My sun porch

My sun porch

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Showing love...

This week's memory verse: "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8  

If you love someone how do you show it? I've been thinking about that this morning. There are many people that I truly do I show it and how do they know? Especially with the people closest to me, my husband and my daughter...I tell them. We say I love you when we close a phone call. We say I love you when we go to bed each night. I am pretty sure that all three members of my little family know that they are loved. But, sometimes, our actions SEEM to tell a different story. We get lax in the way we treat each other because we are with each other so much and we think they love us and will forgive us for our bad behavior. I get grumpy with my daughter and I yell at her about many things. She frustrates me and I let her know it. I get aggravated with my husband and give him the cold shoulder sometimes....passive aggressive behavior at it's best. And then, sometimes we do really nice things for each other, or send each other a sweet unexpected text, or we spend special time with each other. That's when we feel loved.  

How about our relationship with God? It's kind of the same thing, isn't it? There are times we speak our love to him. There are also times when we seem to forget him and go about our own lives, not showing him love. It's rather hard to have a relationship that's one sided, isn't it? We need to feel his love back...we need to hear it, don't we?

  John 14:21 says the person who knows and keeps God's commands shows love for God and God will show his love back and make himself known. Isn't that what we all long know there IS a God who loves us and to feel his love?  

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 lists 5 things God asks of us:
1. Fear God (know that he is there, be aware and amazed at his power and know that his is WAY bigger than anything we can think of. And, yes, that knowledge should make us fear his consequences.) 
2. Walk in obedience to him. (Do what he tells you to do!) 
3. Love God 
4. Serve the Lord (everything you do should be in service to him...what he wants you should give) 
5. Observe the commands and decrees of the Lord (you have to know them to obey and study his word to find out what his wants you to do, and then do it)  

So, it looks in order to show this God of ours we love him, he wants our obedience. And, because he knows us so well, he knows that this isn't easy for us and isn't always possible for us...just like showing love to those closest to us isn't always possible either. That's why it's a good thing we have a forgiving God who gives us grace when we need it!  

You know, this works with how we love ourselves as well. God tells we are to take care of our bodies...we should obey him and love ourselves enough to give our body what it needs...good nourishment, exercise, rest, no junk...SHOW yourself you love you and love God enough to take care of the body he gave you! This is hard, believe me, I know! But God will show you how, if you ask. He will also go out of his way to make us feel his love...are you ready to feel God's love?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Focus on today...

Good Morning!
This week's memory verse:
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

Ok, yesterday was a BAD food day...yes, even after our discussion at FP4H group. I went over my calories by 560 calories...wait probably more because I just remembered I didn't track those 2 cupcakes I ate at church!!! OUCH!

But, that was yesterday...This is today. I got up early this morning and went to my sun porch to pray in the cool morning air. I want to start over...yet AGAIN. Today will be a tough day. It's a holiday and I will be tempted to sit around and rest all day and we have a family cookout tonight. I have prayed and asked God to give me strength and wisdom to make wise choices TODAY! Today's introduction of the week's Bible study lesson says that if we focus on being obedient in THIS moment, asking him for what we need to be victorious TODAY...he will answer yes. See the verses below. This was so important, it was in TWO different places in the Bible!!
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." Luke 11:9-10

So, I pray for you, my friends, that YOU will reach out to God today, asking him for what you need to be victorious...TODAY!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A blessing from a scary hospital story...

Memory verse:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Once in a while, a story comes to you that touches you and inspires you and makes you want to be a better person. I heard a story like that last night.

A friend of mine has a relative at The James, the cancer hospital at OSU Medical Center. It is a very stressful time for her and her family. This past week she was sitting in the ICU waiting room...waiting and worrying and trying to rest. Her niece was tired of watching the news on the waiting room TV and got up to change the channel. She was met with yells, cursing and much hostility from a group of people also waiting in this room.

My friend's niece was already distraught, and now was angry and a little scared of this very rough, rude and disruptive group, and she left the room. My friend stayed in the room, but faced more angry words from the group, many of those words being the four letter kind. One woman looked at my friend and said, "This woman just lost her babies and you have the nerve to change the #$@! channel!!!" And then the woman she was talking about yelled something to the effect of "Yeah, I just lost my #$&! babies!"

