Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Thanks For Giving"

We recently did some reorganizing and placed a corner desk in our bedroom. I hung a dry erase board over my desk and since the moment it was hung Caleb has used it for a form of encouragement. He leaves me a new message everyday. I love it. His messages are so Caleb and definitely from the heart. "I love you mommy." "Love my chicken." "You are awesome." "You are super, super mom." Last week he left a message that really made me think. "Mom, thanks for giving birth to me." "Thanks for giving".... that is the phrase that has kept me thinking for the last week. It was my pleasure to give birth to him. It was my honor and I am the one who is thankful daily as he brings joy and fun to my life. "Thanks for giving"... How often do we stop and use that phrase? When was the last time you said to someone, "Thanks for giving." It is rare that I cook a meal and do not hear "thank you mom." My children are very good at saying thank you. I'm not sure if it is training or a truly intrinsic heart of thanks but nevertheless they say thank you. How often to I say "thanks for giving?" We have so much to be thankful for and yet so often we walk around with the idea that we deserve the things we receive and more. Or we walk around in a cloud of complaining, which I have been very guilty of lately. Giving birth to Caleb was my honor, but until last week he had never thanked me for it. I have never expected or even desired a thank you, but when he thought to thank me, it blessed me beyond measure. How many other people in our lives do not expect or even desire a "thanks" but would be blessed beyond measure to hear it? When was the last time you thanked God for sending His only son to die for you, thanked Jesus for paying your penalty on the cross, thanked Him for His unconditional love? These are things we should thank our Heavenly Father for daily. "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever." He didn't do these things so we would thank Him. He did them because He loves us. He delights in our praise and in our thanksgiving. How about others in our lives...when was the last time you thanked your husband for being the provider of your home? When was the last time you thanked your children for bringing joy to your life? When was the last time you thanked your pastor for his spiritual leadership and biblical instruction in your life? When was the last time you thanked your postman, your sanitation workers, your waitress or your check out person at Walmart? Yes, they are all serving in the areas God has called them to, but a little thanks goes a long way. Joshua and I were walking through his school the other day and I heard him say, "Hey, Mr. D, thanks for all you do." Mr. D takes care of their school. He does a great job and I have a feeling he does it with little recognition. I'm not sure if Joshua did this of his own accord or if he has been encouraged to thank Mr. D, but either way Joshua was not taking for-granted all that Mr. D does for them. "Thanks for giving Mr. D." Pray and ask the Lord to make you a person with a thankful heart. Pray about who you need to "thanks for giving." Father, make us a thankful people. May we never live expecting from you or from others, but may be always be found giving thanks."

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Temptations Of A Mud Puddle"

