Posts Tagged With: love

There’s a Fight in the Bathroom!

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1 Samuel 15:1-16:23
There was a fight in the boys restroom last week that I can’t seem to stop thinking about. When I found out that it was over a girl, I kid you not, my very first thought was, “What’s so amazing about her that they would fight over her?” Now I wasn’t thinking this in a sarcastic or derogatory way, I was genuinely curious! What was it about her that made it worth, not only getting punched in the nose to win the right to date her, but also taking the very obvious risk of getting suspended or expelled from school for fighting over her. What characteristic does she possess that makes her worth all that?
It was the talk of the school for the rest of that day, and it has even continued on for the beginning of this week. Everyone has their take on it, especially the girls. Yet NONE of them have voiced any of the questions that are deep within my heart. Mainly, what does it feel like to have two boys fighting for the right to have you? Is she insulted that they’re treating her like a possession? Is she a little impressed by everything that they risked in order to duke it out over her? What does it feel like to have two people like you to the point of battling over you?
There’s got to be at least one of you out there that can agree with me in the romance of this right? Because I honestly can’t stop thinking about it. What is it that makes her so special that she worth spilling blood on the bathroom floor for? And they did by the way.  
Sure, this girl is beautiful inside and out and has a smile that could slay dragons but is that all? Is there more? This inquiring mind wants to know!
Then yesterday on the 2 minute ride home from school a new aspect of this scenario hit me in the nose when the Holy Spirit whispered in my soul, “I fight for your love every single day of your life. I fight for it in the bathroom mirror, I fight for it at work, in the bedroom, in the living room, in the kitchen, in the classroom, in the hallways, in the streets, in the office, you name the place and the time and I’m there fighting for you. I fight for your honor, for your respect, for your love and attention and trust. I fight for you against foes that you’ve never seen yet you know them all too intimately. Here you’ve been filling your brain with thoughts of what it would be like to have your man fight for you, when all the while I have been! Satan and I meet daily in the depths of secret to battle over your head and who will get to speak over it today. (He never really wins, although sometimes I let him think that he does.)
Every day my darling.
Everyday there are battles fought over you and your love.”

You know He’s not just talking to me right? That’s you too! You have a Savior who fights for YOU daily! He loves you enough to risk everything to have your love and attention directed towards Him.

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Categories: 1 Samuel, 365 Life, Season 3, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Cents

wpid-062913_1419_youcanhaven1.jpeg Psalms 17:1-21:13

“Show me Your unfailing love in wonderful ways.” Psalm 17:7 NLT

“Wondrously show Your steadfast love” Psalm 17:7 ESV

Now normally I try to avoid the verses I’ve already written about in order to give you fresh manna. However, I came across something today that I just HAD to share with you!!!

show me your unfailing love in wondrous ways Ps 17 7

Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing a SHMILY Sunday post. I share pictures from my week where God has shown me His unfailing love in wonderful ways. (If you’re curious where the name SHMILY came from, here is my original post where I explain in detail, but in short it stands for See How Much I Love You.)

Today as I was juuuuust dipping my toes into the Living Water of today’s Word of the Day I came across a footnote that blew me away. I mean, here is a verse that has literally changed my entire life and the lives of several others and I learn something NEW about it???

The first time I came across Psalm 17:7 I read it in my NLT pocket Bible, with no footnotes or commentary. Today I found it in the ESV that translates it much like the NLT except for the order of the words, but that’s where the footnote comes in. The phrase, “Wondrously show” can also be translated, “Distinguish me by”. Making it possible to translate Psalm 17:7: “Distinguish me by Your unfailing love”!

To demonstrate God’s love distinguishing us, I immediately thought of what happened to Sean yesterday at the gas station. And so I asked him to write this one up for you. 😉

“I went into a gas station to get a fountain drink. My daughter went in with me so I decided to get one for her too. We approached the counter and the attendant rang us up. The total was $1.71. I handed her $2.00 and said I had a penny, thinking I would get less change back. 

