Category Archives: Belonging

Reflecting God’s Glory

I’ve so enjoyed my walks lately – especially in the early dawn before the birds begin to sing. I’ve seen muskrats and raccoons, owls, blue herons and even an early eagle. (They usually don’t show up until November in our area.) But I’ve been very intrigued by the Indigo Bunting.  The female and young buntings are brown, but the Indigo Blue of the male is striking. So I did some more research on it.  I found out that the beautifully deep blue of the bunting isn’t really a blue bird – “actually it is a black bird.  The bunting lacks blue pigment in its feathers (just like the Blue Jay). The sunlight is refracted within the structure of the male bunting’s feathers, making them appear blue. ” (allaboutbirds.com)

I began to remember the verse in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that talks about Christians reflecting the glory of God.  As sinful man we are like the black bird. We don’t have any stunning color. But as the glory of God grows within us through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, the more we reflect God’s beauty within us, changing us, transforming us into stunning “blue birds”.

All of us who are Christians have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. We are transfigured by the Spirit of the Lord in ever-increasing splendor into his own image. New Living Translation

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. J. B. Phillips

Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. The Message

The depth of beauty in the Indigo Bunting is incredibly stunning. He stands out and is seen much easier than the browns of the female. I pray that the blessing of God’s glory shines through you as you go out and share His love with others.

Abundantly blessed this week by a tiny little blue bird ~ Faye

I’m linked in with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Piano with timerYears ago I took piano lessons. I hated doing scales and wanted to just sit down and play the songs I enjoyed. Of course, those who play piano realize that practicing those arpeggios is what helps to make the fingers move with greater dexterity over the keyboard. My mom would set the timer, set it on the piano and I would begin practicing. I know there were many times I moved the timer a minute, and the next day two minutes faster, and so on. I HATED to practice, I just wanted to PLAY.

I was reading the July/August Worship Leader magazine, and a few things caught my attention.

Spontaneity often comes from practice being made perfect. Seems like an irony, but listen to this quote from Ben Patterson on the honing of our skills and spontaneity in our worship:  “A good metaphor for the true freedom of disciplined Christian worship can be found in the dancer’s art. Nothing looks more free and spontaneous than a great dancer performing. But beneath all of that freedom and spontaneity are years of drills, repetition, sweat, strain and more drills. Sunday morning worship is to the rest of our lives what cultivation is to a garden. We weed, prune, water and feed to the end that the garden may be beautiful – spontaneous – gardens are not; disciplined – gardens are.” (go.wlmag.com/wlpatterson)

In an article by Rick Lee James, titled Billy Joel Taught Me How to Pray,  James tells how Joel shared his routine for writing songs. He would sit at his piano for at least one hour a day. He’d play scales, familiar tunes, or anything that came to mind. Sometimes that period of time would drag on when no creativity surfaced, but other times one hour turned to many more as he showed up at the piano, got involved and waited for something to happen. Joel noted that “If I hadn’t been there, I would have missed it.” James likens this to spending time with God. How often does God want to shower us with His blessings, encourage us with His words, or enfold us in His love but we are too busy running. Some of the things we are so busy with are good things like taking kids to their next practice or leading worship a worship service. But we’ve allowed the busyness to encroach on our personal time with God. Just spending time with Him. Meditating on who God is. Being filled with Him.

Sometimes we are so busy doing things for God that we don’t take the time to just BE WITH GOD.

At times it is very frustrating to continue bringing the same requests for a loved one to God in prayer when it seems like the prayers are never answered. In reality, those requests are not unheard. They are shaping, preparing and posturing us in our relationship with God. So many times during the quiet periods from God where it seems like He isn’t listening we grow frustrated and want to quit spending time with Him. When in reality if we keep “showing up” for time with God He surprises us in ways very unexpected and often more meaningful.

Our church is encouraging each other to share the gospel message of God’s salvation plan through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. This can happen off the cuff in conversations, but more often than not, the conversation flows much easier when we’ve spent time with God. For me sometimes the hardest thing to do is sit still with NO distractions and just BE in God’s presence. However, when I “practice” it on a regular basis – it becomes more precious and incredibly spontaneous, personal worship occurs.