Monday night was a night of gifts in this mommy world I call home. It had been raining all day and soccer practice was cancelled. Normally this wouldn't have excited me so much but I had been away all weekend and was in need of some quality family time with my guys. Not to mention that being on the soccer fields multiple nights of the week is starting to lose its excitement now that we are almost 3 months into soccer season. So gift number one came in the way of an e-mail closing the soccer fields, but the next e-mail I got was even more exciting. Matt e-mailed and said, "How about a family night out on the town? We can take in a matinee movie and have dinner at chick-fil-a." I was so excited because anything that involves parting with money is usually my idea, so if Matt was on board with this, then WHOOO HOOOO. Let's go. I was cleaning a house that afternoon and was almost finished when I realized it was pouring down rain and my boys would be stepping off of the bus in just a minute. I scooted to the bus stop and then came back and left them in the car while I finished my spit and shine. Apparently I have neglected to tell my children that when you are watching a movie you do not turn the car off. I hopped in the car with the clock ticking quickly to 4:00 which is when Matthew has to be picked up from his robotics class. Click, click was all that I heard as I turned the key and tried to hurry on my way. A DEAD BATTERY! I never have a dead battery. I will spare you the rest of the details but needless to say we were late to get Matthew and 40 minutes later as I sat in my friends driveway with the rain pouring down, I was in NO mood for a night out on the town. We had already missed the matinee and I was bummed. I might have complained a little and I am pretty sure I sighed, huffed and I might have threatened to never even bother going to the movies again. As usual, (which is why I am so blessed) my wonderful husband helped me to put it all into perspective, rebuked me gently and suggested I go home shower, rest a few minutes and we would have dinner first and then catch the movie. After all it was only $4 more to go later. Sigh! All of this is what brings me to my favorite part of the evening. As we were leaving the movie all excited and talking about our favorite parts we opened the door to the continued downpour and Jacob spotted it. His eyes grew as big as golf balls, his mouth opened wide in excitement and he squealed "A MUD PUDDLE." I could see that it was taking every bit of the self-control he could muster to stay right where he was. "Look Mommy, a mud puddle." "Jacob, you want to jump into it don't you?" "Oh yeah!" He stood eyes a gaze at his greatest temptation in life. A MUD PUDDLE. I had to ask him another question, "Jacob, is it taking everything within you to not run and jump in that mud puddle." "Yes ma'am, I want to sooo bad." I thanked him for resisting the temptation and obeying what he knew in his heart was the standard. It was hard for him to resist the temptation to wallow in the mud, but with every ounce of his three year old body he resisted. I wish I exercised that much self-control. Just that day I gave into wallowing in the mud of self-pity, aggravation, bad attitudes and negative thoughts. I didn't resist the temptation, I just dove in head first and wallow, wallow, wallowed. Jacob knew the standard. He knew from experience that he was not allowed to jump and run and lay and wallow in mud puddles. He had given in once before and though it was fun for a little while, it was not fun having to suffer the consequences of riding home wet, cold and barely clothed and it was not fun for the one who had to clean him up. Sound familiar, wallowing in sin may at times bring momentary gratification, but in the end the mess we have to clean up is so not worth it. Not to mention, the greatest consequence of them all. The one who provided the clean up on the cross, is the one who suffers the most. He gave His life in order that we do not have to give into temptation any longer. 1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." Mark 14:38 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." We no longer have to give into temptation. We can resist it just as Jacob did. He made a choice NOT to wallow in that mud. As a matter of fact, he didn't even come close to it, but it took self-control. He fought it and he fought it hard. Oh how my heart longs to be a fighter like Jacob and resist the temptations of a mud puddle."

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Fear Not, For I Bring You Good News"

If someone told you that they possessed something that would make it possible to never fear again would you buy it sight unseen? If I assured you that once you possessed this you would not be afraid of failing marriages, wayward children, financial difficulties or even spiders that crawl in the bathtub would you want what I have? Maybe I'm just a sucker for doing things the easy way, but if you could guarantee me that all my fears would be washed away, I would knock you down and trip my own mother just to get to this miraculous, mysterious solution to that which has held me captive for so long. Luke 2:10 "But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good new of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord." We see right before this that even shepherds had fears. These men who were the protector of their flocks and fought off large scary animals could still become terrified. I realize that the angels were addressing this fear when they said, "Do not be afraid." But, I also believe they were addressing you and me that night as well. You see these angels knew "good news" that would lead to "great joy." I believe these angels were bringing more than a birth announcement. They were bringing peace, comfort and hope as they said "Do not be afraid." In other words, you do not have to fear anymore because today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. Jesus came to take away our sins once and for all. He came to take away our sins of fear and worry. It is possible to live a fearless, worry-free life when we live abiding in our Savior and rejoicing in His good news and basking in His great joy. When I first read this, it was as if the Lord said, "Monica DO NOT BE AFRAID, I have good news and His name is JESUS." Because of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ I do not have to fear. He came to conquer fear, he came to conquer worry, he came to conquer death, hell and the grave. In order to allow death,hell and the grave to be conquered in our lives we had to give our lives over to Him, repenting of our sins and walking in the new life He offers. The same is true with fear. We have to give that fear to Him, acknowledging that He is the supreme authority and that nothing happens in our lives that stumps God or catches Him off guard. He came to save us from ourselves. He came so that we could take captive every thought and make them obedient to Him. He came so that we no longer have to fear. For the believer, what is the worst that could happen in any situation? We would die and spend eternity with Him. How dare we think this is worst case scenario? Remember "to die is gain." I know this is a hard things for our earthly trained minds to comprehend, but remembering that better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere brings great rejoicing. Do Not Be Afraid!! I have good news and His name is Jesus and He HAS conquered your fears!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"The Battle Is Not Yours But God's" Part 3

If you remember when we left Jehoshaphat yesterday he had just called on the chorus as he appointed men to sing to the Lord as they went first into battle. Why would he do this? What was he thinking? Why send the worshippers in first? Shouldn't the praise and worship come later, like after the battle is won? Jehoshaphat knew he had a choice and he...

