Prayer and Faith, Part 1 – Our Attitude in Prayer, Recognizing Our Need for God – A Bible Study

“When we pray, we invite the divine presence of the Almighty God to do life with us that day. Watch for Him. Look for Him. Make the connection of things that happen as direct evidence of His hand at work.” –Lysa TerKeurst (on Facebook 7/14/14)

Psalm 12 (all) NIV       A psalm of David.

1Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race. 2Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts. 3May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue— 4those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?” 5“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” 6And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.

7You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, 8who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.

 What are your first impressions when you read this prayer?

This is a short Psalm containing a prayer of David. It is only 138 words. The main part of the prayer is two words, “Help, Lord.” This is the request. The next few verses are a list of reasons for his need for help. Verse 6 shows trust in God’s Word and then moves into a declaration of faith in verses 7-8: You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever.”

Help in the Hebrew is yasha (yaw-shah’)

Original Word: יָשַׁע Part of Speech: Verb Short Definition: save

To deliver, avenging, defend, deliverer, help, preserve, rescue, be safe, bring (having) salvation, save(-iour), get victory. Strong’s # 3467 (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/3467.htm)

One thing that needs to be pointed out is that the word help, implies that we need to be doing something in order to be helped. How can we be helped if we are not doing something? Not that God needs our help to do anything, but we are to be about God’s work in our everyday living. And we need to depend upon God’s help to do that in line with His will and timing, in righteousness and truth. As with most of God’s promises, we need to be active, even in waiting, in order to see the hand of God at work in our lives. David had no doubt the Lord would help them in their need. But he also knew that he needed to acknowledge his need for God’s intervention and humble himself to ask for it.

The answer to the prayer is certain, if it be sincerely offered through Jesus. The Lord’s character assures us that he will not leave his people; his relationship as Father and Husband guarantee us his aid; his gift of Jesus is a pledge of every good thing; and his sure promise stands, “Fear not, I will help thee.” –Morning and Evening by Spurgeon (for June 17, morning, found on http://biblehub.com/devotions/Morning_June_17.htm

One of my all time favorite verses is Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Too often people stop quoting the verse here, but that is only the beginning of the verse. The verse continues, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (NIV)

Two other translations use different words for “be still”:

Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (NASB)

“Stop your fighting–and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” (HCSB)

I used the three translations as a way of helping us see the scope of what God is telling us here. He IS telling us to stop and make time for Him in our lives and to recognize His power and authority over us. But, He is also showing us that stillness is more than just sitting still, it is an attitude of our hearts to stop struggling with and opposing Him in our lives. Our flesh is constantly in a battle against the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Our prayer lives have a direct impact upon how much we strive with or cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

I thought I had this all figured out until I looked at the original Hebrew and it’s meaning. Wow!

Still in the Hebrew is raphah (raw-faw’) Original Word: רָפָה Part of Speech: Verb Short ‘=

Definition: fail

A primitive root; to slacken, sink, relax, abate, cease, consume, draw (toward evening), fail, be faint, be (wax) feeble, forsake, idle, leave, let alone, (be) slack, stay, be still, be slothful, (be) weak(-en). See rapha’. Strong’s #7503 (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7503.htm)

 What I really found interesting is the definition of rapha (referenced to see above)

Rapha (raw-faw’): to heal

Original Word: רָפָא Part of Speech: Verb Short Definition: heal

cure, cause to heal, physician, repair, thoroughly, make whole

Or raphah {raw-faw’}; a primitive root; properly, to mend (by stitching), i.e. (figuratively) to cure — cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair, X thoroughly, make whole. See raphah. Strongs # 7495 (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/7495.htm)

 I find it curious and contradictory that these two words, by looking at their definitions are complementary and based on the same root word. Raphah appears to show weakness and failure, while Rapha indicates healing and wholeness. Yet the dictionary indicates that they are connected. If we use these definitions in looking at Psalm 46:10 again, how does that change your understanding of this verse?

