“Yes, Lord!”

2 Comments

Read  Matthew 1:18-25.   This remarkable passage speaks volumes about Mary and Joseph’s love for and commitment to God and each other.

Not to mention trust! Their level of trust in their situation being from the Lord is amazing. It certainly wasn’t their plan and dream for their future life together.

Can you imagine the chaos had either one of them thrown up their hands, ranted and raved, and ultimately rejected God’s sovereign plan for their lives?

Isn’t that our first reaction sometimes to our plans not going our way? At first, anyway? I know it has been my experience to react that way.

I usually settle down, stop fighting it and eventually give up my plan for His, but how much better it would be if I learn to take a deep breath in and breathe out the words, “Yes, Lord!” His plan is always better than mine anyway!

In this short account of the conception of our Lord Jesus Christ, we see in v. 19  that Joseph had his mind made up about how to handle this unexpected situation. He had made his decision.

But once the Lord had let His will in the matter be known to Joseph (vv. 20-21), there was no arguing on Joseph’s part. There was no offering up of numerous excuses as to why he simply could not do what the Lord was asking Him to do. “But, God, what will my friends and family think? Will I lose my standing in the community? How will this affect my business? God, are you sure Mary didn’t … ? Lord, do you know what you’re asking me to do?”

No! There was none of that. Joseph believed God! He and Mary both knew their God could be trusted and that He had a plan far greater than either of them could imagine. They faced making the decision to obey or not obey God in the midst of their confusion. Thankfully, they yielded their hearts, their hopes, their expectations, their plans; yes, their very lives to His and said, “Yes, Lord!”

Think of the eternal things that happened because of their obedience!  May our prayer be like Mary’s (Luke 1:38), “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Blessings, Becky

Press On!

7 Comments

Sitting here with a heart so full of emotions. Emotions past, present, and even future.

Struggling. Struggling to see and hear clearly. See the path the Lord has for me. Hear His voice.

Struggling to surrender. Surrender those emotions from the past. Past decisions. Past pain and suffering. My pain and my children’s. Even my sweet husband’s.

Surrender the fears and unknowns regarding decisions that need to be made in the near future. Surrender the consequences of disobedience and yes, even obedience.

Depressed, over-worked dad. Exhausted, angry mom. Stressed, frustrated kids. Mixed-up priorities. Good things crowding out best things. Time to make some changes, but I’m struggling.

Struggling to surrender feelings of pride, fear, control, inadequacy – all of which paralyze me and cause me to procrastinate at best or refuse to move forward at worst.

Stuck somewhere in between,  I get stagnant. When I imagine stagnant water I picture water that is dark, murky. Water from which no light is being reflected. Water that is motionless. It has remained still with no life moving around inside it which has, over time, caused a film to cover it.

A film like the one that covers my eyes, clouding my vision, preventing me from seeing all God has for me. For a while, I lose sight of what I know to be true about Him from His Word. I become temporarily blinded to the truth that He is working behind the scenes, in and through my circumstances to accomplish His will and to conform me to the image of Christ! He does have a plan!

By not staying focused on that truth I will develop a pattern of reacting with resentment to the interruptions and inconveniences in my life instead of responding to them as opportunities. Opportunities for Him to grow me, teach me, draw me closer to Himself, bless me, bless others, accomplish His will and plan… not mine.

I stop looking at certain people in my life as blessings and gifts. I miss the big picture, failing to see these people as tools in the hands of God to chisel me into His likeness. Through my distorted vision I view them as instruments of Satan sent to torture me and cause me all manner of grief! This outlook blurs my perspective and robs my joy.

The film that covers my heart is tougher than the one that covers my eyes. It’s thicker, acting as a double-sided barrier. It keeps feelings I don’t want to feel from penetrating the few soft spots remaining in my heart, while at the same time, prevents certain emotions that I have carefully kept buried, and the memories attached to them, from rising to the surface.

When I am stagnant, the light within me, which is Jesus, is not being reflected as brightly as it could be. All the while I allow people, circumstances, and emotions to immobilize me. I shut down. Meanwhile, there is no life stirring around inside my heart, moving me forward.

No movement inside or out equals no life. No joy.

But wait! His living inside me is my joy. I must protect and nurture this joy. From it comes my strength to move! Doesn’t it take strength to move? His Word says the joy of the Lord is my strength. So by delighting and abiding in Him every day, I’ll have strength. The strength I need to press on, “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”

Are frustrations, fears, and feelings hindering you from moving forward today? Saturate your mind in the living Word of God so your heart will know that paralyzing circumstances and emotions will come and go. Feelings are not to be trusted. Only the Word of God is sure, steadfast, unchanging, life-giving!

