Archive: March, 2012

Sustaining A Grateful Heart


Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude,”

(Colossians 2:6-7).

I love when God plants a message in my heart and then waters it all day long. He did this recently, only not a message a word ~ gratitude.

Gratitude isn’t second nature for me. In fact, I grapple with the word. I want to feel it way down deep, but most times I don’t. God whispers, “Being grateful is what I want for you and it glorifies me.” He is doing a tremendous work in me, and I’m still learning in this area. Good thing… God never stops teaching the willing heart.

Every Scripture I study that morning is about gratitude. I realize something important. My dependence on His power results in endurance, patience, joy, and expressing gratitude in all things. My expression of gratitude is rooted in my dependence on His power, His strength.

If we aren’t filled with gratitude daily, the question we should be asking is, “Am I depending on and trusting in Christ?”

When we trust Christ in all things, our gratitude becomes an act of worship ~ soul worship. Isn’t that a beautiful thought?

An unknown writer penned the phrase, “We worship God more by gratitude and contentment than when we come to hear a sermon or spend half an hour in prayer.”

Radical soul worship of God is to be grateful for…

what He gives,

when He gives,

and how much He gives.

Our satisfaction with our portion is an act of worship. I love thinking that my life can literally bring worship to Him.

When we live as Paul did, a servant of the Gospel, (Col. 1:25) we no longer rely on people or things to sustain a grateful heart. Our gratitude flows directly from the source ~ the Blessed Sustainer of all things.

Gratitude is a sacred place….a holy place where our weakness ends and Christ’s strength begins. My prayer for us is that we’ll reach the living spring of gratitude (see Ps. 84) today and every day. I long to become this woman of gratitude, a woman who is blessed because her strength is in God, don’t you?

How is your life bringing worship to Jesus today?

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Cut-Flower-Believer

Almost every woman likes to receive a fresh bouquet of flowers. After inhaling the sweet spray of fragrance, she wastes no time pruning and placing them into water. The carefully selected flowers are beautiful when she receives them, but in reality, their days are numbered. The statuesque plant once rooted in nourishment has been severed from its life source.

It’s inevitable.

Soon the flowers will die.

One can see in this a picture of the Christian whose spiritual vitality has faded and shriveled.  

Such a person has become a cut-flower-believer.

This is similar to the illustration Jesus used in describing the vine and the branches. Just as a branch can’t bear fruit apart from its life source, we can’t bear spiritual fruit unless we abide in Him, the true vine (John 15:4).

Apart from the vine our spiritual fruit will fade, shrivel, and ultimately die. Fellowship with Christ is the secret to fruitfulness. Abiding in Him is our energy source, our life-line. We were made for dependence on Him and connection to Him. Let’s embrace Jesus’ declaration “Without Me you can do nothing.” In other words, “With Me you can do everything I appoint for you, including bearing much fruit!”

What kind of branch are you?

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Words Hurt and Truth Heals

So, I saw something recently that I’m pretty sure wasn’t intended for my eyes.

I will not get into the details, but it is interesting how a single little word wrapped in an unsuspecting sentence with your name attached to it has so much power.

Extract that single little word and the problem… the power… it disappears.  Ah, but no there “it” is, inserted with intent and in an accidental send it sits before my eyes.

And, of course… it really hurt.

You know that old saying…

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

You do, I’m sure of it.

And, you probably also know that “words”… they actually do hurt.

In fact, I’m thinking over my history of broken bones…

My arm in the second grade

Several ribs in 1997

And, well, I remember those things happening for sure. But, the pain and the hurt associated with them… it’s gone. Wiped completely and perfectly from my memory.

Yet, words that hurt? They seem to stick around. For-ever. They resurface and settle and resurface again. Stinging like the very first time they struck.

I hate that. And I am a lover of words… they are so very impacting. The positive punches they throw are delightful, but the negative hits… they are gruesome.

So, this experience reminds me instantly of two important things…

1.) I’m guilty. I have carelessly and thoughtlessly hurt others with my words. And the verse that I am constantly repeating to my children lately comes to mind, “…Let everything you say (or write) be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 5:29b

We need to be careful with our words.

2.) I need to believe. If I truly believe who I am in Christ these words that hurt so badly lose all of their power over me. I am reading Renee Swope’s wonderful book called “A Confident Heart.” And she has laid out some mind changing truth for when we doubt who we are in Christ…

“We find ourselves in the shadow of doubt many times because our thoughts are mostly about ourselves: how we’re performing and what others are thinking about us. When we turn our attention on ourselves, we turn our attention away from God. We leave no room in our thoughts to listen to what He is thinking about us, because we have given that place away to be occupied by other people’s opinions. We become overly concerned about what others thing of us instead of what God thinks.”

This encouragement, along with a little mental exchanging of words… the hurting ones for the healing ones… does the trick for me. Renee reminds us that…

We are accepted (as is) — Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His Child.

We are secure — Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.

We are significant — Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.

We need to believe these words.

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When We Feel Blah…


A tear leaks out when I realize I missed my morning quiet time again. I pull the covers over my head as my mind reels.

Jesus must be disappointed in me.

He must shake his head in disbelief as I press the snooze button one too many times.

I use my falling short moment as a measuring stick for my worth; a measure of intimacy with Christ.

My personal need for perfection, order, and harmony are shattered.  I’m too hard on myself.

Maybe you can relate?