He says, “Be still (cease, weak, relaxed – healed, made whole, thoroughly), and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (NIV)

 The dictionary at www.merriam-Webster.com defines strive as

1:  to devote serious effort or energy :  endeavor <strive to finish a project>

2:  to struggle in opposition :  contend

 How often do we expend a lot of energy on something trying to do it in our own power only to fail and realize we cannot do it without God’s help or worse, just quit altogether?

Every translation uses the phrase “and know that I am God.”

“Know” in the Hebrew is yada (yaw-dah’)

Original Word: יָדַע Part of Speech: Verb Short Definition: know

A primitive root; to know, acknowledge, acquainted with, advise, answer, appoint, assuredly, be aware Strong’s #3045 (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/3045.htm)

Looking at the definition of the Hebrew word, yada, for know, what does it mean to “Know that I am God”?

So, when we look at Psalm 46:10 hopefully we will see a greater meaning in it than we did before. God wants us to pause to acknowledge His presence and power in our lives, but also to be aware of His presence with us at all times. We need to acknowledge our weakness and stop fighting against Him, so He can come in and heal us and make us whole. He knows that when we do that He will be exalted among the nations and in the earth. When we live our lives for Him, Jesus should be shining in and through us – in the way we act and speak and just our presence. When we obey the Lord it brings Him glory and honor and that does not go unnoticed or become void. We may feel like our individual lives could not possibly exalt God among the nations or in the earth, and maybe an individual act will not, but like a pebble tossed into a pond, there is a ripple effect that goes way beyond that point in time to spread in ever increasing, larger circles. But it all starts with our prayer lives. For God’s power to be used most effectively through us we need to keep our cord plugged into the electrical socket that supplies God’s power to us (abide in the Vine-John 15). We may be able to keep a charge in our batteries for a short amount of time, but without being connected to the power source, we will lose our strength and ability to do the work for which God created us to do.

Back in Psalm 12, In addition to acknowledging his own insufficiency to face the troubles in his own power, David was acknowledging the fallen state of the world, the lack of faith and the rampant sin all around him (v.1-2). This applies to our lives and our society today as well. There is a battle raging all around us in this country and throughout the world, not with weapons of physical warfare, but with weapons of spiritual warfare. When we did the Being Salt study we discussed the Armor of God, so I won’t go into detail about each of the pieces of armor now. However, since we are discussing spiritual warfare, would like to look at parts of Ephesians 6 again.

 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 NASB

 So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:6 NIV

 If we try to fight a spiritual battle without God’s Armor we are defeated before we start. We cannot fight in a spiritual battle without the Lord’s help. We are too weak when we are alone. God sends the Holy Spirit to come to live within us when we receive Jesus as our Savior, to give us the constant teaching, equipping and help that we need to live this life in Him. We were not created to do this life alone and in our own power. When we stay connected to the Lord He equips us with all we need to stand and face the enemy in the battle. But the battle is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47, 2 Chronicles 20:15). He goes before us and behind us (Psalm 139:5) as we do battle with His help. We were created to be in continual relationship with our Creator/Father/God.

 David’s, “Help, Lord”, acknowledges his need for God in his circumstances.

 In Ephesians 6:18-20 (NIV) Paul instructs us,

 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

 What do these verses from Ephesians tell us about the importance of prayer and how we should pray?

 It’s important to note here that our prayers should not only be for ourselves, but for others as well, all God’s people and for the unsaved as well. I find in my own life that when I concentrate too much on my own needs and battles that the rest of the world gets pushed back and out of my view and thoughts. But if I try to put the needs of others ahead of my own in my thoughts and prayers, the Lord seems to tend to my needs without me having to stress over them. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Oh, wait, that’s what Jesus is telling us when He says,

 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV

 Here is a portion of Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary for Ephesians 6:10-18 (quoted from http://biblehub.com/ephesians/6-18.htm):

 “To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary. Prayer must fasten all the other parts of our Christian armour. There are other duties of religion, and of our stations in the world, but we must keep up times of prayer. Though set and solemn prayer may not be seasonable when other duties are to be done, yet short pious prayers darted out, always are so. We must use holy thoughts in our ordinary course. A vain heart will be vain in prayer. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts of prayer; confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgiving for favours received. And we must do it by the grace of God the Holy Spirit, in dependence on, and according to, his teaching. We must preserve in particular requests, notwithstanding discouragements. We must pray, not for ourselves only, but for all saints. Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength, but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of his mighty we may overcome. Wherefore we must stir up ourselves. Have not we, when God has called, often neglected to answer? Let us think upon these things, and continue our prayers with patience.”

