Christian Mentors, College age women, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women's Ministries, Writers

Sharing God’s Truth without Compromise…part 1

I recently taught in our adult Sunday school class at church and wanted to now share it with you all!

I’ve been gripped lately on what it means to share the truth of God’s Word ~ WITHOUT COMPROMISE!  And not just with the world around us, but within the Christian communities we are a part of. And yes, there’s plenty of compromise that goes on within the church communities regarding the Word of God. But we’ll get to that…

So here goes Part 1 of 4 ~ hope you join me and let me know how you share God’s Truth without compromise.

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J.J. Packer once said, “There is a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. When you truly know God, you have energy to serve Him, boldness to share Him, and contentment in Him.”

This can be one of those topics that is both simple and difficult at the same time. It is simple because we simply need to look and see what God’s Word says about life and this world and live accordingly. But it is difficult because there are so many in our world today who view Christianity through an incredibly negative lens.

The reason why that is the case, is because we have not as a community of Christians, of believers, of people who are supposed to be Christ minded, have not set a good example. So many people walk around with the idea that, “What do I need to be saved from?” “Don’t tell me I’m a sinner.”, and my favorite, “Well I’m not as bad as that person.” I know I have been guilty of that mindset more often than I care to admit.

In Part 1, I would like to talk about how we share the truth of the Good News with people who have not come to know who Jesus really. People who we work with, neighbors, people in our family. There are so many different ways that we can share the Good News of God’s Word without compromise and without coming across as ultra-judgmental either.

Even though the fact is that we are all sinners with a need for the reconciliating power of salvation – and so many in the world do not want to admit this – it is better to have this realization in your life while you are here on this earth and deal with it here instead of waiting until the ultimate day of judgment after you have left this earth and stand before Jesus.

A very difficult concept to wrap around our mind is the idea of people that we know who die without being saved and the fact that we will not see them again in heaven. I think of the depth of sadness that my father experienced at the death of his father, knowing that he would never see him again after his death. As a parent, and as someone who has attended just a few funerals for non-Christian people, it is absolutely heartbreaking to me when I see the children of that person look up to the ceiling with comments like, “Well Mom, wherever you are I hope you’re doing well.”

Honestly, it was not until I was 31 years old that I attended such a funeral. I was completely heartbroken for these young 20-something children that they had nothing to give them hope of ever seeing their mother again. The entire family was not saved so it was not something that they had ever really talked about, but it was heartbreaking nonetheless.

I am beyond grateful that my children and my future grandchildren will never have to say that about me.

So how do we share Jesus with people who don’t know Him? One thing that has been encouraging to me is watching the way that my daughter Savannah shares the gospel. Very, very rarely {if at all} these days does she ever start a conversation with, “I’m a Christian so let me tell you about Christ.” Because the term “Christians”really puts people on edge.

What she has found is when she simply talks about Jesus, most of the time it completely changes the course that the conversation will take. She will say things like, “Well you asked me what the difference is in my life and I can honestly tell you the difference is that I really love Jesus. Have you heard about Jesus?”

In Philippians 2:9-11 Amplified Bible (AMP) It talks about how powerful the name of Jesus is: “For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus [a]EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.”

There is power every time we say His name. The mighty Name of Jesus.

There is power because of not only who He is but what He has done to save us and reconcile us back into relationship with Him. When you tell people that you love Jesus and then why, it is usually incredibly compelling. People don’t want to have verses and laws and rules quoted at them. They want to hear about experiences and feelings and a life altering moment.

This does not mean you have to have some crazy, sensational kind of testimony, it simply means you have a story to tell about who you are because of who Jesus is.

A few years ago I heard a speaker say, “If the testimony you share is the same one you’ve been sharing for the past 10 years, what does your relationship with Jesus really look like?”

They went on to say that our testimony should continually be changed and updated as we live our life for and with Christ. Our testimony is somethings that is supposed to be new and fresh all the time. The only way for that to be a reality is if we are in a relationship with Jesus where we are actively in conversation with Him and available to the Holy Spirit who can work in and through us, every day.

The Bible is filled with encouragement as to how to share God’s Truth. One verse I love is 1 Corinthians 16:13-14‬ ‭{AMP‬‬} “Be on guard; stand firm in your faith [in God, respecting His precepts and keeping your doctrine sound]. Act like [mature] men and be courageous; be strong. Let everything you do be done in love [motivated and inspired by God’s love for us].”‬‬
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That last sentence is key in being without compromise as we share the truths of God’s Word with others. Everything, not just the easy stuff, but everything we do must be done in love “motivated and inspired by God’s love for us.”

We have the absolute best gift in the world and we don’t share it! I know I have shrunk back at times, from being vocal about my belief in the Lord and how He has worked in my life. For what? Fear that people will think I’m a crazy Jesus freak? A conservative Christian who’s clueless about things “really” work in this world?

So lame of me! Jesus’ death and resurrection will always trump any possible embarrassment I may feel on this earth. If I’m sharing HIM with others, it’s not up to me how they receive HIM…it’s up to me to share.

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Be on the lookout for part 2!  It’s coming soon!!

Blessings,

René

 

 

 

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Authentic Joy…

What come to your mind when you hear the word ‘joy’?

Candy ~ Almond joy?

Songs ~ Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee

Or different variations of the word JOY ~ happiness? Delight? Pleasure? Enjoyment? Bliss?

Or maybe on a more serious note, you’re wondering when the last time it was that you actually felt joyful?

So much of the idea of success in the world today is based on individualized aspects…What makes you happy? What lights you up? What moves you? What’s your passion? What drives you? Do those things!

But what happens on the mornings when you wake up and the answer to those questions are a big fat nothing? Then what do you do?

John 15:11 says “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.”

So this is what I want to focus on the blog today ~ how to have joy everyday no matter what the circumstances.

Joy is defined as, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation; a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated; the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety.”