When my friend heard that someone lost babies, she thought about praying for this woman, but the awful four letter word she used to describe her babies offended her and she told them so. The group angrily moved away to another corner of the room.

Then, in the words of my friend, "The Lord started working on me." As she sat there, she heard the Lord telling her to go pray with that woman. She obviously did NOT want to do that and argued with God in her head. Her main problem with the woman was the terrible words she used. My friend heard God tell her...they are just words to her...Go.

My friend grudgingly obeyed...she approached the group and of course was greeted with more hostility. But she apologized to them and asked if she could pray with the woman. After some cajoling, they agreed. My friend prayed for the woman, for her babies, for her husband who was in the ICU, and for their future. The woman began crying and the whole group was moved. My friend said that the whole waiting room was filled with a peace that wasn't there before.A large angry man who had yelled and cursed at her just a few minutes ago, apologized to her and thanked her. 

Who knows if that simple prayer made a difference in the long run in the lives of the people involved...but God knows. My friend did a kind thing for hurting people. Maybe it made a bigger difference than we know.

This story touched me so much. I sat in an ICU waiting room several months ago and there was another family in there most of the week as well. They were also rude, crude and socially unacceptable.  What my friend did took guts! But the most important thing...she OBEYED when she heard God telling her to move and do something. How many times do we argue and fight and end up ignoring that still small voice when we hear it?

The bottom line is, no matter what words we use, good supportive words, or angry 4 letter words...we are all God's creations and he loves us. We have no idea what hurts have happened in the lives of others...instead of judging others, let's think of others as brothers and sisters and treat everyone with the kindness we think we deserve. God uses our struggles and stressful times in mysterious friend found that out in a scary hospital waiting room. What people in need will God put in your path today? Will you listen and obey if God tells you to do move? I pray that you will! We can make the world a better person at a time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Good things...

Memory verse:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Good things...We all want more of those and fewer bad things. Well, of course, Linda...that is a no-brainer! But how many of us focus on the bad things...bad things that ARE happening to us right now...bad things that MIGHT happen to us in the future....bad things that have happened to us in the past...we all do it!

Psalm 139:1-4 says that God knows EVERYTHING about us...even things in our heads...things we say before we say them. God knows it all! I'm glad I know that he loves me IN SPITE of those things! The things in my head are not always pleasant...mainly because I am worried about the bad things instead of the good.

It is easy for me to get caught up in the bad things and give in to the depression that comes along with worry. Yesterday started out to be one of those days. I woke up at 3:00 in the morning, worried about the bills I had left to pay this month. I laid there for 30 or so minutes with my mind spinning round and round, not able to put those thoughts away and go back to sleep. So I gave in, got up and instead of praying about it, went to my newest addiction...Grey's Anatomy from the beginning. I am now in love with that show and it takes the place of cake and peanut butter to comfort my worried mind. I get sucked into the lives of the doctors on that little screen and forget about my worries for a while. The problem episode leads to another...and to another and HOURS are gone from my day.

I COULD have spent that time praying about my worries...I COULD have taken my frustrations out doing exercise...I COULD have focused on GOOD things in my life and tried to make more good things happen, but instead I worried and then tried to escape. Isn't that what most of us do? We worry, focus on the bad and the find something to escape in and run away.

Lucky for me I am able to listen to that little voice in my head that nags me from time to time...I heard "Linda, GET UP AND DO SOMETHING!!!" I listened and obeyed that voice and got some big...good things accomplished before I went to work yesterday.

I believe that little voice was my conscience...but I also think the Holy Spirit worked inside of me too, because I began thinking of someone other than myself. I sent messages to my  prayer partners, I got out things for supper for my family and thought about planning my day around others. Good things happened yesterday...I believe they can happen today too! So join me today...put your worries aside for a moment...think of something good you can do for SOMEONE ELSE! it will make you feel better and get you focused on good things instead of bad! 

Have a GOOD day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Setting the bar too high?

Memory verse:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Setting the bar too high?

In SOME areas of my life, I am an overachiever. I set my sights on something and I work hard to get there. (This doesn't always work for with my life-long struggle with my weight.) This overachiever attitude has served me well many times, but it does sometimes affect my perceptions of others...or as I discovered recently, affects others' perceptions of how I view people.

