Christian

Daily Scripture, 2/20/19

“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.  So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 NIV

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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Christian

Whom Shall I Fear?

I love Chris Tomlin’s song Whom Shall I Fear. He sings, The God of angel armies is always by my side. 

That is an incredible truth! When I hear those words, I picture in my mind the Lord God Almighty, ready for battle, and He is right by my side as I face the unknown. 

The Psalmist wrote,”Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” Psalm 23:4

How comforting, to know that the One who created the universe, the one and only true God, is by my side. Wherever life leads, He is there with me. If danger threatens me, He is there. If sadness comes, He is there. If bad news comes, He is there, right by my side. For that reason, I will not fear.

Long ago, I memorized Psalm 91. When I can’t sleep, I repeat it in my head. It is one of my favorite passages and brings great peace. Verse 15 says, “I will be with him in trouble.”

The revelation of this idea, of God by my side, astounds me.  

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9


“Lo, I am with you always …” Matthew 28:20

Isn’t that what we need in times of trouble – someone who loves us by our side?

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23 ESV

Whatever you are facing, remember that God is by your side. He is right there by you! He is with you every step of the way.

Let that knowledge bring you strength and banish all fear.


Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

With Love, 

AA55AA1F-EA36-49A9-92BE-41FD67348618

This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

realchristianwomen.blog  

Photo by Davide Cantelli on Unsplash

Christian

Where Has God Asked You to Love?

My job (and ministry) is in a middle school. You know, where kids know how to push your buttons and are exercising their desire to rebel against authority.

Maybe God hasn’t put anyone “hard to love” in your life, but I bet He has. I only know that what God has asked me to to do isn’t easy and even though I am willing – I keep failing over and over.

What is our mission?

It is to love!

Sometimes I wonder why He has called me to love those “not easy to love”. I’m not good at it! I lose my temper. I get angry. I lecture. I utter those horrible teacher words, “I’m done!”

The kind of love God expects us to show to others is not a feeling. It is an action. It can be very hard to show agape love. Where is your mission field? Do you sometimes find it difficult to show love to people there?

Over 20 years ago, God showed me something that I will never forget. At the time, I was very involved in women’s ministry, but I became increasingly disturbed by some of the teaching in my church. I asked God to show me where my focus should be.

I asked Him to show me the main idea of the New Testament. I felt like my focus was on the wrong things. In desperation, I read the New Testament through three times in a row.

In a notebook, I kept track of how often various subjects were discussed, such as hope, faith, prosperity, love, spiritual warfare, etc.

I discovered that love was the most frequently taught subject by far! There was no doubt about it. God was showing me, through my crisis, that love, agape love, was very important to Him and my focus should be there.

I began an in depth study on agape love, looking for every Biblical reference. I studied Greek and Hebrew definitions. I wrote. I read. I studied.

love is patient2I Corinthians 13:4-8

I can’t do it in my own strength. God must do it through me. Every day, I must pray for God’s power to dwell in me. Once we realize that we can’t do it ourselves, we have passed Lesson 1.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 (NIV)

Lesson 2: Let our day begin with prayer. “Father, Show the Savior’s love through me today. Teach me to love.” And pray for them. Ask God to help you see the good things about them, not just what they do wrong.

Lesson 3: Study God’s Word about love and be changed. Start with I Corinthians 13. Meditate on it. Study it. How does it apply to my life?

“Love is patient.”  I Corinthians 13:4a

(I don’t know about you, but I need to meditate on these 3 words for at least a week!)

The Greek word for patient is makrothumeo. It means “slow to anger”.

“Being slow to anger does not mean that one does not care, but rather that he has his emotions under control.” (Detzler)

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)

According to Vine’s Bible Dictionary, “Patience is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate.”

Webster defines patience as “enduring … trouble with composure and without complaining; refusing to be provoked …”

Note: I wrote this post about a year ago, but I find myself once again needing His strength and His grace to do the very thing He has asked me to do – love those God has put in my path – and show them God’s unconditional love.

With Love, 

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This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

realchristianwomen.blog 

Christian

A Shepherd’s Perspective

“I have concluded based on my years of experience that sheep are stupid. Not just stupid but mind-numbingly stupid— sometimes I wonder how they manage to breath and eat.” Glenn Brunkow, Rancher¹

*********

I’m re-reading a fascinating book by Phillip Keller called A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.² Keller was a shepherd for years and relates many things about sheep that most people don’t know.

The book is eye-opening and provides a deeper understanding of our relationship with the Lord, the Great Shepherd. It’s no accident he calls us His sheep!

