Tuesday, July 29, 2008
It's that time again! Yes to God Tuesdays with Lelia. We're studying Lysa TerKeurst's book "What Happens When Women Walk In Faith". Today I want to give my insights on Chapters 6 and 7. Please also be sure to stop by Lelia's blog to see what the other ladies are saying and learning :)
Chapter 6 - God's Extraordinary Invitation
I think almost every lady doing this study highlighted the following statement: Though they couldn't see God's hand at work, they trusted His heart and rejoiced in the simplest of blessings each day. This was spoken of the two boys Lysa adopted. It reminds me so much of the verse. "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3, NIV) Children have such faith. They haven't grown quite as cynical as us adults. How I wish I could say that I have consistently rejoiced in the simplest of blessings. How awesome that their faith was so mature. What marvelous examples for us!
I loved the story she told in the section called How? Why? where she was giving God all the reasons why she could not do what He was asking and why He had to be mistaken in calling her to do it. The reason I love it so much is because I'm living it right now (see this post). God calls us to something and we immediately start analyzing it with our human eyes and our human perspective. We start giving Him all the reasons why this is not a good idea, why He is mistaken in calling us to do the thing, whatever it is. Instead I think we should be saying, as I said yesterday, "Lead me Lord" because He already has it all worked out! He doesn't need our analysis. It's been done. He doesn't need to hear our reasons why we can't do it because He has already planned how to equip us. What He needs and desires is obedience to follow Him. And He will take us on a great adventure.
Another quote I loved was this: Breakthroughs happen when we get about the business of honoring God moment by moment, step-by-step, day by day by what we do and, more importantly, with the thoughts we think while we do. All I can say is Amen to that. Let's get about the business of honoring God!
Chapter 7 - God Is With You
These last few chapters (starting with 5) are addressing a period Lysa calls famine. In Chapter 5 she refers to it as a place of sacrifice and surrender. This is the phase where we learn to depend on God. So fast forward to Chapter 7 and Lysa writes: For days , I'd been telling God there was no way, and now He was reminding me that there is always a way with Him. Again, He needs us to trust, not figure and plan. I am guilty of trying to map it all out because I hate the unknown. I want to be in control. So famine for me is an extremely difficult phase. And I am smack dab in the middle of the famine phase right now. He's letting me walk it out right along with this study.
So of course I am clinging to this next statement. In our own strength, achieving our dreams may be impossible. But with God, there is a way! We (I) just need to rest in Him, He's got it all under control!
Lysa instructed us as follows: Don't try to make your whole dream come true at once. Just fulfill the small part of the mission He's asking you to do today. In Proverbs 20:24 it says, "A man's steps are directed by the Lord, How then can anyone understand his own way?" I pray that each morning we get up and say "Lord, direct my steps today."
In the exercises Lysa asked us to look up verses for success or succeed. The purpose was to help us understand exactly what godly success even looks like. Here are the verses I chose:
Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3, NIV)
Wisdom brings success (Ecclesiastes 10:10, NKJV)
Basically these say to me : Trust God with your dream. Let God direct your actions in relation to the dream. Ask for godly wisdom and God will provide it and the success that results from applying that wisdom. These are my marching orders from God.
Go forth and know that God is with you and He is for you! Be blessed!
Monday, July 28, 2008
Challenge #5: Take an extravagant LEAP OF FAITH - embrace the call that God has impressed upon your heart. Listen to the right voice, and forget the excuses.
This one threw me for a loop. Here is my little story as to why.
God had placed three things on my heart. I am sad to report that I have been like Jonah about them. One was given to me two years ago and I just never got off my duff to do anything about it. One was spoken to me at She Speaks and the other just last week. So Saturday night I prayed for God to send me a flashing neon sign about the three things I know He has called me to.
One is a book He placed on my heart to write . It's not what I would have thought of for a first book, but He's been very clear. He gave me this idea at She Speaks during Bill Jensen's class. He was taking about books that get published because they are timely for something going on in the culture or a big event that has just occurred. To make sure I knew He wasn't kidding about it, God orchestrated a situation where there was a question on a writers group this past week asking if our Work In Progress was addressing any timely events. When I responded to the question with details about what this book would be and the format, I got several emails back saying "Hurry and get that proposal shopped around. It is so needed. " One email was from the panelist who posed the question. You would think I'd have said Okay Lord by now. But no, no, I was determined to be Jonah. Here God was giving me back the dream I has laid on the altar at She Speaks and I was refusing it because it "looked different" than what I had placed there.
Another thing He placed on my heart is a relationship tool for moms and tween/teen daughters. This was the idea I received from Him last week. Again my Jonah attitude said " Lord, my relationship with my own tween and teen daughters could use some work. I'm not sure I'm the right one for this God. Surely no one is going to listen to me on this one."