There are over 300 references to ‘joy’ in the Bible, so I’m going to throw it out there, this is something that is important to the Lord…something that He wants us to understand and embrace for our benefit. As opposed to the word ‘happiness’ which is only mentioned a mere eight times. Joy and Happiness are totally different…even though the definition of Joy contains the word happiness.

Happiness is fleeting and is usually attached to an event or how a person makes us feel.

Joy on the other hand, is a state of being. It is a way we can feel no matter what circumstances we are experiencing.

Oh…but there’s one more word I want to touch on before I share a story with you ~ FEELING.

The most important thing I can tell you about feelings is that many times, okay, most times, they aren’t to be trusted as the absolute in how we respond to a situation. Feelings are temporary. I love the quote, “Never make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.”

Let me tell you a little story ~

In January 1999, we were six months in to living in our dream home in Pasadena…white picket fence and all. My husband had a great job in the entertainment industry, money wasn’t an issue, we had two healthy daughters and decided to try for a third. Life was fantastic. I was so happy because I had everything I wanted. Did ya catch how many “I’s” were in that last sentence??

And then God decided to change the course of our life. It wasn’t horrible, but it was hard!

My husband came home one evening and said, “I’ve been praying a lot lately and I really feel that God wants me to quit my job and open my own company. I know this will mean that we will have to trade in our cars for less expensive ones and figure out if we can keep the kids in private school, oh yeah, and we’ll have to sell the house.”

Well, he told me how he felt, so I was gonna tell him how I felt…

I can still picture the scene in my mind; he was standing by the staircase and I was one stair up so we were just about eye to eye. I non-to-politely (honestly, I was downright rude about it), told him that he couldn’t possibly be hearing from God and I didn’t care what he felt because he was wrong. It was definitely NOT one of my proudest moments as a supportive Christian wife. But my husband truly loves me like Jesus does and he was so patient with me.

He just smiled, asked me to pray about it, and said that when I was ready to talk about it, to let him know.

That made me FEEL so mad!

Had I allowed my feelings to continue to prevail, I would have missed out on experiencing what true Joy can be.

It took the next 9 months to deal with all the things that I was feeling. How my heart ached at the thought of selling our dream home and moving again. How sad I was to be losing a very comfortable salary. Then I started realizing that all the things that were making me sad, were just things. I would still have my family and how could I walk away from doing what the Lord had asked us to do.

To step out in faith requires that we operate in the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23a says, “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

I love how the Amplified version of the Bible describes peace as being something “inner” ~ and what is on the inside of us is what ends up coming to fruition on the outside of us. Through this passage we can see that authentic joy has nothing to do with our happiness; it has everything to do with where our identity comes from.

The worst thing my husband said to me that night was that we would have to sell our house. It was MY house. I had big plans (literally…we had just finished paying for an architect to draw up remodeling plans a few weeks prior). I had already imagined our future Christmases, our girls coming down the staircase for prom & taking pictures in front of the Batchehelder fireplace, how incredible our back yard would look as we hosted friends and family for their weddings amidst fragrant bouquets of flowers and covered in a canopy of fairy lights.

I felt cheated. I felt mad. I felt slighted. I felt my dreams weren’t important.

And for what….a house?

The last day of work for my husband at his original job, was November 19, 2000. For the next decade, I learned quite intimately how I must trust the Lord to be my strength, my hope, my delight, my joy.

Proverbs 10:28 is quite thought-provoking, “The hope of the righteous [those of honorable character and integrity] is joy, But the expectation of the wicked [those who oppose God and ignore His wisdom] comes to nothing.”

Yeah, the Holy Spirit doesn’t mince words here.

And I battled between spiritual integrity and selfish expectations for a long time. It was not pretty.

On the outside, I would plaster on that happy face. But deep down, and many days it bubbled barely beneath the surface, I was angry. And I’m sure you know this…but you cannot be both angry and joyful at the same time. It’s like expecting to bite into a luscious donut and all you get is tofu…they don’t go together…like at all…ever!

Why did we have to struggle so much? Paying our bills, the mortgage, keeping food in the fridge, and gas in the car….seriously? Didn’t GOD tell my husband to quit a perfectly good job and create a new one? Wasn’t it GOD that whispered to the heart of my husband to do his work for Him?  How can GOD direct us to start a Christian company and not bless it?  I mean, really. I was even dyeing & cutting my own hair (oh yeah…it was not a good look…) and stopped getting manicures.

I knew it was petty. I knew that God was in charge. I knew that we would receive blessings from God that would be nothing less than miraculous. I knew all of that in my head, but my heart was in complete denial & filled with frustration pretty much every day.

Proverbs 17:22 summed up my life, “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Well, the second half of that verse sums up my life for far too long.

We moved ~ God graced us with a beautiful new home.

We tried for a third child and had a healthy daughter.

Our cars were different but they were great ~ and paid for!

Our girls were able to remain at their private school ~ total miracle.

We had the support of our church community.

And I still loved my husband.

Things were looking up.

Then the ceiling in our kitchen started to fall down…because of a burst water pipe…from the upstairs bathroom…

Really?

Happiness disappeared like a vapor and Joy…inner peace…that wasn’t even part of the plan anymore. I moved into survival mode.

For the next 18 months, the Lord took us down a road that I still look back on in amazement. Within the first few weeks, I realized that I needed to change my perspective real quick or I was going to implode.

Actually, I didn’t realize it on my own…thankfully I have wonderful mentors and friends who spoke hard truth to my deaf ears and hardened heart. God wasn’t punishing me, my husband, or our family. He was using this time to prune out of my heart what didn’t need to be there in order for His purposes to be completed within me and throughout my life as a witness for Him.

I was broken but knew deep down I was still blessed. I had to pray often for my joy to be renewed. Very often in the beginning!

Psalm 16:11 promises this, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

Where is my joy? It’s in His presence.

Where are the pleasures of life? In His right hand.

Hello! Life changer right there!

We lived in a local hotel for 6 months then moved to a furnished apartment for one year while our house/kitchen went through insurance denials, mold abatement, insurance stalemates, lots of waiting, finally remodeling, then suing the insurance company and moving back home.

