Faith Messages to build your faith

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

REFRESHED AND RESTORED









              Junk. That’s what my family and friends thought of most of my purchases. 

                     But to me, they were treasures waiting to be revealed.


              When I was in my late teens, I had an unusual fetish for beat-up antique furniture. 

              While most of my friends were at the mall shopping for clothes, I was at estate sales, flea markets, yard sales, and auctions hunting for antiques. 

              Often, when I brought my purchases home, my family would roll their eyes and say, ‘I can't believe you paid money for that old piece of junk.’ 

              But I never saw my purchases as junk. They just needed a little work…okay, sometimes a lot of work.


              At one estate sale I spied a little drop leaf kitchen table with three spindle-back chairs. 

              I could just imagine a sweet little older lady spending many years sitting at that very table drinking her morning coffee or perhaps her afternoon tea. 

              I could almost hear the faint whispers of thousands of conversations from generations past. 

              The set was painted a hospital green, but I saw that it had great potential. 

              Obviously the other bidders didn't recognize a treasure when they saw one, because ten minutes and $35 later, the set was mine.


              I brought the dinette set home, all excited about my great buy, and couldn't understand why no one else shared my enthusiasm.


              ‘Sharon, do you realize how much time and energy it is going to take to make that old green rickety table look even slightly presentable?’ 
they asked. 

              At that point in my life, I had a lot more time than money, so the time wasn't a problem.


              Refinishing furniture is a dirty, grueling task. 

              First, I stripped off the paint with paint remover and discovered that not only had the table been green, it had also been blue, and before that white. But underneath it all was pure walnut.


              The paint remover raised the grain of the wood, so I had to go back and sand it smooth. If the sanding isn't done well, the finished product will always be a little rough. 

              A few joints were loose from wear and tear, so I glued them back together. Then I applied a warm walnut stain which deepened its color and made the beautiful pattern of the wood grain stand out. 

              Finally, I applied a polyurethane coat to seal and protect the piece.


              As I worked I began to think of the old broken table as a symbol of my own life. I was also on the auction block, and God had purchased me with His Son’s precious blood. 

              I had layers and layers of my old self that had to be stripped away to reveal the beauty hidden beneath. This raised my grain, but God sanded me with life experiences and trials to remove the rough edges. 

              He glued my loose joints and mended my broken pieces, for He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Then He put a sealer not only on me but in me—the Holy Spirit—who brought out the beauty of who God created me to be.


              After I finished refurbishing the old table and chairs, I sat in the garage thinking about all that God had done in my life. 

             My mom opened the door, looked at the old table, and said, ‘I never thought something so ugly could turn out to be so beautiful.’


              I said, 'Amen.'


              Where are you in the refinishing process? 

              It’s never really over, this side of heaven. But as we listen to God day by day, He will show us what needs to be stripped off, sanded away, and polished smooth to be all that He has created us to be.


Let’s Pray


              Dear Lord, I was such a mess before You transformed me. Thank You for restoring my soul, renewing my spirit, and redeeming my life to become Your treasured possession…a true work of art.


               In Jesus' name,  Amen."

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
( 2 Cor. 5:17 NIV)            
                                                                               
Today’s Truth   by  Sharon Jaynes on Crosswalk.com     “Friend to Friend"
 11/28/11

www.girlfriendsingod.com




Monday, November 28, 2011

What Does it Take to Get Your Attention?



"…an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai.

When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord's voice…." Acts 7:30b-31

Moses had spent 40 years in the desert during his period of self-imposed exile.

Now the Lord decided it was time to get Moses attention -- to place him back in service. Notice the sequence of Moses' experience: he saw the burning bush, he was amazed at the sight, and he went over to look more closely.

Many times when we are in our own desert, we don't hear the Lord's voice because we are too consumed with our own thoughts -- so the Lord needs to get out attention.

In Moses' case it was a burning bush -- something ordinary (a bush), that became extraordinary. It was amazing to him (after all it's not every day you see a burning bush in the middle of the desert), so he went over to check it out (the Lord got his attention).

Watch what came next: "he heard the Lord's voice." Once the Lord had Moses' attention -- Moses then heard the Lord's voice. This is a really important point to me.

