WHY IS IT SO HARD TO FORGIVE

Why is it so hard to forgive?

I have been asking myself this question lately.  Why is it so hard to forgive people whether it is big or small?  If Jesus calls us to always forgive, why don’t we have the heart that makes it simple and easy?  It comes down to a couple of different revelations that I have had over the last few days.

1)      We are selfish people through and through.  We live with a sinful heart that just can’t completely understand the magnitude of what forgiveness does.  We forget that we want and need forgiveness on a daily basis, yet why should we extend that hand of grace to others?  We feel entitled to get what we are owed.  We should get an apology or what is due to us because we deserve it.  There are so many times where I have been stubborn in my forgiveness because I felt that I was owed something all while forgetting what Christ did for me.

2)      We feel that by forgiving someone by definition means we need to be friends or reconnect some sort of relationship with them.  This is more understandable with the major hurts in our lives.  Maybe you were abused at some point in your life, or an unspeakable thing has been done to you.  Maybe your spouse or significant other cheated on you during your relationship.  Whatever it may be it is extremely hard to forgive someone that has done some major damage to your heart and soul.  The truth of the matter is though that forgiving someone does not necessarily mean reconciling with them. This is a long process that happens through time.  We can forgive someone but still decide that a relationship with that person is not possible, or we can put boundaries up. 

3)      We forget the ultimate act of forgiveness that was given to us personally.  In the back of my mind I know that Christ died for me and what a sacrifice that was, but when I am in the midst of being angry with someone I forget really what type of sacrifice it was.  I truly believe that if we could humanly grasp the full concept of the sacrifice that Christ made for us, and we could keep that at the forefront of our mind, then we would be able to have a heart that forgives a little more easily.

4)      We think of forgiveness as a gift to the other person we are forgiving.  My very imperfect mind will always say at first, why should that person deserve my forgiveness when they can’t apologize?  My big a-ha moment was when I realized that the act of me forgiving someone was not to give them a gift or to bless them, it is was an actual gift and blessing to myself.  Caring around a torch of anger, frustration, or disappoint for someone lays a burden on your shoulders that takes a toll on you.  God doesn’t want you to carry that burden.  He wants you to be free from the shackles hate and rage.  God always wants us to glorify Him by the act of forgiveness.

There are so many things that we do that need forgiveness.  I couldn’t imagine having to try and forgive someone who abused me, or cheated on me.  I know that there are so many of you out there that struggle with not understanding the pure evil that may have been done to you.  You struggle with the anger and the questions of why me?  And now you get angry with the very fact that God is calling you to forgive that person when we all know very well that they don’t deserve it.  I can’t stand here and try and understand that level of forgiveness, but I do know that God is a loving God and He wants us to heal through living a life that remains in Him.  Forgiving someone is not a gift that we are to give to that other person.  It becomes a blessing from God to us when we give the anger and hurt to Him to carry leaving us to be able to live a life that is filled with His love and joy.

We here at Women180 are praying for you right now.  Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we are called to do, but nonetheless called to do by God.  It is a continuous struggle that never gets easier.  We pray that you lean on God for wisdom and guidance and for Him to show you the way.

Matthew 18:21-22 says Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?  Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Courtney Kacer

Arm Yourself: Equipping Ourselves with the Armor of God

My dear sweet sister in Christ, Michelle Moore wrote a book to help equip ourselves with the Armor of God.  Once I opened the book I couldn’t put it down.  Michelle takes experiences in her life and intertwines it with the lessons we need to learn to fully equip ourselves for battle.  The battle of spiritual warfare.  Some of you may know exactly what I am talking about, and some of you may experience this every day but not know exactly what to call it.

Spiritual warfare is so prevalent in today’s society.  As the world spirals downward into pure darkness, the bright shining lights that have a heart for God become the ones for Satan to bring down.  Satan attacks us left and right, trying to throw us off our game, trying to destroy the good we are trying to do for God’s kingdom.  We need to arm ourselves with the best armor we can so that we may continue to live a life that glorifies God.

Michelle goes on to talk about the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation, the shoes of peace, the breastplate of Righteousness, the sword of the Spirit, the robe of love, and the power of prayer.  One of her most important pieces of truth is learning who we are in Christ.  We can’t apply these pieces of armor unless we know that we have the authority to use them. 

