Monday, November 3, 2014

Searching For Purpose

Do you feel like you have a purpose in your life?  We know God made us all unique but have we stopped to really consider what he wants to do with these unique qualities he has given us?  Often we get caught up in blending in and looking like everyone else that we overlook our own uniqueness.  We get wrapped up in what we see others doing and being and we forget how God has blessed us.  And until we recognize we are all made to live our own unique lives as God intended, we will miss what he has planned for us.

I was reading a study called "Restless" and it really resonated with me.  The author (Jennie Allen) said that something in her was restless and she knew she wasn't alone.  It's like we are all aching for some great noble purpose to shove in the gaping holes of our lives.  To make them feel less ordinary and more meaningful and special.  We've become numb and board even.  Some may even wonder if they are wasting their lives.  Do we even matter?  What do we live for?

We live in an erra with a ton of things and stuff and seem to be surrounded by more people than ever but we are more dissatisfied than ever.  Do you ever see someone that is just beaming in God's glory, firing off all their spiritual gifts and just giving Him glory and thing, MAN...I want that!
Matthew 5:6 says "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

If you are hungering and thirsty for your purpose and it is truly to glorify God he says He will satisfy you.  He says you just have to seek Him...but here's the have to seek Him whole heartedly.
Jeremiah 29:13 tells us, "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."

So are we seeking with all our hearts or are we just holding on to our worldly desires with one hand and searching for God with the other?

We all have a purpose, if we are still here on this earth we have a specific reason and we had better find out what we should be doing.

Aside from knowing and loving God, finding and accomplishing this purpose is our greatest responsibility.  You may argue that the great commission of making disciples of all nations is our greatest responsibility and you are somewhat correct but how are you going to do that if you don't know your purpose God has given you?

We were created in God's image for a fill the earth with more of those to bear His image and to make the world better by giving it order.  We are to use the resources He has given us to reflect Him and serve people.

This is why we were given abilities above animals - to create, build, serve, lead, envision, and so on. 

We reflect God by being able to see a need and fill it.

Our God is creative and He has infinite ways to make Himself known through our uniqueness.  So anyone of us could be on a different point in our journey but we more than likely fit somewhere in four areas...

Running Free
At the Staring Line

You may find yourself not knowing if you're living on purpose or not.  You may be content just surviving, busy even.  your life seems full and you don't really question it but you find yourself board.  You might be just starting to kinda desire more but that's a bit out of your comfort zone.  You're probably thinking what's wrong with being comfortable and happy?  Shouldn't I just be thankful for what I have instead of wanting more?
If this is you...You're COMFORTABLE.
Eccl. 3:1, 6-7  "There's an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under the heaven...A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away.  A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak."
Perhaps this is your time to tear apart out of your comfort zone and your time to speak.  consider there may be more rather than be content in the wrong place...take the time to step out of your comfort zone and explore to see if you are in the will of God.

Maybe you are longing for more, hurting and you don't know if this emptiness in your heart is friend or foe...but you feel unsettled and unsatisfied.  You keep asking yourself if you are missing God's plan or is there even a clear direction for you at all?  Is it wrong to want more?
Sound familiar?  Perhaps you are THIRSTY.
Ephesians 4:1 Paul wrote "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received."

Some of you probable already feel your purpose and are obediently living it.  Having experienced that numb season and maybe a satisfied period you may have become thirsty and found what you were made to do.  It may not be easy but it's so fulfilling and rich and you see God moving all around you.  You're probably reading this thinking, I don't need this lesson.  If this is you, you may be RUNNING FREE.
In reality, it's when we are running free that we become complacent and we forget.

Or maybe you are still finding your place with God.  Realizing you don't really know Him or talk to Him and rely on Him daily.  If this is you, you may be AT THE STARTING LINE.  You need to take time to seek God and work on your relationship and your purpose will follow.

