Tag Archives: Faith

He’s Coming!

Anticipating the arrival of a loved one is a joyful time, isn’t it?  A Christian’s heart has the possibility of that joy every moment of every day…and at ‘Christmas time’ we have an open door to discuss that joy!  Are you ready to grab the moments that come your way?While we’ve never been part of a church that liturgically celebrated Advent, it is our family tradition to prepare our hearts in the days prior to Christmas. I wanted to share some of that with others this year.

We live in a world that has so secularized Christmas that its original intent is often obscured.  We must not let that happen to our own celebrations.  While the reality is that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th anyway, the world gives us an open door with its Christmas celebrations.  Even the secular world turns its eyes to God in this season.  Let us use the world’s preparations to proclaim the love, grace & mercy of Jesus Christ that more might be won to the Kingdom.

burning candle animated gif pic

When we fix our hearts and eyes on Truth, it flows into our days…and people see the Word in our walk.  That is how it ought to be.  When we celebrate richly, others will take note.  Today begins the Advent Season for this year.  In the midst of busy-ness, consider how young Mary welcomed God’s interruption of her life plans.  A young woman, betrothed to a man….and told by God she would soon be carrying the Messiah in her womb.  That was an ‘interruption’ that was likely to cost her impending marriage–and quite possibly her life.  But Mary’s response was “Be it unto me according to thy word.”

“Mary’s faith is a wonderful example for us.  Rather than resentfully looking at her pregnancy as unfair and embarrassing, she understood that she had been uniquely blessed by God.  John MacArthur, Jr.

Throughout the week, pause each day to refocus on the blessed truths of the One who is coming…

Monday          Luke 1:35-38               Heart Focus:  Obedient Submission to the will of God

Tuesday          Jeremiah 29:11-13     Heart Focus:  Trust in the plans of God

Wednesday    Proverbs 16:3,9          Heart Focus:  Enjoy the story God is writing for you

Thursday        James 4:13-15             Heart Focus:   Let God give you the details as He wills

Friday             Psalm 37:4-7                Heart Focus:  Be rooted & joyful in the love of God

Saturday         Luke 1:39-41                Heart Focus:  Loving others is loving God

As we celebrate this season, may we keep in the front of our minds that Jesus is coming again!  He will not be coming as a vulnerable baby–but as the conquering King.  Let us do all we can to encourage others to prepare Him room.  See you next Sunday!

lion lamb

 

Thank you for the Candle  Best Animations !

Strong & Flexible

Have you ever been disappointed?  You expected to do something or get something that you never got?  You gave your best but things didn’t turn out as you hoped?

Of course, you have.  Everyone knows the dismay of disappointment.  That’s why this Christian Character Trait matters so much.  It is a trait we need to bear the weights and blows of life:  FLEXIBILITY.

Things often do not go as we expect or hope…but we don’t need to let those things break us or even bend us out of shape.  We need the strength to be flexible and this verse is the key to spiritual flexibility:

Set your mind on things above not on earthly things.  Colossians 3:2

What we choose to think about determines our strength and flexibility!  If our eyes are not focused on eternal truths of God, we will be rigid and unbending.  We’ll be hurt and we’ll hurt others.  We want to have the trait of flexibility so we can stand up in the weighty times of life!

snow landscape trees winter
Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

In our physical bodies, muscle flexibility is a desirable companion to muscle strength.  All muscles work in pairs – biceps & triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings and so on.  When one of the pair is used more than the others two different types of weakness happens.  The unused muscle is flabby weak and fails to stabilize its partner muscle.  Joint damage is a common outcome.  The other weakness will be in the ‘strong’ muscle.  That muscle will be tight and vulnerable to tears and injuries.  A lack of flexibility creates discomfort and damage.  Spiritually the same truth can be seen.

Rigid, unbending faith that puts God in a box is a weak faith.  It is a demanding faith that places great strain on self and others.  Faith is the substance of things NOT seen.  Faith without flexibility is not faith it all—it rests on what has been experienced, what one can do, what is known as ‘fact’ — there is no room for a supernatural God.  God never violates His character as revealed in the Bible but He is bigger than any of us.  The Word reminds us no one knows a matter fully.  There is always more to discover about God; He doesn’t fit in any box we can create!  Growing the muscle of faith requires balance between discipline and discipleship.  We must do all we know to do and seek to know God more!