Well before I paid her, another gentleman came up and started talking to her. I don’t know if she was distracted by the other customer, or didn’t understand what I had given her, but she only gave me $.28 in change. She shorted me $.02! 
Since it was only two cents, I wasn’t that worried about it. However when I turned around, I saw two shiny pennies, laying on the floor just inside the door. So I just bent down, scooped them up and continued on my merry way.”
SHMILY!
Sure, it’s only two small pennies, but it SHOWS us that God cares about the little details in our lives. I mean, you want to talk about attention to detail, fingerprints, hair count and numbered steps! (See “What is Man that You are Mindful of Him“) We certainly could have lived without those two pennies in our pockets. BUT GOD wanted to show us that even those two cents we had been shorted, He could, was willing to, and would restore. And really, if you think about it, if He can, is willing to and will restore two pennies then would He, being God – the Creator and owner of everything seen and unseen, not also restore to us the much larger amounts that have been shorted us if we ask? (And trust me, I have been asking lately!) Especially since He knows we need them (Matthew 6:32).
The first time I found Psalm 17:7 I was wowed by its concept and prayed it for myself. I loved the idea that God is willing to show me His love in a way that was unique and special to me. That verse taught me that Jesus loves ME and He wants to show me that love, not in an ordinary way, but a WONDERFUL way. And right then and there I prayed, “Lord, show ME Your unfailing love in wondrous ways.” And later that morning I got an apple with pink swirls and a heart at the core (see Unfailing Love for pictures and the whole story).
So today, reading it again with fresh eyes and new meaning I am realizing that not only is He ready and willing to show ME how much He loves me, but He’s ready and willing to distinguish me from the world by that very same love. He wants to show the WORLD how much He loves.
He wants to show YOU how much He loves YOU!
He wants to set YOU apart from the crowd and show them how much He loves YOU.
So I think that it’s only fitting that like my first time, we pray the scripture. Shall we got boldly before the throne and ask so that we may receive? (John 16:24  James 4:2)
“Lord, please distinguish me by Your steadfast love. I know that you do it every day, but I pray that You would do it in a NEW way today, one that is special and unique to ME. And I pray that You would open my eyes to SEE IT and recognize it for what it really is when it happens. In Jesus’ name. Amen!”
(Maybe this will be a new recurring theme for our little blog. 😉 )
Categories: 365 Life, Jesus Loves YOU, Psalms, SHMILY! | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Beginnings

Word of the DayExodus 5:1-9:12

“But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the LORD that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and moreover, I will not let Israel go.'” Exodus 5:2

The Israelites were on the cusp of something new, something wonderful and miraculous. They were about to witness things the LORD had never shown anyone before them. He was about to deliver them out of slavery in such a mighty and miraculous way that the enemies of the Israelites would fear them for GENERATIONS afterwards. Not because they feared the Israelites, but because they feared their GOD. God was about to do something for these people that the entire world is still talking about today!

In the story of the fall of Jericho, Rahab shares with the two spies how terrified everyone is of them,

“I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Seas before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” Joshua 2:9-11

Even 40 years after these Israelites left Egypt everyone is trembling in their boots because the Israelites have their sights set on Jericho. And most of the people inside the “impenetrable” wall know that the God who is able to part the Red Sea and then the Jordan just so that His people don’t have to get their feet a little wet, well, an impenetrable wall probably isn’t too difficult for Him to penetrate.

But in today’s reading, none of that has happened yet. Today, we find the Israelites still dwelling in Egyptian slavery waiting to be rescued just like the LORD told them they would be. Yesterday found Moses at the burning bush getting his marching orders from I AM. Today we see him entering into the presence of Pharaoh who is believed to be a god by his own people. (That’s funny, in the matter of just a couple of weeks Moses has been in the presence of THE God and a “god”. Sorry, I just found that humorous enough to point out.) Anyway, an interesting and yet not altogether surprising thing happens when Moses tells Pharaoh to let his people go. Pharaoh gets mad and tells him “No.” Shocking right?

If you were Pharaoh and some slave representative comes to you in the name of some God you’ve never heard before (because remember, up to Moses at the burning bush the Israelites didn’t even have a name for their God), and tells you that this “god” is commanding you to let all your slave labor go, do you really think you would do it? Of course not! You’d laugh in their face; which is exactly what Pharaoh did and more. He made the Israelites’ brick-making work harder by taking away their straw.

Here they were, Moses, their deliverer has come to save them and ends up making their work harder for them. “Thanks a lot Moe. Way to save us.”

My point is this. Many of us are on the cusp of something truly miraculous; a spectacular deliverance that the world has never seen before. But with that comes change. Change is uncomfortable. Like birthing a child, the pain will be temporary and worth it, but it will definitely be present.

The Israelites had to go out and find stubble for their bricks, their water turned to blood too, the frogs were in their beds, and the gnats were everywhere the Israelites were. These Israelites experienced the plagues right along with the Egyptians. Perhaps, the LORD did this for the purpose of testing and strengthening their faith in Him. It’s hard to say and God doesn’t really explain Himself on this one. But considering the week I’ve had this week, that’s what I think it was for.

I think He tells us what His plans are and then circumstances arise that fly in direct opposition to what He just told us. Will we believe what God has told us? Or will we believe what our circumstances are telling us? Will we stand firm in our faith that God is good? Or will we cave under the pressure of our circumstances?

A little while back I was “feeling the pressure” and was frustrated by what was going on around me. As I prayed. I don’t even remember what it was that I was praying, I only remember what God showed me. In a vision he showed me holding a little white mouse in my hand. I wasn’t holding it with my hand open palm up, but rather with my hand closed around it. The little head and ears were poking out the top of my hand near my thumb and its sweet little tail was sticking out the bottom by my pinkie. And ever so slightly my hand tightened around the mouse until it squeaked, letting me know that the pressure was too great, at which point I released the mouse.

It is out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. God was showing me in this illustration how He works our circumstances for our good. He uses our circumstances to increase the pressure surrounding us until we squeak. And we can then HEAR what is filling our own hearts. Remember, tests aren’t for God to know what’s in us, He already knows. But we don’t; therefore the tests are for US to discover what’s in our hearts. When we squeak, I mean, speak out in our circumstantial pain, we are able to hear our hearts speak out the true root of what is troubling us.

