The God I Wish you Knew

This weekend we are finishing up a series in church called “The God I wish you Knew”. Here is a little about the God I wish you knew.

He sent His one and only Son into this world which the enemy took dominion over with Adam & Eve’s sin in the Garden:
John 3:16-17 –  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

That Son, Jesus, was perfect in that He did not sin. He walked with sinners, though, and kept company with cheaters, thieves, prostitutes, and people so sick no one else would go near them:
Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Then that Son took up a cross and paid the price for OUR sins, to satisfy the debt we accrued with the devil by our sin. Yes, no matter what you have done in your life, God loves you right now, right where you are:
Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He took lashings for our spiritual and physical diseases:
1 Peter 2:24 – “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
Isaiah 53:5 – But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

He made a way for us to be in personal relationship with His Father:
John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Matthew 27:51 – And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

He left us with the Holy Spirit to direct us, guide us, teach and instruct us:
John 14:16-17 – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.

The God I wish you knew is truthful with us; He did not sugar coat anything. He never promised us an easy, perfect life. But He did promise He would help us:
John 16:33 (AMP) – I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

He sees your trials, and promises to restore what is broken in your life:
Joel 2:25 – And I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten—the hopping locust, the stripping locust, and the crawling locust, My great army which I sent among you.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

He says He will bless you double for what you’ve lost:
Zechariah 9:12 – Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles. 
Isaiah 61:7 – Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

The God I wish everyone knew is one who cares about whatever YOU care about – however big or little it may be, He will walk with you through it:
Psalm 139:5-6– You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

And when it’s a big thing, the God I wish you knew reaches down into the depths and pits of destruction and pulls you out:
Psalm 103:4 – …who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion…

He promises you a future filled with hope:
Jeremiah 29:11 –  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

He reminds us that His joy is our strength, in difficult seasons and in the daily little things:
Nehemiah 8:10 – This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

He wants a personal relationship with you in which you are not afraid of retribution from Him, but ask for what you need:
Hebrews 4:16 (AMP) – Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

The God I wish you knew gave us access to His power and authority:
John 14:13 – You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.
Luke 10:19 (AMP) – Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.

He has given us an inheritance:
Romans 8:17 – And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.
Ephesians 2:5-6 – even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

The God I wish you knew does not want you to be paralyzed by fear, but wants you to rest in His love:
Isaiah 41:10 – Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

He promises that His faithfulness is not limited, but it will continue from now until forever:
Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Isaiah 40:28 – Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

He is truthful:
Numbers 23:19 – God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

The God I wish you knew does not want you to be sick. He wants us to be well:
James 5:14-15 – Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
3 John 1:2 – Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

And if you doubt the power of any of these living Words, God tells us that these Words have a purpose, and they will accomplish that purpose!
Isaiah 55:11 (MSG) – So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

THE GOD I WISH YOU KNEW is one who takes brokenness and turns it into blessing. He created us to be in community with one another, lifting one another up, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and mourning with those who mourn.

The God I wish you knew… is GREAT.

If you have never received Jesus as your Savior – or if this is not the God you’ve known, but you’d like to – click here for a simple prayer to invite Him into your heart.

This post is dedicated to a dear sweet mommy friend of mine who is going through something that pierces the very heart and soul of us as women. You are loved my friend. ❤

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STAND Through the Storms

I am posting this mostly for myself because I want to be able to refer back to it. If you are going through a storm, and you feel like you’ve done all you can do physically, relationally, spiritually, every way, rest assured that the Lord is fighting your battle for you, and all that’s required of you now is to STAND in His presence and faithfulness, waiting and watching for the victory.

So, following is a list of scripture that assure me that God is fighting for me. I just have to remember to use my spiritual eyes instead of my physical ones. *See notes on Ephesians 6 and Romans 8:37.

The first in this list, Ephesians 6 tells you what exactly the armor of God is. If I’ve done this, I know I’m standing in a strong position.

Ephesians 6 – Put on the full armor of God… and, having done all, STAND. *Read the entire chapter*
Eph 6:13 – Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
AMPLIFIED – Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].

Exodus 14:14 – The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.
AMPLIFIED – The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest.

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.”
AMPLIFIED –  It is the Lord Who goes before you; He will [march] with you; He will not fail you or let you go or forsake you; [let there be no cowardice or flinching, but] fear not, neither become broken [in spirit—depressed, dismayed, and unnerved with alarm].

