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Immersed in the Word

When we hold our Bible, we hold God’s living and active Word in our hands, nothing will replace it, nothing.  There are great studies out there that can add to our experience, but nothing replaces plunging into God’s Word for ourselves.

Immersed 

plunged or sunk in or as if in a liquid

I remember reading a great study and thinking to myself, “I wish I could understand God’s Word like she does.”   Second hand was no longer good enough, I wanted it first hand, for myself. Somehow I had fooled myself into thinking I wasn’t smart or educated enough.

The truth is ladies, we have to know God’s truth first hand.  It is the measuring stick for our lives. First I had to get a grip and realize a few things:

God’s Word is Not About Me, It is About Him

It seemed that no matter what I read, I wanted every verse to be about me, or speak to me directly.   What if simply knowing God’s character more, changed me?

Don’t Go It Alone

I have come to realize that the times I have gleaned the most, were times I spent searching God’s Word with others.   Pray, ask the Lord to send you a few ladies and then immerse yourselves.

Make God’s Word a Priority

I had to make the time, set an appointment.  Time to plunge in and sink deep. To read small portions slow and then re-read them again.  To think about what I read.

Who was speaking?

What were they saying?

Who were they saying it to?

Change Your Approach to God’s Word

Cherry picking verses that made me feel good had to stop.  I am going to use the much quoted Jeremiah 29:11 as an example.

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Who doesn’t love this verse?  I love plans, especially good plans.  Even better that they are the Lord’s plans for me.  He plans to prosper me.  Keep me free from harm.  Give me hope. Give me a future.  Do you see my common thread?  Me…me…me.

I short change myself when I fail to read this verse in context.  I miss important action steps and miss even more promises from the Lord.

Context

the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect

As I look at the entire chapter of Jeremiah 29 I see some answers to my questions.

Who was speaking? The Lord of Israel is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah

 What were they saying?  He is telling them words of instruction and encouragement

 Who were they saying it to? Israeli captives in Babylon

In context: 

10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.  Jeremiah 29: 10-14

Some facts:  

The Captives would remain in captivity for seventy years

The Lord was coming to visit them with good news, He was bringing them home

The Lord is very clear about His thoughts toward His people: 

Thoughts of peace not evil

Plans for a future and hope

There is some action required on their part: 

Call upon the Lord and Pray

Seek  Him

Search with all of your heart

There are some additional promises from the Lord:

He will listen

He will be found

He will bring His people out of captivity

He will gather His people

He was the one who placed them in captivity, but why?

 So they would Call, Pray, Seek and Search

In that place of captivity God was doing a work in the hearts of His people, but He realized they needed a glimmer of hope.

What Do These Verses Say to Me Today?

These words are for God’s children and as believers,they also fall onto us.

Throughout our life we may find ourselves captive to many things.  God knows we are in that place of captivity, He has allowed us to go there.  All along the journey His thoughts toward us are peaceful .  In that place He is doing a good work within us and He is planning for our future.   Grab on to that glimmer of hope and then Call, Pray, Seek and Search, He will be found by us and He is bringing us home.

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Better Together

Something has been burning in me for some time now.  It’s my first thought in the morning and my last at night.  We’re better together.

I am on this walk, this journey to become more like Christ.  The plan is –

Less of Me – More of Him 

This is a walk I cannot walk alone.  I am grateful that I have not had to.  Grateful for friends, who have become sisters to me, who have joined me the journey.

In my small community , God is on the move.  I see new faces each week, when I take the time to look –

  •  I see a generation of women, who are holding a Bible in their hands for the first time,starving for what its pages hold.
  •  I see a hunger and a thirst for a better life.  A life with God in the center.
  • I see mothers standing alone dedicating their children to the Lord.
  • I see women sitting alone, their husbands at home far from God.

I hear the Lord whispering in my ear,

“They don’t have to walk alone.” 

I feel a fire igniting within me – burning

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Many of us spend our lives chasing after our ‘calling’.  We are convinced that it has to be some great thing.

