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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Let Your Light Shine

Last year I posted a picture about two basketball teams coming together before a game to pray.  Our team was in the playoffs and when we traveled out of town to play the opponent, we were inspired by the leadership and example of one girl on their team.  She would lead the girls from her own team, as well as the other team, in a prayer before the game.

About a month ago, a few girls on our team (including our daughter), decided to begin the basketball prayer circle before each of their games, inviting the opponent to join them.  All of the teams have been willing participants in the prayer before each game.  It's a great thing to see!  God is definitely being glorified by the hearts and examples of all of these girls!

I wonder......Is this example continuing on and other teams doing so at their own games?  Will it cause other teams to decide to do next year for their own teams?  Are the fans in the stands being inspired to go and let their light shine in a different way because of this example?  Is the prayer changing the hearts of some of the players?  It's interesting to me that it's been only with girls' teams, so far.  Will boys' teams begin to do prayers, as well?

Each of these questions is something that really may be happening.....all because of one girls' example last year.  We never know where our influence will go and the good it will bring to the lives of others.  We will never know how far our example may reach.  

Let your light shine today!  Someone is watching for your example!
    In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praiseyour Father in heaven. 
    Matthew 5:16

Monday, January 28, 2013

Vintage and Music-Themed Baby Shower

Typically in our small town congregation, we have a baby shower every once in a while, but over the last year, we've had MANY baby showers!  What a blessing!  This may be the last baby shower for a while, but we're sure enjoying having all of the little ones in our midst!  So very THANKFUL for babies!  They are a gift from GOD!
Instead of doing a generic themed baby shower, I began trying to base the decor on the nursery theme - just to make it more special for the parents and the baby (even though he/she won't know and probably won't ever care!). It's just a little more sentimental, even though it takes a little more time.  This shower was a whole new theme and nothing I'd ever done.  I was excited - but a little concerned because I had no idea where to start.  The theme was a vintage/sepia/music theme.  Lots of possibilities!  THANKFUL for this challenge!
Here's a burlap banner spelling out BABY.  The chipboard letters are covered in music themed scrapbook paper.  The shabby material strips are made by tearing muslin and cotton materials in strips and tied onto the jute cord.  I had been wanting to make on of those!  The banner went home with the parents-to-be for the baby's room.
The "Rock a Bye Baby" banners tied in the music theme.  The mini pennant chipboard pieces and mini clothespins came from Hobby Lobby.  I covered the chipboard with burlap and wrote the letters with a thick Sharpie marker.
Above the table an old wooden ladder held "tissue" balls, glittered music notes, and sepia tinted photos of the parents-to-be.  
The whole view doesn't show the different dimensions, so it kind of looks cluttered, but it really wasn't.  
What's a shower without food?!  We had yummy cupcakes, nuts and mints.  The cute cream and brown bears came from Walmart - in the Valentine's stuffed animal aisle!  I had seen them a few weeks ago, but they sold quickly!  There were only three left when I got these two.  I took their Valentine's sweaters off and added mocha colored bows around their necks.
Here's a close up of the balls.  They are made from coffee filters.  The white ones are just plain, unaltered filters that were attached to a styrofoam ball with straight pins.  The larger, tannish colored one was made by dyeing the filters in tea.  They were attached to a larger styrofoam ball with floral pins.  Click HERE to go to my recipe/craft blog to get directions on how to make these pom poms.
My mother-in-law loaned me this child-sized piano.  A friend let me borrow the CUTE, vintage-style burlap pillow.  My mom had given me the candle stick and crystal dangling thing (don't know what it is called....), so it fit perfect with the theme.  (That friend also let me have an old window she had for the mantle in the first picture. SOOOO pretty!)
I made this easy wall hanging by covering a painter's canvas board with burlap, adding burlap/muslin trim, and cutting out letters on the Cricut.  The glittered music notes were added for fun, and the wall hanging was given to the parents for the baby's room.
Beverages for the shower were Mocha Punch and Tea Punch.  You can find the Mocha Punch recipe HERE - on my recipe/crafts blog.  I'll post the Tea Punch when I get that recipe.  The tea punch was served in a soup tureen that was my grandmothers.  The mocha punch beverage server was borrowed from the same friend that had the burlap pillow.
She also let me borrow this CUTE metal heart wall hanging.  The burlap flower is a magnet and held sepia tinted photos of the grandparents-to-be.
There were lots and lots of presents....even more than is shown here!  The parents-to-be were blessed by so many people who love them and who are anticipating the arrival of their little one!  And, oh.....one more thing:  The gender of the baby wasn't known!  It was different, but so much fun being a surprise!  (We didn't find out with our first three, either.  We did on the last one because our daughter said she would cry if she wasn't having a sister.  We wanted her to get all of the crying done before the brother came instead of when he came :).  THANKFUL for the outpouring of love for this family!