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

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.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” Psalm 23 KJV

The shepherd watches over his sheep day and night. They cannot take care of themselves and they get into all kinds of trouble. They will drink polluted water, wander off and be attacked by a wild animals, get stuck in the same fence repeatedly, etc.

“He who watches over you will not slumber;” Psalm 121:3

Sheep are fearful, timid, and skittish. A rabbit hopping by suddenly can send them into a panic. But they calm down when the shepherd walks into view and they are comforted. So many times in my life, when I was in a panic, the Lord has comforted me and calmed my fears. That’s when I wonder how people who don’t know Him get through tough times.

We do “not want” because Jesus is always with us, in good times and in bad.  Our joy and peace comes from His presence in our life, not in what we have or the way life goes. We are content to be led by Him, doing His will.

One thing I found interesting is the fact that like humans, some sheep refuse to follow the shepherd and instead do their own thing. (Ouch!)

This can result in lots of serious problems for the sheep, problems they would have never experienced – if only they had followed the shepherd. (I think this parallel is pretty obvious!)

Keller tells how he would lead his sheep to a clean, clear stream and a stubborn ewe would go off and drink from a polluted, parasite-infested puddle instead. Isn’t that what some people do? We choose the unclean ways of the world instead of the ways of God.

“Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.  By this he meant the Spirit,” John 7:37-38 NIV

A good shepherd provides good forage for the sheep, lush green vegetation, so that the sheep can have plenty to eat, grow, and thrive. However, some sheep will wander off and eat from barren, dry brush instead. Many times, we prefer to feed on the barren ground of the world around us instead of the peace and comfort that comes from dwelling in His Word and His presence.

The final parallel I want to share is the most extraordinary. Sheep must have plenty of pure clean water. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to lead them to a lush green field heavy with morning dew.

The sheep can keep fit and hydrated for months just by grazing right before dawn when the field is heavy with dew. The sheep feed heavily and are most content at this time of day. A good shepherd will make sure his sheep have this opportunity to drink in the “still waters” of dew.

“In the Christian life it is of more than passing significance to observe that those who are often the most serene, most confident and able to cope with life’s complexities are those who rise early each day to feed on God’s Word.” (Keller)

These are just a few of the many insights from A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller.

I don’t know about you, but it gives me great comfort to know that I don’t have to be smart to thrive. I need only to follow Jesus, the Great Shepherd.

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 NIV

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 NIV

“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:12-14 NIV

With Love, 

AA55AA1F-EA36-49A9-92BE-41FD67348618

This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

realchristianwomen.blog 

¹https://www.agupdate.com/midwestmessenger/opinion/columnists/glenn_brunkow/the-questionable-intelligence-of-sheep/article_69540f07-7577-5559-bfde-a31ea95acc0c.html

²ISBN 0-310-26790-0 available on Amazon

Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

Christian

So You’re Angry

One morning, God stopped me in the middle of something (I thought) was very important and gave me a lesson in discipline. This is what happened:

I was studying my Bible to prepare a lesson for the Women’s Bible Study when the phone rang. The church secretary informed me that the room I had reserved for the Bible Study would not be available because someone else needed it.

What?! Are you kidding me? So what? 

(Little did I know, the Lord was getting ready to take me down a completely different path than the one I was on.)

It was hard to continue preparing my Bible lesson when I so angry. I thought, They can’t just take my room! This is ridiculous! Who do they think they are? That’s not fair!

I knew my attitude was wrong, but I couldn’t help it. I felt justified.

Then a Scripture came to my mind.

“Above all else, guard your heart,” came the still small voice. (Proverbs 4:23)

Honestly, I didn’t really want to, but I listened. Then another Scripture came to my mind. “Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought.” (Romans 12:3) and “Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

Then, God said to me, “Forgive”.

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

As an act of my will, I forgave. But I still felt really annoyed. Then the Lord brought another Scripture to my mind. “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up.” Hebrews 12:15

To forgive is a decision, but I knew that if I kept rehearsing this over and over in my mind, bitterness would take root. I needed God’s grace.

Thank God we can “Come boldly to the throne of grace … and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

What is our time of need? It is when we are too weak to do something in our own strength. The Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient, …. for my power is made perfect in weakness.2 Corinthians 12:9

Hebrews 13:9 says, “It is good to be strengthened by God’s grace.”

Oh how we need to rely on God’s grace to serve Him!

“Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” Hebrews 12:28 KJV

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

God was teaching me that I can easily justify a  selfish attitude. But if I want others to see the love of God through me, I must walk in His ways.

It wasn’t the circumstances in question that were important. The real issue was – would I guard my heart? He taught me to rely on Him because His grace is sufficient.

If you need God’s grace today, go boldly to the Throne of Grace.