I think, “I guess I can’t have any fellowship with Christ today since I didn’t get up and read my Bible.” It’s as if I stepped into a courtroom, tried, and convicted myself. So I give up for the moment.

Some days, I live as if His blessing is based on my performance: my performance never to miss a quiet time; my performance to follow and serve Him without fail. I’m reminded that it’s not about my performance at all ~ it’s about His performance on my behalf.

Instead of wasting performance driven energy, Jesus says to eliminate the busy and rest.

Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

In Matthew Jesus says we’re to learn from him, be his disciple, and we will find rest. Sweet grace is given here for those who sleep through the alarm clock. I mean, if we were perfect jump-out-of-our-beds-on-time kind of girls, there wouldn’t be much of a learning curve, right?

It’s the falling short times when Jesus leads us in the right direction; when He tells us, “I’m not disappointed in you, I delight in you.”

When we come into the yolk with Christ, it’s no longer about us straining to live the Christian life. It’s about discovering rest as we relax and follow Him. It’s about going to Christ and allowing Him to enable us, empower us to live a life of obedience and holiness.

It’s something we can’t do without the Holy of Holies.

It’s all by grace.

Everything is grounded in the grace of Christ.

Be assured, sweet sister, the day we enter the presence of God forever, Jesus will stand on our behalf and say, “This Jesus-girl is in the yolk with me.”

That’s what I want, don’t you?

So let’s cut back on the striving and concentrate on the resting….that’s where we’ll find the true fellowship our hearts were created to experience.
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Sweet Milk

 

“Please pass the sweet milk,” my grandfather requested. As I lift the carton from the unsteady hospital table and place it in his hands, I am suddenly reminded of something D.L. Moody once said “Most people talk cream and live skim milk.”

If our hearts are spiritually underfed, we will produce “skim-milk” Christianity. Our lips may utter spiritual sounding words in prayer, worship, and conversation ~ giving the impression of “top-grade cream.” But the reality is revealed by what is consistently produced in our lives. Are we producing full flavored cream? or just the watered down kind?

So, how can we live cream and not just talk about it?

David wrestled with this in Psalm 19. He took a personal inventory of the condition of his heart in these verses. David was honest with himself and with God when he asked to be cleansed from secret faults and presumptuous sins. He knew he needed God to help him harmonize his walk with his talk. So he prayed God’s word, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you,” Psalm 19:14.

In our walk, let’s move from skim milk to cream by being transparent, honest, and prayerful.

Psalm 19:10-14 (MSG)

10 God’s Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.

11-14 There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins,
from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;
these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

 

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Faith Alive

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:2-5

My husband and I are studying the book of James. Genuine faith is typed into the search field of our souls and the result is in: Faith Alive

Not the kind of faith we can all talk about easily with great knowledge and such perceived understanding. No, not that kind of faith. I’m talking about the kind required for true Spiritual living… a faith that reaches out past head knowledge and deep into a godly wisdom that is supernaturally inserted into the heart. Wisdom that comes from the life surrendered. The life untold… unknown to us… “just the next step, please” kind of life.

You see we pretty much had control of it all up until now. At least we “thought” so. The plan prepared carefully. The path treaded upon with confidence. Up until now.

There is change on the horizon. Not bad change, just change. Change that comes by trial… of course. Because that is just how God works. And change that surfaces a crazy, myriad of mixed emotions:  Joy and fear. Excitement and anxiety.

And right off you know we cannot have Faith Alive with the fear and anxiety.

And you know that we cannot have just the Joy and Excitement without Faith absolutely and completely Alive.

I know it too.

Faith Alive is joyfully accepting His plan, though it comes by trial, and with uncertainty… yet fully expecting with great excitement just what-ever He has for us behind the door of the unknown.

Because you know there’ll be something.

I like the way Warren Wiersbe lays out these verses in James…

Count (consider) – a joyful attitude: When we face the trials of life, we must evaluate them in the light of what God is doing for us. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. Outlook determines outcome; to end with joy, begin with joy.

Know – an understanding mind: God always tests us to bring out the best. The word trying is translated “approval.” God’s approval of our faith is precious, because it assures us that our faith is genuine. Patience is a courageous perseverance in the face of suffering and difficulty.

Let – a surrendered will: God cannot build our character without our cooperation. If we resist Him, then He chastens us into submission. He must work in us before He can work through us.

Ask (for wisdom)– a believing heart: We need wisdom so we will not waste the opportunities God is giving us to mature. Wisdom helps us to understand how to use these circumstances for our good and God’s glory.

It’s so easy to go the other way… the way of fear. So easy to sit in worry and wonder over security and happiness.

But I want Faith Alive.

Don’t you?

Linking up today with Tracy for Winsome Wednesday, Internet Cafe Devotions for Word Filled WednesdayWomen Living Well and Women in the Word.

 

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About Us…

Mothers On Mission (M.O.M) is dedicated to glorifying God by bringing His purpose and perspective to today’s busy woman.

This ministry was founded on the belief that the method of Jesus and the method of the early church was to make disciples in the context of a small group of people intentionally experiencing life together. We believe that as we can Show the Word and Teach the Word to one another, and intentionally Share the Word and Serve our community together, Christ will form His character in us and extend His ministry through us.

M.O.M offers local community events, serving the hungry, caring for the poor, and a book club which encourages women and mothers in their adventures of faith. Our book club meets every first and third Wednesday of every month. We hope YOU will join us!

“But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace,” Acts 20:24 (HCSB).