Tag Archives: growing

Does the Promised Land have droughts?

When God delivered His kids from captivity, He said residency in the Promised Land was conditional.  That’s a timeless truth.  The promised land is nothing like the world, and dwelling in it requires a total change.  In the Promised Land, God is the caretaker and our trust must be totally in Him.  Look at how Moses described it to those about to enter in:

“it is a land that the LORD your God cares for. He watches over it through each season of the year!”  Genesis 11:12

It seems like that would be a glorious reality, but the temptation Adam fell to in the Garden of Eden is ours as well.  Living in the Promised Land requires faithful obedience.  Our human nature…which we have been delivered from… still tempts us to redeem ourselves. It is a dead-end temptation.

When Adam abdicated his responsibility as caretaker in the Garden of Eden, a curse on the ground was part of the result.  As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, God’s word revealed that He alone redeems from the consequences of sin.  Even the curse of the ground will be taken care of for those who obey God…because walking in His ways reveals our love for Him and our trust in Him.  That was God’s desire at Creation and it remains His desire.  There is no other way to a full life than following the Creator Redeemer.

Those who enter the Promised Land through faith in Christ but turn away to worship and serve lesser gods (ie pleasure, power, wealth, knowledge, performance) will find both the heavens and earth shut up.  There will be drought and barren-ness even in the Promised Land.  If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you do not have to live in a sun-scorched land.  Jesus came, suffered and died so we could have abundant life!

“…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10b

Moses told the people God sets before them a choice:  blessing or cursing.  Because of Jesus, we have the same choice…and even better, Jesus is the power source for fulfilling that choice.  In our natural state, we are sold into the slavery of sin.  We are created beings designed to worship.  Either we worship what ‘seems good to us’ or we worship the Creator Redeemer.  There is a way that seems good to man–many of them.  But Proverbs says that way is the way of death.  The only choice natural man has that leads to life is Jesus Christ.  When that choice is made, all things are possible and the choices are vast!  Jesus is the way to abundant life!

But it is not the ‘easy way.’  Again, we can learn from the words of Moses.

And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. Deuteronomy 12:3

When we enter into eternal life–which begins here on earth the moment we accept Christ–there is work to do.  We enter in with baggage; we enter in with altars that need to be tore down, pillars that must be smashed, and groves of places we have worshiped false gods.  All of that must be removed.  Our earthly life is to become an altar to the One True God.

The altars are the places we have sacrificed.  It is different for each of us.  Some have sacrificed to altars of comfort, some to altars of the praise of men.  We each have our stumbling blocks.  God will reveal them.  The pillars are the beautiful things we decorate our idolatry with. (‘I need this fishing boat to relax and hear God.’  ‘I need this car so I can go help others.’ ) Jesus is our only need.  Some translations use ‘asherah poles’ instead of groves.  Those relate to the ‘fruit’ we claim from our idolatry.  God alone gives increase without trouble; we never need to deviate from His ways to produce good.  (‘I have to get mad to be heard.’)  God will lead every step of the way if we keep our heart soft to His look, to His pressure.  He is cheering us on not berating us for our failures.

Those are battles that must be fought to take possession of the Promised Land.  God is the one who fights for us.  He will destroy our enemies, but we must seek His face continually.  He loves the weak and inadequate.  In fact, that is who He chooses.  There are great and precious promises we must discover in the Scriptures and make our own by living on those promises.  Jesus is the Living Word.

As we read the Word and seek to put it into action in the dusty details of our days, the very presence of God surrounds us.  The heavens and earth open up as we walk in confidence of God’s goodness.  It is not our perfect adherence to the Word we read…it is our heart desire to do what He asks that brings the Kingdom to God to the broken world.

If you are a Christian not experiencing the abundant life, here is a great passage to begin feasting upon.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[a] his own glory and excellence,[b] by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[c] and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities[d] are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers,[e] be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.  (2 Peter – ESV)

You, reader, lack nothing!  He promises He will be found by those who seek Him with all their heart.  He is always faithful to His promises.  Our Father owns it all and has great plans and purposes for us.  Those plans and purposes will not always look like we envision but the truth holds fast:  His plans are good and for our benefit.  May our hearts be like Jesus, so confident in the power and goodness of the Father, we always say, “Not my will but thine be done.”

