Shut Up

I John 5:14-15 (KJB), “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”

Psalms 55:17 (NIV), “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.”

Proverbs 15:29 (ISV), “The LORD is far away from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous.”

Who doesn’t love these scriptures? He hears us! That’s a big deal in my book. All throughout my life I have been not heard, sometimes outright ignored, and often misunderstood. But God hears me, never misunderstands, in fact He knows what I am thinking before I ever voice it, and never, hears me. That boosts my confidence just like John’s.

Prayer is an awesome thing. The more time you spend with Him, not begging, but in honest communication, and yes that includes some things we may need or want from Him, the better we know Him. The better we know Him, the easier prayer becomes and the more we desire to pray. Incidentally, the Father loves that alone time with us. Even though He does know what we need, what we want, what we thing, and what is best for us, He still tells us to “ask”, to be verbal about those things. Why? He loves you and He wants to be in fellowship with you. In our ever increasingly busy days, He wants some time set aside and while we are at our tasks, He wants us to still be speaking to Him in our hearts.

Prayer builds us up; it settles our hearts and settles some issues in our minds. The act of talking to our Creator humbles us and encourages us to keep at it, no matter the battles.

All these things are so wonderful, yet, there is an aspect of prayer even better than all of these things… listening to God during prayer time.

Sounds simple really. Isn’t that what a conversation is all about, taking turns talking and listening? Honestly though, how often do we forget that crucial part of our time with God. At the beginning of the day we read our bible, devote our day to Him, then hurry through our “bless us, and keep us” prayers, then get on with our day. We take time to ask God to bless our food, strengthen and nourish our bodies, and to pray for special needs. Before we drift off to bed, we again ask for peace and sweet sleep, for angels to guard us, and maybe remember some things we should ask for or thank Him for. Where in all of that do we just shut up!

I know some of you hate those words. You think they are blunt and maybe rude. Yet isn’t a one sided conversation, where we do all the talking and never give the other person a chance to get a word just as rude? Of course. So, when we pray, when we are talking to Him (please remember prayer is just asking for things, but also just visiting and sharing some love), remember to be quiet. If you have asked a question such as, “What should I do in this situation” or “How much do you love me?” Give Him some time to answer.

I love how He speaks to me in His word, through others, and in nature; however, the best dialogue I can have with Him is when He is speaking right into my spirit. Nothing better in fact.

John 10:2-5 (ASV), “But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. When he hath put forth all his own, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”

Be Thankful

Every person still living on this earth has something to be thankful for, if only the fact that you are alive. Ok, I know there will be some that say, “If you knew what my life was like, you’d wish you were dead.” I know, I’ve been there. However, if the alternative is hell, then thank God you’re alive. If your final destination is Heaven be thankful that God isn’t done with you yet, because if your work here was done, God would have taken you home. Be honest, most of us have a myriad of things to be thankful for. If you are a born again Christian, just think for a minute what your life was like before you were saved, and then thank God for where you are now!

If we really know who God is we will not have to hunt for something to be thankful for. When we fall so in love with God our hearts will be so full of gratitude that we can’t help but sing and shout His praises! We won’t even care if we can carry a tune or not, it won’t matter what anyone else thinks. We won’t be able to help ourselves.

Excerpt from my book “Further In”

Steadfast Love

Isaiah 63:7 (ESV), “I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”

Other versions uses the words “lovingkindnesses,” “the deeds for which He is to be praised,” “unfailing love,” and “mercy and grace.”

In today’s world we don’t use the word “steadfast” often, partly because we live in a throwaway society. Cars, appliances, clothing, relationships just aren’t built to last. No one wants to take the extra effort, or they are too selfish and greedy and only want to heap to their own lusts. They have the technology to build things to last virtually forever, but then they would only sell one. So they make them to fall apart in a few years so that a new purchase will be made. We have the grace and strength from the Lord to make relationships work, however very few people want to stick it out.

Steadfast. It means faithful, committed, devoted, and according to Webster’s it means, “firm in belief, determination, or adherence, and firmly fixed.” His love is steadfast. It doesn’t change. Ever. You can’t earn more and He can’t love you any less. His love doesn’t depend on performance, there is no strings attached. He is determined to love you. His love for you is devoted and faithful and fixed.

