Monday, October 21, 2019

In the Shelter. In the Shadow.

By: Joanne Viola

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
(Psalm 91:1, NLT)

It’s one of those “go to” verses when we are in need of protection. So familiar and yet I wondered how I had ever missed one simple word. One verse stood out and brought such depth of meaning which I had overlooked before.


The word which stood out was the word, “in”.

Am I staying in His shelter, in His plan, in His will for my life? Are you?
“The mystery and beauty of God coming to us in Jesus is that He is God with us and for us. But He doesn’t come close to us to keep us as we are. He come to us, calls us, and graciously changes us from the inside out. The God who is with us and for us asks us a difficult question: Are you with Me?”
(By Ruth Schwenk in Settle My Soul, page 108)
This verse is a call for us to “tabernacle” with Him for this is why He came to earth …

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
(John 1:14, NLT)

Jesus came to be with us, and for us, and to change us. He came to live within us so that we would be with Him. In a sense, He tethered Himself to us.

Tethered is defined as fastening one object to another. Sound familiar?

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heaven burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 
(Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)

Our problem is not that He is not with us; it is that we are not with Him. He bids us to come to Him. He humbly and gently woos us to dwell, tabernacle, and yoke ourselves with Him.

For as we do we will discover that we can –
Live in the shelter of the Most High, and find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

How will you respond as Jesus asks today, "Are you with Me?" 


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Settle Down and Depend on God

I love it when things are neat and tidy and well organized. A chaotic environment makes me feel anxious. When things in the outward circumstances of my life feel out of control, controlling my environment, aka cleaning and organizing, has been my coping mechanism.

I remember living with a knot of anxiety in the pit of my stomach at a very young age. In the first decade of my life our home was chaotic-my parents' marriage was toxic and my mama struggled with suicidal depression as a result. After my parents' divorce and the adjustment period that followed, life at home with mama became relatively peaceful, quiet and chaos free. When we got involved in a church that loved us, we never got involved enough in the inner workings to know about any inner conflicts or problems that may have been there. So my church experience was also peaceful and chaos free. When I did feel any outside stress or inward loneliness, I escaped into a perfect daydream world. In that world I designed a perfect little home and a perfect little family. It was my dream of what my future would be like.

As an adult, I soon learned that real life was nothing like the one I had manufactured in my imagination. Real life is often messy and chaotic. I married my polar opposite in personality. Our one common trait was that we are both very stubborn and highly opinionated. Consequently, our marriage was nothing like my picture perfect daydreams. So, with the same zeal that I was constantly cleaning and organizing our home, I decided that the fly in the ointment that was keeping our life from being ideal was my husband and I began to constantly try to change him. I wanted to make him over into the image I had created in my own mind of what he should be.

To add to the chaos, we dove right into church ministry not many years after we were married. What a shock it was to me to realize that not everyone in church loves and gets along with one another! I discovered that even church life is messy and chaotic at times. So, I brought my "cleaning" skills into our ministry life. I thought that if I could only show others the right way to think, the right way to live, the right way to get along, then our church could be as neat and tidy as my kitchen cupboards. I soon discovered that people don't passively let you rearrange them in the same way bowls and plates do!

Obviously, the efforts to change my husband and the people in our church were futile. God had to reveal to me that truth by showing me the chaos that lived in my own heart. He helped me to see that, while I may be good at keeping a clean house, my own heart was a mess of resentment, criticalness and faultfinding. He also helped me to realize that all of my self effort to make myself, my husband, our children and our church into my own image of perfection was silly. I couldn't even clean up and change my own heart without turning to Him, yielding and surrendering to Him and completely depending on Him to do the inner transformation my heart so desperately needed, so what in the world made me think I had the right or the know how to try to change other people?  I had to settle down and let Him deal with the clutter and chaos in my own life and I also had to settle down, let go and depend on Him to work in others instead of trying to fix them myself.