On this GRATITUESDAY, I am thankful for the church and the baby showers we host for our Christian brothers and sisters.  What a special thing to have that special bond between God's children!

To see what others are grateful for, visit Heavenly Homemakers!

Banging On The Window....

This isn't a very good picture, but if you look closely, you can see a bird on the outside of the window. It's a strange bird, for sure.

As I was writing a blog post this morning - about a baby shower - I kept hearing a knocking.  I figured someone was outside or maybe picking up pecans - and didn't worry about it. I thought maybe my husband had forgotten to tell me someone was coming.  The knocking continued and continued, so I went to see what it was.  

This bird - this strange bird - was jumping/flying up and trying to get in that bottom left window pane.  It was doing it over and over and over again.  I wonder if it saw a bug on the window sill behind the couch or something!?  I'm sure that banging its head on the window isn't good and now the banging has slowed down some.  I'm pretty sure the bird isn't going to live much longer if this craziness continues.  It makes no sense, but it's a bird and it doesn't have a brain that can think logically.  It doesn't have common sense.  Yet God made this creature, didn't He?

I saved the shower post because of this bird and its banging!  I'll finish that post tonight or tomorrow.  This bird made me think!  

How many times do we act like this bird?  Keep doing the same thing over and over and over.....not making any sense and not smart/wise enough to stop!!?  How many times do we fail at something and get tired of the hard work, but never stand back and look at the problem - that we keep doing it the same way we've always done it and keep failing?!  Just like this bird is getting nowhere by doing the same silly thing over and over, we won't either.  We much change our direction!  We must change our plan!

If this bird could reason, he/she would realize that there is no way to get through that window pane.  It appears that there is, but there's not.  There is a huge obstacle in the way, but the bird is blinded to that fact because the pane is "clear".  It is clear, but it's also clearly an obstacle! 

In the process of trying to get through that obstacle, the bird is missing the important fact that there is a whole world open all around!  That bird can go ANYWHERE, yet it is only looking at that one little thing.  And that one thing may very well be the end of the bird.

We probably won't lose our life by continuing to do the same thing over and over and over (but of course, we could if it is something addictive), but we very well could damage our life and it will most certainly damage our spiritual life - without exception.  

Instead of focusing on one thing and doing it over and over without success, we must be willing to look around at the world God created for us - and the opportunities He has blessed us with.  When we don't, we will let that one obstacle consume us and it will beat us down.  We can't be God's servant if we are beaten down.  We can't be a faithful follower of Jesus if we are only focused on the obstacle.  

Let's turn around and look at the bigger picture.  There's a whole world of opportunity out there - just waiting for us to turn around and look!  We must stop banging on the window pane!  

Now I'd better go check on the bird.  I don't hear any more knocking.  Hmmmm........I hope it turned around and saw the big world of possibilities.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Who Are You, Lord?


Last night in our ladies Bible class, we were studying about Moses and the burning bush.  Moses was reluctant to do what God was asking him to do.  He asked God what he would say if the Israelites asked him who sent him.  (Exodus 3 and 4) God explained to Moses that He is the 'I AM' and the 'LORD' - meaning Yahweh.  He revealed His personal name to Moses.

We used  this poem along with our study.  The author is unknown.

Who Are You, Lord?

While praying one day
A woman asked, "Who are you, Lord?"

He answered, "I AM".

"But, Who is I AM?", she said.

And He replied..."I Am Love, I am Peace,
I Am Grace, I Am Joy
I Am The Way, Truth, And The Light...
I Am The Comforter,
I Am Strength, I Am Safety,
I Am Shelter, I Am Power, I Am The Creator,
I Am The Beginning And The End,
I Am The Most High".