 How does this quote speak to you?

 God has shown us how important it is to know the Word and make it a part of us. Many places David tells of how having God’s Word in his heart keeps him from sinning against the Lord. Here is one example:

The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip. Psalm 37:31 NIV (of David)

 Memorizing key verses equips us to battle the lies of the enemy as Jesus did when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). (Are you familiar with this passage? If not, take a moment to read it.) It can also help us when our own thoughts betray us, so we can, as the apostle Paul tells us:

 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV

The truth of God’s Word is what we need to know, so we can take captive the wrong thoughts that come into our minds and replace them with the truth from God’s Word. (These key verses can be different for each of us depending upon what wrong thoughts plague us). My area of struggle for much of my Christian walk has been with my identity in Christ. The enemy and my own thoughts continued to condemn me for my past, so I had to learn and rely upon God’s truth that I am His child (John 1:12), I am the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), that God remembers my sin no more (Jeremiah 31:34), I have been redeemed (Galatians 3:13), and I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)….

If you have struggles with wrong thoughts and attacks on your mind, your homework is to look up verses that you can use to demolish arguments and take those thoughts captive and obedient to Christ. Write them down and read them often and in this way you will “write them upon your heart” (Psalms 40:8 & 119:11).

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9a (NIV)

Some time ago the Lord revealed to me that strength, true strength, is only found in Him. I am weak, but He is strong, as the song says (Jesus Loves Me). I have learned to not ask for Him to give me strength, but instead for Him to be my strength, because strength without His presence will not do me any good. So, I realize that it’s not so much strength I need, but God Himself. He is all I need to do what needs to be done or get through the trials life brings my way. This revelation has given me a whole different outlook on my prayer life and what that means.

I don’t want to make this a habit, but there are times that I just cannot spend an extended time in prayer at the beginning of the day, but I can and do try to live in His presence and recognize His hand at work in whatever I am doing. In the book by Brother Lawrence, he calls this “The Practice of the Presence of God.” So I look for God at work throughout my day and I will send up a quick, “Thank You, Jesus”, a “Help me, Lord”, a “God bless and protect you” for the driver that cuts me off, or a prayer of intercession for whomever the Lord brings to my mind. This helps me to depend upon Him throughout my day. Whatever we do, we can do it with full awareness of God’s presence with us.

12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 NASB

 But as these verses in 1 Corinthians state, we cannot see everything clearly in this life. We have to trust the Lord and His plan, purpose, and timing and wait for Him to reveal it to us, even if that is not this side of heaven. We have faith and hope which do not disappoint (Romans 5:5 NLT) and we can trust in His unfailing love (Deuteronomy 5:10, Psalm 17:7, 119:76).

 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT

 Sometimes we find it hard to pray, because we don’t understand why God allows some circumstances to come into our lives – especially tragic events. Sometimes people fall away from God, because they keep their focus on the pain of their circumstances and cannot reconcile in their minds how God can allow such a tragedy to occur to a faithful believer. There are some preachers who teach that way, but it is not biblical. Jesus Himself taught us the truth:

 The verses in 1 Corinthians and John above, and the ones from Daniel, Matthew, and Romans below, can help us learn to rest in the Lord even when the world doesn’t make sense to us. We cannot see the bigger picture, but the Lord sees it all and He will use even the painful, tragic things that come into our lives for the greater good, the big picture of His Kingdom.

 17“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18“But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18 NASB

28“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

 Do these 5 passages give you any hope or a different perspective on the painful events in life?

 How can we use these verses to remind us of God’s goodness and grace in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life?