The final thing is a prayer ministry in our church for our Middle School and High School girls. This is the one that I haven't moved on in two years. It is so dear to my heart but I've been paralyzed by fear. "Well, they are going to ask me to write up a plan. I'm not sure how it should look, so how can I write a plan? What if it fails? What if I heard God wrong or misunderstood in some way? What if it goes too well and gets too big for me? Then what?" Focusing on me instead of on God, that's what I was doing. I have let the enemy engulf me in a spirit of fear about this.
So for the last week God has really been after me that He needs me to get moving on these. I've was saying "Lord surely You are joking. I have two kids. I work full-time. I have a husband. I'm involved in ministry at church. Where in the world would I find time? How could all this happen in my one life? Perhaps I heard you wrong. Perhaps You meant one of these things and not all three." So I asked for a flashing neon sign that He meant all three. If He did, I'd quit being Jonah and do as he has asked. WARNING: Never, and I mean never, ask for this if you don't really mean it.
Sunday morning dawned and I looked on Tracie's website. The challenge was up - "embrace the call God has placed on your life." WHAT?! I was dumbfounded. As if that wasn't enough, in my quiet time, it was about, guess what, having faith. My bible study was talking about believing God for your calling, knowing HE can do it through you.
So with those three flashing neon signs, God finally had me. All I can say now is "Lead me Lord"
May you respond "Lead me Lord" in whatever He has called you to do!
Stop by tomorrow for Yes to God Tuesday! Love and blessings to you all!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Challenge 3 (Friday):
Challenge #3: Forgive them. Forgive that person whom you have been holding a grudge against for days, weeks, months, maybe years. Bask in the freedom that you will gain from being obedient to God in this way. Your rewards will be great.
This one was hard and revealing. During my morning quiet time I realized I had a group of people to forgive. I don't want to go into too much detail on the blog because I don't want to hurt others.
The people I forgave are relatives. They have hurt my feelings, interfered in areas of my life that they should not have and in general passed negative judgement on me. I'm not perfect but I don't think anyone deserves what I have often times received from them. What has been so frustrating is that at other times they "seemed" fine with me. I think the duplicity is what hurt and frustrated me the most.
It was hard to forgive and the tears flowed but I needed to stop poisoning myself. I choose to let God heal those hurt places. I choose to continue to grow into someone fabulous by God's grace and not become an ugly person because of bitterness. I choose to have faith that God is bigger than my bitterness. And I choose to let Him replace it with His love. Thank You Lord Jesus!
Challenge 4 (Saturday):
Challenge #4: Share your faith with three people today.
Well, I did not do so well with this one. I really did not go out much on Saturday. I went to the beauty shop at 6 AM so the two beauties and I could get dolled up (they start school tomorrow). I made one trip later to shop for shoes for my oldest beauty since younger beauty was off with a friend. I did not verbally give a testimony to the beautician, the receptionist at the salon or the clerk at the shoe store. However I was pleasant and nice to them. For me that fell short. I wish I had slipped them a verse or asked if I could pray for them or told them "God Bless you" or something that let them know that God was real to me. So perhaps I can do that going forward. I at least was aware of my attitude. I certainly did not want to be acting like a friend of the enemy. So in that respect I guess I did okay.
My time with God continues to go well. Some verses that have struck me in Day 3 and 4 of the challenge are:
"Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord, His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth." Hosea 6:3 (NKJV)
What I love about this verse is the concept of latter and former rain. Former rain comes in the fall and prepares the ground for seed (softens it). Latter rain came in the the spring and caused growth. If you apply this to the trials in your life, it would go something like the following. Some trials are preparing you for something God wants to do in your life (Former rain). Some trials are stretching your faith, making you grow (Latter rain). When I look at it this way, it makes me realize all the more how my complaining is out of place, out of line. God is working!
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong,. Let all that you do be done with love. 1 Corintians 16:13-14 (NKJV)
What fabulous instructions. Watch. Watch for God's return. Watch what you say and do. Watch for opportunities to share your faith. Stand Fast. Stay in the Word. Keep praying. Again, share your faith. Defend it when needed. Be Brave. Depend on God for the hard stuff, for all the stuff really :) Be strong. All I'd add are the words "in the Lord". Finally, do everything with love. Exude the aroma of Christ. Let the Light that is within you shine through daily.
Be blessed! I'll finish up with Challenge 5 tomorrow
Saturday, July 26, 2008
So the rules are:
1) Link to the person who tagged you (http://marismorningroom.blogspot.com/)
2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6)
3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below)
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up
So on with the random things about Mari:
1. I won a poetry contest in the 5th grade. That was my first foray into "public writing". I wish I had kept going with my writing. But God had other plans and now my writing rests in His hands.
2. I've never seen Risky Business or Ferris Bueller's Day off. My husband says that officially makes me weird. I think I'm weird whether I've seen those movies or not but hey, let him have his fun :)
3. I got engaged to my husband after dating just 6 months. We got married a year later. 15 years later, we're still going strong. Who says you need a long courtship :)
4. I suck my tongue. And I have apparently passed that along to my younger beauty. It drives me crazy when she does it. Then of course my husband takes a little too much pleasure in saying "Well it makes me crazy when you do it, so don;t bug her about it." Oh one day he's going to pay for that phrase. And I mean that in the most Christian of ways
5. I'm addicted to MouseHunter on Facebook. I hope this infatuation passes soon but knowing my Type A personality, I won't give up until I reach the highest level.