In the plagues of Egypt God was encountering each of the Egyptian gods. It was like He was walking along the shelf of Egyptian idols flicking each of them over as He went down the line.

He does the same thing in our lives! Hallelujah! Although we fall into idol (or idle) worship, God isn’t willing to allow us to stay in that place! He will knock that idol down taking away whatever it was that we were trusting in instead of Him.

Writing that I’m realizing that this last month has been a month where God knocked down my god of “predictability”. For the first month of summer I had a schedule (written out even) that I stuck to like glue. But then June turned into July and everything seemed to change. It was really only a couple of things that changed, but without that piece of paper telling me what to do at what time I felt lost and confused and frustrated. Then God dropped a bomb on me that things would be changing around here. Drastically. And I WASN’T happy about it. This last month has been me fighting with God about things changing. I didn’t want them to change, I wanted to keep doing what I had been doing, the way I had been doing it. Period. I didn’t want MORE work to do. My life had become predictable and I liked that. I knew what to expect and I knew what was expected of me. I was comfortable.

Then I was told to get a job, I haven’t had one in years. Next I was told to take on the Women’s Ministry Directorship, never done that before, I have no human training in theology, no certificates of completion to prove my qualification for the position, yet other women in the church that I will be leading do. This leaves me feeling terribly naked and vulnerable. Yet God says, “Trust Me”. (Yesterday’s post)

God just said to me, “How do you think Joseph felt when Pharaoh told him to lead the country? He’d never done THAT before either. But he managed with quite well with My help don’t you think?” “Yes, Lord.” (giggle)

This last month I have felt like that little mouse in the hand of the Master being squeezed until I squeaked. Not out of abuse or sheer meanness, but out of PURE LOVE. I was scared, which caused all kinds of reactions in me, but I didn’t know what it was I was scared of and why. Without the pressure I never would have squeaked out what was in my heart which allowed me to hear what I was feeling and made it possible for me to DEAL WITH IT. I can’t give something to God if I don’t know I have it. If I have a fear of failure, but never step out in faith giving me opportunity to fail then I would never be able to give my failures to God. (Huh, I just found out I have a fear of failure. Lord, it’s YOURS! Please take it!)

My friends, we DO stand on the cusp of something big and exciting today. I know I’m not the only one. Let’s step out in faith, having handed our fear of failure to the LORD our GOD. Sure, we may not get everything right the first time, but that’s OK. Just as long as we get back up and try again. After all, if you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.

Categories: 365 Life, Exodus, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Impossible Dream

2 Chronicles 24:20-28:21

“The LORD is able to give you much more than this.” 2 Chronicles 25:9

One day when I was in Kindergarten, or there abouts, my mom said something to me that would stick with me forever. She said, “Honey, I think you’d make a really good teacher someday.” I can’t remember exactly how old I was at the time, but I remember how it made me feel when she said it. It felt like I’d been hit by a lightning bolt of revelation. I certainly wouldn’t have described it that way at the time mind you, I was like, 6. But more than anything I remember that feeling coming from deep inside me that she had said something deep and right. In that moment I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. And from that moment on that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. But at the time that this dream of teaching was born “I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.” (1 Corinthians 13:11) I was a child in elementary school, surrounded with women who taught elementary school and seemed to really love me for me. At the time that was all the higher I was able to dream because I didn’t know any differently.

As I grew the dream to be an elementary teacher solidified and become firm in my mind. I was going to be an elementary teacher. Period. When I got to high school all my friends knew that I wanted to teach elementary school. One of my friends went so far as to tease me that I should work with the Kindergarteners because they would be the only ones I could teach that would be shorter than me and take me seriously. (I’m 5 foot 2… on a good day.) I hated his taunt and vowed to *never* teach little kids.

Once I made it to college and I was studying at Purdue to be an elementary teacher, when something interesting started happening. There was this desire birthed inside me that was different from the original dream. I remember the classroom, the teacher, the other students in the room when the revelation started. I realized that I wanted to teach the building blocks of life. I wanted to teach them how to take a good test, how to be a good friend, how to survive in life. I wanted to teach so much more than what they were offering me to teach. I wanted to teach about LIFE more than math or reading or spelling.

So while I was still on my path to be the awesome elementary teacher I had always dreamed of being, there was disquiet in my soul about it now. Without my realizing it, the dream had changed. While I still desperately wanted to teach, I wasn’t exactly sure that elementary school was the right place for me anymore. But I was a semester or two from graduating, and I still wanted to teach so I carried on with my studies and graduated.

Just before graduation September 11th hit and changed our world forever. My husband and I had been married just over a year at that point and were considering having a baby. Then the towers fell and world was suddenly plunged into a darkness we had never experienced before. And the only thought in my head was, “how can we bring a child into a world like this?” But then God countered with, “If people like you never bring children of light into this world it will always be dark.” And by the time I walked across the stage at graduation I was fully pregnant. We moved back home to be close to our parents and I applied for a job at the local elementary school where they all knew and loved me. I got an interview fairly easily. But then the unthinkable happened. I was admitted into the hospital at 33 weeks gestation for pre-ecclampsia (high blood pressure). I was there for about a week before our son Gabriel was born.

