Author Archives: Paula Davis

Magnificat

This morning I will be singing the Magnificat in church. It’s also known as Mary’s Song found in Luke 1: 46-55.

As I reflect on the lyrics of the song I can’t help but wonder at the precious state of Mary’s heart and desire that for myself.

Magnificat

It is remarkable to me that this young woman whose life had just been turned upside down would have an attitude of praise and openness to whatever God willed in her life. She was facing several months of people not understanding what was going on in her life and inside her body. Certainly some would not believe that she was still pure and the child growing within her was from the Holy Spirit – a gift, not a shame.

In spite of whatever Mary’s external circumstances were her heart was filled with joy and gratitude. We don’t see Mary taking credit for being good enough to be the mother of Jesus but rather a humble spirit and wonder that Her Lord would choose her for His remarkable plan. And she gave all the glory to Him.

Here is a link to one of the most beautiful renditions I have heard of this song.

Practicing to sing this song brings to mind that I also have much for which to glorify the Lord. He has also looked on me with kindness and mercy and has done great things for me. Too often I forget to give Him the glory for who I am and who He is creating me to be.

I also have been reflecting on whether or not I allow God to put His Spirit inside me to use me as He desires. Am I open as Mary was to carry out His plan for me or do I drag my feet, ignore His voice or shrink back from fear?

How about you?

God’s plans for us are not always grandiose but they are always important. Whether it’s taking the time to listen to someone who needs to talk, lending a hand to someone as they carry packages or drop a note in the mail or e-mail letting someone know you are thinking of them and praying for them, each can make a difference and may be just the touch from God someone needed.

And like Mary, God may have something bigger planned for your life. Are you open to Him using you to lead others to Christ, to go to the mission field, lead a bible study or write a book? Don’t let your opinion of yourself and your abilities hinder what the Lord desires to do through you.

My greatest desire this morning is to keep the attitude of Mary’s Song in my heart and carry it in my spirit not only throughout today but each day of the coming year.

“For He has looked with mercy on my lowliness.”

“And Holy…Holy…Holy is His Name.”

 

Bringing Christmas Into Focus

It’s the first day of December. Are you in the Christmas spirit?

I love Christmas. I love the music, decorating, choosing the right gifts for family and friends, and especially baking. It’s a special time of year where a certain magic seems to be in the air. I enjoy being busy and seeing all the projects and activities come together.

But this year as I thought about the month ahead I found myself overwhelmed. We have some extra-special celebrations this December, adding a twist to an already busy month. The added planning and preparations began to suck away some of my Christmas spirit.

christmas bag

My Christmas was getting out of focus.

Then during my quiet time I was reminded of a woman in the bible who allowed things to get a little out of focus.

Jesus and his disciples went on their way. Jesus came to a village where a woman named Martha lived. She welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary.

Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was busy with all the things that had to be done. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, my sister has left me to do the work by myself. Don’t you care? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered. “You are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better. And it will not be taken away from her.”

                                                                                                                            Luke 10:38-42 NIV

This interaction seems to reflect my conflicting emotions about the Christmas season this year. As I make my lists and check them twice (or 3 or 4 times) I realize that all the things on my lists are good things. There is nothing wrong with any of them. The challenge comes when I focus on my lists instead of allowing the Lord to set my focus.

Jesus corrected Martha and encouraged her to look at her sister in a different way. Mary had chosen what was best and Martha was worried about things that were not important in the eyes of Jesus. The more I reflect on this passage the more I think Mary gets a bad rap. At first glance it appears that she is lazy and doesn’t care about what needs to be done to host all the people who have arrived at their home.

Perhaps the reality is Mary did care and knew just as much as Martha about what needed to be done. It was her focus that was different. Mary knew the most important thing was spending time with Jesus. Not listening from the other room as He spoke, picking up a word or two here and there, but sitting at His feet and soaking in what He had to teach her and those around her. Mary knew the people would wait to be fed and no one cared if there were cobwebs in the corner.

Possibly it’s not that Mary didn’t care about the preparations, she just didn’t allow them to distract her.

My nature is to be more like Martha. I love helping to create special times for others and doing things that will bless them. There’s nothing wrong with blessing others – God appreciates it as this is how He created me.

The key is focus. If all my plans distract me from focusing on Jesus and what He has to teach me then like Martha I am worried and troubled about things that aren’t needed.

