Week #4 ~ Words Worth Remembering

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 NIV

I grew up on a dairy farm where there was always work to be done. As a child I was fascinated by the equipment my dad & uncle used to accomplish it all, but the Bobcat skid-steer loader was one of my favorites. It was used for many tasks around the farm but its daily role was to clean the free-stall barn housing the milk cows with open stalls and wide aisles. Every day the aisles were scraped and the dregs scooped up and dumped into the manure spreader parked outside the door. It wasn’t difficult but could be tricky to maneuver around the corners. The stall railings were tall enough that the bucket had to be raised to get around them, but not too high.

I’m not sure what fascinated me about that job but as I watched Dad & Uncle Ken I wanted so badly to be trusted to do it myself. When the day finally came I was overjoyed. Dad felt I was finally old enough and experienced enough to take on the task. I boarded the Bobcat, started down the first aisle and carefully began the cleaning process while he milked inside. Things were looking good and I was pretty proud.

Freestall Barn

Then it happened. Rounding the corner I lifted the bucket, cleared the railing, and was home free…almost. As I manipulated the levers to get to the next aisle I turned…in the wrong direction. The crunch I heard announced the tearing of steel as a corner of the bucket went through the wall of the barn. I was devastated. I had messed up big time!

I don’t remember how long it took me to go into the milking parlor to confess to my dad. I don’t even remember exactly what he said. But I do remember he didn’t yell or berate me for being careless. He forgave me and told me to be more careful in the future.

I was blessed with parents who disciplined me but were always there no matter how badly I screwed up. Perhaps you did too, or maybe not. Maybe you avoided facing your parents when you did wrong, unsure of their reaction and fearing the consequences of your confession.

For me confessing to God was not so easy. I could somewhat predict my parents’ reactions because I knew them. I felt secure in their unconditional love even when they were upset with me. But I didn’t have the same security when it came to God. I knew Him mostly as a judge who gave us rules to follow and was unhappy with us when we failed. It was difficult to face Him with my wrongdoings, especially when I messed up the same thing over and over. I didn’t think He would keep forgiving me.

The more I’ve gotten to know God and learned from His Word I realize how much more He loves me than anyone here on earth. God created each of us and is proud of His creations. He knows our hearts even better than we know our own. God sees the motives of our hearts and when we confess our sins we can be certain He will forgive us and then forget the sins.

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His grace will help us to pick up the pieces of our mistakes and move on, leaving our sin behind us and moving forward in His grace. 

It takes a measure of faith, but remember if it’s in the Bible it’s true!!

I encourage you to hide this word in your heart throughout the coming week so you can bring it to mind when you need God’s grace and are reluctant to stand before Him.

blessings and peace to you this week!
Paula

Are We Listening?

Does anybody remember the days of chatting with your neighbor over the backyard fence? How ’bout kids communicating with two cups and a string? With all our modern communication devices I sometimes miss the days of simple conversation over a cup of coffee.

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Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of most of our advances in technology but what can be unfortunate is that these methods tend to eliminate the need to actually listen to the person communicating with us. When our conversations are via e-mail, texts and Facebook the person’s voice is eliminated, too often leaving much room for misinterpretation. Without the inflection in their voice we don’t hear what they’re really trying to say. Do you ever miss the warmth of a friend’s voice when all you do is exchange e-mails and texts?

I was thinking today about how I communicate with God. I read His Word and try to apply it to my life. I read books and blogs and listen to music and sermons that communicate His love for me and desires for my life.

And I pray.

Oh, wait…I mean I talk to God. Yeah, that’s what it is most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all greediness. I thank Him and praise Him as well as asking for help and blessings.

But it’s not really communicating unless I listen.

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Listening to God is foreign to many people and difficult for most of us. We have examples in the Bible of God speaking to His people in burning bushes (Exodus 3) and visions (Genesis 46:2-3). He even spoke through a donkey (Numbers 22:21-38)! But today I was thinking of how He spoke to the prophet Elijah one day when he was feeling like God had perhaps forgotten him.

It takes place in Elijah 19. Elijah has just won a big victory for the Lord by destroying prophets who were against Him. But one woman made Elijah run. She was an evil woman, and very powerful. She threatened to kill Elijah and he was so afraid that he ran away. He came to a cave and hid there, still fearing for his life. God sent an angel to feed Elijah and asked him why he was there. Elijah sort of whined about what he had been through and this was God’s reply:

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
(1 Kings 19: 11-13)

Elijah had to really listen to know that the Lord was there, then he went out to visit with God.

