Monday, May 15, 2017

Learning to Love Like Jesus

Recently I heard someone say that if they could ask God for any one thing they would ask for a heart that always obeyed the Lord. Although there wasn't anything "wrong" with his answer, I want more than just a relationship built on rules & obedience. I want my obedience to stem from my love for & relationship with Him. Love is the highest goal. It is also the foundation. The motivation...of everything we do. The only thing that matters. A couple of years ago after having this realization stir in my soul, I began praying that above all else He would teach me to love like He does.

"If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing." -1 Corinthians 13:1-3

"All that matters is faith, expressed through love." -Galatians 5:6

The longer I walk this path, the harder it becomes at times. Especially when the hurt comes from someone you assumed would be...should be...on the same side as you.

It's so easy to love those who love you. But there is no growth in that...nothing learned.

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them." -Luke 6:32

But to love those who ignore you? To love those who dislike you? To love those who gossip about you & slander you to others? To love those who don't want anything to do with you? To those who just tolerate you? To those who take you for granted? To those who oppose you? To those who seem to intentionally resist your efforts at every turn? To those who continually hurt your feelings? To those who choose others over choosing you? Who assume the worst about you? And on & on it goes. There are so many other possible scenarios.

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." -1 Corinthians 13:4-7

So instead of getting my feelings hurt & giving in to the temptation to retaliate, sulk, or nurse my emotional wounds, I must allow Him to love them through me...regardless of their motives (which are unbeknownst to me), & remember that:

1. They are not my enemies. "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." -Ephesians 6:12

2. To bless them & continue to pray for them regardless of their behavior. "Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you." -Luke 6:28

Easier said than done for sure.

But another thing I know and am sure of...

"Love never fails." -1 Corinthians 13:8

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My God is...

No nice introductory paragraph here, explaining my long absence from the blogging world. Let's just get straight to the point!

My family is under attack...Spiritually speaking. I've come to realize that anytime God is at work behind the scenes, you can be sure Satan will be in the foreground causing problems-attempting to distract & discourage us, causing us to doubt! He will use any and everything he possibly can to get our eyes off Jesus! Whether it's circumstances, relational, or a combination of the two!

One of my favorite Scriptures lately is out of Psalms 50. Verse 23 says, "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God." There are times when it's easy to thank God for what He's done or has allowed. Then are times like now, when the fiery darts are being shot from seemingly every direction, and it's hard to be thankful. But I know & trust in my God!

I am so thankful that my God is...

Able. He knows the Beginning & the end. He Cares. He's my Deliverer and my Ever-present help in trouble. He is Faithful and He is Good. He's my Hope. He is truly Indescribable. He and He alone is my Judge. He is the King of kings and the Lord of Lords. He is Mighty, He is Near, He is the Overcomer, and He is Powerful. He is the answer to every Question, and undoubtedly is the Restorer and Reconciler of all things! He's my Savior and my Truth. He is the Undefeated, Victorious Warrior who has given me His shield of victory! He is eXalted in the highest place, and being the Alpha & Omega, means He's my A-XYZ.

There is no one else like Him and I am so thankful He goes before me, preparing the way! No matter what comes my way, "The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving." -Psalm 28:7

I hope you know the same is true for you too! God is everything you & I will ever need...and so much more! Let me know how I can be praying for you, because we're all in this battle together! Just remember though, God has already won the war!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Are Your Angels Unemployed?

As I was lying in bed this morning trying not to wake up, I just had this thought/picture come to mind regarding angels. Not sure where it came from or if it will mean anything to you, but seeing as how I had yet another visual on angels a few years ago, I thought I would write them down to try & make sense of them for myself before I forget them...and if you get something out of it too, then all the better! ;)

As I said, a few years back, I had a dream...well, I hate to call it that, because I was awake. Similar to this morning, I was lying in bed right before getting up when this picture entered my mind. It was a skit. There were 4 men involved. One was standing near the top of a ladder and there were several empty boxes stacked on top of it. The boxes were wrapped in white paper and there was one word on each box written in big red letters. There was one man dressed in white representing one of God's angels and another man dressed in black representing one of Satan's. Last, there was a man down on his knees in prayer. He was praying for a new job, and the minute he did, a white box dropped from above (that had "JOB" written on it) and the angel in white caught it. He began to run across the stage to deliver it to the man in prayer, but was quickly stopped by the angel of darkness. They had their hands on one another's shoulders as they began to try to push one another in the opposite direction; the angel with the answered prayer was trying to make his way across the stage to the man, while the demonic angel was attempting to prevent that from happening. As long as the man continued in prayer, the "white" angel advanced. But when he would stop praying, getting discouraged because he hadn't received his answer yet, the "black" angel would advance. Eventually, the answer was delivered because the man was persistent in praying.

Upon waking fully, I thought of the Bible story found in Daniel 10:12-14 which reads, "Then he said to me, "Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. "Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future."

