I am no longer the things of my past...I am the daughter of the Great I AM.

Exodus 3:14
And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
2 Corithians 6:18
I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Being a Good Steward - Part 3 Words

I realize that I had originally planned on 4 parts to this series on being a Good Steward. They were Finances, Time, Gifts/Abilities, and Our Body. However, last night God showed me another area in which we all need to be good stewards. That area is with our Words.

3. Words
Proverbs 29:20 (The Message) Observe the people who always talk before they think— even simpletons are better off than they are.

The Bible tells us that we have power in our words. It is the power of life and death. I know this, and therefore try to guard what words I use. However, God showed me last night that it is the words that we speak without thinking that we need to be the most aware of.

For several nights in a row, my daughter Erin has woke up at 1:43 a.m. (yes exactly, almost like an alarm) and had to "go potty." Last night, as I was tucking her in, I had her get up and go to the bathroom one more time. I told her "to try to potty one more time so we don't have to get up in the middle of the night." Seems harmless right? Well at 2:20 this morning Erin called for me. She was sitting up in her bed crying and told me that she couldn't hold it any longer. Of course, we went to the bathroom. I realized then, that she had been crying, thinking I would be upset that she woke me up again. I don't know how long she sat in her bed before she called out to me. I hugged her as I tucked her back in bed, and assured her that I had not meant that she couldn't get up if she needed to. I then went to bed in tears that I had caused pain for my daughter. I had not intended it, but because I did not consider my words I caused confusion, fear, and pain. When I got her up this morning, I apologized to her. She was quick to forgive.

This really made me stop and think. How often do we say things without thinking? It may seem harmless, but if we don't take into account who we are speaking to, or who is overhearing our words, it can cause misunderstandings or even harm. I often ask God to give me words to speak before teaching or sharing testimony. Now I am asking God to give me words to speak in all situations.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Being a Good Steward - Part 2 Time

As I mentioned in my last blog, God has been dealing with me about being a good steward with my life. This is the second installment of that series.

2. Time
Proverbs 19:15 (New King James Version)Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.

Being a good steward with our time, requires us to consider what we are doing during our day. Are we filling our day with good, productive activities? Or are we spending our day loafing? How much time do you spend with God, with family, working, having fun, and resting? All these things are important, just don't let them get out of balance.

I have to be very guarded with my time. It would be real easy for me to sit in front of the computer, read a book, or watch TV all day. I have had days that have simply "got away" from me. These are the days that I start watching one show, and then another, and then another ... or I start reading a good book ... or I am surfing the Internet ... The next thing I know the day is gone, and I have done nothing. On a day like this, I find that I feel terrible by the end of the day. Thankfully, God has helped me in this area, and I have not had a wasted day in a long time. It helps me, if I make a list of things that I need to accomplish during the day. There is just something about marking off an item that I enjoy. I usually put more on my list than I can accomplish. That is not a big deal to me, I just carry it over to the next day. I am not legalistic with my list. It is just something that helps me stay on task. There are days that I purposefully plan as a day of rest or play. The difference is, these are planned days, and I prepare for them ahead of time.

There is an opposite side of being lazy with your time. It is when you spend too much time at work, and not spend time with God or family. This can be just as dangerous. You may be doing a great job building your career, but what are your personal relationships like? Do you ever have any down time or fun for yourself? Anyone driven to this extreme should find a way to limit the time in which they work. I realize that not everyone can work 9-5 Monday through Friday, but you do need to find a limit that works for you.

Being a good steward of your time requires a balance. Are you using your time wisely, or do you need to ask God to show you where you can make improvements?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Being a Good Steward - Part 1 Finances

God has really been putting on my heart the need to be a good steward of my life. Specifically in four areas... Finances, Time, Gifts/Abilities, and Our Bodies. Over the next few days, I will be sharing what God has put on my heart in each of these areas.

1. Finances
Proverbs 3:9-10 (New King James Version)Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.

God expects us to give the first 10% of whatever we earn, and He rewards us when we do. However, being a good steward with our finances goes beyond that. We are supposed to be smart with the way we handle our money. We need to seek God before we make a purchase, any purchase. We need to Praise God for the provision he supplies us with. We need to look for opportunities that we can bless others with our finances. We can't do that if we are living beyond our means, and barely making ends meet.