I had a conversation with a bright young woman yesterday. She is afraid I judge others when they can't or don't live up the the high standards I set for myself. That really made me think...this isn't exactly the first time I heard something like this about myself. I was once told that I tend to be a bit judgmental. Judgmental is something I strive NOT to be, so being told this about myself makes me stop and think about what I do and what I expect of others. Today's Bible study is about learning lessons from our maybe I can learn something about myself by looking at myself in a different way.

I believe in my heart that I am a child of God...I believe in his teachings and his word. That is why I TRY each day to be kind to people, to work hard at my job, to work hard for my family, and to give to and work for my church. I don't always live up to my own expectations, but I believe that is what God wants me to do. I believe God wants me to TRY to give my BEST at everything I do.

So, because I expect that out of myself, I guess I do get frustrated with people who do JUST ENOUGH to get by. I do get frustrated with people who don't see the value at trying their BEST all the time. I get frustrated with people who don't treat people the way they would want to be treated. I get frustrated with people who complain about the way things are but aren't willing to do any work to change it. 

I think my frustration comes from the fact that even though I work hard...I KNOW in my heart and in my mind that I am really not working as hard as I could be. So...even my mediocre efforts are more than some are willing to give. AND then those people don't like the way things are in their lives, in their work places, their schools, in their church.

Ok, I do see the point...I DO sound a bit judgmental, don't I? I need to walk a mile in another person's moccasins before I judge whether they are giving their best or not, right?

I guess I just don't want people to be satisfied with mediocre. Why not set your standards higher and try to REACH reach for them instead of setting the bar so low you KNOW you can reach it without even trying? Excellence is not always obtained, but if you don't strive for it, you'll never see it.

The lesson I learned from these thoughts today? I will still continue to set my goals and my expectations high, but I will try to be more understanding of those who don't. We all have to start somewhere, right? 


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Teenagers...part of God's plan

This week's memory verse:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

The message translation of the memory verse:
"That's why we can be sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."

We all come into this world as babies, learn and grown into children and before we reach adulthood, we become teenagers. That is a difficult time...when we yearn for independence as we feel capable of thinking and doing for ourselves, while at the same time we want the love, support and guidance of our parents and other adults in our lives.

There are several teenagers in my life right now, and since I was once a teenager myself, I THINK I know how to relate to them, talk to them and guide them. However, I am discovering that while I think I know...God's plan for teenagers to grow into adults INCLUDES the strife between teens and adults. Teens NEED to feel like the don't understand adults...they NEED to learn to think their own thoughts (and in the process, think that adults just don't understand them) in order to gain confidence in their own thoughts. They NEED to think they are different from adults, even if eventually they learn that we all have much more in common. That is how they grow up to be adults.

The problem for adults who have teens in their lives...we need to learn to be there, to listen, not judge and be patient when they think they know better, while at the same time guiding them too...only in a way that does not feel to them like we are pushing them. Well, I have NOT mastered all that yet, as I was reminded again over the past weekend. But, I am willing to learn.

My question for the to engage teens in Bible study that will help prepare them for the hard battle between teen and adult years without it seeming like boring homework????GOOD QUESTION, huh? :-)

I thought about the memory verse above and tried to think of something current that might help them relate to it. I thought of the movie "Soul Surfer." I haven't seen it yet, but have heard a lot of teens talking about it and have read about this teenager,Bethany, who lost her arm to a shark. 

She talks about several Bible verses that helped her get through her terrible ordeal, and one of those verses was Romans 8:28 above. She felt that God used this tragedy in her life to make her stronger and learn to rely on him more. She relied on God's promises to get her through. How did she KNOW of God's promises? She had read and studied the Bible as a child and had strong, loving adults in her life to guide her. 

Reading and studying the Bible doesn't have to feel like homework...but the teens in my life are do need a Bible study guide that is relatable to you. Perhaps that is the key issue. I hope in the next few weeks to find ways to take the lessons I am learning in the Bible study program that I am enjoying and make it relatable to the teens in my life. They are so important to me...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The past is behind us, the future is yet to LIVE in the present!

This week's memory verse:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Past, present, future...While all those are important to us for various reasons, it is important to keep them in balance.

