Hope and Joy!

What is abundant life promised by Jesus to us in John 10:10? “The devil comes to steal, to kill and to destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly”. Too many times we quote only the first half of that scripture to explain away a negative event in our lives. That’s ok, that’s what happens to us and it’s truth. However, I want to explore the second half. Abundant life.

I sense at least part of the answer us found in Romans 8. We have trouble and tribulation in this life. We are joint heirs with Christ IF indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified together. It’s not what you suffer, it’s how you go through it. Did you get that? No, there’s no condemnation here, this is encouragement. Faith knows to the very core that you don’t go through it alone. Faith knows that this momentary suffering will build character and perseverance. Every blow you feel gets lighter till you almost feel separated from the trouble because Jesus carries you through it. Faith stands in the hope of the glory Jesus receives from the tribulation. Faith anxiously awaits God’s hand in it. Faith doesn’t receive the evil. Faith in the magnificence of Christ, His promises and His love overrides the tribulation and the effect of it on our lives. You may pass through the fire but you will come out the other side and not smell like smoke. In other words, no hardening of your heart occurs, no lasting fear of being hurt again, no distrust of others. It’s not about you, it’s about His glory.

I’m not saying hide your pain and pretend everything is fine. I’m not saying God doesn’t feel your pain, I’m not trying to diminish your suffering in any way. On the contrary, I want to help you overcome the effect of it on your heart and to look past trouble and into the face of Jesus. The attitude of your heart makes the difference between wallowing in miserable self pity; bleeding the negative pus of unbelief and fleshly pride in your sufferings, versus the absolute knowing that God will deliver you. He delivers, He restores, He rewards, He knows, He feels, His love is everlasting. He doesn’t want you to be in pain or sick or suffering, and He will help you and He will receive glory. Therefore, you ARE free from sickness and death because He never fails. In this world you will have trouble, but rejoice! Rejoice! You are a joint heir, you are a platform for the glory of God!

When trouble comes, joy should rise up and overflow. Joy unquenchable, a fountain of living water, bubbling up and pouring out all around you. Yield to joy, cry out to the Holy Spirit to counsel you and show you how to overcome. Cry out for instructions, how to find the joy in the situation. Build yourself up in your most holy faith, read the word. Read Psalms, read the words of Jesus. Worship is the firm foundation. Begin singing the praises of God’s glory and faithfulness until you believe it without a bit of doubt. Sing till the tears of pain become tears of joy. Yes, it is for you, Yes, all the promises of God are yeah and amen for you.

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”. Are you “the called”? Ok then, all things are working together for good. The Holy Spirit will reveal to you how the Lord is turning what the enemy planned for evil into good. Because He who is greater is in you, you need not dread.

Hope is waiting for God’s glorious miracle and faith is knowing it’s coming.

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Fringe

Fringe

I have bangs.  Someone once told me that having bangs is like having cute decorative fringe on your face.  Fringe is just before the line between hair and skin, the boundary line.  That boundary grows, receeds, is cut or curled up so it’s not always the same, but there is a boundary and it’s decorated with fringe.

And so, is life.  I have found that at times I walk the fringe doing just what I have to do to get by.  At times I get way inside the boundary lines, go beyond what I need to do, exert myself.  Inside the line is best but often comes with more effort.  Some circumstances require me to work harder.  They knock me out of my comfort zone.  Some circumstances are easy and just require me to hang out and rest on the fringe, aware but unaffected.

Sometimes it’s like that with God.  I feel like the Spirit urges me deeper into the center of God’s promises, away from the fringe.  The fringe is fine, it’s enough, but deeper is so much better.  I think there’s a choice.  I can choose the fringe where I know I’m safe.  I have a covenant with God, I’m His.   Even if I have to walk that fringe line, that scary circumstance, I know God will get me through it.  Or, I can dive into the deep where I know He will go before me, be my rear guard, He will fight the battle for me.  He will heal, deliver, protect and preserve.  It’s a choice between “enough” and “exceedingly abundantly.”