Do you remember when Jesus confronted the Pharisees?  They were religious people who had gone from believing God to believing that good work was the way to God.  The Pharisees even bullied others to be like them but Jesus said they had missed more important things than what they were doing:  justice, mercy and faithfulness.  The Pharisees were strong in small things but their ‘faith muscle’ was tight and weak.  They were trusting in themselves and not God!

Hebrews reminds us that the only way to please God is FAITH!  Faith is a muscle that becomes weak and tense when it is not used.  We use our faith muscle when we trust God for greater things than we can do in our strength.  Real faith takes us beyond our ‘boxes’ and our comfort zones.  Strong faith in God is the road to an abundant life that changes the world!  Faith makes us flexible enough to take the hits of life and keep running toward the glory of God!

Where is God helping you grow your faith muscle?

Focused on Purpose

Whether we are riding a horse, driving a car or trying to get through the school year, the same truth applies: where your eyes are sets the course of your path. If we spend a lot of time looking at what we ‘can’t do’ or the things that we would rather do or all the terrifying possibilities, we won’t accomplish all God would have us do. We need to fix our eyes on TRUTHS from the Word of God and trust Him to help us over the rough patches.

can't

“Can’t” is a detour with a huge PIT. When our eyes focus on what we can’t do, we miss the path to what we can do. Can’t will keep us from a struggle but it will never strengthen us or accomplish our purpose. Can’t is a word we need to shorten to can. Focusing our eyes on what we can do will help us get where we need to be.

“Want to” is another powerful force; the human will is where most ‘want to’ comes from. God gave us free will. The greatest gift we can give to God is to surrender that will and echo the words of Jesus to our Father, “Not my will but thine.” When we accept the purposes of God as our own, great and mighty things come from our lives.

“Fear” is the last detour we’ll consider how to avoid. Fear goes by many names…sometimes it masquerades as ‘common sense;’ other times it hides in ‘comfort zones.’ F.E.A.R. is often just ‘false evidence appearing real.’ The bottom line of the matter comes straight from Scripture: anything not of faith is sin. Faith and fear don’t live on the same street.

Setting our eyes on the purposes of God will take us beyond our abilities, give us new desires and call us outside of our comfort zones. Let’s choose God’s purpose as our own. Refuse to focus on ‘can’t’ and ‘want’ and see what God will do!

Courage for Life!

Life is hard.  Suicide is NOT the answer.

There are no easy answers and no short cuts to the clichéd idea of ‘a life worth living.’  The spate of suicides we’ve seen among the rich & famous scream out the emptiness of fame and fortune.  The devastating statistics on addiction declare a dead-end for escaping through mind-altering drugs. LIFE is worth living!

There is only one path to full, abundant living:  Jesus Christ.  He understood–and understands–the difficulties of life and made a way where it seemed there was no way.

John 16 33

ALL life is a gift from the God of the Bible…the One who spoke the world into being and created from nothing.  There is but One God.  He doesn’t want life to be hard…but He uses the ‘hardness’ to draw us to Himself.  He wants us to bring the hard things to Him, trusting His plans for us are good–and His power to accomplish those plans sufficient!

omins

The courage we need to face life is found only in the character of God.  We must know who He is and live in that awareness.  What our mind knows that our heart can’t feel is useless to us.  It isn’t being able to state the ‘omni’s’ of God; it is being able to rest in those truths.

As difficult things come to us, we need to rest on the Truths of God’s identity–and our own.  We who believe in Jesus Christ–in the truth that we are lost/doomed to a dark eternity without the Saving work of Christ–are God’s beloved children; His chosen.  Those who do not have that kind of faith in God seek to make their own way to peace.  It is a hard road with a harder ending.

If you have faith but not victory, this short video from Kirk Cameron might give some insights on enjoying the benefits of relationship that aren’t found in religion.  If you do not have any faith, my prayer is that this same video will give you hope and this one offer clarity.