Due to some  personal challenges recently, I’ve had to lean on God a lot, and yet I have felt so drained because I let the busyness of the circumstances steal my focus on just BEING before the face of God. I need to get back to my Billy Joel teaching – “If I hadn’t been there – I would have missed it.”  I need to spend much needed time with God, for when I do – He blesses me in ways that are too wonderful for me to comprehend. One of those was standing at church yesterday talking with two precious friends and receiving their reminders of God’s love and grace through the difficult times and the blessing of just BEING with God.

Celebrating the abundant blessing of God’s encouragement to “Practice, practice, practice!” ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

We Will See Him

We will see His face and His name will be written on our foreheads

What a blessing to know that the best is yet to come. God is saving the absolute best gift for us – when we will see Him as He is. God will be revealed to us in ALL His resplendent glory. Moses saw only a glimpse of the backside of God and was transformed by His radiance.

Exodus 33:17-23 – The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” Moses responded, “Then show me Your glorious presence.”  The Lord replied, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will call out My name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at My face, for no one may see Me and live.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near Me on this rock. As My glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and let you see Me from behind. But My face will not be seen.”

Exodus 34: 29-30 – When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him.

The people all knew Moses had been in the presence of the Lord because God’s splendor shown on Moses. Can you imagine what happens the day we stand before God? We will be transformed – in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye.

God blesses our lives with so many good things – family, friends, His grace and mercy, wisdom, insight, joy and peace to name a few. But there will be a day when all the pains and difficulties of this life will be left behind. We will receive the ultimate healing in life – those who believe in Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior, will stand before Him and He will show us His face. The Lord’s face will shine on us and His countenance will shine upon us and we will be filled with His grace and peace.

We have incredibly abundant blessings today through God’s grace. However, we go through each day knowing that the best is yet to come – when we will see God face to face ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

 

God is Watching Over You

Psalm 121:3-6 God Never SleepsWhat an incredible comfort and blessing!  God watches over us. We need sleep. Many flowers close up at night for protection and rest. Many animals seek cover at night and rest, or if they are “night owls”, the rest during the day. But we have the wonderful knowledge that God NEVER SLEEPS. He is constantly watching over each one of us. Not just in the small town of Palo, or the larger metropolis of Cedar Rapids, or even just the United States. God watches the entire UNIVERSE.  Nothing is out of His control!

I just finished The Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and he ends the book with these reminders:

  • Begin the day remembering you are loved and chosen by God. He is your Creator and you belong to Him.
  • In order to maintain tranquility throughout the day – RELAX. It is a skill that we must accomplish – learn to relax. It is necessary for a REST-FILLED day.
  • Live with a heart filled with JOY and PRAISE. Look for the good things in life each day – sunshine, breath, birds singing …
  • Don’t be anxious, filled with worry. Surrender your concerns to God remembering He is in control of all things. “Take definite action about your worry. Tell yourself that it is futile and wasteful and even sinful (when continually rehashing something) because it denies the care of your Heavenly Father.”
  • End the day with sleep that is filled with rest from God.  Can’t fall asleep – remember these words which bring perspective, “What helped me to pass wakeful hours was just remembering the Insomnia of God:  Behold He that keepeth Israel – He slumbers not, nor sleeps.”

May your day be filled with the blessings of remembering our God is a 24/7/365 day God ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory

Waves on beach like the Holy Spirit filling us I like the following quote from Paul Tournier,

The yield of our life does not depend so much on the number of things that we do, but more on the quality of self-giving that we put to each thing. In order to add this quality, we must depart from this atmosphere of the modern world which is completely obsessed with activism, even in the church: do, do, do always more. Let us rather, once again, become inspired and tranquil men.

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of where I was in my 20s and 30s. I was busy raising a family, starting my own secretarial business and serving God. At least that’s what I was telling myself I was aspiring to. But in reality over the years, I’ve learned that too often I was “doing” church. My  husband and I remember our very young son, at the time, in the back seat of the car once asking, “Are we going to church again tonight?” We had been there 3 times for meetings during the week and twice on Sunday. It made us rethink WHY we were involved. Were we looking for the accolades that come with being “committed” to serving God? Were we hoping to “earn a jewel for our crown” by doing one more thing? Were we hoping to appear more holy to God? Were we simply seeing a need and filling it, but quite possibly at the expense of our own spiritual lives? Were we actually enjoying serving God out of grateful hearts? Looking back, I think it was some of each of these.  There were Sundays when we showed up to worship God, but were so busy with teaching, leading, or some other task that we missed the opportunity to truly worship and praise God, giving thanks for the blessing He gave us that week. We were too busy “doing” church and not taking the essential time of giving glory to God for ALL He has done for us.