Because of that great, steadfast love, we can be confident of His faithfulness. He cares and because He cares He works things out for us. His love has no strings attached; however the benefits of His love are conditional. We have to accept His love. We have to build a relationship with Him. We can’t use the worlds view or our natural experiences to try and figure out His love. We have all been hurt and disappointed in someone we loved but who used and abused us, or maybe was indifferent. A relationship with God isn’t an unhealthy attachment, or a one sided love affair. He isn’t a leach who wants to drain us dry. He wants us in relationship with Him so that we never miss out on a blessing, so that we are sure to hear His voice when He speaks to us. He wants us to spend time with Him and communicate with Him because He enjoys us.

Exodus 20:6 (NLT), “But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”

Feeling like a failure? God loves you! Checkbook is on the light side? God loves you. Fighting some bug, or disease? God loves you. Family issues? God loves you. Identity issues? God loves you.

I can keep going.

Seems over simplified? Nope.

Because He loves you, He is working in you to perfect that which He began. (If you will let Him)

Philippians 1:6 (KJB), “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

Tom’s Mom and Christmas

One day Thomas Edison came home and gave a paper to his mother. He told her, “My teacher gave this paper to me and told me to only give it to my mother.”

His mother’s eyes were tearful as she read the letter out loud to her child: Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers for training him. Please teach him yourself.

After many, many years, after Edison’s mother died and he was now one of the greatest inventors of the century, one day he was looking through old family things. Suddenly he saw a folded paper in the corner of a drawer in a desk. He took it and opened it up. On the paper was written: Your son is addled [mentally ill]. We won’t let him come to school any more.

Edison cried for hours and then he wrote in his diary: “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century.”

 

True story. What does this have to do with Christmas?

Christmas is a time that we give gifts and we remember the gift of Jesus to the world. To me Thomas Edison’s mother is like Jesus, and his teacher like the devil. No pun intended (only because it’s not funny). The devil wants us to think of ourselves as unworthy, un-usable, un-wanted, and all of those other ugly “uns”. But there is our parent, Father God, who tells us just the opposite. You see, like Edison’s mother, God see’s our potential! What a lovely gift.

Edison was a genius. He invented so many things that helped others, many that we still depend on today. The gift his mother gave that one little boy, ended up being a gift to the whole world. We have to think about this. If we choose not to believe God’s version of who we are, we are stopping the gift from flowing. No telling how many people will be affected. His love, His approval, His opinion is all that matters. Everything else is just irrelevant.

Mrs. Edison recognized the importance of what we say to our children. She chose to only encourage and love. That is our Daddy God.

 

 

I Am Loved

We have been singing a new song in Church and it has literally been going through my head nonstop. I wake up with it in my noggin, I hear it when I am doing dishes, I am singing it at the sewing machine, and humming it while reading!

I don’t have anything memorized except the chorus, and this is it: “You’re a good, good Father. That’s who you are, that’s who You are. And I am loved by You, that’s who I am, that’s who I am.”

This is a great improvement on the toddler  songs that normally run through my head (I keep my two year old grandson Mon-Fri).

I didn’t sleep well last night. I stayed up too late to finish a good book, then Hubby was snoring, not a normal thing for him. Finally sometime after 11:30 I drifted off, only to wake up at 3:30. Sometimes God wakes me up to pray, this wasn’t one of those times, but I figured I didn’t have anything else to do, so I prayed. I prayed for some situations in my life that needed changing, but mostly I prayed for others. After a bit, God brought to mind some of my students from years ago and I lifted them in prayer. I prayed for some family members that are struggling, and I prayed for my children (and theirs). In fact I fell asleep praying.

The alarm was way too early at 5:30. I’ll give you three guesses as to what was going through my head… Yep, “You’re a good, good Father. That’s who you are, that’s who You are. And I am loved by You, that’s who I am, that’s who I am.”

My usual morning routine consists of reading my bible, while Eddie gets up and gets ready for work. Then we pray together, and he leaves. After my morning devotions, I head down for a cup of coffee and wait on my boy. This morning, Eddie got up, and I laid in the bed, not moving and half asleep. Before I could even wake up enough to think about reading my Bible, my sleepy mind contained this thought, “There is only two things I need to know. One, He’s a good, good Daddy, and two, He loves me.”

I woke up then and thought about the simple, profound truth in that. That’s the answer to everything!

“Now, Jodi, that’s overly simplifying things,” I hear you say.