He was born the day before my interview. I didn’t get the only job they had available to me. The door to that particular dream had officially shut. And really, I was OK with it. Mostly because at the time I was still battling for my life! But I’ll have to tell you more about that part later.

Gabe was about six months old when a daycare center opened up the next town over. We needed extra income and it was the ONLY thing for a teacher in the area. I applied and the owner thought she had died and gone to heaven. She couldn’t believe I wanted a job there instead of at the elementary school. I explained that there was nothing for me there and she snatched me up like a hot pancake fresh off the griddle. I was promoted to daycare director within a month of working there. And I LOVED it. Here I had been swearing I would NEVER work with little kids and now I was working with toddlers every day and thinking it was the best thing since sliced bread.

Shortly after settling into my role as director we moved again. This time, to Glendale Heights, a suburb of Chicago, so that my husband could go back to school to be a mechanic. While there I tried my best to get a subbing job at the school that was located in our back yard but they weren’t hiring at the time. Imagine that. But I did manage to get a job in a local daycare center as a floating substitute. Except two weeks before I was set to start they had 15 kids enroll, this is absolutely unheard of. So they needed to open up a new classroom and guess who got to teach it. ME! I was in heaven. For the first time I had my own classroom, my own students, I was a real teacher. I was in love.

For the next five years I taught in three different preschool daycares and loved almost every second of it. I didn’t stay at that first one very long though because it was a corporate daycare and I could feel God calling me to a church daycare down the street.

There I was teaching children the true building blocks of life; both the physical ones and the spiritual ones. I was living the dream. But it wasn’t anything like the dream I had first started dreaming. It had grown and changed as I grew and changed and learned more about myself and who God was calling me to be.

Eventually I risked death once more in order to have our baby girl and my husband and I both could feel the Holy Spirit nudging us to take the financial plunge and have me stay home with the kids.

And this is where things really started changing. That first year home with a newborn was one of the hardest in my life. We had a new house, a new baby, I had a new job, it was crazy to say the least. But I had one salvation; our local women’s Bible study. That weekly meeting kept me sane through the chaos. But more than that, it was through that Bible study that God awakened something new in me. While I had always loved the LORD and had a relationship with Him; it was time to kick the teaching dream into real high gear. So He reawakened my dream and love for writing. A dream so dead in my life that I had completely forgotten I had had it in the first place. When I announced on Facebook that I was writing a book about God and sex (True Intimacy) I had a friend from middle school tell me that she still had all my short stories from that time. Stories I didn’t even remember writing she had kept for over ten years!

Even before I met my husband, I had dreamt of being a writer, a good one. It was a dream that I hardly even entertained because at that point it didn’t fit with my larger and longer lived dream of being an elementary teacher. I was still a child thinking like a child at that point. I was literally incapable of thinking any larger than the box I was currently in. Honestly, because I was dreaming up to the sides of the box… but never past what I could see as possibly achievable.

But then I started writing True Intimacy and everything changed. I was still teaching that dream has never died and I doubt it ever will. I was born to teach. I’ve come to the point where I’ve realized that I can teach just about anybody just about anything depending on the circumstance. When I was a child my dream was to be like those teachers I loved when I was in their classrooms. My dream is so different now, and yet completely the same. The Holy Spirit is my teacher; I’m an eternal student in His classroom of Life. And I want to be a teacher like Him in whatever classroom He chooses to place me in. Right now that classroom is my website, my books and my newspaper article. I’m also teaching social media classes at the local library. When I was a child my largest and grandest dream was to have my very own classroom that I could decorate any way that I chose and to teach whatever I felt appropriate. And while I no longer dream of an elementary classroom filled with construction paper decorations that fade in the sunlight, I do dream of souls saved by the Son light. I pray God uses me to bring His marvelous light into their lives. My classroom is the world.

At last count my website has been viewed by people in over seventy countries. My articles are in over a thousand homes in the area weekly with the numbers steadily rising. My deepest desire is no longer to teach children how to take a good test; it’s so much bigger than that. My dream is to teach the children of God how to pass the tests of life when they seem oh so impossible. I want to bring hope to the hopeless through the Word of Christ, because how can they believe if no one ever shares things with them? How will they hear if no one ever tells them? I have a heart for the lost children of God who think they have Him and know Him when in reality all they have is the dry bones of religion and nothing more. How will they know there is more
to the abundant life if someone doesn’t tell them?

Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to Me and I will answer you and I will tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” I have lived this more times in the last thirty-three years than I can count! God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or imagine through the power found in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 3:20) if we would only believe in Him. God has challenged me over the years to “dream big” and I feel like I have. Yet I know that my dreams still pale in comparison to the plans that He has for me.

He has plans for my welfare and not for evil, to give me a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) “For now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) When I was a child, I dreamt a possible dream. Now as an adult I have chosen to dream an impossible dream. It’s a dream that I can’t possibly achieve on my own, not ever. But God has placed it in my heart none-the-less. It’s a dream where I write the books the world reads because they’re hungry for the bread from heaven. It’s a dream where I stand on a stage before thousands of people and lead them through a prayer of salvation followed by a worship and praise that they’ve been holding in their entire lives. I dream for people to KNOW Him like Adam knew Eve, intimately and beyond all shame because they’ve been eternally forgiven and not condemned. None of that is possible without God. Apart from God we can do nothing, but a part of Him we can do everything!