As this story points out, Daniel's prayer for understanding regarding what was going to take place in the end times was delayed because the two angels were "contending" with one another. Other versions of the Bible say the Prince of the Persian Kingdom "resisted" him or "withstood" him. Spiritual warfare is very real, people! Yet God is so good and so gracious that he has assigned His angels to watch over us. Check these verses out:

"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." Psalm 91:11 " What are the angels, then? They are spirits who serve God and are sent by him to help those who are to receive salvation." Hebrews 1:14

That second verse brings up what I saw this morning. There were a bunch of men dressed in white (in my mind's eye I knew they were angels) sitting around a big wooden table hanging out and visiting. Some were leaned back in their chairs, others were slouched over resting their heads on the table top. Each one was wearing a shoulder mic like policemen wear too. One angel walked through the room and asked what they were doing and one of them exasperatingly responded, "We don't have anything to do...!?"

You can call me crazy if you want to, but when I tie these two word pictures together, I say we (specifically I) need to be in prayer much more than I currently am! When we pray, God answers! He dispatches his angels out to help us when we call out to him! Are you keeping your angel(s) busy, allowing them to do the job God has assigned them to do on your behalf or are they getting to slack on the job for lack of demand? I want whatever help God has given me to be on active duty, not merely part-time time help...or worse yet, unemployed!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chaos!

Just a quick post!

We're in the midst of moving to our "new" house, so that in and of itself is creating a bit of chaos around here. My husband also decided it would be a good idea to get us moved during his time off (this week and next). Under "normal" circumstances (whatever that word means), that would sound like a great idea! However, he forgot one minor detail: the two oldest kids & I will be gone to church camp!! Seeing as how I didn't want to a) leave him with all the work of moving alone, and b) taking a bunch of needless things with us when we go (we're downsizing), I'm having to go through/clean out/declutter/throw away/pack (for the move as well as for camp) AND have a garage sale within about a 3-4 day period. Note: This does not include any other activities such as: my oldest daughter starting a new job (she doesn't have her license yet so I'm having to drive her), hosting/attending a couple of graduation parties for my 8th grader and family friends, leading a teen Bible Study, completing my volunteer work at the local nursing home, taking my middle son to an eye doctor appointment tomorrow, and just being a wife/mom (which has its own long list of duties/responsibilities...cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc., etc., etc. You know the drill). Ya. Like I said, C-H-A-O-S!!!! However, with all that said, that has nothing to do with what I originally logged in here for. What? Me? Distracted? Just slightly. ;)

While taking stuff down off the walls, I also removed the Bible verses I keep posted around the house. I love surrounding myself with God's Word-it helps keep my mind centered & focused on/filled with truth (and as you can see, I need aaaaaaaaall the help I can get! ;) A friend of mine recently asked for a copy of the verses, so I thought, "You know what? I have to type it out anyway, and I haven't posted in a YEAR...so why not kill two birds with one stone and post them on the blog so if anyone else would like to use the same idea, go for it!!" Without any further ado, here they are:

*LAMP: "O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness." 2 Samuel 22:29

*CLOCK: "Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:8

*CLOSET DOOR: "I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness." Isaiah 61:10

*BATHROOM MIRROR: "Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image..." Genesis 1:26, "I praise you because I am fearfully & wonderfully made; your works are wonderful..." Psalm 139:14, "People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

*WATER DISPENSER ON THE FRIDGE: "Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst." John 4:12-14a

*KITCHEN SINK: "Don't talk too much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn off the flow." Proverbs 10:19

*PANTRY DOOR: "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

*BACK DOOR: "The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." Psalm 121:7-8

*HAMPER: "Then he is to take off these clothes and put on others..." Leviticus 6:11

*TV: "Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word." Psalm 119:37

*COMPUTER: "...I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing." Psalm 101:2,3, "You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar." Psalm 139:1,2

*MEASURING CUP/SPOON DRAWER: "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38

I'm sure there are many more you can think of! What are some you have posted or what ideas come to mind? I'd love to hear more!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

For J.A.K.E.'s Sake

Exactly one month from today, our baby boy would be turning one. Instead, he entered this world stillborn...emptying my womb while filling Heaven with his tiny little presence at the same time.

In honor of his upcoming birthday on June 12th, my oldest child (and only daughter) wanted to commemorate it in a special way. She decided to create an "event" of sorts. It won't be a party filled with cake and balloons, but it will be a celebration & there will be gifts. A celebration of life, and gifts of kindness.

She has entitled it, "For J.A.K.E.'s Sake." It stands for "J-ust A K-ind E-xpression." The definition of "expression" is this: "The act of transforming ideas into words or actions. The manifestation of an emotion, feeling, etc. without words. A look on the face that indicates mood or emotion."

She is simply asking that everyone do one or more Random Acts of Kindness (R.A.K.) that day in his memory. How you choose to express that is totally up to you! R.A.K. cards that you will leave behind (if you wish, and for example- leaving an unusually large tip at the restaurant-even if/especially if your waitress was having a bad day) are also being printed. They will read, "This Random Act of Kindness done in loving memory of Jake Lawrence Baker, 6/12/12-6/12/12. PAY IT FORWARD! Matthew 25:34-40, Philippians 2:3."

