Waiting with Purpose

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Waiting…it’s a part of all of our lives whether we like it or not. Waiting…it’s reality. But there is good and purpose in the waiting, in the delay. For some of you just reading this word, WAIT, causes you to get all wiggly and antsy. Several years ago I was in a time of waiting and delay in more than one area of my life. It was frustrating. It was hard. It caused me, at times, to doubt and feel hopeless. During this time, I went to the Word, one of my favorite places to spend time. I discovered a lot about waiting. Waiting has purpose. Waiting is good. And there were things I could be “doing” while I waited.

One of my favorite passages on waiting in the midst of difficulty is found in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.  It is the story of Jehoshaphat and the Israelites. Here’s a summary of some of what I learned and began to put into practice in my daily life. It worked. I was less frustrated, more at peace. It was still hard, but I felt comforted, encouraged and hopeful. And in the end, the Lord changed my impatient attitude and transformed my heart.

Renew your mind in His Word.  —Psalm 119:74, 81, 114; Psalm 130:5

Rehearse His goodness and faithfulness —His works, wonders and ways.  —Lamentations 3:21-24, Psalm 59:9

Rejoice by praising Him. – Psalm 42:11, 43:5; 37:7, Psalm 30:12

Recite His Word — meditate upon it, pray it back to Him. Psalm 130:5

Rest in His presence and just enjoy Him! Psalm 62:1-2

Remain in a standing position (standing attitude) knowing that Your God is acting! Isaiah 64:4, Psalm 18:33

If you’d like to see some of my study in the Old Testament on the concept of waiting, you can download, While You Wait.

So if you’re finding yourself impatient and frustrated because you’re having to wait…RELAX…there is purpose and good in it. God is always seeking to make us more like Jesus…and that is very good indeed!

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Do You See What I See Devotional Book

The series I did last Christmas for advent is now available in print.  This series looks at the Christmas Story from the perspective of some of those involved so long ago.  Each week focuses on a different person and perspective as we examine the text and then explore ways we might apply what we’ve learned to our own lives.

This series can be used over four or five weeks and includes a weekly reading of Scripture, a devotional thought, questions to ponder and a variety of family activities. You can check out the series on the blog here.

                  ContentsDo You See What I See FRONT cover

Christmas from Mary’s Perspective

Christmas from Joseph’s Perspective

Christmas from the Shepherds’ Perspective

Christmas from the Magi’s Perspective

Christmas from Simeon & Anna’s Perspective

 

My prayer is that the Lord would use this study to help refocus your heart this Christmas season on Christ Jesus and foster an attitude of worship, gratitude and giving to others.

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You can purchase a copy of the booklet, Do You See What I See? using the PayPal link below. (Shipping is only available in the Continental U.S.)

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Tis the Season: Week 4

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For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. —Psalm 86:13

God’s steadfast or unfailing love is mentioned repeatedly throughout Scripture and is one of the most important words in the Old Testament.  It is often translated in English as lovingkindness, faithful love, steadfastness or steadfast love.

It is central to God’s character.  The word in the original Hebrew is hesed meaning to be faithful and merciful; love; goodness; an act of kindness shown towards someone.  The quality of the kindness shown is usually like that reserved for close family or friends. Hesed implies personal involvement and it is covenantal with those God has chosen and redeemed.  It implies reciprocity but since God’s hesed is ultimately beyond the covenant, it will not be abandoned even when the human partner is unfaithful.  God’s hesed is everlasting (Isaiah 54:8).

God’s steadfast love toward us finds its ultimate revelation in Jesus! So how does this affect my every day, real life?

In Jesus……continue reading

When I am consumed and overwhelmed…

Sometimes I have those moments or days when my soul is overwhelmed and I can’t seem to settle down…

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! I say: the Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him. Lamentations 3:22-23

What is consuming you today?

What is heavy upon your heart and mind?

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Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah —Psalm 62:8. 

What does this verse instruct us to do? When?

What attribute of God do you find in this verse?

The word for pour out in this verse is the Hebrew, sapak meaning to spill forth, to gush, to pour out oneself.

Psalm 62:8 is one of my favorite Get Real! verses of Scripture. There is no pretense. I don’t have to try to cover up, fix up, look good, act right or get it all together before I come to the Lord. He meets me right where I am! I can unload my burdens and tell Him exactly how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking and why I’m frustrated, angry, disappointed, overwhelmed, discouraged and on and on. And He hears my cry. He comforts and encourages me. He is my refuge. He stills my soul and calms me down.