So often I feel like Mary in Luke chapter 1 when the angel Gabriel comes to her and tells her that she has been chosen to birth the Christ child and she says, “how can this be?” And the angel replies, “Nothing is impossible with God”.

Often I find myself praying and thanking God for using me for this or for that and I will say, “Lord, you could have used anybody to do that, but you used me. Thank You!” Do you know what He said the last time I prayed that, “No. I couldn’t have used just anybody. I could only use you.” And I knew that He had a point.

We are all made so uniquely that we all have a unique purpose in this world. We were created to perform certain jobs and functions that only we can do. And if we’re not doing them then who will get them done? If we’re not doing the job that we were created for then that job isn’t getting done correctly.

I was created to be a teacher. A teacher of the Word of God. I know that now. I NEVER in a million years would have known that in Kindergarten. I couldn’t dream that high. I still have trouble dreaming that high. But I know that as long as I keep following the Man with the plans I’ll get there. Somehow. Someday. In His way. Until then, I’ll keep dreaming the impossible dream that the God of all hope gave me to dream. He is a good God who fulfills His promises. No matter how impossible they may seem to us.

What’s your impossible dream?

Categories: 2 Chronicles, 365 Life, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breathless


2 Chronicles 6:1-9:31

“And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, and their clothing, his cupbearers, and their clothing, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the LORD, there was no more breath in her.” 2 Chronicles 9:3-4

My friends, can I just say, I love my new church! In the last seven days I have met with them three times and each time I have felt the LORD’s presence like never before in a public setting. I have never experienced “church” this way before. I have always been sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His direction, I haven’t always obeyed but I have always heard. Anyway, In the last few years while spending purposeful time in His word I’ve gotten even more sensitive to His movements.

Issachar church is blessed! They long for the presence of the LORD to be in their midst as much as He longs for them and He doesn’t disappoint them by not showing up! It’s been amazing to me how I’ve had experiences with the Holy Spirit on my own, but never with a group of people!

I feel like the Queen of Sheba today, breathless, having gone through the house of God and lost myself in the art of praise. I am breathless at the Grace that God bestows and how wonderful it is to fall INTO Grace.

I am desperately in love with Him for the way He “makes us lie down in green pastures” Psalm 23:2 in those times when we need to rest but don’t feel like we can give ourselves permission to. Time with Jesus isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity! He is Life and breath and bread, without time in His presence we perish; both in the spiritual and the physical.

[it’s a matter of life and death]

It doesn’t have to be just going to church. Actually, church is a supplement to our nourishment. God told me once during church that we should be feeding ourselves spiritually with the Bible at home daily; the message on Sunday is just like going out to eat instead of fixing dinner. If you only ate one meal, one day a week your body would be skinny and devastatingly malnourished barely able to function properly. The same is true with your spirit. If the only thing you’re doing is going to church and thinking that’s enough Jesus for the week then you are sadly mistaken. There is a reason He referred to Himself as the DAILY bread. It’s because He is to be eaten DAILY.

For some of you, this may be me preaching to the choir. At least I hope so anyway. But I’ve learned that there is a difference between reading a scripture here and there throughout the day, and making the time to sit down for a solid 30 minutes to read a daily portion of the Bible. In both instances you’re “in the word daily”, but one is purposeful and distinct while the other is sporadic and much easier to forsake when life gets hectic. And you know that it will! Because it ALWAYS does.

I could stand around and say that I “don’t have time” to read for 30 minutes every day. But I would be lying to you. Because if I have time to watch a 30 minute show on TV, or sit and talk to a friend for 30 minutes, then I do have the time. I’m just not putting it toward something that’s going to sustain me for the rest of my day.

God has taken my daily time in His word and shown me things that I never could have imagined on my own. He’s used His Word to speak Life into a situation that I thought was dead in the water. How? Because He is LIFE! He is everything we could ever need and until we figure that out, we’re lost.

There are a LOT of things that you could do with your time, but none of them will compare to spending purposeful time in the presence of God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth! Make the decision today to set aside 30 minutes of your day, every day, at any time of the day, to spend time reading the Bible. I challenge you to try it for 7 days. Just one week. That’s not that big of a commitment right? That’s not such a big deal. But I promise you that if you do it, in that week God will reveal Himself to you in a way you’ve never experienced before and it will knock your socks off! You will get a taste of what He is, and you will see that He is GOOD. Are you willing to give God 30 minutes of your life for seven days to take your breath away? If you are, please let me know, I would LOVE to pray for you!

Categories: 2 Chronicles, 365 Life, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beautiful YOU


Acts 9:23-12:25

Yesterday I posted a picture of my disheveled little self and challenged you to share pictures of your beautiful selves with me. (TamarKnochel@gmail.com – let me know if I can share them, I won’t unless I have permission.) When the first one came in I was so struck by the Spirit at how beautiful He feels we are. And then He started singing:

“You are so beautiful, to Me.

Can’t you see?

You’re everything I hoped for,

You’re everything I need.

