Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Are you missing a blessing?

It was just a simple message in three short sentences.

It came by way of a text message to my cell phone.

It simply said,
“You’ve been heavy on my heart all week.
I’ve been praying constantly for you.
Just wanted you to know.”

There is no way my friend could have known how burdened our hearts were that particular week. We were praying over an issue we hadn’t discussed with anyone.

As I read her timely message, I felt like it came straight from heaven.

God impressed upon my friend’s heart to think of my family, to pray for us, and then to let me know about it.

I was blown away and blessed by a simple word of encouragement at the exact moment I needed to hear it.

I felt like God Himself had sent me an expression of His love.

But the thought came to me...

      ·But what if my friend hadn’t been “in touch” with the Lord?

     ·What if she hadn’t been prayerful and sensitive to the Holy Spirit?

     ·What if she had neglected to send that text message to me that day?

Then, we both would have missed out on a sweet blessing.

“Missed blessings”

~ Do you have some? I know I do!

Has God laid it on your heart recently to call someone, to send a letter, to stop by and check on someone, to invite a friend over to dinner, or to give a gift to someone else?

~ Did you do it?

~ Did you follow through?

Or, did you miss the blessing and the opportunity to be blessed in return?

Personally, I believe we miss blessing opportunities all the time.

    We mean to do something...

    We think about giving something...

    We even pray about sharing a blessing with someone else.

But, we never quite get around to it.

Today, someone in my life and in your life is praying for a miracle, for a little cash, for a friend, for a word of hope, or for something else. 

They are petitioning heaven, and heaven wants to use us to answer their prayers.

    *  Maybe they need an act of service:
o   A senior adult needs some assistance with yard work.

o   A new mom needs some help with her housework.

o   That single mom really could use a babysitter.

o   That friend with cancer needs a ride to the doctor and someone to stay with her while she waits.

o   You sense God is leading you, but time has just gotten away from you.

z Why not call that person today?

   *  Possibly someone in your life needs your time:
  o   To come and sit with them,

  o   To hear their hurts with compassion,

  o   To laugh with them,

  o   To take the time to play a board game with them,

  o   To enjoy a long walk with them,

  o   To spend quality time with them.  You know God wants you to give this person your concern and your time.

z Will you contact them tonight?

   *  Maybe God has put it on your heart to give someone your physical touch and affection.
o   Maybe it’s a senior adult who needs more hugs,

o   Or a neglected child who could use a friend to hold them.

o   God has encouraged you to open your arms and extend the gift of physical touch.

z Will you open your heart and your arms?

   *  There could be a friend, neighbor or family member who desperately needs to hear an encouraging word today. 
o   It’s never been easier to send hope via email,

o   Or Facebook,
   o   Or a text message,

   o   Or a phone call,

   o   Or even an old fashioned card in the mailbox.

z Will you send a word of hope today?

“So speak encouraging words to one another.
Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this,
no one left out, no one left behind.
I know you’re already doing this;
just keep on doing it.”
(1 Thess. 5:11, MSG)

   *  Finally, there may be a person in your sphere of influence who needs a tangible miracle today
o   A bag of groceries,

o   A sack of nice clothes that your kids have outgrown,

o   That trampoline or basketball goal that is just sitting in your yard or driveway,

o   Money – cash or a gift card,

o   Use of that extra car that is just sitting in your garage,

o   Use of your lake house for a much-needed getaway,

o   You have so much, and you could easily share a little of it.

z Will you offer some tangible or financial kindness today?

Why should we be willing to do this - to bless others?

1} The Bible tells us to do the right thing - to do good.

“So then, anyone who knows the right thing to do and fails to 
do it is committing a sin.” James 4:17, CJB

“But if a person knows what he should do and he does not do it, 
he has done something wrong.”  
Js. 4:17, WE

~ Wonder how many times God led us to do
good and we didn’t do it?

~ Wonder whose prayers were not answered as quickly
because of our disobedience?

~ Wonder how many people the Spirit had to impress
upon before He found someone willing to obey?

~ Wonder what blessings we missed out on today?

2} If we bless others, we will ourselves be blessed. When we give to others what we need, we will be filled with joy.

“Generous persons will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”  Proverbs 11:25, CEB

“Generosity will be rewarded: Give a cup of water,  and you will receive
 a cup of water in return.”  Prov. 11:25, CEV

“Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands—all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.”  Luke 6:38, GNT

Someone around you needs a blessing RIGHT NOW.