I believe God still longs to speak to us just like He did with Elijah and others in the Bible. But the conversation won’t be complete and meaningful if we are impatient and not still before Him, listening until we hear. It will take some practice, but give it a try. Perhaps 5 minutes at first. Just shut out the rest of the world, work on turning off your mind and listening. No agenda, just you and God. You may never hear His audible voice but you will know when He is communicating with you. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

How have you heard God’s voice in your life? Please share with us in a comment below.

blessings and peace to you as you listen for God’s voice in your life!
Paula

Week #3 ~ Words Worth Remembering

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.  Matthew 17:20

Faith. We all have it…but in what?

We have faith that when we sit in a chair it will not collapse.

We have faith that when we buy food at the grocery store it is safe to eat.

We usually have faith in people we love…until they let us down.

This week’s verse is so important to our lives of Christian faith. In this passage Jesus was talking to his disciples about why Jesus was able to drive a demon out of someone who the disciples had failed to. They were asking Him why He could when they could not. This was Jesus’ response to them.

Since we are Jesus’ disciples to this applies to us as well!

So that means that with faith nothing will be impossible for us.

NOTHING!

…no, not that.

…and not that either.

NOTHING!

This verse is not a ‘magic spell’ that means every wish of ours will be granted. It does mean however that if something — anything is in line with God’s will for our lives, our families, our churches…He will bring it to pass through us.

Do you know how big a mustard seed is?

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God’s not asking us to have a lot of faith…just a little. And through that faith He can do ANYTHING!!

(yes, even that)

What is the hardest area for you to trust and have faith that it can be accomplished? Let us know below and we’ll join in prayer with you!

blessings and peace to you as you hide this important word of faith in your heart.

Paula

Letting Go

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As I was reading my daily scripture this morning I saw something I never had before.

The scripture was a portion of a story I have heard for over 40 years. The story of Joseph. A few days ago he was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and became a servant in Egypt. Yesterday he was put in jail for something he didn’t do yet he was blessed by God and given interpretations for the dreams of two other prisoners. One of the prisoners was the Pharaoh’s cupbearer who was reinstated to his post and eventually remembered Joseph when the Pharaoh had a dream that couldn’t be interpreted by his advisors. God gave the interpretation to Joseph who was then made second in command in Egypt. The dream had been about seven years where the crops would prosper and then seven years of famine. God also gave Joseph the plan for making sure Egypt would be able to survive the years of famine. (See Genesis 37-41 for the way God tells it…the non-Paula’s condensed version)

Today was one of my favorite parts of the story (Genesis 42-45):

Joseph’s brothers (yes, the ones who sold him into slavery) came to Egypt to buy grain for their families. Joseph knew who they were but they did not recognize him and he did not reveal himself to them for quite some time. When he finally did they feared that Joseph would make them pay for what they had done to him so many years before. But instead Joseph introduced them to Pharaoh who was so excited he sent them back to bring their father, their wives and children to live in Egypt.

The next part is what I had never seen before:

ready?

Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours. Genesis 4:19-20

Did you see it?

The letting go part?

They were told to never mind about their belongings…to leave them behind…to let them go.

If they had taken the time to pack up everything they owned and tried to haul them from Canaan to Egypt it would have taken forever! And since what was waiting for them in Egypt was much finer than anything they had ever owned they wouldn’t miss what they left behind. Letting go allowed them to get to better things than they could imagine. Sure they still might have gotten there if they held on but it would have taken much longer and when they got to Egypt they probably would have found that they didn’t want/need what they held onto anyway.

Now do you see it?

All of a sudden I began to wonder what I’m holding onto that is keeping me from the best God has for me.

Attitudes? Fear? Uncertainty? Disbelief?

Wow. It makes a girl think!!

I’m going to work on this over the next few days, weeks, etc. If it makes you think too I encourage you to pray about it and I’m sure God will show each of us as we are open to Him. Then we can open our hands/hearts/minds and let go.

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I believe that even this side of Heaven God has amazing things for us that He longs to reveal. Let’s let go & see where He takes us!!

blessings and peace to you!

Paula

Week #2 ~ Words Worth Remembering

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 NIV

Micah was a prophet of God. Prophets were usually unpopular both with their own people and those who didn’t believe in the Lord. They delivered messages from God of reproach and correction as well as news of things to come.

In the case of Micah chapter 6 the people were sinning against the Lord and paying the consequences. When their sins are pointed out to them, instead of arguing their case they are compelled to seek how to please the Lord. In verses 6-7 the people are scrambling to come up with what they can do to please the Lord. They want to know what they can sacrifice to make Him happy with them. From burnt offerings to their firstborn sons the people long to know what will please God.

