Monday, July 28, 2014

Your love is extravagant...


The praise and worship time in the evening service was coming to an end. I had my eyes closed, lost in the music, feeling the presence of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, so real, as if His arms were wrapped around me. I opened my eyes and looked down at the Bible book cover on the seat in front of me. It was as if my Savior was speaking to me through the words I was reading on the cover. There was an embroidered daisy with three small petals gently drifting down, and beside each petal were the words...
                    “He loves me”
                                  ”He loves me”
                                                ”He loves me”
...usually a girl playing the daisy game alternately speaks the phrases, "He loves me," and "He loves me not," while picking one petal off a daisy for each phrase. The phrase she speaks when picking off the last petal supposedly represents the truth about the object of her affection loving her or not.

As the music faded and I sat down, I knew I had just experienced one of those moments. There was no doubt in my mind or my heart, I knew it was real, it was the Truth, my Savior loves me with an everlasting love and underneath are His everlasting arms...He loves me...He loves me...He loves me...

In his book, The Ultimate Conversation: Talking with God Through Prayer, Dr. Charles Stanley writes, “Your intimacy with God–His first priority in your life–determines the impact of your life.” Stanley goes on to say there was a time in his life when he wrestled with knowing God more deeply. He couldn’t identify what the encumbrance was, no matter how much he sought the Lord and prayed. Then, he called his four closest friends, who were all godly men, and said, “God is trying to teach me something, but I don’t know what it is and I need your help to figure it out.”  He says they conversed for several hours.

Finally, he writes that one of the men said, “Charles, put your head on the table and close your eyes.” 
Stanley says he did this and quietly the man asked him, “Imagine your father just picked you up in his arms and held you. What do you feel?” The friend knew Dr. Stanley’s father had died when he was nine months old and that his loss had had a tremendous impact on Stanley’s life.

Dr. Stanley says he immediately began crying, and he continued weeping for a long time. Still, Stanley says, he did not understand what was causing so much emotion. The friend again asked, “What do you feel Charles?” Stanley writes, “The feelings were so overpowering, it was a long time before I could answer him. At last I replied, “I felt hugged, like I was warm and secure. I felt…loved.”

He realized that until that day, he had never really experienced God’s love. He said he told others about God’s love, but had never truly sensed it for himself. Stanley says, “That day changed my life. The time with four of my friends transformed my ministry and everything I felt about the Christian life; the Father’s love had become real to me and extremely powerful.”

Dr. Stanley invites us to do the same, writing: “I challenge you to do the same. Put your head down and imagine the Father holding you. You may be surprised by the emotions you feel. You may, as I did, realize His overwhelming love for you. You may realize that you’ve been running away from Him all of your life when all you’ve wanted to do is feel safe in your heavenly Father’s arms. Be still and allow God to deal with whatever emotions and issues arise. He will draw you into a deeper, more intimate relationship than you have ever known. Trust Him.”
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. —Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Take a few minutes to be encouraged by Darrell Evans’ song, Your Love Is Extravagant...
Your love is extravagant...Your friendship intimate...I find I'm moving to the rhythms of Your grace...Your fragrance is intoxicating in our secret place...

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!


Linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Hearas an encourager.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

though it tarries, wait for it


It was spring break of my senior year in high school. I was invited to attend a Young Life inner city retreat. During the quiet time, I took my Living Bible and sat down under a tree. My Bible fell open to this Scripture, and a bright ray of sunlight shining through the tree seemed to highlight it on the page and inscribe it on my heart…
We are saved by trusting. And trusting means looking forward to getting something we don’t yet have—for a man who already has something doesn’t need to hope and trust that he will get it. But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently. Romans 8:24-25 TLB

Trusting, then years later, from the same Living Bible...
But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day! Habakkuk 2:3 TLB

Take a moment to ponder these wonderful words of life from Selah’s version of the song, How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom


Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

Linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

blue yarn bracelets

Bookmarks with blue yarn bracelets from Believing God Bible Study
Sometimes it’s just the mention of a phrase from Scripture that brings the memories flooding back. This week it was the mention of “blue cord with tassels” from the book of Numbers that took me back to the first time I completed the online Beth Moore Bible Study, Believing God in the fall of 2002. I still have the bookmarks from Believing God, with blue yarn bracelets attached in my Bible. I wore the blue yarn bracelet during the Bible study as a reminder to be presently, actively, continually Believing God, focusing on Christ.
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘You must make tassels on the corners of your clothes. A blue cord must be on each tassel. You must do it for all time to come. You will have the tassels to look at. They will remind you to obey all of the Lord’s commands. Then you will be faithful to him. You will not go after what your own hearts and eyes long for. “‘You will remember to obey all of my commands. And you will be set apart for your God. I am the Lord your God. I brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.’” Numbers 15:37-41

The Believing God Bible study focus scripture is...
“You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and My servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.” Isaiah 43:10

Over these past 12 years, I have incorporated the Five Statement Pledge of Faith shown on the bookmark as a part of my daily prayer life...
  1. God is who He says He is.
  2. God can do what He says He can do.
  3. I am who God says I am.
  4. I can do all things through Christ
  5. God's Word is alive and active in me.
    I'm Believing God.
 
God is Who He says He is.
You are Jehovah Ra’ah, You are my Shepherd, I lack nothing. You make me lie down in green pastures, You lead me beside the still waters. You restore my soul. You lead me in the path of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Even when I walk THROUGH the valley of the SHADOW of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your Staff, your Holy Spirit and Your Word, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  

SEVEN NAMES OF GOD
PAIRED WITH PSALM 23:1-6
JEHOVAH-RA’AH
The Lord, my shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
The LORD is my shepherd;
 
JEHOVAH-JIREH
The Lord, my provider (Genesis 22:14)
I shall not want.
JEHOVAH-SHALOM
The Lord, our peace (Judges 6:24)
He makes me to lie down in green pastures:
he leads me beside the still waters.
JEHOVAH-RAPHA
The Lord, my healer (Exodus 15:26)
He restores my soul:
JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU
The Lord, our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
JEHOVAH-SHAMAH
The Lord, ever-present (Ezekiel 48:35)
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
JEHOVAH-NISSI
The Lord, our banner (Exodus 17:15)
Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
JEHOVAH-RAPHA
The Lord, my healer (Exodus 15:26)
Thou anoints my head with oil; my cup runs over.
JEHOVAH-JIREH
The Lord, my provider (Genesis 22:14)
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


God can do what He says He can do
. Nothing is impossible for You, Lord Jesus, Absolutely Nothing!  I am casting all my cares upon You because You care for me. Supply the needs I have today to know You and believe You, to glorify You, to find my satisfaction in You, to experience Your peace, and enjoy Your presence...

Five Key Benefits
God Intends for His Children
Obstacles which stand in the way of the
Five Key Benefits God Intends for His Children
To Know God and Believe Him
Unbelief—I pray to roll away the obstacle of unbelief which is revealed in my doubt, fear, worry, and discouragement.
To Glorify God
Pride—I pray to roll away the obstacle of pride which is self-absorption, whether I am absorbed with how wonderful I am or how miserable I am. Forgive my self-focus. Worship is focus, help me focus on Jesus Christ alone.
To Find Satisfaction in God
Idolatry—I pray to roll away the obstacle of idolatry which is putting anything ahead of or instead of Jesus Christ.
To Experience God’s Peace
Prayerlessness—I pray to roll away the obstacle of praylessness. Prayerless lives are powerless lives; prayerful lives are powerful lives. Peace is the fruit of authority—let the peace of Christ rule. Christ brings His peace where He is Prince—the Prince of Peace.
To Enjoy God’s Presence
Legalism—I pray to roll away the obstacle of legalism with a heart which desires an intimate, personal relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ, not rules, regulations, and religion.

I am who God says I am. In Christ, I am blessed with every spiritual blessing, accepted in the Beloved Son of God, adopted as a child of the King, chosen before the foundation of the world, redeemed by the blood of Christ, forgiven by His grace, loved with an everlasting love and underneath are the everlasting Arms.

I can do ALL things through Christ Who gives me strength.
Lord Jesus, I cannot do this, but You can!  Won’t You give me Your smile?
God’s Word is alive and active in me...I’m Believing God.

