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The River…

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. ~Psalm 46:4

I find comfort in being out in nature. When I was in high school, we lived in a home on the river for about 6 years. I can’t begin to count the number of times I sat in the back yard or on the dock and watched the water. Watching the river as it moved along relaxed me. Often, I could feel my stress level going down as I sat there. There was quite a strong current at times, but by just watching you didn’t really notice it. The water held a strength in it as it moved along. It was active, always moving, yet the vastness of it comforted me. The river was a constant in my life. When I sought it out, it was there.

When I think about it, in quite the same way God is reflected in the characteristics of that river. Always active, always moving, but always present. God’s strength and nearness is a comfort to me when I need it most. When I take the time to focus on God and draw near to Him my heart is glad. My stress levels go down and I rest in the one who is unchanging and always constant. Knowing this, it is up to me to daily seek His presence, and watch closely what He is doing for God is always active.

#psalm46challenge

Blessings to you.

Till I See More…

As one of the masses that is beginning to embrace technology as a force to be reckoned with, I have found a new way to make it work for me. I installed a Bible app on my smart phone. I have had the app for a few months, and enjoy being able to access God’s Word at any given moment. This app also picks a verse as a daily power verse every morning and evening which is super cool when its notification pops up on my home page. Saturday morning, my verse was Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Awesome right? As I went outside a short time later, I was all ready to admire “the firmament.” Then I saw a grayish, dreary mass of clouds blocking the warm rays of the sun. As my hubby and I were driving to our next destination, I began to think, “wonder why God let Psalm 19:1 be my power verse for the day?” As I began to focus on the dark masses, I realized that just because I cannot see the brightness of the sun or the beautiful blue sky does not mean that it is not there. Right now, the beauty is only obscured from my view.

Often in my life, circumstances often obscure from my view what God is doing in my life. Circumstances have a way of getting in your face, and sadly that is all that we can see. Our focus can only see the darkness and the ugliness of the situation. Our bodies can only feel the pressure and pain inflicted. Our hearts can only be weighed down by hurtful words or hateful actions of another. Yet, when I with blind trust look for God who is working behind the circumstances, I see Him by faith. I can see beyond the ugliness and see His beauty shining bright with the warmth I receive from Him. I understand the pain I feel Jesus endured and overcame with help that was not of this world. I gather from His Word the pain and agony He felt when betrayed and abandoned by those close to Him. I trust and base my faith in the One I cannot see, but who knows all and sees all and has been beside me all along.

Dear Friend, I don’t know what you are having to go through today. Circumstances may be weighing you down where you can’t find your way. It is in these moments we can cling to God. He will be there till you see a clear sky. Remember Romans 8:28-31 is still true. Pray and wait for the Son!

‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:28-31

God’s Promise of Answered Prayer*

When was the last time you really went after something? You went all in, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Our Sunday School lesson this last week deals with our persistence in prayer. In Luke 11:5-13, we find the parable of a man who had unexpected company, and didn’t have anything to feed his guest. He went expectantly to his neighbor knocking at his door asking for bread. When the neighbor continually gave the man excuses why he could not help, the man continued to knock at the neighbor’s door. Because of the man continuing to knock without giving up, the neighbor finally gave in, and gave to him the bread he needed. You may say that God wants us to go to Him in prayer with the same urgency and boldness that the man in the parable showed. It is a picture of how we should approach our Heavenly Father.

I saw the movie, “War Room” the week it came to the theaters in our area. I was compelled by the faith that the main character showed in committing to a consistent prayer life. The circumstances in her life brought her to her knees in prayers. I was challenged to begin to pray all in and with my whole heart. This is the kind of praying God wants us to do. Praying that doesn’t let go, and that goes to God time after time after time until God answers.

The question is asked, “What is the connection between being patient with God and persistence in our relationship with Him?” Patience is something that I think we all struggle with from time to time. In our society, we have been conditioned to ask and receive instantly. Want answers? Log on and hit the search bar. Hungry? Fast food is around almost every corner. Need products? 24 hours stores are waiting for you. In our walk with God there are times when we pray and feel God has not heard because we did not receive an immediate answer. Perhaps, God is challenging us to keep praying to see if we are really serious in gaining an answer to our prayers. God wants us to keep on praying with confidence expecting an answer. If you saw me purchase an ice cream sundae, sit down with a spoon, take one bite, and push it away and say, “ok, I’m done!” You would think that to be weird I am sure. When I sit down with ice cream, I am all in attacking until the spoon hits the bottom on the bowl. Then I scrape the sides getting every last drop. I want my prayer life to be like that. All in, and going for it until I receive all it has for me.

We know the promises of God, For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” (v.10) We can and should have the confidence in God that He will answer our prayers. “Why do we not pray persistently?” Many things may keep us from praying like we should. When this question was posed to our class the answer they gave was “life”. Our busy lives are constantly grabbing our attention from focusing on a consistent prayer and bible study time. I mentioned last week that we fight for time to do the things that are important to us. We must decide for ourselves if our time with God is worth fighting for. 