I had to learn how to have joy ~ a joy that didn’t come from anything around me or from anything I could produce. I had to rely on the Lord to move within my heart, mind, and soul to create His perfect joy.

I had to ask Him for it…and He gladly answered that prayer!

Part of my responsibility as a wife was to be a support to my husband however I could…happy wife happy life…but not just happy…joyful. As a Mom, my daughters needed as much stability in their lives as possible. At 2, 6, and 8, none of it made sense.  And sleeping together in a pull-out sofa lost its charm pretty quick!

What’s a momma to do…pray!

So I found things I could be joyful about…

Living in a hotel meant I had room/cleaning service…every day!

Apartment laundry rooms meant I could get 15 loads of laundry done in about 3 hours instead of 12…yeah…Every.Week!

Apartment living meant it only took 45 minutes to clean house instead of all day at home.

In both locations, I brought in photos from home and hung them on the wall with those fabulous 3m hooks. I brightened up the beige walls of the apartment entry way with big colorful maps of the USA and one of the world that I found at Costco. I restored part of my sanity by donning a mask & going to our house and getting my sewing machine so I could be creative. I mean, I had all that “free time” that I didn’t have to spend doing laundry or cleaning, right!?!

One of the best ways that the Lord humbled me to learn how to receive His joy was to receive help from others. I didn’t want to be a charity case. But a very wise friend reminded me of how I felt when I was able to bless others with a home-cooked meal, or free babysitting, or a paid-for date night…people wanted to do that for our family now. It’s hard to be on the receiving end, but it’s so worth it.

My attitude began to change and I began to see our reality through the lens of authentic joy. A joy that is not borne out of circumstances, but out of following Christ and choosing to be obedient to what He calls me to walk through.

Once we were able to move back into our house, our life didn’t suddenly become easy.  The money struggles were still there but my husband and I would pray, “Okay Lord, you love to show off to Your children how well you can provide…let’s see what You’re going to do this time!” And we really meant it! And He would always come through. There isn’t enough time to recount the miracles of how God provided for our family during that decade, but it was phenomenal!

Just one quick story, that is still a bit emotional for me to think about, was how we literally had no food in the fridge. We finished up the last of the cereal, eggs, and milk, and used up the rest of what we had to make three little lunches for our girls to take to school. My husband and I prayed before I left to take the girls to school, that God would provide a miracle for us to be able to feed our family. I won’t lie, we were nervous but we trusted God.

As I exited car line and went down a side street, I pulled over and cried and knew I needed to discard my pride and call my parents to help us…and now that I have grown children, there really isn’t an age where that momma heart doesn’t kick in to want to help out your kiddos.

As I held the phone in my hands praying for God to give me the courage to call, it rang…it was my husband…he said, “Everything is great and I’m fine, but you need to come to the office before you go home.” I told him I was about to call my mom about the grocery dilemma and he told me to “wait. Come to the office.” Fine!

I pulled in and walked slowly to his office. He sat there with tears streaming down his face holding a card in his hands. He held it out to my and said, “Just open it.” It was a beautiful floral design, “Thinking of You” kind of card. Inside it read, “Dear Bancroft Family, You are always in my thoughts. Love, Jesus”. Then my husband handed me another little envelope that had been inside the card.

It was a $300 gift card to Ralphs grocery store, written on it with a black sharpie, “To the Bancroft’s ~ Love, Jesus”.

He provided more than enough.

And I still have the card as a reminder that Jesus sees our needs. And that He shops at Ralphs!

Romans 12:11-13, “never lagging behind in diligence; aglow in the Spirit, enthusiastically serving the Lord; constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.”

I learned that there is no “last minute” with God ~ it might feel like MY last minute, but it’s His perfect timing! God has shown up for us every single time.

We have known plenty and we have known want.

But most importantly, we have always known that our joy rests in Him and not in our circumstances.

That is true authentic joy.

To trust the Lord with EVERYTHING! You don’t have to be happy when you go through difficult times, but it is possible to be joyfully content in the midst of the struggle.

Blessings,

René

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

The Coffee Grinder of Life…

With all three of our children involved in coffee/food services, especially the two that work at coffee shops, we really have become coffee snobs. Only now when we are desperate for a cup of coffee (or receive a gift card) do we even step foot in the land of the little green mermaid…local shops are the place to be and a fresh brewed cup at home is even better! So pretty much every morning, we open our bag of organic, sustainable, fair trade coffee and pour those glorious beans into the coffee grinder for just what we need for the day.

And one day, I felt like I was those beans. I was feeling a bit “ground up” to tell you the truth. I’m thankful it doesn’t happen often, and I’m grateful the Lord helps me to recognize when I’m starting to go to down a particularly dark path in my mind. But that day, I resonated with coffee in a totally different way.

So hang with me here in my little revelation about the similarities between that awesome cup of coffee and the paths of our life…

A loving gardener tills the soil of his farm and prepares a beautiful space for the seeds of a coffee plant to grow. He waters the seeds and the plant begins to burst forth from the ground, first just a little sprout and then into a lovely fruitful plant. The tiny fruit that comes from the plant is what the coffee farmer has been waiting for. At just the right moment, when the coffee berries are ripe, they are plucked off the branches. Even though they are ripe, they must go through an extensive period where they are processed, and then dried. The dull green of the coffee bean is not super appetizing to look at, but it has all it needs to eventually become a fantastic cup of coffee.

Before that can happen though, those beans have to be poured out into a roasting machine. They are in there with a bunch of other beans, being pushed around by a rotating metal arm to make sure that each bean is perfectly roasted without being burned by the heat. They slowly gain a shiny, almost bronze-like, appearance and the aroma is delightful!!

But they still aren’t done! You can’t just pour some coffee beans into your favorite mug, pour hot water over them and expect to have great coffee!

Nope ~ those beautiful beans have to be ground up because that is when their true flavor and vitality can be experienced. Once they are ground up to perfection, they must now endure the slow process of near-boiling water cascading over and through the grounds. Then and only then, will you produce a spectacular nectar of rich, warm, coffee to begin your day with.