3. Jehoshaphat chose to Worship instead of worry.

Jehoshaphat knew that when we put the focus on God by worshipping, we take the focus off of ourselves and our circumstances. It is impossible to worry, fret and fear when you have entered into the presence of God, because those things are not of Him and in His presence they cannot abide. Worship also turns our hearts towards God and off of our circumstances.

I have shared this story before, but it always seems to touch my heart.

Matthew is our 11 year old and he has SEVERE allergies. Matthew says “Paul had a thorn in his flesh, so why not me?” Matthew has many bad nights, but one particular night that stands out to me was about a year ago. Matthew was having trouble breathing and his eyes were giving him fits. As I tucked him in we talked yet again about God’s purposes and how He works out all things for our good and His glory. Matthew was feeling a little defeated spiritually and physically miserable and asked if he could sleep in our room. His daddy thought he would do better in his own bed since it has all the protective allergen covers, so I tucked him in and went about my nightly duties. As I walked past Matthew’s room this is what I heard in his precious, tone deaf, off key whisper of a voice...How can I keep from singing Your praise?How can I ever say enough?How amazing is Your love?How can I keep from shouting Your name?I know I am loved by the King And it makes my heart want to sing" Tears began to stream from my eyes and I froze and listened to this precious young man sing praises to Jesus until he fell asleep. He didn't liay awake questioning why him? He did not cry or sulk or worry about tomorrow or wonder what his next allergy attack would hold. HE PRAISED! "How can I keep from singing your praise?" God used this incredible young man of God, who I am privileged to call my son, to remind me to praise Him in ALL circumstances. Matthew and Jehoshaphat know the same truth. Worship trumps worry and they praised.

In verse 22 we see that as they began to sing and praise, The Lord set ambushes against men that were invading them and they were defeated.

These vast armies began to destroy each other. Verse 24 tells us "When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground. No one had escaped." What they saw was God's promise fulfilled. Remember what God said in Verse 17, "You will not have to fight them." He said, go out and take your position, but this is my battle. I got this. I can handle this. You all just come and watch and be amazed. Once the battle was over they spent a few days collecting their plunder and praised the Lord all the while. They went home with joyful hearts, worshipful hearts. And verse 29 tells us that the fear of the Lord came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard what had happened. And I love verse 30. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side. N0ne of those those other Kingdoms dared to mess with them. (As my children would say, ya think?) They had witnessed or heard tell of how the Lord had fought that battle and they didn't want any part of it. Jehoshaphat was given rest.Why? Because he chose to handle it God's way. He chose to inquire of the Lord. He chose to fear God not man. Elisabeth Elliot says "The fear of God is the giving over to Him all that we are and have because He is perfectly trustworthy."

Is there anything troubling your heart today? Maybe it's financial stress, a physical ailment, a crumbling marriage, loneliness or a rebellious child? Maybe it is a broken relationship or a desired friendship? Maybe it is a feeling of inadequacy in something God has called you to do? From time to time I will ask my children, "Is something troubling your heart?" If your Father were to stand before you and say, "My child, what troubles your heart?" What would you say to Him? What is your fear tonight? What vast armies are seeking to attack you? What burden have you assumed that God never intended for you to carry? Are you willing to do what Jehoshaphat did?

1. Are you willing to remain steadfast in Him?

Psalms 62:5-8 "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."

2. Are you content to wait on Him?

Psalms 27:14 “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Psalms 33:20 “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.”

Psalm 38:15 “Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.”

3. Will you choose to worship instead of worry?

Psalms 100:2 “Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”

Psalms 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him”

Allow God to carry your burden. Give them to Him because He is completely trustworthy!

"The Battle Is Not Yours But God's" Part 2

Let me make a disclaimer....if you are in the Valdosta area and are attending the "Traditions" conference tomorrow night you will want to stop reading now. These blogs (part 1 and part2) are taken from portions of my talk for tomorrow night, so don't ruin the surprise. Go ahead, log off.