Years of reading God’s Word, listening to messages, reading books like The Quest for Serenity and Celebration of Disciplines by Foster have encouraged me to really think why I am “doing” something for God. During a time when my R.A. was really interfering with my lifestyle, I couldn’t “do” much of anything physically. I found myself having a purposeful “slow-me-down” from God. During that time I grew in my relationship with God because I knew my “doing” had to be mostly emotional, mental and spiritual instead of physical.

Too often Christians love to be busy for God, but we miss the resting in God. Once we life restfully with God and in God, we will be filled with restful lives.  The Westminster Catechism reminds us that “Man’s chief end is” – not personal happiness – “but to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Don’t let your lives become so busy DOING that you don’t take time BEING filled with God’s presence. The calm and serenity is really worth it.

May the blessings of God rest upon you.
May God’s peace abide in you.
May God’s presence illuminate your heart
Now and forever more.

~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Somebody Loves You

Somebody loves you more than you know,

Somebody goes with you wherever you go,

Somebody really and truly cares

and lovingly listens to all your prayers …

Don’t doubt for a minute that this is not true,

FOR GOD LOVES HIS CHILDREN and takes care of them, too . . .

And all of his treasures are yours to share

If you love Him completely and show Him you care . . .

And if you “walk in His footsteps” and have the faith to believe,

There’s nothing you ask for that you will not receive!

~ Helen Steiner Rice

I have always appreciated this poem.  I have come to realize that it isn’t a guarantee that I will get the exact thing I pray for. But it is a reminder that I BELONG TO MY HEAVENLY FATHER, that I have value and worth in His eyes, and that God will fill me with His presence through every storm and struggle as well as beautifully sunny days.

Enjoy basking in His presence ~ Faye

Filled with the Fullness of God’s Love

This week we are studying Ephesians 3:14-21 with Good Morning Girls. (See the top right side panel of God’s Abundant Blessings.) I love this passage. I cannot comprehend the depths and vastness of God’s love. I can’t understand why He blesses us more than ALL we can ask or imagine, but He does. Now, I’m not saying if you pray for healing, God will answer with perfect health, just the way you or I want. But what I’m saying from my experience is that when I turn my life over to Him, He takes care of ALL the details and provides for my needs in ways I never could have asked for or imagined. He does this because of His immense, overpowering love for us. It’s indescribable!

Paul definitely gives us a glimpse of God’s love. He can’t describe it either, but he prays for us to have a full understanding of God’s glorious, unlimited resources; His riches. He tells the Ephesians and Gentiles that he wants them to understand/comprehend how wide, and long, and high, and deep is God’s amazing love. How incredibly blessed we are.

Isaiah 43:1-3a reminds us of God’s beautiful love as well:

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.”

Some of us have been through house fires, flood waters, tornados, hurricanes and other devastating natural disasters. Many have felt the calm presence that can only come from God in those difficult times of loss, grief and shock. As you deal with insurance companies or FEMA and the tiring rebuilding process, you can so easily become weary and overwhelmed. Yet God, out of His INFINITE love, has promised to be with us. He is pulling us up out of the muddy waters. He’s the shield around us in the flames.

Some of you may not relate “literally” to the natural disasters in these verses, however, we’ve all been in the deep waters of financial difficulties and job loss or the difficult rivers of chronic or terminal illnesses. We’ve felt the flames from the fires of oppression in difficult relationships. But we don’t have to fear when these trials come. Why? Because we are blessed with being called by the LORD, the God who made each one of us.

If you don’t know this amazing God, just open your heart to Him, call out to Him. Ask Him to be your LORD and Savior. Realize that out of His overwhelming love for each one of us, He sent His Son to die on the cross to save us from our sinful selves when we believe on Him. When we tell God we want to belong to Him, we are filled with the fullness of life from the Holy Spirit. We are filled to overflowing with the incomprehensible, unfathomable love of Christ.