Before we purchase, we need to pray. April is an expensive month for our family. Easter is in April, both of our kids birthdays are in April, our house insurance is due in April, Jason's truck insurance is due in April, and of course, taxes are due in April. As you can probably guess, we are very cautious on what money we spend in April. I homeschool our children, and the curriculum we use always has a 20% off sale in April. I really felt God leading me to take advantage of this opportunity, and order next year's curriculum. Jason and I discussed it, and I told him that there would be other sales during the summer. However, the 20% is only offered in April. Jason felt like it would be wise to make the purchase when we could save the most.

At the end of March, I went online and placed the desired curriculum for both kids in the "cart." I wanted to see just how much we were talking about and figure out what my savings would be. You see, I was still debating the logic of an added expense in a month that already had so many. I got the figure, and just left the items in the cart. I really didn't know if they would save the items, but they did. The next day, I received an email from the company asking if I needed any help with the items I had left in my cart. I just ignored it. The following day, I received an email letting me know they would ship for free if I went ahead and purchased the items in my cart. This was the last day of March. I figured they were trying to get me to purchase before the sale started. Once again, I ignored the email.

On April 1, God impressed upon me the need to make the purchase. He was providing all our needs, and I needed to trust Him with that. So, I made the purchase. Not only did I get the 20% off, they honored the free shipping also. It was a great savings, as a matter of fact, I almost got Erin's curriculum for free. Not only did I save on the curriculum, God took care of our taxes, and our remodeling business had the best month so far this year. I truly believe, that because I was a good steward with the purchase I made, God blessed us beyond measure during what could have been a financially stressed month.

Another way that we can be good stewards with our finances, is to not be wasteful. I use liquid fabric softner in my laundry. The dispenser that came on my machine never worked well, and left a mess, so I never use it. I would try to listen for the rinse cycle to start, and then add the fabric softner. Often, I would miss this cycle, and therefore have to run the rinse cycle twice. God really convicted me on how wasteful this is in the course of a month. So, I simply bought a fabric softner ball that I drop in when I start the wash. I could tell a difference on our water bill the first month. Other little things like turning off lights, eating leftovers, checking the thermostat, eating out less, the list goes on and on ... anything that can be done to eliminate waste is being a good steward with our finances.

Being a good steward with our finances will require us to do things opposite of what the world suggests. Whether you are living on a tight budget, or you are living well within your means, God expects us to be a good steward with our finances.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Safe in His Arms

Check out this picture a good friend of mine recently posted on facebook. It is of her husband with his arms around their daughter. They are sitting on a ride at an amusement park. Someone had commented that the girl was secure and safe in her daddy's arms. My friend responded that her daughter was not so sure of that. It struck me that we are often like that little girl.

That is exactly where we always are, safe and secure in our Father's arms. Yet, we often do not trust that. We spend time worrying and trying to fix things that God already has control of. Even though we are always safe in our Father's arms, we are afraid of what is ahead of us. We are afraid of the known, and we are afraid of the unknown. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. No matter what we have done, or what is going on around us, we are secure in our Father's arms.

So, next time you are tempted to be scared, remember where you are. Then, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Take the Time to Think

This morning, I watched my daughter drag her scooter to the top of the slide at the encouragement of her friends. Now had this been my son, it would have called for immediate action! However, since it was my daughter I watched for a few minutes. Sure enough, she had no intention of riding it to the bottom. It did remind me of a couple of events in my own life in which I did not take time to think before following through with what others were encouraging me to do. (There have been many, but I will stick with only two.)

The first event happened when I was about 9 or 10. The house I grew up in had a carport at one end. The roof was low enough that you could climb up on it by using a fence that was beside it. We did this all the time. One day, I was dared to jump off of it. It didn't seem like such a big deal, so I did! As I lay on the ground, with the air completely knocked out of me, I realized that was not such a good idea after all. Thankfully, the only thing injured was my pride.

