Be Prepared

I’ve been working on a devotional series called, “Dream Big”. For the last two days we’ve been focusing on being prepared to move forward in accomplishing the dream that God has placed in your heart. One Scripture is I Kings 2:4, “So that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.” David was nearing the end of his reign as king and he was giving instructions to Solomon about what he needed to do in order to follow his father in leading Israel. God had instructed David to tell his son that he needed to walk in righteousness and in truth before the Lord so that God could bless him and prosper him.

We also need to walk before God in truth, being careful that our lives are righteous before Him. Part of being careful with how we live our lives or see that we realize the fruition of the dreams God has placed in us is being prepared for whatever may come our way. Solomon had to watch his attitude, his actions, his words, everything he did needed to be pure before God so that he would be prepared to take over after David in ruling the nation.

The other Bible Journaling verse is from Matthew 25:4, “but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.” In this parable, Jesus is telling His listeners that they needed to be prepared for the end of days with He would return to take Believers to Heaven at the end of time. The Bible says that no one knows when that will be, even Jesus doesn’t know, only God the Father. In the parable, 10 virgins were waiting to go to the wedding feast. The foolish virgins didn’t bring enough oil for the long wait. The wise (or prudent) virgins brought enough oil for their lamps to be able to burn throughout the night while they waited for the bridegroom to come and call them to the feast. The foolish virgins ran out of oil and asked the wise virgins for some oil. But the wise told the foolish that if they shared their oil with them there would not be enough for all of them throughout the night and told the foolish virgins to go buy oil for themselves. While they were out getting oil, the bridegroom came and called the virgins to the feast. When the foolish virgins came to the door of the banquet hall where the feast was, they were turned away because the bridegroom didn’t know who they were and wouldn’t let them in. This is a forecasting of what it will be like for those who haven’t repented of their sins and asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. Jesus was telling them that because no one knows when He would return, they needed to be prepared for His return at any moment.

Preparation is part of seeing the fulfillment of the dreams that God has placed in us. What do we need to do to lay a foundation for our God-birthed dreams to come to fruition? Maybe God has laid upon your heart to be a music minister, have you invested in music lessons, or going to college to get a degree in music so that you will be effective in reaching others for Christ through your music? Or God may have called you to be a minister, what steps have you taken to prepare yourself for being the shepherd of a flock at a local church? Have you set down and written out a plan?

I must admit, I’m really bad at planning out things when it comes to seeing where I will be in five or ten years. My attitude has basically been, God is going to do what He wants to regardless of what my plans are. But there is wisdom in sitting down and at least researching what it is that needs to be done for your dream to be realized. That’s something I’m working on…I’m definitely not there yet. My husband, on the other hand, is a planner! He plans everything out to the very last detail, going over the plan repeatedly. I’m more spontaneous and have a tendency to do things on the spur of the moment. That doesn’t work too well in planning a future.

So, preparation is key in seeing our dreams realized and become successful. Sit down, take a few minutes, and think about what it is that needs to be done to build a foundation for your dream and then step out in faith and accomplish that which God has put in your heart.

 

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Waymaker

 

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, and especially in Pentecostal churches, there is always a focus on the work of the Holy Spirit. Our First Lady (pastor’s wife for those not familiar with that term) is also our worship leader and she brought a new song to us. The song is called, Waymaker, and the congregation just soaked that song in! It has been running through my mind since yesterday, and I’m letting it sink deep into my soul.

I’ve included a link to a You Tube video on this song, and if you’re not used to Pentecostal services, it could be a little overwhelming, but don’t let it scare you because God will touch your soul deeply!  https://youtu.be/KeXcHAurv5A

Isaiah 43:19 says, “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” (NASB) God has promised to make a way for us in whatever situation we find ourselves. We can have confidence in knowing that whatever is going on in our lives is not unnoticed by God. He knows, and He cares. We have several people in our congregation that are currently going through some pretty devastating illnesses. Some are going through difficult circumstances in their lives, but all of these people have strong faith that God will see them through. One of my friend’s is right now battling leukemia and praising God for a Christian doctor who prays with her. God is working a miracle in her life. She has a form of leukemia that, as far as I know, has no cure, BUT GOD, is healing her! The last report she gave us was that the chemo is working and the tests on her blood shows great improvement. We all are believing God that she will beat the predictions of the doctors and that God will heal her completely!