Praying you are blessed with being “filled through all your being with God Himself”! ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory! Brag on God Fridays

Immeasurably More Than We Ask or Imagine

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  — Matthew 7:7-8 NLT

I recently felt God prompting me to spend a day in prayer and fasting. I thought and prayed about it for a few days and the feeling didn’t leave. So on a Monday morning before getting out of bed, I dedicated the day to God and what He had planned for me to learn.  I had recently been reviewing my business’s yearend documentation and saw how God had provided, despite a significant loss in business for the past two years. I was longing to be more productive, but the business wasn’t coming in. I had been asking God – “What next? When? How long? Guide me.” As I was preparing for the day, my fax machine started spewing page after page of work from a client I hadn’t had anything from for a few months. There was definitely a time of praise and thanksgiving to God!  But I didn’t let it interrupt my commitment to God. And boy am I glad I didn’t because God continued to answer.

After reading God’s word for a while and praying, I decided to go for a walk. I went down by the river and enjoyed seeing some eagles, a hawk and some other birds.God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. But mostly, I just enjoyed walking and talking with God. I asked Him, with a boldness and confidence I don’t always come to Him with, about my future – Do I go out looking for a job? Do I wait? Would He please make it very clear to me that He had plans for me. And I shared some specific things I desired if I were to work outside of the home. While I was walking past some friends’ business, the owner came out and asked me to talk. He talked about the possibility of a part-time job. Now I really wanted to fall on my knees before God in prayer.  This is the perfect answer to my prayers. God knew the variety of my needs and concerns about working and He provided with THE best answer – it included many of the specific things I had requested.

I have to tell you it was so refreshing to spend such a concentrated and purposeful day with God. I didn’t just fast from food, but turned off most of the worldly distractions. I didn’t start the day with the morning news. I didn’t read my emails. I didn’t check Facebook, aside from my morning devotion with my Ephesians Bible study group. I didn’t even have the radio on! Those who know me know that I usually surround myself with some form of noise.  But this day just seemed like a day I should devote to God.

But to see God work so immediately – when I LISTENED to HIS LEADINGS! Too often I pray quickly something like, “LORD, You know my needs. Help me see what You have for me.” But God tells us in Matthew 7 that whatever we ask for we will receive, seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened. Jesus teaches us persistence in our prayer. God will provide for our daily needs and pour out His spiritual blessings.

Ephesians 3:12 says, Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

We are blessed to be able to come BOLDLY AND CONFIDENTLY into the presence of the KING of Kings! We can ask Him anything, talk to Him about everything because He cares. Instead of being afraid for our life, like Queen Esther was when she appeared before King Xerxes without being summoned; God invites us to come to Him ANYTIME with the assurance that He will welcome us and hear us.

Even though we can come BOLDLY and CONFIDENTLY into His presence, we must also surrender to Him and LISTEN for His prompting us to be in agreement with His Will for our lives.

I have spent the past two weeks almost pinching myself for God’s answers. Then I find that I’m chiding myself because I believe firmly that God is able to immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. Have I been limiting God by not BOLDLY ASKING WITH THE CONFIDENCE THAT HE GIVES ABUNDANTLY? Have I been too busy and distracted not to LISTEN?

I encourage you to find that special time with God. Whether it’s 10 minutes in the car while you’re waiting for kids to get out of volleyball or waiting at the doctor’s office, tune out all the distractions and focus on what He is saying to you.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

Celebrating the immeasurable blessings of God  ~ Faye

Linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

 

Trials Brings Joy & Hope

Rejoicing in our Trials

I have a young friend who has lived with painful health issues for many years. This person has taught and encouraged me by their reliance on God through the sufferings endured.  Bible verses that provide encouragement and a goal for this person are James 1:2-4:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The testimony of this quiet, young person is very powerful because through the suffering endured / persevered the depth of maturity in their faith has been an inspiration to me. There is an inner joy and peace. There is a quiet, gentle spirit that flows from the heart of this person.

