My Way or Yours Lord?

Last night I was talking with my husband and admitting that it was getting hard to keep waiting for our latest paperwork to go through for our adoption and that it would be really nice if God would just make things happen how I want them to and now not later!  The current problem is that my fingerprints are hard to read, they don't make clear prints.  My husband proceeded to explain to me that the paperwork will come when it is supposed to come, and he also mentioned that God made my fingerprints - they are how they are because He created them to be that way.  I hadn't thought about the fact that God was responsible for my difficult fingerprints which have brought much frustration.....

Psalm 139:1-14 says "O LORD, you have searched me and known me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.  You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.  Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there!  If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.  For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

This passage reminded me that God made me just how I am and He knows what I am thinking and feeling and He cares.  Am I thankful for my many physical flaws?  I guess so, as the creator lovingly and intentionally made me the way that I am.  I have a hard time waiting for things; but God knows that I struggle with waiting and He still allows things that challenge that struggle to promote growth in my life.  Without these growth challenges, I would always get what I want (no growth) and I would not need to place my trust and my dependence in God.  This is very important for me to realize and remember often!  God can challenge me in my spiritually weak areas because He knows better than I do what areas of my life need spiritual growth to take place.

Isaiah 46:10 says "declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,"

God alone knows the future and He orchestrates things to happen for a reason - things will be accomplished on this earth according to His plan and His timing.  I trust that God knows best and so can try to remember to be thankful for the times that He "overrides" my plans so that a far better life experience can happen for me!

Proverbs 19:21 says "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

Lord, I have many plans for my life, many goals and ideas for each step and stage.  Help me to submit all of my desires to you and trust you with my future that whatever happens would be what you desire for me, which can only be considered the best!

Is there anything that you are waiting on the Lord for right now?
Is there anything that you are experiencing right now that, if you are willing, God could use to promote spiritual growth in your life?
Ultimately, are you trusting in God's plan for your life or your own?
If any of the above questions relate to you - write a prayer telling God about it!


Adjusting the Picture Clarity

Matthew 14:29-31 "He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"

I was pondering this passage today seeking some purpose for a challenge I am currently facing.  My husband and I are pursuing the adoption of 1-2 children from Colombia.  We have been on a waiting list for 2 years and recently it came about that our paperwork is being put on hold because of what normally would be an easy and simple step which has turned into 6 months of difficulty and some frustration.  The pursuit of adopting children is a good thing!  Choosing to be a parent is a good thing!  Why does it then seem that God is allowing it to be so difficult?
This passage stood out to me because of the situation where Peter's faith is being tested.  Peter became distracted from his obedience to follow Christ by his personal concern for his circumstances. He did not want to sink!  Applying this to my situation, one could say that my obedience to Christ might be distracted obedience as the progress of our adoption is regularly on my mind.  How do I not become angry or discouraged by my circumstances?
As Christians, many times we want to walk on the water - we want to have strong faith, but we don't keep our focus on Christ to pave the way for that kind of living.  We say we want to have bold or brave faith but we chose to place our focus on whatever we want to.  Perseverance, patience and endurance are needed!
Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."

In an effort to gain further understanding I did a word study on the following two Greek words.  Longsuffering and endurance are sometimes used as translations of the English word patience.

1) Makrothumia - makros means "long" and thumos means "temper".  This gives us the word longsuffering. Part of Strong's definition of this word includes; the ability to endure persecution and ill-treament.  Someone who has the power to exercise  revenge but instead exercises restraint.

2) Hupomone - hupo means "under" and mone means "to remain".  This gives us the word endurance.  Part of Strong's definition of this word includes; the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances, not with passive complacency, but with hopeful fortitude that actively resists weariness and defeat.

What I learned from this word study and the Matthew 14 passage is that my vision at times is blurry and I need to adjust the focus and picture clarity of the lenses that I am looking through.  It can be easy to look at your life or your job or the world around you and feel frustration at what you see and do not understand.  However, asking God to bring clarity to your vision will help you see your situation differently.  What I now see is an opportunity to trust God through the challenges that my husband and I are facing through our adoption journey.  It is an opportunity to place my focus intentionally on God and allow Him to carry my worries and concerns.  By handing my concerns and frustrations over to Christ I am acknowledging His control over my life.  With some picture clarity I now see so much more around me and Christ becomes enlarged in my life.  Although our pursuit of adoption and becoming parents is a big deal to my husband and I, Christ and my obedience to Him is a bigger deal.  The more I look at Christ, the smaller my problems seem.  Looking at the definition of Makrothumia, it clarified for me that what I am enduring could be much worse, so I can be thankful that it is not as bad as it could be!  The word Hupomone has taught me that I am not to "give up" and do nothing about our paperwork situation, but that I am to remain consistently hopeful that things will work out and understand that if I am doing what I can on my part, I need to trust God with the rest and rejoice that the result will be what He has planned for me!
James 1:2-4 "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

With picture clarity I can experience internal joy when my focus is on Christ and I am being obedient to His plan and timing for my life!