 What hope does Jesus offer us here in the midst of trials and pain?

For more on how to live your faith and be confident in prayer read about

 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3:16-29, Daniel in Daniel 6:16-23, and Joseph in Genesis 39:20-23.

 A faithful walk with the Lord does not guarantee a pain free life. But it does guarantee that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be right there to walk through it with us just as He did with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in that fiery furnace (Daniel 3), Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6), and Joseph through being sold into slavery, temptation and persecution by Potiphar’s wife, wrongful imprisonment, and being forgotten in prison (Genesis 37, 39-41). And even in those painful and tragic seasons of our lives we can find God’s peace, provision, and hope if we are looking for it. And the best and first places to seek God are in His Word and prayer. “Face time” with the Lord is the most precious gift He has given us and that gift is only possible through the saving grace of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That is our hope and the basis of our faith. That is the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) that He offers to each of us as we seek Him with all our hearts (Deuteronomy 4:29) in prayer and in the Word and in our everyday lives.

 A couple verses to ponder as you go today…

 Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5 NIV

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:7 NLT

Celebrating the Special Women In Our Lives

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If you are a mother, Happy Mother’s Day!

Whether or not you are a mother, you are definitely a daughter, maybe a sister, or an aunt, and surely a friend. Whoever you are you have a sphere of influence. You have opportunities everyday to have an impact on someone else’s life, and it doesn’t have to be someone you know. Even just a smile in a stranger’s direction can lighten their heart and turn a frown upside down. Who are the women in your life that have had an impact on who you are? Is it mom, grandma, auntie, a mentor, friend, co-worker, Sunday School teacher…? How have they made a difference in your life? Have you told them how much they mean to you?

Let’s take a look at Ruth and Naomi. These two women had an impact on each others lives. Naomi moved with her husband and sons to Moab to escape the famine in Israel. One son married Orpah and the other married Ruth, both Moabites. Moabites didn’t worship the God of Israel. They worshipped an idol name Chemosh. When Naomi’s husband died and then both of her sons, it left the 3 women widows without sons to take care of them. Naomi found out there was food back home and she decided to go home. The girls started to go with her, but Naomi knew there would be a better chance for them to get married again if the stayed in Moab, so she tried to get her daughters-in-law, to go back to their mothers’ homes. Orpah went home, but Ruth refused saying, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17). Naomi’s influence caused Ruth to embrace the God of Israel as her God and the people of Israel as her people.

When the two women arrived in Bethlehem Naomi told her friends, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me” (Ruth 1:20-21). Although Naomi felt bitter, she still had her faith in God. She used wisdom and sent Ruth to glean in the fields, to provide food for them. Ruth took care of her mother-in-law. She gleaned in the fields every day. When Naomi found out Boaz owned the fields where Ruth was gleaning, she knew it was God’s provision. Boaz was a kinsman-redeemer to them from her husband’s family. Ruth found favor in the eyes of Boaz and he blessed her with extra grain and food.

Eventually Boaz married Ruth redeeming the property of Naomi’s husband, and providing for both women for the rest of their lives. This could not have happened if Ruth had stayed in Moab. Ruth had an impact on Naomi’s life and Naomi had an impact on Ruth’s life. Ruth gave birth to Obed, who fathered Jesse, who fathered David, making Ruth an ancestor of our Savior, Jesus. Who would ever have imagined that a Moabite woman would become an ancestor of the Son of God? Yet God has a plan and purpose for both Naomi and Ruth, and He has a plan and purpose for your life, too! Don’t ever doubt it! As a woman you have a unique opportunity to speak love and life into the lives of the people around you – whether they are our own children or not. I thank God for all the wonderful women, who throughout my life, have been there in love to be a friend, mentor, teacher, nurturer, prayer warrior, challenger, discipliner, comforter, and encourager. Most especially, thank you to my mom! I love you!

Blessings and peace,

Julia

Journey Into A Healthier Me – Part 3 – Surrender and God’s Presence

This healthy living journey started out great for me. I felt so at peace in God with the whole healthy eating thing. Somewhere along the way, right about the time I got sick with a cold and I think the Made To Crave Action Plan Bible study was winding down, I really began to struggle and lose focus and peace. I have been facing various other challenges as well. Some of which I have not completely surrendered to the Lord.