What if the great things are this – 

  • Sitting over a cup of coffee and opening up her Bible with her for the first time.
  • Lingering over a meal as you encourage her, filling her with strength to keep God in the center.
  • Standing with her as she strives to raise her children knowing the Lord.
  • Sitting beside her and praying for her husband to join her in knowing Jesus.

Let this be our prayer –  Lord, help us to clearly see the great things You have called us to.  Remind us that great is not always big.  Great can be, just the one.  You see her, Lord – the one who is walking, lonely.   Give us the courage to lay down all of our fears, selfishness and insecurities, that we may come alongside her in her journey.  – Amen

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In the Garden

As Jesus walked in the Garden of Gethsemane the night of His arrest, He prayed.  He prayed for Himself, for His disciples and He prayed for us…the ones who would believe.

Gethsemane night 

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”  John 17: 20-26

As Jesus was preparing to face betrayal, persecution, torture, ridicule, pain and death.  We were on his mind.  He was praying to the Father on our behalf.

The ones who would believe by faith in His message, passed down to us from His disciples.  Who would then take the message of Jesus and line their lives up alongside it.

He prayed unity, that we would be one with Him, one with God the Father and one with each another.

We all become One though the sacrifice of Jesus

through this Great Big Love… 

This Love was there before Creation 

This Love reconciles us with the Father 

This Love shown to us by Jesus, in all of His glory.

This Love enables us to love one another. 

This Love brings unity.

This Love that lives in us, will draw the World to Him. 

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Living Brave

This week I am in a twirl!  So much excitement is stirring within me.

This Saturday my home church is hosting Living Brave, a One Day Conference.

We are going to gather and hear the life stories of Four Brave Women of the Bible. 

Deborah

Hannah

Esther

Mary the Mother of Christ

Something amazing and beautiful happens when women circle around

The Presence of God

The Word

In Fellowship and Friendship

We Become Brave  

My dear friend Ginny is coming to teach Hannah and Esther and I have the privilege of teaching Deborah and Mary.

These women lived in a time when women were treated more like property than people.  The Lord knew their worth, just as He knows ours.

He called them to be Brave – He calls us to be Brave

We can become confused about where our bravery comes from.  We think we have to summon it up on our own, or work on our self confidence and then someday, someway we will become brave.

Living Brave is God Confidence. 

It is knowing the call of God and walking in it, all the while depending on Him.

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  It will be challenging, messy and sometimes heartbreaking,

Yes heartbreaking

We are not Brave on our own – It is Him who makes us Brave

Podcast · Praying the Psalms Project · Uncategorized

Psalm 8 – Praying the Psalms Project

Real worship is praising God for ‘Who He Is’.  Few master worship better than David.  For one I am thrilled that David, for a moment, has taken his focus off of his enemies and placed them on God alone.

Creation is a beautiful thing.  The weather app on my phone opens with this statement.

“It’s Amazing Out There” 

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I love it, I want to go out and climb a mountain and yell from the top,

‘It’s Amazing Out Here!’

Psalm 8

For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by a stringed instrument.

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
    Your glory is higher than the heavens.
You have taught children and infants
    to tell of your strength,
silencing your enemies
    and all who oppose you.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
    the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
    human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You gave them charge of everything you made,
    putting all things under their authority—
the flocks and the herds
    and all the wild animals,
the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
    and everything that swims the ocean currents.

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

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Lord, You are so BIG, You fill the earth with your presence.

Little children and babies know all about You. They know how strong you are.

You have silenced Your enemies.

When I look at the sky, filled with the moon, stars and planets, I am amazed.

How did we become so special to You that would care for us?

Thank you Lord, that you have crowned us with glory and honor and have trusted us over Your beautiful Creation. 

Over animals that run in flocks and herds, the birds that fly in the sky, and the fish that fill the seas and the oceans. 