Ok, for the rest of you, I want to pick up where we left off yesterday. We learned that Jehoshaphat was steadfast in his faith. So here we are, Jehoshaphat has just prayed before this assembly and even though he was king, in humility before everyone he admitted that he did not know what to do, but He was going to keep his eyes on God.

I don't know about you guys, but I was a little disturbed at the lack of urgency King Jehoshaphat was experiencing here. Don't get me wrong, I am all for praying, but let's pray and move, move, move. But here we find...

2. Jehoshaphat was content to wait.

He had called his people together to pray and to fast. He prayed expressing to God that he did not know what to do and he waited.

This is an excerpt from a previous blog, but it applies to this point...

Sometimes the greatest lessons are not found in the answer, but in the wait that comes before. Is seems that many times in my life God has place me in the “wait.” We often see those times of “wait” as a punishment, a cruel joke or wasted time, but in reality the “wait” can be the greatest lesson of them all. Have you ever been there in that time of wait? Are you there now? I can think back on many times of waiting. I waited for God to bring me a mate, all the while He was preparing me and Matt for His great plan. I am thankful for those days of wait that brought us both to His feet and allowed us to first love Him intimately. I waited and waited to become pregnant, learning more lessons during that wait than I could have thought possible only to be blessed with 4 precious boys. Sometime layering the "waits" God was teaching me multiple lessons as over the years I have awaited test results from Cat-scans, MRI's Blood tests, Biopsies, not only on me but sometimes my husband and once my small child. Thinking that God would receive the greatest glory when the answers came and then realizing that the greatest lessons came in the time He called me to wait because sometimes the answers did not seem so great. We miss so many teachable moments by worrying away the days of waiting, when God desires for us to embrace the wait and sit at His feet. He is always teaching us. I believe that sometimes He allows the wait to remain until we become pliable and learn the lesson He had planned out for us.What is your wait today? Has God called you to a new discipline in your life? Are you waiting on a mate? Do you long to hold a child in your arms? Are you awaiting test results from your doctor? Maybe it is a financial need that you are trusting God to take care of? Whatever the weakness, allow Him to be your strength. Whatever the "wait," ask Him to teach you, mold you , shape you and allow you to remain until His will has been accomplished in your life. Sometimes the "wait" can be the most precious time you ever spend.

Jehoshaphat was content to wait and oh how quickly God answered. Jahziel stood up and this is what he said,

“Jehoshaphat, I have a word from the Lord. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not your, but God’s.” (Paraphase: So tomorrow, get up and march down there to where they are. Now they are going to be climbing up in pursuit of you, but) “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Do not be afraid or discouraged, go out to face them tomorrow and the Lord will be with you.”

I love the picture in this next verse, "Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground and all the other people fell in worship before the Lord." Can't you see the relief? He just fell on his face in worship and praise to God. And as they did this God led them into a time of praise. As a matter of fact, the next morning when they went out to meet their enemy, they were clinging to the promise that God had made to them, but Jehoshaphat had resolved that he did not want this to become about him so he kept them focused. He appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

I don't know much about wars and battles, but if I was in charge, I probably would not send the chorus out first. I would send my football team out. Send those big, strong, burly guys out and get this thing over with, but Jehoshaphat knew what he was doing.

Join me tomorrow to find out more.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"The Battle Is Not Yours, But God's" Part 1

“Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us. We assume a burden that God never intended for us to carry.”

I want to share with you the story of King Jehoshaphat and how he dealt with fear.

2 Chronicles 20:1-30 Here we have Jehoshaphat and he is approached by some men that have come to tell himA vast army is coming against you” and as a matter of fact Jehoshaphat it is already on its way.

Not, there is a possibility or we have heard rumors that...but they are close. They are coming to make war with you.

At this point Monica would have done one of 2 things...I would have snatched up my children, my scrapbooks and a few clothes and run like the wind or I would have started preparing for the fight. But what did Jehoshaphat do. Verse 3 says “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord and he proclaimed a fast for all of Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed they came from every town in Judah to seek him”

Vast armies are on there way and even though it says he was alarmed, Jehoshaphat “resolved” to inquire of the Lord. I love this word resolved (to fully determine to do something). With everything else that might possibly need doing to prepare for a war, Jehoshaphat “resolved” to pray. He was determined to inquire of the Lord as to what they should do. He called the people to fast and pray. And as these people all came together from different towns this is what Jehoshaphat prayed...