The second event, was much more dangerous. When I was 16, I worked at a summer camp for children in Louisiana. I was about 5 hours from home, and the only one from Arkansas to work there. I felt like I had something to prove. One weekend between camp sessions, a large group of us rented one hotel room so we could swim, party, and drink. (Yes, I said drink.) The hotel we chose was located right behind a frozen mixed drink stand. The worker at the stand, never asked for an id. So I spent the evening sitting by the pool, sipping my drinks. (Please notice there is an s at the end of the word drink.) When the pool closed at 10:00, the group of about 12 headed to the room. Soon after, another group arrived. They had been to a liquor store. I don't remember what all they had, but one boy had tequila. He challenged me to a drinking competition. (Please keep in mind, this was my first real experience with drinking.) It was a dare, so of course I accepted the challenge. It seemed fun, after all there were three steps to the process, it was a real competition!! I don't remember a whole lot other than the fact that I ate the worm! Ewww!!! The next thing I knew, I was waking up on the end of a bed, still in my bathing suit, with a bunch of strangers passed out around me. Once again, God was looking out for me in my stupidity, and nothing happened to me. I immediately realized how bad the situation could have been, and decided drinking was not for me.

Both of these events could have ended tragically. Thankfully, God looks out for us even when we do not. I chose to do both of these events, and many others, because I wanted to prove to others that I could do anything. I wanted to be just as good or better than everyone else. I was full of pride, and wanted to appear self-confident. When in fact, all I proved was that I was foolish.

Now, after many hard lessons, I try to seek God's guidance before I jump. I remember to do this with the big things, but God also wants us to seek Him with the small things. We should spend our day in constant communication with Him. (1 Thes. 5:17) Then, when we are faced with a challenge, we will know if we should accept or walk away.

Consider and understand, you stupid ones among the people!
And you [self-confident] fools, when will you become wise?
Psalm 94:8 (AMP)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Life Changing Seed

How much of your life is based on the word of God? The word of God is to the Kingdom, what seeds are to the natural world. Not only must you plant in order to reap a harvest, you must also tend to the seeds, ground, and plants as they grow. The same is true when you plant the word of God in your heart and mind. In Mark chapter 4, Jesus shares a parable of seeds being planted on four types of ground.

The first type of ground was hardened. This is someone who hears the word, but does not consider it. They do not take in the word.

The second type has no depth. There is a quick spurt of growth, but no roots. As soon as persecution comes, they get discouraged and no longer have faith in what they have learned.

The third type gets choked out. This is a person who allows the cares of the world to occupy or distract them. It does not have to be sinful things. It can be the everyday things of life. The things that keep you too busy.

The fourth type is fruitful ground. This is where we should all strive to be. The word of God is the core of everything we do.

The word of God is powerful, but to get it, you can't just skim over it. You must spend time understanding, considering, and meditating on it. Slow down and let the word soak in. The word of God will draw you into His will for your life.

Mediate on the Word... It will change your life.

This blog is based on Mark 4:1-20. I encourage you to read it for yourself.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What is your Purpose in Prayer?

"One of the words in the original language for prayer literally means 'worship.' Another means 'to kiss the face.' Prayer is worship and worship is prayer. Prayer is kissing our Father's face. Prayer is loving and communing with God." -- Andrew Wommack

How much time are you spending worshiping in prayer, and how much time are you asking God for what you need? (or want?) The primary purpose of prayer is to love God, and to grow in your relationship with Him. In Acts 13:2 it tells us that we are to minister to the Lord. We minister to Him by praising Him, thanking Him, loving Him, singing to Him, and worshiping Him.

When your primary focus is loving and worshiping God, you'll find that you won't have to spend much time praying over things. That doesn't mean that you can't petition God. The word tells us, "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:22 There is a right way to ask, just not all the time, and it must line up with the word of God. James 4:3 says, "When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." If you are spending time building your relationship with God, your desires will line up with His will for you.

