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Joy in the Process

‘Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. ‘ Romans 15:13

Of all the ministry areas the Lord has led me to work in, I find myself enjoying leading Bible Study with the ladies of our church. It actually has not always been this way. When my husband and I first began in ministry together, He was the associate pastor at a local church. He had been serving  in churches for quite some time before we were married so he had his feet already wet and prepared more than I was for the challenges in the ministry. I had served in the church, but had not yet been in a position of leadership. I remember the first time I was approached to lead a women’s bible study. Two words come to my mind, “SHEER PANIC”! I would have to get up in front of other women and lead in a study of God’s Word. I felt so unworthy and then concerned. What if they asked me stuff I didn’t know the answer to? What if they thought my teaching style was weird? I went through every scenario. I prayed a lot. I prayed God would change His mind. Then I realized that God was calling me to do it. So I took a deep breath and jumped in feet first. God did a work in me. He taught me to rely on Him.

When I think of leading a bible study now, I look forward to it. I know I am doing what God has called me to do. It took a little while to find my groove, but the Lord showed me I just needed to be myself and trust him fully. A lot of prayer and preparation goes into it, but I have found joy in all God has taught me over the years. It’s hard to believe that it has been 24 years since that first Bible study. I give God the praise for all He has done in me and through me. Last night, Our ladies finished up the Book, “Why Do I Put So Much Pressure On Myself And Others” by Kathy Collard Miller. Though the Book is a lesson on how God helped our author through overcoming and learning to cope with perfectionism, we looked at a lot of Scripture to realize who we are and whose we are! I had the privilege to go through this book several years ago. This time the Lord taught me some more about how my life goal should not be about making sure everything is perfect, but to strive to pursue Christ with my whole heart. Someone with perfectionist tendencies often never sees the joy because they are more focused on the circumstances. I am thankful that God is willing to take us where we are and lead us to where He wants us to be. If we spend all our efforts focused on things we cannot control we will not have the energy to pursue Christ. We can find so much joy in the pursuit of Christ.

God can fill you will all joy and peace as Romans 15:13 says. The key is we have to be in a position to let Him. Let go of things, and grab Jesus with both hands. Don’t let Him go. Tell Jesus you can not take one more step without Him. To Trust and Rely on God should be our focus. When this happens, Joy will be the product, and Peace of God will be experienced as you never have felt before. We can find joy in the midst of trials. The bible says, “Perfect love casteth out fear.” (1 John 4:18) We can learn to hope in God alone. Do you want pure joy? My friend, you cannot find it outside of God. Pursue Christ and find joy in the process!

Blessings to you today!

“Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda”

I should have handled that in another way…

I sure would have handled that differently…

I could have done it so much better another way…

How often does the tape recorder of second guessing yourself play the same tune, different verse in your head? Me? Quite often I would have to say. For years, I have struggled on and off with the business of perfectionism. As a disclaimer, I will say upfront that I am aware that I am not perfect, painfully aware. Most of the time, with the Lord’s help, of course, I have learned the signs of perfectionism coming out in my life and dealt with it quickly with the help of His Word. Sometimes though I experience the tape recorder playing over and over in my head with all the “what if’s?” and “If Only’s…”

We, perfectionists, at one point or another, find ourselves falling in the trap of evaluating every minor issue in our lives thinking we could have done it better, if only… I find that when I find myself susceptible to this trap is when I being to turn my thoughts and feelings inward rather than focusing my thoughts upward on Christ. Proverbs 23:7 reads, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is…” It is in my mind and my heart where these battles are fought. We know that when we pull negative thoughts toward what we did or said it brings us to the place where we feel we are lacking and come up short of what we really wanted to do or say. Our negative thinking can be our undoing. So, when we feel these negative thoughts coming up, call it what it is “stinkin thinkin”! I heard this term several years ago, though I am not sure where, and it resonated with me.

I need to let go of the “stinkin thinkin” thoughts of I shoulda, woulda, or coulda done it differently. Sure hind sight is 100%. The Bible tells us in Philippians 2:2 that you “be likeminded”, and then in verse 5 of chapter 2 to, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We need change our frame of mind and focus on how Christ thinks about us. Scripture reveals to us over and over how God feels about us. He loves us. (1 John 4:8; John 3:16). We are valuable to Him (Luke 12:6-7; Matthew 10:31). The list can go on and on. Once and for all we need to take Philippians 4:6-8 seriously. Do not fear and think on things that are true and right before God. Will we still struggle from time to time? Yes, the devil wants to see us beat ourselves up to the point that we cannot be effective for Christ. When the negative thoughts arise. Quickly squelch them with what God has to say about you.

We do not have to live by the shoula, woulda, coulda merry-go-round! We can overcome with the power of Christ and His Word. May you find your freedom from “stinkin thinkin” and rest in Christ alone.

Blessings to You!