You may feel lost, like you're wondering around without a purpose and can not possibly figure how that has to do with God's plan but stop for a moment and consider Joseph.  We've been studying him in Sunday school as well.  He too had a unique set of gifts but he just felt like he was wondering for most of his life.  He knew God had a plan for him but can you imagine how he must have felt as it unfolded?  His own brother hated him and were jealous of his father's favor for him and according to Gen 37:4, they couldn't even speak to him on friendly terms.  He was so certain God had a plan for him though and he was right.  He had dreams about it but when he told his brothers about it, it made them hate him even more till finally they tried to kill him.  BUT, God put it on his brother, Ruben's heart to spare him and they threw him in a pit instead.  Surely Joseph must have thought, REALLY?  This can't be my purpose.  This is not how it's supposed to go down.  And then Judah comes up with the idea to sell him to the Ishmaelites as their caravan was passing through on their way to Egypt.  From there Pharaoh's officer and captain guard Potiphar bought him.  So now his life has been spared but his is a slave.  He had to be thinking, How is THIS any better?  Great.  This is all wrong.  But God's purpose for him was to get him to Egypt and guess where Joseph found himself after all this...Egypt.  He could have sent him in on a great chariot with an entourage and great fanfare but this did just as well and he was there, protected and humble and ready to serve.  The Lord was with him every step of the way, sparing his life and guiding his steps.
Even when put in prison, falsely accused, he continued to use the gifts God gave him interpreting dreams.  I wonder if he thought that was it.  That's all I'm good for....that's my purpose and God is done with me.  I'm the dream guy and that's it.  Sometimes we think that way.  We see God move in our lives and allow us to do something or gift us with a cool ability and we are satisfied with that and we just stop right there...and stop seeking to see if God has more for us.  And if you remember how history goes by Genesis 41 - Joseph is 30 years old and enters into service of Pharaoh King of Egypt.

God can take your trial and turn it into your testimony.  He can use all your hardships and experiences that might not seem to even make sense to make you the person you need to be when it's time for your purpose to unfold.

God eventually brought Joseph full circle and his purpose looked a lot more like he thought it would but the entire journey was part of that purpose.  And god is doing the same thing in your life too.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lesson in Patience

"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  The former waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains."  -James 5:7-8

Lesson in Patience
The farmer waits being patient as we must wait patiently on the Lord.  But is there anything we can do to make our patient waiting easier?  Or more productive?  Maybe we can take a lesson from the farmer.  In the winter does he just go without his fruits and vegetables?  No.  He prepares.  He preserves.  He gets himself ready for the season when he knows it will be difficult.  We can do this too.  We can prepare.  Preserve.  When we are on our mountain top, experiencing God we tend to neglect our preserving.  Document it.  Write it down...bottle it up so to speak.  Prepare.  And when you feel distant or feel that winter season approaching in your life, open it up and read those words and see how God was moving.  Remind yourself to get back in His word.  And be nourished just like you were when you were in the harvest.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Eyes to See

Eph 1:17-19 speaks of the Spirit of Wisdom...Paul is writing to the Church at Ephesis

What stood out to me in the video this week was eyes to see...everything would change and you would dance the dance of your life.  Angela told the story of her little girl seeing angels singing "protect this girl" over her head when she was struggling with being wrongly accused and having to go into a meeting to defend herself the next day.  She spoke of how this is so true in our lives everyday...God has angels appointed to us to protect us and our families and our homes.  It was a very powerful picture she painted.

But the main the main thing I got was...

eyes to see
ears to hear
heart to obey
mind to respond

When we're following Christ and lead by the Holy Spirit, we will obtain all these things.  Gradually. 

Deuteronomy 29:2-3
"And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, 'You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders.  'Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see nor ears to hear.  'I have led you forty years in the wilderness; our clothes have not worn out on you and your sandals has not worn out on your foot.  ;You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or strong drink, in order that you might know that I am the Lord your God."

Deuteronomy 5:34
"Or has a god tried to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 'To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord, He is God; there is no other besides Him.  'Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; and on earth he let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire. 'Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them.  And He personally brought you from Egypt by His great power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today.  'Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.  'So you shall keep His statutes and his commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time."