Finally, don't let prayer become a religion. Don't struggle through an hour of prayer just so you can check off that task. If you are getting bored during your prayer, chances are God is not caring much for it either. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to "Pray without ceasing." That means that as we go throughout our day we should be in communication with God. If we only spoke to our spouse once a day ... telling them what we wanted, and not listening for a response ... our marriage would not be very good. The same is true with God. We cannot spend a little time each day telling God what to do and expect to have a growing relationship. I love the quote I placed at the top of this. The thought that prayer is kissing my Father's face is overwhelming to me. That is what I want. I want to spend my day, everyday, loving on my heavenly Father.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Here is the Truth

I know from personal experience that when you mess up, whether it is small and private or big and public, Satan will try to use it against you for years. Here is the truth...

1. God has grace enough to cover your sin.
You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. Psalm 85:2

2. God still has plans for you.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

3. What you imagine people are saying is always worse than what they are really saying.
(I don't have a verse to back this one. It is just something I have learned from personal experience.)

4. You are the child of the Most High King, NOT whatever Satan is whispering in your ear.
I will be a Father to you, And you shall be my sons and daughters, say the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:18

Whatever you have done, God is ready and able to forgive and forget. 1 John 1:9 tell us that If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I especially like that last part... He will purify us. So the next time Satan is trying to get you down, don't listen. Instead you tell him that he is defeated, and God has plans for you.

Monday, April 12, 2010

How do you Approach God?

Through the years, I have studied the stories of Mary and Martha. There are three events recorded in the Bible that discuss these sisters. You can read them in Luke 10:38-42, John 11:17-44, and John 12:1-3. As I have studied each of these, I have noticed the way each sister approached Jesus each time.

I am going to start with Martha. She always approached Jesus head on. At her house, she was in the kitchen fretting over the meal, and upset with her sister for not helping. She went to Jesus, and told Him what He should do. She said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." Notice, she did not ask Jesus, she told Jesus. The next event is when Lazarus has died. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him. She met Him face to face to tell Him that her brother was dead. The final event, does not record Martha speaking with Jesus. It only says that she was there and she was serving. It is very important to note that Martha believed that Jesus was the Christ(John 11:27), and that Jesus loved her (John 11:5).

Now let's look at Mary. At the house, Mary was at the feet of Jesus worshiping and learning. At this Jesus said that "Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her." At the death of her brother, she did not approach Jesus until He called for her, and then she fell at His feet. Seeing her weep caused Jesus to "groan in the spirit and be troubled." Finally, in John 12 we see that it was Mary that annoited Jesus' feet with fragrant oil. You see, Mary always approached Jesus at His feet.

How do you approach Jesus? Are you like Martha? Do you meet Jesus head on with the solutions you have already decided are best? Or are you like Mary? Do you worship at His feet and know that what He has is best?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Check Your Tone

As a mother of two, and owner of a small in-home preschool, I know what a valuable commodity quiet is. So this evening, when the guys were at the golf course, I allowed Erin to watch a movie on the portable DVD player in her room. Thus assuring I would have a few minutes that I could just sit and have quiet... or so I thought.

Normally, Erin loves the treat of watching a movie in her room, not this evening. She kept coming in and out asking questions and needing stuff. After about the sixth time, when she called my name I responded with a very exaggerated/exasperated WHAT? She stopped immediately and said, "Don't you love me anymore?" Wow! Just one word, and the way it was expressed, made her question my feelings for her. I apologized for my reaction and assured her that nothing could make me quit loving her. She is 4 and she rebounds quickly, so after a hug and a smile all was well.

Have you checked your tone? With family? With friends? With strangers? As Christians, we are supposed to be a light for others that they may see Jesus in us. We are supposed to be different than the world, and others should want what we have. If our tone is not right, our light is dim. If we respond like the world, why would anyone want what we have... we look just like they do.

I am reminded of Jesus' earthly ministry. He got tired, hungry, and wanted some time to Himself just like we do. Yet, when he would be interrupted He never responded with a "WHAT?" No, He responded with love. We also should respond in love so that others will see the love of God in us.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another John 13:35

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Don't Limit God's Favor

As you all know, it is tax season. This year, Jason and I didn't know what to expect with our taxes. We started a remodeling business in January, and I started a preschool in August. We were expecting to owe, but honestly didn't know how much.

