Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Setting Godly Goals

As the new year changed a lot of us were talking about, of course...New Year's Resolutions. And a resolution really is just a desire to attain a goal. Every January it gives me a reason to contemplate, not only my goals, but maybe ask God, "What kind of goals do YOU have for me?"

We all have desires in life, which can sometimes become goals, but every time I have a desire that persists, I have to be ready to submit that to God and ask "Is this really something you want for me, or is this something that I just want?" There isn't anything wrong with wanting and desiring things and situations, but before we jump on board the "Goal Train" I think it's best to view it in light of scripture and God's Word.

Without trying to be uber-spiritual here, I think we honestly have to know that God's desire foremost is for us to know Him as Our Heavenly Father and Savior. Then after that, He desires we "become like Jesus". OK, OK, I know that's impossible for us as human beings, but that should be our desire...to become as much like Jesus as possible. Prayer, Bible Study, just plain contemplating God and His Word gets us in that place of being "transformed".

Romans 12:1-2
1. Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what God's will is...His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

And then allowing the Holy Spirit to change and transforms us results in a more Christ-like life.

Galatians 5:22
And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Please don't let anyone tell you that God doesn't care about where you live, where you work, who you hang out with, or who you marry. That's a way to walk in our own desires. These are all decisions that effect our daily walk, and ultimately our destiny. Just know God has good plans for your life and that He cares about all the details.

I want to share a link with you to a great blog, written and lived by a great, godly gal named Julie Gillies. Some of you may read her (she's on my sidebar). Julie always has timely and great wisdom she shares. I'm going to capsulize a little of what she said, and then I'm going to ask you to go visit her for a more in depth look at making Godly Goals.

How to Pray When You're Setting Goals

1. Allow time for prayerful reflection.
2. Ask for clarity and direction.
3. Ask Him to shape your thoughts
4. Ask for pure motives
5. Ask God to show you the gifts He wants you to use.
6. Ask God to help you prioritize
7. Give yourself a break.


I'm inviting you to go visit Julie and read this post, it's so on target for giving God the opportunity to instill His desires into our hearts.

I'd love to hear about the goals that you feel God is speaking to you about, and how those are translating into new decision making for 2011!

love, in Jesus,

Monday, January 17, 2011

Not my will, but God's...

I feel like today I need to share some thoughts with you all. I like transparency in people, myself included. I never want to come off as "holier than thou". Gosh, I REALLY hate that. I can't stand duplicity, deceit, fake, or put on. I do try to put my "best foot forward", but I don't want to try to be something or someone I'm not. I'm not a goody-goody by any stretch of the imagination. I have a lot of flaws. Anyone who thinks they have "arrived" has a big wake up call coming. So often I think we feel isolated, like we're the only ones going through things or dealing with issues. When we can admit, "This is me, and this is what I'm dealing with." then it's easier to let God speak to us, work on the situation and then move forward, with Him.

 So... just sharing today.

I've been in a comfort zone for the last year or so; and to tell you the truth, it's felt pretty good. Not many demands, no one telling me what to do. I get to choose what I do with my time. Not much stress. ( I have a wonderful, godly, loving, supportive husband!) Like I said, it's felt pretty good. Now I'm entering in to a new season where I'm hearing God say that things are changing and honestly it's scary. Yep, I said it. Not scary in that I'm terrified of what God has coming, just scary in the fact that I don't know how well I will physically or mentally adapt to whatever challenge God has coming. I need to switch off the "auto pilot" in my life.

I've reached the age and time in my life where I don't make New Year's resolutions. Not a good track record here. I believe in goals in life, but they have to be "Godly Goals". And to even get to the place where we can have a godly goal, I think we need to be in a place of submission to our Heavenly Father.

The last ten years or so, I've seen what looks to be the fact that all my Godly Goals have crashed and burned along the road of life so to speak. My great desires to work for God have been set aside as I've tried to just wake up every day and put one foot in front of the other. (Yes, those goals and desires were totally put there by God. They weren't something I just dreamed up.)  Living with a medical condition like I have (hereditary cardiovascular disease) is iffy at best. Yuck, I even hate saying it. It sounds old and morbid and defeating. Even though I totally trust God, sometimes I get a little cranky about it and don't mind telling God. Sorry, not a "saint" wannabe here. I believe in healing; that is what God first started teaching me about. My first revelations from God were concerning His desire for us to be healed and whole. The Greek word Sozo, means complete; nothing missing, nothing broken.

So, I believe that while I'm trusting for physical healing, and then moving forward into whatever God has in store, I'm leaning and relying on God to be in control. I'm not in the school of thought that says "suffering for Jesus" means our physical health. That word "suffering" means persecution. Don't want to go there right now, so in great love, please don't tell me it's Gods will for me to be sick. I believe it's God's will for me to be what He's calling me to be, in whatever situation, and place, and season He has me in.

