Teach Me Your Ways

Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, that I may honor you. With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever. Psalm 86:11-12

I can remember many times in school that I simply learned something long enough to pass the tests. I had many tricks like silly little sayings and acrostics. Whatever worked. But when I read this scripture, all I can think is that I don’t want to learn it just for a moment.

I want to truly learn Your ways and seek Your truth each day, Lord. To live in a way that points others to You rather than living selfishly for my own desires.

I want to have a pure heart. A heart that always seeks You. A heart that doesn’t cling to negative attitudes, but honors You with every thought, word, and action.

I want to begin each day praising You, my Lord, and glorifying Your name for the rest of my days because of the great love You have for me. Because of Your forgiveness and my salvation!

Despite Pandemic

It has been a long and difficult COVID pandemic season. A season that has affected a tremendous number of people across our globe. A season that has caused much grief and suffering. A season of fear and worry. A season that seems to have no end. And a season that may have tested your faith.

COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Whether it’s a lack of contact with other people, added stress at work, loss of loved ones, or trying to help children stuck at home on Distance Learning, we have all taken a hit to our emotional health. It is very important for us to somehow find joy despite these difficult circumstances. But where can joy be found in the most desperate of circumstances?

Habakkuk watched his people going through difficult times with many evil and unfair things going on, so he questioned why God would tolerate or even allow it. God’s answer in Habakkuk 1:5 was “Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe. Basically, God is telling Habakkuk to just watch and see what He is doing. I truly believe God sends blessings that we don’t recognize because our focus is in the wrong place. When we can turn our focus from the difficult circumstances to seeking God, we will be more likely to recognize those blessings and experience joy.

Habakkuk still had questions for God, but in the end, he chose to trust God and have faith despite the situation. In a prayer, he says, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). No matter how bad things became, Habakkuk was determined to rejoice and find joy in God. Even though things seemed to be falling apart, Habakkuk chose to trust God and rejoice in Him.

Some people seem to always look on the bright side of things. No matter how difficult life gets or what comes their way, they have hope and faith. Habakkuk seems to have learned that hope comes from trusting in God. Trust comes from rejoicing in God our Savior and what He has done in the past and can do in the future instead of grumbling about the current difficulties. Faith comes from focusing on Him rather than the loss or the lack of certain things.

We are in a desperate situation, and many have questions just like Habakkuk. It’s important for us to remember God’s answer to Habakkuk and trust that God is working in ways we are unable to see at the moment. Despite a pandemic, we can find joy through faith and trust in God. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

This painting, created by my friend Sharon Taylor, is an enlightening representation of the spiritual warfare that exists all around us. This is a graphic reminder that Satan is a very real enemy who purposefully seeks to destroy those committed to Christ. 1 Peter 5:8 says, Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Christians suffer daily for the sake of following Christ. Some are tortured physically, imprisoned, and even killed; others are tortured mentally and emotionally by addictions, broken homes, kidnappings. The methods of his attacks are never-ending. Satan and his army stand ready to attack, and we must always be on guard.

In the midst of the darkness, you can see innumerable rays of light. Each light represents those who follow Christ, those who draw near to God, and those who faithfully share the light of His love for all to see. John 1:5 says, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Satan will try his best to shake our faith and to dim the light of each Christian, but we have complete assurance that we serve a conquering King, and we are not alone in this battle!

Now, notice the bright beams of light penetrating the darkness and the mass of light above Satan and his army. Isaiah 41:10 says, Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Praise God there is light in the darkness! 1 Peter 5:10 says, The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. These times of suffering will not last forever.

The battle is real. God is our strongest defense against the devil’s attacks. We must always be alert and protect our “light” with the whole armor of God so that others may know God. Ephesians 6:10-18 says, Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

This is the Day

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made! God has blessed me with another day. Another day to feel the love of family. Another day to see the sunrise and sunset. Another day to smell the blooming flowers and rain in the air. Another day to hear the birds chirping in the trees and wind blowing through the pines. Another day to taste sweet, juicy fruits and fresh-from-the-oven cookies. This is the day the Lord has made!

I will rejoice and be glad in it! I will be thankful for the gift of another day. I will not allow the negative attitudes of the world bring me down. I will not be consumed by political agendas. I will not be overcome by hatred. I will not be discouraged by the COVID-19 pandemic. I will not be frightened by the unknown. Instead, I will rejoice and be glad in this day the Lord has made!