However, I am sticking to it. Do you need healing? He’s a good Father and He loves you. Do need a financial breakthrough? He’s a good Father and He loves you. Do you need help in your marriage, or another relationship? He’s a good Father and He loves you. Are you broken and hurt? Grieving? Depressed? He’s a good Father and He loves you.

A loving Father wants to see His children healed and whole, lacking nothing, happy and at peace. Here is the good news, listen, HE HAS THE POWER TO GIVE YOU THOSE THINGS!

Ephesians 3:19-20 (NLT), “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

Surrender

 

William Booth: Founder of the Salvation Army said, “The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”

Surrender has to take place in so many areas of our walk with God. First, we have to surrender our hearts to Jesus. Then, we give Him our past, our mistakes, and our sin. Once forgiven and restored to the Father, then we have to daily surrender ourselves.

We can believe that God is real, that His word says wealth and riches are in our house, and still not receive. Unless we surrender out paychecks and bank accounts to Him. How do we know we have? When paying tithe doesn’t cause us to cringe, when giving an offering is an honor, when God tells us to give up something we worked hard for and give it to another… we can do it cheerfully. Jesus told us about the rich young man who came and asked what he should do to inherit the kingdom. Jesus said to follow God’s commandments and when this young man said that he had, Jesus asked him to surrender his wealth. He told him to go and sell all that he had. That young man left with much sorrow. He wasn’t sad because he was going home to sell everything. He was sad because he really wanted to please God, he just couldn’t surrender his stuff. He chose to surrender to his flesh. We have to be fully surrendered to the Father. A partial surrender is no surrender at all.

For me, one of the hardest things to surrender to God has been my worry, and my plans. (Or my worrying about my plans). We sing in Church, “I surrender all my plans and dreams”. Recently when we sang it, I thought to myself, “Have I done that?” At that particular time the answer was, “NO.” It was a few weeks before the Fall Extravaganza Expo. This is an example in my life of an area where I needed to surrender. I have been in charge of the Expo for six years now and every year I am anxious that everything goes well, that I don’t disappoint anyone, that vendors and shoppers are thrilled, that the Church makes some much needed money, and that the whole thing is a success. Then, I worry if my stuff is good enough, if I will have to bring it all home again, if I will make enough money to make it worthwhile, and the list goes on.

I had to purpose, in my mind; to go back to the day that God showed me the craft show in our gym. I had to remember the gifts and talents that He gave me. I had to stand on all the prayers and the confirmation of the Church leaders. I had to surrender the day to Him, and refuse to worry or lose sleep over it.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT), “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

Satan likes to use our past against us. There have been times that I jumped on the bandwagon and moved way ahead of God. So the enemy likes to remind me of those times. He tries to get me to doubt that I really heard from God, using those past mistakes as an example of my lack of communication with the Father. Or he outright lies and says that I am not allowed to have dreams or plans of my own, that my plans aren’t good, Godly, or important. But when we surrender our plans and dreams to God, it doesn’t mean we give them up, or that we shouldn’t have dreams or plans. In fact we are encouraged to dream big! So we do plan, we just make sure we are on the same page as our Father.

One synonym for surrender is submit. Submission means “under the mission” so when we surrender our plans to Him, we are simply submitting our plans under, or unto His will, His timing, and His direction. So practically speaking when we have a dream or a plan we give it to Him. We surrender it. Then we ask for direction and wait for the leading of the Holy Spirit. Not something super spiritual, just allowing the normal communication between your spirit and God’s to take place. We may start out up and running full speed ahead, at His leading. Or it may be slow going at first with much prayer and meditation. Either way, don’t get so caught up in those plans that you aren’t putting God first, or shutting out that still small voice. Sometimes He is going to ask you to wait, sometimes to slow down, and other times He may ask you to change your plans. The ideal situation is to be so hooked up with Him, to practice being led by His Spirit, that your plans just line up with His. However, in reality sometimes we just want something to happen, or have some great idea that is only from our flesh. By submitting them all to Him we are giving Him permission to mess up our plans, or to confirm and expedite them. One way we submit them to Him is to share with our elders. Ask them to pray with you. This is a great place for comfirmation.

“God has a plan for His Church upon earth. But alas! We too often make our plan, and we think that we know what ought to be done. We ask God first to bless our feeble efforts, instead of absolutely refusing to go unless God go before us.” ― Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender

When we know in our hearts that God has gone before us, that the plan is His, or approved by Him, we can surrender in confidence. It is His ability that brings it to pass. It might not be an immediate success, however, if we preserver, it will happen. The Expo is a great example of this, every year it gets better and better.