The essence of ‘salvation’ – of believing that Jesus is our personal need – is a reality we must live moment by moment.  Salvation is a one-time decision; living its truth is a daily necessity.  The Bible IS a light for our path.  We need to mine it daily to find the Truths that will transform even the hardest things into treasures from the King Himself.  God meets us right where we are if we will turn to Him.

God’s children can know that He is present in every difficulty.  Any challenge is a Father-filtered reality and His love surrounds it.  There is nothing that happens in our lives that takes Him by surprise or derails the good plans He has for us.  His power is unlimited.  What He purposes will take place.  He promises guidance.

Our task in life is simply this:  seek God’s face in all things.  In His presence is purpose and peace…abundant life for us and those around us.  He wants us to be connected to each other, loving each other and spreading His glory as we live.

How can I pray for you?

Comment below or send an email to:

billiejoyoumans@heartsongministry.net

 

Why won’t he listen to me?

Jump, Scooby, Jump!

She’s four.  She’s been on a horse for about four hours in her life.  She knew what he could do.  She knew what she wanted to do.  She spoke clearly and told him so.

Scooby, who loves jumping, ignored her.   17579988_1435669199829684_1360804793_n

Her voice became more insistent until the words were a plaintive plea:  “Jump, Scooby,
Jump.”

Scooby walked on, unperturbed.

Finally, frustration flooding and tears spilling, she cried out, “Why doesn’t he listen to me?”

Kendal spoke the words every child of God has cried at some point or other.  We know what God can do.  We know what we want and we ask clearly, repeatedly…and nothing changes.  Hearts broken, frustration overflowing, we lash out at being ignored.

Like Kendal, we fail to realize God won’t do what we are not ready for.  It is not that He disagrees with our request; He just knows the time is not right.  God recognizes our weaknesses even when we don’t.  He feels that our faith muscles need strengthening to keep us balanced in the grand actions we request.

God never withholds what is best and He never gives what will harm.

Next time your heart cries out, remember Kendal and whisper a thank you!

Living Legacies!

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
Proverbs 25:2

Typically, the beautiful treasures of this life are found only through deep searching. Sometimes, though, the amazing grace of God reveals Truth in moments of mercy. Such glorious truths are never meant for one heart alone. In fact, the light God gives that we do not share becomes darkness. But that’s another topic. Today, I want to share a glimpse of God’s purposeful work across generations. It encouraged me, and I offer it with a prayer that it will energize you as well.

Our family moved hundreds of miles from our ‘roots’ in rural New York State a few years ago. Each year we go ‘home’ to visit those who share history with us. In every life, legacies are worked out…good inheritances and bad. Within all of it, God works! When we receive that work, His good purposes come to fruition.

This year we were invited to attend church with a loved one. The invitation itself was evidence of the work of God in her life. Delighted to celebrate this new connection to the Body, we went with little expectation of anything more than ‘church’ and the joy of being with our loved one. The church was one I had intermittent connection with over the years. And it was a great church service—good fellowship with old friends who were there, an excellent Biblical message, a church that was thriving. It was much more than that, though.

That particular church was part of my uncle’s life legacy. He had been one of the founding members and part of the building team. As I sat in that building, I suddenly realized it was more a part of my legacy than I knew—and more than the church—or its members–could have known. Interactions with that church—and people in it—dotted my memory. In the times those connections happened, they did not feel impactful—and sometimes not even positive. But God was at working His plan in and through those who were faithfully—but imperfectly following Him.
Along with that awareness, there was much more of the weaving God there. The music came from a church one of my South Carolina friends attends…a friend who attends Bible Study in our home. Other worshippers at the service were from a church that had greatly influenced our marriage and family decades before. Every connection I recognized throbbed with the purpose of God and the imperfection of the earthly—and God was in it all.

He was there in my own rebellion and insecurity, in my grief and in my lostness. He was there in the church split that brought new folks to this church. He was there in the message. He is present in the controversies that surround the church that produced the music. God knows and uses it all because His purposes will not be thwarted. God weaves our strengths and weaknesses for our good and His glory. He is never put off by our inadequacy because His strength is perfect in our weakness.

Feeling the presence of God link my past to my present

fills me with enthusiasm for the future!