Many people think the key to this story is the burning bush (the miracle); I think the more important point is that God is always speaking to us -- it's just sometimes He needs to use rather dramatic means to get our attention so we hear him.

When I am watching a sporting event on television, my wife believes the house could be on fire, and it wouldn't be until the heat melted the remote control that it would get my attention.

We men certainly have the ability to concentrate (my positive spin on her critique), and block out all distractions. Unfortunately, this same ability to insulate ourselves can also hurt us when God is trying to talk to us.

Questions to Ponder:

How does God get your attention? Does the house have to burn down?

Sometimes the life changing events we experience (loss of a job, health issue, financial setback, family problem, etc.) are only necessary because we haven't been listening to God -- we've blocked Him out.

Are you at all blocking God out of your life? Does He currently have your attention? What is He trying to tell you?"

Pocket Devotions from The Pocket Testament League. 11/23/11

Copyright©2011 by the Pocket Testament League. www.ptl.org All rights reserved

The Pocket Testament League is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to helping Christians Read, Carry and Share the Word of God through Gospels and other resources. Membership is free.









Saturday, November 26, 2011

Avoiding Burnout

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed “(Mark 1:35, NIV).

By Sharon Jaynes   CrossWalk.com

Today’s Truth   October 18, 2011

Friend to Friend

              “I sat on the edge of my seat as I watched my son’s first track meet. The crowd was abuzz as moms and dads chatted, waiting for their teens to dash, sprint, or endure the eight laps of the thirty-two hundred meter race. But when the boys lined up for the hurdles event, the visiting stopped and the crowd watched with rapt attention. Why? In the hurdles event, the stakes were higher. It became less about who would win, and more about who would gracefully leap and clear the metal roadblocks or tip and topple over the barriers.

              Hurdles - they are not simply found on the asphalt of track and field but also in the great race called life. As women, we struggle finding balance with our many roles and responsibilities. Our flame of enthusiasm begins to diminish when we are doing more than God intended or when we are doing what God intended, but on our own strength rather than His.

              In the Bible we see many who experienced times of burnout. After Jonah’s miraculous delivery from the big fish and prophetic announcement to the people on Nineveh, he sank into a depression and wanted to die (Jonah 4:3). After Elijah called down fire from heaven that miraculously burned up the sacrifices of Baal, the fire in his own life went dim (1 Kings 18-19). Elijah prayed, “I have had enough, LORD. Take my life,” (1 Kings 19:4). Both of these men wanted to quit.

              How do we avoid those same feelings of burnout? The first step is to realize that it can happen and does happen to the best of us.

               What was God’s response to Elijah? Let’s take a look at 1 Kings Chapter 19.

                             He allowed Elijah to sleep. (19:5) – rest
                             He sent an angel to provide food for him to eat. (19:5)  refreshment
                             He allowed Elijah to sleep again. (19:6) – more rest
                             He sent an angel to provide food for him to eat again. (19:7) – more refreshment
                             He caused Elijah to ponder what he was doing. “What are you doing here?” (19:9)                     reflection
                             He spoke to Elijah personally. (19:11) – response
                             He caused Elijah to ponder what he was doing, again. “What are you doing here?” (19:13) – reflection
                             He told Elijah what to do next. (19:15) - redirection
                             He showed Elijah who He had appointed to help him. (19:16) - reinforcement

              Rest
              Refreshment
              Rest
              Refreshment
              Reflection
              Response
              Reflection
              Redirection
              Reinforcement


Rest in knowing that God has a plan for your life and that He loves you dearly!
      
Let’s Pray

              Dear Lord, I’ll admit, I’m tired today. I need the refreshment that only You can give. Send the Holy Spirit to reinforce my spirit today!  I am expecting His energizing force! Help me to reflect on You and Your goodness all day long.

              In Jesus’ name,
              Amen.

Now it’s Your Turn

              Go back up to the R’s and note what each one of those ideas would look like to you.  Be realistic.  I know Hawaii would be a great idea for refreshment, but that probably won’t happen in my life today.

              For example: Rest – stop all activities at 8:00 p.m. rather than 10:00 p.m. and soak in a long hot bath.”