Deut 3:22 – You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.

Deut 20:4 – for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.

Isaiah 45:2 – I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.

Romans 8:31 – What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:37 – Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.
*Once, when I was studying this verse, I asked, what does it mean to be MORE than a conqueror? Since a conqueror is one who has fought and won the battle, how can I be MORE than a winner? And God impressed upon me that I am more than a conqueror because HE fights the battle, yet I get the victory. Did you get that? HE does the fighting… WE get the reward!

Psalm 145:14 – The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

2 Chronicles 20:17 – You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed.

Psalm 41:12 – But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever.

John 16:33 (AMP)-  I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Isaiah 30:18 – Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
(AMP) – And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you andshow loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!

Autumn Reflections

"For out of the fullness of his grace we have all received blessing upon blessing, favor upon favor, and grace upon grace." - John 1:16

“For out of the fullness of his grace we have all received blessing upon blessing, favor upon favor, and grace upon grace.” – John 1:16

A week or two ago, I was driving down a road in our neighborhood thinking how beautiful it was. You know, when the leaves on the trees form a colorful canopy over the street. Most of the leaves become a bright shade of yellow, red, orange, or a deep purple. Have you noticed, though, that not all the leaves change? Sometimes one side of the tree has leaves of bright colors, while the other side remains green. Often, the ones that get the best direct sunlight change colors, while the ones that remain in shadow stay a light green.

Distant trees in fall foliage. Acadia National Park, Maine, USA.

The trees look so FULL, and the branches so heavy, that it does seem natural for those leaves to fall off. Necessary, even.

Because this season is when the trees have grown to their greatest potential, and there’s no room left for anything else. Nothing new can grow. The branches droop with the fullness of growth.

So, the leaves fall, cascading onto the road and surrounding yards, turning brown and leaving the tree branches bare and lonely. And in Winter, the branches return to their upright position: tall and straight, reaching for whatever warmth the sun can reign down on them.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines... yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines… yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” – Habakkuk 3:17-18

Isn’t it interesting that during the time they have the least warmth from the air around them, the branches are still reaching for the sun, trusting that it is there, knowing they need to store up the nutrients it supplies for the next season?

And after Winter gives in to Spring, new leaves appear. New, fresh leaves that have not yet been on this earth.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Maybe we are like the trees, and our lives are like these seasons. God grows us and grows us, changing us as he shines his light into our life. The places we allow him to see and reign down upon change from a flat, consistent plateau to the new, bright, exciting color of the fullness of life. He grows us until we can’t fathom or hold anything else, and then he strips us of whatever we are too full of, making room for new growth. And if we continue to reach for him during those cold, bare seasons, then he births and brings forth something in us that we’ve never experienced before: new life.

Isn’t it interesting that the position of praise is raising one’s arms high, reaching for the heavens, just like the trees’ branches reaching for the sun?

Those winter seasons in our life, while usually the most difficult, are when we draw closest to the warmth of our Father. And when we come around the corner into Spring, we not only have room in our hearts to receive more of his grace, goodness, and blessings, but we are also prepared with strong tall branches to support new growth.

"So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." - 1 Corinthians 3:7

“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”                    – 1 Corinthians 3:7

Disclosure: None of the images above belong to me.

A Mother’s Take on Intimacy

God-couple-created-wallpaper_1920x1200
1 Corinthians 7:2,3
each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:5 – Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time…

On the sixth day of creation, God created us:
So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. 
– Genesis 1:27

God created Male…. and Female. Different, for different purposes.

He knew that men would desire physical intimacy more than women. This is not a surprise to Him, or an accident. He gave men a physical desire, and women an emotional desire.

We’ve all heard stories or statistics about how physical intimacy effects men and women differently – usually as a warning to non-married adolescents. But this was not an accident. God did it on purpose.

He created each of us individually ON purpose, FOR a purpose. Is it so hard to believe that he also created male and female tendencies on purpose and for a purpose? He had a plan.

He knew – in fact planned – that we women will be Proverbs 31 women.

Have you read Proverbs 31??? That woman did it all!

And while we may not necessarily check all the exact same boxes she did, or complete the same exact activities, or possess the exact same gifts she did, it is in our nature to do our best to give our best in every area of our lives – our relationships (building and maintaining them), our finances, our talents, our homes, to support our churches, families, friends, and communities. And God created us this way because He knew the world would need us to be this way.