Thank you for trusting us.  Help us to be good stewards of the glorious work of Your hands.   Amen

Photo by Alistair Nicol on Fivehundredpx
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Life Lessons from a Shunammite Woman

I’ve been studying the story of the Shunammite woman this week and her story is so rich and full of many truths.  You can read it here in 2 Kings 4: 8-37 and then in 2 Kings 8:1-6

Take a little walk with me through the life lessons that her story teaches –

Take Time for Hospitality

Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food.  And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.”

This woman’s miraculous story would have never happened if she had not been a woman who offered hospitality.

She noticed these two men who traveled past her home time after time and knew one was a holy man of God.

Our text says she persuaded them to eat some food.

I have seen a woman like her in action many times. When you stop by to see my mother-in-law, there is no way, no how you are leaving her house without eating something. If you choose not to partake in her pasta, or her stand by – an egg-salad sandwich, you will surely be leaving with a Reese Peanut Butter Cup tucked in your pocket.

Our Shunammite Woman takes things a step further and has a great idea. She has a room built for Elisha, a place where he and his servant Gehazi can retreat and rest. Now that is hospitality, having a room added on to your home.

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Be Content

Elisha decides that he wants to do something nice for this hospitable woman. They call her to the upper room to have a chat and it goes like this –

‘Look, you have been concerned for us with all this care. What can I do for you? Do you want me to speak on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’”

She answers, “I dwell among my own people.”  This translates to “I am content.”

She could have requested anything, but she simply says – “I’m content” and leaves the room.

Did I just hear that right, a woman said that she is content with her life?

I don’t know about you, but I could have come up with a laundry list of items.

God Sees Our Buried Dreams

God is about to dig up a long buried dream in our lady. They call her to the upper room for a second time and lay bare a deep buried dream –

When he had called her, she stood in the doorway.  Then he said, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.”

And she said, “No, my lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!”

She could not bear to have her long buried dream dug up, even if it came in the form of a promise.

Ever have a dream like that, one you hold so near and dear to your heart, that you don’t even speak of it? I have a few.

We may try to bury them deep, but God sees our hearts and every unfulfilled dream they hold.

 

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The spirit of a (wo)man is the lamp of the Lord, Searching all the inner depths of her heart.

Proverbs 20:27

A Gift Given – Then Taken Away – Roots Out Real Faith 

As some would say this is where the ‘rubber meets the road’

And the child grew. Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers.  And he said to his father, “My head, my head!”

So he said to a servant, “Carry him to his mother.”  When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out.  Then she called to her husband, and said, “Please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back.”

So he said, “Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.”

And she said, “It is well.”  Then she saddled a donkey, and said to her servant, “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace for me unless I tell you.”  And so she departed, and went to the man of God at Mount Carmel.

So it was, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to his servant Gehazi, “Look, the Shunammite woman!  Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’”

And she answered, “It is well.”

Her buried dream is resurrected and comes to life.  I can imagine her joy, as her little son grew.  I am sure she watched out the window as her young son and his father made their way out to the fields.

I can feel her heart fall in her chest as she sees a servant at her door, with her limp son in his arms.  Her grief as she holds him, as his breath leaves his body for the last time.

At this point I would have been screaming out to anyone who would hear me.  Not her, she takes him to the upper room, lays him on the bed and shuts the door.

She knows where she needs to go.  To the man of God – who reflected the very presence of God.

Her only words – “All is Well”  she speaks them twice, once to her husband and the second time to Gehazi.  The truth was, all was not well.  This is where she had to dig deep into her faith in the One who had already made the impossible, possible.

Hold Tight and Don’t Let Go

She breezes past Gehazi and has her sights on Elisha, the man of God.

 Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.”

So she said, “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?”

She reaches out for Elisha’s heal and a strange thing happens Gehazi tries to push her away.  Why would he? It was his job, to protect the presence of God that lived within Elisha.

When she reached out, she wasn’t just grabbing a hold of Elishia, she was reaching out and touching the very presence of God. She had no intention of letting go.

When things are desperate we learn quickly that the only place we can really go to find our answer is the presence of God.  We need to make our way there and hold on.

God like Elisha says, Come.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  Matthew 11: 28-29 

Our Shunammite woman says,“As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.”