And one last thing…how will we know we are living the abundant life?  We will rejoice in worshiping God alone!  We will bow before the Cross with a heart that rejoices!

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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!

Great prices, great resources: CBD

You can support this ministry by shopping at Christian Book Distributors (CBD)!

CBD is one of my favorite places to shop. They offer great resources and great prices to help you grow stronger in the Lord.

Heartsong Ministry is an affiliate for them which means you can shop through our link and some of the proceeds will support this ministry.



Fit Faith: Soul Training for His Glory

Eternal life is the free gift of God.  The walk of faith is demanding! The life of faith requires a solid foundation.  Fit Faith looks at the components of a healthy faith life and provides tools for disciples to utilize.  The Four Sessions of Fit Faith include the life basics of Prayer, Bible Study, Service/ministry and Fasting.

Prayer as Worshipful Conversation:  Developing a prayer life that is exciting and rich.

Bible Time as friendship w/the Living Word:  Establishing roots in His Word that bear fruit.

Serving and Fellowship:  Finding the reality of being HIS hands and feet.

Living in Wonder & Awe:  Fasting as a discipline for fulfillment.

 The workshop can be provided at your location or in a web-based format.

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RELATED BIBLE STUDY BOOK

In our family, animals have been part of God’s training package for us!    Soul Training in the Barn is a Bible Study paralleling the training of horses with discipleship.  It has been said that life is the gift God gives us; what we do with our life is our gift to Him.  My passion is to live to please the One who gives me all, so discipleship matters deeply too me.

Also, check out our Activity-based learning, which helps move head truth to the heart & the heels!

Six Days to Abundance!

What a joy it was to share the Six-Day Journey to Abundant Living with so many of you through Glory Glimpse News.  The material included in each daily missive is timeless.

I have gathered together the links for that Journey for those who wish to explore again, share with loved ones–or adventure through them for the first time.  I’d love to hear your journey stories.

Day One   Day Two   Day Three  Day Four   Day Five   Day Six

Enjoy the abundance of the life Christ provides:

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  2 Peter 1:3

Joy in the Journey

God is always present.  He is the Great I AM.  Sometimes we struggle to see His fingerprints on our lives.  Joy in the Journey comes as we seek to recognize the work of God in our lives–and in the lives of those around us.

Joy in the Journey is a tool box for those wanting to know more of the presence of God.  This book is useful for individual or group study.  Workshops for small group leaders or multi-week studies can be arranged for groups wishing to dig deeper into the topic.  The books are available for individual purchase at Amazon and CreateSpace.   A PDF version of the book can be ordered below:

Joy in the Journey PDF

God desires for us to ENJOY this life! He has given it to us as a gift. Joy in the Journey provides tools for unpacking the gifts He has given! Exploring the seasons of life–and God’s presence in each–deepens understanding and reveals the fingerprints of God in every detail of life. Utilizing journaling and insights from such greats as St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila’s ‘Interior Castle’, Joy in the Journey leads you toward the abundant life Jesus desires for you!

$1.99

More information on Workshops is available here.

If you cannot afford the suggested donation, please fill out the contact form below and indicate the specific resource you would like to have.

Joy in the JourneyJoy in the Journey Back

How can we look like Christ?

The plan for believers in Christ is that we be transformed into the image of our Savior.  More than two decades after surrendering to God, I realize more and more how much work God still has to do in me!  The only way to know what God is doing in my transformation is to know more about the One whom I am to become like.

We are to be a source for the world to see God…I want people to see Him more than me.  God is worthy of our total dedication to know Him more and to reveal Him more.  As we learn more of His traits and practice them in the details of our lives, His purposes are accomplished.

Below is an incomplete list of Character Traits of Christ that I want to see more of in my life.  It makes a great Perpetual Prayer guide to go through each month.  Years ago, I began using it as a guide for praying for my children but quickly realized I–and every other child of God–needs the same prayers.  May it bless you as your pray through it.