6. If Blair Underwood were in front of my house and my husband was calling me....too bad hubby. Have you seen Blair? I mean really - OH MY! I need a fan. It's suddenly very very hot in here. Mercy!
Oh okay now that I've wiped the drool from my mouth... Here are the six bloggy friends I've tagged:
Stop by an visit them all. You will be blessed :)
Friday, July 25, 2008
Challenge #2: Let God's light shine brightly through you today - even if someone licks the red off of your sucker. Be kind to those who are unkind. Be giving to those who don't give. Look for the positive in every situation you encounter.
Pardon? If I didn't know better, I'd ask her if she had been drinking.
I've been on vacation this week, except for Monday when I had to work because too many other people were off. I'm not bitter just saying..I would have liked it off as well. But I digress. My two beauties have been bickering all week as we've been getting them prepared to go back to school on Monday. I know it's because this is their fourth week of all day togetherness and they are sick of each other. However, they know I hate fighting so you'd think they would not do it around me. Well think again.
Every day we've been out shopping I've to make the following statements:
"If you two do not stop it right now I will put everything in this cart back, walk out of this store and y'all can go to school with last years clothes. If you can't wear last year's clothes, then you'll just be naked."
"Making nasty comments about your sister is unacceptable and besides that it's not godly"
That works for the store we're in but then I need to repeat it all over again in the next store. Very frustrating. Fast forward to Thursday and Day 2 of this challenge. I had a little problem with the "be kind to those who are unkind".
As I suspected when I started Day 2, my children did everything in their power to push my buttons and get on my nerves. At one point during "Challenge Day 2" we were in the car and the two beauties were bickering back and forth like they were mortal enemies. I yelled "STOP IT!" Then I remembered the challenge. Specifically the "be kind to those who are unkind" came to mind because they were definitely being unkind. So I calmed my voice and began to tell them how ungodly that was and how what they were doing was not a good representation of what is expected of a Christian. We rode the rest of the way home in silence. By the time we got home they were both more congenial and neither appeared to be mad at me (like I would have cared anyway because they were just wrong!)
I wish I could have done this without yelling but after three days of bickering, that was all that was going to get their attention. I'm just glad that God enabled me to turn it around and make it a teachable moment, instead of a yell fest.
Tomorrow I'll be blogging about Challenge #3 and my quiet time this morning. As a teaser I'll tell you, I'm buying stock in Kleenex so I can recoup some of money!
Be blessed! Love God! Praise Him!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Spend 30 minutes a day in quiet time with God for the next 5 days.
That did not prove hard today. I actually spent about an hour in prayer and reading my Bible. Oh was it an eye opening time. During my prayer time I actually got so worked up that I was sobbing. That hasn't happened in a long time. It was truly precious to me.
During my bible study time my eyes were opened to things I had never noticed before. Verses leapt off the page at me. There were many things to ponder and ponder them I will. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.
One verse that stuck out to me was 1 Corinthians 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." WOW! It made me really think about my worldview. If we are only hoping in Christ for things on this earth and making our life here wonderful, then we are to be pitied the most and we are pitiful. We must have a biblical worldview, an eternal perspective. What we need to hope in Christ for are things that have eternal ramifications. Am I doing that? Are you?
Today I had to wrestle with challenge #2. I'll write about that tomorrow. Boy was that one a dousy! And my story to go with it, is just as interesting . I'm almost afraid of what #3 will be. But I'm going to hang in there. Just like Jacob, I'm going to hang on and wrestle with it. I know God blesses us when we have faith. And more than that, it draws us closer to Him, which is what I desire.
Come back tomorrow for Challenge #2 details :-)
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tracie Miles from Proverbs 31 Ministries has issued a challenge. Not just any old challenge mind you. No, this is a FAITH challenge. There was no way I was going to pass up the chance to actually do some walking in faith.
I encourage you to join me. Stop by Tracie's blog and make the commitment with me. I'll be posting the next 6 days (gotta have a recap day ya know) on the challenges. I hope you are blessed by it. If you choose to participate, and I hope you do, please stop by and share your stories as well.
Each day will be a new challenge. I'll post tomorrow what Challenge #1 was and will provide updates on it over the next 6 days.
I'm so excited I can barely stand it. Come join me!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays. We're reading Lysa TerKeurst's book "What Happens When Women Walk In Faith". What a treat this week as we begin doing two chapters a week. How will we stand all that excitement??!! Be sure to check out Lelia's blog with links to everyone else's comments
CHAPTER 4 - Loving God More Than My Dream
Right from the title I was searching my heart. Did I love God more than my dream? Some days I feel yes and others I feel no. So I've been on my knees asking God to make Himself more important than my dream. I just want to be sure is all.