As I began processing all that I realized that is how God works. We don’t always see what He is doing, but the Great I AM is always present; His plans always underway. And as I thought about that, the complexity of legacies gave me fresh awe for God. My Grandma’s passion for Bible Reading sowed seeds that produced a harvest in my uncle’s life. He, too, fed on the Word daily. Perhaps other legacies being eradicated kept those seeds from rooting in my dad’s life…but they flourish in mine. In the fullness of time the beautiful work of God will overcome the destructive legacies as Light is spread by faithful servants.

That transforming light is SO needed. Because in every life, there are ugly realities inherited as well. Suicides, alcoholism, divorce, broken relationships, and strong-willed independence are part of my inheritance too. The work of the enemy is what Jesus came to destroy. As we seek Him, we produce a legacy of seeds that can do just that. We can’t do it for another…but passionately seeking Jesus individually produces a “Taste and See” life that God will use. He is faithful to His promises. Even when we cannot see it, He is at work.

I’d love to hear how you see God at work in your heart and life.  I pray those of you connected to this piece because of our shared lives will see God at work in your lives in fresh new ways.  He is good and worthy of praise.  Rejoice in Him. Live in Him.

 

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Holy Fear

This series of articles, “Let’s Look Like Jesus” complement the perpetual prayer list for Christian Character.

Holy Fear is actually the antidote to the horrible fear immobilizing so many in the world today.  Fear is a common part of our world; in fact, sometimes it seems fear makes the world go round.

Proverbs 28:14 challenges us though:  ‘happy is the man who is never without fear.’ The words stop me as all of the foolish fears of life eddy through my mind: the fear of aging and infirmity, the fear of disappointing or offending others, the fear of failing, and the fear of shame. The list is endless of those things that we can fear. Yet, those are the fears of evil which destroy life.   Dr. Caroline Leaf explains the deadly impact of fear-based thinking in this brief video:

 

Clearly the wise writer of Proverbs spoke of fears which lead to blessing and life.  There is a reverent fear…an awe…which protects from evil and leads to life.   There are earthly things which inspire a reverent fear. Electricity is one. We often take its power for granted but unleashed electricity is indeed a fearsome, deadly force. The wind is another. At times it is a gentle, refreshing breeze and others a destructive force beyond the control of our best efforts.

The only fear, though, that leads to happiness is awe of our eternal Creator. As a Christian, holy fear is that aspect of our character which flattens us before our mighty God. It is the reverent awe of lying prostrate before the King of Kings which transforms a child of God. It is an attribute of great value in the character of a child of God.

With reverence and fear as an integral trait, we will not only read the Word of God, we will seek to see it become alive in our relationships with others. We will take His Word not only as our standard but as the reality in which we long to live. Our choices will never become completely perfect…our humanity is not eliminated as the character of Christ controls us more fully.  Less of us and more of Him is a life-time process.

Fear of God, though, will lead us to trust in His design, to obedience to His ways. His blessings will overflow into the details of our days. Our lives, and the impact of our lives, will reap eternal rewards with a heart that is humbly reverent. Rejoice today in trusting submission to the Creator…in laying before Him every worry and care knowing that He can and will bring good!

Be a Hero Like Terri

Bible stories are not stories; they are history.  Every day we live, we write more history.  Stories of courage from Scripture are necessary for us to know…but sharing the stories of the faithful through the years has merit as well.  There are heroes of faith all around us.  One of my prayers with this little series is that you will share your stories–or the stories that inspire you!  Today, though, I want to point you to a blog I stumbled across.

Diary of a Quadriplegic

I have not met this lady, and she doesn’t know I am writing this column.  I suspect she is a hero to many more than me.  Her name is Terri Nida.  She tells her story with raw realness that never fails to humble me, challenge me–and encourage me.  Do go read it…my summary doesn’t convey the power of her story.

The short version is this:  in the midst of a ‘perfect life,’ she found herself in a pit of despair.  Longing to reconnect with the God she knew but had become distanced from, she fasted and prayed.   Just days before suffering a paralyzing injury, she wrote this on her Facebook Page:

Some life circumstances are not meant to be understood; the call is just to keep moving forward one step at a time. That’s called faith.