              This devotion was taken from Sharon’s book, Building an Effective Women’s Ministry


Jean’s email  jowildflowers@gmail.com
Blog:  jean-oathout.blogspot.com


Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Secret of Discipline

“Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.” (Proverbs 25:28, NAS)

Mary Southerland   in Crosswalk.com

November 22, 2011 

“Friend to Friend

                  Discipline is obedience, a lifetime process that brings us to a state of order by training and controlling our behavior. Discipline is focusing and eliminating, zeroing in on what is important in every area of life. Discipline not only leads to right thinking, pleasing behavior and balanced emotions, but also produces a purpose driven life based on right goals and priorities.

                  And that brings us to the discipline of our time - a dreaded and often ignored spiritual discipline for many of us. We have either forgotten or failed to realize the truth that our minutes, hours and days are precious commodities - gifts from God that can be unwrapped only once. Time is wasted unless it is invested in goals and priorities that are rooted in God’s plan.

                  A busy life is not necessarily a productive life, girlfriends. Oh, I can hear it now! “Mary, it’s true that I am very busy, but I am busy doing good things.” Those words were the cry of my heart just before I crashed and burned and landed in a pit of clinical depression. The problem with my list of “good things” was that it was just that – my list - the wrong list for my life. The result was exhaustion, burnout and disobedience.

                  One of the most important lessons of my “pit experience” was that my perspective of time was skewed. I had poured years into making my plan successful only to discover that God resources and empowers His plan alone. Outlook determines outcome. It was painfully obvious I needed an outlook adjustment, an eternal perspective. I needed to understand the truth that my time is not really mine to do with as I please. It is a resource on loan to me from God. As a result, every plan, priority and goal should be held against the backdrop of eternity because it is from that backdrop that our priorities are validated, our calling confirmed and our time best invested.

                  Let’s face it. If we don’t set priorities - others will. Time thieves will steal our time as we allow them to impose their plans and standards on us. While it is true that different women have different priorities and different seasons of life, it is also true that one priority remains steadfast.  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33). Once that priority is firmly established and adhered to, the rest of life will surely fall into place.

                  Learning how to discipline time is a challenge for us al. I am, by no means, an expert in this area, but I do want to share some simple ideas that have worked for me.

Tithe your time. Just as we tithe our money, we should tithe our time. God blesses and multiplies the time we set aside to spend in Bible study, prayer and service.

Get organized.  In 1 Corinthians 14:40, we are challenged to “do all in a fitting and orderly way.” In other words, being organized is a spiritual discipline, freeing us from the tyranny of the urgent while making room for the eternal things that matter. Here are some organizational tips:

Buy and keep a calendar. Writing down things keeps me from wasting time and “bunching up” activities. It takes the pressure off of me to remember everything and allows me to see, at a glance, what is important. My weeks and months are more evenly scheduled and I am forced to prioritize, doing the important things first.

 Choose one day a week to plan. Every Sunday afternoon, I plan the week ahead, recording the main tasks I need to complete and scheduling the appointments I need to make and keep.  Pray over your week, asking the Holy Spirit to make clear those things ordained for each day.

Simplify and eliminate. Experts advise us to approach spring cleaning by dealing with one closet at a time. Break jobs up into manageable steps so that the large tasks seem doable.

Tackle the dreaded task first. I have discovered that tackling the job I dread the most energizes me for the rest of the tasks.  I have also learned to use my best time, the time of the day when my energy is highest for the most important and the most difficult tasks.

 Stop activity when it becomes unproductive. Sometimes, a 10 minute break will boost energy, refocus attention and get those creative juices flowing.

 Begin a task, even if you won’t have time to complete it. I hate doing laundry and frequently long for the day of disposable clothing. As a result, I do the laundry in pieces.  For example, I will start the wash and answer email.  I then toss the wet clothing into the dryer and work on a writing assignment.  You get the idea!

 Delegate. When we delegate work to our children, we are teaching them godly discipline. The church is filled with people waiting to be pushed out of their comfort zones in service. Look for those potential leaders and delegate.