“LORD, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’ “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

1. Jehoshaphat was Steadfast in his faith.

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. Have you ever been there? Have you ever been faced with a situation where you had no idea what to do? Have you ever wanted to pull the covers over your head and hope it was all a bad dream? What are you facing today? Are you pulling the covers over your head or are you standing steadfast in your faith and “Inquiring of the Lord.”

Return tomorrow for Part 2.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"That's Kinda Creepy"

Is there such thing as a healthy fear? Can those two words be used in the same sentence? Jacob and I were sitting in the den when I noticed he was in deep thought. "Mommy, is Santa Claus going to come down that chimney and put presents under my tree." To which I replied, "That's how it works." (I don't have time today to share my thought on the whole Santa thing, so for now, just work with me.) Jacob asked again, "Santa is going to come down that chimney, right there, into my den and put presents under my tree." "Yep." was the answer he received, to which he replied, "That's just kinda creepy." If you think about it, he is right. It is a little creepy to think that some old man you do not know is going to come into your house via your fireplace, while you are asleep, creep around your den and leave presents under your tree. Jacob is right to be a little creeped out. There are some things that we need to be cautious of. For example some friends have recently share with me some of their fears which included, snakes, spiders, sharks, the dentist, mice, all of which are probably very rational things to fear. (Well, maybe not the dentist, but apparently anxiety ensues for this individual.) We should steer clear of snakes and spiders and any other animal which could be harmful to us. Sharks are a good thing to be cautious of too. Do not go too far out into the ocean. A few years back as my brother's family left for the beach my mother reminded him to watch out for sharks to which he replied, "Don't worry about us. If you hear of a shark attack it will not be us unless that shark climbs out of the ocean, along the sand, up the boardwalk and makes its way into the pool." He was being cautious. Not to mention they really like the pool. But what is the difference in being cautious and being afraid? I think the answer lies in your reaction and in how it effects your daily function. Do you lie awake at night thinking about shark attacks or in fear that a spider will crawl over you in the night? Are you so paralyzed by your fear of snakes that you don't go outside during snake season? When fear begins to control us it is not healthy. When we cease to allow God to be in control then we are no longer being cautious, we are living in fear. When because of our fears we act in ways that are contrary to scripture we can no longer hide it under the guise of caution, but must call it what it is...sin. It is ok to be cautious but it is not o.k. to allow that caution to turn into a paralyzing fear thus resulting in sin against a Holy God. Jacob is right to find the idea of Santa Claus creepy. He is not the first of our children to feel this way. I want my children to be cautious of creepy men finding their way into our home, but have we canceled Christmas or does Jacob lay awake at night in fear of this event. No! He is just a little creeped out. The only fear that is truly a healthy fear is our fear of God. Tomorrow we will look at what it means to fear God. To be quite honest,this concept has always be a little too much for me to rap my head around. I leave you with this to ponder until tomorrow. 'The fear of God is the giving over to Him all that we are and have because He is perfectly trustworthy." Elisabeth Elliot

Psalm 91He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will sayof the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling-- even the LORD, who is my refuge-- 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Fear Not"

Fear is a part of my earliest memories. As a child I was afraid someone was going to kidnap me. My daddy assured me they would bring me back. As I grew and matured so did my fears...what if I get in a car wreck, what if I never get a date, what if someone I love dies, what if I never get married, what if this incredible man I married dies, what if I never have children, what if one of my children dies, what if someone breaks into my house and steals my children, what if we lose our job, what if we run out of money...the what if’s of fear consumed my life and robbed me of my joy. The fear began to paralyze me. I even had our children sleep in our room for fear that someone would break in and harm them. I would freak out anytime they were in the car with someone else and I couldn’t reach them. The fears were irrational, but they were very real to me. Fear can be described as..