One of my favorite passages about healing and trusting God is found in Luke 17:11-19 (New American Standard Bible)

Ten Lepers Cleansed 
While He (Jesus) was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" When He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine--where are they? "Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?" And He said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith [a]has made you well."

I feel like this passage talks about more than just healing. Whatever we are experiencing at the time will be worked out to God's glory if we move forward in faith to step out into whatever God is asking us to do.

Last week I shared a phrase that God put in my heart: "the united state of prayer". When we get into that place of submission to God, we are united in agreement with Him. We're in a place of listening, believing and submitting to His will for our lives. Then He can speak to us. He can present His will and plan to us in a way that we don't run away or refuse it.

In all this, I guess I'm saying that I, Me, We all need to be in a place of submission to whatever God is wanting to do in our lives. Being in a place of stubbornness, hardness of heart, and inflexibility doesn't get us anywhere with God. He loves us and He won't hit us over the head, but it just might keep us from moving forward into God's good plan for our life. And personally, however uncomfortable that might be at this moment, I don't want to miss it. And I don't want you to miss it either! 

Next time, Godly Goals and a link to a great blog.
love in Jesus,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year, New Word

I guess I'm a few days late to be having a "New Year's" post. I've read about many blog individual's "word" for this new year,(joy, balance, freedom, etc.) and I can say that I've been feeling the word more than I've been thinking about one particular word. I don't think it's coincidence that as human beings we feel the need to start fresh in the new year. God has seasons and times, and even though His "nature" doesn't change, He does change things up for all of us that know Him.

Last week a blogging friend of mine seemingly called out of the blue. She said she was heading down my direction and would I be available to get together to meet over lunch and maybe do some shopping, aka junking, antiquing, digging, etc. I was thrilled to hear from her and immediately knew that there was more to this plan than either of us might know at the time. No hotels for her. She would stay here at my house.

We sat and talked for hours, first; About our lives, our past, our children, our marriages, and our relationship with God. The more we talked the more we found we had in common, and then God really started moving and we realized that there had been a reason for us to meet. God was giving each of us a word that our lives will be changing. New direction, new opportunities, new partnerships. Through prayer and listening for God's voice we received a mutual direction for our year, and that was that God was taking a calling that had been on our lives; to "take up the mantle", and "reactivate" it.

He has a separate path for us, (hmmm...I'm beginning to think twice about this statement. God may have some surprises up His sleeve!), but one very similar. We are close in age, have married children, are fiercely independent, and each in a place in our spiritual life that we trust God's heart and direction for our lives.

God brought us together to confirm a work He is about to set into place for each of us. If you've been reading this blog for awhile you know that God placed a"call" in me about ten or eleven years ago. I had embarked on His path when suddenly and without warning, I had three major heart attacks and surgery that have literally sidelined me. For years God has asked me to do other things, but that tug has never gone away. Back in October I wrote a post totally directed by God that acknowledged and identified that.

So, now to the nitty gritty. I feel like things are changing with this little Bible Study Blog. I'm not sure how exactly. I've felt a need to re-read and re-study some of the posts that I did last year. As I've read them they have seemed completely new to me. I've come away refreshed and with a new outlook and understanding. That's the great thing about God's Word; it's always new and enlightening. It's living water that refreshes our spirit.

So what I think I'm doing is reposting more of the lessons that God gave me last year. A year ago, God had me writing and posting every day...long in-depth posts. So I'm going to take some of that material and look at it again. I'll be adding some real time comments at the end. If you've been with me for awhile you might have missed some of these. But many of you are new, so join in and we'll take a fresh look. Be sure and comment as the Holy Spirit directs you. I'm still here. Just in a time of prayerful review; listening to what God says will be coming.

I heard a phrase in my spirit a few mornings ago.
 "the united state of prayer".
till next time...

love, in Jesus,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Mary Series: Inspired Prayer and Praise

(originally published November 18, 2009)

We are all thankful; we have so many blessings in our lives. Even when times are hard, financially, relationally or personally, we all have things to be thankful for. We have gratitude in our heart to God. But sometimes expressing it can be difficult. Let's take a last look at Mary and see and hear her great gratitude and praise that she expressed to God for what she was experiencing and for His plan that was becoming evident in her life.

The following scripture from Luke 1 is a passage that is often overlooked or at least downplayed in many churches. When I was young and in Sunday School, I don't remember this ever really being discussed in our story of Christmas. Nor did I hear this from the pulpit.