With Love, 

AA55AA1F-EA36-49A9-92BE-41FD67348618

This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

realchristianwomen.blog 

Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash

All Scripture references are from the NIV unless otherwise noted.

 

Christian

Why Do I Blog? To Be Followed or To Follow Him?

Corrie ten Boom said, “If God has called you, do not spend time looking over your shoulder to see who is following you.” And she is someone whose advice I respect.

So why do we blog? Why do we write? As Christian writers, we say it’s to tell people about the Lord Jesus Christ and His love. But we must be careful that our ultimate desire is to follow Him, not to be followed. He will guide us by His Word.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.” Psalms 119:105 NIV

This is especially true for those of us who want people to follow our blog, FaceBook, or Instagram. Although we are encouraged when readers decide to follow us, that cannot be our guiding force.

What good would it be if millions followed our blog, but God wasn’t using it to speak to any of them? It would be better, by far, to reach a handful of people that God was using us to encourage and bring hope.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” –Francis Chan

Acts 20:20 states that Paul taught “from house to house”. And in verse 24, he says, “In every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”

The Apostle Paul risked his life to teach from house to house. I was struck by the fact that he did not consider himself too important to reach out to a small number of people.

As we fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him, He will accomplish His purpose in our lives and in our writing.

Should we develop our skills and study our craft in order to be the best writer we can be? Absolutely!  The Bible says, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord … It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

I am convinced that the more closely I follow Him, the more He will use me. We must not despise the day of small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10) If only one person is encouraged by what you wrote, God has used you! God cares about individual people.

Jesus said, See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. Matthew 18:10-14

Nothing thrills me more than for a reader to tell me, “I needed this!” or “This spoke to me.” Then I know that God has used me.

May we always follow Him with our whole heart and pray that He will use us to accomplish His purposes in our writing.

With Love, 

AA55AA1F-EA36-49A9-92BE-41FD67348618

This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

¹Corrie ten Boom is the author of The Hiding Place.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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Bible, Christian

Does Complaining Make You Feel Better?

That’s why we complain isn’t it? To feel better. After all, I’ve got to get this off my chest! I need to vent!”

But does it really make you feel better? I decided to do an experiment. What would happen if, instead of complaining, I thanked God.

Here’s what happened. The more I complained about my situation (to other people), the angrier I got. But when I thanked God for the positives in this situation, the more at peace I became.

What does God’s Word say about it?

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16 NIV

The Amplified Bible makes it crystal clear: ” … in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness], 16 holding out and offering to everyone the word of life.”

God knows that when we complain, it has a negative effect on us. In other words, it isn’t healthy. But more than that, a person who doesn’t complain is refreshing to be around. That person shines like a star in the darkness holding out the word of life.

The Israelites complained about everything after God brought them out of Egypt. We tend to think, “How can they complain after God so spectacularly brought them out of slavery?” But are we any different? Hasn’t God brought us out of bondage to sin, and yet we complain about every little thing?

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I chuckle every time I read the following passage written by Beth Moore from her book, Breaking Free. She states the exact opposite of Philippians 4:6-7 to drive home a point.

“Do not be calm about anything, but in everything, by dwelling on it constantly and feeling picked on by God, with thoughts like, ‘and this is the thanks I get,’ present your aggravations to everyone you know but Him. And the acid in your stomach, which transcends all milk products, will cause you an ulcer, and the doctor bills will give you a heart attack and you will lose your mind!”

It’s funny because that’s what we do!

Next, I did some research. And there’s plenty of information on it. Consider this article from Penn State University.

“Complaining is also bad for your health. When you complain, your body releases more of the hormone that shifts a human into fight-or-flight mode, the hormone known as cortisol. This directs oxygen, blood, and energy from any system that is not crucial to survival. Frequent complaining results in extra cortisol being released, which puts a person more at risk for high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and strokes.

So what can we do to stop ourselves from complaining? Every time you find yourself making a negative observation, make a positive one instead. It is recommended that a person takes time to think about what they’re grateful for. Doing this can reduce cortisol by 23%, according to research at the University of California, Davis. Decreasing the amount you complain will have an overall more positive impact on your health. So why not start today?”¹

So now science is saying what God said almost 2,000 years ago! I’m convinced. It’s time for me to stop complaining.

With Love, 

AA55AA1F-EA36-49A9-92BE-41FD67348618

This is My Journey Unscripted.

Click this link to learn more about Jesus: Who Is Jesus?

realchristianwomen.blog 

 

¹https://sites.psu.edu/siowfa16/2016/10/21/what-does-complaining-do-to-your-brain/

Photo by Jose Aragones on Unsplash