Lysa wrote: Walking with God will indeed take you to some amazing places - but it won't always be where you thought you wanted to go, and the road won't always be easy.
Oh yes, that's the truth. He's asking you to give up stuff. He's asking you to do things that are beyond, and I mean way beyond, your comfort zone. He says risk rejection. I answer "Pardon?!" It's not easy at t'all. And yes, sometimes you're looking around saying "Lord this does not look like where I thought we were going." He just smiles and says "I know. It's better then that!" Oh how I want to believe Him. But that isn't always easy either.
What might God be calling you to leave?
This took me a while to figure out. God gave me the answer this afternoon. Leave behind your expectations. Leave behind your need to know the plan and trying to make it happen in your own strength. Leave behind your fears. All I can say is "Yes, Lord."
Lysa then said this: Don't second-guess what God is doing. Rather, look for ways to dig deeper into His Word, His character, and His faithfulness in this time.
You know what? He provides a way for us to do this if we keep our eyes open. Before She Speaks, I purchased the book "For the Write Reason." It included a 30 day bible study. Through this book/study, God was able to speak to me about what He did and did not want me to pursue at this time. It also led me to places in the Scripture that made me want to dig a bit deeper. I felt that I needed to be more committed to my quiet time and extra time in the Word. I went to the conference already on the road to a deepened relationship with Him. And He was able to work in me a radical change there that would not have been possible if I had not dug deeper.
Our heart must beat in tandem with His. The only way for that to happen is for us to constantly take our dream to Him with open hands and willingly declare, "Yours, Yours, Yours!"
This will become my daily prayer, "Yours, Yours, Yours!"
I'll leave you with one parting thought for this chapter. No commentary from me is needed. Just know that it's one of the most significant things I highlighted in this chapter:
He wants to be the first one we turn to when our hearts are broken, the one we go to seeking wisdom for a problem, and the one to give us a big thumbs-up when we are victorious.
CHAPTER 5 - The Adventure Our Souls Were Made For
In this new place of surrender, God will take you outside your comfort zone, and you'll learn to depend on Him like never before.
I am experiencing this now. I have merrily been writing my little articles and devotionals. Early this morning He prompted me to write an article that I can tell you I had no intention of writing. You want to talk about exposing your warts. Mercy! I was extremely uncomfortable but I just could not stop writing. I was thinking, "I'm never submitting this." But I will because He's told me I will. One of my "dirty little secrets" will be out. But it might help others so, comfort zone or not, I have to surrender.
Lysa told the story of a young Liberian boy names Seebo. She said of him: Though his life circumstances had been void of the things that bring joy, hope, peace, and love to most children, these qualities were evident in his life because God reigned so richly in his heart.
You think she could have given my toes a break for one week, huh? I had to ask myself, when my life circumstances are not what I'd prefer (much less what I need as in Seebo's case) do the qualities I exhibit show that God reigns in my heart? Not always, definitely not often enough.
Finally she says: How vitally important it is for us to surrender our hearts to God and ask Him daily to reveal His plans and perspectives to us so we don't miss His activity and His glorious plans for our future.
Hmmm. I think I am usually praying "Lord how do I do this thing I think you've called me to." Seems to me after reading this I need to be saying "Lord show me in a tangible way I can't miss what You have for me to do today. Open my eyes to Your clues for me to go here, stop that, proceed, linger or whatever else You need me to do today. "
In the exercises Lysa asked us to write in our notebooks anything we needed our hearts to be cleansed from. I'll share a couple of things I wrote:
- Cleanse me from envy of others whose kids seem to be "better behaved, smarter, more loving" than my own
- Release me from the need for the approval and attention of others. Whatever I do, let it be to glorify you, even if no human notices or approves
I'll also leave this chapter with a quote from Lysa. Ponder it. Live it out!
Determine to delight yourself in Him, and trust Him to work out the rest.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
"I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed." (7:13-14)
I'll just start where I left yesterday - AMEN! Christ, as we already know, rules all. At the end of this place we call earth, His kingdom and dominion will be forevermore. He will be the indisputable King of Kings. We know He already is, but now everyone will have to "give Jesus his props" GLORY!
"...and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered" (8:12)
"Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; And he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; But he shall be broken without human means" (8:25)
These are interesting verses. It looks like the bad guy is doing whatever he pleases and getting away with it. How often does it look that way in our lives? People are getting away with deceit, treachery and all manner of immorality. It breaks our hearts. Why aren't they being stopped or punished we inquire? But hold on....verse 25 speaks some hope for us. God will break them down. Let me say it again so we don't forget. God....will....break....them....down. We may never see it, but know it's coming by God's means, not ours. I can sleep well knowing that. How about you?
"O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies." (9:18)
Again Daniel displays humility. He clearly understands that it is not our righteousness that causes God to answer our prayers. It is God's mercy for us, His great mercy that makes that happen. I am so thankful for the twins, grace and mercy. Wherever would I be without them?