Spend some time pouring out your heart to the Lord.  Get it off your chest!  Leave it at His feet and walk away filled with His peace, joy and love.  KNOW that His love is great.  His love is steadfast and faithful. And He is in control of all things.

When your soul is overwhelmed and can’t seem to settle down, get still before the Lord.

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Tis the Season: Week 3

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I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. —Psalm 86:12

We have reason to give thanks everyday.  

Jesus gives us reason to be grateful and give thanks every day! Psalm 107 is a wonderful psalm of thanksgiving.  We’ll be examining it further this week as part of our homework, but read the opening verses of this psalm:

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

I love the repeated phrase in this psalm: Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!  As those redeemed from an empty, hopeless and sinful life, we have reason to rejoice and give thanks! As we continue to focus on our heart attitudes in preparation for the Christmas season, these two will be some of the most impactful and perhaps most difficult to examine. I don’t know about you, but I love to shop and give gifts and I have a tendency to “over do”.  But when the Lord began to impress on my heart the need to focus more on Christ and less on the commercialism of the season, He really did a huge work in my life and the lives of my family as it related to giving and generosity. (I shared this story with you in an earlier post.)

Today, let’s look at the heart attitudes that characterize grateful hearts that seek to glorify God. …continue reading

Tis the Season: Week 2

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… unite my heart to fear your name. —Psalm 86:11b

What does it mean to have an undivided heart?

unite – yahad (H3161) - to be or become one, be joined, to be united. It refers to entering into the plan or thinking of a group, uniting with them. It is used figuratively of the psalmist’s desire for the Lord to unite his heart to walk in God’s ways and to fear him (Ps 86:11).

Let’s begin in Jeremiah 32:38-40:

And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. Jeremiah 32:38-40

How do these verses relate to having an undivided heart?

One Way: Jesus is the one way.  Jesus unites us to the Father, restoring the relationship that was broken by sin.  He has made an everlasting covenant with us.  He will never leave or forsake us.  We are completely secure in Christ.

One Heart: Jesus provides the way for us to have a heart that is one with the Father — an undivided heart.

What tends to divide and distract your heart?  Write down at least one thing that tends to distract from your time in the Word and in prayer.

How do we cultivate an undivided heart? What are some of the habits of those who desire to have a heart that is one with the Father? Read through each of the definitions for the heart and then the Scriptures that go with them.  Just allow the Word of God to wash over your heart, soul, mind and spirit.  Be renewed in truth today!…continue reading

Tis the Season: Week 1 Heart Attitudes

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WHAT characterizes one who walks in truth? Let’s reflect back on what we learned from those in the first Christmas Story. God did not choose the wise or wealthy, or those of great social standing.  He chose those who were humble and obedient to His Word even in the face of bizarre circumstances. He chose those who were still enough to hear and listen to His instructions. He chose those who were willing to trust His heart in spite of their circumstances.

Too often we get so busy with our drive-thru, instant gratification lifestyles that we miss the life God has for us. There were those who missed the grand and glorious fulfillment of His promises from years before.  Those who missed hearing his voice after 400 years of silence.

The people God chose to be part of the story of Jesus’ birth had some qualities of heart in common. We can learn from them. If we want to be women who walk in God’s ways and learn His truths we need to be women with:…continue reading

Tis the Season: Week 1 Intro

Tis the Season Blog header Wk 1As we seek to prepare our hearts and homes in order to celebrate what’s truly important this Christmas season, let’s take time to stop, look, listen and celebrate Immanuel—God with us. (Download/Print the study guide, including family activities and Preparing Our Home ideas.)  

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We begin our Advent study looking at the truth found in Psalm 86:11:

#1 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;

God’s ways are not our ways and we often miss His presence and joy because either we are not looking or we are looking for things that don’t line up with His truth or His ways. Or rather His ways don’t seem to line up with what we “think” His ways should be.  This is what happened in the first Christmas story. God had things planned (and still does) beyond their wildest comprehension and as 2 Peter 3:8 encourages us:

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 

Read the words of the prophet Isaiah:

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence — as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil — to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear,  no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. —Isaiah 64:1-4

Our God is still a God who acts for those who wait for Him.

We are going to look at a bit of the history at the time of Christ’s birth and investigate in further depth some of the details of the Christmas story.  This may seem boring and unnecessary, but it is crucial to helping us understand who God is and His ways.