Ah, surrender, such a difficult thing to do, especially for someone who in the natural (flesh) is a complete control freak. Over the years I have learned to surrender many parts of my life to the Lord. This does not mean I never try to pick them up again from time to time. But when I do, the Holy Spirit is there to remind me those things are in Jesus’ hands now.

There is one area of my life that I had never surrendered to God and never thought I needed to, before these M2C studies, my food. I have always had this pat argument/justification in my head in regards to those favorite “comfort” foods: “I deserve it!”

Ooh, ooh!! A new revelation was just given to me. I told myself I deserved my favorite comfort foods/treats, because I never really felt deserving of anything. It was a coping mechanism, trying to convince myself I was worth something. The irony being as I packed on the pounds I felt even less loveable than before. Hmm…I thought God had worked through all those old lies years ago, but since I had never surrendered my food to Him before, it has still been a place in my life that those lies could still touch.

Oh how I love food, especially certain foods of comfort from my childhood. It breaks my heart to think I may have to let go of them forever. But, in the end, it is just food. If I look at it as a choice  between a peace-filled relationship with my Lord or that shoo-fly cake, or that pot roast, gravy, and potatoes, or….you get the idea. No sense torturing myself or you. What could be better than peace with the Lord? Nothing! That’s what I/we need to get into our thought-life. That nothing, not even our all-time favorite food is better than the peace-filled presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Practicing the presence of God is something I try to do every day. I talk to Him like He were a person in the room. I try to be mindful of every blessing and protection throughout the day, so I can thank Him right then. I also try to stay tuned into the Holy Spirit, so as soon as I do, or usually think something that I shouldn’t, I repent right on the spot.

The part I have trouble with is the sit down and be still part at the beginning and end of my day. I can be so easily distracted. More so in my own home than in a public place. Too many things that need to be cleaned or accomplished staring me in the face.

I have much better “God times” in a restaurant than I do at home. Parks/nature are good, too, though sometimes distracting, but those ‘distractions’ are the many little blessings in creation to remind us of how great and mighty is our God! I find nature a particularly great place to be when I need an encounter with my Creator to bring out praises in the midst of a life-storm. I start thanking him for the ducks, flowers, clouds… and before long I find much more personal things to praise Him for and begin to see my troubles from a new perspective. I guess we all just need to find that place (or a couple places) in which we can find that solitude with God, even if it is in the middle of a noisy restaurant.

So, as I continue on my journey toward healthy eating and living I know that as I progress in surrendering my food to the Lord, He can and more importantly will take these things – my cravings, fears, doubts, and turn them into strength, courage, and trust.
• Strength to take each step toward the goal (Philippians 3.14). Not just of being a certain weight, but of being healthy enough to do all the things God had planned and purposed for me to accomplish in my life. I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25.21) when I am face to face with my Lord.
• Courage to fight temptation when it comes along (Joshua 1:9). Temptation does not have to become a craving. I must remember to wear my armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) every day. Making the time and finding the place to have my solitude time with the Lord helps me to put on that armor and practicing His presence helps me keep it on throughout the day.
• Trust that Jesus can take the pieces of my life and work it all for the good (Romans 8:28) of not just me, but for the greater good of His kingdom. Life is not always what we would call fair in this fallen world, but as we trust Jesus with everything we know that God’s justice will prevail in the end, because we know the ending (the book of Revelation).

Heavenly Father, I come before Your throne with all the readers of this blog and ask for Your help in surrendering any and all parts of our lives that we have not surrendered to Your authority. We ask also that we would be evermore aware of Your presence in every moment of our lives. We seek Your face (presence), Lord, not just Your hand of blessing. But we also ask for Your blessing and favor upon our lives. As we are blessed, may we freely bless others out of Your bounty to us. We give you thanks and praise Lord. May our lives bring You glory and honor. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you would like to do more reading on surrender and/or practicing being in God’s presence check out two of my favorite books:
• Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray (One of my all-time favorite authors on Christian living).
   http://www.christianbook.com/apps/product?item_no=2405606&event=ESRCN|M
• The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
   http://www.christianbook.com/apps/product?item_no=84667&event=ESRCN|M

If you have never read these books I highly recommend them!
(Links are provided so you can learn more about the books. I am not affiliated with or paid by the seller).