Even though we sometimes want to put it behind us, our past is valuable. It is there that we make mistakes and learn from is there we build the person we become. What we do and what happens to us creates the person we are. If we only live in the past, in our past glories or our past mistakes, we are only seeing part of the picture of who we can be. If we ignore our past and try to forget who we were, we lose the lessons, deny our feelings and end up hurting ourselves. It is healthy to remember and rely on lessons from the past, and to remember that what is past is can't come back to harm us and we can't stay exactly the way we were either.

What God did for us in Christ happened in the past...over 2000 years ago. We can't live there, but we can remember and be thankful for that past event that will bless our present and send us into our future.

Many make the mistake of living only for the future. They know and believe they will live with Christ forever, based on God's promises to us. So, they long for heaven and weep for today because it is not perfect like heaven. There are are also those who live any way they want now because they think they are going to heaven in the future...might as well have a little fun now, right? We need to know where we are with the end in mind, but not live like that's all there is.

Where we should live is in the present. Wait, you say. We all have to live in the present...unless you believe in "Back to the Future" time travel, we have no choice but to live in the present, right?

What I mean is we need to LIVE in the present. God gave us this life on earth as a IS called the present, you know! :-D    And, through his word, he gave us instructions on how to live in this present. 

The Bible is a perfect mix of the past, present and future. There are lessons from the past, people who God worked through...blessed...punished...and raised up...all to teach us how to live in our present life. He then promises us a future with him forever in heaven.

2 Peter 1:3-8 explains that God has given us everything we need to live a godly life (present) through knowledge of him. All we have to do is study the lessons he has given us and we will know how to live. 
1. We should have good character. 
2. We should search for spiritual understanding.
3. We should work to have self control.
4. We should have passionate patience and learn perseverance...never giving up.
5. We should look in reverent wonder at all of God's creations.
6. We should be friendly and affectionate with each other.
7. We should show generous love to others around us and to ourselves.

Each of those actions fits into the other. KNOWING these things is easier than DOING them all the time, but if we learn to rely on God's strength to do them instead of on our own, we will find ourselves living a blessed present life, treasuring the past and looking forward to a joyous future!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Keeping our responsibilities...together!

This week's memory verse:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

I used to really struggle with the verse sounded good...I WANTED to be a new creation! I did all the things I was supposed to do: I went to church, I prayed, I was kind to people, I gave some money to the church and other come I still felt like the old me and how come I still kept right on doing things I didn't want to do? I must not be "good enough" for God to "work his instant magic" on me and send the old me away and make me new. The Bible says that is what is supposed to happen right?

Then, over a period of time, after much prayer, study, discussion with trusted friends, and more prayer, I finally realized God doesn't work that way. His way is not instant gratification for us...we have responsibilities.

Ephesians 5:1-4 says we are to follow Jesus' example and walk in the way of love with no sexual immorality, impurity or greed, with no obscenities or course talk, but act with thanksgiving in all things. Wow! Those are pretty high standards to live up to.  

Ephesians 5:8-10 states that as "children of light" we have the responsibility to act with goodness, righteousness and truth and to find out what pleases God.

So, to get this straight, in order to become "new creations" in Christ, we have to do ALL those good things ALL THE TIME, right? Well, yes, but God knows how hard it is to do this, so he gave us the church to support us.

Colossians 2:6-7 says we are to continue to live our lives in Christ; rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness. 

How do we do all that?

 Colossians 3:16 goes on to say that we are to teach and admonish each other with wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs, singing to God with gratitude.

Where do we do all that? At church.

I was raised in church as a child with both parents very active in the church. Something happened that hurt my dad very deeply and he lost faith in churches...not in God, but in church. After that, we continued going (to a different church) but dad did not. I remember him saying that he didn't need church to worship God...he could sit in the beauty of his farm on the hill and praise God and his creation. While I agree that my dad could worship God fine without a church, I think he was missing one of God's reasons for creating the church all those many years ago, starting with Peter and Paul and revolving around Christ. We NEED each other! God made us to live in community...we need the support, advice, teaching, accountability, and most importantly the love of others who believe and have Christ in their hearts in order to live up to those responsibilities listed in Ephesians. It is just too hard to keep doing all that alone!