Each of us has gone through some devastating things, financial crisis, marriage difficulties, loss of loved ones, horrible illnesses, situations that seem unsurmountable! But God has promised that He is doing a new thing in our lives, He’s making a way, a new path, creating circumstances to be placed in our lives to bring about a greater faith in Him and for our good! I love the part of the song that says, “Even when I don’t feel it, You’re still working! You never stop, never stop working!” That is such a powerful phrase that we can lean upon. We can trust that He will keep us in His hand, He will guide us, He will make new paths for us to travel and new ways for us to trust Him.

Pastor’s sermon was called, “Infusion”, and he talked about allowing the Holy Spirit to be infused into our hearts and into our lives so that others may see Jesus in us, and that we receive power from the Holy Spirit to reach others for Him. Our purpose as Believers is to witness. That can take various forms, one on one speaking to someone about God, living in a manner that reflects God in our lives, through music, through the spoken word on radio and television stations, and even in the written word through books, devotionals, websites, and blogs. Whatever way we witness, it is our “job” if you will, to reach others for Christ. Jesus’ last words to His disciples was to “Go into all the world and make disciples.” (Matthew 28:19)

So, as I think about infusing the Holy Spirit into my life, I also am allowing the song to be infused into my heart. It’s a mantra of praise, worship, encouragement, and declaration that God is in control, He knows everything I’m going through, and I don’t have to worry or be afraid, because I know He is a Waymaker and He has me in the palm of His hand!

 

Mother’s Day Thoughts

 

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and it’s been fun to see all the greetings to everyone yesterday on Facebook. I’ve been thinking about this Mother’s Day and the ones I’ve experienced in the past.

Let me begin by saying I’m extremely blessed! I have three stepchildren and six grandchildren that I am extremely proud of. They are my delight and fill my heart with so much love. It hasn’t always been such.

Before I married their father/grandfather, I had no children or grandchildren to dote on. My first husband and I never had kids. When I was 30 I got pregnant and my husband and I were through the moon with excitement, but at eight weeks I miscarried and then went immediately into pre-mature menopause. The doctor said I would never have children. I was so heartbroken! I wanted kids so badly. When my husband and I went to premarital counseling before we were married, the pastor asked us how many kids we wanted …. we said 6, and now we were left with none! We tried for adoption and both attempts ended in dead ends…no children.

Mother’s Day became a very difficult day for me. Even though I had a baby in Heaven, I couldn’t call myself a Mom. I had nothing to show for it, no children that I could point to and say, “They are mine”, no pictures in a frame to show. One Mother’s Day was extremely hard because a lady in our church had dealt with infertility for many years, and like me, Mother’s Day was hard for her, but on this day, her heart was full because she and her husband had adopted a little boy. As she related her story to the congregation, tears started to fall down my face and I was a basket case. My poor husband didn’t know what to do. A couple of the ladies in our church saw my distress and after church, came up to me to love on me and encourage me. This happened 20 years after I had lost my baby. Some people would think that by that time I would have been able to get over it, but there’s one thing every mother who has lost a baby knows, and that is, you never get over it.

A couple of years ago on Mother’s Day the First Lady of our church (our pastor’s wife) was having every mother write her name on a slip of paper for a drawing she was going to do for a prize. She asked if I was a mother, I told her I had a baby in Heaven. The next thing out of her mouth was like a revelation to me! She said, “Well then, that makes you a mother, put your name down.” I had never thought I could call myself a Mom! It was like I was given permission to say I was a Mom.

After my husband passed away I was left alone for six years, and then God brought to me a most wonderful man! We fell in love and got married, and when I married him, I got an immediate family complete with children and grandchildren! The Bible says that God will give you the desires of your heart when you are committed to Him. Well, God went above and beyond ANYTHING I could even imagine! I have two beautiful stepdaughters, three handsome stepsons, and six incredible grandchildren.

Today my heart is full and my cup overflows! As I was thinking about my kids (even though I didn’t birth them, I consider them my kids) I began to think of my daughters and how proud I am of them as I watch them be Mom to their kids. They are strong women of God and are teaching their children to love God and are exhibiting before them the characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman. Proverbs 31:29 (NASB) says, “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” Amber and Kristen, I am so proud of you both, and the example you display before your families, of a woman after God’s own heart. I am honored to call you my daughters.  Your mothers are to be praised for raising such amazing women of God!

You are my Shield

 

Last Sunday our church sang the song, “Shield about me”, and today it’s been running through my head. In my Bible Journaling today I looked for the Scripture that the song is based on, Psalm 3:3, “But thou O Lord, art my shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” (KJV) What a comfort to know that He is my shield! He is my protector, He encourages me, He plans good for me, He is my buckler and standard! How can I do nothing less than love Him!