This morning God reminded me of a photo and verse I have by my bedside to encourage me. (Funny how something can be right next to you for a long time and pretty soon you don’t see it.)

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. – Romans 5:3-8 

How many times do we feel incredibly helpless, and worse hopeless? How often do we let life overwhelm us? As believers in Christ we are told life will be filled with trials of many kinds. Life won’t always go the way we want it to. We should anticipate them, but we often can’t plan for the events. However, as one study said, we can be prepared for them when they occur by being rooted and grounded in God’s word. We need to remember that God is in control and as Ephesians 2:8-10 says

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

When trials happen, we should look for ways to see God at work in our lives bringing a maturity to our faith. And in the blessing of our maturing faith, we will become filled with the confident hope we have through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I’m not sure what God has in mind for me – thinking of this friend, being reminded of all these verses in 5 days, but focusing on the joy-filled life through Christ has been a blessing to my heart. And being rooted and established firmly in His word fills me with hope.

I pray that you are filled abundantly with the hope-filled joy given through God’s grace ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory’s Brag on God

Valued, Precious and Prized

I’m starting a 12-week Bible study on Ephesians today along with thousands of other women associated with Good Morning Girls  so I’m thinking there will be a few posts about Ephesians in the coming days. Today we looked at Chapter 1:1-4.

What a precious letter from Paul. He knows he is chosen directly by God to do God’s work of telling others of the unconditional and amazing love of Jesus Christ. You likely remember the Saul/Paul life-changing transformation at Damascus when God struck Saul, the persecutor of Christians, and over time, changed his heart to Paul, the lover of God. Paul knew he was chosen by God.

Blessed with Every Spiritual BlessingHis words in Ephesians 1:3 sing praises to God. First, because He is the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ. Second, because He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. We are chosen for salvation, adopted as His children, cleansed and forgiven, filled with the Holy Spirit who counsels and guides us in God’s will, and gives us the assurance of the fulfillment of the promise of eternal life with Christ.

There are days when we get down. Life hands us one difficulty after another. One person faces cancer, then medications cause difficult side effects and radiation needs to begin. Someone is unemployed and the temp job is calling others to work and not them. Another is dealing with her parent’s health, their own health issues, preparing for a wedding, while adjusting to financial stressors. Sometimes it’s just the bad cold that hits when you need all your physical and mental abilities to get through the day. It’s at those times that God can often seem very far away.

What really struck me from verse four  was that God loved us and chose us before He made the world. In my systematical thinking, that just doesn’t seem possible. It seems He would have made the universe, stepping through the days of creation and on day six He would start thinking of man, and knowing him. But He had a beautiful masterpiece all planned from the beginning that He alone could see how it all interweaved together.  I know Psalm 139 tells us He knew us before we were formed.  But I was really blessed with the thought that even before He created anything else in this universe, He loved and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.

There’s a song that tells how important we are to God – If I Could Look Through Your Eyes © 1989 Greg Gerguson

If I could look through Your eyes,

I’d see there’s no way to impress You, and I wouldn’t even try;

I’d stop tryin’ to prove I’m worthy, and I’d take off the disguise,

if I could look through Your eyes.

And I would see that I’m precious, I would know that I’m prized;

I’d know Your love never changes, if I could look through Your eyes.

If I saw my value to You,

I’d see Your love for me remains despite the foolish things I do;

and I’d see Your love for what it is: unshakeable and true,

if I saw my value to You.

And I would see that I’m precious, I would know that I’m prized;

I’d know Your love never changes, if I could look through Your eyes.

I want to see what You see – I want to recognize the treasured prize You say You see in me;

I want to give up tryin’ to earn the love You’re offering for free – I want to see what You see.

Lord, help me look through Your eyes.

Praise God for the abundant blessing of being loved and chosen by Him ~ Faye

The Adventure of Defeating Goliaths

I was struck by this quote of John Eldredge –

The only way to live in this adventure – with all its danger and unpredictability and immensely high stakes – is in an ongoing, intimate relationship with God.

HOW TRUE!