It all comes down to trust.
Do we trust Him with our heart?  Do we trust Him with everything?  Do we trust Him to take our hand and lead us away from the wall to dance the dance of our lives?  We may be like the Israelites, and have seen the signs and wonders.  He may have even let us hear His voice but do we have the heart to respond?  Do we really trust Him?  Trust is a funny thing because its a two way street.  What about the fact that God has trusted us?  He has given us all His creations and trusted us with them.  He has given us a choice to follow Him and enter into a relationship with Him if only we trust Him.  He trusts that in your journey, through a relationship with Him, you will obtain eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to obey and a mind to respond. 

Often times we are pretty untrustworthy to God, no better than the Israelites.  We make commitments to God haphazardly and as soon as life throws us a blow, we are out...looking at the world to fulfill us.  We bail on marriages as soon as something bad happens and calls for endurance and forgiveness, we bail on serving God as soon as we get disappointed because God didn't pull us out of a bad life situation, we even get mad at God when our kids do wrong after we have dedicated them to God. 

We said it before but it's worth's not an overnight thing.  It's a journey.  One you will be on for the long haul.  Ever changing, ever growing.  So if you have those eyes to see but you struggle with that mind to respond part or you are pretty good with obeying but just pray every night for God to open your ears, don't get discouraged.  You're a work in progress.  We all are.  Just think about how far you've come and where you were in your journey 5 years ago, or 10 years ago...or even just 6 months ago for that matter.  God is moving and he wants to keep moving in your just have to trust him.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Spirit of God

John 14:16-17
"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."

John 14:26
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."

So you ever, how did those guys remember all that stuff to write those scriptures we read in the Bible?  They are all so accurate and they all match up with each other.  He says it right there...he will send the Holy Spirit to bring it to remembrance to you.  He did that for his disciples and He does it for us too.  You ever had one of those moments where you are presented with the opportunity to help someone or minister to someone or share a verse and you JUST learned it or it JUST popped in your head and you have no idea how you remembered that?  That is the Holy Spirit.  That is Jesus being true to His word, teaching you all things and bringing them to remembrance. 

Acts 1:8
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witness both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the Earth."

It's no coincidence that we just discussed this in church Sunday.  The example Pastor Tom gave us was in Acts 8:26 when the Angel of the Lord spoke to Philip and told him to get up and go south on the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza...he was prompted by the Holy Spirit.

God wants so badly to have His fullness indwell us, just as he did with Jesus. 

Colossians 1:19
"For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him."
He just wants to see us filled with the Holy Spirit.  Our responsibility as women of God is that we make our hearts available to God so he can fill it.  It's one thing to be a saved woman just getting by and a whole different thing to be living every day filled by the holy Spirit.  Do you wanna be a carnal Christian that knows a lot about God and salvation or do you wanna be a spiritual woman that is filled with the Holy Spirit?  Do you walk according to your old desires or are you allowing the Holy Spirit to leady you?

When you are saved the Lord will open you heart to pay attention and receive the Word of God just like he did to Lydia in Philippi on the riverside in Acts 16:14.  We just have to receive it and let the Holy Spirit lead us.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Has God Called You To Wait?

This the main points were:
  • Stay with the Lord (Abide/remain & produce much fruit)
  • Entrust to Him whatever we have deemed valuable
  • Trust that He is able to keep it safe until it's your turn
  • Become the woman who is ready to be called  up
  • Become & remain women of prayer
  • Stand (as a display of the glory of God)
In John 15:1-11, Angela stresses how many times Jesus said "abide" or "remain" is said 11 times in just 10 verses.  Remain or abide, wait on the Lord, stay with him.  It's the Greek verb "Meno" meaning to cling to a relationship you have already begun.

Entrust your longings, the things you hold most valuable to the Lord.  And become the woman who is ready to be called up.  God won't call you up till you're ready.

It's a blessing to him when we live like He intends.

When you say I'm ready God, sometimes there will be a righteous wait.  He isn't messing with's just not your turn.  He is preparing you.  Just obey, until you're ready.  trust his plan and prepare so when he calls your name you are ready to hit the ground running.