She is not letting go, not for a second.

There Will Be Doubters

Elisha gives clear instruction to Gehazi, “Get yourself ready, and take my staff in your hand, and be on your way. If you meet anyone, do not greet him; and if anyone greets you, do not answer him; but lay my staff on the face of the child.” 

Why not talk to anyone?  One reason, there will always be the doubters and the nay- sayers.  They, in a minute can steal your faith.  Second reason, the can try to make a spectacle of what is about to happen.

Gehazi does as he is asked and returns to them saying, “The child has not awakened.” 

Interesting that he does not say, “The child is dead.”

In faith, this little party for three press forward to the upper room.

God Restores 

When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the Lord.  And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm.  He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.  And he called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite woman.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Pick up your son.”  So she went in, fell at his feet, and bowed to the ground; then she picked up her son and went out. 

The resurrection power of God comes and a dead child is brought pack to life.  Oh the joy and thankfulness that flooded her heart.

Her husband had never known that anything had gone wrong.  Wow, I am simply amazed at how this woman held it together.  In faith, she knew that the only One who could restore her son to her, was the One who had given him to her.  Her God.

In life we can loose things that we treasure.  Ones we love, our homes, our land, even our way of life.  I think of the many war torn countries who have every single thing, they stand there with nothing left.

There is only One, who can completely restore us, protect us and provide for us.  God shows that to our Shunammite woman again.

Then Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, “Arise and go, you and your household, and stay wherever you can; for the Lord has called for a famine, and furthermore, it will come upon the land for seven years.” So the woman arose and did according to the saying of the man of God, and she went with her household and dwelt in the land of the Philistines seven years.

 It came to pass, at the end of seven years, that the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went to make an appeal to the king for her house and for her land.  Then the king talked with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, “Tell me, please, all the great things Elisha has done.” Now it happened, as he was telling the king how he had restored the dead to life, that there was the woman whose son he had restored to life, appealing to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, thisis the woman, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.”  And when the king asked the woman, she told him.

So the king appointed a certain officer for her, saying, “Restore all that washers, and all the proceeds of the field from the day that she left the land until now.” 2 Kings 8: 1-6 

When difficult times come our way, we must ask ourselves, “Who do I place my faith in?” Myself, in others or in my God?

When we step outside of ourselves and say, “I choose God.”  We can truly say it and mean it, in any circumstance.  “All is Well”.

Restores

 

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She Heralds

My parents gave me this little gem for Christmas.  My Mom has been adding to my nativity set year after year and I find myself loving this little angel more and more.  She is heralding the new born King – Jesus!

 

Angel 1

I have already decided that I can not bare to pack her up and place her in a box until next Christmas.

She is a reminder to me of how I want to live out 2016 – joyfully heralding the Good News of Jesus in the big things and the small.

The angels we see in the Bible who are named, take the form of men.  I am almost certain that some of the angels in the choir heralding the birth of Jesus must have had female form, someone had to sing the soprano part.

The word CHOIR takes me back twenty-five plus years to high school.  I felt that I was  pretty good singer.  I should have been, I spent hours practicing in my room, in front of my mirror with yes…a hairbrush for a microphone.

When auditions came I was sure to be a shoe in for the Chamber Choir, the elite choir that traveled and sang.  The choir director thought differently and I never became a part of that elite choir.

Just the fact that I am still talking about it over twenty-five years later may tell you that I still haven’t quite gotten over it.

I have some good news for me and for you –

As Christians, believers in Jesus, we have an automatic spot in the choir. Each singing her unique song.

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To herald is to give news or tidings of; announce; proclaim.  In this world of bad news, we have Good News to proclaim.  News that will set people free, give hope and bring peace to chaotic lives. 

We all have a spot in this Choir, everyone of us.

Our lives sing the song.

So my friends,  pick up your microphone, your hairbrush or whatever you have handy and let’s ring in the New Year, singing a new song!

Angel 2

Heralding the Good News of Jesus is a beautiful thing – How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7