You are so beautiful, to Me!”

He wasn’t just singing to me in my brokenness or even to the beauty whose picture I was beholding, it was, no IS, His song to all of us. To YOU personally. In today’s scripture God told Peter, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” Acts 10:15

In the early days of the Bible God pulled Abram aside and told him he was special, that God wanted to make a holy nation through Abram. And Abram believed Him. That very nation grew rapidly and became more numerous than the sand at the sea or the stars in the sky. When Christ died on the cross He died for ALL mankind. His blood cleanses EVERY heart that believes; which brings them into the family of God.

God has made you clean. He has declared you as holy and set apart for His good purposes, don’t you dare consider yourself common! You have the blood of JESUS covering your nakedness, cleansing your wounded-ness, filling in your imperfections, declaring you pure, righteous and beautiful in His sight. And there is NOTHING common or ordinary about that!

You are so beautiful to Him.

Receive this gift of Truth from Him today.

Categories: 365 Life, Acts, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Given a Spirit

1 Kings 15:25 – 18:19

Word of the Day:

“As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand,” 1 Kings 18:15

I can be such a pushover sometimes, I always have been. Honestly, Im amazed that I made it all the way through high school and college without ever being offered drugs, alcohol or a cigarette. My mom must have prayed a lot about that. As an adult, the pressures arent the same, but they’re still there. Now weve got commercials filled with Weight Watchers telling us to “diet”, hair color telling us to “dye it”, fast food restaurants telling us to “eat here”. Its enough to make a girl go absolutely insane trying to figure out the best balance for life! Everything that surrounds us day in and day out pulls at us from every possible side in a constant tug of war where were the rope! We are making decisions from moment to moment and those decisions can affect the course of the rest of our lives! So how can we know what the best decision is in each moment, for ourselves as well as our families?

We trust God. In several of my Bible Study readings this week the Word has spoken of God leading His people. He “teach[es] them the good way in which they should walk” (1 Kings 8:36). “May He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways…” (1 Kings 8:57-58) “For it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that He might fulfill His word,” (1 Kings 12:15)

God has directed me to 2 Timothy 1:7 NASB for my memory scripture this week. “For God has not given us a Spirit of timidity [or fear], but of power and love and discipline.” I am going to be holding this one close to the heart, as a shield! Those who are in Christ, those who have chosen Him as their Savior have been made new. They have been born again and given the Holy Spirit of Jesus to live within them. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. His Spirit leads us and is always there to consult for any decision large or small. He is a personal God that cares about the things you care about… because you care about them. And if you feel God’s Spirit leading you to do something and it’s against the social norms or peer pressures around you; know that you have not been given a timid Spirit that is afraid to do what God leads you to do. You have been given a Spirit that will supply you with the power to stand tall and do what you’re called to do, a love for what you are doing and for whom you are doing it and the discipline to get the job done.

Hallelujah!

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Give a book bible button

I wanted to make you aware of some ministry updates. I am very excited to announce that I have a Mother’s Day speaking engagement scheduled for May 11th. I would LOVE to have books on hand for the women to buy, and even some to give away as gifts. However, the current funds in the ministry account are running drastically low. If you are able, I would love for you to prayerfully consider giving a book or Bible to someone who can’t afford one. If you are able, please click here!

Categories: 1 Kings, 365 Life, Waiting, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week 3 Video Guide

Samson

Week 3 Video Guide Printable


“And Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ Then he bowed with all his strength and the house fell upon the lords and upon the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.” Judges 16:30

-Turn to Judges 13 and the story of Samson so that you can read along.

-What is Samson’s mother not to eat? “drink no ______ or ______ drink, and eat nothing ______” Why? “for the child shall be a ______ to ______ from the womb to the day of his death.”

-Manoah never doubted the word of the Lord, how can we draw strength from his story? What notes can we take that might lead us to walk with more faith in our own lives?

-God’s name is Wonderful and He is the God of wonders, what does that mean to you personally?

-What “inciting incidents” have occurred in your life lately? What “horrible things” have been done or have happened to you that may be leading you down an unexpected road to Egypt in order to save lives?

-The Israelites bound Samson and gave him over to the Philistines, how is that any different than killing him themselves? If you hire a hit man to kill someone, you are still found guilty of murder, though you didn’t commit the murder yourself. Think about this in a spiritual sense, as a brother or sister in Christ, have you ever bound someone and handed them over to the Enemy? Has anyone ever done that to you? How would that happen anyway?

-“then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands.” The imagery of this verse calls me back to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. They too were bound hand and foot when they were thrown into the fire, yet when they emerged their clothes nor their hair smelled like smoke. The only change to their appearance was that the ropes that had bound them had been burned off. Have you been bound and thrown into a furnace of life? Know this, the angel of the LORD – Jesus, is with you in that fire. In what ways has His presence been with you and comforted you in this time?

-How are your bindings being burned off?

-What things in your life do you see as useless that God may be trying to use for your good?