But I think God knew we would be so easily tied up in these things, and so preoccupied taking care of others that we might forget to take care of and enjoy ourselves. (Sound like anyone you know?)

So he created male and female… “male and female He created them.”

There are times when if it were up to me, I would not take time for or spend money on a date night if my hubby did not suggest or assure me that we should and can. It’s not because I dislike his company. I just feel a responsibility to other things. You see, my natural instinct is to sacrifice my desires for someone or something else. And if I feel that way, I assume my husband will too.

But God did not create man this way – and that was the best thing He could’ve done. (If you know the God of the Universe, you will not be surprised at this.)

God created us women to be organizers, list-makers, Do-ers, Feel-ers, Listeners, Care-takers. He knew we would zero in on those roles that cause us to put others first, so He created man with a strong physical desire to help remind us to enjoy our husbands.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights… – James 1:17
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
– 1 Timothy 6:17

And God gave us a desire to be a mother. When asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, my desired occupation fluctuated throughout the years. But what never changed was the desire, above all, to be a mom. In fact, the older I got, the more my occupation was viewed through a filter: Can I be a mom and make this work, and how? Back then, of course, I had no idea what being a mother really meant or what it would entail. But even now that I know the challenges it presents and the patience it takes, it is the best, most enjoyable and rewarding ‘occupation’ I could ever have. I have a heart of a mother.

I can learn a new skill quickly. I can perform it efficiently. I can analyze it and decide if there is a better, quicker way. I can complete necessary tasks and excel above what is expected. I can even do all these things while simultaneously enjoying my work. I really do enjoy my job. In fact, I have found joy in every job I’ve held.

But I am not passionate about any job I’ve had – NONE of them – like I am about being my kids’ mom. I am truly honored to be their mom. I marvel every day at how blessed I am to have such amazing kids. Really – I don’t think I could ask for better ones. And it’s not because they’re perfect (they’re not). It’s in the unexpected talents. The funny phrases. The sudden, keen observations. The reactions when they learn something new. I wonder how I was chosen to be the mother to such marvelous little creatures. God could have chosen ANYONE to be their mother and to prepare them for entering the world as grown-ups, and He chose me. (ME!)

But most of all, being their mom is about LOVE. The instant love when you see and hold your baby for the first time. The pride that bubbles up, barely containable, every time they hit a milestone or extend a kind gesture. The growth that occurs in your own heart when you see siblings playing, helping, and loving one another. The decisions made not out of fear, but of confidence in His perfect love.

…And so God gave females the desire to have children and be a mother.

In case you weren’t aware, it just so happens that the only way to become a mother is through physical intimacy – the very thing our husbands most desire, not from an unhealthy or dirty intention our society has sometimes made it to be, but as a way of expressing the love between one another. (I suppose in this day and age you could argue we have science that can help us, but I’m referring to the first and most natural way, before the science existed.)

After we had our first I thought, “there is not ONE thing in the world more intimate than having a child together.”
A whole PERSON is created and literally birthed out of the love you have for one another.

Children = love.  In so many ways.

And so God created male and female… male and female He created them.

He gave man the physical desire to express love, and woman the desire for emotional love that creates, grows, and nurtures relationships.
He knew that neither of us on our own would be able to do both roles successfully. But each of our strengths, when they come together, complete the other.

male and female

And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh…”
– Genesis 2:23
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. 
– Psalm 127:3

A big shout out to my hubby, who always reminds me to slow down and enjoy life. ❤

Through a Lenten Lens

It’s funny how the season we’re in can change the way we see things.

This morning as I was praying for the hubs – I’ve been reading “The Power of a Praying Wife” – I came across Matthew 13:45-46:

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

This is a recurring theme in the bible. In Luke 5:11, we learn that the disciples left everything and followed Jesus. Luke 18:22 also tells of Jesus instructing a man who put his physical goods and fortune above God to sell all he had and give to the poor. Jesus was trying to set his heart right.

But today, instead of reading Matthew 13:45-6 as an instruction to US, I read it through Lenten eyes: God was actively seeking and pursuing beautiful souls throughout the Old Testament. When He found each of our souls, which were of great value to Him, He gave all He had – JESUS – and bought our souls for all eternity.

I am starting to love Lent more and more as the Holy Spirit prepares my heart to again celebrate the gift of forgiveness and grace that we could never earn on our own. We were slaves, and he bought our freedom!