Terri Nida is a hero for me because she answered that call with faith in a sovereign, good God.  She continues to answer that call and share her journey with humble, hurting honesty.

“…Little did I know I was getting ready to take a journey with God that would teach me how to claw out of that well, inch by inch. When I woke up in the ICU a few days later, I suddenly had a desperate need for support from friends and family and a relationship with God. Thus I began my journey of physical, spiritual, and emotional healing….”

“Since I became a quadriplegic, I’ve kept the belief that God has a greater purpose in this than what I can see. I believe this with all my heart! And yet maneuvering through each individual day and through an odyssey of emotions as I face increased medical problems and visits to the hospital ICU, it’s been hard for me not to think of each day as a negative event. “

Courage is not the absence of fear and pain.  In fact, the absence of those things testifies to nothing really.  Praising God in the good times is not a sacrifice of praise.  Terri’s blog inspires me because she shares the treasures she has mined in darkness for those who have not trod the depths she has been called to.  She holds fast to confidence in God…and in His purpose for life…for every life.

Scripture tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  Go listen to Terri’s words because she has had to try the Word of God–and she finds it faithful.  A hero is one who lives the Word in a way that others can hear.  Heroes deliver hope and life through their lives.  The world needs more heroes.  Let Terri help you become a hero like her…one who knows the truth of Romans 8:35-38 because she lives it.

 

Faith Delivers. Fear Kills.

We know the story.  A dozen spies were sent into the Promised Land to check out what God had promised to give the Israelites.  Five-sixths (almost 85%) of the spies choked…they couldn’t believe the promise.  We are called to be different!

The majority chose fear over faith and brought a negative report back to the people.  Anything not of faith is fear–and fear kills.  Humanity is created for faith…designed for belief in the Creator who conquers all. 

Fear is irrational.  Listen to the spies:  “The land devours its inhabitants….the inhabitants are giants.”  What?!  If the land devours, how would the inhabitants be giant? The people couldn’t hear the inconsistencies because fear deafens. 

Today, the majority choose fear as well.  We need more leaders of courage, more heroes who choose faith.  Let’s look at what God had to say about one of the heroes from the ‘spy story.’

But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.  Numbers 14:24

Faith is the vehicle that delivers the promises of God.

Caleb had a ‘different spirit’ — a faithful, fervent spirit that brought results.  As Christians, we need to be different. We need the courage that refuses to fear.  We need the courage that embraces challenges as opportunities for God to produce miracles.  We need the courage to go after the promises God makes, the blessings He offers.

Caleb was 40 when he went into the Promised Land.  The fearful spirit that the other spies allowed to overtake them infected the rest of the nation.  That led to forty years of desert wandering–and never entering the Promised Land for all but Caleb and Joshua.  But listen to Caleb 45 years later:

I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.  Joshua 14:11,12

Caleb experienced the faithfulness of God and knew the battles belonged to Him.  Even at 85, he was ready to take the land with the ‘giants.’  He knew the goodness of God and trusted that the results would be what was best.

A WORD ABOUT FACING GIANTS

There are two words I found for giant in these passages.  There are scholarly depths beyond my ability to plumb, but there is an exciting glimpse I feel I can share.  One of the words for the giants who dwelled in Caleb’s chosen land were called rapha.  That intrigued me because Jehovah Rapha is The LORD our Healer.  As I searched, I found the words are related–and the giant has an attribute of ‘invigorating.’ And the word, when used as healing speaks of restoration to the intended purpose.

So for my readers who are facing a giant in their life:  Be like Caleb.  Choose faith and watch God take that giant down.  Trust in His purposes of restoration and life-giving, and claim the promises of God.  Let that giant invigorate the faith of yourself and others.  Giants slain with faith are a source of freedom and life!

Always Too Soon to Quit

Sharing a reminder given in our faith class this week:

As Abraham climbed the mountain with Isaac…in obedience to what he understood from God…the ram was climbing up the opposite side.  If Abraham had stopped short of the summit, he never would have seen the provision of God or understood the Promise fully.

Read the story here:  Genesis 22:1-19

Let’s make the testimony of Abraham our own:

“Abraham didn’t worry about the Ram because he had seen the Lamb.”