God’s Promise of an Eternal Home*

Have you ever been in a place where your longing for home was so intense it was overwhelming?  For me it was when my parents dropped me off at college. I was standing in the parking lot watching them drive away, and I felt such a since of loss and loneliness. I was excited about the new things to experience, but I felt, for the first time, very alone. For the Christian, we ought to feel a longing to go to our Heavenly Home even though we haven’t been there. The feelings I experienced as an 18 year old, I believe is even more intense today. As I have grown in my faith, the feeling to be in God’s presence is something I long for. I also have several loved ones I am looking forward to seeing in Heaven, My Grandparents, My Mother, and the babies I never was able to hold here on earth are all waiting on the other side. The Bible tells us that we should hope and pray for the day when we go to Heaven to be with God forever. It will be a wonderful time.

Our Scripture is Revelation 21:1-8. John, the Apostle, wrote about the new Heaven and the new earth that is being prepared for us by God Himself. In the first three verses, we see that John shares with us the wonders of the Holy City. He first comments on the brightness and beauty of the new city. He compares it to a bride coming down the aisle toward her husband to be. God looks at us, the church, in this way. He see our spotless beauty made perfect in righteousness by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In the third verse, God proclaims that He will now dwell among His people and we will be living in the presence of our wonderful God. Imagine being able to sit beside Him, talk to Him, and even reach out and touch Him. What a humbling and amazing time that will be.

In the following verses, He lets us know some things that will not be in Heaven: no death, no grief, no crying, and no pain. The cause of all of theses things will be removed. I am thankful that at this time we will never have to fear losing another person, therefore the cause for the pain and grief we feel in our heart when loss occurs will be gone. We never will shed another tear because of the hand of someone reaching out to harm us, or tears caused by our own wrong choices. The effect and the toll that sin has taken on us will all be removed. The consequences of sin and the weight that sin has had in our lives will be gone forever. I am thankful also there will not be any pain. A few years ago, I would have looked briefly at that one and moved on. I do understand a little better what it will be like to not hurt with pain everyday. I also can empathize with those who experience chronic pain on a greater level than I. The fact that there will not be any pain of any kind is a cause for celebration.

In verse 6 we read,” And he said unto me, “It is done. I am Alpha and Ome’ga, the beginning and the end.” In the beginning it was all about God reaching down to man, and in the end it will be God lifting man up to dwell with Him forever. We can look with anticipation for the return of our Lord, and going to the place that He has prepared for us. What a great day that will be! Until then hold on to the promise that one day we will be with God for eternity in a brand new home!

*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.

The Heart of the Matter

“How is your heart?” I have often heard the expression in sermons, Sunday school classes, and from friends. My first reaction to this is to say, “just fine, or it’s all good”, yet there are times when I know in the depths of my heart, it is not “just fine”. Often over the past few days in my quiet time, I have been burdened for those I have come in contact with daily. On at least 3 different occasions, I have listened as they have shared how busy everyone seems to be lately, and I quite agree. We are a busy people. Often, others have said, “If I could just get though this week or month, things will slow down and I will have more time. Circumstances have overwhelmed us, and we seem to be busier than ever before. So in this life that is constantly moving, and we never seem to catch up, how do we cope? How do we keep our heart guarded against the opposition of the devil, crazy circumstances, and others who are constantly grabbing our time and attention? As I was praying this morning, the Lord reminded me of of Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  It seems like a contradiction doesn’t it. Many would say I just don’t have time in the mornings to spend time with God. When the alarm goes off, I hit the ground running. I have a million things to do today. I will get with God later. Unfortunately, later never comes. Nighttime falls and the head hits the pillow and our thought is I am just to tired, or I will just try again tomorrow. Days pass and our quiet time has suffered. Our time with God is pushed to the side in favor of other things. In Matthew 6:33, we see we need to seek the kingdom of God first. Why? Because God knows everything. He knows before you get up in the morning what you will face that day. He has gone before you in the way and prepared for you to walk it with Him. When we seek Him first, the things we face that day may not change, but how we deal with it will. We need God’s presence to light our path and walk beside us into the unknown. Our heart will be strengthened and encouraged as we walk the day’s path with God at our side. Don’t leave Him behind in your pursuit of things and accomplishments of this life. Because the heart of the matter is this, It does matter how your heart is right at this moment. Is it really good between you and God? Are you walking with Him daily, talking to Him through prayer and letting Him speak to you through His Word? Seeking after God and His kingdom is our part. Look at the 2nd half of our verse today. If we do our part, God will keep His promise and do His part. “…all these things will be added unto you.”  Does this mean we will get everything we want? No.  It means God will provide for all our needs and give us blessings that we cannot imagine. He will work when we see no straight path. He will answer us when we need encouragement. He will strengthen us to do everything we have in front of us for the day. He will clean up our heart and help us to walk in righteousness. So, my friend, How is your Heart?