As I write this, I have the song playing over and over, and my soul is at rest and in a place of peace. The words of the song follow:

Thou O Lord are a shield about me,
You’re my glory,
You’re the lifter of my head.
Thou O Lord are a shield about me,
You’re my glory,
You’re the lifter of my head.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
You’re the lifter of my head.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
You’re the lifter of my head.

All glory and honor go to Him! Can you imagine what Heaven will be like, as we who are Born Again Believers all join together around His throne proclaiming, “Holy, Holy!” The idea is just more than I can even think of. I think of those in my family who have gone before me, and my heart is so full at the thought of me and my loved ones gathered together praising God and worshipping Him. How awesome is that!

I love the thought that He is my shield! He protects me from all kinds of things, but I think mostly He protects me from myself. I can get myself into so much trouble, but He is always there reminding me of the pathway I should take and not the one I’m determined to take. He leads me and guides my steps. He is the lifter of my head! I think that means that He encourages me to the point of letting me know how special I am to Him and that He loves me more than I could ever imagine. And so, I can do no more than praise Him! Hallelujah!

This is a proclamation of praise and adoration to the One who died for me, who loves me more than anyone else, who walks with me day by day, who rejoices with me when I am happy and cries with me when I am sad. He knows me intimately, every fiber of my being has been created by Him, and He is on my side! He watches over me and I am so amazed at what He has done and who He is!

Thank you, Jesus, for being my best friend, Savior, Lord, Master, and King. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross for me, for loving me so much that you gave completely of yourself to save me. I love you and worship you.

Dream Big

 

I am beginning a new devotion series this month from my Momentum classes on the Bible Journaling Ministries website. Tracie Rollins is our administrator and she teaches the classes. This month she challenged us to “Dream Big.” She illustrated an instance in her life where she didn’t feel that she had a dream for her life. I must admit, I have felt that way myself. As I look back at my life, those times where I felt I had nothing of significance to look forward to in my life were times when I didn’t realize that what I was doing at that point was orchestrated by God, as mundane as it seemed.

I must say that at this time in my life, I am living my dream! All the things that have transpired in my life have led to this moment. When I was married to my first husband we were involved in Christian television and radio, him in engineering, me mostly in volunteering and later in working as a Correspondent for TCT Ministries. My passion has always been ministry in one form or another, be it music or broadcasting. I find I have been fulfilling the need for music ministry as part of the worship team at my church. That passion began when I was younger and was part of a Christian singing group that was affiliated with the Christian radio station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, WVCY, where I met my first husband. We both sang as part of the group and both had a love for music and fulfilled our ministry in that manner.

Later, as a part of TCT, I began to develop a desire to minister to people through the written word. I could interact with our viewers through letters, and for a time, I wrote devotionals to headline our Prayer Board. I found I really enjoyed pouring out to our viewers through those devotionals.

One Sunday an evangelist came to our church and called people to the front if they needed prayer. At the time I was going through a very hard time in my life as my husband had passed away and life was very difficult, and so I went forward for prayer. The evangelist stopped in front of me and before he prayed for me he asked me if I journaled. I told him I did but wasn’t very good at it. He then spoke a prophetic word over me, stating that I would be reaching people all over the world in my journaling. To say I was a little stunned is an understatement. I had never had anyone say a prophetic word over me before and wasn’t quite sure how to process it. I thought about this, asking God, just what I should do, how did I know for sure God had impressed this evangelist to speak this over my life, and just kept the whole thing to myself for a little while.

I sought out the help of my Pastor and he directed me to the wife of our Youth Pastor because she was an avid journaler. She gave me some pointers and told me to make it my own. So, I began journaling just for myself in a notebook. My girlfriend also journaled, and she also encouraged me. Somewhere along the line I came across a blog and the seeds for writing a blog started to grow. I began writing this blog, but due to some things going on in my life at the time, I just wasn’t very consistent. Then I met a man through a Christian dating website, and he had his own website and his ministry is reaching people through his website with the love of Jesus. We began dating and the more we talked about ministry, and then fell in love and eventually were engaged and now are married, God impressed upon me that we would be doing ministry together, he on his website, me on my blog. About that same time, I found Bible Journaling. I then began incorporating the Bible Journaling in with my blog.