They are crying out, and God is tapping you on the shoulder.

~ Will you follow through?

~ Will you be the hands and the feet of Jesus today?

~ Will I?

I pray that we will!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Are You Clinging to God's Character?

While reading through a wonderful book by Max Lucado this week, I came across a suggestion that he made in a short section of a chapter (just one paragraph).

The chapter was discussing ways to continue to hope in God even when you didn’t see Him, sense Him, hear Him, or feel like He was doing anything.

Max’s simple, yet profound suggestion was this: “Cling to God’s Character.”

He went on to list of some of the attributes of God’s character to which we can cling.

A few of his suggestions include:
  • ·      He is still sovereign.
  • ·      He still knows my name.
  • ·      Angels still respond to His call.
  • ·      The death of Jesus still saves souls.
  • ·      God is still faithful.
  • ·      He is not caught off guard.
  • ·      He uses everything for His glory and my ultimate good.

This list could go on and on. There is really no limit to the amazing traits we could record.

After closing Lucado's chapter and walking away from my reading time, I began to think on ways that I could better and more faithfully cling to God’s character.

~ How could I focus more readily on God’s faithfulness?

~ What might I do to cause my mind to more quickly and consistently focus on the character of the Lord?

~ How might I encourage my family to think more about God’s goodness?

~ How could I exhort others to ponder more on God’s great character?

In my musings, I came up with an idea – why not make some physical, tangible displays of God’s faithful character?

Why not come up with some ways to post, place, hang up, and put these character traits up in our home and in our world?

So, with the help of Pinterest and my wonderfully creative daughter, we brainstormed a few ways to more intentionally focus our attention on the great character of our God. These are just a few ideas; many more could be added.

Here are just a few ways to display the faithful character of God in our homes and in our lives:

1) Idea One – Use a bulletin board.

Ø Fill it with photos of friends and family – both old and new. Choose photos that will make you thankful to the Lord for all He has done for you and your family.

My Bulletin Board
Ø Place uplifting quotes and positive sayings about the Lord on this board.

Ø Add favorite Bible verses to the board. Select those that give you much hope.

Ø Place this bulletin board in a spot where you will see it daily.

Ø  Each day as you pass by, a verse, motto, or encouraging word should “stand out” to you. 

Ø My bulletin board helps me to focus on the wonderful character of our God.

2) Idea Two – Type up a list and keep it in your prayer notebook.

Ø List 5-10 characteristics of our God and His character that you believe and hold firmly to. 

Ø Those characteristics I listed include:
1} God is always with me, beside me, and watching over me.
2} God is always at work – in me, around me, through me, and for me.
3} The Lord will fight for me.
4} God bends down to listen to me.
5} God will always provide for me.
6} God has perfect timing.
7} The Lord is my strength.
8} God has an amazing plan for my life.
9} God is everything I need.
10} The Lord is always able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that I ask or think.

Ø Add photos, pictures, or printed verses that support this characteristic of the Lord.  (I printed verses and quotes from Pinterest, but you could easily just write them out).

Ø Put this list in your prayer or devotional notebook so that you can look at it each morning as you spend time alone with the Lord.  Photos of my list and notebook are below:
My Prayer Notebook with Two Pages

Closeup of Notebook Page

Page in Notebook 

Ø This list will be available to give you hope each day and to remind you of the Lord’s faithfulness.

3) Idea Three – Use a large picture frame with square photos.

Ø Obtain a frame with no backing or glass.

Ø Add twine and clothes pins to the frame with a staple gun.

Ø Then, add your photos, verses, quotes, and other items which encourage you about the Lord and His character.  Below, you can see the frame that we made.  The square photos were sent to Walgreens Photo via their app and my Instagram account.

Our frame with photos, verses and favorite quotes.

Ø Hang this frame in a prominent place where you will see it often to remind you of God and His character.

4) Idea Four – Use a smaller picture frame with small cards.

Ø This idea is similar to "Idea Three," but the frame is much smaller.

Ø Obtain a frame, silver cording, and smaller clothes pins.  Spray paint the clothes pins silver.

Ø Add the cording and clothes pins to the frame with a staple gun.  I've added a couple of pictures that I saw on the Internet for suggestions.

Empty Frames
One photo at a time
Ø Then write out some traits of the Lord (that encourage your heart) on cardstock.  

Ø Attach these cards to the silver cord and hang the frame in a prominent place.  Mine is hanging in the kids’ bathroom on the wall next to their mirror.  They can't miss it!