Keeping my focus on Jesus brings all other things into perspective.

How is your focus as the Christmas season begins? I hope you are beginning each day with some time with the Lord, seeking what is best for your day in His eyes then allowing everything else falls into place.

I’m going to work on my focus. I pray the Lord will show me where to focus my mind, energy, and especially my prayers to have the most impact for Him. I’ll share what He shows me with all of you throughout the month and I hope you’ll share with me what He shows you.

Together let’s focus on CHRISTmas and all we have to learn from the babe in the manger.

 

blessings and peace to you…
Paula

 

An Attitude of Thanksgiving

Sometimes when I look back to my pre-teen and teenage years I wonder how my parents made it through with two girls a little more than two years apart in age. My sister and I are opposites in many ways but one thing we shared in those years was a dislike for helping out around the house and especially emptying the dishwasher. I chuckle to myself about it now since it generally takes less than 10 minutes to put a full load of dishes away and we were only delegated to each empty one rack! Oh the complaining and the arguments over who had to empty the bottom rack (that is where the silverware is after all, thus creating MORE work!)

I don’t know how many times one of us was told “you’d better change your attitude!”

Luke 6:45 tells us:

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Have you noticed the difference in what comes out of your mouth when you are stressed compared to when you are relaxed and having a good time? When we are under a great deal of stress (external or internal) we often choose to concentrate on the negative instead of the positive. Soon the negative will affect our attitude and without even realizing they slip out of our mouths.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 charges us

Rejoice always,

pray continually,

give thanks in all circumstances

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

WHAT?

This is a big order to be dished up for us! After all, we all have troubles and times when things aren’t really going so well. And God’s word says we are to give thanks?

Notice the verse doesn’t say to give thanks about all circumstances but in all circumstances.

I think it all comes down to attitude.

GAGood1

When the attitude of our heart is one of thankfulness to God for what we have and His grace and faithfulness to us it is easier to give thanks even when things are not going well around us.

As Thanksgiving approaches we focus more on being thankful. That is a good thing. But what about 3 weeks from today? Thanksgiving Day will have passed and many will be recovering from Black Friday shopping. The Christmas season will officially be in full-swing. The stress will increase and it will be more difficult to give thanks.

It is said that it takes 21 days to make a habit and 21 days to break a habit.

We have just that – 21 days!

Let’s spend part of each of the coming days giving thanks and asking God to help us change our attitudes to one of being thankful in ALL circumstances. Over these 3 weeks we will certainly see a change in our hearts, minds and actions! We will have a habit of thanks which will become an attitude of thanks.

Don’t think of it as a chore but as an opportunity.

Attitudes are catchy. Make it your goal to spread an attitude of thanks.

blessings & peace…and thankfulness for all of you!
Paula

Choose Thanks

It’s November 1st and now that Halloween is behind us many have moved on to Christmas. Radio stations have started playing Christmas carols and Christmas movies and specials are playing on TV. I have heard that some people are putting up their Christmas trees and other decorations now that November is here.

I love Christmas. I love everything about it (except the push of buying more, more, more). I started my Christmas shopping months ago and have begun making Christmas gifts. BUT  I fear in the excitement of Christmas only a few weeks away we will overlook the season of thanks that comes with Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving TreeAs the years go by I realize how blessed I am.

Life has its challenges, but is also filled with so many good things.

Too often I forget to look at my day through eyes of thanks. Our culture seems to push our focus towards the negative. It makes it easy to see what’s wrong with life (and people) and harder to see what is good. When I focus on being grateful instead of critical I find more peace in my puzzle of life.

So….

For the month of November I’m going to choose thanks. Each day I’m going to share something I’m thankful for through a photo or thought.

I’m also going to make a point to thank someone for what they do and/or their impact on my life.   Thank you bubbleI invite you to join me! On Facebook or Instagram let’s use #choosethanks to connect with others who are sharing things for which they are thankful.

I know this is not an original thought or activity. But the more we can flood our environment with positive, thankful thoughts and images the more we will be encouraged and perhaps encourage others to live a life of gratitude.

Will you Choose Thanks with me this November?