Whew! Okay…hang on…I gotta go pour myself another cup of coffee!

Guess what…we are that dull green coffee bean.

Sometimes I think that just because I’ve seen growth in my life that has transformed an area of my life from a seed into a tangible fruit, that should be enough. I don’t want any more transformation. It’s hard to work for an actual seed to push its way through the top soil, just like it’s hard for us to push ourselves towards those new goals God puts in our heart ~ but the growth is not the end. How God uses the fruit that He produces in our life is what our goal needs to be. He is the consummate Gardener of our life ~ He knows us from the inside out!

I know that I’m not the only one who has those days where you feel like you’ve been through an emotional grinder. One minute your shiny and whole, and the next your soul feels crushed to dust. When I’ve been at that point, there is usually always something that the Lord needs to sift me from. It could be forgiving someone, it could be asking forgiveness from someone, it could be repenting from sin that keeps repeating itself, it could be removing yourself from an unhealthy relationship or activity….so many things!

That’s the part I think most resembles the “hot water pour over” if you will. The slow yet intentional working of the Holy Spirit to work through us in order to produce the best parts of us. The fresh new perspective we need to do the work that He has called us to do. The aroma that HE wants us to have that will be pleasing to those in our circles of influence. That “coffee ring mark” that He wants us to leave on the hearts of those we minister to and share the gospel with.

So the next time you have your coffee, maybe you’ll think of what kind of coffee you are…

Are you “instant coffee” out of a jar that has lost its flavor and vitality but still tries to pass itself off as acceptable?

Or are you the shiny little bean that is perfectly ground in order to produce the most genuine and delightful cup of coffee?

You get to pick everyday! So choose well! Now go get a cup of coffee and take Jesus with you!!

Blessings,

René

 

Colossians 1:9-11, For this reason, since the day we heard about it, we have not stopped praying for you, asking [specifically] that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [with insight into His purposes], and in understanding [of spiritual things], so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [displaying admirable character, moral courage, and personal integrity], to [fully] please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing in the knowledge of God [with deeper faith, clearer insight and fervent love for His precepts]; [we pray that you may be] strengthened and invigorated with all power, according to His glorious might, to attain every kind of endurance and patience with joy;”

Colossians 1 verse 10

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Gratitude is a Weapon…

Have you ever smiled at someone as you pass them in the grocery aisle? What about complimenting a stranger on their cute outfit? Or the beautiful silvery coif of the elderly neighbor walking their dog?

{But seriously…if you’ve never done something like this…you’ve got your assignment for today…go out and pay a stranger a truthful and encouraging compliment!}

These are just a few little ways we can help change the attitudinal landscape from complacency to gratitude.

The definition of gratitude is actually very simple ~ the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.”

So how does a compliment bring on gratitude?

First of all, when you compliment a stranger, it’s known by both parties that it’s an actual real compliment.  It’s not something you feel you have to say or something you are obligated to do. Letting someone know that they are seen, that they are appreciated, that they have been noticed ~ well, it can turn their day around…and maybe even their month! In this way, we’ve helped to shift that person’s perspective on life a bit. They will absolutely remember what you said and how it made them feel. And that feeling can turn into at attitude of gratitude. And I bet they are going to be more likely to pass it on!

But gratitude as a weapon?

A weapon is anything used against an opponent, adversary, or victim, according to the dictionary.

Okay…go with me one more time down the “road of words” here as I put together both definitions of gratitude and weapon…

When we are being attacked verbally, emotionally, or via social media, we can combat all of that garbage by taking on a stance of thankfulness for what we know the truth is.

Too hard you say?

Jesus did it all the time…and it’s in and through His living word that we can gain the tools necessary to use gratitude as a weapon.

I Corinthians 8:3 (AMP) says, “But if anyone loves God [with awe-filled reverence, obedience and gratitude], he is known by Him [as His very own and is greatly loved].”

If we remember the truth that we are KNOWN by God, then we can choose to be grateful and thankful in situations instead of offended and crushed.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (AMP) tells us, Rejoice always and delight in your faith;  be unceasing and persistent in prayer;  in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

I will admit…this is a hard one to grab hold of sometimes!  When someone wrongs me {or God help them…wrongs one of my people!} the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t usually how I can give thanks to the Lord for the situation we are in. But if I’m going to take the word of God literally as the inerrant and living Word of the Lord {and I do!} then I have to take it ALL literally. These verses above say those three little words…”in every situation.” Well dagnabit! I don’t always want to. Okay, let’s be real, I never want to…but it is what God is calling me to do on the daily!

Oh and the “continually give thanks to God” part ~ that gets me every time! How can I always be in a posture of thankfulness when a loved one is dying? When I see stories of severe abuse and trafficking on the news? When my friends’ marriages are experiencing painfully deep betrayals? When finances seem to disappear like a puffy dandelion blown in the breeze? I’m sure you can add your own items to this list as well.

Note that God does not ask us to be thankful BECAUSE a bad situation is encircling our camp. His heart does ache with ours when we experience sorrow and disappointment. He is our GOOD GOOD Father and just as my heart is saddened when my kids go through difficult circumstances, how much more does the heart of our Heavenly Father twinge with affection and love when He knows we are hurting!!

I Peter 1:2-5 sheds some light to us about the WHY we are to have that ‘attitude of gratitude’…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by the sanctifying work of the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be yours in increasing abundance [as you walk closely with God]. Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant and boundless mercy has caused us to be born again [that is, to be reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] to an ever-living hope and confident assurance through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  [born anew] into an inheritance which is imperishable [beyond the reach of change] and undefiled and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who are being protected and shielded by the power of God through your faith for salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time.”

When we closely walk in relationship with the Lord, He will increase our spiritual well-being so that we can live in new mercies every day BECAUSE of the extravagant FREE gift of His salvation. Even when it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, we are always protected by the heavenly armies because God loves us that much! This makes living a life of gratitude that much more attainable.