The girl with tears n her eyes looked
Toward Heaven and said,
"Now I understand."

"But Lord, who am I?"
Then God tenderly wiped the tears
From her eyes and whispered,
"You are Mine."



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Think On These Things


    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
It seems so simple, doesn't it?  To think on "these" things:  Things that are true....noble....right...pure...lovely....admirable....excellent....praiseworthy.  It seems like we wouldn't have any trouble at all thinking of good things.  But we do.  We all do.

We wake up each morning and some of us hit the ground running.  Others of us, it takes a few hours (coffee, hot tea, Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke, etc.) before we're ready to get going.  Hopefully we start our morning by talking to God or reading His Word, but maybe we don't.  Maybe we grab the TV remote to catch the morning news/gossip.  Maybe we grab our phone or laptop to check Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  Maybe we're up making the kids breakfast, helping check last minuet homework, or packing lunches before sending them out the door.  Very quickly our minds can be filled with "stuff".  Maybe it's good stuff, but maybe it isn't.

From what we see, to what we read, to what we hear, our minds and hearts are filled with lots and lots of "stuff".  It's up to us to guard our minds and our hearts so that our minds only think on things that are in that great list in the scripture above.  The only way to do that is to guard our eyes and ears first.  Maybe we will need to change the radio station, delete a song off of the iPod, stop watching certain TV shows or movies.  Perhaps we will even need to change who our friends are - or at least limit our time with them if they are influencing us in a bad way.

Our minds are filled and bombarded with information and this "stuff" we're talking about.  If we take bad stuff out....we must replace it with good "stuff".  We have to change our thinking.  The phrase "power of positive thinking" is great, but the "power of Jesus' thinking" is BEST!  When we grow to be more like Jesus, we'll change the way we look at life.  We'll change the way we think.  There will be no more stinkin' thinkin'!  We'll be thinking of "such things" as Philippians 4:8 mentions.

It's never too late to start thinking like Jesus.  Maybe your morning started off bad.  It doesn't mean the rest of the day has to be downhill.  Change your thoughts - change your world.  Be more like Jesus.  Think on "these things" all day long!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

If You Say Go....



If You say go, we will go
If You say wait, we will wait
If you say step out on the water
And they say it can't be done
We'll fix our eyes on You and we will come

Your ways are higher than our ways
And the plans that You have laid
Are good and true
If You call us to the fire
You will not withdraw Your hand
We'll gaze into the flames and look for You.
(Lyrics by Diane Thiel)

Last week I began teaching ladies Bible class again after several years away and teaching only children's classes. I'm really excited about this new study! We're using a book called Lady BUGS (Ladies Better Understanding God). It's written by Denell Dennis, and examines the life of Moses.

The first lesson began with the story of the burning bush, when God speaks to Moses from the bush and tells him He wants Moses to do a job for Him. Moses is reluctant. He doubts. He makes excuses. He doesn't feel worthy.

But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11

The song lyrics above were used in the lesson. The acapella group, Hallal, sings this song in a beautiful way! But read the lyrics. The lyrics are saying the opposite of what Moses said, aren't they?

You and are are often just like Moses. We doubt. We make excuses. We procrastinate. We're reluctant to do what God wants us to do. What if we change our NO to YES! What if we make the lyrics above our "motto" for today? For this week? God can do great things in our lives if we will allow Him to direct our paths. We just have to be willing to GO!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Simple Question......Or Not

This morning my brother-in-law asked a question in his sermon that has made me think.  I think it would make all of us think - or should.

IS ANYONE GOING TO HEAVEN 
BECAUSE OF YOU?

Think about this question as you go throughout this week.  If the answer is yes....Great!  Keep making disciples!  If the answer is no.....You and I have work to do.  Work for the Lord.

Either way you and I answer, there is still more work to do.  We can live a great example and people may come to know about Him because of the way we live, BUT....at some point we MUST open our mouths and share the Good News about Christ and about salvation.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Give and Take

The Chronicles of Biscuit: Stories about our youngest son whose nickname is Biscuit...

A few days ago, Biscuit asked me for his envelope of money.  It had been in my purse since our trip to Disney World, and he finally remembered to get it.  I'm not sure how much was in there, but around $25.00.