 

blessings and peace…and thanks for all of you!
Paula

A List of Consequences

Newton’s third law of motion states:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

He was, of course talking about physics and forces; the push-pull concept. What goes up must come down.

summer 2

When humans are involved the reaction is not always equal. Sometimes we feel the consequence for action is too severe. Other times our reaction to the actions of someone else is extreme. When emotions get involved our instantaneous  reactions can be so severe we wish we could take them back. We even find consequences to our reactions!

However, consequences are not always bad.

In the gospels we find a list of consequences in what we know as the Sermon on the Mount:

1. When we are poor in spirit,
   we gain the kingdom of heaven.

As we become more interested in holiness – in what the Holy Spirit desires for us we will be rewarded with eternity in God’s perfect Heaven.

2. When we mourn,
   we will be comforted.

God’s heart breaks for us when we mourn. Not only when bad things happen in our lives, but when we mourn over our wrong attitudes and actions, or when we mourn for others’ misfortune and a world that doesn’t know the love of God. He will comfort us and strengthen us to go on and shows us how we can make a difference in our world.

 3. When we are meek,
    we will inherit the earth.

Our society would have us believe that the strongest and most forceful people are the most influential and will go the farthest in this world. That is the opposite of God’s plan. As we follow Jesus’ example of being meek and putting the needs of others ahead of our own desires we will gain influence that money can’t buy not only in God’s kingdom but here on earth as well.

 4. When we hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   we will be filled.

It is the desire of God’s heart for us to be like Him. When we desire honesty, integrity and goodness we will be filled with blessings beyond measure. As it says in Luke 6:38:

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

5. When we are merciful,
    we will be shown mercy.

Our human tendencies are to treat others the way we are treated – to do unto others the way they do to us. But God’s kingdom is the opposite of this. Matthew 7:12 tells us:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…

Showing mercy, not retaliation is God’s desire for us. As we show mercy to others we will be shown mercy and goodness in return.

6. When we are pure in heart,
   we will see God.

Ah to be pure in heart all the time. I long to never think the wrong think or act or speak badly towards anyone. While that is my desire sin gets in the way. But when the desire of our hearts is to be pure and when we come before the Lord with confession, repentance and crave His will in our lives we will see all that He has for us and will be rewarded with a glimpse of His kingdom.

7. When we act as peacemakers,
    we will be called children of God.

Holding our tongues, allowing someone else to have their way, being the neutral buffer in the middle of a disagreement – all of these things help keep the peace. People will notice when we are peaceful in the middle of a tumultuous world and ask us about our actions. Then we can point others to God, our Father and perhaps see them become children of God as well.

8. When we are persecuted because of righteousness,
    we are given the kingdom of heaven.

No one likes to be made fun of for being different. When we act righteous in a world where people revel in sinful ways we most likely will be. In extreme cases persecution may even lead to death. We may not see the reward for living right here on earth but one day will be given the reward of the kingdom of Heaven.

This is a tall order, a list we cannot achieve on our own. But through the Spirit of God and His power we will see glimpses of perfection and the consequences will always be positive!

Blessings and peace to you,
Paula

 

Simple Faith

 “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

 

I don’t know about you, but I often make faith too complicated!

In a recent post we talked about feeling far away from God and how going back to the basics can often bring us closer to Him. Seeing the little things all around us that we often take for granted can refresh our relationship with Him. You can read the complete post here:  http://pauladavispeace.com/2014/07/20/feeling-far-away/

Returning to the simplicity of childhood can also have us rethinking how we approach our faith.

I heard a story of two little girls whose great-grandfather died unexpectedly. They were very sad that they didn’t get a chance to say, “good-bye” to him and tell him they loved him. Since they had faith their great-grandfather was in Heaven with Jesus they asked their grandmother if they could send him a message. The grandmother got a couple of balloons, wrote notes on them and the girls released them to float up to Heaven. These little ones had faith that their messages would be delivered and they were at peace. The reality that scientifically there is no way the balloons could have reached their intended destination did not diminish their faith and thankfully someone loved them enough to not squelch that simple faith by reality that didn’t really matter at that moment.

hand balloon

“Faith is different from proof; the latter is human, the former is a gift from God.”
Blaise Pascal

These girls didn’t need proof to believe. Their faith was enough.

How often do we allow our faith to be complicated by our environment and past experiences?

Maybe it’s different for you, but somewhere along the way through life I stopped believing that God can do ANYTHING. I like to think I believe it but when looking at seemingly impossible situations I find myself doubting more than believing. I look at the environment and circumstances around me instead of relying on simple faith.