Living apart from God’s redemption is what we are saved from having to endure…that is more than enough of a reason to live a grateful life.

In the MOST powerful example of using gratitude as a weapon was when Jesus offered Himself up to die on the cross. He took upon EVERY SINGLE SIN of the whole world {past, present, and future} in order to save us from an eternal death away from Him. Salvation is the most exquisitely crafted weapon against satan and all his demons.

Satan loses. And he loses every time.

When we call upon the name of Jesus to save us and to be with us in our every day life, satan loses. Satan is a loser and a liar, so shut him down!

Hebrews 12:1-3 is a beautiful encouragement to us ~

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In His grace, in the gracious way that Jesus loves us, He used gratitude as a weapon against any evil that could ever be formed against us. We have an enemy but we also {and more importantly} have the victory! We have already won!

Jesus showed His kindness and His compassion to the woman at the well, to the woman who washed His feet with precious perfume, to the man healed of leprosy, to the man healed of blindness, to the woman accused of adultery, to the woman at the empty tomb…and so much more!

John 8:10-11 paints a picture of the gracious love of Jesus & what happens when He trades our sin for His salvation ~ Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She answered, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]

May I challenge you with something today? Okay good, here it goes ~

Begin to arm yourself every day with the weapon of Gratitude , with the tools of Joy, with the song of Prayer, and with the adornments of Thankfulness! Now talk about being dressed for battle! You’ve got this!!

Have a powerful day!!!

Blessings,

René

 

1 Thessalonians 5 vs 16-18

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

I Told You So….

So when you read the title, did you immediately picture a charming little scene of one child saying this to another?  Hands on hips, chin jutting out, smirk on face…with the sing-songy lyric, “I toooolllldddd you sooooo!”  Oh man, did I get in trouble if I ever said this to one of my siblings, or worse…if I said it to my Mom!  Yikes!  Just had to happen once and that swat cured me for life….or at least within earshot of my mother.

Today, I want to linger on this phrasing in a positive way.  The Lord Jesus tells us, in so many words, “I told you so” in a variety of circumstances throughout His word.  A more “biblical” way to say it is in all of the “I will” statements the Lord makes.  It is really exciting to me whenever I read the words “I will” because I know that if the Lord said it, He WILL do it!  Most of these verses are positive, but there are some that are in a tone of warning.  But the same is true for both statements ~ what He says He will do…He WILL DO IT!

As early as in Genesis chapter 2, the Lord tells Adam that He will create for him a special helpmate…and He created Eve (vs. 18). Throughout the entire book of Genesis, you can read mulitple accounts of God saving those who worship Him, destroying the earth He made because the people had become so evil, God promising Abraham & Sarah that they would have a child from whom a multitude of descendants would come from including Jesus, God comforting His people when they were discouraged, the promise of new land ~ and that’s just in Genesis!

Of course, the “I will” promises are much easier to take to heart but we have got to be fully aware of the “I will” warnings. We cannot simply go through life taking scripture out of context because it makes us “feel good.”  We cannot twist things around that are meant to be a warning into some kind of proof that we can do whatever we want because Jesus has said that once we confess our sin and our need for a Savior, that He will save us.

Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely and wholeheartedly believe that once we are saved by Jesus Christ, we do not lose our salvation.  We do not have to repeat the salvation prayer, “just in case” it didn’t work the first time.  In the same vein, we cannot ever do anything to earn our salvation either.  Only the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ can do that.

The Lord brings us to Him to be saved, not so we can remain living in our sinful ways…so we can become like Him.  The world is so backwards right now saying that Christians aren’t fair.  True, there are some who call themselves christian and act nothing like the Lord teaches.  And it is true that Jesus will accept everyone exactly as they are.  However…Jesus will not abide by us STAYING exactly as we were.  He calls us to Himself to learn who HE is and how we can mirror His character.

We cannot be a light to the world if we haven’t changed our power source!

Let’s go to the scripture so you can see a few verses showing some of God’s “I Will’s…”

Romans 9:14-16 (HCSB) says, What should we say then? Is there injustice with God Absolutely not! For He tells Moses: I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy.”

I love this because it reminds us that there is nothing that we can do on our own human efforts to change God’s mercy, blessings, grace, or discipline…it will be done as He sets forth.

Genesis 17:2 (HSCB) shows what God the Father says to Abram (aka Abraham after this blessing is spoken over him) when He calls him to leave his comfort zone, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly.”  And He did.  There were definite hurdles in the story (if you haven’t read it, go now and see how even though Abraham tried to hurry up God’s plan, God still had the final say on it all!)

Psalms 91:14-15 (HSCB), is a promise from the Old Testament as to how God will act toward His people when they believe in Him, Because he is lovingly devoted to Me, I will deliver him;
I will protect him because he knows My name. When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and give him honor.” Even when we feel we are not being heard by God, or answered by Him, He does in fact hear our every cry.  He is in tune with our hearts because He loves us.  Remain connected with your Savior and trust that He has your best at heart.

Jeremiah 30:11 (HSCB), (spoken to Israel and Judah through the prophet Jeremiah after the Lord freed them from captivity) For I will be with you— this is the Lord’s declaration— to save you!  I will bring destruction on all the nations where I have scattered you; however, I will not bring destruction on you. I will discipline you justly, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.”  The Lord God does not take joy in disciplining us, but because He loves us so much He will do what is needed.  Our lives are to be a reflection of Him and if we are not living out what scripture teaches then we are not representing Him properly to the world.

I love this verse in Isaiah 41:10 (HSCB) because it is a faithful reminder to me that as a believer, I have the power of the living God inside me and I can trust that what the Lord says here in scripture is true, Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.”

On the other hand, Matthew 7:23 (HSCB) reminds us that those who choose in this life to ignore the authority of Jesus Christ and the fact that they need a Savior, He will have no choice on the day of Judgement but to say, “Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!'”  It is difficult to think of this sometimes, but the world has an opportunity every day to choose Christ and choose to serve Him.  When we do choose Him, Matthew 10:32-33 (HCSB) tells us what we will hear, “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.”