-Know this, YOU are not useless. I am learning that this is the Enemy’s ploy against us. Satan wants us to believe that we are useless in the eyes of the LORD, yet nothing could be further from the Truth. We are God’s own flesh and blood and Spirit and so much more valuable to Him than we could ever think or imagine. Believe this, God wants to use you in a mighty way my friend. Perhaps through this very circumstance that life is handing you now…

-The Israelites as they came out of Egypt and were stuck between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army, they saw no hope for life. They saw no way out of the mess they were in. They said to Moses, “were there not enough graves in Egypt that you brought us out here to die”. Little did they know or understand that they were on the verge of the largest miracle they had ever or would ever see. They didn’t know that their God could part the sea; He had never done that before. All they knew was what was right in front of them, trouble headed their way and fast. But Moses, he looked to God. The One who makes ways where there are no ways. The One who sees and the One who Saves. This place that you’re in, where it looks hopeless and deadly, are you standing on the edge of the Red Sea on the verge of parting? Is God, perhaps, about to do something that He’s never done before? Raise your eyes above your circumstances. He is with you and not against you. And because God is with you then WHO or WHAT can be against you? Like Samson ripping the gates off the hinges at Hebron, is God about to rip some closed doors open for you, part some sea, light up a new path?

-Delilah was desperate to discover the source of Samson’s great strength, but we know it don’t we?

-The Spirit of the LORD is our great strength as well! Delilah has told these lords over and over again that she knew the source of Samson’s strength, only to have it be discovered that she did not. Yet she did not give up in seeking his source of strength. She was persistent in a way that many of us can glean from today. Because the very thing that she was seeking is something, someONE whom we are told to seek while He still can be found. We too should seek after the gift of the Holy Spirit diligently, because God is willing and generous in the gifting of the Holy Spirit!

-It is significant that the story mentions Delilah tormenting him before his strength left him. What does 1 John 4:18 tells us about torment and strength?

The love that it speaks of is God’s agape, unconditional, love. Not our love for Him, His love for us. In His love for us there is no fear. Rather, when we are focused on His infinite love for us, His love causes our fears to flee.

-Was Samson’s weakened state permanent?

Neither is our own state of emergency. It is not permanent, it is but a brief and momentary trouble, and it will not last forever. Praise be to God!

-The Philistine lords called Samson in to “entertain” them; they called him in so that they could mock him and torment him. Is this very thing that causes their demise?

On the day that Jesus died on the cross the Enemy mocked Him and spit at Him, yet it was this very thing that caused Satan’s demise as well. And the very same is true for us. The Enemy taunts and mocks us like the Philistines mocked Samson and like Goliath mocked David. However, the very rock he uses to trip us is the rock we use to slay him! Satan has no power over you!

Categories: 1 Kings, 365 Life, Waiting, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beauty

1 Kings 3:16 – 6:38

Word of the Day: “And the king said, ‘Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.’ Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, ‘Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.’ But the other said, ‘He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.’ Then the king answered and said, ‘Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is the mother.'” 1 Kings 3:25-27

The day was dreary and dismal as the rain pelted the roof reminding me that I had to go out. I had to go to the bank, and the water office and the post office, in this… blech! Little did I know what beauty awaited me, in this, the dreary and dismal. I pulled up the collar on my coat, took a deep breath and plunged into the cold wet day; freezing rain is no fun. What happened to the sun? It feels like years since we’ve seen it and played in its warm rays. Summer, are you ever coming back?

I get into the car to see the windshield covered in ice and breathe a prayer, “Lord, please don’t make me go out in that rain any more than I have to. Please let this ice come off with the wipers. Please.” One, two, three, click, YES! “THANK YOU JESUS!” The engine purrs as it pulls out of the muddy driveway and into the slush-filled street, here we go… blech! The song on the radio calls my attention, wasn’t this the song that I had stuck in my head all morning? Interesting Lord. They sing to me, “I know you’re out there, and I know you care, just like an angel watching over me…” and I wonder, really? Sometimes it’s hard to feel like God cares about me when it feels like everything around me is going wrong. Hmmm… maybe the weather just has me in a bad mood, I know God cares…right?

As I pull into the bank parking lot I thank God for the closest parking spot being open, “Thank You Jesus!” Running on my tiptoes so that the back hems of my pants don’t get too wet I yank on the door and sigh, we’re here…again. I was just here yesterday, for the exact same errand, a cashier’s check for the mortgage… But I forgot all the paperwork and didn’t have any amounts, sooooo because it was ten minutes to closing time I had to leave empty handed and come back in this…blech. I walked up to the same teller as yesterday and smiled, “Let’s try this again shall we?” She grinned in recognition. While I was waiting for her to fill out all the appropriate paperwork I got started filling out my check for the water office and putting our return address on the envelope for the post office, might as well make the most of my time while I’m waiting, right? All finished I bid the teller, “Have a good day, and stay dry!” as I breathed deeply in preparation of the blast of cold air that was bound to greet me when I opened the door. It did, it was even stronger than when I had gone in. Leaning my hat into the wind I slid myself back into the driver’s seat of my car, grateful for the break in the wind allowing me to breathe again.