In the last three verses of our Scripture, God used the father’s love for his child to shadow how God responds to us as believers. He uses the comparison if A is true then B must be true. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (v. 13) God love for us far outweighs the love an earthly father has for his child. So God invites us to pray, and brings all our needs and requests to Him. This passage teaches us that God always wants to hear and answer our prayers. Do you want to have a powerful prayer life with an abundant of answered prayers? The solution is simpler than you may think, “Just start praying!” Be consistent and persistent. It is a winning combination!

*This is a summary of a Sunday School lesson is based on “Bible Studies for Life” printed by Lifeway Christian Resources. While The main points and focus questions are printed in our Sunday School curriculum. The Commentary on them is based on personal experience and lessons learned from my own life. This is offered to my SS Class members who are unable to be with us due to work or health issues. Thank you.

Beautiful You

This week I watched a powerful video. It focused on women, all different, yet all beautiful. So often, I think we miss out when we look in the mirror. I am guilty of looking in the mirror, and seeing only my flaws. The weight I have put on over the last several years, the wrinkles that have etched their way across my face, the gray hairs poking out in abundance have had me buffaloed into thinking this is all and only what everyone sees. Gone are the days of looking in the mirror and seeing the beauty of bright eyes, lines that are evident of a life filled with laughter, and strength in a face having endured and overcome great trials and circumstances. I need those days back. How do you get them back?

Upon more reflection and soul searching, I believe to find our way back to the beauty in the mirror is learning to look at ourselves the way the Lord (and those that love us best) see us. “We are the apple of His eye.” “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:10) “Beautiful are the feet of them who bring good news.” (Isaiah 52:7) “He made all things beautiful in his time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) God doesn’t look at us and see just our individual features. He sees us as His child, the one that He loves. The more we become a reflection of Jesus; the more beautiful we become.

If you look up beauty in the Bible, you will most often find when beauty is spoken of it is spoken about the Lord. The most beautiful women I know are ones who allow the beauty of the Savior to shine through them. It shows in their eyes and smile. When we look at them, we see the reflection of Jesus. Don’t get caught in the trap of the devil. He will tell you that you are not beautiful, and you are not good enough because you don’t look like the women you see in the world. Have you noticed you may see someone, and think “they sure are pretty” then you find out they have an ugly spirit, or they open their mouth with cutting words. Our perspective quickly changes, doesn’t it?

When you look at yourself in the mirror, look for the reflection of Jesus in you, only then will you see real beauty. You will see what God sees…A Beautiful You!

“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.” Psalm 90:17

God Bless you as you find your beauty!

Amy

God sees beautiful me!

Beauty, it is something we all think about from time to time. Am I beautiful? Who thinks I am beautiful? Does my family really think of me as beautiful? In the moments of quiet reflection, Do we ask ourselves, “Does God think I am beautiful?”

As a child, When we are told we are beautiful by those who love us, we believe it with child like wonder. Then as we grow older, we may come in contact with other little girls who feel they must point out all our flaws to others, and make fun of our imperfections. Perhaps, these little ones have been called out by people who supposedly love them, or maybe they feel they must make fun of someone before someone else points out their flaws. I have encountered gals like this all through my growing up years. Although at the time they just seemed mean and spiteful, I have learned that many times people lash out because of their own insecurities. Do the angry barbs and cutting words hurt any less? No. These harsh words can, however, change your view of yourself and you begin to question your own beauty in the eyes of your family and even God’s view of you.  I can say this with personal conviction that this can happen, because for  a long time I did just that. I let the words of mean little girls permeate my heart and began to let it alter my own perception of me. In my own mind, I began to see myself as not worthy enough, and less than average. Maybe you find yourself in this place as an adult. Believe me when I tell you, you are not alone.

After a lot of soul-searching and praying for answers, I have come upon some simple truths. First, We are made in the image of God. Regardless of how we look on the outside, God formed every part of us. He knew what family characteristics we would have. Whether we looked like Mom or Dad or Grandma was all up to Him. He knew the flaws and blemishes we would have. God formed us in our mother’s wombs to be who we are today. We cannot allow the world dictate to us what beauty is when we are all made in God’s image and do not have control of the imperfections others may see. We need to look past our exterior. Earthly beauty fades. Solomon offers in Proverbs 31:30,”Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” We have to keep in mind what is most important. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. Is our heart a God-fearing one?

The second truth that has become evident to me is the more I focus on the beauty of God and praise Him for who He is the less I think about me. Several times in Scripture, we are called upon to recognize the beauty of the Lord.   Psalms 27:4 is one of these, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.” Also, Psalm 29:2 and 96:6,9 speak of the Lord’s beauty. We should be gals full of praise and reverence for the one who made us and trust that He has perfect knowledge and understanding of us.

In my own reflections, I have learned that inner beauty trumps outward beauty. When you see someone you think is beautiful, it’s all good till they open their mouth, and the ugly comes out. Maybe, you see someone maybe a little plainer, but when they speak their beautiful heart for God shines through their features making them more beautiful than you thought at first glance. I would definitely want to be part of the second group in this scenario.

Do you think of yourself as beautiful? You should if God is in your heart and shining brightly to the world outside!