Our First Place 4 Health group has been learning what it says in 1  Corinthians 6:19-20: we are to honor God with our bodies. That is another hard responsibility to keep alone...yes it is very personal, it is MY body! But, we get very selfish about our bodies and we NEED the support...daily support from others going through the same struggle to live up to that responsibility. We have proven that over and over. When our group has been going strong, coming to group, sending supportive emails to each other, finding time to walk together...we have had great success. But lately, we have all gotten too busy and let each other down by not keeping that strong support going.

You don't have to be in FP4H to support others...find someone in your church who you have something in common with and start supporting each other in any way possible. As for me, this blog is my way of supporting others, especially those in my FP4H group, but I get supported just as much! Together, you can do much more than you can alone!

My salvation is God's grace, not my actions, but my joy and comfort in THIS life relies partly on my choices, good and bad. In order to feel the benefits and peace of becoming a new creation, I have to live up to my responsibilities. I would rather do that together with others doing it as well than to try to do it alone!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

God made you the way you are...what are you going to do about it?

This week's memory verse:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

What is my purpose? Why am I here? What meaning is there to this human life? These are deep, deep questions that have baffled some of the greatest minds on this earth. We all have these kind of thoughts at some points in our lives...and usually those questions come up during periods of change in our lives...or when we NEED change.

The problem with questions like this is there is no one right answer...each person's purpose is different because we were created as individuals...we are different. But, the good thing is, many of us have similar situations, making it easier to help each other find the answers we are searching. If you are really looking for your purpose, or looking to find real meaning in your life, ask God for help and he will help you find it...sometimes he sends someone to be put in your path who has had similar  experiences and can help you.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says that through Christ,  we are to do good works that God prepared in advance for us to do. It kinda makes you think that maybe you were created the way you were for a reason, doesn't it?

My whole life...well, for as long as I can remember, weight has been an issue for me. I have always been heavier than I wanted to be...this kept me from enjoying sports, made me self-conscience, and sometimes kept me from doing things I wanted to do. This made me have self- doubt and low self esteem. I used to get mad at God...why did he make me this way? Why can't I be like my friend who can eat everything in sight and not gain a pound? Why can't I look cute in a bathing suit? My list of "WHY's" could go on a country mile!! 

I still struggle with weight every day, but since I have become friends with Jesus, I am learning to look at my weight in a different way. Psalm 139:13-16 says that God knew us and created us before we were born and all the days of my life are written in his book of life. Does that mean God KNEW I would struggle with my weight all my life? Jeremiah 29:11-13 says that God has plans to prosper us and not harm us, to give us hope and a future. Could that mean that my weight battles have a purpose for me and are part of God's plan for me?

I MADE MYSELF heavy because of the choices I made in my life...too much bread, potatoes, Grandma's peach cobbler...too little exercise and strenuous work...but I also MADE MYSELF a strong woman because of the hard work, study and other wise choices I have made in my life. God made me, but I made the choices. Some of my problems were caused by me. But God was there all along, using those choices to help me learn to WORK THROUGH the problems and blessings that have occurred because of those choices.

God wanted to have a relationship with his earthly human creation, so he sent Jesus to earth to teach us and ultimately die for us. Jesus calls us friends (John 15:14-16) and wants us to bear fruit. Instead of growing cherries from my earlobes...that means I am to do what I am led to do, bringing about good things for myself and others around me...I am to be the hands and feet of Jesus, doing his good work here on earth.

I share my weight issues with others and show that I am currently working through them. I am learning that my weight is part of who I am and I should give thanks for that! I don't think God wants me to use that as an excuse though...oh well, God made me fat so bring on the ice cream! I think that struggling with wise food choices and getting off by butt brings on is something that I am ALWAYS going to struggle with so I will ALWAYS need God's help! I will ALWAYS have something to work on. I have MANY other areas of my life that I need to work on too, but today I'll just concentrate on this one! God must have a lot of confidence in me 'cause he sure gives me a lot to handle sometimes!

Your constant struggle may not be with weight...but I bet you've got one. How can you look at it as a blessing instead of a curse? God knows you...he made you and uses your struggles to make you the person he wants you to be. You can fight him all your life or you can accept it and allow God to work through your's up to you!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yet ANOTHER fresh start!