Blessings,
Julia

God’s Love Conquers Cravings

image

The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Jeremiah 31:3 NASB

This verse is a beautiful reminder of how much God loves each one of us! I pinned the verse graphic (above) five months ago.  Almost every day and usually several times a day, people are still repinning this verse. It seems like people are in need of a reminder that God really does love them. As I was looking up this verse in the online parallel Bible (biblehub.com) I found the following verse from Hosea:

I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. Hosea 1:4 ESV

As I read through different versions of this verse, a picture of my Made To Crave journey began to emerge. As we have focused on our relationship with God and dug deep into His Word He has released the yoke of slavery to our food cravings. He has bent down near to us and feed us with His love, which reminds me of Jesus being the Bread of Life (John 6:35) and Living Water John 4:10-14). 

When we have food cravings it’s often an emotional or spiritual issue we need to address with the Lord. If we would just stop for a moment to talk it over with God I believe He would fill that empty space, relieving the craving. Sometimes we just have to take a first step in faith – walking away from the temptation – before God’s power fully reigns in our current circumstances. God honors our obedience to Him. He does not leave us alone in our struggles. But, as in any other faith issue, we have our part to do, too.

As I look at the first page of session 6 (Made To Crave Action Plan by Lysa TerKeurst & Dr Ski Chilton) I have to laugh, a purely joy-of-the-Lord-filled laugh, at the title, Make a Courageous Choice: Direct Your Heart to Love and Perseverance, because it brings me back to love. The love that spoke to my heart this morning as I looked at the graphic (above) about God’s love for us and how great that love is! That’s the love that sent Jesus to earth, held Him to the cross, and then raised Him to new and eternal life, so we too can have that!

When we are confident that God loves us with an everlasting love we can make the courageous choices, because we know nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). Jesus made a way where there was no way to bridge the separation that was between God and people, because God wanted relationship with us. He gives us His best, because His purpose is to give us a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10b NLT). In return He wants our best – obedience, love, and worship. 

In comparison to God’s love and His power at work within us, food cravings seem so small. Well, not so small in that moment and REALLY WANT that yummy treat! Then it seems bigger than life. All you can think about. Whether it’s food cravings or any other temptation Jesus understands, because He has suffered under many temptations, including food (Matthew 4:3-4) . And God’s love shows us the way out (1 Corinthians 10:13), but we must be sober-minded (1 Peter 4:7) enough to see it and take the way out.

God has given us the tools and the armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) to win the battle. To make Dr Chilton’s five principles really doable, we need God’s “fix” for our thoughts. Here are three biblical principles (tools) we need to apply to our thought lives:

• Take our thoughts captive: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV

• Renew our minds with the Word: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 NLT

• Think excellent thoughts: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 NLT

How can we do these things?
1. By submitting to God first and foremost. It is only by submitting our will to God’s that we can resist the devil and his schemes (James 4:7).
2. Through prayer. Seek God first every day and give Him our day, trusting in His plan (divine appointments) (Matthew 6:33, Psalm 37:5, Proverbs 3:5-6 & 16:3).
3. By being in the Word daily, but not just reading it, but meditating on it – really thinking about it, pondering it, and asking the Holy Spirit for fresh revelation in it (Matthew 7:7, John 14:26).
4. By memorizing key verses to be used as our Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). For an excellent example of how Jesus used the Sword of the Spirit read Mark 4:1-11.
5. By being careful what we put into our minds. What do we read, watch, listen to, and play? Just as we are what we eat, we are what we put into our minds. I used to try to tolerate a certain amount of “language” in otherwise nice movies, but when certain words starting coming to my thoughts I knew I couldn’t do that anymore. Once something takes up residence in your thoughts, unchecked, it’s only a matter of time before they come out in words or actions. We need to be cautious about how much worldly influence and temptation we think we can handle (Romans 12:3). It is a slippery slope into sin. Which reminds me of the song “Slow Fade.” I will leave you with this song as a reminder that, “we do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 NLT).