Michelle states, “No one can take any of our pieces of armor without our permission first.  So let’s resolve from this day forward that no one will take from us our true identity, which is found in Christ.”

The best part of reading this book was reminding myself that as a child of God, I have power in the name of Jesus.  I think we often forget that.  We get so busy in our day to day lives that when a slew of things go wrong, we chop it up to just having a bad day.  We need to be in close fellowship with Christ everyday so that we can draw near to Him and live on His strength.  This book reminded me of the different pieces of armor we can put on.

Arm yourself is a great reminder for women like me who have been a Christian for a while, but it is extremely valuable to readers who may have just accepted Christ into their lives, or maybe you are seeking the truth of Christ and haven’t quite committed yet.  There is a war going on for our souls, and the longer we stay in the dark to who we really are, the easier it is going to be for Satan to win.

Satan can’t keep knocking us down if we know how to put our armor on.  I highly recommend this book and hope that when you are looking for your next book to read, you think of Arm Yourself:  Equipping Ourselves with the Armor of God by Michelle Moore.

Please check out Michelle’s website.  The book is available on Amazon.  Click the links below.

http://www.michellemoore.org/

http://www.amazon.com/Arm-Yourself-Equipping-Ourselves-Armor/dp/1490848878

 

About the Author:

“Wife. Mother. Blogger. Author. Worship Leader. Bible study leader. These are just a few of the many hats I put on every day. If you were to take a closer look you would see hats I put on that I have had to hand over to God through the years…Depressed, insecure, hopeless, anxious, fearful, angry, heartbroken, wounded, ashamed.

Praise God He is a miracle maker, prince of peace, counselor, redeemer, healer, and He fought for me! Now I can say with confidence I am restored, set free, victorious, loved, chosen, set apart, a true daughter of the king!

God has inspired me to inspire you. I want every woman to know there is freedom and healing in the awesome power of Jesus! My book, Arm Yourself, starts off with my personal testimony and the struggle I’ve had with depression and anxiety. I go on to explore how the study of the armor of God saved my life and in each chapter I explore what each piece of armor is, how to use it and what it protects. I want women to not just learn to cope, but to learn how to arm yourself!

BroomTree International

Women180 likes to highlight certain Christian organizations that are doing unbelievable work in God’s Kingdom.  This month we would like to highlight an organization that is moving mountains to bring God’s truth and word to the “unreached” population.  

Who are the unreached? An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance. Can you imagine living in the darkness of extreme, war, poverty and brokenness WITHOUT a flickering light of hope in your surroundings? Never having heard of Jesus- His grace, hope, joy and redemption? Maybe you intimately know or have known this darkness.  Can you remember how your life changed when your senses experienced God’s light?

One of the greatest commandments Jesus made to his disciples, was to“Go, and make disciples of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:10)  Literally, “GO.” 

That can be intimidating for most of us. For centuries brave missionaries have shed their comfortable lives to go live among the unreached across the globe. We’ve entered an era where reaching these groups has gotten easier and easier, yet nearly 3,000 people groups (about 2.8 billion people) still live in this spiritual darkness. Why is this? Despite grand efforts from the global Christian church:

  • 99.7% of missional resources are directed toward where the church ALREADY IS.
  • only .3% goes where the church IS NOT. *

BroomTree International is a ministry that is bridging the gap from simply “giving” to faithful servant missionaries, to “investing” in His faithful servants of the African church who have the culture, proximity and understanding to reach the unreached in places we cannot go. 

“Our process is to Gather, Explore, and Facilitate both ministry and strategic partners who work together to fulfill the Great Commission.  Working together will multiply talents that make greater impact in reaching unreached people groups of the world today.” – BroomTree International

BroomTree’s mission statement is simple.  Serve faithful servants who make disciples for Jesus Christ.  They assist by directing resources for short term needs that advance long term strategies. They work together to make disciples through His church who advance His kingdom on earth to glorify His name.  

It’s not just about sending people over for a few weeks to help out where needed.  It is about equipping indigenous churches with the knowledge of God and the tools and resources to then go out and make more disciples. To bear fruit that REMAINS and transform communities to walk daily in the word.