The Roller Coaster of LifeThe roller coaster adventure ride I have just finished over the past 12 days has been phenomenal. We celebrated incredible highs – the miracles of healing physically and relationally to precious time with family and friends – and then trudged through the lows – grief over a family member’s decisions and frustration with a body that just doesn’t do what I want it to do. Tomorrow we face the unknown as my husband goes in for a medical procedure. (But we do know God holds him in His grasp and goes ahead of us on this journey.)

God is so good. He led me to one of my journals where I looked at a devotional from In Touch based on 1 Samuel 17:45-47:

David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues His people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and He will give you to us!”

David declared victory over Goliath BEFORE the battle even started. He had faith that God would be with him because he was God’s servant. (Remember, at this time David was just a lowly shepherd boy and not King.) David wanted to serve God out of the deep love for God. David faced adventures of all kinds in his life, many were running for his life while others were because of his sinful ways. Yet God was with David all the time.

As you face the rollercoaster adventure of life, there will likely be giants along or even in the way. Remember to grab firmly to God, immerse yourself in His presence, fill your heart with His word and let Him minister to you. Be sure to have the right motive in facing your giant – a desire to follow, serve and honor God – no matter what lies ahead. Romans 8:37b … “overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

Praying you hang on tightly to the adventure God has planned for you and that you may see His blessings through them ~ Faye

Blessings Overflowing

God pours out His blessings on us every day. However, it seems during the holiday season we notice the blessings even more. I noticed this Sunday how I was blessed with hugs and warm greetings from numerous people, even ones I didn’t expect. I have been filled with God’s love through others since early yesterday morning. Those simple acts of caring were a reflection of God’s love and care and have left me filled to overflowing

There are days when I can be in a room filled with fellow believers in Christ and leave so alone. Was it them, or was it me? A quote I read yesterday challenged me, “…our behavior and heart condition do determine whether we receive the fullness of God’s blessings.” Is my heart and my attitude ready to openly receive? Or do I stay to the fringe of the room, talk to the same people always or keep too busy so that I don’t allow anyone close?

Yesterday God worked through so many people to bless me. And it wasn’t just happening to me.  I saw several small groups gathered listening, encouraging, crying with, hurting for, celebrating and sharing the love of God.

Isaiah 55:1-3 says,

Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink – even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk – it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to  me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. Come to Me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.

I was blessed yesterday to be filled with life, abundant life in Christ; shown through others who believe in Him. I’m not sure if it’s the season, or the fact that we focused on the Lord’s Supper and our brokenness being restored through Christ’s blood. Whatever it was, the Holy Spirit was moving among His people and working at filling them. What a blessing to be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ, freely given to all who believe, and easily shared when we are focused on Him.

May you enjoy God’s overflowing love and presence ~ Faye

Thanksliving Blessings

I am abundantly blessed!  I know this because I’ve just spent some time reviewing my journal.  It’s the time of year to prepare the annual Christmas letter. So reviewing some of the blessings and ways I’ve seen God’s hand has been such a wonderful reminder of His providential love and care.Remembering God's Blessings

For several years I’ve kept a journal in a planning calendar that gives me just enough space to fill in thoughts for each day.  Usually I don’t miss a day unless there are some health issues that keep me from it. There are days where the praise of seeing God’s hand at work just flow on the page. And there are days where I haven’t “seen” God, but I know He is providing for my needs. Thankful for a “warm furnace on a cold day, a bowl of hot soup, energy to exercise, or medicine to help improve lifestyle through chronic illness.”

However there was a period this year where I went from mid-May to July of not journaling. Some of this was because we were abundantly blessed to spend 5 weeks with our active 7 year old granddaughter who took up a lot of time. But most of it was a time of introspection, frustration and anger at God for “not being there,” at least not in the way I wanted Him to answer my prayers and show Himself to me. There were several big changes and losses that had happened from January on. I just wanted God to “give us a break” when it came to health, finances, relationships, etc. It seemed like we were living on a perpetual rollercoaster.

In retrospect I realize I didn’t want to write things down on paper that I was grateful for or ways I’d seen God because I was mad at Him. I was angry that God, Who is in control of all things in my life, was allowing these things to happen. During a time of vacation and rest with friends’ who live on a lake, I did a lot of thinking and praying about why I was so angry at God. I realized that wasn’t how I wanted to continue living. One of the first ways to change that was to pick up my journal and start noticing the blessings again.