I really hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about it, and no time praying about it. I know that Jason had prayed about it, and he was trusting God to provide what we would need. Last week we turned all of our information over to a CPA, and waited.

Over the weekend, Jason was a little distracted wondering about them. So, yesterday morning I decieded to pray about them. As I was praying, I said, "God, please let them be under ... " Before I could say the amount I was thinking, I felt my spirit tell me not to put a dollar figure on them. So I stopped, and just said, "God take care of it." Then I didn't think anything else about them.

That afternoon Jason sent me a text. He had just spoke to the CPA. Not only do we not owe anything, we are actually getting a refund! As soon as I saw that I texted back, "That is the favor of God!" Jason and I spent a few minutes just praising God right there.

That was not an event that happend over night. God had it planned all along. As a matter of fact He brought to my memory of something He asked me to do back in December. At the time, I thought it odd, but I did it. Now I realize that it was laying the ground work for God to use another person to show us favor in this area.

Psalm 78:41 says "yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel." I truly believe that had I stated a dollar amount that morning, I would have limited the blessing received that afternoon.

We all need to remember not to put limits on God. How often do we ask God to take care of something, but then tell Him how it should be done. He has a much better plan than we could ever determine. Trust Him, and allow Him to shower you with His favor. Then spend time praising Him for all that He has done.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Desires of Your Heart

What are the desires of your heart? Are you receiving them? Would you like to know how you can? Any one who has heard me teach very often knows that one of my favorite verses in the Bible is Psalm 37:4. It says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." God laid this verse on my heart several years ago, and I have truly been living it.

So, how do you delight yourself in the Lord? The Message says it this way, "Keep company with God, and get in on the best." That's it, that is the secret, keep company with God. The more you spend time reading His word, listening to His word, speaking His word, and meditating on His word, the more your relationship will grow with Him. You will find one of two things happen. Either you receive what you desire, or God will change your desire.

As a mother, one of my biggest desires has been to stay at home, raise my children, and to homeschool them. This was my desire even before Ethan was born. However, we did not believe we were financially able for me to stay home, so I worked outside of the home. I simply began praying and delighting myself in God. At first, I was praying for financial windfalls so that we would be stable. God changed my desire. I quit praying for the windfall, and began praying for us to rely on God to provide all our needs. He has, and still does. Now, I am a stay at home/homeschool mom. I am truly living the desires of my heart.

Please understand, God is not some genie in a bottle. You can not just rub the Bible and get your wish. You have to spend time with Him. It is not a matter of changing His mind to give you what you want. Rather, it is Him changing your heart to receive what He wants to give.

Start keeping company with God today. You will be amazed at the blessings He will pour out on you.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Beware of Little Foxes

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. Song of Solomon 2:15

This week I have allowed little foxes to sneak in and cause heartache between myself and Jason. My little foxes were those of discontentment. It all started on Monday, when we got a call asking if we would be interested in selling our house. This is something that we had not even thought about yet. (Those of you who know my husband, know this will be a condsideration at some time.) We are really enjoying our house, and it's location. However, this phone call made me start considering the things that I would like changed or wished I had.

When one fox gets in, he will invite friends. By the end of the week, I was unhappy with my car. My car is old, and does have a few issues. This caused me to start pestering Jason about getting a different car. The truth is the car is old, but it is paid for. The things that are wrong, are not serious. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest issues I had with it, I fixed with a can of WD40 this afternoon.

You see, I really am not unhappy with my house or my car. Satan used a couple of little things to create distance between myself and Jason. Thankfully, God opened my eyes to it this morning. I have asked forgiveness for my bad behavior, and have kicked those little foxes right out of my vineyard. I am not only content, I am blessed beyond measure.

Watch out for the little things, don't allow them to build into something bigger than they are. Gaurd your relationships ... all relationships. Check your attitudes and communicate with each other. Little foxes can appear harmless, when in fact they can wreck your relationship ... with your spouse ... with your family ... with your friends ... with God.