"At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:"(9:23)
"And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved.." (10:11)
This was spoken by the angel Gabriel. I tell you this gives me the shivers and brings tears to my eyes. To think that God, even before my prayer is fully off my lips, is commanding things to happen. WOW! The phrase that has me pondering still is "you are greatly beloved", which is repeated in Chapter 10. How, oh how do we become greatly beloved of God. We are all beloved but greatly beloved seems so special. I can imagine that Moses and David were greatly beloved. What about Enoch? I think he too was greatly beloved. How do we get there? I'm not sure but I'm starting my journey towards it with the verse God keeps giving to me over and over in many situations and formats: "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless" (Genesis 17:1). How do you think we become greatly beloved of God?
"...Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself"
He was cut off for me. He was cut off for you. Never, ever forget that. May it be foremost in my mind and yours as we live each moment of our day. It's a sacrifice that should grip our hearts always. Always. It should drive our actions, thoughts, emotions and reactions. Jesus, my Messiah, was cut off for me. If you cannot say you believe He was cut off for you, I urge you to visit here to help you know who He is, what He did and why He is important to your life.
"And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” (10:19)
I've talked about greatly beloved already. This is the third reference to Daniel being greatly beloved. Makes me ponder it even more :) These words are spoken by what my study Bible believes is the preincarnate Christ (read Christ appearing to someone before He took on human form and came down to earth). Can you just imagine Christ saying to you "Peace, be strong." Daniel said he had been strengthened. My response? Ya think?!! I imagine I would be too if Christ appeared to me and said Peace be to you and then told me to be strong. But you know what? He has said it to us. He has said it in His word in numerous places. Just do a word study on peace and strong. You'll be studying for a long while but you indeed will be strengthened.
"...the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits." (11:32)
There is that word strong again. Those who know God shall be strong. Why? Because He gives us strength for what is needed. Those who know God will carry out great exploits. How? By God's plan and His strength that He supplies to us. It's all about Him. It always has been and always will be. I pray to know Him better and more intimately everyday. If you see me carrying out great exploits, know that it is God working through me and providing me with the strength I need.
"At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book." (12:1)
This is an End Time prophecy (end time meaning when Christ returns for His people, Satan is defeated and the earth as we know it perishes so that a new earth can be established with our Supreme King, Jesus). The book is what we refer to as the Lambs' Book of Life. It's the book where your name gets written when you accept Christ as your Savior (again if you need more information on that visit here). I know I will be delivered because my name is in the book. Have you made your reservation? If you have, may I step on your toes? Have you helped others make their reservation? Let's commit to doing that, me and you. God wants us to, commands us to. He wants to see every name of every person He's created in that book. Let's make sure some more names get added.
And with that I'll say - God Bless and if I never meet you here on earth, I'll see you on the day of deliverance. Meet you in the air!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
But I digress. I wanted to share with you some verses from Daniel that really touched my heart. Some have me pondering them still, waiting for some revelation from God, if He wants to do so. I'm going to list the verse(s) (all are NKJV) and my observations. Feel free to comment with your own "takings away" if you will :)
We'll do this in two sections since Daniel has 12 chapters. We'll do chapters 1-6 today and 7-12 tomorrow. Shall we begin?
"Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs" (1:9)
"As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams" (1:17)
Daniel didn't need to figure out how to get in the chief of the eunuchs good graces. There was no planning or plotting to be done. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego did not have to figure out how to study and what to study or get in a study group with the other young men. Daniel didn't have to check out a book on how to interpret dreams and visions. What was required? Trusting God. God took care of the rest. This is a life lesson I've relearned over and over. I pray I stop circling the mountain like the Israelites and just TRUST HIM!
"So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation. Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven" (2:16-19)
Three things stood out in these verses. First Daniel didn't immediately petition God for revelation. He asked for time. With important decisions, don't be hasty. This leads to the next point. Don't forget your prayer coverage. Daniel got his friends together to pray for this request he needed to make of God. Yes, God hears our prayers and He answers. But there's something to be said for many of us to be knocking at the gates of heaven in one accord. Daniel knew this and God answered Yes. Finally, Daniel did another important thing. He praised God. May I never forget to give Him the praise when He responds to me.
"But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart" (2:30)
One word - humility. "Umm, king it's so not about me. God did this." It whispers to me, Mari point to Jesus. Every time, point to Jesus.
"The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure" (2:45)
It was certain and sure because of it's source. God is certain and He is sure. He's never going to change His ways. So anything that comes from Him is believable. You can "take that to the bank".
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (3:16-18)
You might be familiar with this set of verses. I've read these verses before. What struck me deeply this time was the spiritual maturity of these teenagers. They knew God was able to deliver them from this situation, the burning fiery furnace. But they also acknowledged that rescuing them might not be part of God's plan. They were prepared to accept that. They were going to be faithful to their God, my God, regardless of God's actions. In my sanctified imagination, I can just see in my mind that if they had perished in that furnace, they'd have gone to heaven with praise on their lips. Am I that mature in my trials? Every time? Are you?
"Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” (3:29)
I wrote one word in the margin of my bible - AMEN!
"Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down" (4:37)
God had demonstrated to Nebuchadnezzar that he can bring down those who are prideful. I never want God to have to "put me down". I want to already be down on my knees praising Him. I want to already be bowed in reverence to Him. I'm not always in this position, but that is my desire. And I know it is His as well.
"I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you." (5:14)
When we have the Holy Spirit in us, actively working and reigning on the throne of our heart, it is evident. See what God provides through the ministry of the Holy Spirit; light, understanding and excellent wisdom. I love that he doesn't just say wisdom. He qualifies it as excellent wisdom. What makes it excellent? It comes from one who is excellent - God Almighty.
"I make a decreethat in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
For He is the living God,
Thursday, July 17, 2008
But I will not be deterred. If I have to put in my audio bible while I'm writhing in pain, I'll do it. I'll pray in the car on the way to work or while I'm brushing my teeth. I'll just be kneeling in my heart. Why? Because I feel like a flower in need of water. I need the Living Water. And I need Him in good measure. This life is too hard without Him. Jesus said "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37-38, NIV) And Lord knows I need a good long drink of Jesus!
My desire is to be like the believer described in Psalm 1:1-3; "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is on the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."
So If y'all will excuse me, I'm going to go to Jesus, drink in His love and sink my roots deeper into the Word. Have a blessed night all!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Let's start with the title. Mari has a plan. Nope girlie, that is is *not* what it says. It says God has a plan. And how often am I running with what's in my head. By the way, God didn't put it there. I'm just running with it because, hey, it seems like a good plan to me. NOT!
So what is God's plan? Lysa states it so eloquently. "His ultimate goal is to grow us to be more and more like His Son, who had incredible faith" I want to have incredible faith. But to do that I have to conform to God's plan, not Mari's plan. I can truly relate to this statement by Lysa: "So I'd tried to force my dream to come true with my own formula, and it failed miserably." Yes Lysa I know how you feel. I've been there far far too often. I pray that I never go it on my own again. I don't really like miserable or miserably.
Lysa wrote "God was calling me to simply lay my desire to write a book on the altar." I've been there too. It was before She Speaks. I had every intention of having an publisher appointment. But God told me to wait. It was hard. I was heartbroken. I wanted so badly to whine "But whyyyyyy?" However I had been in His Word more than I had been in a while. I was in a more intimate place with Him. I knew He was right. I couldn't whine because "God has the perfect plan." Was it easy? No. It was even harder as I watched others leave for their publisher appointments. But a funny thing happened. I was at peace by Saturday night. I laid it at the foot of the cross (thank you Renee) and I was at peace. God doesn't want to hurt me. I could be happy for those women who had proposals accepted and sad with those who did not. God will do whatever is best in regards to the book. Meantime, I'll just trust Him with what I lay on the altar.
Four other quotes from Lysa that truly touched me are as follows:
"God has a ministry assignment for you, and He wants you to join Him."
"They are His words on loan to us from Him"
"Commit to leave your agenda behind, take God's hand, and hold on tight...the journey has just begun."
"Blessed are the transparent, for they shall be used by God in a mighty way!"
I'll just write those on note cards and keep them with me at all times. Thanks Lysa!!
I'll share one last thing. It's very personal but "Blessed are the transparent, for they shall be used by God in a mighty way!" Lysa said that "God has placed you exactly where you are according to His purposes." She told us to commit to not dwelling on how people like our parents, sisters, husbands and children have let us down. She also told us to "thank God for using the people in your family to help shape and mold you for your calling." So I wrote "a little" something.
Though my children challenge me and often times bring me to tears, I thank you that they also send me to my knees in search of You. You comfort me, scold me, love me, instruct me and send me forth in Your strength. How can I complain about so wonderful a gift? Lord, my husband, though not perfect is perfect for me. You allow him to surprise me with his wisdom, tickle me with his wit, and woo me with his passion. When those same things get under my skin and push the wrong buttons, it is You I run to. You catch my tears, surround me with Your love, show me the error of my ways, nudge me to forgive, instruct me and fill me with love to pour back into that same man's life. You do the same types of things with my mom, my siblings, co-workers and friends. What I pray is that when I am the culprit, that they also turn to You. I know You provide the same love and care to them, which they return to me. Thank You for growing me through the people you've placed in my life. Help me to more frequently see how crucial they are to me and to my faith. You are so knowledgeable and wise Lord God. I praise You for being omnipotent. Giving You all the honor and praise in my Savior's name.
Love Mari (Abigail <----see previous post)
P.S. Stop by Lelia's blog for more on this fabulous toe-stomping study
Friday, July 11, 2008
My name means Sea of Bitterness. But I think I know what my new name is. Whatever "tears of joy" means, that's my new name. I tell you, I've been crying a whole lot of tears of joy.