Thoughts began with the simple things like “air conditioning, a bed to sleep in, and granddaughter cleaning up”. But quickly came the “see Your hand guiding me toward words of encouragement.” Things didn’t automatically get better because 3 days after starting the journaling, I had news that the meds to help the RA symptoms were potentially damaging my liver, and so had to change meds once again. But this time I stayed focus on the blessings. The first week back to journaling ends with “For the blessings of seeing people worship you – How Great Thou Art!”

We have a great and awesome God. We are abundantly blessed to have God’s Word to fill us, refresh us, encourage us, and draw us back to Him.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? No one—for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself.  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.   –  Romans 8:31-39

Thank You God, I am abundantly blessed that You do not leave me nor forsake me even when I turn my back on You in anger. You continue to hold out Your arms for me to come back to You. Thank You!

 Abundantly Blessed by God ~ Faye

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. www.Biblegateway.com

Transformation

New BeginningsWe are so blessed!  We are filled with “the surpassing riches of God’s grace” in His kindness to us (Ephesians 2:7). God loves us. When we turn around and love God and believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are given an incredible gift.

1 Corinthians 15:51-57 tells of this gift:

“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 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. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have the incredible blessing of receiving this gift, but also the important responsibility of sharing this gift with others. The Advent season begins this Sunday. We are remembering Christ’s birth and anticipating His Second Coming.  Share this wonderful news with others around you, so they too, may enjoy the blessing of being transformed through God’s grace.

Enjoying God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye

A Benefit of Believing

I had the privilege of teaching the high school Sunday school class this Sunday. We looked at an introduction to the Apostle’s Creed. I was reminded that this was and is used as part of our baptismal form today. The pastor says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” And an adult member says “I believe.” There are many churches and many denomations of believer throughout the world that confess the Apostle’s Creed:

CreationI believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places.  © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. http://www.crcna.org. Reprinted with permission.

I was reading 1 John 5:1-12 this morning and was once again blessed by John’s reminder that, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God.” We BELONG to Him. Is there anything more comforting? This world is full of stress and concerns. But we have this assurance: no matter what we may face out in the world, we belong to God. We are held in His grasp and nothing can snatch us away from Him.

I am so blessed by the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 1 in a statement – My only comfort in life and in death is that I belong, body and soul, to my faithful Savior,  Jesus Christ.

Praying you feel the blessing and comfort of belonging to God ~ Faye

Consider the Lilies

I’ve been struggling lately with worrying about tomorrow. Recently some symptoms have been showing up that have me concerned that my rheumatoid arthritis is progressing and treatment isn’t working like it has in the past. Having been down this road a few times, I’m ready to let my mind race ahead, search the Internet for what the symptoms might mean. Many of us live with chronic progressive illnesses that mean continual drug and treatment changes. Often it seems like the professionals are only guessing what will happen. Our bodies change frequently in ways we don’t want them too. Life gets very frustrating.

Some of us live with financial stresses. The paycheck doesn’t go far enough to meet the bills these days. Unexpected car repairs. Job layoffs and cutbacks. How can we be thankful when it’s so hard to get through each day? How in the world are we ever going to have a fun Christmas if we can’t pay what we have already?

God’s word tells us in Matthew 6:25-34

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birdsGod Provides. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew reminds us that God Provides for ALL our needs. He makes sure the birds and lilies are provided for. Imagine how much more God who loves those who believe Him will provide for us.  Psalm 23:1 says “The Lord is my shepherd; I have ALL I need.” I have all of my NEEDS met. I will rest on that promise, assured that He has today and tomorrow in His hands. He’s bigger than anything that I face in the future.

I find I’m singing the old song – His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Why do I feel discourged? Why do the shadows come? And why does my heart feel lonely, And long for heaven and home? When Jesus is my portion; A constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.  I sing because I’m happy. And I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.

Enjoy the day remembering God provides for all your needs ~ Faye 

Forever Grateful for God’s Call

What an incredible blessing of assurance – we HAVE the Holy Spirit at work within us, fighting for us, keeping us from temptation, helping us understand God’s word and helping us to discern truth from evil.