Some would say that my cleaning and organizational skills are my strength. But, I know the truth that sometimes our unguarded strength becomes our greatest weakness. My weakness is trying to fix things that it's God's job to fix. Every day I have to consciously keep my hands out of God's business.  How silly of me to think that my ideas of what others should be are the same as God's perfect plan for them. How silly of me to think that He needs my help to complete the good work that He promised to finish in those I love and care for. How silly of me to waste my strength on all of this self effort when my strength comes from my complete dependence on God. I can't save myself. I can't save others. But, this I can do, I can settle down and trust in the One Who can.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Best Counselor We Can Find

By: Sarah Geringer

But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.
John 14:26 AMP

Have you ever attended counseling? I spent five years receiving Christian counseling, and it was the best money I have ever spent. My counselors helped me heal from many wounds as a child of divorce and deal with my seasons of depression.

It's been several years since my last session with a human counselor. However, I've learned that God himself is the very best Counselor I can find. When I received counseling from two different Christian counselors, I truly appreciated their objective perspectives and human consolation. Yet God's counseling has been even better than the best counseling money can buy. Here's why. 

When I take an issue to God in prayer, he quickly brings to mind related scenes from my memory. Sometimes he reminds me of a person I need to forgive. Other times, he replays an old childhood hurt that is related to a current hurt. The Holy Spirit mines the depths of my heart and soul, then pulls out thorns so healing can begin. 

No human counselor has the power to know everything on our hearts. Only our all-knowing God can do that. He often uses human counselors to help unearth truths we need to know. In my journey, God powerfully used my counselors to restore and refresh me. I highly recommend that you consider receiving Christian counseling if your issues are interfering with daily living. That was my signal to get help, and I'm so glad I did.

Yet the Counselor himself is the only one perfectly equipped to help, strengthen, comfort, intercede, and serve on our behalf. He knows your heart and wants to help you heal. The Holy Spirit will strengthen you with the power of God's Word as you study it each day. He is praying on your behalf, presenting your needs to your Heavenly Father right now. He will teach you a new perspective of hope and joy. 

I pray that if you need a counselor, you will turn to God first for your heart's needs. Then please do not hesitate to seek out Christian counseling to complement the work God wants to do in you. If you would like me to pray for you, please visit my Contact page and send me an email--it is an honor for me to do this for my readers. Blessings and God's peace to you.
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Have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings and God's peace to you,

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Reflection questions:

1. Which name for the Holy Spirit in John 14:26 resonates with you most, and why?

2. What truths is the Holy Spirit teaching you or helping you remember now?

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

One Way I Can Honor God

By: Jenifer Metzger

As a woman of God, I desperately want to honor God with my life and my choices. I want to make the most of this time He has given me. One way I do that is to set goals. Goals to help me cultivate my relationship with God, to cultivate my marriage and family, and to grow in this life He has blessed me with. Today I want to share a product from a wonderful Christian company that helps me do this.

Several years ago I was introduced to Powersheets by Cultivate What Matters. I did some digging to discover what they were and was pretty impressed. However, I didn't think they would work for me. After all, Powersheets are a goal planner and I just didn't feel like I had "big" goals. So I admired from afar! In 2018 I decided to take the plunge and give it a try. After just a couple of months, I was hooked!

I discovered that with Powersheets, you can have "big" goals but you can also have smaller goals. It doesn't matter what your goals are, Powersheets help you! Powersheets are literally like having a life coach walk beside you every day encouraging you and celebrating your progress.

The beginning of Powersheets has some great prep work. I like to think of it as a "get to know me" time. You find out what is important to you, where you want to grow, and what you want to cultivate. You answer the big question: Where do I want to be when I am 80? After going through the prep work, you break it down into smaller bite size action steps. For example, if your end goal is that you want to lose weight. You could make action steps of eating more veggies and drinking more water. If your end goal is to cultivate your marriage, you can make action steps of a monthly date night and a weekly neighborhood walk. See how easy yet amazing that is!?

The majority of my goals are the every day "normal" things that I tend to forget. I put watering my plants as a weekly action step. This way I see it and actually water them once a week instead of forgetting about them for months at a time. I put take my vitamins on my daily action steps, this is part of my health goal. I put the things that I want to be intentional with, no matter how big or how small, and Powersheets help me to not only remember, but to make progress. With the tending list, I always have my goals in front of me and can mark my progress as I go. At the end of the month I can look back and celebrate progress of any size and see where I need to work harder.