There is life moving inside the Word! Jesus is there. He is the Word. It is alive. It will move you!

Blessings,

Becky

Philippians 3:13-14 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The Great Cover-Up

8 Comments

181025_304138826347420_626915620_n

I love that God, in His Word, allows us to see some of the great men and women of the faith with all of their immaturity and imperfections laid bare. The Bible is full of incomplete, limited people. Broken people with rough edges and faulty thinking. People just like you and me. It’s true! Think of a favorite Bible character then ask yourself what endears them to you, why do you like their story? For me, it’s because I can relate to them. I venture to say you can, too. We are a lot like them, so their stories of redemption, rescue, victory, healing and restoration give us hope for our situation.

By being transparent, these men and women encourage us, strengthen our faith, and build our confidence in our God Who keeps His many wonderful promises to His people. Their stories enlarge our capacity to believe that He CAN, He DOES, and He WILL use inadequate people like you and me to spur others on when they have lost heart and their burden has become too heavy for them to carry alone.

Most of us feel inclined to cover up blemishes, don’t we? We use products on our bodies to cover up wrinkles, dark circles, discolored teeth, hair that’s turning gray, cellulite. You name it, we try to hide it. Me? I would buy concealer by the gallon and bathe in it if I thought it would do any good. I’ve jokingly told my family they will never know when my hair starts to gray, because I don’t plan on allowing it to go without color long enough to ever see it happen! People who tan say it makes them look slimmer. Tanning, concealer, veneer, dye, whatever the method, we try to cover a multitude of imperfection.

In our house, there has been a lot of covering up going on lately. We are putting down new tile and carpet on the floors. Walls that we didn’t realize were so dingy are suddenly bright and new with fresh coats of paint. Dings and scars are filled in and hidden… unless you look closely.

Trying to camouflage flaws we don’t particularly want showing on our body or things we don’t like about our home is really just a matter of preference or taste.  The process requires a lot of work and can really be tiring, but we figure the pay-off is worth it.  Hiding the condition of our hearts and lives is quite a different matter. To do so can be exhausting and the pay-off isn’t so great. We earn no dividends from putting up a front for our family, friends, or within our church walls or our circles of influence. We will come across to others as not able to relate, non-approachable, artificial.

I am not saying that we should spill out all of our past and present heartaches, failures, messes, trials, and those of our children to everyone we meet! But we need to be sensitive to times He may be leading us to share with other hurting people how He brought us through those things. People who are hurting, struggling and walking through a dark time are in need of the comfort which we ourselves have received (2 Cor. 1:3-5 ). They need hope. They need a little light for the path they’re on. They need to see God’s light shining through our broken places. And they will if we let the Lord turn our mess into a message.

The Bible calls us earthen vessels, clay pots (2 Cor. 4:7). Over time, due to daily wear and tear, clay pots will crack. So will we. What happens when you hold a cracked pot up to a source of light? The light shines through the cracks! As believers, Jesus is our source of Light.

He uses our transparency to shine His light into the darkness others are experiencing. 

So while God is continually filling in our hollow spaces, healing our breaks, binding up our still-fresh gaping wounds, and giving us beauty for ashes (Is. 61:3 ), we need to allow others to see that because of Christ in us  joy, life, and hope can and do co-exist with pain, tears, and trials (2 Cor. 4:10). 

You are a work in progress and you can be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

Do others see Jesus’ life at work in you (2 Cor. 4:11-12)?

May we always be ready to give someone a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15 ).

Hope and blessings to you,                                                                                                                         Becky

He’s Got This

13 Comments

The words of Jeremiah 29:11 have become so well-known that you can probably quote most of it, if not all of it. It is a popular verse, I’m sure, because of its encouragement and comforting promise from God.

Most of you probably know it best from the NIV version which says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you (NASB says, “plans for welfare and not for calamity”), plans to give you  hope and a future.”

Do you have the Amplified Bible? It’s a wonderful version for giving you a vivid word picture of the original meaning of a passage. It says, “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.”

Finally, look at the KJV, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

I want to focus on a few key phrases that are very exciting.

Notice the first few words, “For I know… ”  Think about what the Lord is saying here.  He knows. He knows, and He knows you!

“… the thoughts and plans I have for you…” He has thoughts about you. Almighty God thinks about you. He has plans for you and He knows what they are! You don’t have to know them all yet.

They are plans to prosper you. The definition of prosper in my 1828 dictionary sheds an interesting light on the word. It did mention “to be successful” and “to succeed,” the usual definitions we think of associated with the word prosper. I love the fact that this old dictionary uses a lot of Scripture as a way of making the meaning of a word more clear. It quoted a verse from Genesis 39, “The Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand (speaking of Joseph).” Another example shown is from Proverbs 28, “He that covereth his sins, shall not prosper.”