1. Humility—willingness to submit.   James 4:10

2. Reverence—fear of the Lord.   Proverbs 9:10

3. Purity—desire to be clean.   Matthew 5:8

4. Purpose—wisdom to set goals.   Proverbs 4:25

5. Simplicity—an uncluttered life.   Romans 12:8

6. Commitment—dedication.   Joshua 24:15

7. Diligence—willing to work hard.   II Peter 1:5

8. Servanthood—desire to help others.   Galatians 6:9,10

9. Consistency—be faithful, reliable.   James 1:8

10. Restoration—ministry of healing.   Isaiah 61:1,2

11. Assurance—deep faith in God.   Hebrews 10:22

12. Availability—willing to go.   Isaiah 6:8

13. Loyalty—zeal for fidelity.   Ruth 1:16

14. Sensitivity—open heart.   Luke 10:30-37

15. Compassion—love in action.   Mark 8:1,2

16. Tenderness—willing to weep.   II Kings 22:19

17. Maturity—capable of growing.   Hebrews 5:12-14

18. Holiness—Christ-like actions. I Peter 1:16

19. Reliability—dependable.   I Corinthians 4:2

20. Authority—capable of commanding.    Matthew 16:19

21. Revelation—learn to listen.   Ephesians 1:15,18

22. Self-denial—willing to sacrifice.   Luke 9:23

23. Confidence—strength of the Lord.   Philippians 4:13

24. Integrity—truthful.   Romans 12:17

25. Repentance—willing to change.   Luke 3:8

26. Trust—fearless reliance. Psalm 125:1

27. Submission—choose to yield. Ephesians 5:21

28. Teachability—humble enough to learn. Titus 3:2

29. Prayerful—longing to wait.   Isaiah 40:31

30. Unity—respect for others.   1 Corinthians 1:10

31. Generosity—desire to give.   Matthew 10:8

Another great tool that aids in transformation is knowing God by Name.  My devotional book, Fixing our Eyes on God is one such tool.  The glory of God transforms!  Seek Him.

Spiritual Snacks May Kill

My asparagus bed has been busy; sadly, so have I, but not with it.  In the past couple years, I have tilled and planted.  The bed is prepared to produce plenty of asparagus for our family.  This spring, though, the asparagus sprouted and seeded before I made time to cut it–or weed it.  The harvest was ready, and I was not paying attention.

Nevertheless, I made it out there today.  A few stalks could be saved, and I weeded the bed, so more is likely to come.  Since my garden serves as a recreational hobby and not nourishment, a morsel from it is fine with me.

A morsel in other areas of life can be disastrous.  This week as I read the passages of Scripture preceding the Crucifixion, I saw that Judas received a ‘sop from Jesus.’  Sop is defined as a morsel.  Not feasting with the Lord creates a shallow faith life that breeds betrayal and ultimately death.  Shallow Christianity is a big deal.

It can happen to anyone.  Judas had walked closely with the Lord for years before he allowed a preference for the earthly to crowd out his love for the Lord.  Whether it was disappointment over Christ’s way of reigning or pure greed, evil took root and crowded out the harvest in Judas’ life.  Does Jesus have priority in your life?

Our lives are gardens poised to produce a harvest.  The tilling and the planting of the past is never enough.  A snack at the table of the Lord does not produce life..  We must invest our heart, soul and mind in knowing Christ; we must feast of Him. Stewarding our faith life is of eternal importance.  Jim Forest Sieger Painting Footwashing (2)

Before the ‘sop,’ Jesus washed the feet of the one who would betray him.  That is Jesus–always calling, always serving.  Have you received from Him?  Are you making time for Him?  He is worthy.  Don’t miss the harvest intended from (and for) your life.

 

 

Chosen Parents

This is actually a piece I did some years ago for another venue.  Sharing today because parenting has been the topic in a number of interactions.  And sharing with thankfulness that God chose us to be the parents of our precious kids.  Sorry, guys…but trust God has a plan :)!  We love you!

You are the parent God chose for your child. Isn’t that a puzzling, sometimes overwhelming concept? As we begin walking the labyrinth of parenting, the paths ahead are blessedly shrouded. The parenting journey includes delights beyond imagination and thorny passages which instill fear and frustration. God’s Word tells us the Creator Himself shepherds those with young and guides them on the paths; yet, it doesn’t always feel that way. At times the complexities of parenthood give the illusion that God stepped off the throne as challenges were assigned or that perhaps He confused us with a wiser, more loving and experienced parent. The reality is more incredible than we can begin to grasp. In His infinite love and wisdom, God chose each parent and each child as unique, perfect gifts for one another. The blessings are mutual; the plan perfect.