Powersheets are life changing for me and they can be life changing for you too! No matter what season of life you are in, Powersheets can help you. Whether your goals are health, finances, marriage, friendships, to deepen your walk with God, to get into the Bible, to keep up on laundry, or even to remember to dust the mantle, Powersheets will help.

The 2020 Powersheets launch today at 10am EST! Cultivate What Matters is a debt free company. This means when they sell out they will not produce more until next year. Powersheets go fast, so don't miss it. To order, click the banner below:

It's time for Share A Link Wednesday! Each Wednesday we invite you to leave a link to your latest blog post in the comments. We still desire to connect women of God with one another and encourage each other in Christ. So grab a cup of coffee or glass of sweet tea, sit back and visit a few blogs. Be encouraged and share your own stories.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Sarah and the Quest for a Legacy and a Promise

Photo Courtesy of: Suhyson Choi

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her. And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.” ~Genesis 16:1-2

I have often read the account in Genesis 16 of Sarah giving her maidservant to her husband in utter astonishment. What was she thinking? How could she possibly be ok with her husband sleeping with another woman? She’s willing to have her husband father another woman’s child? What in the world is wrong with her?

Before we jump too quickly to thinking Sarah may have needed a mental evaluation, there is something important to note: it wasn’t so much that there was something wrong with Sarah as it was that there was something terribly wrong with the culture she was living in.

You see, the severely patriarchal culture we observe as the backdrop for the story of the Bible (not to be confused with the myth that the Bible itself and God Himself are patriarchal!) taught that woman’s sole purpose was to bear children and thereby further their husband’s family line. That was the primary way in which women could contribute to society. And if they didn’t? Well, they were pretty much viewed as being worthless.

You can imagine, then, Sarah’s desperation. Here she is, well into her golden years, still childless. She has gone through her whole life believing that she has failed at the one thing she was made to do: have babies. Her husband loves her, but she still feels as if she has let him down. What does she do then? She takes matters into her own hands. After all, a whole four chapters earlier, in Genesis 12, God had made the promise to Abraham that he would be made into a great nation. How could that happen apart from descendants?

So, Sarah does what to us feels like the unthinkable and gives her maidservant to her husband so that, together, they might produce an heir for Abraham and thereby help God’s hand along a little in HIs plan to make him into that great nation. The sad thing? God didn’t need any help, and it was Sarah’s racing ahead to try to insure on her own that God’s promise would come to pass which led to much of the heartache and turmoil we read of in the chapters of Genesis that follow.

What are you hoping for today, friend? What are you wishing for, trying to make happen, working yourself to the bone in order to bring to pass? What if I were to tell you that you would not be fulfilled, even if that legacy or that promise or that goal came to fruition, if you don’t first know Christ? It’s true. Consider a few passages of Scripture with me for a moment:

"What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? 
One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever.”
~Eccelesiastes 1:3-4

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”
~Isaiah 40:8

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
~Psalm 16:11

“The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
~Isaiah 58:11

The truth is that as great as goals and dreams are, as wonderful as it even is to see God so faithfully fulfill a promise He has made to one of His children (as he does several chapters later in the birth of Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac!), what is far more lasting and fulfilling is being in relationship with God Himself. The Giver truly is far greater than even His most amazing and best of gifts. 

Leaving behind a wonderful legacy and desiring to see promises of God be fulfilled are wonderful goals. But we make a grave mistake when we do as Sarah did and jump ahead of God out of a wrong belief that our God-given legacy will be more fulfilling to us than God is Himself. 

Whatever your life goals may be in this season and whatever legacy you may be working towards being able to leave behind, temper that zeal just a bit with the truths of God’s Word. Remember that all our work is empty vanity apart from Christ. Remember that walking by the Spirit is what must become our practice if we want to live a truly fruitful, fulfilling life on this earth. And that is only done through Bible study, prayer, and seeking the face of God.