John 14:27-29 (HSCB) speaks beautifully to the peace that only God can give us. While John 4:14 (HCSB) shares the promise of the New Testament that the living water of Christ will well up in our soul.  Matthew 11:28-30 (HCSB) provides the encouragement that following the Lord is the best way to become unburdened.

Perhaps one of the best “I will” statements that the Lord makes in Scriputre is found in Mark 14:36 (HCSB). “And He said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Even now as I read this it brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.  Because Jesus showed us that His heart was breaking for the task ahead, He ultimately was letting us know that the will of the Father is what is the most important to follow.  Jesus chose to live a human life that was destined for death in order to bring us eternal life that we don’t deserve.

As you read the Bible in your quiet times ahead, look out for those “I will” phrases (the “I told ya so’s). You will never find a promise that is unfulfilled.  You will never find a contradiction of God’s love and grace for us. Rest in His promises!

Blessings,

René

genesis-17-verse-2

* (HCSB) ~ Holman Christian Study Bible version *

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

God crossed enemy lines!

My heart is breaking for our world…for the sadness that seems to have covered our nation…

However ~ I am not without HOPE!  

No matter where I have found myself in my life, there is always HOPE!  I do not say this as a cute little “christian-ese” phrase…I totally and absolutely believe it!  But it is not MY hope that I have tucked down in the marrow of my bones.  It is the hope that my precious Lord gives me every day.

But what do we do when we feel without hope?  What do we do when we see those around us crippled by hopelessness?  Sometimes, well let’s be honest ~ most of the time ~ we cannot fix someone else’s sense of hopelessness.  But we can pray and we can cry out to God for help.  Why?  Not because He is a proverbial genie in a bottle, but because He cares for us immensely more than we really can comprehend.

Let’s think about this…

From the time that Adam stood next to Eve (Genesis 3:6-7), and they both ate of the fruit of the forbidden Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God crossed over enemy lines to get us back!  In that moment, He began His mission of reconciliation between God and man.  He searched them out in the Garden of Eden, and He did so in love.  He did not stomp about the garden yelling for Adam and Eve to come out of their hiding place (because…you know…He knew where they were the whole time!)  How it must have caused God to cringe as He watched His creation take the bait of the enemy!

In Genesis 3:8-13, we see how God asked questions of Adam and Even, and listened to their excuses as to why they had disobeyed.  Hello to the beginning of placing blame, deflecting the issue onto someone else, and basically trying to get out of trouble for something you know you did wrong!  But God listened.

I imagine Him sitting there in the Garden, talking with Adam & Eve, but NEVER taking His eyes of the Serpent in the background.  When He had heard enough, He had no choice but to hand out discipline.  I imagine Him then standing tall and stepping between Adam & Eve, to face the Serpent.  God gave out the first line of punishment to the Serpent (verse 14 & 15).  Upon creating Adam & Eve, and showing them all the delights of the Garden, He told them all of the things they could do and all that they could eat.  Only ONE THING could they not take part in, and what would happen if they crossed that line.

In that one moment, so began the earthly journey of our lives ~ being pursued by the God that loves us so much that He crossed enemy lines by sending His only Son to the earth to bring us back to Him.  We cannot handle seeing the glory of God the Father, but He planned it all so that we could look upon His Son and see the face of God.

I think the ultimate act of ‘crossing the enemy lines’ is when Jesus was resurrected and during the 3 days of His death, He went down into the belly of hell and took back the keys of death.  Jesus, the Son, overcame death forever.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the absolute confirmation that we are so loved by our God.  He wants to be reconnected with us through the resurrection and salvation of His Son.  Jesus Christ has the victory of EVERYTHING!  There is nothing in our life, in our neighborhood, in our nation, in our world, or in our universe that He has not ALREADY overcome!  The power of the Creator of the Universe lives within us when we humble ourselves and receive Him as our Savior.

There has not been one generation, even since the beginning of the first family created by Adam & Eve, that has not bucked up against God having control of their life.  King Solomon writes an entire book (Ecclesiastes) about how there is ‘nothing new under the sun.’  Read these words that were penned centuries ago and you will see that they could have been written by any number of journalists today…

Ecclesiastes 1:8-10, All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.  What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”?  It has been already in the ages before us.” 

God is not surprised by unrest, by hate, by unkind actions, by war, by bitterness, by thoughts/acts of revenge, or by disobedience.

God is full of love and second chances for us to come to Him.

Psalm 36:6-8, Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.  How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.” 

Psalm 66:19-20But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!”

Romans 5:7-9 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

Oh…these are just a few of the promises in God’s word about how much He loves us and what He will do to bring us back to Him.  There are so many eloquent passages in God’s Word that speak of His great love for us!

If God is so willing and able to cross enemy lines, we have the same power to willingly and ably cross those same lines of the enemy around us and stand for Christ!  Calling out to receive Him and call Him Savior grants us the access to that kind of spiritual power! Stand up for the things that make His heart cry out, stand up for those who cannot defend themselves, and stand up for those who are without hope.

Be the light to the world ~ that shines hope and faith to everyone around them.  If there are hardships that you are going through right now, don’t mope around like you are powerless!  You have every gift of the Holy Spirit within you to conquer every single aching moment of life you will encounter.  It is one of our callings as Christians to show the world that they can have hope in this dismal world.

You can overcome!

John 16:32-33 says, Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

…and in Romans 12:21, we read, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

 I know I have quoted a lot of scripture in today’s blog, but there are no words that I could imagine that would so succinctly state what is in my heart to share with you.  Take heart today that you are not alone.  You are not defeated.  You are not in a losing battle.  Trust in the truth of God’s Word, even when (and especially when!) you are feeling a bit hopeless.
You have the victory in Christ because He crossed enemy lines
to get you back!
I John 5:3-5 promises, For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Blessings,

René

i-john-5-verse-4

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Plastic Promises vs. God’s Truths!