Several moments later Biscuit came to all of us and gave gifts to his two older brothers and his sister.  Two gifts were in little Christmas sacks and one was wrapped in a Walmart sack.  They opened their gifts and asked Biscuit why he was giving them his money.  His reply:  "It's fun to give!"  I praised him for giving and for being kind, but was a little surprised that he gave all of his money away because it's not the way he usually is turned.  He likes to get money and spend it.  Of course, being 10, he doesn't get much and we don't do allowances, so his income in close to nothing until birthdays come along.
His brothers and sister were surprised as well, but told him thank you.

Later on that evening, our oldest son was going to bed and got a little snippy with his sister.  I didn't hear about it until he was already in bed, but decided to say something to him the next morning.  Before he woke up, though, I found out that when he was rude, Biscuit went up to him and took his money away from him!  He said he wasn't going to let him have it because he had been mean!  Oh, that was funny to me!!!

When the older brother woke up and I talked to him about the way he acted, I mentioned the money....and it being taken away.  He said he knew Biscuit would eventually want it back, and he wasn't planning on keeping it anyway.

To me this story is just funny.  It wasn't a big deal, and it was interesting to see it play out as it did.  But this story does make me think about giving and taking.  What if God, who gives us the gift of salvation, took it away every time we sinned?  What if the blood of Jesus didn't continue to cleanse us when we ask for forgiveness?  Wouldn't that be horrible?  Yes!  It would!

Last week I was reading in the Old Testament about the sacrifices under the old law.  I can't imagine how they were ever able to keep all of those laws.  Well, they weren't able to, were they?  They had rules for taking care of those sins.  And even the rules to cover the sins would be difficult to keep.  It was give and take....give and take....give and take.

That's what is so special about the sacrifice of Jesus under the new law. He was/is the final sacrifice - the perfect sacrifice.  He took the sins of the past, present and future upon himself and put them to death on the cross.  When you look at salvation now, it's pretty simple compared to all of those rules under the old law.

Because of God's grace, we don't have to worry about God "giving and taking".  His plan is perfect.  His grace is sufficient.  Our part is just to get on board with his perfect plan.   Grace is defined in an acrostic as,  "God's Riches at Christ's Expense".  Thank you, God!  Thank you for the new covenant.  Thank you for no more "give and take"!  Thank you the perfect sacrifice.  Thank you for Jesus.

Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office;  but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
Hebrews 7:22-28

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Parents Be Aware: The Problem with Snap Chat

Technology has opened up so many new windows of opportunities to do things.  Even by this blog I have met so many wonderful people all around the country!  Last week a young lady from New York wrote about some decorations I had shown in a post.  Now I am going to be helping her decorate for her wedding by sending her the decorations!  How neat is that!  

But with the good, there is some bad, and we must be aware of the bad.  Not to dwell on it, but to protect ourselves and our families.  Specifically, our children need us to be actively involved in guiding them to make good choices.

A popular thing with youth today is sending pictures of themselves to others.  That may be okay to some degree (though personally I believe that anyone who takes multiple pictures of themselves and posts them or sends them has a self image problem that needs to be addressed), but a new app called SnapChat that is popular among teens is one that is being used for "sexting". Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobil phones.  It has been popular for quite some time and can be used on other social media, as well (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), but the difference with this app is that the picture is not stored on the sender's phone or the receivers phone.  It disappears.  So people can send the picture and not worry whether it will be saved and used in another way.  Parents won't see it or even find out.  Other kids won't see it, though the kids can tell about it.  There's no proof that it was sent or received.  It's a big problem in our world today.

Below is a link for a great article about this app, from a Christian perspective.  Of course, just because someone has the app doesn't mean they are using it in the way mentioned.  It's not the app itself that's bad.  It's just being used in that way.  

Take the time to look at the link, because it's more prevalent than you might think.  Parents and grandparents - be aware!  Something that may not seem like a big deal to some of our youth is actually a very big deal.  Studies have shown that once a young person sees pornography type pictures - it will be etched in their minds for a long, long time....perhaps forever.  This can (obviously) cause problems for the rest of a young person's - or older person's life.  It can cause problems with careers. It can cause serious relationship problems.  It can cause addictions that are not easily overcome.  It's a really big deal.  Don't brush it off.

http://www.radicallychristian.com/what-is-this-snapchat-app


 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:13-14

Monday, January 14, 2013

This Is A Test....