Psalms 91:1 says He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  For me, I want to condition my spirit and my flesh to choose to dwell and abide, not to walk the fringe.  We get to do that.

Walking in Power, Love and Peace

Good morning!  I was asking the Lord for understanding about some things. Some friends have suffered some pretty devastating blows recently and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.  I heard the Spirit say to my heart, you must draw near to me.  Illness can’t come on Me, so if you are in my arms, it can’t get to you.

Psalm 91:9-10 says, “Because you have made the Lord who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling pace, no evil shall befall you nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.”

A commentary inidcates that the Lord is describing an abiding defense against inflicted disease, but the promise is conditioned upon making the Lord our true refuge and habitation.  The word refuge in Hebrew means a shelter, a place of trust.  Dwelling place means a retreat.  It describes a security of intimately dwelling together as in marriage.  When we make the Lord our refuge and habitation by trusting Him, taking our cares, fears and needs to Him, seeking His counsel, spending times of refreshing with Him and by loving Him closely every day, we enter into a sheltered place of promise regarding health.  This truth safeguards against making prayer for healing only a recourse for emergencies.

Now don’t get all condemned and start arguing.  That’s not my intent.  What I got from this and the rest of Psalm 91 is that God is complely merciful and full of grace toward us.  He wants us to set our love upon Him and as a result He promises deliverance and honor and protection.  He longs for us to stop and look into His eyes, to hear His heart daily, to dwell there.  I think this gives me hope.  I want to set my eyes on the Lord, to seek His face and share my life with Him.  I believe His promises are for me today, not some obscure myth that applied to people in a story.  So I press on, I want to apprehend what He has promised, what He has in mind for my life.  I want to go forward in the power and might of the God of Glory who sets me free and gives me purpose in peace.  And yeah buddy, in case you’re wondering, it really is for real, life doesn’t have to be a spin of a wheel.  The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord.  Thanks Father.

THE SLOW DANCE

THE SLOW DANCE

A friend asked me to make 2 large tailored box cushion slip covers for her L shaped kitchen nook bench seats. I got all excited and jumped all over the chance to do it. I’m pretty good at sewing so even though I’d never done box construction before, I was confident. The way I do things like this is to spend some time figuring it out in my mind because I’m scared to death of cutting fabric and ruining the project. Other than that, I trust my own process. Did that, made the pattern and cut it out. There’s a top, a bottom and a long center strip containing the 45″zipper, that joins them together. I encased piping in strips of the fabric and sewed that to the top and bottom edges. All that was left was to prepare the center strip and sew it in. At least that’s what the 3 tutorials on UTube said… I sewed the top to the center strip. Yay, awesome. I unzipped it and sewed the bottom onto the other side of the strip. It didn’t fit. The corners didn’t match up. I ripped it out and started over. Same mess. I ripped that out and figured what needed to be tweaked. But no. I ripped that out and at this point I’m 2 weeks into it and so stressed out I’m imagining in my head my friend hating it and ending our friendship. The mean little voice in my head is screaming, “failure, failure, epic failure”! There’s no more fabric at the fabric store, that was the end of it. There’s no way to fix it! I am completely mortified at this point so I humbled my no longer confident self and went to see what the local upholstery guy had to say. He was so nice to me, complimented my sewing and just suggested a few tips for making it all come together. He was so encouraging, just what I needed.

The next day, I was praying in the morning and the Lord just dropped the most awesome inspiring things into my spirit that I’m going to share with you below. I was writing everything down that He was pouring into me when He stopped and said, “Carol, by the way, here’s how you finish that slipcover”. So I ran upstairs singing His praises, sat down at my sewing machine and 6 hours later had a perfect cushion done! Perfect! Exactly what the Lord told me!