Once you are sure you're hearing God's call for you and you're sure of what he is calling you to, the hows and whats and whys will hash themselves out if and when you are willing to look.  Sometimes you go where you think you need to go when you are still waiting and it's just hard and it's doesn't quite fit, it' doesn't feel right.  maybe it's just a stop on the journey God has you on to prepare you for where he wants you.  For your next relationship, your next job, the calling he has for you.  Just trust that he is leading you along the way.

We don't like to wait.  It's something we see as uncomfortable and aggravating.  Our human tendancy is to want it now.  We live in a fast food, microwave, fully connected, cyber speed age where we have specifically invented things so we won't have to wait.  So when God tells us to wait, we are like...what?!  We take things into our own hands instead of waiting on God.  We might pray about it but then we don't wait to hear God's response before we make our decision.  Then we wonder why we are stuck in a bad financial situation or conflict or relationship.  We have to wait on God to bless our steps...our relationships...our jobs....our financial decisions...our life decisions....our callings.

We resist it, because we don't like to wait.  It starts out as kids, when our parents tell us "no", "not now", "maybe later" or "next time" and we would cry and throw a fit in the grocery store because we wanted whatever it was we had our heart set on.

Psalm 62:5-8 says
"My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken.  Oh God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.  Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.  Selah."

So he is telling us to wait and depend on him for an answer, not ourselves.  Now that doesn't mean we do nothing while we wait.  Because how will we see where He is working in our lives or hear His voice and know when it's our turn if we aren't actively seeking?  So if it's a job, that's what interviews, networking and researching are for.  For a relationship, it's courting, dating and friendship building.  If it's a ministry, you can try volunteering in different areas.  If it's a financial decision, research, do your homework, test drive, do walk throughs, get referrals, samples, etc.  But ALWAYS...wait on God.  And when all else fails, keep doing the last thing you know he told you to do.

He knows exactly what we need and when we need it and how we need it.  He knows what's good for us and what's not.  he knows what will keep us focused and what distracts us.  This is why we have to stay in a relationship with him.  We have to know that he IS our rock and He will give us the strength to wait our turn if only we put our trust in Him.  He just wants us to trust Him completely. 

He's not gonna play games with you or try to make it difficult for may be that it's just not your turn  yet.  Just get ready.  And become the woman who is ready to be called up so when he says HEY, you....NOW!  You will be ready!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Resisting Bitterness

The highlights of this lesson were:
Choose Freedom
Choose Wisdom
Choose Victory - We win...we just have to choose to live in it.

I think as women with so many things pulling us and responsibilities, we have all experienced hurt and heartache and disappointment whether it is in our jobs or families, friendships or just a situation in general, its so easy for bitterness to set in.  You might get frustrated or feel lonely or even angry with a situation.  This lesson was so timely for me. 

I had had a particularly difficult time with a couple situations this week that just left me feeling bitter.  Not with a person but just with situations in general.   I just felt a sort of grumpy, bitter spirit about myself.  So as I opened my workbook to work on the lesson this week with my grumpy little attitude you can imagine that this was not the topic I wanted to see.  I was like, REALLY, GOD?!  This was the quote that stared back at me..."The bitter wallflower can only focus on the life she's never known and the parties she missed.  The woman who resists bitterness and believes God is finally ready to dance."  In the book, Angela goes on to say "I think we give up because we can't see God working all things together for good."  Bitterness becomes more attractive the more empty we become, it comes from our turning away from God.  Bitterness is characterized by feelings of hatred, envy and resentment.  It's a distraction, it occurs when we lose our focus, when we turn our gaze inward and away from God.  Proverbs 14:10 says "The heart knows it's own bitterness; and a stranger does not share it's joy."  This was particularly meaningful for me because in the middle of my bitterness this week, I was blessed to be able to share in the joy of a couple of close friends and that helped to pull me out of some of that bitterness. 