I remember when I was a little girl, we didn't have 24 hour a day TV with hundreds of channels.  We had three channels that ended at midnight.  After than, on one channel, anyway, there would be a screen of striped colors with the following announcement:  "This is a test of the emergency broadcast system.  If this were a real emergency.....".  The test was showing how viewers would be warned if there were ever a real emergency.  Along with the test came a loud blaring horn.  An annoying warning that something was wrong (or would be wrong in a real situation).

There is a sort of "warning system" in the Bible that will show you and I if we are allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us and show whether we are growing in our spiritual lives, or not.  We are given this gift at baptism, according to Acts 2:38.  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for theforgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is said to be our helper, teacher, counselor, comforter....and many other descriptive words.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 
John 14:26

The Spirit will teach us and remind of, but we have to allow God's Spirit to work within us and help us. When we don't allow Him to work within us and do the job He came into you to do, we are grieving Him.  

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 
Ephesians 4:29-31

So here is the test.  It's from Galatians 5:16-23.  The heading in the NIV says "Life by the Spirit".  Basically it is a list of traits that come from the sinful nature, then a list of fruits (character traits) that come from the Spirit.  We will find ourselves in one of the categories - maybe in both of the categories. Either way, we will be able to examine our lives by this list and "test" whether we are growing in the Spirit or not.  

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

So what if we find that we are not producing the fruits of the Spirit like we should?  What if we find areas that need improvement (which we all will)?  What do we do?

First of all, PRAY.  Pray and ask God to help you grow in that area.  Ask Him to soften your heart to allow the Spirit to work within you.  And ask him for opportunities that will cause you to grow in that area.  He will help you.  He wants to help you.  Prayer is the first step.

Second, open your eyes.  There are opportunities to use each of the fruits of the Spirit every day.  The problem is that sometimes we're so caught up in our own lives that we're too busy to really open our eyes and see what is going on around us.  There are people who need YOU everywhere.  There are people who need to hear about Jesus all around you.

And third, take action.  Just seeing things doesn't cut it.  We must ACT!  We must DO!  We must step out of our comfort zones and work for the Lord.  That's how we will produce those fruits of the Spirit.

It would be nice if our bodies/souls/temples of the Lord (within us) had a warning system where a light would flash and a loud horn would blare when we were in spiritual danger, but God didn't make it that way.  He did, however, give us the best guide ever to test ourselves - and that is by His Word.  It will convict us and it will encourage us.  But again, we must open our eyes, our minds and our hearts.  We must be receptive to what we read and have the courage to listen to those warning signs.  

Remember that you and I are not alone.  We have a counselor and a helper.  God's Spirit is waiting to help us. Always!

Friday, January 11, 2013

By Faith, Abraham....

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son...
Hebrews 11:17

In my Bible reading yesterday, I read the story of Abraham and Isaac - when God had asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac - his only son, "even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." " (Hebrews 11:18)  As I read, I thought carefully about Abraham's strong faith.  I want to have a faith like Abraham, don't you?!  I really do!  But, things hold me back.  People hold me back.  Maybe they hold you back, too.

How can you and I have a faith like Abraham?  There are three ways that I believe we can have a strong faith like Abraham.  Let's look at them today!

1.  PUT GOD ABOVE EVERYTHING - EVEN FAMILY!

As a wife and mom, my family is very, very important to me.  And they should be.  BUT, is it possible for my to put my family before God?  Yes, it is.  If I'm not careful, I can make it where my whole life revolves around my family.  If I'm not careful I will neglect God, neglect worship, and neglect serving or telling others about Jesus because of my family.

If you and I constantly put our families before God, we're going to have problems down the road.  That's a guarantee.  It will eventually show up and prove to be the wrong choice.  Maybe our children will not have a strong faith in God.  Maybe they'll forsake the church and decide it really doesn't matter.  Maybe they'll grow up to be selfish and self-serving, instead of unselfish and willing to serve others.  Maybe you and I will eventually turn away from God - because we've gotten use to putting him behind family.  Maybe we're waiting to be workers in the church until our kids get bigger....they grow up....they leave home.....whatever.  What a waste of many years and an example to your children!  Don't waste precious time!  Teach them and show them while they are home.  Let them learn to serve right along with you!  