Mary was only 13 or 14 years old. How on earth did she come up with this amazing outburst of joy and gratitude? Well, that's the key. Mary herself did not come up with this response. This was a spontaneous outpouring of joy and praise that was orchestrated by the Holy Spirit Himself. God just took little Mary and gave her words that she probably had never thought of before, let alone spoken. And when little Mary opened her mouth to praise God, to thank Him, and show her gratitude, what came out in all it's beauty was a wonderful expression... the "Magnificat", or Mary's Song.

Luke 1:46-55

46. And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord, 47. And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. 48. "For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. 49. "For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. 50. "And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him. 51. "He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered [those who were] proud in the thoughts of their heart. 52. "He has brought down rulers from [their] thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. 53. "He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed. 54. "He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, 55. As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his offspring forever."

I want to talk a little about prayer and praise...and "thanksgiving".

Ephesians 6:18 (New International Version)
18. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Romans 8:26 (New International Version)
26. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

1 Corinthians 14:15 (New International Version)
15. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.

Philippians 4:4-7 NAS
4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5. Let your forbearing [spirit] be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

Each of these scriptures indicates that there is the element of Holy Spirit inspired prayer.

Quite some time ago,when God was first calling me to a deeper more intimate spiritual walk, I was involved in a prayer ministry at our church. We had a prayer group that met on Wednesday evenings to pray for church matters and people in our congregation. I really enjoyed that time of seeking the Lord for a deeper prayer life. We had a volunteer prayer group for our church that had a goal of 24 hour prayer coverage. This was not just our small group, but church wide. My time schedule for prayer was at 10:00-11:00 on Wednesday evenings. We called it "the wall". (When you have time you might want to read the book of Nehemiah, especially chapter 1, where he prays for his people and then God leads him back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.)

I had a weekly update on things to pray for, but at that time my being able to stay focused in prayer for an hour was a real struggle. (still hard, who am I kidding?) I would find that I would cover all the list in the first 15 minutes, then be left feeling inadequate and spiritually immature. I had a knowledge that prayer was key in expanding my relationship with My Heavenly Father, I just couldn't get there by myself. I will never forget the night it all changed.

Here I was, once again, trying to do justice in prayer for all the people that were ill, church financial needs and requests, and even going the extra mile to pray for individual ministries at our church. That night I promised God that I would stay there until my time was up. That I would not be a slacker and that I would make every minute count. I glanced at my watch every few minutes,...by golly, I thought, I CAN do this! Whew, time was almost up. "I'll just finish up by reading a little scripture" I said to myself.

I opened my Bible to Ephesians and began to read.

Time's almost up, Yeah, I've made it. I've sat still and concentrated on God for a whole 55 minutes. OK only a minute or two to go... down to the finish line... Gee, I have a lot to do for tomorrow, clothes to iron, a kitchen to clean, cats to feed....lots to do God, but hey, I'm still here, see, I'll give you those few extra minutes!

Then, in the last minute...home stretch... I hit Ephesians 4, "Okey dokey, times up!!!"

But at that very moment I heard a voice in my spirit, just like I had a phone to my spiritual ear. Very clearly The Voice said, "If you will stay with Me one more hour, I will make it worth your while. I will give you your "call".

Well, I stayed for an extra two, and believe me, my life changed. Not only did He speak to me about what He wanted me to do in my life, but He put something in me that energized and made my prayer life new. He instilled His Holy Spirit into my prayer life, and it's never been the same. Now I depend on Him for direction in prayer. I invited the Holy Spirit to take over my prayer time, and with that came new focus, and new depth of understanding and purpose.

Mary became infilled with the Holy Spirit. He directed her prayer. She uttered words and thoughts that were not from her "conscious" mind, but from her spiritual mind. Her heart and mind submitted to God.

Prayer has many components. We'll talk about those at some later time, but just know if you feel unable to articulate your needs; if you are at a loss as how to communicate in prayer to God, just call upon the Holy Spirit to inspire your prayer time and life. He will gladly do that. He will enrich and renew your prayers with His own mind and heart...and you will connect with God in a whole new way. You will be like Mary, you will open your mouth (yes, praise and worship and give thanks verbally, out loud. God just loves that!) and you will sing...sing your own song of joy, worship, praise, and thanksgiving.

I've really needed to review these posts on Mary. They've given me some renewed hope and direction for this new year. I've said this many times, but I myself don't come up with these posts. I give God all the credit. He directs my thoughts and words. They have been like looking in the mirror. Reflection for me about myself. What I need to do to allow change to come, seeing my faults and shortcomings, and being inspired by a young woman who lived her life over 2000 years ago.
Have a wonderful week in this first full week of the new year.
Let God inspire and refresh you.

Love, In Jesus,