This week's memory verse:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

The reason I began writing a daily message that then became this daily blog was to help my First Place 4 Health group stay connected and do the daily Bible study and maybe understand it a little better. It has become much more than that to me, but as my Sunday group is struggling and floundering to hold the program together, I think I am going to go back to the beginning and use this to help the group make some progress in our healthy living goals. I am still going to use the "A New Beginning" book that we officially began 4 weeks ago, but I am going back to week one so we can all begin again together.

This memory verse is such a good one for such a new beginning! It doesn't matter how many times you mess up and fall back into old habits...God is there to help you try again! He wants to make you a new creation! 

Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

He's not specifically talking about forgetting about the 3 pieces of cake and fried chicken and chips you ate over the weekend...he's not just talking about how you sat on the couch watching tv all day Saturday instead of being outside in the sun...but we know that those behaviors are holding us back. Let's put them in the past and leave them there! Let's concentrate on right now...this moment...and strive toward the healthier choices we can make!

I heard someone say that God should love me no matter how much I weigh! HE DOES!!!  I asked the group of girls I was with yesterday why we should be concerned about our weight and living healthy. They said if our bodies are healthier (our body IS the temple for the spirit!) then we will have more energy to do the things we want to do AND WHAT GOD WANTS US TO DO! We will also feel better about ourselves, giving us more confidence to step out when we are asked. God doesn't care what you look like...but he DOES want you to be obedient and take care of the body he gave you! THAT is the bottom line!

So today, join me! I am going to learn from the mistakes I have made in the past, focus on the present, making better choices. As God told Isaiah, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!" (Isaiah 43:18-19)

God is doing a new thing in us! Let's grab on to that! God offers a fresh start - a new beginning - each and every day. Are you ready to take him up on it?

Dear Lord, I ask that you bless those girls in my group and anyone else reading this message today. Let them know that they are worth your love and worth putting the effort into trying again and making a new start! Thank you for giving us new starts each day...let us take you up on it today! Amen.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble!

This week's memory verse:
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

Yesterday I didn't do our Bible study because I ran out of time, and instead wrote my own thing...what was on my heart at the time...forgiveness. Then when I went to catch up this morning, I found that yesterday's study was about...mercy and forgiveness! God is good and works in mysterious ways!

The last line of this week's memory verse is to "walk humbly with your God." What does that mean?

 Psalm 25:4-10 is a prayer to God. The author is asking God to show, teach and guide him, while also asking God to forget and forgive the sins and rebellions of his youth.

We can say this same prayer. We can learn to walk humbly with God by seeking God and ask him to show us, teach us and guide us in his ways.

God sent us the perfect teacher...Jesus. He was from God, but he was also human. He hung around normal people and taught them...and to walk humbly with God.

Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus describes himself as gentle and humble in heart and offers us rest for our souls.

Jesus also says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. My pastor once used a yoke during his sermon. We got to see what a yoke looks like. It is a harness of such, that allows two animals (horses, oxen, etc.)  to be connected together and make their load lighter. When Jesus says his yoke is easy, he is NOT the one driving the team...he is one of the animals...yoked WITH us! He is the older and wiser of the animals who knows the way and will lead the team of two animals joined together. But this requires humility on our part. We might THINK we know the way and try to pull our load in a different direction. This always leads to confusion and pain for us, because we are trying to pull the load ourselves, not using the wisdom of Jesus who wants to lead us in the BEST WAY. We are fighting the leader of our team.

The lesson we need to learn is when we humble ourselves, realize that we DON'T know the right way, and let Jesus lead us, God will lift us up and take our anxieties away in his time.

With my weight loss attempts, I have found I can work, sweat, count calories and struggle all I want, but until I learn to let GOD LEAD ME AND TRUST HIM FULLY WITH MY LIFE AND MY BODY...I will never experience lasting success.

God loves me too much to leave me the way that I am...when I seek his wisdom and guidance, he opens my heart and mind to his wisdom through the example of Jesus. I am so thankful that God is that loving and patient with me. I pray that I am humble enough to hear, respond and obey. 

Do you realize you are yoked with Jesus? Are you trying to pull your load in your own direction and by yourself? Humble yourself and ask God to show you, teach you and guide you to trust him enough to let Jesus lead you and make your load lighter and easier!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

God can turn hurts into blessings...