Today, Good Friday, I’m filled with the truths of God’s Word and with His promises.  All of the things that He promised to do, all of the things He said, “I will.,” He has done!  God is not a liar.  My Father does not play games or make me work for my reconciliation with Him.

As a society, we are constantly bombarded by a variety of advertising channels of all the promises that people and things, that assure us our life will be so much better if we “buy this ~ wear that ~ use this ~ vote for them ~ eat this” and on and on it goes.

Credit card slogans alone are absolutely filled with verbage that lull the customer into thinking their life will be made whole if they just have the credit card (or let’s be real here…multiple credit cards): Don’t Leave Home Without It. It pays to Discover. I own the high score. Is your debt to heavy to carry. It’s Everywhere You Want To Be. Live richly. The Card is Key. There are some things money can’t buy. What’s in your wallet?  All you need.*

Do you see the truth in these statements above?  The world says we will “have it all” when we put our trust in credit cards, debt, or in “keeping up with the Jones'”!  So backwards and we fall for it so easily!  In today’s writing, I actually want the truth of God’s Word to stand on its own, and speak to your heart, mind and soul today.  I don’t need to expound on the merits of scripture because there is nothing in God’s Word to defend.

If you disagree with His Word or you don’t like something He has put in written form through scripture, it doesn’t change the simple fact ~ It. Is. Truth.

Let’s compare scripture now to the above phrasing from these credit card slogans and be encouraged as to what God says is the truth!

Don’t Leave Home Without It. ~ Jesus, the Son of God, left His heavenly home to live among us here on earth.  He didn’t leave without taking His God-ship with Him.  He became fully man and fully God, in order to reconcile us back to Himself. John 14:26-28, But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

It pays to Discover. ~ When we take the time to discover who God is, we find that He is trustworthy! Proverbs 16:19-21, It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud. Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LordThe wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” And Lamentations 3:24-26, “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

I own the high score. ~ There is no higher a price than can be attained as the one that Christ Jesus paid when He chose to sacrifice Himself for the sake of our salvation. I Corinthians 6:19-20, Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]?  You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.”  And, Deuteronomy 26:18-19, Today the Lord has declared that you are His people, His treasured possession, just as He promised you, and that you are to keep all His commandments; and that He will set you high above all the nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor: and that you shall be a holy people [set apart and consecrated] to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.””

Is your debt too heavy to carry? ~ This is really a tagline used by a credit card company! Pardon my attitude here…but….DUH!!!  The person has incurred debt by purchasing items they feel compelled to own because “then they will be worth something” as our society feeds the void felt by so many that ‘stuff’ is necessary.  The promise this card company is touting is that you can transfer your heavy debt to their card which has lower fees.  Do you see the twisted lie here? That person will STILL be in debt!!  In terms of our relationship with the Lord, our debt of sin is way too heavy for us to carry.  We cannot ever come out from underneath this kind of debt on our own.  Only the Lord can carry that burden and remove it from us permanently.  Hebrews 9:27-28, And just as it is appointed and destined for all men to die once and after this [comes certain] judgment, so Christ, having been offered once and once for all to bear [as a burden] the sins of many, will appear a second time [when he returns to earth], not to deal with sin, but to bring salvation to those who are eagerly and confidently waiting for Him.”

It’s Everywhere You Want To Be. ~ Every place that we are to go, in order to bring honor to the Lord, that is where we should want to be. The road isn’t promised to be easy, but His path for us brings life.  Psalms 119: 104-106, “Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.” And, 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, “ But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;” 

Live richly. ~ The way to life a truly rich life is to place our life, and the control of our life, into the incredibly capable hands of the Lord.  He will always guide is in the way we should go. Proverbs 22:3-5, The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.”

The Card is key. ~ The only key we need to maintain our security, is found in the Lord.  He is Who He says He is!  Isaiah 33:5-6,The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. And He will be the security and stability of your times, A treasure of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; The fear of the Lord is your treasure.”

There are some things money can’t buy. ~ Romans 3:23-25,For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.”               The salvation of our life has come at a great price.  One in which we could never afford.  Christ did not come for just one weekend, to die and rise again.  He LIVED a whole life on earth as God and man.  He came to show us how to live as He did.  How to care for and love others as He did.  He showed us how to love God the Father as He did.  Christ showed us how to worship the one true God. And then….he finished what He came to do in His earthly body.  He CHOSE to be betrayed by a friend ~ one of His disciples.** He CHOSE to be unjustly tried and convicted.  He CHOSE to be crucified because He KNEW that He was going to rise again and defeat death once and for all!  Can I get an AMEN people!!  You didn’t put Jesus on the cross as much as you cannot do anything to earn or deserve salvation.  It is His grace to us in that He loves us so very much, He planned and executed a perfect plan of redemption.  Isaiah 55:1-3, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”

What’s in your wallet? ~ Let’s rephrase this a little by saying, ‘what’s in your heart?”  What is it that you are carrying with you everyday to remind you of the gracious life you live because of what Christ did for you?  Are you reading scripture everyday, meditating on it, and making an effort to keep it in your heart?  Do keep it at the forefront of your mind?  Our mind is constantly “on” and if we want to maintain some sense of sanity, everything we do and say needs to be filtered through the truth of God’s word!  I Samuel 12:23-25,As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.””               And Luke 12:28-30,If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.”

All you need. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:21-22,Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”  Notice here that the above verse talks about how GOD is the one who helps us stand firm in Christ.  We do not have anything to do with that standing ~ except to come humbly before the Lord and ask Him to be the Lord of our life!  This doesn’t mean that we will never experience trials (that’ll be another blog for another time), but we are reminded of God’s goodness to us in Philippians 4:11-13, I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him[a] who strengthens me.” 

We can live a rich, abundant, grace-filled, and satisfied life because we have all we need in the Lord.  This life on earth is temporary, but that doesn’t mean that we simply float through life.  God has called us to be witnesses of His grace in our life to those around us.  Whether it’s smiling at random people in the grocery store (this is actually really fun…totally freaks people out!), sharing a meal with a friend going through a tough spot, handing a bottle of water out your car window to the homeless man on the corner, or sharing your testimony with someone about how God has saved your life.