During the last two months God has shown himself so clearly to me through His word. I've seen connections between Old Testament chapters and New Testament chapters I'm reading. I've come across new things I never noticed before. He's even given me a bible study out of the latest chapters, which are Daniel and First Corinthians. I hope to get that published once I'm done with these chapters. I was so humbled that He would care to show those revelations to little old me that this morning as I prayed afterwards, the tears of joy just flowed.
As my husband and I have begun to tithe faithfully, I have seen God stretch the remaining dollars, just as He promised in Malachi 3:10 (NIV): "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “ If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it." I can't tell you how many tears of joy have flowed as I have seen Him keep this promise.
And yet another example is in my drawing near to Him, He has made His presence known to me as He promised in James 4:8 (NIV) "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." During worship (the music part because I think the whole service is worship) on Sunday mornings I have often been brought to tears because I can clearly feel His presence. It is an indescribable feeling, much like He is - beyond words.
So yes, I like this renaming. The closest I can come is Abigail. Here is what I found that name to be: From the Hebrew name אֲבִיגָיִל ('Avigayil) meaning "my father is joy". That I like. So call me Abigail :)
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
So onward to the crux of the matter.
In chapter 2, Lysa talks about leaving. Specifically she's speaking of leaving behind the old to follow God into something new. She says "looking behind you and ahead of you at the same time is impossible." Don't I know it. You really can't move forward if your head is twisted looking at what you left behind. And you know what? Many times what's behind you is garbage. Why are we so attached to it? Dump it and move on with the Lord.
Another thing I highlighted was this: "Time and time again the formula for starting something new begins with leaving the old. Leaving is usually an act of obedience and not a desire of the heart." One thing God asked me to leave behind this year was my role as a small group leader in my church's Women's ministry. That was extremely difficult to do. I enjoyed it immensely. However, I could not be disobedient. It truly was not the desire of my heart to step down. I even thought I'd go back this fall but He has clearly told me "no looking back." It is such a worthwhile ministry but He has something else for me so I have to keep my focus on what He shows me ahead. This goes along with another excellent quote from Lysa. "Experiencing life change is not a matter of chance, it's a matter of choice, choosing God's ways instead of your own." I had to choose to do it God's way. I had to draw my line in the sand, step over it and keep moving forward.
Lysa spoke about God renaming us. She told the story of God renaming Abraham (Genesis 17:1-6). This was after his attempt to "help God out"with His promise to Abraham to give him a son in his old age. God was now asking Abraham to move forward with Him in God's strength. "So God reestablished the promise, recast the vision, and breathed fresh life back in to Abraham's dream." Later Lysa writes "God renamed Abraham, and He has renamed you as well." I don't know what my new name is. It might be obvious to others but not yet to me. I do know that God is doing something new in me. He's taking me down a new road, in a new direction, with a new fire and love in my heart for God and His Word. And I am excited beyond words about that.
For homework, the first thing we did was read Hebrews 11. It's the chapter "known as "faith's hall of fame"." Lysa instructed us to reflect on the fact that none of the men and women listed in Hebrews 11 were perfect. So just as these imperfect people were mightily used by God, so too can we be used by God. Let's not forget that God's strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). We don't need to be perfect. We don't even need to be strong. All we need is God's presence in our life and faith that He is able.
The question that most affected me (and almost had me doing the happy dance) was the one where she asked us to research our name. We were to find the meaning and then try to find a verse that correlates with the meaning. My full name is Marietta, which means "sea of bitterness". That is so not encouraging. I certainly did not want to go looking up verses about bitterness. But again, obedience is what is required. I know that I've been bitter. I've cried many seas of bitter tears. I've experienced bitterness over the circumstances in my marriage. The first 7 to 8 years of it were no picnic. I was mostly unhappy and at one point had resolved to divorce my husband. Yes, this is the same man I wrote about Sunday. But in obedience to God I did not divorce him and God rebirthed both of us and our marriage. I've cried bitter tears about our finances so often I've got no more tears left. But God is rebirthing in that area as well.
Well I started looking for verses and came across Isaiah 38:15. But as I generally do, I read a bit before that verse for context. As I could not get the full context I went to the beginning of the chapter. It was the chapter where King Hezekiah was sick and Isaiah brought him news that he would die. Hezekiah prayed this prayer (Isaiah 38:2-3) "Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the LORD, and said, “Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. " I thought a sea of bitter tears. Wow! I know those well. Reading ahead Isaiah brings word that The Lord has heard Hezekiah's prayer and will heal him and give him 15 more years of life. So how does Hezekiah commemorate and remember this story? In verse 9 it says that Hezekiah wrote about it. What?! That's what I do after I've cried those bitter tears. So I kept reading. I found the two verses that spoke so intently to me. I'll provide both NKJV and NIV so it makes sense to you (not like you're stupid but I had to look up NIV to get the full effect). The first verse is 38:15 and the other is 38:17
“ What shall I say? He has both spoken to me, And He Himself has done it. I shall walk carefully all my years In the bitterness of my soul. " (v15, NKJV)
"But what can I say? He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this. I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul. " (v15, NIV)
"Indeed it was for my own peace That I had great bitterness; But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back." (v17, NKJV)
"Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back." (v17, NIV)
So even though I have cried and will most likely again cry a sea of bitter tears, God had then, has now and will have in the future, plans for those tears. They keep me humble. You can't go around acting high, mighty and perfect with red puffy eyes don't you know. In the end, I benefit from them by learning to trust God. And as I share my deliverance, be it a change in circumstances or strength to bear it, others are helped and hopefully drawn to the Lord. And I know that God has delivered me from my past sins. They no longer have power over me. I am free. God has cast my sins behind Him. I need to not look back because God doesn't look back. He remembers my sins and lawless deeds no more (Hebrews 8:12). Amen!