God uses the tool of parenthood to craft His family likeness into earthly moms and dads. He longs for His glory to be revealed in the parenting privilege. Nearly a decade and a half 12657360_10207170306008051_3018063976232311083_oago, we brought our baby home from the N-ICU with overwhelming joy, awe, fear and a numbing sense of inadequacy. The ability of a five-pound baby to bring a prideful heart to its knees is powerful! God continues to use the University of Motherhood to draw me unto Himself, to unveil the reality that His strength is revealed in my weaknesses and what a superb reality!

My pride had rejoiced in meeting the challenges of life head-on. The magnitude of the responsibility for nurturing this precious life shattered every competency I had ever relied upon. Parenthood has taught me I do not need to be in control and managing every detail perfectly. It has taught me that struggling is okay! It is not a sign of defeat to be engaged in a battle. Struggles simply strip away the deceits which have hidden the doorway to God’s strength. The inequities and burdens of life create opportunities for God to transform parents and to begin drawing our beloved children to Him. Struggles are to help us embrace His presence in our lives with confident hopewith certaintythat His plans and purposes are perfect. As we hold fast to that hope, the very image of God begins to shine forth in our liveschanging us, lighting our children’s paths and touching all those around us!

Beyond the challenges of parenthood lie mountains which dot the landscape of our children’s future–mountains woven into the design of our children’s lives by their loving, heavenly Father. His love for our children is greater and more perfect than ours. 12657229_10207170304128004_2826006339242221287_oGod would never allow a mountain for which He has not provided provisions for conquering. Parents are a key part of those provisions. The parent God chooses for a child has the strengths and the weaknesses to guide their children to the Shepherd Himself. God longs to take the hands of our children and guide them in life. Leading our children to the One who provides abundantly is the key task of our parenting assignment. Treasure the challenges on your parenting journey as the doorways to Christ. There is a splendor possible through embracing God’s presence in the trials of life which will produce faith that perseveres and moves mountains aside.

Extra Insights
Being chosen as a parent is a life-transforming gift from a loving God. We have been chosen to receive another precious gift from God:  eternal life. God longs for each of us to embrace His plan for us to become His child–to be made perfect through faith in His son, Jesus Christ. Becoming His child is the key to becoming the parent your child needs. If you do not have a loving relationship with the heavenly Father, choose to change that today!
SCRIPTURES: Psalm 127:3; Jeremiah 29:11-14; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Hebrews 10:35; 2 Corinthians 3:18; James 1; Matthew 17:28

 

Originally written for Handivangelism, Heart-to-Heart Magazine

Whose fruit?

There is a silly picture that keeps popping up in my mind.  I see a young fruit tree curling its toes (I mean, roots) and pushing with all its might.  Its face is scrunched and holding its breath, the tree mutters, “COME ON, FRUIT!  POP already.  I’m trying as hard as I can.”

On either side of this striving little tree are giant trees, loaded with fruit.  They are quiet, faces (make that leaves) turned upward seeking the Son (err, sun).

Can you relate?  I sure can.  That picture comes straight from the Holy Spirit for me.  I am a doer…a toddler crying, “Me do it!”  And my Guide, my Comforter says, “That is my work, not yours.  Seek the Son.”

The Amplified version of Galatians 5:22-23a renders more clarity:

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,  Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)…

Spiritual success never flows from striving but only from surrender.  The fruit that I produce will have earthly impact, but only the work of the Spirit produces eternally good fruit.  I don’t want to waste my time striving anymore.  I want to soak in the sun and live with joy–that will produce the growth I long to see!

It is pride that pushes. Hope is found in humility.  Seeing our need, seeking the One who meets all needs and joyful receiving Him produces victory.  Putting our roots into the soil of God’s love while reaching up to the Light of His love is the key to beautiful fruit that blesses us and others.

What desire beats strong in your heart?  What blocks that desire from being fulfilled?  Ask the Spirit within…He knows and wants you to know as well.  Press in deeply and watch Him work!

Receive your free Spiritual Maturity Assessment tool by signing up for Glory Glimpse News.  Already a Subscriber…or don’t want to subscribe but want the PDF?  Email me at billiejoyoumans@gmail.com!  Be blessed and a blessing!