Live fully in God’s truth ~ your debt has been paid ~ He will never leave your side & you will never be disappointed in a life lived for Christ!

Blessings,

René

Romans 3 verse 23-24

Research found in:

** You can read more about Jesus choosing Judas (His betrayer) in one of my earlier blogs entitled, “Jesus Chose Judas on Purpose.”

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Thanks in Giving

Today is the Monday before Thanksgiving ~ so appropriately, I thought I put down my thoughts about the subject with my own personal flavor.  Which means that I’m already imagining the table decor and myriad of tasty dishes that await my family and I in a few days.  Quite frankly, if all there was to eat was mashed potatoes with gravy, herbed stuffing, and homemade pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream ~ I would be completely happy!

At this time of year, much is written about Thanksgiving: being thankful, being grateful, having gratitude, etc.  If you are new to my blog, you’ll come to know that I love word studies; what words mean, and how to put them in perfect context as to what is being conveyed in a sentence or story.  To get started today…here’s a bit of basic definitions of words that I’ll be focusing on today.

Being ~ the fact of existing; existence

Having ~ to possess; own; hold for use; contain

Thankful ~ feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.

Grateful ~warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful:

Gratitude ~ the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful:

Thanksgiving ~ the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.

Giving ~ to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow:

Do you notice that all of these words are action oriented?  Whether it is physical actions or emotional/mental ones, that are all in movement; they are all in motion within or toward another person/entity.

 

We cannot be full of thankfulness and gratitude and be motionless and stagnant at the same time.  It is virtually impossible.

 

Colossians 3:17 has beautiful words to share with us ~ “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
This verse is clear and concise that no matter what we do or say, however we act and whatever we think about, in ALL of those things we are to be thankful to the Lord.  Are we to actually thank God for bad things that happen or difficult times in our life?  NO!  It means that we can choose to move through our life with an attitude of gratefulness and confidence, being alert to the power of God in our life. He will be walking alongside us in all things.  Some hard times in life last longer than others; sometimes years pass with a sense of darkness hovering over our life; and at times of difficulty it seems like it will never end.
How do we choose to live a life of thanksgiving when we feel utterly hopeless?  I’ll tell you one thing ~ you have to fight for it!  It is not easy to choose thankfulness and gratitude.  It is sometimes the most difficult time to choose to be joyful.  But I have lived long enough to know that when I begin to feel those daggers of doubt and fear to cloud my heart and my mind, I have a choice to make.  I can be gloomy, sad, feel sorry for myself, and decide that I’m not worth it.  OR…..I can ask the Lord to help me overcome those negative attitudes.  He can (and WILL) do just that!!  He won’t leave you lying in a puddle of sadness ~ He will scoop you up in His mighty arms and comfort you.
Better than any words I could choose…let these promises from God’s Word wash over your heart ~
Colossians 1: 9-14, 21-23:For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
This is why we can choose to be grateful.  We can have thanks as we give praise to the Lord for the fact that He has chosen us, to rescue us from true darkness and a life separated from Him.  In the midst of the bleak moments, we have the strength of the Holy Spirit inside of us to do the battle.  To wage the war against the mental and emotional attacks from satan, whose sole job is to make us believe that we are not worth Christs’ love.  To make us think that we have to work hard to do things, to live a certain way, in order for Christ to love us.  That when we sin and mess up, that we have lost hope of Christ really loving us.
Let me tell you friend ~ you cannot out-sin the abundant grace and forgiveness of our Heavenly Father.  You just can’t!
In the same way, you cannot be good enough or work hard enough to earn that grace.  You just can’t.
Psalm 98:1 “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”
Did you see that?  HIS right hand and HIS holy arm.  
Not mine.  Not yours.
Only the Lord can provide salvation for us and He chose that for us BEFORE the creation of the world.  Before you were born, before I was born, before Adam and Eve committed the first sin ~ God put into a place a plan to have His Son Jesus live a sacrificial life and die on the cross, returning to the earth and graciously providing a way to be reconciled to God the Father.  His cross, for lack of a more imaginative idea, is the bridge connecting us back to the Lord.
We must be thankful at all times ~ no matter what ~ for the indescribably gift that is the salvation that the Lord offers freely!  (2 Corinthians 9:15)
We cannot pay for it ~ He already did!
We don’t put it on layaway and work it off ~ that only works at K-mart.
We cannot do one little thing to earn it ~ It is a gift!
What do you do with a gift?  What do you do when someone gives generously of their resources to you?  Do you pull out your wallet and offer to pay them back?  Do you make a list of what was given to you so that you can make sure and give that person a “better” gift the next time around? I really hope you don’t ~ because then you’ve missed the point.  A gift is not something earned.  A gift is chosen specifically for you from someone who loves you.  A gift is not something intended to be paid back. A gift is a reflection of the heart of a friend towards you.
I think my favorite word study definition from above is ~ Grateful: the Latin word grate or grātus means: pleasing. The other descriptive words “warmly” and “deeply” convey a cozy, peaceful, enjoyable place.  Like sitting by a warm fire drinking your favorite cup of tea and reading a good book.  Blissfully accepting the personal kindness someone has done to you ~ this is what it is to be grateful.  To have this attitude and live it out is what it is to have thanks in giving~ offering up to the Lord a song of thanksgiving for the gift of eternal life.
So this year, at this time of Thanksgiving, I want to encourage you to choose to be grateful; choose to be accepting of the gift that you cannot earn and that you don’t deserve.  Let Christ bestow on you the gift of salvation.  Living as a royal priesthood and as a child of the King, does not mean that all your problems will miraculously disappear.  God is not a genie!  But what it means is that you have the power of the Living God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, holding you up in those times of trouble.  He is your strength, He is your dignity, He is your friend, and He is your Army!  God bless you with His magnificent peace and with His never-ending grace.
Blessings,
  René
Colossians 3 verse 17

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