My two year old granddaughter loves to play in my makeup. She also knows she’s supposed to have permission. Yet there are times when that desire to have pretty lips is just more temptation than she can stand, and she will sneak out of my sight into my room to play with it. Her personal desire causes her to struggle against what she knows to be right.

We all struggle at times to obey God’s commands. In fact, it would be safe to say that it’s a daily struggle for all of us. No matter how determined we are, we will fail in some of these struggles because we are far from perfect, and we will be led astray. But we aren’t doomed to failure. Praise the Lord there is hope and help to be found through Him. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

1 Kings 12:20-13:34 tells of two people who struggled to do what God asked of them. Jeroboam received a promise of great blessings as well as a kingdom that would endure if he would just follow God’s direction (1 Kings 11:38). Even with this promise, he became an insecure king who struggled to maintain focus on God. In 1 Kings 11:27-28, fear and pride led to King Jeroboam creating idols to be worshipped by the people. He knew this was a sin, but he struggled to believe God’s promise of a lasting dynasty. He felt a need to control the people in order to maintain their allegiance to him and tossed aside God’s promise leading an entire nation into sin.

In chapter 13, a man of God is sent to King Jeroboam and instructed not to eat or drink while he was there. He obeyed this command when the king offered him food, but when later enticed with food by an old prophet, he struggled with personal desire. He must have surely been hungry after making that trip, and he eventually caved to the deceit of the old prophet.

The struggle is real. 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Sometimes we have the best intentions of obedience, but find ourselves in a predicament of disobedience and consequences. We must stay in God’s sight by walking with Him daily because when we try to sneak off out of His sight like my granddaughter, our personal desires will grow stronger causing us to sin just as these men did.

Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

Behold Your God

The worldwide pandemic known as COVID-19 has created an immense diversion from our normal, daily life. During the first few weeks, I felt overwhelmed by the challenges that were developing. As a middle school teacher, what began as a one week Spring Break soon became a closure of school for the remainder of the school year with a transition to distance learning. Most people have experienced change during this unprecedented time.

Change is not always a bad thing. I’ve witnessed people caring and sharing in a manner that seemed in times past to have been overcome by judgement and selfishness. It’s refreshing. I’ve also seen people drawing closer to God with fewer distractions and declaring their faith through video devotions posted on church Facebook pages.

Isaiah 40:9 says, “O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”” We are called to share the good news of salvation. We need to shout it from the mountain tops not with a voice of fear, but instead with great joy and eagerness! So often we are hesitant to share our faith, our God, and the salvation He offers. In the past few weeks, I’ve seen many in our community boldly proclaiming the love of Jesus and the change he has made in their lives.

The word “behold” means to see or observe a thing or person that is especially remarkable or impressive. When I think of beholding a thing, I think of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. When we travel to Colorado, I always insist on visiting this park. It’s beauty just entrances me. I sit and study the magnificent rock formations and take pictures to share.

When I think of beholding my God, I feel an even greater awe! He is the one who was prophesied about and the world awaited. He is our Redeemer. His son bore our sins and died a gruesome death because of His love for each of us. He has all power in heaven and earth. He is our God and so much more! To behold Him means to study and share Him even more intently than my study and sharing pictures of rock formations. It means to study the Bible and get to know Him through prayer, and then share that good news with others.

Don’t let fear stop you. Behold your God, and then shout it from the mountaintop!

In just a few weeks, COVID-19 has transformed from a subject of very little concern to many people in my area to something that is totally disrupting the lives of most if not all.

There are so many things you may be dealing with personally that may be causing anxiety, but know that God can give you peace beyond all understanding. No matter how difficult or impossible your situation may seem right now, trust God. You’ll find it’s much easier to trust Him through any struggle and even the day to day mess when you’re spending time with Him in prayer and reading His word each day. If you aren’t already doing that, don’t hesitate; start now.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever. Psalm 73:26

But you are a shield around me, O Lord, my glory , and the one who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Bold and Unstoppable

How bold are you in proclaiming your faith?

Our cat has suddenly begun crying out boldly in the middle of the night with a squall that jars everyone awake from an otherwise uneventful night. This has become an almost nightly occurrence. I finally discovered this cry comes from our bathroom which amplifies the volume. Why does she do this? Maybe she likes the acoustics and the fact that there are no other sounds during the night to drown out her late night songs. She doesn’t care that our dog (who thinks he’s her boss) is always ready and waiting for her to do something wrong so that he can chase her through the house. She is unstoppable!