Keeping God First Part 3

Happy Thanksgiving!!

My annual tradition when it comes to Christmas music is this: I always listen to Amy Grant’s first Christmas album FIRST, before any other Christmas music. Tuesday, since there was snow on the ground and I was feeling festive, I kicked off the Christmas music season a little early. I was reminded why I love this album: it focuses on the real Reason for the Season and family traditions instead of more commercial-sounding music (which has its place too!).

That said, what better day to finish the “Keeping God First” series than on Thanksgiving, when we are all reminded what matters most. Hope everyone has a blessed and enjoyable weekend!

**This is the third part in a three part series. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.**
**This series is part of a virtual bible study I did with a group of other ladies seeking to know God more. I will share more of these as I feel led.**

Battlefield of the Mind

Note: this week I’ve included reflection questions throughout the study, located in green. I hope they will help you examine your spirit; they can also be a guide to shape your email responses.

Our thoughts are where victory or failure begins. Inventions begin with a thought. Actions begin with a thought. Ideas, prayer, solutions all begin with a thought. On the other hand, depression, offense, unforgiveness, unhappiness also begin with our thoughts. If our goal is to keep God first, it is appropriate that we do so in the place where everything begins.

 1. What are you putting into your brain? The answer to this will give us answers to most of our problems. Let’s start with an analogy. Computers are programmed to follow certain protocols. When all they have are the instructions put there by the manufacturer of software, the software will run properly (positive input = positive output). However, if you somehow come in contact with a virus, it will download into your computer and cause software to stop working properly (negative input = negative output). Our brains function the same way. Positive input in our thought life leads to positive output in the physical. Negative input in our thought life leads to negative results in the physical. See Psalm 119:15 & Psalm 1:1-3. If we want to be successful in our daily lives, we need to spend time meditating on God’s Word. The point is to control what we think by controlling what we read, watch, and listen to. This might not mean eliminating everything except biblical teachings. Start small. Ask God, Are there areas I am spending time which could be more valuable spent somewhere else? Using the “Good, better, best” principle here is practical and very helpful.

2. What are you thinking about? How much of your time is spent thinking about, memorizing, or meditating on God’s Word? Think about areas in which you’re struggling. Most of these issues are likely impacted by what you believe about your situation, which is driven by what you’ve watched, read, or listened to on the subject; and possibly your past experiences. Thankfully there are answers in God’s Word for everything! Romans 12:2 says not to conform to this world, but be transformed by renewing our mind with God’s Word. Identifying our areas of struggle and counteracting our feelings with biblical truth will bring victory to us in those areas in the PHYSICAL. In what areas are YOU struggling?

Feeling inadequate? Meditate on scripture from last week about God’s perfection.

Feeling unhappy? Read Nehemiah 8:10 & John 10:10, about JOY.

Feeling inner chaos? Read Phil 4:7, about PEACE.

Feeling defeated? Read John 16:33, about VICTORY.

Philippians 4:8 reminds us what we should be thinking about.

Look at Ephesians 2:3. Don’t accept every thought that falls into your brain as truth. As I’ve said, most of our thoughts are based on past experiences or input. We shouldn’t follow our flesh, because we are not of this world. Remember, we are a soul, we have a spirit, and we live in a body. I think of it this way: our soul is the true image of who we are in Christ, who God created us to be. Our body is the physical shell in this world that our soul is housed in. Our spirit is what connects the two; it helps our true self, our soul, to manifest in the physical body on earth. Almost like a walkie talkie from our soul to our physical body. But if our walkie talkie is on the wrong channel (tuned to the WORLD and not the WORD), our soul will never manifest in our physical body. God’s Word describes the truth about our souls, so we need to know it to ensure our thoughts line up with it. The devil is tricky in this area. He is patient and will continue to lie to us in our thoughts until we believe him. You may be familiar with this: FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. Satan gives us false evidence, and we need to come against it with the weapon God gave us, His Word. If we let Satan control our thoughts, we allow him to control our life. In one of her teachings, Joyce said, “Satan usually deceives people into thinking the source of their misery or trouble is something other than what it really is.” He wants us to think our misery is due to our circumstances, but it’s really what’s INSIDE us. We can choose our attitudes and reactions. Are you actively and purposely changing your initial wrong reactions? What are you focusing on?