This week's memory verse:
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God." -- Micah 6:8

I ran out of time to do my Bible study this morning...I will catch up tomorrow. But I want to take this time to just say we all have people who have hurt us deeply in our lives. Sometimes the hurt is so deep we can't even think of forgiving and having a relationship with that person...we hurt so bad we overeat or hurt ourselves in other ways because we don't know how to get out of it.

If you are someone who is hurting...been hurt or done the hurting...our God says it is never too late! Ask God for help...cry out to Him and giver your hurts to him. If your heart is right with him, he will help you forgive. Things may never be the way they were before, but they don't need to be. Our God is a God of second chances...if you are holding on to that hurt, you are only keeping yourself a prisoner of the pain.

This topic was on my heart today...I am not an expert...I'm not a counselor...but I know what God places in my heart. My heart hurts for those who are hurting...I can't fix the world, only God can, but I can speak what is in my heart.

I have let go of hurts...things done to me...things I have done to others...The hurts don't always go away, but i have seen God take those hurts and turn them into blessings in my own life. 

The Bible verse above tells us that God shows us how to mercy is one thing we are to do. If you are someone in pain today, ask God to help you have mercy on your own heart and forgive. God can take your hurts and turn them into blessings too!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

10 action steps to living justly...

This week's memory verse:
"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God." -- Micah 6:8

To act justly...what does that really mean? This week we have heard a lot about justice being served...someone evil got what he deserved. But I think what God means by acting justly basically means we are to do what is live a life of integrity. How do we know how to do that? God gave us his commandments as a guide so we would KNOW how to live justly.

As a kid, I always thought of the 10 commandments as the "you shall not" list...a list of things I shouldn't do. But really look at the list that Moses brought down from God...put it in a different context...things you SHOULD do...or a list of I WILL...

1. I will honor only one God.
2. I will worship God only instead of idols I build up for myself.
3. I will only speak the name of God in worship and praise.
4. I will remember what the Sabbath is all about and honor it  with worship and rest.
5. I will honor my mother and father.
6. I will honor life own life and the lives of others
7. I will honor my marriage vows and stay true to my mate
8. I will keep only what is mine
9. I will tell the truth 
10. I will be content with what I have instead of wanting what others have.

Thinking of God's laws or commands in this way makes them easier for me to understand and do. It's like "living justly" is my mission statement for my life and these are the 10 action steps that will get me there.

As you know, I have been working on healthier living and being more responsible with my finances. I believe these two things fit right into those 10 action steps above. 

1 Corinthians 10:31 - Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.

When I eat too much, eat the wrong things, don't exercise and let my body get more and more out of shape, I am NOT giving glory to God. I am in a sense going against some of those action steps...making food an idol and NOT honoring my life! I am making my life more about me than about God. God wants us to make our lives about him...focused on him and living justly because he knows we will be healthier, happier and better off when we do! I wonder why that is so hard for us to accept?

God wants a close relationship with us and wants us to live in healthy's more than the diet plans, food trackers and weigh-ins. Anything you do, or fail to do, that hinders your relationship with God wages war with your soul and keeps you down. If I continue overeating, not exercising, overspend, get deeper in debt...the guilt of doing those things and the natural consequences of those things weigh me down, zap my strength and take my focus off God...the one who WANTS me free of those things!

Lord, I want to live a life of integrity so I can be closer to you. I want to be healthy and stable and able to focus on you instead of all my problems. Help me to live by those 10 action steps you gave me so I can work toward a life that honors you in ALL I do. Amen

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Learning not to waver...

This week's memory verse:
"He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." -- Micah 6:8

Yesterday I talked about how I need to be more consistent. Today's Bible study is titled "Don't waver." This means kind of the same thing, and shows that wavering in my faith leads to the inconsistencies in my life.

Several years ago author Gary Chapman wrote a book called "The Five Love Languages." In it he explains that everyone gives and receives love in different ways...the way we ultimately understand. It is a good book and can help you learn the ways your loved ones need love shown to them. The Bible tells that God's love language is obedience. Jesus said "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15) there are many ways we can show our love to God, but the one that means the most to him is to do what he says.