Ladies, our main purpose in life is to bring people to Christ and grow not only our relationships, but to help others grow as well, yet I sometimes feel that we stay in our own little bubble.  We often don’t think about how we can help those in faraway lands, but we can ALWAYS help.

You may be thinking how can I help? There are a couple different ways.  The number one way to help reach the “unreached” is by fervent prayer.  We may not be able to travel around the world, but we can pray for God to open up the hearts of the people who don’t know Him.  We can also pray for the people who are on the ground, traveling to dangerous places.  We can pray to give them strength, wisdom, courage, and the resources to be able to do God’s work where we cannot.

Secondly, we can help by donating to organizations like BroomTree so that they can help equip the African Church with the tools needed to spread God’s word and change lives. We may not be called to do missions in the sense of traveling to unknown lands, but we are ALL called to be missionaries in spreading the Gospel.  There are so many ways to do that- and BroomTree is demonstrating how we can really focus on discipleship as a tool to transform lives.  Please take time to pray for BroomTree International and to pray on whether or not God is calling you to donate to help spread God’s great news.

Please take a look at BroomTree’s home page to learn how they are assisting local African church networks employ a disciple-making strategy. They started in Kenya in 2012. This year they have local servants traveling into South and North Sudan, Egypt, Chad and Uganda to train other churches in this strategy that will empower an entire continent to GO and make disciples of ALL the Nations.

“We are within range of penetrating every dark place on the planet with the light of the Gospel more than ever before in history. We pray that you will join with us.” - BroomTree

http://www.broomtree.net/

 

Courtney Smith

Women180.org

Courtney.Smith@women180.org

 

 

 

 

*(for more definitions and statistics visit http://www.thetravelingteam.org/stats/ or www.joshuaproject.net)   

Prayers for Paris

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Many of us are trying to comprehend the events that happened in Paris last Friday night.  Unbelievable violence and evil was stowed upon innocent lives.  Fear and sorrow lay within our souls.  My heart is so truly heavy right now for the victims and the family of the victims.  I just keep whispering Jesus hold them close and tight.  

Tragedy hits us when we are not looking and shakes us to the core.  Satan uses evil to create vulnerability within us.  But as I think about it, when tragedy ensues united we become.  Our faith becomes stronger,  prayer becomes fervent within our lives, and unity binds together nations like never before.  Satan creates chaos, but God creates unity and strength.

As we look to this next week let's pray for the people in Paris and know that God was with His children during this horrendous display of evil.  He is with His children now and will be forever with His children.  Let's hold tight that our God is sovereign.  He weeps for the victims just as we do.  

My prayer is that God will give peace and comfort to every life that this touches, and I pray that miracles of people accepting Christ through this tragedy will be accomplished.  Healing will occur and can occur with hope and love through Jesus Christ.

Paris, we are here for you.  Hear our cries.  Hear our prayers.  Feel our grief for you.  Feel our love for you.  United we stand.  United we pray.  United we love.  United we hope.

"I have told you these things, so that you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

 

#LoveWins

Yesterday the Supreme Court made a decision to make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.  Along with this decision comes different opinions and views.  I see social media people changing their pictures to the rainbow theme and hash tagging Love Wins!  I see different posts with their different opinions and I have to say that out of everything that has been posted the one thing that was most prevalent to me was the #LoveWins.  

I started to ponder this a little bit as it was being used to show that Love can't be held down anymore by different discriminating laws and different beliefs.  That Love somehow was not winning a battle that was being fought because same sex marriage was not legal across the nation.  Once I understood the message that this #LoveWins was trying to portray I thought to myself, but Love has already won just not everyone understands or believes it.

God is Love!  He sent His only son down to this earth to die for EVERYONE's sins.  That includes the believers and the non-believers.  We are all sinful people and we needed that sacrifice of Love in order for us to be able to have a relationship with God.  The moment that Christ died on the cross was pure victory and that is truly when #LoveWins.  We just have to choose to seek it and God provided us the rainbow as a reminder of His promises.