Fear -Forsaking Every Attitude that’s Rational

Fear - Forgetting, Even the Almighty’s Reality

My fears began to pass down to the next day about 2 years ago our oldest, Matthew, asked me if he could ride his bike through the neighborhood. As any rational mother would do I began to make excuses as to why he should stay inside and play video games that encourage couch potatoes, fried brains and childhood obesity. What if you go too far and a car backs Mom, I will watch. What if you have a flat tire and you have no way to call Mom, I just checked the tires and they are fine. Then Matthew said something I will never forget...”Mommy the bible says do not worry and living in the ‘what ifs’ of life is the same as worry. We are suppose to think on whatsoever things are true. The what if’s of life are not true.” Guess who had a wonderful bike ride that afternoon and guess who fell on their face in confession before a Holy God. You see for years I have prayed that God would give me victory of my fears. Again and again I had prayed, knowing that He is all powerful and that He is a victorious God. I wanted victory and I prayed for victory. That day God began to show me that I had, had victory over fear for a long time. The victory was found in obedience. Victory comes when we are obedient to His word. He calls us to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. He says to think on whatsoever things are true, right, noble, pure, lovely, excellent or praise worthy. He tells us not to worry about tomorrow because He loves us. He tells us that He has ordained our lives with a hope and a purpose. He promises that He has come so that we may have life to the fullest. He specifically says “FEAR NOT for I am with you.” He commands us to FEAR NOT. Why do we not have victory over fear? Because we choose to walk in disobedience. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard to obey and we must walk in obedience moment by moment, day by day, but when we obey we walk in victory. He came so that we might live victorious lives. The victory is ours. Will we choose to obey. Are we willing to lay every fear that paralyzes at His feet and allow Him to strengthen us and uphold us? Will we allow Him to be God and uphold us with His righteous right hand? He is waiting for our obedience. The victory will follow.

Isaiah 41:10 (New International Version)

10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Moving Out of The Rocking Chair"

I have heard it said that worry is like a rocking chair "it will give you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere." For the last 37 years I have been sitting in that rocking chair and I am ready to move to the lazy boy. Worrying has never prevented the circumstances that preyed on my mind. Worrying has never accomplished anything other than a lack of faith. Worry is saying "God, I don't think you are big enough to handle this so let me hold onto it and rock for a little while." I read a quote in one of my favorite books "Keep A Quiet Heart" by Elisabeth Elliot. She quotes H.E. Manning and this is what he said, "Perhaps because waiting for an inevitable disaster is worse than the disaster itself." How true is this statement? There have been many times in my life that the very thing I feared, the very thing that kept me awake was really nothing to be feared at all. I can remember being pregnant with our first child and being sent home on a Wednesday and told to return the next morning to be induced. At the time we lived in the country where the closest hospital was 45 minutes away so during the last week we stayed with my parents in Auburn. I can remember sitting on the edge of the bed that night crying on my daddy's shoulder because I was so afraid of the unknown. I had never had a baby before. I didn't know what to expect. I knew it wasn't comfortable. I knew pain was involved, but how much pain? Was it unbearable? I had so many unanswered questions. My daddy prayed for me and assured me that I would be ok and at the end I would hold a precious gift. I don't remember much else after that point and now 11 years later I don't even remember the labor, the pain or the C-Section. I was so worried. I was so afraid. I cried. I was restless and in the end the thing I feared the most produced an unspeakable joy as I held that precious 9lb 9oz baby in my arms. I almost allowed the worry and the fear to completely rob me of one of God's greatest blessings. How many other times have I done this? Let's just say, I'm not that good in math and I can't count that high. I have learned time and time again over the years that when God calls you to walk through something He will carry you all the way. His grace is enough! So then why do we waste the days and nights away by being fearful and worrying? Because we are a sinful people who have chosen to trust in ourselves. Jeremiah 17:5-8 "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will like in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought not cease to yield fruit." We see three people in this verse. 1. The man who trusts in his own strength. 2. The man who trusts in the Lord. 3. The man whose TRUST IS THE LORD. Often I find myself behind door number 1. "I've got this God. I can handle it." Keep rocking Monica, it gives you something to do, but you are going nowhere. This is such a lack of faith and almost blasphemy to think that I could do a better job than my Almighty Father. When I am walking by faith and not by sight I find myself behind door number 2. I trust in the Lord. I take my circumstances to Him. I trust him with my fears and worries. The worries come, I lay them at His feet and I walk away. My goal however is to go behind door number 3 and padlock it behind me. I want to be a woman whose TRUST IS THE LORD. The picture of this woman is one of strength. She is ALWAYS at peace because her trust is the Lord. She doesn't have to fear the heat of the coming days because she is so grounded in her faith in her sovereign God that she has no question about the uncertainty of the future. Her root system is deep and nourished. She never stops bearing fruit. She is so focused and rooted in Him that fear and worry have no room to exist. The Lord IS her trust and she holds tightly and firmly to that. The Lord is leading me on a journey of recognizing my sin of fear and worry and learning to make Him my TRUST. It is my prayer that I would always choose door number 3. Join me all this week as we continue to unfold truths from His word concerning fear and worry.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"If He is my provider then why do I work so hard?"