I have been reading I John 4:1-6 this week. At the beginning of the week I was concentrating more on how we can see false prophets by testing the spirits to see whether they were confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and is from God. But I had a problem with that because in James 2 it say, “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” So if it is just stating the words it wasn’t enough. So I realized the implied part is that this is GENUINE, heart-convicting and changing confession, not just saying the words.

I had some time today so I listened to John Piper’s message on Test the Spirits to See Whether They are of God, and I received some great insights into this passage that I want to share. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/test-the-spirits-to-see-whether-they-are-of-god

This isn’t just about discerning false prophets, but seeing who is a true believer/child of God. Verse 2 says we must hear them genuinely confess with their mouths and in their hearts, that Jesus Christ is LORD. Verse 6 encourages us to test people by seeing how receptive they are to allow sincere and truthful words to go into their heart.

Not one of us will hear the message of Christ’s salvation unless the Holy Spirit softens our heart and opens our ears to hear.  Not one of us will confess – sincerely and genuinely – from the heart that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh unless the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts and humbles us to accept the free gift of God’s grace through Jesus Christ, our LORD.

What a blessing to know that God loves us so much He calls us to Him. He gifts us with the Holy Spirit to work in us so that we can hear God’s call and receive His grace. I like how Piper concluded, “If this type of listening and confessing could be explained any other way, they would not be sure signs of the Spirit’s presence and power at work in us.”

Thinking of all this reminds me of the song – I’m Forever Grateful © 1985 Mark Altrogge.

You did not wait for me, to drawn near to You,

but You clothed Yourself with frail humanity.

You did not wait for me to cry out to You,

but You let me hear Your voice calling me.

And I’m forever grateful to You.

I’m forever grateful for the cross.

I’m forever grateful to You,

that You came to seek and save the lost.

What a wonderful blessing to know that God is at work in us so we can hear His invitation to come and worship Him, believe in Jesus Christ our Savior. What a great reminder of a way to pray for those who haven’t heard – that God will soften their hearts and open their ears to hear the words of TRUTH.

Enjoying the wonderful truth of the Holy Spirit’s continuing work in me and you 😉

God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye

The Blessings of Belonging

I was working on my Bible study from 1 John 4:1-6 where John speaks of being aware of false prophets. Christians need to know and test what they hear to make sure it is from God. 1 John 4:2 states, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”  John speaks often of former Christians who have once belonged, but have left the faith and now share a distorted view of God looking at half-truths.

I  was blessed by how the New Living Translation phrases verses 4-6:

4 But you belong to God, [emphasis mine] my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.

I grew up in a Christian home and was taught from early on the assurance found in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong–
body and soul,
in life and in death–
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to Him,
Christ, by His Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for Him.

Thinking about belonging to God, made me decide to Google “belonging to God” to see what others thought of the blessings of belonging. What a surprise that the first website that came back was someone who had belonged to God growing up in the Christian faith but somehow became disenchanted with God. This person IS one of the people John is warning about. He talks very intelligently about the Christian faith and other religious beliefs and backgrounds. Even as he quotes God’s Holy Word, he claims that he fully believes the sayings of “God’s Prophet.” Careful reading shows that he fully believes in Muhammad. He believes “God is the Olive Tree…” It’s no wonder John WARNS us to watch out for false prophets. This person quotes from the Qur’an and many of the verses are minor twists to God’s Word. If we don’t stay in God’s word, we can’t compare one with the other. Does part of the responsibility in belonging to God come with being in a close and growing relationship with Him? Most definitely.

Belonging has a sense of being enveloped in someone’s arms. What a wonderful picture to be held tightly in God’s grip of grace. I only have that sense of belonging because I believe in my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. God’s only Son, our Lord. Conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. Died and Rose again!

So what started out as a look at belonging because of the words of 1 John 4:4-6, ended up with the reality of the importance of staying true to God’s Word and being filled with the Spirit of God to be able to discern the false teachings and prophets. I think I came away from this study with two meanings for belonging – 1) the blessing of belonging to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, as God’s dearly loved child and 2) the blessings of belonging in God’s Word.

Praying you enjoy fully the blessing of BELONGING TO JESUS CHRIST, OUR SAVIOR ~ Faye

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