There will be times that He will ask us to change our path, or the way we are doing something. Just like Sue said a couple weeks ago, there will be times that He asks us to “change lanes”. We are still accomplishing what we set out to do, but we are going about it in a totally different way. What Sue called taking the exit ramp and going around in a circle, God has shown me as “going around the mountain.” We know the song, “She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes” for a while that seemed to be my theme song. I would try to reason out how to make something happen, or why it didn’t happen the way I wanted it, or where I went wrong. God says that is wasted time! When I thought moving forward would be a waste of time if I didn’t figure out all my mistakes, God was trying to save me time by getting me to move forward. At another Church we attended we had some families leave the Church. A friend came to talk about it with me and said, “The ship is sinking and we need to figure out who is punching all the holes in hull.” Of course, he wanted to blame someone. I don’t take credit for what I said to him that night, God gave me a picture in my head and I simply answered, “if a ship is sinking, the first thing you do is shore up the leaky places, you fix the ship first, and stop it from sinking.” I expected an argument, but he immediately agreed. That was God. Praying about it later God showed me that we don’t have to figure everything out. Asking “why” can be such a waste of time. He had it covered. People left because He was doing some housecleaning. Had we tried to play the blame game, some very nice people would have gotten hurt, and the Church may not have been able to pull out of the rough time.

When things don’t go as planned instead of asking God “Why?” A better question to ask Him would be, “Now what?” He has a plan. Our circumstances aren’t a surprise to Him. He has us covered. Keep looking to Him to lead you. We can put the cart in front of the horse and end up with a lot of back peddling, or we can give our plans to Him, keep dreaming and open our hearts to direction. He knows what we need. Sometimes what we need is different than what we want. He is faithful and loving. As a good Father, He wants us to have only the best.

Matthew 6:32 (Net Bible), “But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Philippians 4:19 (NIV), “And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Another big area of surrender that seems to elude Christians is surrendering our past. People go on pilgrimage, a journey to a place of spiritual significance, Christians and Jews go to the Holy Lands, Muslims go to Mecca. Some Christians take a pilgrimage back into their past, remembering every little ugly sin on the way, theirs and others. They make a big deal out of it; it’s a type of “penance” for them. This is a very important place of surrender, letting go of those mistakes. Like I said before, Satan is more than happy to remind us of them, but God says He has forgotten our sin, that He has cast them as far away as the east is from the west. He didn’t say North to South. If you travel from the North Pole, you eventually reach the South Pole and vice-versa. However, if you start from anywhere on the map and travel east, you never reach the west. It can’t be done. No matter how far you travel, there is always somewhere farther east, you just keep going in circles. That’s how we are to look at our sin. It’s gone! It’s under the blood. Stop revisiting those places!

In my own life, in hindsight, almost every place where I really struggled with my faith, those distressing seasons in my life, were during times when I hadn’t fully surrendered. Our enemy will attack, but if we are totally surrendered to our Loving Father, He will lead us out! We don’t have to camp there. On the other hand, if we have areas of our lives that we haven’t given over to Him, we can find the duration of the attack much longer than needed.

We all have to stand for something. We have heard that saying. So it also should be just as obvious that we have to surrender to someone as well. People surrender to an enemy because they fear for their lives. Then they live a life with rebellion and fear in their hearts. We have only a few options. Surrender to Satan, who is an abusive father and our end is Hell, to the world and our flesh who are careless parents who want to spoil us with stuff and feed our lusts, (which will ultimately end us in Hell, both of these kinds of surrender keep us weak), or we can surrender to a Father who IS LOVE. A strong Father who defends, protects, and provides for us. Surrendering to Him transforms our lives now, and gives us a wonderful future in eternity with Him. In this surrender we find strength, just as William Booth said.

When we have trouble surrendering, it simply means we don’t trust Him. When God told me that I cried! Just thinking about how that made Him feel. I love Him, and felt that I was really getting more intimate with Him, yet there I was carrying a load that I wasn’t meant to carry, one that subconsciously, I didn’t trust Him to carry. Sometimes we just get lazy and forgetful. We go through a dry time, or even an easy time, and start carelessly picking up stuff we once laid at the cross, or listening to a voice that isn’t God’s. Before we know it we are “going around the mountain” instead of moving forward. Remember one of Satan’s main tactics is to distract us from God’s plan and path. If he can keep us focused on ourselves and going around in circles, then we can’t see clearly where we are supposed to be going. That’s why it’s so important to daily surrender. We can trust Him, in fact anything less than absolute trust is a lack of surrender, and God says it is sin. We should find it easy to surrender to someone who knows us inside and out, who loves us so lavishly, and knows what’s best for us.