As a Christian I believe that we have a responsibility to uphold and speak God's truth, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.  God calls us to love our neighbor. It is one of the most important commandments.  We can still love people and not like the sinful behavior. The only way we are going to bring people to Christ is to take the judgment and hypocritical component out of our actions and to show them God's Love.  It is ok for us to speak that we believe different actions are sinful, but we need to also take a look at our own sin and make sure we are working on ourselves at the same time.  It is our approach in showing them Christ's love that will make the difference.  We do not need to throw harsh words at people to get our point across.  And although scripture is God's word and truth we need to make sure that when we are using scripture to make our point that we are also providing the context and the loving words to go along with it.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-12

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love. - 1 Corinthians 13:13

So now every time I see #LoveWins I am not going to see the same sex marriage has won it's fight, but I am going to be reminded that Love has already Won and made possible through Jesus Christ death on the cross and I am so glad that I have made the choice to follow Christ into eternal life with Him.

HOPE

 

This last weekend I went on our women’s retreat for my church which was centered on how we can become anchored in Christ.  We talked about Faith, Hope, and Love.  The three components that will continue to keep us anchored.  What a great weekend it was having fellowship with other godly women and building friendships that will last a lifetime.  It is always good to get away for the weekend to refresh ourselves and refocus on the most important factor of our existence, Jesus Christ.

Out of all three sections that we talked about Hope was the one that intrigued me the most.  It is the one that really got to me especially living in this day and age.  I am constantly seeing the negativity in people these days, whether it be social media, or talking face to face.  People do not see the glass half full anymore, they see the glass empty at all times and it is a sad thing to see.  Hope is dwindling faster than we can act upon it, but everyone should know that there is hope.  Hope is in Jesus Christ.

Hope is the confident expectation of joy.  I know what some of you may be thinking.  It is hard to have hope when there is no end in sight to your pain and struggles.  It is hard to see hope when everything in your life seems to be turned upside down, but we have to change our way of thinking.  Hope doesn’t just mean a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  We use the word hope incorrectly.  It really means to look forward to a joy that you know you are going to have and that is eternal life.  So in order to have hope you have to have faith.  Faith in a God that He loves you unconditionally.  Faith in a God that knows you better than yourself and stands next to you in every situation.  Knowing that you have eternal life by having faith in our Lord and Savior is that hope.  The hope to keep moving forward.  The hope that no matter what happens in this life that we are working towards our eternal life where there will be no more tears, pain, and suffering.  That is where my hope lies.  It makes it easier to get through every day and every trial and tribulation that comes our way, because no matter what happens I know through my faith that I have hope, and joy that is with Jesus Christ forever.

This is where I want everyone to be including myself.  If you are a non-believer, just be willing to say to Jesus show me if you are real and you can make good on your promises and He will.  He will show you the unconditional love that He has for you and the joy that it provides as you have faith and hope.  And if you are a believer,  to stop and think about the negativity that you may be allowing in your life and re-aligning it with the promises of God.  We need to stop asking where God is and start seeking Him.

God is always with us, especially when we are going through difficult times, but we need to stop and ask what He is doing by allowing us to go through these different situations.  What is He orchestrating?  I can attest by experience that God will always use a bad situation for good, we may just not see it or understand it at the time, but it is the trust, the faith, and the hope that we have in Christ that we know He is a good God.  I often hear that we grow in our relationship with Christ through our brokenness, and through our trials otherwise we get complacent and we may miss the blessings that God has for us as we go through these different trials.  This is so true.  We grow as we learn how to get through our struggles.

So what does it like to stay anchored in hope?

It means we can forgive as Christ forgave us.

We can have joy even through the tough times because we know what the outcome is going to be.  Eternal life.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – James 1:2-3

We can keep going!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.  So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:8-18

 I don’t know where you are at right now.  Maybe you are in a great place and you are full of hope, and maybe you are going through hard times and hope seems so distant, but just remember there is hope in Jesus Christ.  There is hope knowing that as children of God we know that Jesus has already conquered sin and for that very precious gift, we have a reason to live and live to His glory.  We already know the outcome.  We get to have eternal life!!  So no matter what we go through here on earth we have something spectacular to look forward to.  Hope!!  The confident expectation of Joy!
 

Legacy

We are coming up on one of the most important days for mankind.  That’s right… Easter is here and it is not all about Easter bunnies, egg hunts, and Easter baskets.  It is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The moment in history where God sent His only son to die on the cross while we were still sinners.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

This is a time where we are reminded of the sacrifice that God gave for us to be able to have a relationship with Christ.  Wow… what a feeling of conviction.  It lays heavy on my heart each year around this time and makes me truly put my life into perspective of what I am doing to glorify Christ and serve Him in full surrendering and a thankful heart.