Be sure to stop by and read catch the other bloggy ladies' revelations :) Click Here
Sunday, July 6, 2008
I wanted to say my hubby has true love for me. He knows that when I'm having tummy issues, often times Ginger Ale will help soothe it. So when he took my two beauties to the neighbors for a sleepover, in the pouring down rain, he drove out of the subdivision and to the gas station and purchased...you guessed it, a ginger ale for me.
Funny thing, I had been thinking "I wish I had asked him to get me one while he was out. " So when he came back and produced the precious green bottle, he got the biggest kiss and I told him I really loved him a lot. Then I had to run. Back to the bathroom. But I was smiling, because I know my man loves me.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
I was hoping work would not be in the same state as my house. NOT. I work for a software company. We just put out a "patch". Somehow a critical file was "forgotten".
"Can you manually upload it to the clients who've already installed it?" they asked me. ARE YOU JOKING ME!?!? I don't even know who they all are!
So I was like okay Lord, is this a test of "if you squeeze Mari what will come out?" Because if it is, I sure hope whatever area you're squeezing is one where the Holy Spirit is flowing freely. Otherwise what comes out might rival fake poo, know what I mean?
Can I tell you God is so good? I thought I'd hop on over to my She Speaks buddy Pam's blog to see if she posted some inspiration yet. And I got a surprise! She's sending me hugs today. Ladies (and gent if my hubby is reading), I cried tears of joy. How precious is she? I feel so blessed and humbled. Furthermore Pam has the most beautiful poem on her blog today. Made me feel doubly blessed :) What a turnaround to my morning.
So the point in all this is: God took lemons and made lemonade. I know, I know it's cliche but hey it's going to be 93 here today! A girl can use a glass of lemonade to combat the H twins, heat and humidity.
This was the Lord's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:23-24
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I'm going to give my answers to the questions asked at the end of chapter one, entitled, The Map. But first let me point out some nuggets that spoke to my heart:
Lysa wrote "God really can use any woman who surrenders her inadequacies and circumstances to Him"
Another nugget which resonated strongly with a Type A person such as myself was: "He wants us to put personal conveniences aside, lay our own ideas down, and get past our stubborn will to have and do things our own way and in our own time." Hmmmm - I resemble that remark
Yes another: "If you are a woman who honors God right where you are, you are in ministry." Now I just need to make sure that I continue to honor God where I am. My pastor refers to it as blooming where you are planted. I've adopted that idea. It works well. It makes me smile (well not always but mostly). I pray it makes God smile too.
To complete my four piece nugget meal I loved the following: "Just remember the spiritual paradigm: Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7). Draw close to God and He will draw close to you (James 4:8)" WOW!
Now for the questions:
What tactics is the enemy using to try to defeat me right now?
My Children - I see pride and rebellion growing in both my girls. More so in my older daughter though. She's 13. It breaks my heart because I have had these girls in church all their lives. I've tried to model more recently quiet time, prayer and service for them. I've tried to be as loving as I can. I feel as if I am failing. He speaks lies to me about my capabilities as a mom. Surely, if you were a good mom they'd have better grades, better attitudes, more respect for you. I can't even imagine what he must be speaking to my children.
Finances - This is an old trick he keeps using over and over because it's always so successful. However, God has given us a plan for resolving our financial issues and allowing Him to release us from the bondage of debt, bad financial decisions and unexpected life circumstances.
Work stress - He uses my own competitive nature against me. There's the uncertainty of an impending merger. Surely, he whispers you need to worry about these things. I know he's trying to keep me focused on these situations instead of God working in the situations.
What are some practical ways to resist Satan?
Prayer - individual and with others
Bible Study (so we know what God's Word says, the truth)
Avoiding situations that usually lead to me being vulnerable to his attacks
What are some practical ways to draw close to God?
Listening to worship music
Prayer and Quiet Time
Fellowship with other believers
Spending time just listening for Him to speak to our heart
One thing I noticed was that just like the spiritual paradigm Lysa pointed out, some of the ways to resist Satan were also ways to draw close to God. I found that to be, as my daughter would say, beast (that means really good, cool, awesome)
I'll end with the pivotal verse of the chapter. Lysa had us circle three key words. I'll bold them for you :)
"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36 (NIV)
Be blessed and stop by next Tuesday for more...or join the study if you aren't afraid of God doing something great in you.