Praise and worship opens the door to revelation It gets your mind under control, your soul at peace and your spirit filled to overflowing with the joy of the Lord. Productivity follows. The focus has to be on God, not the project, not the problem, the calling or what you think you should be doing. If all your focus is on worship and seeking Him, His heart, His face; then He puts the ideas and the ability in you. He equips you.

Seek not where you’re going with God, just seek God. By seeking the project, I wasted time, I got confused and stressed out. I lost confidence and just kept striving only to fail. Sounds like the enemy to me. When I went back to getting quiet before God, worshipping Him, thanking Him for the trial and the victory that was sure to come; He revealed it in all His glory and grace. A trial, a failure, a redemption, a blessing and a victory! Blessed be God who always leads us in triumph whether it’s a sewing project or a life calling to do something way bigger than we can ever ask or imagine. It’s true that He does give us everything we need for life and godliness. Look for it. He’s in it.

The Lord showed me this amazing picture about living in the world today. “There is a difference between living this life by coping with the degredation of society, the demise of the family, the end of democracy, the sleepiness of the church, confusion, deception and your grief over all of it. There is a diffence between living with it and living victoriously through it. Seek victory. Rejoice! The only way to live in victory is to live in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit guides, protects and comforts. Look at the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit came with demonstrations of power. He hasn’t changed.”

“Ask Him to show you how to do everything. Stop trying to do things without Me. Condition yourself to do everything with Me, in Me. Step by step, missing nothing along the way. It’s a slow dance. We move together, glide in one another’s arms. That is joy overflowing. That is life and peace. Dance through life with Me as your partner and there will be no lack of anything physical or spiritual. Stay humble, let Me lead, I know the way.”

Crown Him Lord of All

On Sunday we sang the old standard, Crown Him Lord of All.  People were really into worship and it was a joyful experience for me.  About half way through, I was overtaken with a revelation of the deep meaning of the words, at least for me.  Crown Him Lord of all.  All.  I can worry that my house has not sold, or I can crown Him Lord of the real estate market.  I can fret over these 30 pounds I can’t shake, or I can crown Him Lord of my mind, will and emotions; Lord of my flesh.  I can crown Him Lord of all things, all joy, all sorrow, all accomplishments, all weakness.  I can actively take part, I can tap into the flow of living water that causes my soul to jump for joy at the sound of His name.  Just me, I am allowed to do that by grace.  I am allowed to do that because He loves me and invites me to the table He sets for me.  He invites me to His party while He takes care of the stuff of life.

Sometimes I forget to look up instead of looking in.  Looking at what I can do or how I look is not kingdom looking.  Looking at Jesus, seeking His face, His will for the situation, His glory…that is eternal looking!  I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life sweating the small stuff.  Really, if I just crown Him Lord of all in my life, I can proceed with confidence and joy.  That makes me really happy!  I am an overcomer and I am living a victorious life filled with joy and wonder simply because He is Lord of all.

 

That’s all I got today sisters.

Crossroads

I find myself at another crossroads in this life.  It happens now and again that you have to make a decision, what to do, where to go.  I am sitting in the middle of the intersection looking at my four choices.  I could keep going straight ahead, I could turn around and start over, I could go to the right or to the left and just look for another way.  Lots of choices, lots of ways to find the meaning in the big picture.  How are the people around me affected by each choice?  How am I personally affected?  What impact is there, what consequence could be derived?  Is it right, is it wrong? 

We all come to this point many times during our lives I think.  Everyone has a time of choice, a new season, a correction or consequence from the previous crossroad.  The one constant I see here is that when I approach the crossroad, I’m  in reality coming to the Cross.  The intersection is the heart of God.  The answer is there if I will be quiet and listen to His heartbeat.  There’s where the plan unfolds, the truth, the peace.  I find that when I use peace as a measuring stick for my decisions in life, it’s always the right choice that’s made.  I know God’s peace, I know it’s right.  The questions fall away, the peace enfolds.  It’s time again to move out, in His strength, not my own.  No striving, no confusion, just a knowing.  I’m grateful.

7/1/2013