Is there anything that is causing fear or worry in your life right now?
What does the word Longsuffering mean to you?
What is holding your focus right now - something of this world or a heavenly focus?
Take some time to tell God what you answered above and why.


Ephesians 5:19-20 Devotional

The purpose of this book was to strengthen the Christians in the church of Ephesus.
Being a prisoner in Rome awaiting trial, Paul was not able to revisit the church in Ephesus as he had revisted the other churches on his journeys.  So he wrote this letter to do what he could not do personally: To encourage them in their works of service and holiness in response to God’s saving grace.  Paul emphasizes the church in this book.

The first 3 chapters concentrate on the church being God’s workmanship, and the last 3 chapters concentrate on the response of believers to God’s plan of salvation as the recipients of His grace.

Chapter 5 – second half the focus would be to Be wise and make the most of the gift of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Verse 19 talks about the effects of being filled and completely controlled by the Holy Spirit.  This means a life where every room of the heart, where the Spirit lives, has been opened up.  Jesus and His love has permeated those rooms.

How does this happen? 

2 Corinthians 3:18 - God does the transforming work in our lives.

Matthew 13 talks about growth using the examples of a mustard seed and yeast. 

When you are properly focused on your relationship with Christ and growing…it has an effect on others around you and may cause growth in them as well.  God may use you to help others grow.  Are you in a place with your relationship with your personal Savior that you would say you are available to be used by God?  Are you willing to experience being filled by the Spirit or do you have the Spirit on a leash?  Have you opened every corner of your heart to the Spirit’s influence?

Once this has taken place; you will notice that with the Spirit you are able to better reflect the image of Christ and able to do what verse 19 and 20 are talking about, not as if it was a chore but with joy!

Speaking to one another: The word speaking comes from the Greek word laleo which means to make a sound, to break the silence.  The “sounds” you make should be ones coming from a spirit-filled heart.  Thus they will be pleasing to the Lord.

Psalm: A musical song or poem exalting God.

Hymn: A song of praise that exalts the Godhead fully. God, Christ the Son and the Spirit.

Melody: refers back to the word Psalm.  But with how Paul words it, it is coming from the heart.  All Spirit filled singing is directed to the Lord, Whether it is about Him or to Him, it is all directed toward Him.

Verse 20 talks about thanksgiving.  It is the Greek word eucharisteo which comes from the word “gift” or “grace.”  It means a person who is depending on God’s grace moment by moment.  That is a thankful person.
Thanksgiving is a product of a spirit filled heart.  When you are filled with the Spirit, you are thankful for what God is doing in your life.

When are we to be thankful?  The verse says “always giving thanks”  It is lifestyle that you may choose.

What are we to be thankful for?  The verse says “for all things”  The good and the bad.

(So, I do not have a relationship with my earthly father, he does not have any interest in a relationship with me;  that is not something you would typically be thankful for, however, I am thankful for it in the sense that I then had the freedom to establish my relationship with Brian as my husband and give him respect unhindered by a daughters continuing desire to please and obey their father.  Had a relationship maintained with my father, I am confident that it would have hindered my marriage as I tried to please both of them. – So I am thankful for that blessing)

How should we give thanks?  The verse says “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”  If it wasn’t for Jesus, we would have no reason to celebrate and give thanks, we would be without hope.  Because of what He did for us, all of our thanksgiving should be directed back to Him.  From the point of our salvation and through the process of sanctification that is continuous in our lives.

To whom are we to give thanks?  The verse says “to God, even the Father”

Do we take the time to thank Him for our blessings regularly – throughout our day, and do are we expressing thanks and having a heart of thanksgiving while spending time with others in our lives?  Do we act thankful for them?

So, we are all “others” in each others lives…..would you take some time to consider the following question?

How can we speak Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs to each other?

May you grow in your relationships with other believers and become one who encourages and builds up those around you!


