading, poking, prodding, and refining – much of which I’ve not accepted graciously or patiently. However, in the past few weeks God’s been guiding me to consider writing a blog. This is against every desire I’ve every had. I can’t imagine why I am doing this, but I’m trying to be obedient as at each and every step as He has gently pushed me in this direction. Obviously it’s not a paid position, so I’m still not sure where He’s going with this. However, God has incredibly and abundantly blessed our financial resources since 2010 so that our needs, and many of our wants, have been met time and again. So with many uncertainties, some of which are content, frequency, and promotion, I’m doing my best to be obedient and praying that in the days ahead you will find words of blessing and encouragement here. A song that continually goes through my mind is While I’m Waiting by John Waller. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb7TSGptd3Y. How often do I worship and serve God while I’m waiting for His direction or for answers to prayers?
When I am intentional about my looking for God’s abundant blessings and presence, I am rarely disappointed. Praying God showers you with some of His glorious riches.
God’s richest blessings ~