Jesus left quite the legacy when He left this earth to join His Father on the right side of the throne.  Spreading the good news of God and how sovereign He is and showing the way to eternal life.  His ministry was just about 3 years long, but when it came down to it He was obedient in dying on the cross for us while we were sinners.  You may say that this was the most important moment in history, but the fact that He was resurrected just 3 days later was the actual miracle.  His resurrection is what sealed the deal.  Christ’s works and his death to save all of us that choose to surrender ourselves to Him and believe in Him is His legacy.  His legacy was to serve others, love others, and die for us.

For even the son of man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28

We can never live to out do Christ’s legacy, but this brings me to thinking about what my legacy will be and what do I want it to be?  Some people live for the success, or money, or family and loved ones.  Some people choose for their legacy to be known as always helping others.  What ever it may be we should think about our legacy.  What do we want to be known for?

It is hard for me to imagine that by God’s grace, we have been saved and forgiven for all our sins, past, present, and future.  I find myself trying to work for it sometimes especially when I start to feel convicted for my own sin.  I naturally am prone to thinking about what I can do to make it right.  The great news on this is that due to God sending his only son to die for our sins that we are saved, not by the work we do, but purely by His grace that He has provided.  Jesus’ resurrection has healed us. 

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed.

1 Peter 2:24

Healing…As Christ has healed us through His wounds, we can help to heal others.  As children of God we have a responsibility to bring people to Christ and help them and ourselves grow.  Our legacy should involve setting an example as children of God so that we may share God’s love, mercy, and grace with the world.  If we can do that, we can help bring people to Christ and ultimately connecting them to the true healing that only Jesus can provide.

So yes, I want to be known for success, family, and helping others when I can, but those are all bi-products of what we should be aiming to build our legacy.  Our legacy, should not be meant to leave on this world, but should be meant to bring with us to our eternal life and to God.  When I see Jesus for the first time I want to see him smile and hear him say “Well done my good and faithful servant!”  I think ultimately if we have that in mind as we are building our legacy for Him, then our legacy will be exactly what we want left here on earth.  People saying that they saw God’s blessings on them for continuing to strive to Glorify God on a daily basis.  That we made a difference in people’s lives by showing them God’s love.  That is the legacy that I want to build for myself.

So as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ today, think about what you are doing in your life and what type of legacy you are building for yourself.  Is it in line for what Christ calls us to do?  Is it truly what you want it to be?  Do you need to make some changes in your life?  As Jesus Christ’s legacy is healing us through His death, then we can help bring others to healing through His love.  

 

All the Single Ladies!!

I needed to go to the grocery store for some reason the other day and as I walk in it looks like the store threw up red, white, and pink.  Chocolates, red heart shaped balloons, stuffed animals, and flowers galore.  Not the first thing a single lady wants to be reminded of right?  So I walk in rolling my eyes trying to push that feeling of disappointment that yet again one more year is passing me by without a man for Valentine’s Day.  Yes it is the one day a year where we get reminded over and over again as we see women all around receive their roses and chocolates and hear their romantic plans for this one special night.  You try to act happy as you listen with a smile plastered on your face all while you are just telling yourself, well I will be sitting on the couch in my pajamas with a pint of ice cream in my lap and how sad is that.  You then start to feel down about yourself and asking what is wrong with you because that special someone has not whisked you away.  Have you ever felt that way? I know I have, but over the last few years I have started to change my thinking.

I am about to spin things around and turn our negative thoughts into positive thoughts and show you how special you are to God and how awesome it is to be a single lady and being able to use your single status as a bonus to glorifying God.

1)      When we are single we get to serve God with no other distractions.  When you are dating, married and/or have a family your focus gets pulled to provide and care for your loved ones.  There is nothing wrong with that by any means, but I think it gives us single ladies a chance to be able to serve God without those distractions. We should cherish this time that we get to spend with God and use this time to grow our relationship with Christ.  I don’t know about you, but I love this!

2)      We can turn our once bitter feelings about this day into a day that we express our love for our friends and family and show people that being single is not something that we should look down upon, but as a time where we can be inspired and show the peace and contentment that God provides us as we wait for our godly husband.  Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall states “For a single woman to experience genuine contentment while soloing in a couples’ world, she must avoid the ditches of discontentment. She needs to learn the mystery of contentment and its power over the restless torture of desire.”

3)      We embrace the time God is giving to find out who we are in Christ and make sure that our hearts are being filled with God and not the expectation of a godly husband.  No one can fill that void but God and if we try to fill it with anything of this world we are setting ourselves up for failure.   I don’t know about you, but I so love the person I am now that God is in my life and the woman that I have become and I look forward to learning more about myself as time elapses.  If I don’t know who I am and make sure that God is my priority then how can I be a good wife to anyone else?  I thank God every day for the extra time He is giving me to learn this.

4)      And finally….we also don’t have to worry about answering to anyone but God of course and ourselves.  We get to pick up and do what we want, make our own schedules, sleep in on the weekends, and let the dishes pile up if we want to.  Extra bonus points!!

I could go on and on with different bullet points, but the bottom line is I am content with who I am in Christ and being single.  In fact, I love being single!  Are there some lonely times?  Yes, but I know who to turn to when I start to get those feelings.  So as your friends and family are going about their romantic day with their spouses/boyfriends get inspired by their joy and use it to have a date night with God.  I know I am.  I have my pajamas all laid out, but instead of a pint of ice cream to drown my sorrows away, I am going to have my bible and a pen and paper and have some quiet time and really feel the joy and love this Valentine’s Day from my Heavenly Father.

Where are you today? Do you have some bitterness and discontentment that needs to be worked out or are you happy and content in God’s plan for you to be single at this time?

 

Lady in Waiting

(Jackie Kendall & Debby Jones)

Is not about finding the right man,

But becoming the right woman.

The Lady in Waiting

recklessly abandons herself

to the Lordship of Christ,

diligently uses her single days,

trusts God with unwavering faith,

demonstrates virtue in daily life,

loves God with undistracted devotion,

stands for physical and emotional purity,

lives in security,

responds to life in contentment,

makes choices based on her convictions,

and waits patiently for God to meet her needs.

Fearing the Lord

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Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!

Psalm 112:1

My friends and I went skeet shooting today.  I have shot a few different shotguns, but I have never shot the M4 Benelli.  This was the second time it laid against the shot gun rack so enticingly beautiful and intimidating.  I have always wanted to shoot it, but fear would always win.  I finally decided to give it a shot.  As I walked up to the line my heart was beating out of my chest.  What if I looked stupid, or what if the kickback was too much for me to handle?  So many thoughts going through my mind.  Part of me wanted to take the easy way out and go back and exchange the M4 for a shotgun I was used to, but something told me to overcome my fear and push forward.  My hands were sweating and I could have thought that people could hear my heartbeat from the opposite side of the range. I loaded the gun I took up my stance and breathed out slowly.   I yelled pull and pulled the trigger missing the first bright orange skeet shooting out of the center of the trap shoot.  I looked up and although disappointed I missed, excited that I got through the first shot and my fear was gone.  I continued to try over and over again and finally after four shots I hit one.  Pure joy, I did it!!

As I was driving home and thinking over the day's events I felt God convicting me on my obedience to Him and Him asking me the question, why do you not fear me as you should?  I feared the M4, but do I lovingly fear God in the right way? I have to admit that there are certain things that God has been asking me to tweak in my life to be more Christ-like, but I keep brushing Him off because to be honest I just don't want to change those things quite yet.  I do not like change.  I haven't feared Him like I should, and by fear I don't mean that paralyzing fear of wanting to run away in the opposite direction.  I mean the respectable fear where I am afraid of disappointing Him.  The fear that wants me to be obedient to Him, to glorify Him.  

I was reading a prayer that Lysa TerKeurst put up today on her website www.LysaTerkeurst.com about praying for God to unsettle her.  She said this:

"Unearth that remnant of justification. Shake loose that pull toward compromise. Reveal that broken shard of secrecy. Expose that tendency to give up. Unsettle me in the best kind of way. For when I allow Your touch to reach the deepest parts of me — dark and dingy and hidden away too long — suddenly, a fresh wind of life twists and twirls and dances through my soul."