If you have grandchildren, you can do the same.  Some of my fondest memories are with my grandparents and their service projects.  I would go work at the building with my grandma making "Sunshine Baskets" then deliver them to the hospital and nursing home.  My grandpa had a grocery store, but did service projects while he worked - delivering food to shut-ins.  I made many trips to homes with him and have great memories and fun memories of those times.

Sound impossible that you or your family would turn away or become less committed to God and to Jesus?  It's not.  Many in the Bible would have thought it impossible, too.  It's a serious matter, and we must examine our lives constantly to make sure we are growing closer and never falling further away.

But it's not too late if you realize you're slipping! It's never too late!  We can choose today to put God above all else, or as I like to say - make Him the CENTER of EVERYTHING in your life.  When God is the central focus of your family, you'll understand that in order to love your family and take care of your family in a Biblical way, God MUST be at the very center - the very core - of your family.  Serving Him, loving Him, and telling others about Jesus is what your family does.  There would be no other choice and no better way to show your love for your family.

2.  TRUST AND OBEY

Not only my favorite song when I was little, but a truth we must sign and live each and every day:  Trust and Obey!  Abraham didn't hesitate one bit when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac.  I can't truthfully say I would have been obedient without questions.  As a parent, I can't imagine offering one of my children as a sacrifice, and most likely I will never have to, but I must be willing to go to that degree if God asks me to.  That's something I have to work on....having that obedient heart to that extent.

Some in the Bible obeyed God, but not quite so quickly.  Sometimes they struggled, just like you and I may do. Moses questioned God when God asked him to go and rescue the Israelites from Egypt.  Exodus 3:11 says, "But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  It took several questions from Moses and reassuring answers from God before he goes.  And God wasn't happy with Moses because of his doubt.  He spares his life, and He continued to use Moses.  Moses trusted God, but at times his faith and trust wavered.  The key is that he didn't give up.  We can't give up, either!

I love the story of Abraham and Isaac because I believe it shows Abrahams unswerving trust in God.  When Isaac asked his father about the sacrifice, Abraham confidently and trustingly answered him:

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied."The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
 Genesis 22:7-8

TRUST AND OBEY 
(lyrics for 1st stanza)
When we walk with the Lord 
in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, 
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Refrain:

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

3.  HAVE FAITH - A STRONG, UNWAVERING FAITH!


I believe that Abraham's faith was so strong that he never doubted God's promise for one second - that Isaac would be the one through whom the "many nations" would come.  I believe he knew that God would provide another sacrifice, but I also believe he knew he had to follow God's command exactly as he was told.  Oh, what faith!
    And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Hebrews 11:6
Without faith, we're unable to please God.  We can say we believe in Him, but even if we say it, we can live as if He doesn't exist.  That's what displeases God.  We must live as if we believe He is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.  And to a greater extent, we must believe that He WILL do what He has promised!  He has promised both good and bad.  He has promised blessings to those who obey Him.  He has promised salvation for those who obey His gospel and accept the salvation that the blood of Jesus can give.  He has promised that He will do many wonderful things!  We have to believe and claim those promises!  

But, for the bad, He has also promised that there is no other way to Him except through His Son, Jesus.  We can't do it alone.  We can't do it through any other gospel or creed.  It won't work.  It's only through Jesus and through the steps He has given us through His Word.  Just like Abraham followed the commandments exactly, we must be willing to read God's Word and study on our own to make sure our "election is sure" - not based on what you and I are told or what we read in a book, hear in a lesson, or even read on this or any other blog!  Read God's Word for yourself.  Make sure you understand what it says.  Don't be mislead, but pray for wisdom.  God will show you what you need to know - if you'll just ask Him to help you and His Spirit to guide you.  