1 Samuel 15:22 says that "to obey is better than sacrifice."

The verses BEFORE our memory verse for the week shows a person asking what he should do to show love to God...bring burnt offerings? Rivers of olive oil? His first born? The rest of memory verse explains that God has already explained it to us...act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

Read John 14:21. What does Jesus promise to those who love and obey him?

Last week I talked about hearing Andy Stanley speak about how God's commandments are there to protect us from ourselves. Psalm 119 is a like a love letter to us, explaining how much God loves us and wants us to obey him for own good. Read those verses for yourself. You will see that those who follow his commands are blessed and we can delight in God's commands because he is our protector and counselor.

While it is impossible for us to be good ALL THE TIME, many times we fail when our trust and belief wavers. James 1:6 urges us to believe in God's word, without wavering. A mind that wavers is not completely convinced that God's way is the best.

I can see that when I look at patterns in my own behavior. In the things I am really working on...healthy living and living in financial's when I forget about God's teaching and God's advice and do what I want to do anyway that I fail and make poor choices. Those choices end up hurting me or make my life journey harder than it needs to be. Those are the natural consequences for my disobedience. 

I am on a journey in this life, learning about God, my creator, and learning how to show God my love. Today, I ask that loving God to teach me his ways, to teach me how to obey. I know that I will waver from time to time, but I ask that those times be fewer and far between. I listen for God's guidance more each day. I am blessed to know him and his loving ways. My wish for those reading this today is that you also realize how much you are loved...may you be blessed enough to realize it and delight in that knowledge today!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Work toward consistent balance...

This week's memory verse:
"He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." -- Micah 6:8

I think back to why I got involved with First Place 4 Health almost 2 years ago...I thought it would be a good way for my daughter and I to learn how to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. I have learned much more than that and have been inspired to keep God in my life every day through Bible study and prayer...that helps me to live a more balanced life. I also have learned that you get out it what you put into it. What an amazing thought!

There have been MANY times in the last two years that I haven't put very much into this balanced life thing, thinking that is was too hard, or I enjoy eating too much, or I am just too lazy and don't want to try. Making a goal of how much weight to lose and how much to exercise each week didn't help  much when I went ahead and did what I wanted to anyway. I didn't gain a lot of weight, but I certainly didn't lose any that way!

But, there have also been times when I put a lot into it, logged what I ate, walked on my lunch hours and kept under my calorie count AND did the daily Bible study...during those times, I DID lose weight, got complements and felt good about myself. I was headed toward a balanced life.

The problem is I am not consistent...I waffle between the two behaviors too often and even though I have lost about 25 pounds in 2 years, I know I could have lost more had I been consistent. Now, please don't think I am being too hard on myself...I am proud that I haven't ever given up in the last 2 years, but with hind sight, it is easy to see how I can do better.

And, I remind myself and you as well that this balanced life that I am reaching for is not all about weight loss. Learning to achieve balance in ALL areas of my life is my goal. I am reminded this morning that God is there is help me with this momentous struggle if I just ask him.

Our memory verse this week tells us that God has shown us what is good. All God requires of us is to act justly, (obey his commands and live right) to love mercy, ( be forgiving and remember the golden rule) and walk humbly with our God (talk with him and listen for his guidance.)

This all sounds good doesn't it? But to live this way seems hard to us, like it is hard for me to live consistently. Read Deuteronomy 30:11-14. What does God promise about his commandments?

He says that they are NOT too difficult for us! God's word is available to us, as close as our tongues are to our mouths. We know what to do...just do it!

Read Psalm 119:9-11 - what is the result of living according to God's word?

When you keep God's word in your heart, you will have God's help in not straying from his commands. How do you keep God's word in your heart? Memorize scripture. That is why this program has a weekly memory verse. You study a verse for a week and put it in your mind and heart...then when you need it, it will be there to guide you.

James 1:5 says when you ask God for help, he gives generously and will give you wisdom. His word...the Bible is FULL of wisdom! Even the most sceptic unbeliever would agree there are words of wisdom in the Bible. That's where the "golden rule" came from and who doesn't agree with that?

I have learned that I have more will power and make wiser choices when I spend time studying and memorizing scripture each day. Who has time to do that? Who DOESN'T have time to learn to live a better life?

I pray that God helps me be more consistent in my balanced life journey. I know there will be times when I fail, but I hope never to give up, continue to work toward balance. I pray that for you as well!