See Psalm 48:9. Like we saw in Matthew 14, looking at our problems doesn’t solve them. Do you look at your problems, or God’s solution, Jesus? David’s response to feeling depressed was to meditate on the good works God had done in the past. HE CHOSE TO CHANGE HIS MIND, even though he may not have FELT like it. We have to be an active participant in our own victory by not just allowing the Holy Spirit to work through God’s Word, but purposely meditating on it in our areas of weakness. Joyce says it this way: if we do what we can do, God will do what we can’t.

3. What are you dwelling on? See Mark 4:24. Jesus tells us that the effort we put into filling our mind is equal to the measure we will get back in rewards or failures. Basically, what we put INTO studying God’s Word is what we will get OUT of it. Renewing our mind as in Romans 12:2 is not something we do once. It is something we must do constantly. John 16:33 guarantees us that life will have trials – we will have new trials for each stage of life, but Psalm 30:5 is encouragement that joy comes in the morning! ‘Dwelling’ is also applicable in our interactions with others. When our husband, or child, does something to upset us, do we dwell on their mistakes, or do we remember and focus on the good they’ve done and their intentions?

Phil 4:8 tells us to meditate on what is lovely and lovable, kind and gracious, and worthy. So we have 2 options:

OPTION 1

Focus on: their bad behavior

Results:

– Anger, frustration, disappointment

– Harbor unforgiveness based on past experiences, repetitive lies from devil

– Pity Party

OPTION 2

Focus on: personal corrective, positive verses from God’s Word; their good intentions

Results:

– Peace, freedom from negative results in Option 1

– Quick forgiveness, outward love

– Holy satisfaction in following God’s Word

– Rewards from family & God

If you want things to change, you have to believe according to Matthew 8:13. Be positive by thinking positively! Positive thoughts encourage faith and hope; negative thoughts encourage fear and doubt. If your thoughts are negative, so will your mouth be, which causes your life to be as well.

Joyce says if you aren’t sure of God’s will for you, to simply think and pray this: “I don’t know God’s plan, but I know He loves me. Whatever He does will be good and I’ll be blessed.” (See Romans 8:28) She also says, “Our past may explain why we’re suffering, but we must not use it as an excuse to stay in bondage.”

4. How do I change? Read Ephesians 6:12 & John 8:31-32. As we’ve been seeing throughout this study, knowing and holding onto God’s Word is the answer to changing our life. Joshua 1:8 is biblical proof that meditating on God’s Word brings success in our life. Satan WILL lie to us, and the only way we’ll know when is to know God’s Word so we can compare the two. In Luke 4:1-13, we see how Jesus effectively used the Word to defeat Satan in the desert. We should remember his example when we are fighting spiritual battles. Here is another description of how it’s done: 2 Corinthians 10:5.
To give you a parting word of confidence: 1 Corinthians 10:13. Any time you start doubting if your life is capable of change, you can remember that God will be there to help pull us through.

Key Points

  • Do not accept every thought that falls in your head as truth. Instead use 2 Cor 10:5 & Jesus’ example in Luke 4:1-13 as a guideline.
  • We have to actively change our minds with the weapon of God’s Word.
  • The measure that we put into transforming our minds (Rom 12:2) will be equaled in the results we get OUT (Mark 4:24).
  • We cannot control our circumstances or the people around us. What we can and should control with God’s help are our thoughts and responses.

Closing Prayer
Lord, thank You for showing us where our true battles lie, and winning them for us! Thank you for including in Your Word the ways we can bring that victory into reality through our thoughts. Let these teachings sink into our spirits, and let us take this seriously and treat it with vital importance. Give us revelation when we are thinking thoughts that do not line up with your Word. Guide us to the places in the bible where we can find the answers to correct our bad thinking. Thank you for being the ultimate teacher! We love you Lord.

Keeping God First, pt 1

Mark 12:28-31 says God’s first commandment is to love HIM, with everything we are. 

Read Matthew 14:22-33. It is our CHOICE to activate the authority God has given us. When we keep our eyes and our focus on Jesus, the storms and distractions of life remain UNDER OUR FEET. But as soon as we start focusing on the waves (our problems, worries, etc.), we transfer our power to our problems, thereby letting them control US. We begin to sink as if into quicksand.