Our "Character of God" Smaller Frame
Ø My hope is to encourage my children with reminders of the faithfulness of God.

5) Idea Five – Put a list on the refrigerator noting character traits of our God, or put Bible verses on the fridge so that the whole family can see them.  

This site offers free downloads if you'd like to just print some off some verses:  http://www.bibleparent.com/email/w25learn.html

 I also found this idea for making verse cards with younger children:

6) Idea Six – Put Scripture verse promises everywhere!

Ø Write them on cards; put them in frames

Ø Post them on Twitter; put verses on your Facebook wall

Ø Add Scripture to your Instagram

Ø And place God’s Word all over your home, work place, and even in your car.

Ø Having God’s Word in your line of sight constantly will help and encourage you on the hardest days.

7) Idea Seven – What do you think?

Do you have some other suggestions for how to practically cling to the Lord and His character?

Have you done some things around your home or business that you’d be willing to share?

I’d love to hear some of your ideas and suggestions.

My prayer today is that my family will cling more closely to God’s character – no matter what is going on in our lives.  

I pray that you and your family will do this same.

Blessings to you,   Melanie

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Are you Giving IN or Giving UP??

Two young wives dealing with the same issue, but responding to it so differently…

Both women have been extremely restless and unhappy in their marriages.

Both have sought out wise counsel.

Both have considered the hearts of their precious children.

Both women have had to make some hard choices.

In the end, they chose very different paths - one stayed and one left.

One gave up on the marriage, and the other gave in to her marriage.

Giving up and giving in – what’s the big difference?

To give up is to quit,

To walk away,

To abdicate responsibility,

To hang it up,

To renounce something,

To desert something or someone,

To check out,

To resign,

To go away from it all. 

Initially, giving up seems easier and more pleasant. Walking away relieves some of the stress and gives one a fresh start.

However, quitting doesn’t fix the problems. Walking away typically solves very little. Those same issues we left behind usually surface again – only the next time they surface, they seem harder, worse, more difficult and multiplied in pain.

To give up on people, relationships, and situations also can lead to incredible remorse, emotional pain, loneliness, and even some challenging physical issues.

Giving up doesn’t really solve anything.

So, what’s the alternative?

The second young wife in my story chose to GIVE IN.

Giving up and giving in – what’s the big difference?

To give in is to surrender,

To yield,

To wave the white flag,

To submit,

To willingly lay down your rights,

To abandon yourself,

To do what’s right instead of what’s easy,

To let go of the fight,

To rest.

This second young woman decided to stick it out and to hang around – seeking to make her marriage better. Things have not been perfect, but she is glad she has chosen to surrender.

And, she has experienced something amazing by choosing to give in to the relationship rather than giving up on it. She has found deep and abiding hope in the depths of her being. She has found Jesus to be real and the joy of the Lord has been her continual strength.

There is a spring in her step and a lift in her voice because she has chosen to yield her situation over to her Savior. Surrender has brought joy into this young woman’s life.

So, what makes this choice so difficult for the rest of us? 

Why do we so often choose to give up rather than to give in?

~ Maybe it’s because our world pushes for us to do what we want to do, to demand our way, to clamor for our rights?

~ Maybe it’s because that doggone grass always looks so much greener and more lush on the other side of the fence?

~ Possibly it’s because we feel so out of control when we submit and surrender – trusting God to take care of those things that matter so much to us?

No matter the reason – surrendering all to Jesus is hard.  Really hard.

And yet, surrendering all to Jesus is the key. Consider this equation:

Pushing God away and going our own way = 
Anxiety, Pain, Remorse.

Surrendering to Him and resting in His plan = 
Joy, Hope, Inner Strength, & Peace.

The Message Bible gives a great rendering of surrender from Romans 12:1-2 under the heading,

“Place Your Life Before God:”

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:

Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.

Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.

Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it.

Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity,

God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

Today, like the two women mentioned at the start of this post, we all have a choice, an opportunity to decide.

We can decide to give up and walk away – doing our own thing in our own way.

Or, we can choose to give our lives over completely to Jesus, trusting Him to wisely, graciously, and perfectly order our steps.

As I close, the words to a favorite old hymn come to mind. 

Do you remember it?

All to Jesus I surrender;

All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In his presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His name!
I Surrender All
Text: J.W. Van Deventer
Music: W.S. Weeden 

Blessings to you as you choose to give IN rather than to give UP today!