Now, I’m not suggesting simple faith is easy but rather straightforward and uncomplicated.

 “Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.”
Andrew Murray

Some say those with simple faith see life through the proverbial rose-colored glasses. Often ridiculed, even from other Christians because they aren’t trying to figure everything out for themselves when in reality we see them living a more uncomplicated and less stressful life. Simple faith Expects from God the answers to questions we can’t answer ourselves and leaves them in His hand until the answer is received. Simple faith reaches out to Jesus as the woman subject to bleeding for 12 years knew that just a touch  from Him would heal her (Matthew 9:20-21) and believing it for our own circumstances.

Simple faith is getting out of God’s way.  It doesn’t put restrictions on God and His abilities or allow environment and circumstances to negate His power. It doesn’t think, only believes. Then stands back and watches God do amazing things.

I’m working on making my faith less complicated and returning to the simple faith I had as a child. I’m trying more and more to be aware of the voices in my head that negate the power God could have if I would only believe.

And I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
    He hears their cry and saves them.  Psalm 145:19

Do you know the freedom and blessings of a simple faith? Will you share them with us?

If your faith like mine tends to be too complicated, will you join me in returning to the simple faith God desires to have?

I look forward to hearing the wonderful results you see as well!

 

Blessings & peace to you as you continue on your journey of faith…
Paula

Truth or…

There was a game show on TV when I was young named “Truth or Consequences”. The premise of the show was that contestants had to answer a question (usually trivia that no one would really know) or face the consequence, which was some embarrassing and entertaining stunt. Many episodes had people reunited with friends or family they had not seen in years.

 

I got to thinking about this show when I saw a quote the other day.

Between Ears

How much of what goes on in our brains is ramblings about ourselves and others that are not grounded in truth?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.        
                                                                   2 Corinthians 10:5

 

Scripture tells us to take EVERY thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. This verse can certainly be applied to our sinfulness and thoughts that are not pleasing to God. We can also take it a step further and realize that our thoughts should always be based in truth.

 

For example, while getting dressed in the morning I often take a look in the full-length mirror and immediately see things about my body that I don’t like. There is nothing wrong with the observation, it’s what I do with it that makes a difference in the rest of my day, and what I do about what I don’t like.

 

If I force myself to concentrate on the truth about my body I will remember that Psalm 139 tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that God’s works are wonderful. (v. 14) Therefore the truth is that while my body isn’t all that God (or I) desire it to be it is healthy and created by a wonderful God. I have the use of all 5 senses and the ability to fully use my arms and legs. There is also truth for me that I have not been obedient in keeping my body healthy and I have a responsibility to change that. BUT that does not make me any less valuable to God or in society.

 

Another area where I struggle with keeping the truth in my brain is when I don’t think I meet up to expectations. I begin to talk down to myself because I didn’t complete a task well enough or I perceive I have let someone down. This is an area that can bring on a downward spiral so quickly and the enemy looks forward to it.

 

It is important to recognize the truth in a situation like this and consider how my emotions are perhaps a part of the situation. Some questions I am learning to ask myself are:

1. Did I set my expectations of myself too high?
Most of the time I expect perfection of myself, or set my goals at a level that is realistic for someone else but not necessarily for me. If the truth is that the expectations were realistic I need to examine what I should have done differently, face up to any consequences and forgive myself, moving forward instead of staying stuck in beating myself up.

2. Did I truly let someone down or were there perceptions of my performance different from my own?
It can be so easy to think you know what someone expects from you without knowing the truth. I find that many times someone else is pleased with the job I did when I can only see how I could have done it better. Knowing the truth of expectations and perceptions can keep relationships healthy and our thoughts in check.

3. What does scripture say about this situation?
Whatever we do and think should always come back to the truth of scripture. If we aren’t sure of God’s expectations we should search scripture to find the truth. Sometimes a trusted friend or adviser can give us insight we can’t find for ourselves.

 

If I had to choose one scripture as the key to keeping the space between our ears healthy it would be this one:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

My heart’s desire is to not only hide this scripture in my heart but to learn it well enough that it is on the tip of my tongue and forefront in my mind as the enemy tries to lie to me and get inside my head.

I’m praying for you today that the truth would be in your mind and heart and that God’s truth would set you free today!

 

Blessings & Peace to you!
Paula

 

 

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