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0wo26sCH-Fw

Blessings and the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
Julia

Take Up The Shield Of Faith

In our Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study of Made to Crave Action Plan we have an assignment/challenge to make a shield with verses we can use to protect ourselves from the fiery darts the enemy throw a at us. Here’s mine. I printed it on card stock, backed it with scrapbook paper and used scraps of the scrapbook paper to make the dividing lines on the shield. Then I backed it with more card stock to make is sturdier.
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I used many of my favorite/go to/life verses on the shield. Then I added some clip art and key words from the verses to complete the shield. As they said over and over in the movie God’s Not Dead, God is good all the time. All the time God is good. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend this movie!
Blessings,
Julia

Through The Lens – Made to Crave Action Plan week 4

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This week we’re learning to maximize our nutrition and learning about the benefits of polyphenols. Here’s a photo of a few of the fruits & veggies I usually eat that are high in polyphenols. The list in the book on page 107, so I went looking online and found a huge list of foods including fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes. I also eat a lot of nuts and beans, so I’m doing better than I originally thought. And I do not regularly eat white flour in bread, but in some other things like pasta. Spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles just don’t cut it for me and hubby won’t go for whole grain or ancient grain pastas (like quinoa). I have found a compromise in white fiber pasta by Barilla. It’s one of those things that when you’re only cooking for two you have to do. Here’s the link:

http://www.genesmart.com/pages/high_polyphenols_foods/161.php

Scriptural Prayers

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I firmly believe in praying Scriptures. When we pray Scripture we know we are praying in line with God’s will. I’ve written a sample of a prayer based entirely on Scripture. At the bottom I have included the actual text of the referenced Scripture verses. Portions of this prayer are directed at the Made To Crave Action Plan Bible Study journey I, and many other women worldwide, are on though the Proverbs 31 Ministries OBS.

 I am privileged to pray for you today. Please find a place where you can be alone for a few minutes. A place where you will feel comfortable speaking these prayers aloud. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17).

    The first paragraph I am praying over you from 2 Peter 1:2 NLT and Ephesians 3:14-20 ESV. The rest of the prayer I have written in the first person using Scripture verses for you to pray over yourselves and portions for those you love, so that You can feel the power of God’s Word filling You and renewing Your mind with His truth.

     Now, get quiet before the Lord. If you have troubling trying to focus on prayer you can do what I do and say, “Jesus, Jesus Jesus, thank You Jesus. Be present with me in this place as I lift my prayers to You.” Take a deep breath and let it out. Let’s pray…

    May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. I bow my knees before our, Heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant that you, dear sister (or brother) ___________ (insert your name), will be strengthened with power through His Holy Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

    My Father in Heaven I give thanks to You Lord, for You are good! You faithfulness and love for me endures forever. You have made this new day, Lord, and I will rejoice and be glad in it! You are MY God, and I will praise You! You are MY God and I will exalt You! You live right here with me Lord, and You are MY mighty Savior. You take delight in me and it makes You glad, You calm all my fears with Your love, and You rejoice over me with joyful songs. In You Lord I have confidence that when I ask for anything according to Your will, You will hear me.
    Take my cravings for food and turn my affections toward You instead. Give me an appetite for healthy, wholesome foods and a desire to exercise to be strong and healthy, so that I can present my body as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to You God, to worship You with everything that I am.
    As I dig ever deeper into Your Word, renew my mind with Your truth that I AM Your child having been born again through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ. And I know and I thank You that because I have been born again, that I AM an overcomer and I HAVE the victory that overcomes the world — my faith. Therefore, I know that I WILL overcome ALL obstacles that would try to come against me as I make this journey of craving You Lord above everything else in my life.
    You have promised that because I fear Your name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And I will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. Jesus himself bore my sins in his body on the tree, that I might die to sin and live to righteousness. I confess that sometimes my faith waivers and I let my struggles bring me down, Lord I believe Your power is greater than my weakness and Your grace is enough for me, help my unbelief. (Add any petitions you have here). By His wounds I have (and/or my loved one ________ has) been healed of _________. Praise You, Lord!
    Lord there are those in my life that I dearly love who have not yet received Jesus as their Savior. I lift up before Your throne _______________ (speak the names of each one). I am thankful that You are not slow to fulfill Your promise (of Jesus’ return) as some count slowness, but You are patient, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Send Your Holy Spirit to prepare their hearts to receive Your Son Jesus as their Savior, for no one can come to Jesus unless You, Father, draw them to Him. Jesus said, “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” I speak that life over my loved ones right now that they would be set free, in Jesus’ name. For where Your Spirit is, there is freedom.
    For the answers to this prayer, Lord, I give You praise and thanksgiving. May You receive all the glory and honor, In Jesus’ mighty and precious name, amen.

References:
May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2 NLT

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV

1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
24This is the day the LORD has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
28You are my God, and I will praise you!
You are my God, and I will exalt you! Psalm 118:1, 24, 28 NLT

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14 ESV

1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 ESV

12But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. John 1:12-13 NLT

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 NLT

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4 ESV

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. Malachi 4:2 NLT

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 ESV

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 NLT

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. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV

For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. John 6:44 NLT

The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63 NLT

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT

Blessings,
Julia

Abiding In Jesus is Taking Action

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P31 Made to Crave Action Plan Photo Hop #Action

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The assignment today is to link a photo of our personal action verse. I had this image on one of my Pinterest boards. I chose this verse because as it says, if we don’t abide (remain, attached) in Jesus (the Vine) we can do nothing.

I really want this time to be different than all the other times I’ve tried to lose weight. I really want it to be a spiritual journey with the benefit of physical health and well-being. I want the result to be not only weight loss, but a healthy new lifestyle. For this to happen I need to stay grafted into Jesus, the Vine. I need Him to be in all I do and the strength that I use to make good choices all day, eat well, and move my body – by communicating with Him all day long.

I am currently a homemaker, so I spend a great deal of time alone. I have always been one to keep the TV on all day for “company.” But, it encourages me to sit for long periods, even if I am not actively watching it. But since beginning the first M2C study back in January God’s been working on that, too, as a part of this journey. The TV is staying off (most days) until hubby turns it on after work. I’ve never been a fan of silence, but I am learning to like the silence, because it allows for a lot more spontaneous conversations with God throughout the day. It gives me the opportunity to do something that a mentor, Joanne, once told me: “Julia, the Lord wants you to ‘tune-in’ to His voice more.” It’s hard to tune into God’s voice, that still, small voice, when there is so much distraction and noise.
The silence also gives me the opportunity to worship our Lord – either in spontaneous song or putting on some music, which always prompts dancing (moving my body aka exercise) =). It’s a win-win situation.
Abiding in Jesus, the Vine, the Source of life and strength, is the only way this journey to Craving God and not food, TV (noise)… is going to be truly successful.

When Joanne told me to tune-in my first thought was that I was already hearing God pretty good. But, I respect her and took it and started seeking God in it.  Tuning in goes deeper than casually listening. It’s being purposeful about making time to sit in silence praying and then listening for His voice. This prepares me to hear and recognize His voice when He speaks to me in a specific situation, through a person, a song, or a Bible verse. The tuning in really needs to be intentional, otherwise we will miss Him in the everyday things.

God has a plan and purpose for my life (and yours, too). Being 115 pounds overweight at 53 years of age makes it hard to have the energy and stamina I need to fulfill the plan for this half of my life. Taking action now to change my lifestyle and health is an important step in fulfilling my God-given destiny to teach God’s Word and encourage women of all ages on their own faith journeys.

Thank You, Jesus, for never giving up on me even when I’ve wanted to give up on myself!

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