Then Micah speaks. He tells the people that they already know what to do. God has shown them through the ages what His heart’s desire is from His people. Verse 8 is what He wants from us. Yes, we need to confess our sins and follow His commandments. But honestly when we “walk humbly” with Him don’t we automatically do that in the process?

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This week I’m going to give you a glimpse into my journal and the application for my life in this verse:

“It’s so simple really. Yet I make it so complicated and difficult. Walking humbly with You — not jumping ahead or dragging my feet but side by side knowing Your will as You reveal it. I’m sorry I jump ahead. I’m sorry I lag behind and/or drag my feet. How will you reach others through me if I’m not opening myself up to You?”

What does this verse say to you? As you work on hiding it in your heart this week I hope you’ll share with us how God speaks to you and how it impacts your days.

blessings and peace to you!
Paula

Week #1 ~ Words Worth Remembering

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

This is one of those verses that I have sort of known but have not “hidden in my heart” until now. I believe it is truly the crux of our beliefs as Christians. When we have asked Jesus Christ to forgive our sins and become the leader of our life we are saved from our sins and will spend eternity with Him in Heaven. God desires that we live a life pleasing to Him and allow His Spirit to work in and through our lives to demonstrate who He is to anyone our lives touch.

But our salvation is not dependent on what we do.

It is a gift.

We can’t earn it.

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Salvation: deliverance from the power and effects of sin
(from Miriam-Webster Dictionary)

It can be a difficult concept to grasp, especially for those of us who like to have a list to follow and know that if we check off each thing we are closer to our goal. Salvation doesn’t work that way.

Look at the last part of this verse. It is what puts everything into perspective for me:

“it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

God knew that we humans would have a competitive spirit in us and by nature want to be better than our ‘neighbor’. With His gift of salvation He solved that dilemma for us. The exact same eternal gift is given to each person who desires it. What freedom that offers!

We can screw up and we don’t lose our salvation. When our hearts are set to please God and serve Him to the best of our abilities we can be assured of our place in Heaven. (How we use the other gifts God gives to us as individuals is a topic for another post!)

Praise God for His gift of salvation and eternal life!!

Please join me this week in committing this verse to memory and hiding it in our hearts. Do you have additional insight on this verse and how it impacts your life? Please share below!

blessings and peace to you as we begin this journey together!
Paula

GETTING STARTED IN 2013

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

It’s the first day of 2013 and the day of resolutions. As we flip the calendar page many of us will resolve to change our lives and our outlook. We will vow to eat better, exercise more, criticize less and overall have a positive attitude about life and those we love.

Looking ahead and resolving to make changes is a good thing. But it’s not enough. For better success we need to turn our resolutions into goals.

A resolution is a statement. A goal is a plan.

Goals are putting action to what we resolve to do. Instead of resolving to exercise more we can make a plan to walk 3 days a week at lunchtime. Or join a Zumba, Pilates, spinning or ______ class (fill in the blank with something you’ve always wanted to try). Be sure your goals are specific, manageable, achievable, realistic and time sensitive….or SMART! (we’ll talk more about this in future posts)

Are you overwhelmed already? Not sure where to start?

Don’t be in a hurry
but…
Do set a deadline.

January 1st doesn’t need to be the day we start our goals for the New Year. We can make it the day we start seeking God’s will and make the start date a few weeks later. Take time to allow the Lord to direct you in your planning. 

1. PRAY – ask God

•For guidance
•For God’s will
•For His blessings to be on your plans.

Jeremiah 29:11
Proverbs 16:3
Proverbs 19:21

2. START – Just put something down

•Write down things that are in your heart
•Think about what will bring you closer to the person God wants you to be.
•How can you make ‘required’ areas into goals? (work, school, chores)

3. PRAY
– Lay the goals you’ve set out before God


4. LISTEN
– Give God time to speak to you about your goals and whether He wants them to change.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1: 4-5

5. ADJUST – Make changes where needed

One of my downfalls each year is being overzealous in my goals. I want to set goals for so many areas of my life that I sometimes forget to ask the Lord if His desires are the same as mine. If not I need to humble myself before Him and make some changes.

Whatever your goals are for 2013 I want you to succeed!!

I’m no expert on goal planning, but am learning more and more each day. Each week of the new year I’m going to share with you a little of what I’ve learned and hope you’ll share as well. We can encourage each other as we set goals and as we work to achieve them.

May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4

What are your New Year’s traditions? Do you make resolutions and set goals? How can we help you with them this year?

I hope you’ll join me on a journey to see the Lord’s plans succeed in our lives in 2013!

blessings & peace to you…
Paula