Take a moment to ponder these wonderful words of life by listening to Selah’s version of the song, Before the Throne of God Above written in the 1800s by Charitie Less Bancroft...
Behold Him there! The risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless, Righteousness
The Great unchangeable I AM
The King of Glory and of Grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

Linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

the panorama of providence...


In this quote, Puritan John Flavel is referring to the fact that the Hebrew language is read backwards from our perspective—that is, right to left instead of left to right. Flavel believes that God’s providence or sovereignty must be discerned in a similar way–that is, backwards in time. It does seem that we can more clearly grasp God’s sovereignty when we look at our lives from a panoramic perspective. It is only then that we can begin to see how seemingly insignificant events are woven together and form the far greater picture of God's sovereign plan. I love the visual imagery in this quote by Pastor Ray C. Stedman:
When we step out of time and into eternity everything will be one big panorama. We will see the past, the present, the future all-at-once—perfectly unfolded and it will all work together for good to those who love God—and it will all make sense.

Recently I wrote an essay in response to the prompt, "It all made perfect sense…” A portion of my essay reads: “My daily relationship with a living Lord Jesus reinforces my belief in the sovereignty of God, that nothing comes into my life that is not filtered through God's hands of love. I believe there are no “accidents,” that every conception and every birth is part of God’s sovereign plan. I rest and find comfort in these life verses:
"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.(Psalm 139:13-16) 
I believe God planned who my birth parents would be and who my Mom and Dad would be, and both influences, plus His, were needed to help me become all that He created me to be. I believe that God sees the end from the beginning. He knows me intimately, He knit me together in my birth mother's womb, one day I will see Him face-to-face and I will know as I am known…and it will all make perfect sense.” I have included photos and a more detailed essay, How I Came To Be—Expect A Mystery, in my very first blog post in 2009.

My heart is so encouraged by this amazing video of Chris Tomlin singing, Sovereign

In Your everlasting arms,
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end I can trust You
In Your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way I will trust You

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

Linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

You fill up my senses...


for He Himself is our peace... (Ephesians 2:14a)

Several years ago during one of Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live simulcasts, I was so moved by this video with Travis Cottrell’s beautiful rendition of the John Denver classic, Annie's Song, as a hymn of praise and worship...a beautiful visual and auditory experience of Peace.

Peace is a Person…Jesus doesn’t just give peace—He Himself is our peace. As we fix our eyes on Him, He fills up our senses, sustaining us through every circumstance.

When I was a teenager, a missionary to Uganda, Webster “Web” Carroll, came to our church to speak. I was fascinated by his stories from the mission field. Many years later, when he was retiring, he came back to our church to share a final message. He asked us to open our Bibles to John 21:1-6…

Later Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there--Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Simon Peter said, "I'm going fishing." "We'll come, too," they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn the disciples saw Jesus standing on the beach, but they couldn't see who he was. He called out, "Friends, have you caught any fish?" "No," they replied. Then he said, "Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you'll get plenty of fish!" So they did, and they couldn't draw in the net because there were so many fish in it.
Web began to share his observations of this familiar scripture, he said, 'I' is not the most profound company or secure future. It is dangerous for the ego to become the foundation for your tomorrows. If 'I' is undependable, 'we' is that much more undependable. That 'night'—physical night is bad enough, but spiritual night is worse. He explained these words from the Ugandan language, 'ushinde' (ends with an 'e') which means 'defeat.' He said the word 'ushindi' (ends with an 'i') means 'victory.'

Jesus asks, "Do you have any fish?"  Sooner or later somebody has to speak and say, "No, Sir, we don't." Sooner or later we face Jesus Christ, whether we recognize Him or not. "What do you have to show for the last 8 hours you've spent in the water?"  He covers us with His compassion. Just like He did that early morning—to talk to the fish that were there in the water that night.

The difference between spiritual victory and spiritual defeat is the Presence of the Lord Jesus. He explained this with another Ugandan word, 'basi'... it means, 'peace, it will be alright, it will be okay.' It is used by mothers nursing their babies, it means 'peace, healing' as they hold their babies, they pat them saying, “basi, basi”..."that's alright, that's alright." Then he closed with John 3:16 and he said,
"Just give Jesus a chance, He will give 'basi.'"

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

Linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.

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