God made a way for us to understand His ways and His truth — Jesus!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. —John 1:1-5, 14

Jesus! He is Immanuel —God with us. This title for Christ is prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 and fulfilled in Matthew 1:23. There are over 300 prophecies from the Old Testament about the birth, life and death of Christ Jesus and every one of them was fulfilled! Matthew 1:18 begins the story of the Nativity with these words… Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way… …continue reading

Tis the Season…Are You Ready?

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Tis the Season…

  • for busyness and overwhelmed schedules packed with events
  • for strained pocketbooks from all the shopping for just the right gifts
  • for stressed and frazzled relationships gathering with relatives
  • for the loneliness of facing Christmas alone this year

 

But is this how Christmas was truly meant to be experienced?

Advent means “the coming”.  It’s a time of inward preparation for the commemoration of the coming of Christ. It’s a time to be still and remember the God of our past, present and future. It’s a time to celebrate His presence in the present and prepare for His second coming to earth.

Advent is a time to prepare for Christ’s coming by looking at our lives and seeing if there are habits, attitudes, or behaviors of which we need to repent. —Ann Hibbard

Fifteen years ago, the Lord really impressed upon me that I needed to take a look at my heart and what I was instilling in my children when it came to Christmas.  My husband & I felt we needed to move our family toward a season more focused on celebrating Christ and generosity rather than “getting gifts”.  I read a magazine article, where the author had incorporated the giving of three gifts in his family.  They gave a gift of love (something special the person wanted), a gift of encouragement (a letter), and a gift of the heart (handmade craft).  Each person gave these three gifts to every other member of the family.  So instead of the parents being focused on buying gifts for the children, the children were involved in gift giving in an even greater way. (I’m sorry I don’t remember the magazine or the author. I wish I had kept the article and could credit this person.  God used him in an amazing way to impact our lives.)

We chose to adopt this plan for our Christmas that year and it radically changed our Christmas then and for years to come (and continues to impact our lives and the lives of our grown children and their families). We did a make a slight change the second year.  The making of a craft with each child (three kids times four crafts each!) made me crazy and stressed —the opposite of what we were going for.  So the next year we swapped the craft for a gift of service and spiritual growth. Each of our children gave a gift of service. They each wrote out on notecards an act of service they would complete for the recipient at some point in the following year.  We encouraged it to be something that would be meaningful to the other person and not just “easy” for the giver. My husband and I gave each of our children a gift of spiritual growth.  It might have been a new devotional, a Bible, a journal, a new Veggie Tales or Adventure in Odyssey video, really just anything to encourage their walk with the Lord in the next year. We plan to continue with this attitude and mindset of giving with our grandchildren. And I have to say…I was concerned that the gift of encouragement (the letter) would be the least well received. I was wrong! The first year it was the gift our children wanted to open first and it has continued to be special part of our family Christmas, even as our children have married and left home. We have continued this letter exchange and added two children-in-love to our list of recipients. This year I’m so excited to be writing letters as a first-time Grandmama to our two granddaughters who were born earlier this year!

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(15 years of Christmas Letters)

Each year since then, as the Christmas season approaches, I ask the Lord to examine my heart, my attitudes and my lifestyle and to make me more intentional and Christ-centered as I prepare for Christmas. This year as I was praying, the Lord impressed upon me the words of Psalm 86:11-13.

Teach me Your way, Yahweh,

and I will live by Your truth.

Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name.

I will praise You with all my heart, Lord my God,

and will honor Your name forever.

For Your faithful love for me is great,

and You deliver my life from the depths of Sheol.

—Psalm 86:11-13 (HCSB)

It became a four-week Advent study titled, ‘Tis the Season.  I’d like to invite you to join us over the next six weeks as we seek to prepare our hearts and homes, now, in order to celebrate what’s truly important this Christmas season.  Psalm 86:11-13 will be our guiding verses each week as we seek to cultivate hearts that honor and reflect Christ to those around us. We’ll get into God’s Word to prepare our hearts and share decorating and family time ideas for preparing our homes to experience Christmas anew this year. Let’s take time to stop, look, listen and celebrate Immanuel—God with us.  (I’ll be teaching the study in a four-week series at our women’s Bible study in our church and the study guide is available to download below, but note it will be a six-week series on the blog.)

You can download a copy of the study handouts and homework here.

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