In Abraham's story, it sticks out to me that his faith was his own.  He didn't run to Sarah and ask what she thought about the whole "sacrifice" situation.  I'm pretty sure we all know what Sarah would have said, don't we?  Ummmmmm, "ARE YOU CRAZY, ABRAHAM?  DO YOU REALLY THINK I'M LETTING YOU TAKE ISAAC TO BE SACRIFICED?  I'VE WAITED 90 YEARS TO HAVE A SON!  YOU ARE NOT TAKING HIM!"  Yes, something like that!  And could you blame her?  Well......maybe not by our human standards, but yes, God could.  Isaac was a gift from God, and He was telling Abraham He wanted His gift back.  Interesting.

How can you and I have a faith like Abraham?  I've seen a quote that goes something like this:  If we have faith in God in the little things, we'll have an easier time having faith in God in the big things.  That is so very true.  Each and every day, let you faith show in little day to day things.  Nothing that involves faith is little, really.  What it boils down to is QUIT WORRYING!  Have faith that God is in control and that He will take care of anything and everything.  Don't stress!  Don't panic!  Don't fear!  It's in those little things our faith is small and we make our God really small.  Sing the children's song, "MY GOD IS SO BIG!"  Sing it over and over and over.

There are many other points we could get from the story of Abraham and Isaac.  If you haven't read it in a while, please do today.  You'll be blessed by the example of Abraham and by the love of God.

So, how about it?  You want to be more like Abraham?  Me, too.  We can do it.  Let's start today!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Use It or Lose It

When our son first broke his arm the week of Thanksgiving, it was a strong arm - with lots of muscle.  He had been playing football and basketball and was very active.  It was his dominant, right arm.
Right before Christmas, the big, bulky cast was removed and this shorter, smaller cast was put on - just in time for our trip to Disney World.  Jacob noticed that his arm was much smaller and the cast even got looser as the weeks went by. (Note:  Donald Duck signed Jacob's cast!  See his signature below!)
Yesterday, after three weeks of wearing the short cast, the cast was removed!  Yippee!!  We're so excited, especially Jacob!!  His bubble was burst a little bit when he found out he would have to wear a brace for three more weeks.  He was ready to be totally done and get back to basketball.  He may get to play the very last basketball game of the season, but no more than that one.  

Jacob was shocked to see how small his arm was now.  He has muscle atrophy...the loss of muscle due to the lack of use.  It's normal after being in a cast, but Jacob doesn't like it!  None of us would!
The phrase "use it or lose it" is true.  Whatever we have and don't use - we lose.  Plain and simple.  Spiritually speaking, it is the same way.  If we don't use God's Word - by reading it, living it, and learning it - we will lose it.  Our knowledge - however big or small - will not be retained if we don't review it from time to time.  If we want to grow spiritually, we must continue to "feed" and "exercise" our minds by reading the Bible, memorizing the Word, and applying it in our lives.

When Jacob saw his arm he was shocked and is anxious to do something about those muscles!  He's anxious to use them again!  Shouldn't we be shocked if we were to see our spiritual lives diminishing?  Hopefully and prayerfully so.  Actually, hopefully and prayerfully we don't get to that point where we see any lessening, but are constantly striving to grow and build that strength.

Examine your life daily.  Examine it by God's standard - by His Word.  Don't let the "use it or lose it" ever apply to your spiritual life.  Grow in Him.  Build up your strength through Him.  God loves you, and He wants you to continue loving Him, too! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In The Beginning - GOD!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Genesis 1:1-2
Southwest Oklahoma sky (yesterday)...
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Genesis 1:3-4
Pensacola, FL - Gulf of Mexico
 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
Genesis 1:6-8
 Pensacola Beach, FL
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:9-10
 Palm Trees in Kissimmee, FL
 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
Genesis 1:11-13
 Lake at Buena Vista, FL - Downtown Disney
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,  and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth,  to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
Genesis 1:14-18
 Bird at EPCOT
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.”  So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 
Genesis 1:20-22
Bird wanting my popcorn! Magic Kingdom
God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”  And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
Genesis 1:23
 Elephant - Animal Kingdom
 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 
Genesis 1:24
 Giraffe - Animal Kingdom
God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:25
 Gorilla - Animal Kingdom
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Genesis 1:26
My husband with Minnie Mouse - Not exactly "ruling over" in this picture, but he does with our goats at home!
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27
Zebras - Animal Kingdom
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
Genesis 1:28
 Driving back home - Somewhere in Florida
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.  And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Genesis 1:29-31


 
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