As important as those godly relationships are, staying in community as we have discussed in previous lessons can have some negative results that you have to be on your guard about as well.  I think we have all run into situations where it jus seems like some folks would just rather you become and STAY bitter.  They just like you that way and they encourage the resentment and feed your pity-party.  They have become consumed with bitterness and they want you to join them...they want you to get angry, take revenge.  You start to hear things like "I wouldn't just let that go", "You gonna let them get away with that?!", "I'd still be mad if I were you.",  or "Oh, I'd get back at them!".  They fuel the situation instead of helping.  The fact is, its so easy to get caught off guard and give in to bitterness and just sulk in your failures and pout about it.  Angela talks about how she has been misrepresented and unheard and how she had easily given up on some days but you just have to come to a point where you taste the root of bitterness and regard its comfort as poison.  We do not want to remain inward focused on our grievances.  We can not stay that way and go forward with God.

It goes back to our choice to believe.  We have to choose to believe.  Every time we allow ourselves to fall into bitterness and disappointment we are listening to Satan's promptings, inclining our ear toward his directives...forgetting to live what we believe. 

When preparing for this lesson I was reminded of the study we did some time ago.  James 3:11 says, "Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?"
Sometimes we don't even realize we have that bitterness inside us until it comes flowing out of our mouths.  But in Matthew 12:34, Jesus tells us "The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart." so whatever is going on in there will come out one way or another.  But if we just believe God and relinquish that bitterness, we are free from that.

A perfect example was Moses in Exodus.  (Exodus 15:22-25)  Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea and then into the wilderness of Shur where they were for three days with no water.  then they came to Marah and tried to drink the water but it was too bitter to drink.  So the people complained to Moses asking, "What shall we drink?"  So Moses cried out to the Lord and the Lord showed him a tree.  when he threw it into the water it became sweet and they were able to drink it.  But it wasn't until Moses refocused and called upon God did the bitterness go away.  God showed him how.  We have to remember...we win.  We just have to choose victory.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Clean Life

This study is really speaking to my heart.  In the videos Angela keeps making reference to God taking us to "the next high place" and I just love that.  This week she tells us that because you're living a clean life, you will have a spirit of power and God will take you to the next high place.  When we decide to choose to live a clean life, God loves to bless that.

And I love that he knows us so well that he knew this would be hard for us but he loved us so much that he still made a way for us.  He knew we needed a savior and He said I will make you clean and you know what, you just gotta talk to me about it and I ain't mad at ya.

He even tells us in 1 John 1:19 -
"If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

He pretty much says I knew this would happen...just choose me and not all that other stuff. 

Another important thing was to protect your home and keep it clean.  So when your kids find themselves outside of a holy and clean place they know it and they are uncomfortable and wanna get outta there. 

Angela talked about how she didn't even allow her kid's friends to bring games that were rated anything other than "E" for "everyone" because she didn't want the unclean images and material that her kids didn't need to be exposed to even enter her home.

And while I agree with that, she also said something else I don't particularly agree with.  She said she didn't care what those kids thought about her and she didn't car about those lost little hearts as long as she was keeping her kids she is entrusted to clean.  Well I do care.  I care because I would hope and pray that those kinds of decisions and morals we have in our home would cause our children's friends to wonder why we choose to live this clean life so then they can see that it all points back to our God and being holy for Him.

Think about this, if you turned the TV off and looked at your spouse or your kids after supper and said ok, lets do some devotional time or read from our bibles...what would the reaction be?  Is it normal and accepted as a part of your life away from church?  This is that kind of choosing we are talking about.  Choose God like we talked about last week.  Choose to be clean.

Now this is not just for those of us with kids in the house.  This is for all of us.  We have to keep a clean holy environment for us too.  For our husbands.  For our friends that come to our home.  Our parents and brothers and sisters.  I think about that all the time.  you know I pray a friend or family member will come to know Christ but if that person comes to my home will they see Christ in my surroundings?  In my choices?

So what if it's not so clean?  What then?  Don't feel defeated.  Remember Paul?  The apostle Paul who wrote so much of the scriptures in the bible?

He started off as dirty as they come.  Destroying churches and imprisoning Christians.  But on the road to Damaskus, Jesus made him clean and Saul the Christian persecutor became Paul, the man Jesus called "brother"...he was made clean.

No we haven't done anything like Saul, but certainly we have done things to distance ourselves from God.  Sins or bad choices or prioritizing things over God or whatever and then things got weird and that's when we drew back a bit.

But we confess it to him.  He is a forgets it and we find peace.