There is nothing wrong with prospering by being successful. God loves to prosper His children with riches, land, and houses when He so chooses, for His purposes. But our thinking is flawed if that is the only way in which we think of prospering.

The word prosper comes from a word which means “to carry to” or “toward.” Knowing that, already causes you to think about it a little differently, doesn’t it? Add these definitions and you’ll really have something to think about: to grow or increase; to thrive; favored; advancing in growth, wealth, or ANY GOOD!

So ask yourself these questions: Am I or is my family growing or increasing in any area? Am I thriving in any way? Have I been favored? (Being favored is being supported; aided; supplied with advantages; eased; spared; regarded with kindness.) Am I advancing in growth, wealth, or in any good thing? I’m feeling more prosperous already and I hope you are, too. God’s Word brings such joy!

Now, let’s look at the rest of Jeremiah 29:11. Besides prospering us, God’s plans for us include welfare (which means “a good going”), peace, not calamity nor evil.

This last part is what I really want you to see today. His thoughts and plans for us are to give us hope in the final outcome of our situation. I’ll take hope, won’t you? He planned it for us. He IS our hope.

I love what the KJV says at the very end of this verse. He plans to give our circumstances “an expected end.” Don’t miss this! An expected end. See, He knows what to expect even if you don’t. He knows how this will end. He is never caught off-guard. He’s never left wringing his hands, fretting about how He’s going to handle what just happened to you. He expected it, and not only that, He has an expected end for it.

Who expects it? You? Me? Maybe, but more often than not, no. Sometimes the way our situation ends is the last thing we expected. That’s where trust comes in. That’s when our faith has to show up. Remember, His plans are to give us hope in our final outcome.

It’s not for you or me to expect a certain ending to our “this.”  This moment, this set of circumstances that you didn’t see coming, this thing that has your head spinning and your life turning upside down, this situation that’s left your heart broken and you gasping for breath…

Whatever your “this” is, He’s got it.

Rest assured, my sweet friend, He’s got this.

Prayers and Blessings to you,  Becky

The Joy of the Lord

3 Comments

415974_304134249681211_1208228728_o

“The joy of the Lord is joy that comes from the Lord. It is a joy that is fueled by being in a right relationship with God through Jesus. It comes because we are living the life Christ intends us to live not going off on our own.”

Read Lamentations 1:1-11. In these verses, Jeremiah is overwhelmed by the consequences of Judah’s sin. He is grieved over the people’s suffering and their broken relationship with God. God values His relationship with His children today just as much as He did when Jeremiah wrote these words. His heart longs for us to repent so that He can restore us to Himself. My pastor said that God restores us so that He can reuse us! Isn’t that great?

There are some warnings in this passage as well as predictions for those who do not follow the Lord but instead try it their own way. God’s children, who were “queens (or kings) among the princes” now have become “slaves to sin” (v 1). Those who let sin overtake them and enslave them and ensnare them “bitterly weep at night… there is none to comfort them” (v 2). Verse 3 says they “go into exile” and “will find no resting place.” They will be overtaken in the midst of their distress. They will be in bitter anguish (v 4). Their enemies will become their masters. The Lord will bring them grief because of their many sins. Their children will go into exile “captive before the foe” (v 5).

It just gets worse as time goes on. All their splendor will depart, they will be weak and will flee (v 6). They will have days of wandering and affliction. They’ll wish they could go back and do it differently. Boy, have I been there! There won’t be anyone to help them (v 7). They who were at one time honored will become despised. They themselves will groan and turn away (v 8).

Verse 9 describes more devastating results of being unrepentant. It says, “… she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her.” Then she herself says, “Look, O Lord, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed.”

Reading this reminds me, “Sin will always take you farther than you wanted to go. It will keep you longer than you wanted to stay. And it will cost you far more than you were ever willing to pay.”

Disbelief, fear, anger, and helplessness are some of the feelings associated with the consequences of your gradually drifting away from God and His will for your life. If the drifting goes on too long, it will lead to running far and fast from God and what you know He wants for your life, to possibly a complete rejection of the Holy Spirit’s convicting power.

True repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of action. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

God may allow you to continue down the path of self-destruction for many years, but all the while He is softly and tenderly calling you home. He longs for you to come back to Him. His arms are wide open. He’s watching and waiting for you. He loves you, no matter what. He wants you to love Him, no matter what.

Jesus is by His Father’s side even now, praying for you, that you may have the full measure of His joy within you (Jn. 17:13)!

Offering up prayers for you today, too, my friend… that you may find that complete joy which can only be found in a right relationship with Christ.

~ Blessings, Becky