I have found that prophetic word over my life spoken so many years ago has come to fruition. It’s a small beginning, but I have a reader from Finland following my blog, as well as a few others. The Bible says, “Do not despise these small beginnings…” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)

Today’s Bible Journaling is from Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (NASB) When we put our focus on God, serve Him with our whole heart, love and respect Him, then He will give us the desires of our heart. Often, He will give us that thing that is a passion, because that is His passion for us. When we commit to following His will for our lives, we find that our steps have been “ordered of the Lord.” (KJV)

What is your dream? What drives you? Seek out God for the answer, write down a plan of action, and then carry it out, asking God for His guidance along the pathway.

Jesus Shows Up in Your Storm!

Have you ever read a passage in Scripture and wondered what the main focus or take away from it was? That was the case when I read John 6:15-21. On the surface it’s the story of Jesus walking out on the water in the storm and the disciples were in the boat scared that what they were seeing was a ghost coming at them. Now, I read this over and over and I have to admit, I couldn’t see what the purpose of this story was or why it was recounted in the Bible. I journaled this page months ago, but never finished because I just couldn’t see what I needed to see, and I just put it away for a while.

To set the backdrop of the story, Jesus had just performed a miracle by feeding the five thousand. That’s pretty amazing considering all He had to start with was five barley loaves and two fish. Now, the disciples saw this miracle as did everyone else there. Then people were talking about making Him king right then and there, and He discerned that they would take Him by force to make Him king, so He went to a mountain to pray and to be alone. The disciples decided to get in the boat and head across the sea. When they got to the middle of the sea a very strong storm blew in. That’s when they saw Jesus walking on the water. The storm was all around them and they were becoming fearful of the storm, but when they saw Jesus walking on the water, they really were frightened because they didn’t know it was Him, they thought He was a ghost. One commentary I read said that they were more afraid of the ghost than they were the fierceness of the storm.

The main take away I got from this encounter is, when you are going through a really hard trial, a storm if you will, Jesus shows up in the middle of the storm. One of the commentaries I read said that when Jesus went to the mountain, He was praying for the disciples to be strong in the storm, to not be fearful. So, that tells me that He knows I’m in the storm and He is interceding for me to be strong in spite of all that is going on around me. But then, He shows up in the middle of the storm to assuage my fears, to comfort me, and give me strength to persevere through that trial to victory on the other side.

The story goes on to say that once Jesus got in the boat, they immediately landed on shore to where they were going. Remember, the storm was in the middle of the sea, where they were, about halfway between where they left to where they were going…and the Bible says, immediately the boat landed on shore. Jesus performed another miracle just for the disciples, to strengthen their faith.

Now, does this mean that when Jesus shows up the trial is over immediately? Not necessarily. It’s possible that He would end the struggle right then and there, but sometimes we have more to work through. The good part of that is, He is standing right there encouraging us, helping us to endure and that builds up our faith, so that the next time we go through a trial, we are stronger going into it than we were the last trial.

I’m encouraged to know that I don’t have to deal with the hard stuff of life all on my own. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me, and knows exactly what I’m going through, where I am in the process, and how to help me through that storm. He has me covered from the beginning to the end, and His Son, Jesus, intercedes for me and steps in the middle of that storm to help me. This strengthens my faith and helps me realize that I can rely on Him for everything because He’s got my back!

How He Loves Us

This morning God woke me with a song, David Crowder’s song, “How He Loves Me.” As I began to do my Bible Journaling today I am finishing up a series called, “Rise Up” and today’s journaling is from Hebrews 9:27-28, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this then comes the judgement., so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”(NASB)

At first as I read this I was having a hard time finding where the idea of being risen, or we would rise up to something, was in the passages. As I was journaling, the song kept going over and over in my mind, and then I focused on verse 28, “so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” I was thrown off a little in verse 27 where it talks about judgement. But then my husband reminded me that the visual of Jesus on the throne at the Judgement Seat of Christ, was not a judgement of our sinful deeds as we would normally think of judgement, but a rewarding of the Saints for their work while here on earth.

Then what popped out at me was that Christ was offered as a sacrifice for our sins, He bore them all on the Cross! Then the song and the verse tied in together! Jesus loved us, and still loves us, so much that He paid the penalty for our sins completely, and we never have to offer up a sacrifice for our sins as the priests did in the Old Testament. It is finished! That is the ultimate in love!

John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (KJV) Jesus could not show His love any better than to offer Himself as a perfect, living sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. In our church we sing a song that says, “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand-new song, Amazing Grace! Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.” How awesome is that! He was the sacrificial lamb, the final sacrifice, for the redemption of sins for all mankind. I can do nothing more than praise Him and thank Him for such a great love!