And then it happened, as I rounded the side of the building on my way out of the parking lot I saw it. My shoulders drooped as my photographer’s heart quickened. A frozen fence with fingers of ice dripping down… how much was this picture, this child of my heart, worth to me? My thoughts raced in disagreement, “I have two more places to go before home, I’ll get soaked, AND it’s freezing out there!” But my photographer’s heart would not be denied that perfect “babe” of a picture. So while my skin and brain were ranting, my hands shifted the car into reverse to pull into the nearest parking spot.

Five minutes and completely frozen fingers later, I re-entered the warmth of my dry car, sopping wet coat sticking to the back of the seat. I had it, that one great shot that takes several bad shots to get to; I had it! But what’s more, I had something else. To put a name on it, is difficult. Maybe the more I write the better I can explain it, but I didn’t get into that car with only a great picture, I had something else in tow too. Salvation.

Photography is a therapy for me, there’s something healing in the capturing of beauty in unexpected places. When I left my warm cozy spot on the couch (curled up in a blanket with the dog and my Bible) and ventured out into this dreary mess of a day, I wasn’t expecting to be greeted with beauty. I was going to the bank, and to pay bills! Yet Beauty found me all the same, and she called to me from a frozen fence in the rain. Was I willing to sacrifice the dry safety of my warm car to capture her? Was I willing to put my comfort on the line to take her home with me and share her with all of you? Honestly, not at first! But those desires that God plants in our hearts, they can’t be denied. They can’t be rebuffed forever. What God plants, God tends. Like the good shepherd that He is, He cares for His sheep…even when it doesn’t seem like He is. I know He’s out there, and I know that He cares. He is watching over me, and He’s watching over you.

The delight of taking that one good picture put a smile on my face that lasted all the way through the rest of my rainy day errands and on to home; where I came straight to my computer to look at it again, and it took my breath away.

There really is Beauty in the blech.

 

Categories: 1 Kings, 365 Life, Waiting, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lunch Buddies

Hee hee hee!!! I am so excited that I get to blog today! I feels like forever that I’ve been able to come on here and talk to you all!!! I have been SOOO busy getting this next Bible Study up and running and ready. There has been so much going on here behind the scenes and I am seriously on pins and needles waiting to unveil it to you! You’re gonna LOVE it! It seriously is all I can do to contain my glee in this moment, deep breath… It won’t be too much longer, I hope.

I can give you this little peek behind the curtain, the new book/Bible Study cover and title:

Waiting front cover only

Ahhhh… there’s nothing like waiting on a Bible Study about waiting right? You know you love me!

Yup, the writing is finished, the proof copy has been sent to the editor, the front cover is done, it’s so close I can almost taste it! I love being able to see the finish line don’t you!

On Fridays I go to the school to have lunch with the kids. Today, as I was walking up to the school I was wondering if Anna would, for the third week in a row, forget that I was coming and bringing her forgotten lunch and get another one before I got there ending up with three lunches for the two of us. And it just made me think of all the times when we forget that our heavenly Father is bringing something into our lives. He’s coming with something big and exciting and we forget so we work on and worry about that very same thing only to see Him coming around the corner with His version of what we’ve been working on… and it’s SO MUCH BETTER than what we did that our version pales in comparison and we just want to hide it behind our backs.

Every time I have walked into the cafeteria carrying a lunch for my daughter that I know she will love and actually eat, and see her walking to the table with a tray filled with food that I know that she will not eat, God has tapped me on the shoulder and said, “you know you do that too right?” Siiiigh…

Why do we worry and sweat over things that He’s got under control? So often we think, “Oh! This and such doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere God must need me to do something about it. Maybe He needs my help…” No. He doesn’t need your help. He needs your TRUST. He needs for you to believe in Him to do what needs to be done that you can’t do. He needs for us to be still, silent, quiet, peaceful, calm, motionless, carefree, and know that HE is God, that He has it all under control and that when it is time for us to DO something He WILL let us know it.

Once upon a time… OK, all the time, I was worrying over my sins, I was worrying over whether or not I was doing the right thing and God stopped me and said, “I am a good Father, if you’re doing something wrong, I will tell you.”

Oh! He IS a good Father! And He DOES tell us when we’re doing something wrong or when we’re doing something right! We just have to be still enough to be able to hear Him!

Oh how I love being on this phase of writing! There’s nothing like being at the end of a season and looking back over the whole thing and seeing how it all unfolded right before your eyes but couldn’t see it until now. My season of “waiting” is over, I know it, I can feel it down to my bones. God is opening my eyes to so many things right now and it’s amazing. Time is rushing by like a freight train and the rush of wind as it passes is taking my breath away. All I can do right now is laugh. Laugh at God’s sense of humor and irony. Laugh at how perfectly it has all fit together. Laugh at how wonderful He really truly is, and know that I’ve only BARELY scratched the surface.

God’s got my back. I don’t have to worry or fear the future, because I know the One who holds it in the palm of His eternally merciful hand and He loves me enough to die for me. I am so blessed to know this God whose word always proves true. This God who proves His faithfulness to His people in so many abundant ways. This God who fills the earth with so many colors of His love that there is no way to count them all! Yes! This is MY God. This is MY Father who brings me the best lunch I could imagine, so I don’t need to worry about getting my own lunch because I know that His will be so much better in every way!

God bless you my friends! I have missed you!!!!

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