This is her description taken from the Event Page on FB:

"In honor & loving memory of my youngest brother, Jake Lawrence Baker's 1st Birthday (coming up on June 12th), I'm inviting you, my family & friends, to participate in J.A.K.E.'s Day! "Just A Kind Expression." Expression: The act of transforming ideas into words or actions. The manifestation of an emotion, feeling, etc. w/out words. A look on the face that indicates mood or emotion." How you choose to express your R.A.K. (Random Act of Kindness) that day is up to you: Whether you pay for a stranger's meal behind you in line at the drive thru, open the door for an elderly man at the store, or simply smile at someone, every R.A.K. (big or small) matters! We're going to have R.A.K. cards for you to leave with your "victims" so they can in turn pay it forward! They will read, "This Random Act of Kindness done in loving memory of Jake Lawrence Baker, 6/12/12-6/12/12. Pay It Forward! Matthew 25:34-40, Philippians 2:3." Please message me with your address & how many you'd like and we'll get them in the mail at no cost to you. We have just one request: if you order them, please ensure you use them all!!! :) We also have a friend who is making T-shirts for those who may be interested in buying & wearing one that day. The deadline for ordering a shirt is June 4th & the price is $18. On Jake's birthday, please feel free to leave a comment here letting us know how your R.A.K. went! ♥ "

I just have to say how deeply touched I am and I stand in awe of her heart behind this effort! If any of you would like to join us in this celebration, we'd be honored.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

T.R.O.U.B.L.E.?

A couple of years ago, as my family & I were on our way to visit my husband's grandparent's, we stopped at a convenience store. While sitting in the parking lot waiting for Paul, I heard part of a message on the radio. And although I don't remember who the speaker was, it struck a chord in me and the following is a result of that. I always find word pictures or acronyms helpful and I pray that you will take this simple message to heart and will remember what to do when you're in T.R.O.U.B.L.E. ;)

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

T: Give Thanks!

1. In all circumstances!

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

2. That the battle is the Lord's! "This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s." 2 Chronicles 20:15

3. That He will never leave you nor forsake you! "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

R: Rejoice!

1. Rejoice in the Lord always!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

O: Let it be an Opportunity!

1. To let your light shine!

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

2. To draw near to God!

"Come near to God and he will come near to you." James 4:8

3. To be a witness!

"But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me." Luke 21:13

4. For great joy-knowing that is serves a purpose!

"Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." James 1:2-4

U: Understand!

1. Do not lean on your own understanding!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

2. That we won't know the "Big Picture" until later.

"Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7

3. That God is your only hope!

"My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare." Psalm 25:15 "And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you." Psalm 39:7 "I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure..." Psalm 16:2, 8-9

B: Believe!

1. That God's promises are true!

"God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection." Psalm 18:30 "God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?" Numbers 23:19

2. That God is good & will work this out for your good & His glory!

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28 "For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does." Psalm 33:4 "The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8 "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 "Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” Psalm 50:15

L: Longing!

1. Long for the Lord-not for substitutes!

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me”" Psalm 63:1-8 "As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?" Psalm 42:1,2 "All night long I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek for God." Isaiah 26:9

E: Be Encouraged!

1. That our trials are temporary!

"For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4

2. That He is with us and we will not be overtaken!

"But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:1-3 "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fully Known, Fully Loved

I'm sure most of us are familiar with Psalms 139; the chapter in the Bible that talks about how well God knows us. The first 4 verses are: "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord." But have you ever truly thought of what that means? What that looks like? Before I got the kids up for school this morning, I started pondering those questions a little bit and these thoughts started pouring forth:

"You know my fears. You know my thoughts. You know my passions. You know my secrets. You know my pleasures. You know my pain. You know my sorrows. You know my intentions. You know my reasons. You know my victories. You know my excuses. You know my hesitations. You know my tears. You know my laughter. You know my calling. You know my questions. You know my answers. You know my guilt. You know my shame. You know my pride. You know my insecurities. You know my exasperations. You know my limits. You know my name. You know my desires. You know my cravings. You know my strengths. You know my weaknesses. You know my struggles. You know my complexities. You know my absurdities. You know my weight. You know my delights. You know my expectations. You know my disappointments. You know my failures. You know my successes. You know my brokenness. You know my scars. You know my past. You know my future. You know my bondages. You know my motives. You know my circumstances."

This list is nowhere even close to the extent of what or how well God knows each and every one of us. It's mind boggling to me to think that not only does God SEE these things...He KNOWS them!

When I was about done listing these things, I felt Him speak to my Spirit: "You are fully known and you are fully loved."

In spite of everything I've ever done or will ever do...In spite of everything He knows, He loves me...He loves you...He loves US anyway. Amazing, is it not?