Did you mess up today? Surrender it to the Lord. Did you have a great accomplishment? Surrender the glory to Him. Do you have loved ones that need saving? Stop nagging them and surrender them into the Lord’s hands. Are you wore down and tired of fighting? Turn the battle to the “Gate”! The battle is the Lord’s. Most of all stop trying to make things happen, stop trying to figure it all out, and just talk it over with Him. He is faithful, His Spirit will lead you and His word will light your path.

Isaiah 30:20b-21 (NASB), “He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.

Apathy

Hebrews 3:12 (ISV), “See to it, my brothers, that no evil, unbelieving heart is found in any of you, as shown by your turning away from the living God.”

I have often drifted away from God. Never intentional. Even when I was very angry with Him, blaming Him for some trouble in my life, I still didn’t intentionally turn away from Him. Yet, time and time again, I find myself off the path…in a dry place, with a lack of excitement for the things of God. The true word for this condition is Apathy, and I have had to repent several times in my walk with Him for an apathetic heart.

The definition of apathy is: “The absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.”

No passion. That pretty much sums up the apathetic heart. You can have passion in your life for more than one thing, being cold towards our Lord, doesn’t mean you lack passion in other areas. In fact sometimes the way we drift away is by being too passionate about other things!

Our real enemy, the devil, has one plan. That plan is for us to forsake the Lord. Like Job’s wife, he wants us to “curse God and die.” He tempts us to do wrong, then when we cave, he constantly reminds us of how unworthy we are. He attacks with the most troublesome circumstances, and then whispers that we deserve it, or that God doesn’t really care, and worse yet, that God isn’t able to get us out of the situation. If we believe it and turn our backs on God, then Satan wins. He gets the glory and God doesn’t.

However, if that plan doesn’t work, we continue to profess God as savior no matter how hard life may seem, then Satan has a “plan B”. That plan is to distract us! “From what?” you ask. From our Heavenly Father, from His plan and purpose for us, from His path. In my walk with God, I have often wondered away. Again, not intentionally, but a step here and a step there, until I found myself apathetic. The good news is that no matter how many steps away from God we have taken, it’s always only one step back. That step is repentance. Admitting we have strayed, asking Him to forgive, and turning back to Him. We don’t have to do penance, we just move ahead.

So what is the big deal?

If we allow ourselves to be distracted by things of the world, Satan’s attacks on our bodies, finances, families, churches, whatever, and take our eyes off of Jesus, we aren’t doing what God has purposed for us to do. We weren’t created on accident. God made us, birthed us into this world, (right now, during this time) to do something for Him. We are to Glorify Him, build His Kingdome, and do good works. When we are too focused on our own issues that we can’t see anyone else’s, let alone intercede in prayer, we are distracted. When we believe the doctors report, or the financial advisor, or (God forbid) the media, instead of what God has to say about it, we are distracted. It is just as if Satan has tied us up so that we are paralyzed. We lose our passion for Him, we lose our compassion for others, confusion sets in, and we begin to make bad choices.

If we continue on this path the enemy has led us, it won’t take long before our hearts will be hardened and full of unbelief. Sin. Anything that is not of faith is sin. The only way to please Him is living in faith. Faith in the finished work of the cross, faith in the love of the Father, and the sacrifice of His Son. We have to believe that God is for us! No matter what any other voice tells us. And NEVER, ever perpetuate Satan’s lies. When you repeat the negative doctors report to everyone you meet, when you use the words, “I can’t afford that,” “I am always sick,” “I don’t know what to do anymore,” or any other negative thing that doesn’t line up with God’s word and perfect will, you are giving the enemy the glory that belongs to God alone.

That is a big deal.

Hebrews 2:14-3:1 (NIV), “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” (Emphasis mine)

Isaiah 50:7 (ESV), “Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.”

Fix your eyes on Jesus. Keep a passion and a zeal for Him. No more apathy!

Romans 12:2 (Berean Study Bible), “Do not let your zeal subside; keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

Amen? Amen!