A Marriage Devotional

Several years ago when I was pondering whether or not to date this guy I met at college, (this guy is now my husband) a friend of mine asked me the following;  Are you growing more spiritually with or without him?  Is your relationship with this guy encouraging a closer relationship with God or hindering it?
What a wonderful question to ask!  Have you thought about this before when considering what kind of person you want to make a marriage commitment to?

Proverbs 27:17 "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."
In this world we are to be that kind of friend to one another and have those kind of relationships that build up, encourage, lovingly educate, etc.  In a marriage situation, one person should be looking at their future spouse and desiring to be this kind of partner for them.  We strive to be this for our friends, but in marriage, it ought to be our intent to be making a specific commitment to be the iron that sharpens our spouses character.  In this way we hope that it could be said that our spouse's relationship with Christ grew through their marriage to you rather than was hindered by it!

Ephesians 4:1-3 " I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Serving the Lord together you can accomplish great things to bring glory to God.  To sustain your desire to be a united instrument for the Lord to use, however, unity between you and your spouse is very important.  Again, these are qualities we should extend to those around us, but as you marry you are making a commitment to be humble and gentle with your spouse, to be patient with your spouse, to bear them up in a loving manner, and to seek unity with them in Christ.  Pray together regularly!  Seek God's direction for your marriage!  Keep communication open and honest with each other so that you can process your feelings, goals and desires in a healthy way and be the most purposeful with your choices!

Hebrews 13:1-6 " Let brotherly love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.  Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.  Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  So we can confidently say, " The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?""
Where ever you make your home once married, use your home and marriage to help others, shelter others, serve others, be hospitable and loving toward others as you would treat Christ.  Establishing a home, wherever it may be and whatever it may be like....house, hut, trailer, etc., it is an addition to your ability to minister!  Do not be unfaithful to God or to your spouse with your thoughts, dreams, actions, etc.  Be content with however much or however little you have....do not seek money but relationships and in living that out you can be confident that the Lord will protect and provide for you!

James 1:2-4 "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
Marriage is hard work and is just plain hard!  In your marriage you will encounter rough spots, situations that will test you that you will need to work through together.  As odd as it may seem, appreciate the hurdles that you encounter!  Through these trials you have an opportunity for your relationship with your spouse to grow and become stronger!  Your faith will strengthen and your marriage will experience greater unity!  That is something to feel and express great joy over!

Ephesians 5: 22-24 "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is Himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands."
Submitting is hard all by itself, but I think that it is getting harder in today's culture for wives to submit to their husbands.  There is a general trend among men in our churches that the men are displaying less and less leadership qualities and the ability to manage things they have a responsibility over.  Women are natural multitaskers and many of us in our desire to manage our households well, do more than we should; and when our husbands neglect this or that, we step right up and accomplish the task! Sometimes we forget about promoting growth within our husband and are more concerned with getting the neglected task done.   I want to challenge you to instead of just racking up accomplishments and filling in the gaps our husbands leave or cleaning up their messes, that you make it intentional to encourage his leadership role.  Do what you can as each situation presents itself to help your husband be molded into the leader of your home!  Lovingly encourage and pray for your husband in the role that he is growing into!

I Corinthians 10: 23-24 "All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.  All things are lawful, but not all things build up.  Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor."
There will be moments in your marriage where you will want to say, "I am right, you are wrong!"  There will be times you will want to point out your spouses error or indicate what they could have done better.  While there may be times that you indeed are correct, had the right answer, or the best suggestion, and the best solution, it is not for you to say or do such things in a way that would put down your spouse or hinder their spiritual growth.  If holding your tongue, exhibiting patience or letting go of your thoughts and giving them to God allows you to better use a circumstance to encourage, lovingly suggest, discuss something together with your spouse for the benefit of their growth, then know that this is what you should do!  In a marriage it should be the goal of each person to build up and edify their spouse and to push them toward Christ!  Your marriage is important....but not as important as your individual relationship with Christ!  Make it a priority to promote your spouses relationship and growth as an individual with Jesus Christ!

1 Corinthians 10:31 "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
As a child of God, whether married or not, it is our ultimate purpose on this earth to bring God glory, and to make sure that He alone is getting the glory and not seeking any for ourselves. If you want to know the absolute best way that you can love your spouse, the answer is to push them toward Christ.  Promote, encourage and strengthen their spiritual growth and you will both be rewarded!  Be a sharpening iron for your spouse and as you do so give all the glory to God!

May you have a very blessed marriage!