I want that to be my prayer today, tomorrow, and the days after that.  I want the Lord to give me that fear of Him so I long to be obedient to my Lord and Savior.  I want Him to unsettle me so that I strive to live for Him and not of this world.  I know it's going to be a hard road, but I want God to show me the behaviors that are stuck in the deepest parts of me that I need to get rid of.  

Not only do I want to work on the behaviors that I need to change, but I don't want to be intimidated anymore for things that I know God wants me to do.  Things that I feel are so beyond me, that I have no idea how to accomplish.  I want to trust Him to the point where I just answer "Yes Lord" without hesitation.

I hope that you will join me in prayer to live a God fearing life and to live with a bold faith.

Lord,

I ask that you unsettle me Lord.  Please show me the loving fear that you so deserve to have.  I pray that you will give me the strength and wisdom to have a bold faith of no hesitation when it comes to  living according to your will.  Thank you for the love, mercy, and grace that you have given to me.

In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

 

 

But...He Stole My Parking Spot

Many are the Plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.  

Proverbs 19:21

Christmas can be a very chaotic and busy time for all of us.  I was really excited for the month of December as I had recently resigned from my overwhelming job and was going to take a couple of months off to decompress and re-prioritize my life.  It was a couple of weeks before Christmas and the malls were packed.  I had just enjoyed a great lunch with a friend and I was going to enjoy doing some shopping.  As I was on walking to my car to drive to the mall I was on the phone with a friend giving her some advice on how to deal with a situation at work, telling her to do what she thought God would want her to do.  Was her actions going to shine God’s light and give him the glory?  Even though the situation may not be fair to us we as christians are responsible for how we respond to those situations.  Philip Yancey said in his book Vanishing Grace, “the issue is not whether I agree with someone but rather how I treat someone with whom I profoundly disagree.  We Christians are called to use the “weapons of grace,” which means treating even our opponents with love and respect.”

I hung up the phone and proceeded to drive over to the mall.  People were waiting for others to walk to their cars so they could take their parking spot.  I was patiently waiting for a parking spot and just as the people pulled out a truck zoomed around me and took it.  I was furious and proceeded to be not so nice to the person who just stole my spot through my windshield.  My heart was pounding.  I was so angry and I then sped off to go find another parking spot.  Ten minutes after I had just given advice to my friend on how we need to show God’s love, here I was screaming at this man who stole my spot.  I did not show God’s love in that moment, but God wanted to teach me a lesson.  

Out of all the stores in the mall this person ended up in the same store as me, and not only in the same store, but the same section of the store.  So I circled the store a few times and got all of the items that I needed except the toaster.  I needed a special toaster and he was still there.  I knew that if I went over into that section I would open up my mouth again and the things that would come out would still not be so pretty, so I decided I would just come back to the store another day.  I go to get in line and who do you think comes strolling in line right after me?  That’s right, the man who stole my parking spot.  Out of the six lines that were open he chose my line.  Why couldn’t he just leave me alone?  I eventually go to my car and start to make my way out of the parking lot and I keep replaying this whole situation through my head.  I knew I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did to him, but HE STOLE MY PARKING SPOT!!  As I am trying to rationalize my behavior and trying to make it ok, I am waiting to turn out of the parking lot, but there is a truck waiting for someone to let him in.  I get up closer and it’s the same man?!  At this point I am talking very loudly to God out loud in my car and asking Him the purpose of all of this, and I quietly hear Him whisper to me, show my love and grace to him as I have shown to you.  Ouch, that hurt.  My heart softened immediately and I waved him in.  He said thank you and we went our own way.

I had my own plan that day.  I wanted to enjoy the day shopping, and I wanted to remain angry and justified with how I dealt with the situation, but God wanted to teach me something.  He wanted to show me that I needed to treat people with the same grace that he has shown me.  So I got to thinking, how often do we not show the grace of God to others?  How often do we get inpatient with employees at stores and servers at restaurants?  Do we give attitude when we have to do something we don’t want to do or do we serve others with a gracious heart? I know I am guilty of not living a gracious life. I want to take this year and work on showing God’s grace and love through my actions.  Will you join me?  Let’s pour out God’s love and spread his good news through changing our hearts and attitudes as we go out into this world day in and day out.