Paul was a lot like my cat…bold and unstoppable. Acts 28:31 says “He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance”. Prior to chapter 28, Paul had been arrested for preaching, conspired against, imprisoned, tortured, shipwrecked, and more. He had many circumstances that might deter his preaching, yet he continued without hesitation.

Paul did not back down simply because someone wanted him to stop. He was not intimidated. He did not make excuses. He continued to tell of God’s goodness and of Jesus’s resurrection boldly. His ministry thrived because he was a force that would not stop simply because of his faith.

How bold are you in proclaiming God’s goodness? Often we are our own greatest obstacle. We make excuses. We are intimidated by the opinions of others and stopped by fear and insecurity.

How can we share God boldly like Paul with so many obstacles? Ask Him to cast aside all fear of judgment and give you strength to do what He wants you to do. No hesitation. No fear. No hindrances. Believe that God loves you, and hold on to the fact that His love and approval are all you need.

Like Paul’s ministry, there will be trials, but with God we can overcome any obstacle. Step out in faith and share God boldly like Paul. Then keep singing His praises like my cat who just won’t give up even when the dog is on your tail!

Be bold! Be unstoppable! All for the kingdom of God.

Transform

Happy New Year!! A time that we make resolutions to be healthier, more committed to relationships, more successful at our job. The list just goes on and on. But there is no greater resolution than to seek God and to allow Him to transform you, and there’s no better time than today to start.

Start by reading the Bible everyday. If you don’t have a Bible, get a Bible app and set it for daily reminders. Or set your alarm a little earlier each morning. Find a Bible study partner or group to hold you accountable and share about your transformation and what you’re learning. What better way to start your day than with scripture! According to an article in Psychology Today, it takes an average of 66 days for a new activity to become a habit. So we need all the reminders we can get!

The SOAP method is my personal favorite for Bible study. It helps me avoid the Reading Just to be Reading issue. To be honest, there are times I’ve read my Bible but then later in the day or week I had no idea what I had read. I learned nothing, felt no connection to God, and definitely was not seeking Him or transformed in any way. I think if you try this method, you’ll find it helps!

S is for SCRIPTURE – Pray over the Bible reading, then read it slowly allowing God to lead you to specific verses. Write down scriptures that capture your attention and focus your attention on that.

O is for OBSERVE – Record in your journal any thoughts or questions you have regarding the scripture.

A is for APPLY – Write down what God is saying to you. What is God’s personal message, instruction, encouragement, or correction? Take time to listen, and allow Him to get personal.

P is for PRAY – Write a personal prayer about what God has shown you. This will help you to stay focused. Again, be sure to listen. Prayer is a two way conversation. God may reveal more to you during this time if you give Him the chance.

I like to keep a journal just for my SOAP Bible Studies. I use two pages, side by side. Below is an example from my journal. No judgement please…I never expected to share haha!

Often I enjoy going back to read the insight from past studies. It amazes me the application that I’ve gleaned through this type of personal Bible study. Something I plan to start is including the date. Make it pretty if you like. Make it personal. Make it your New Year’s Resolution and allow God to transform you!

When tragedy strikes, one of three things happens with our faith. We tend to grow closer to God and our faith grows stronger; we turn from God blaming Him for allowing this and doubting His love and power; or we get caught somewhere in the middle. Honestly I have to admit that I was lost somewhere in the middle for awhile.

After my husband’s accident, I drew close to God, leaning on Him in those difficult days when it was hard to see my husband in the man that Traumatic Brain Injury had created and to watch him struggle with changes he could not control.

Then a year later I was shocked to discover that I had Lupus, and I became lost in fear. My faith became a sort of roller coaster of highs and lows. Probably more lows than highs. I have never blamed God or felt that He had given up on me. I never stopped believing or trusting God, but I failed to seek Him which left me feeling I had to face these battles alone.

I stopped journaling, had trouble focusing on reading God’s word, and struggled to get my thoughts together at times. I was caught somewhere between fully trusting God with my life and turning my back on Him, but thankfully He never gave up on me. I always felt Him tugging at my heart wanting me to recommit to that daily walk with Him. My strength was renewed and my walk restored because of His unfailing love!

No matter what we go through, God promises to be with us. Do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9). He promises to help us and give us rest. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). And He will always love us. Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you (Isaiah 43:4). These are just a few of the many wonderful and reassuring promises in God’s word. His love is never failing!

Even when you are stuck somewhere in the middle, He still loves you and wants you to find your way back to Him.

%d bloggers like this: