It is possible to see God!

This past Sunday was a monumental day in the history of our church... A new lead pastor officially stepped into his new role and then proceeded to share with the congregation. He shared a prophetic word that was given to him at 14 years old by his pastor at the time. The word was that he would keep his heart pure all the days of his life.

I kept thinking about this word throughout that day. First, was it really possible to keep our hearts pure? Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?" Then one of the beatitudes in Matthew 5 jumped out at me. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

So if it is possible to have a pure heart, we will actually be able to see God? John 1:18 says that "No man has seen God at any time." I had to have clarity on this seemingly impossible verse! 

First I remembered that when we are born again, God sees us as pure. (He remembers our sins no more.) Whether we act pure or not doesn't change how God sees us, it only taints our relationship with Him. Pure doesn't mean perfect. It means every part of our hearts cry "Lord, I am yours to command." :)

The pure in heart have their eyes opened to see how to let God work in their lives and how to walk in the light as He is in the light. Now what about seeing God? This is what I found when I looked up the word "see" in the 1828 Webster's dictionary...

"To perceive, understand, discern, to know. To observe, notice, to attend to, to discover. To learn, to know by revelation, to have faith in and rely on, to enjoy, to have fruition of." I don't know about you, but I would rather have all of these things manifest in my life then to actually physically see God with my two eyes. 

So I came to the conclusion that I am pure (even though I'm never perfect) and that I will see God work in my life as a result of my decision to let Him be Lord over my life. Here's how the Message translation puts it... "You're blessed when you get your inside world--your mind and heart--put right. Then you can see God in the outside world." :)

What an awesome, life-long adventure we have in learning about God!

www.whatbelongstous.com

Is your foundation laid?

 Along Route 30 here in Lancaster, a huge construction project has been underway for almost 1 year now. Only recently, though, have we seen walls go up and roofs added. Month after month various work vehicles covered the stretch of land and people were hard at work. Month after month it looked like nothing was happening! Huge holes had been dug and truckloads of pipes had been unloaded but nothing had been "built".

What we couldn't see though was that extremely vital work was being done underground. Surveying, site preparation, sewer, water, electrical work and concrete pouring are just the things I know; which I'm sure is NOT a comprehensive list, since I don't come from a construction family nor have we ever built a home!

So many Christians desire the life of a mature believer but aren't willing to do the work to build themselves up. 1 Peter 2:2 reminds us that we should crave the word of God just like newborn babies crave milk to help them grow. Every time we read and meditate on God's word, we are being built up.

Verse 4  then calls us living stones that are chosen and precious in God's eyes. Verse 5 says we are like living stones that are being built up as a spiritual house. As we build ourselves up, then we are able to help build other people up. You've probably heard the saying "hurting people hurt people." Well, healthy people help people!

There will never be a shortage of hurting people in this world, but we can only help them when we are built up. In addition to feeding on the Bible, Jude 1:20 tells us that we build ourselves up in our most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit. In my life, I have found that this is SO effective.  If I need a solution to something or am just feeling down, praying in tongues instantly builds me up! It works every time. :)

 Let's not get discouraged with the little steps we're taking every day to build ourselves up. It takes time to create a firm foundation. The exciting thing though is the more time we spend with our Heavenly Father, the more we will grow. So all we have to do to grow faster is to give God more of our day. 

Give it a try, it's so worth it! 

www.whatbelongstous.com

  

 

Is God hiding something from us?

Since our oldest child is 14 1/2, we have been engaging in exciting conversations recently about him starting to drive! Exciting for him... nerve-wracking for us. :) In his mind he is confident that if we gave him the keys he could drive just fine now, even though he has never had a lesson. He's seen how it's done but of course is not qualified to drive because he hasn't actually done it and experienced the many scenarios that go along with being behind the wheel.

As Matthew's mother, I would be foolish to give him my car to drive right now; even though one day, I do want to give him his own car and watch him mature into a great driver.

Our Heavenly Father operates the same way with us. 3 John 2 tells us that God desires above all else that we prosper and be in health, even as our soul prospers. There is no confusion about God's desire for his children. He wants to give us EVERY good thing! Mark 9:23 reminds us that "all things are possible to him who believes." Those "all things" don't just automatically come to us though because we are Christians.

The more we walk in God's truth, the more prosperity He can safely give us. 

3 John 4 says that God has no greater joy than to hear that his children walk in truth. Walking in the truths of God's word will open up the windows of Heaven for God to pour out such blessings that we won't even have room enough to receive them! (Malachi 3:10) 

God knows that it literally wouldn't be safe to give us everything he has in store for us if his word hasn't prepared our hearts to receive. For example, a person who has a problem managing their money wouldn't have their problems solved by being given a million dollars. ( Even though that's probably the #1 thing that person thinks they need.) 

God's word helps us to prosper by separating us from the world. In John 17:17, Jesus explains that we are set apart from the world by the truths in God's word. The more we get these truths into our hearts, the more connected we will be to Heaven's economy. 

Matthew 6:33 puts it this way... "Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His way of doing things, and all these other things will be added to you." Let's decide to spend consistent time in God's word every day and as a result watch the supernaturally prosperous life we desire unfold for us. :)

www.whatbelongstous.com

How do you respond to accusation?

Luke 23:1-29 tells of a very interesting account of how Jesus reacted when being put through intense questioning and accusation. First, Jesus was interrogated by Pilot before he was sent to Herod when Pilot realized Jesus was in the wrong jurisdiction. Verses 9-11 of chapter 23 tell us that they questioned him with many words, vehemently accused him and mocked him before they sent him back to Pilot for more questioning. 

Verse 9 says Jesus answered them nothing. Jesus' silence throughout the long questionings in verse 12 actually caused Pilot and Herod, who had been enemies, to become friends. Wow! Imagine what the absence of contention can create... Friends. :)

Jesus' silence and refusal to defend himself and fight back brought restoration between two leaders. Miracles happen when we refuse to allow contention and offense to bother us. Relationships are restored; peace returns. 

Silence is not weakness as some view it. It is, rather, the strongest and sometimes hardest thing to keep our mouths shut in the midst of being wrongly accused. How do you silence the foolish people who keep arguing with you?  1 Peter 2:15 tells us, "For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men."

We keep quiet and continue to do the works God has called us to do. This seems so backwards since our natural tendency is to fight back and defend ourselves. Paul and Barnabus parted ways in Acts 15:39 because of contention around whether John should go with them on their travels. This argument actually split up Paul and Barnabus in their ministering and forced Paul to take Silas with him.

How much better it is to assume that the people who are accusing us are just ignorant.
This reaction only becomes natural when we are filled with the love of God. Let's determine to react like Jesus in every situation. 

www.whatbelongstous.com 

Are we using the right tools?

 Most of my days don't allow me to get creative outside of figuring out how to keep the garage organized so the cars fit in there each evening. My days consist of creating time-out spaces, building blocks and legos with 5 & 6 year-olds, and gently stacking dishes in cupboards over and over...

Yesterday, though I made time for an actual "adult" project! Knowing for weeks what I wanted to make, I set out for the garage to take apart a pallet my brother-in-law found for me. After watching multiple you-tube videos and scanning scores of pinterest photos, I knew I needed a crowbar. I didn't have a crowbar. Common sense told me a hammer and screw driver would suffice so I went to work wedging the flat head under the boards with the hammer.

First of all, pallet projects are NOT as easy as they look! After a few minutes of wedging, the screwdriver actually broke off under the board (should have seen that coming...). Finally my sweaty self walked to a neighbors house to borrow a crow bar. Although still not easy, boards were coming apart now and soon I was drilling and screwing support boards to the back of my new sign! I didn't even mind painting in the 90 degree heat... I was so pleased with my progress. :)

Life doesn't have to be difficult if we are using the right tools. God's word is like a toolbox which contains every single tool we need to create our lives with. Some tools like faith, patience and love build areas of our lives. Other tools like forgiveness and repentance fix parts of our lives. 

God's ultimate goal for believers is for us to continue growing and becoming the new creation we are in Christ. It's not enough to just know these tools exist though. We have to put them to work in our lives every day. And for those of us who need help knowing which tool to use for which project, we have the Holy Spirit. 

We just need to stay consistent in using these tools.

 Let's ask the Holy Spirit which tool we might need to use today to fix something in our lives. Then when He shows us, let's joyfully grab it and get to work. Keep at it. The finished product will be amazing! :)

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

Does your faith have a back door?

The other day our almost 10 year old, Abigail, proudly told me of a lesson she'd just learned in school. The story was from Daniel 3 where Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were about to be thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to worship the kings idol. Hebrews 11:34 even records this story in a chapter where only people of strong faith are mentioned.

Daniel 3:17 states a bold declaration that their God could and WOULD rescue them from the hand of the king. But what about verse 18 which starts with "but if He doesn't..."? "But" is not a faith word. So, were they truly confident in God's ability to save them if they were also entertaining the possibility that God might not save them?

The take away point from Abigail's Bible teacher was that we should trust God to help us, but if He doesn't, we still love him and serve him. That just didn't sit right with me... If we are trusting God 100% to help us and deliver us; then isn't saying "but if He doesn't" giving God a back door to not be the God that He says He is?

With God, all things are possible (Luke 1:37). With God, no mistakes happen. With God, He does what He says. So did those 3 Hebrew men really think there was a possibility that God wouldn't come through that time? God sure had a lot of experience in the Old Testament dealing with water but maybe not as much with fire?

Psalm 34:7 AMP says the Lord rescues those who worship Him. Psalm 34:19 AMP says when the righteous call, God rescues them from ALL their troubles. David, the shepherd boy, had similar faith when he boldly declared to King Saul that his God WOULD deliver him out of the hand of the Philistine. 

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 stated that even if he and Timothy died from the trouble they were going through, God would raise them from the dead! That's bold! So back to Daniel 3:18, the 3 Hebrews were saying that even if the fire killed them, God would raise them from the dead and they STILL wouldn't worship that statute! 

They wouldn't have repeated that they wouldn't worship the false gods if they thought they might be dead for good. No... They believed that somehow God would deliver them and life after the fiery furnace would still not include idol worship. 

The way to grow into this kind of faith is to have 100% confidence in what God says He will do. So many believers aren't sure of what God will do because they haven't taken time to get into His word to find that out. I love how God reveals who He is through His word. Let's not settle for a "but if God doesn't" mentality when we can know from His word exactly what He will do for us. :)

www.whatbelongstous.com 

 

What are you celebrating?

A vast number of people celebrated Cinco de Mayo yesterday, many of these not even knowing the meaning behind this Mexican holiday.

It is not an honoring of Mexico's independence as some think but actually a remembrance of a battle that took place on May 05, 1862. There, the Mexicans were unexpectantly victorious over the French. 

Riding alongside Jonathan in Chicago yesterday, I glanced down at my watch. It read 05-05, 55 degrees. Since I wasn't celebrating the current holiday I thought, "What is the meaning of all these 5's?" In looking into this, I discovered that the number 5 in the Bible signifies the creation of mankind and God's grace which contains 5 letters.

Man has 5 fingers, 5 toes, 5 senses... John 5:5-9 KJV gives an interesting account of a man who couldn't walk coming to Jesus. First, Jesus (whose name has 5 letters) administered grace by speaking 5 words to him. Then He spoke 7 words to him to make him whole. (7 being the number of completeness!) :)

Isn't God amazing in how intricate he is and how much he loves us to form so many beautiful connections in his word? So yesterday I immersed myself in the revelation of Gods grace! Grace that I did nothing to earn and that I can do nothing to loose. Grace that is greater than all my sins.

Here's a definition of grace from the heart of our Father: "My overwhelming desire to treat you as if sin had never happened". That's complete redemption! Our response of "Thank- you!" just doesn't seem enough...

www.whatbelongstous.com

Are you the one in authority?


Do you feel like you're the one in control of your life or do you feel like you are constantly being manipulated by circumstances? Are you always putting out fires or playing catch up?

When we become believers, God gives us the authority we need to be in control over every area of our lives. He calls us overcomers! Living lives as total overcomers is God's desire for us. Making that happen every day is our choice. 

I activate my authority every morning by beginning my time with God in Ephesians 1:17-2:7. Chapter 2, verse 6 says that God has raised us up together and made us sit together with Jesus in heavenly places. I say out loud, "I take my place of authority seated with Jesus at the Father's right hand and..." then I proceed to put the blood of Jesus over my family and possessions. 

Dr. Billye Brim @BillyeBrim and her book "The Blood and the glory" explains from scripture the how and why behind doing this every day. https://www.billyebrim.org/products/the-blood-and-the-glory-book By taking my seat of authority in the morning, I am filled with complete peace that nothing bad can overcome me or my family that day. 

I'm not fearful of anything because of my confidence in the blood of Jesus.  

Then all throughout my day I keep my spirit tuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit. I don't live carelessly or irresponsibly but rely on the Holy Spirit to tell me if I need to attend to something. When we are confident in God's promises, we can rest in his protection.

What a wonderful way to live! Knowing our authority, exercising it daily and resting in the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we follow this process all stress goes out the window. 

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

God doesn't hear all prayers!

I must say I was very surprised recently while reading my morning devotions. Usually I am encouraged and inspired and in agreement with everything I read (after all, I'm the one who chose which devotional to use every morning!) 

This morning though, it read "God doesn't hear the cry of His children when they cry out in desperation. God hears the cry of a sinner because that's all he can cry about. But once you get born again, you ought to be crying out of faith. God hears the faith cry."

Of course my first question was "What is a faith cry?" 

Romans 4:17 says it's calling things that be not as though they were. When situations arise, our first reaction will be to complain or have a pity party. If we are somewhat connected to God, we will run to Him telling Him all about our problem and asking Him to take it away. 

The problem with this is that the moment we tell God about our problem is not when He finds out about it. He already knows what's going on with every detail of our lives. It's not wrong to communicate with God about what's going on in our lives but we have to know that He will not feel sorry for us and help us because we tell Him all of our problems.

If we want God to get on the scene and start changing our situation, we have to start saying what God says about the problem. God says, "Let the weak say 'I am strong'." (Joel 3:10) We should say "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This is something we are constantly working on with our 4 yr old... She is quick to start whining and say she can't do something. 

Of course all of this has to be practiced regardless of how we feel in the moment! We can't let our emotions guide our actions. 

This is why it's so important to spend consistent time in God's word so that when problems arise we can pull from what is already in our hearts- God's words.

I know I'm working on being more careful not to react like my 4 yr old, who only sees things for what they are. God has given us the ability to see beyond any problem! 

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

We must be unified.

In this day in which we are living, the general mindset of most people is "every man for himself", "I deserve that" or "me first". Despite the necessity of the internet and its original goal of connecting people, social media has seemed to pull people away from connecting in real life.

Face to face interactions is what brings people together and forms lasting bonds. 

The number one thing God is looking for before He sends Jesus back to this earth to call all believers home is UNITY. The definition of unity is "oneness, harmony, the state of being made one." Sometimes it seems Christians more than anybody else need to work on harmony. We need to put aside our doctrinal differences and tradition and focus on the number one commandment Jesus gave... Love one another.

In John 17, Jesus prayed his last prayer before going to the cross. It was actually on this day (Thursday) over 2000 years ago. As I spent time reading this chapter this morning and reflecting on what Jesus must have been thinking and going through, I found that he was praying for me!

He wasn't just praying for his disciples or those believers living in his day. John 17:20 says, "I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their words." In this last prayer, Jesus prayed that believers would be unified. That they would become one as Jesus was one with the Father.

When believers are walking in unity and not strife, the world will see Jesus and believe. (vs. 21) 1 John 3:2 says when Jesus appears again on this earth, we will be like him. The more time we spend in God's word, the more we look like Jesus as we are changed into His image from glory to glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Ephesians 3:17 were the last few words of Jesus' prayer that day. That the Fathers' love would flood our beings. That Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith... The more our Father's love fills us, the more we are able to love others unconditionally resulting in unity.

So lets put aside our differences and focus on loving like Jesus did. The end of this age will then quickly come to a close as we become the unified body of Christ Ephesians 1:18 talks about.

www.whatbelongstous.com

Is your heart healthy?

The human heart is mentioned almost 300 times throughout the Bible. 

Of course we are not talking about the organ that pumps blood but the inner part of a person. Our heart is our core, spiritual self which is then expressed through our minds. We know that God has a heart too since we read that David was "a man after God's own heart."

Jeremiah 17:9 states that "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?" We don't have to look far to see that the natural tendencies of people are deceitful and twisted. Our heart produces thoughts and feelings which are filtered through our minds and then turned into actions. Everything we do begins in our heart. 

As believers, we don't have to live a live of failure, settling for a "deceitful heart" as our lot in life. We actually have control over the condition of our hearts. If we have God's word in our hearts, our lives will be guided and fulfilling.  Our relationship with God draws our heart closer to Gods heart making us look more like God the more time we spend with him. 

We should find comfort, knowing that since we were made in God's image and God is our teacher, that He is our best cheerleader too! He is not keeping an eye on our hearts just waiting for us to make mistakes and correct us.  1 Thessalonians 2:4 says "God examines our hearts [expecting our best]."

When God looks at our heart, His eyes are full of grace and love and positive expectation. 

God knows us far better than we even know ourselves (Romans 8:27) and desires more than anything for a deep relationship with us. This is how David got the title of "man after God's own heart". 

Our prayer should be as Davids: "Search me, O God and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts..." and that we will guard our hearts above all else, for it determines the course of our lives. (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)

www.whatbelongstous.com 

What are you holding on to?

I was driving home the other day and couldn't help but notice a tree that stood out from all the other trees around it. This tree still had ALL of its leaves unlike its neighboring trees which were completely bare (keep in mind, this is the March). The leaves clinging to this tree though were not lush and green but brown & shriveled. It was quite UGLY! Then it dawned on me that a lot of Christians look like that tree.

Jesus explained in John 15:2 that "Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit." KJV

The AMP version says God "repeatedly prunes" so that we will bear "richer and finer fruit". 

How many of us are holding on to things in our lives that God has been asking us to let go of? Maybe a relationship we know we should put an end to, or an addiction (yes, eating too many sweets is an addiction!). Maybe it's bad attitudes, jealousy or anger that we need to cut away... These things we are clinging to are actually making us look ugly. 

Did you know that God is in the farming business (among other businesses) :)? Sowing, reaping, pruning... He knows when we allow Him to prune the old out of our lives He will grow beautiful fruits in us. Fruits like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control...

God is glorified and honored when we bear MUCH fruit.  ( John 15: 8 AMP)

Be encouraged to know that if God is trying to prune you, you must be producing fruit because Jesus said the branch that is not bearing fruit gets taken away, thrown into the fire and burned! I don't know about you but I'd rather go through a pruning process than be burned! 

So how can you make the fruit in you grow faster? I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for simpler/ more efficient way to do things. :) The answer is in one word...

ABIDE

The more time we spend with Jesus, the faster he will cultivate the fruits the Holy Spirit has put in us. It really is that simple! Let's allow God to trim away any ugliness that's been hanging onto us and watch beautiful fruit grow inside of us. And unlike trees, we don't have to wait until Spring to see growth. It happens immediately! :)

www.whatbelongstous.com             

How is your house holding up?

If you've known me for a while, you probably know that I really enjoy understanding God's word and learning the original definition of words. I grew up with access to only the King James Version of the Bible (which I still believe is foundational). Nowadays though we have apps that give us access to dozens of translations in seconds. We really have no excuse for misunderstanding God's word or His will for our lives!

As a little girl, I learned many stories and parables from God's word including the one in Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus gave the comparison here between the wise man and the foolish man. (I still remember the song that went with the story too) :)

Jesus said those who heard and DID what he taught were wise men; letting those teachings build their lives on a solid foundation. And when the tests and trials of life came (and they will) they would not be moved. Those who only heard but didn't ACT on Jesus' teachings were not built up. These folks lives fell apart when situations hit them. 

Our natural reaction to trouble is fear, worry and hurt, resulting in unforgiveness and a multitude of other negative feelings. As believers, we are not to operate the way natural people do. Second  Corinthians 5:17 says since we are in Christ, we are a new creation! And as we renew our minds to God's word every day, we are literally transformed. (Romans 12:2)

By acting on what God teaches us, we are building a solid foundation so that when "life" hits us we will not be moved. Psalm 62:6 says, "He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved."

We can't run from trouble but we can be so rooted and built up in God (Colossians 2:7) that when negative comes, His word comes from within us just as quickly and tells us how to react. Here's the Message translation of Matthew 7:24-27. You've gotta love the vivid pictures it paints!

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

Let's start today seriously building ourselves up so that when the storms of life come, not only will we stand firm but we will be able to help someone else in need too.

www.whatbelongstous.com

Are you in need of rest?

The other day I sat down to seek God for wisdom for a couple areas of our lives. I wanted answers. NOW. God started speaking to me about things inside of me that needed to change. Isn't it interesting how God usually goes to work inside of us first before showing us how to change things on the outside? That's what 3 John 2 was talking about when it said, "I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers." 

Our soul (mind, will and emotions) has to prosper before things in our lives can prosper. 

As I was sitting there quietly, Matthew 11:28-30 came to mind. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly (humble & gentle) in heart: and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 

Those words jumped off the page as I acknowledged that I was not at peace and that I was laboring. We are instructed in Hebrews 4:11 to "Labor to enter into God's rest..." Jesus invites us to get away with Him and He will show us how to take a real rest. The Message version says, "Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace." 

I love that! As we walk with Jesus, he will teach us the unforced rhythms of grace. :) Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us. I picture two animals joined together with a large, old-fashioned yoke. Where the one animal goes, the other has to follow. Except, instead of being cumbersome and heavy, Jesus' yoke is light and easy. 

When we become yoked up with Jesus, we will find rest for our souls. I don't know about you but my goal every day is for my mind, will and emotions to be at rest! (I don't think that's just a "woman thing" either) lol

When we rest, God will work, when we work, God will rest.

Let's be intentional every day to yoke ourselves up with Jesus and learn from him... Let him teach us the unforced rhythms of grace. Then the life of peace, love and a mind at rest will be ours. 

www.whatbelongstous.com

Are you peculiar?

How do you feel when someone tells you you're strange or weird?

I recently came across a verse in 1 Peter, chapter 2 that I now see in a completely different light. Verse 9 of this chapter says that as believers we are "peculiar people". (KJV)

I remember entering my teen years and my mom talking to me specifically about this verse and what being peculiar meant. She assured me that being peculiar was a good thing. I knew she was right (because the Bible is right), but I just wanted to fit in with my friends! I wondered if there was a way to be close to God but not be too peculiar...

Another vivid childhood memory I have is of a picture that always hung on our fridge... It was of a herd of sheep all walking toward the edge of a cliff. The caption under it read, "Don't follow the crowd... they may be wrong." Since my last name was Lamb (literally), that hit pretty close to home! lol

The definition of "peculiar" is: Not usual, odd, strange, queer

The word "peculiar" is derived from the Latin and actually means "a people for God's own possession", "purchased possession", and my favorite- "private property"! That's right, PRIVATE PROPERTY. 

Think about that... Because we are God's purchased possession, we are literally off limits to satan! Remind him of that next time he comes to steal your health or any of your possessions. 

The Message translation puts it this way, "You are the ones chosen by God... to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you-- from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted."

Aren't you thankful for the difference God has made in your life? I sure am! A smile immediately comes to my face when I remember where I came from and how God loved me enough to not leave me there. I'm even OK with calling myself "peculiar" now. :)

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

My recent lesson in humility

This past Sunday was similar to most Sunday mornings... All 8 of us woke up plenty early (or so we thought), got our 6 children in their nice clothes, fed them, then sat them on the sofas to watch an appropriate episode of something. Nothing with too much action since they're supposed to be preparing to hear from God...

Up until a few weeks ago, the tv wasn't even allowed to be turned on Sunday mornings, but the chaos of having to redress little ones after they played, resulting in leaving the house a disaster finally demanded a change. Even after being a family with children for 14 years, we are still learning how to make life operate smoother! :)

The message that morning was on relationships and reminded us of the triangle, where God is at the top, I am at one bottom corner and Jonathan is at the other bottom corner. 

We were encouraged to personally grow closer to God which will in turn bring us as a couple closer together. I love this visual! On the way home I asked God, "how I can relate to Jonathan when we are not always on the same page spiritually?" (It's not that he's less spiritual but we can both be hardheaded when discussing things if we are passionate about something. :))

God's immediate answer: "If you have to ask Me that question, you're not as close to Me as you think you are; because if you were, I would have already shown you how to walk in love in every situation and how to show grace." "The closer you get to Me, I will flow through you in every relationship and supply harmony no matter where the other person is in their relationship with Me."

WOW!!! THAT WAS HUMBLING!!

I know I am FAR from arriving spiritually (even though I did picture myself a good ways up that triangle lol), but I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:12 which says, "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall." 

I love how God keeps a perfect balance of strength and humility in us when we let Him. And even though He corrected me that morning, I felt His immense love! After all, I am His daughter... 

My prayer is that I am always open to correction from my Heavenly Father and that I quickly make any changes He brings to my attention. God has so much in store for us if we will continue to let Him mold us. 

www.whatbelongstous.com 

 

Are you happy? (photo)

Would you say on a normal day you feel strong and on top of the world? Or do most days consist of fighting to stay strong and on top of things? Of course circumstances come at us and we have to deal with them from time to time but our normal feelings toward each day ought to be positive. We should be confident that we can attack whatever comes at us each day.

Strength is defined as firmness, toughness, power or vigor. The opposite of weakness.

A synonym of strength is courage. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that "The joy of the Lord is our strength". So if we need strength, we must tap into God's joy. God isn't just ready to give joy, he possesses joy. All throughout the Bible we can find different things that God takes joy in but for now I want to just point out how living in God's joy will make us stronger than any other way we might try to strengthen ourselves. 

My mom is the perfect example of God's joy giving her strength. She doesn't let living with cerebral palsy her whole life affect her quality of life. Her relationship with God has always been her priority, and her positive, joyful attitude is proof of that. She has overcome multitudes of difficulties that a lot of people in her shoes don't overcome. 

I found it interesting that the words "courage" and "cheer" are synonymous in the Greek! "To radiate warm confidence", "inner confidence that is Spirit-powered". This makes sense though in looking back at the verse that says "the joy of the Lord IS our strength." :) 

No matter what our personality, whether peaceful or dominant, God needs us to be courageous. The more time we spend in His word and in talking to Him, the more full of joy we will become which translates into more strength. This has to be a continuing process though... just like building strong muscles requires consistent time in the gym. 

Let's let God's joy fill us every day so we can be on guard and prepared for whatever the day throws at us! We can be proactive not reactive. :)


www.whatbelongstous.com

 

We are all connected! (photo)

While grocery shopping last week, someone I haven't seen in about a year ran into us. He worked at a different grocery store we used to shop at and I developed a relationship with him (that happens when you go every other day to keep a hungry family of 8 fed!) lol

 I found out that he was in his 50s, had children at home, and didn't have a vehicle (rode his bike to work for a long time until he was hit by a car & lost the bike) 
He worked 2 jobs & it took him 1 hr to walk to work at the grocery store.
We had just had our 6th baby and were looking for a suburban (we didn't all fit in our minivan anymore), and God spoke to me to give that man our van. We didn't though...


Last week, the man told me how someone miraculously gave him a van (for free) about a yr. ago & how he found a much better job & could be home with his kids more in the evenings.
Tears came to my eyes as I rejoiced with him & told him how much God loved him but I knew deep down that we had missed a blessing! 
God was forced to look past us and meet that mans need another way.

2 Chronicles 16:9 came to me which says, "For the eyes of the LORD run back and forth throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him."

I picture God constantly looking for someone who is willing to be the answer to the prayer of someone else. God can't work without us. We are the connectors to allow God to work in the lives of others. Of course this is only one way God works... :) When He lays on our hearts something to do for someone and we don't do it, He just keeps looking for someone else to speak to. 

My hearts desire is that God never has to look past me to speak to someone else who will be more obedient. What a great lesson this was to me and instead of dwelling on the past mistake, I have the opportunity to continue to develop a perfect heart. A heart that is totally committed to do whatever God says to do. And by being obedient, God will show himself strong in my life. :)

I would love to hear what you guys are thinking. What are some questions/topics you would like to hear about next week?? 


www.whatbelongstous.com

Do you have proper relationships? (photo)

What does God have to say about relationships?

There are so many different types and levels of relationships these days. People have business relationships, family relationships (we can talk about in-laws later) :), intimate relationships, social relationships... I found it interesting that the word "relationship" didn't even exist in both my Bible Concordance or my 1828 Webster's Dictionary app!

I think many would agree that our culture's constant focus on intimate relationships is unhealthy. How many women feel out of place if they are still single by a certain age? Or they continue to date different people just so they're not alone... Take business relationships on the other hand- The mindset is "let's get the job done first, then take time to get to know one another". This is backwards and explains why many clients bounce from one business to the next. 

To find true balance in our relationships, we must look to our Heavenly Father who initiated what He calls "covenant relations". Covenants are unchangeable. He demonstrated covenants with Abraham (Genesis 2:2-3), Noah, Moses, David and many others in the Bible all the way down to you and me! There's nothing we can do that can break His covenant with us.

In ancient times as far back as Abraham, covenants were made in the presence of many witnesses by the two parties making a cut in their arm and bringing their arms together so their blood actually mingled. This made them "blood brothers". So much can be said about this but ultimately we see that Jesus shed His blood so that we can enter into covenant relation with God.

When God chose us as his own, he literally looked ahead in history and saw everything we would do to fall short of his love and he chose to send Jesus for us anyways. Wow! 

Let's keep our #1 relationship a priority every day by spending time in God's word and prayer. All of our other relationships will fall into place when that happens! 

 

www.whatbelongstous.com

 

Do you know how to Love? (Photo)

As Valentine's Day approaches, we begin to think about love more. It's hard not to when many incoming emails remind us to buy products and services for those we care about to celebrate this day. Even our children's school classes encourage everyone to make valentines and bring in pink and red snacks on that day... Our 3rd grader is hoping I'll make cookies for his class. If I can find a tube of something at the grocery store, that might happen. lol

After reading definitions of the word "love" in 2 different dictionaries, what I found matched exactly what our culture is teaching. I found that love is a feeling, a response to something we've received, something that brings us pleasure. These are all true but nowhere did I read anything about how love gives. 

On my way to the car wash this morning with my 2 youngest girls (20 mos. & 4 yrs.) I was only planning on getting the outside washed. I knew Jonathan prefers I get the inside done too EVERY time since they hand-dry the outside (no water spots). Remembering what I've been studying about love I immediately had the desire to go out of my way and do what he would like (even though I got out of the house later than I wanted and big grocery shopping was next on our to-do list). 

It's amazing how less selfish I act when I'm aware of God's love in me... (And trust me, I am far from perfect in this area!) :)

Most of us know how to receive love but what about giving love? Loving is deeper than romantic feelings. It's about going the extra mile. It is completely unselfish, not thinking about what it will receive in return. John 3:16 is THE perfect example of love in action. 

"God loved the world (people) so much that He GAVE His one and only Son..." 

God gave and gave and gave, even knowing there would be many who wouldn't even receive His love... That's hard to wrap my mind around. You might say, "That's easy for Him since God IS love." (1 John 4:8) The good news is that as Believers, God has made it possible, even easy for us to love like God loves! How? Romans 5:5 says that the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit! It's in us NOW!

Even though that love is within us, we must keep it at the forefront of our minds by meditating every day on God's love. If we are only listening to the media tell us what we deserve and how to look out for our own interests and make sure we're not being taken advantage of, we will believe it. Our flesh is naturally pulled toward selfishness. Thank God He's given us the ability to live above our selfish nature!

What we meditate on, we will act on.

What are some things you can do this week to go the extra mile, to act unselfishly? You will be amazed how good it feels when you do those things! 

www.whatbelongstous.com