Do you ever look at the bottom line of the checkbook and wonder how you will ever be able to pay all those bills? Do you ever feel like you work and work and accomplish nothing more than spinning that hamster wheel just a little faster? Do you ever become discouraged and have trouble seeing God's hand of provision through all the tears? I struggle with all of these things. I know that He is Jehovah Jireh my provider. I know that He supplies all of my needs according to His glorious riches, but sometimes His provision comes in different ways than I expect. God has been changing the way I view His provision. I often walk to the mailbox hoping to find His provision in the form of a large check signed GOD. In my mind dollar signs will fix it all and that would be His hand of provision. Last week the Lord revealed to me that HE is Jehovah Jireh our provider and He provides according to His will. Sometimes that comes through providing strength to work harder. He provides self-control to do without those things we think we need. He provides opportunities for us to sacrifice and give of ourselves. He promises to provide, and somehow we have defined that provision with the things of this world. The things that truly don't matter. The things that one day will pass away. We are investing in the provision of the temporal when He is calling us to invest in the eternal. His word tells us that if we have food and clothing we will be content with that. I Timothy 6:8 "But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." Well, that must have been for the people of His day. There is no way He would expect us to be content with just food and clothing. Right? Matthew 8:20 says "Foxes have holes and birds have nest, but the son of man has no place to lay his head." We are called to be followers of Jesus Christ and He was content with no place to lay His head. He was not seeking worldly provision. How can we say we are following Him when we seek the things of this world more than we seek Him? Don't get me wrong, I fully believe that every good and perfect gift comes down from above. I believe that He provides monetarily and provides the things of this world that we need. I am just being very honest in telling you that there are times I stomp my feet, cry and even question..."If He is Jehovah Jireh our provider then why do we have to work so hard?" My precious husband works very hard and works multiple jobs to provide for his family. I get angry about that sometimes. I don't know who I am really angry with, but I am. I have been known to say to my heavenly Father..."If you are Jehovah Jireh our provider then why is Matt the one working so hard and going without sleep?" Go ahead and gasp. I know it was a horrid thing to pray and showed a real lack of faith, but I'm being as transparent as I know how to be. I was sharing these feelings with my husband one day and He said..."I never question God's hand of provision in my life. He says he will provide and He does and He is. He is providing me with the energy to work this hard. He provides me with strength. He provides me with opportunities to grow more like Him and He is providing me with opportunities to depend completely on Him. He IS our provider." WOW and yes I know I am blessed to be married to this man!!! Conviction ensued and yet there are days when I still struggle with this. Just last week I was "worried" about the future. Do you ever do that? I have been known on occasion to worry about the unknown. I was sharing my heart with my Savior and He revealed a precious truth to me. "My precious daughter, how can you still doubt my hand of provision in your life when I have provided the greatest provision of all. I sent my son. I HAVE PROVIDED!!" My heart broke. How could I doubt that he would provide something so simple as dollar signs when He provided a substitute for my sin? How could I doubt His hand of provision when He sent His ONLY son to die in order to provide? What kind of faith must I have? I am doubting the creator of this universe, the one who spoke and brought it all into existence. The words keep ringing in my ears...I HAVE PROVIDED, I HAVE PROVIDED!! If he chose to never provide another thing HE HAS PROVIDED!!! May I NEVER doubt His hand again. By doubting His hand, I am doubting His love and what greater love could there be than to sacrifice your son and not just give Him up, but watch Him be crucified, watch Him suffer, watch Him bleed and watch Him die. He is Jehovah Jireh our provider!!! May we live as though we believe this.