Here are excerpts from the song “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns:
The waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed…
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says do not be afraid…
And the waves they don’t seem so high
From on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus singing over me…
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth

When Jesus says, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” I detect some loving disappointment… He is promising us that if we only keep our eyes on HIM, He will not allow us to drown in the problems of this world. Taking our eyes off of Jesus temporarily will not prevent Him from reaching out and saving us from the storm if we ask. But if we never waver from our focus on him, we will have so much more peace and power in our lives.

How can we do this, though, amidst our busy lives?

Here are a few areas on which we can focus: In the morning, In eliminating other gods, In knowing God’s Word, In controlling our thoughts, In prayer, In deed, and In Submission. We will just discuss a few today.

In the morning. Read Psalm 5:3, 59:16, 88:13. Remember the lyrics to this well-known hymn: “In the morning when I rise… give me Jesus.” Ask God to help you remember HIM first every morning – to greet him with praise and thanksgiving for the gift of another day. These verses in Psalms remind us that when we cry out to God in the morning, He hears us. It doesn’t have to be very long or detailed at first. It takes 21 days to make a habit – if we start today that means in 3 weeks this will become a natural part of our waking. What simpler way is there to show God that He is first in our life than to speak to Him first every day? (My legalistic past self has to include that some days we may speak to our children first, if they wake us up. I don’t suggest ignoring them until you’ve prayed for half an hour. But in these instances remember to pray as you get them what they need.)

Practical ideas: KLove Radio has an app you can download for free on your phone. It has an alarm feature. Or, if you have an iPod or CD player for an alarm, you can have Christian songs wake you up as a reminder to praise God first. Keep a study book, a daily verse calendar, or your bible by your bed. Take 5 minutes every morning to meditate on a verse or passage. Write a ‘life verse’ on your bathroom mirror in dry erase marker. Or pin up a 3×5 card with a favorite bible verse somewhere you’ll see it when you first wake up.

Eliminate other gods. First, see Exodus 20:3. What are the gods in your life? TV? Video Games? Magazines? Celebrity news? Fiction stories? These days we don’t construct statues of idols or gods out of copper or gold. But identify places you spend your time which are yielding no fruit for you or your family, and you will find the gods that need to be eliminated from your life.

Practical ideas: Each time you find yourself wanting to do something that you know is keeping you from God’s best, refocus your attention by praying, praising, reciting a verse, or singing Christian songs. James 4:7 says if we submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee. Remember our verses from last week and know that you are stronger than the temptations you’re experiencing. Create a plan of action for every time you are tempted. For example, if you are sitting in front of the TV, stand up and go to a different room. Remove yourself from the temptation. Pray or praise God for His goodness, and ask Him for help. Then repeat a verse to yourself that empowers you to do the right thing. (A few good ones are: 1 Cor 10:13, Matt 26:41, Hebrews 2:18, Gal 6:9, Eph 6:11)

Know God’s Word. Now read Proverbs 7:2-3. If we don’t know what God’s word says, we cannot make wise decisions. We need to dive into our bibles and find as many verses as we can that allow us to make those wise decisions. Do you have a list of verses that come to mind in different situations? What verses do you refer back to when you are in times of trouble?

See Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 8:10. When we keep God’s Word in our hearts God says that HE WILL BE OUR GOD and WE WILL BE HIS PEOPLE. If we want to keep God first we have to know his Word; and if we know his Word, God claims us as his own. God’s Word connects us to him in a very real way. He takes a fatherly ownership of us when we know His Word; it causes Him to reign over our life.

Practical Ideas: Get a topical index companion book, which allows you to find verses that pertain to your situation quickly and easily. Joyce Meyer’s The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word is a great one. Many bibles also have a topical index in the back. You can also use this website: http://www.openbible.info/topics/

Key Points

  • God’s first commandment is to Love HIM with everything we are
  • Keeping our eyes on Jesus allows us to live with peace and victory
  • Eliminate distractions/ other gods
  • Learn God’s Word and memorize verses which bring life to you so you can repeat them in times of trouble

Supporting Verses

Mark 12:28-31: One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Psalm 5:3 (Amp): In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].

Psalm 59:16 (Amp): But I will sing of Your mighty strength and power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy and loving-kindness in the morning; for You have been to me a defense (a fortress and a high tower) and a refuge in the day of my distress.

Psalm 88:13: But to You I cry, O Lord; and in the morning shall my prayer come to meet You.

Exodus 20:3: You shall have no other gods before or besides Me.

Proverbs 7:2-3: Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

Jeremiah 31:33/ Hebrews 8:10: “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”