 Leave margins in your schedule. I tend to fill every time slot during the day. Therefore, when the “unexpected” comes along, I am overwhelmed and unprepared. Building margins of time into our schedules is a step of faith, trusting God to fill them in any way He chooses.

 Yield to the seasons of life. When my children were small, I did not travel and speak like I do now. Do not sacrifice your family on the altar of any church or any ministry. Our greatest mission field is our home, our marriage and our children. It does not matter how much we do or how successful we are, if home and family get the leftovers of our time, energy, emotions and spiritual service we are walking in sin and disobedience.

Discipline builds upon discipline, each success encouraging another. Make the commitment to cultivate the disciplines of a godly woman, then pick a corner of your life and begin. Discipline does not come naturally or easily. We will fail. But we can always begin again. Join me today in a new commitment to godly discipline.

Let’s Pray:

                  Father, I want to thank You for your unconditional love and forgiveness. Please help me focus on You and Your presence in my life each day. I pray that any stress in my heart will be swallowed up in the reality that You are faithful and that You are in control. I know You are not surprised by anything that comes my way and will transform the good into better, the unthinkable into the unstoppable and the unbelievable into fact. I praise You for the amazing way You guide me and lift me up when I fall.  Today, I choose to focus on You.

                  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”


(Bold print is my addition)

Jean’s email  jowildflowers@gmail.com
Blog: jean-oathout.blogspot.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Removal of my e-book till further notice

I regret that I’ve had my e-book pulled, but as I have been made aware of things that need to be changed, it will be released again in the Spring after changes are made. I hope those who purchased it (only 6), will forgive my haste in releasing it. The content won’t change, just the improvements.

I believe it will be in a much better form after I’ve had more editing done. Thanks for your attention to this, and I trust that many will check out the newer version when it is released.

As it turns out, this e-book is to be released early Spring 2012!

Jean’s email  jowildflowers@gmail.com
Blog:  jean-oathout.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Courageous Beauty Queen

“Sometimes I get stuck when life doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would…”

Sharon Jaynes   in  CrossWalk.com   for  November 16, 2011

Today’s Truth

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God …” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV).

Friend to Friend

                  “Katie was born in Wichita, Kansas, a petite blond-headed pride and joy to the Signaigo family. In the following years, two more baby girls were born, and the Signaigo quiver was full. Katie grew up enjoying all the frills and thrills of childhood. She loved school and church activities, swimming and running, and most of all, she loved her friends.

                  Katie was only nine years old when she noticed a lump by her left ankle that wouldn’t go away. The soreness would come and go, but the lump remained. For more than a year she and her mom were in and out of doctors’ offices trying to figure out what this mysterious lump was all about. Two years later, eleven-year-old Katie was diagnosed with cancer, and her leg was removed just below the knee. She felt as though her life was over.

                 ‘No one will ever love me or want to marry me!’ young Katie cried to her mom. ‘My life will never be the same. What am I going to do? People will laugh at me and make fun of me. I’ll never be able to walk or run again. I’m going to have to live the rest of my life in a wheelchair!’

                  ‘Oh, precious,’ her mother spoke in assuring tones. ‘You will get married one day. You are a beautiful girl. You will run and swim and do all the things you’ve always loved doing. You are not going to be in a wheelchair, but have a prosthetic leg that will allow you to do all the things you did before. No, your life will not be the same, but it will be great. You’ll see. We’ll get through this together.’

                   As a precaution, Katie went through chemotherapy for one year. Besides losing her leg, Katie also lost all of her beautiful blond hair. ‘When is this ever going to end?’ she cried.

                  Eventually, Katie’s hair grew back, she learned to walk with a prosthesis, and life returned to a new kind of normal. However, no one—absolutely no one but her immediate family—saw Katie’s leg. She kept her prosthesis hidden from the world.

                  But then God began nudging Katie to return to the hospital where she had her surgery to talk to other children facing similar ordeals. She put her fears aside and visited the cancer ward and showed her leg to a girl named Amanda.

               'Here, go ahead and touch it,’ Katie said. ‘It’s okay.’ And Katie saw something flicker in Amada’s eyes. It was hope.

                  Since that time Katie and her mom have made many visits to the hospital, telling children and their parents about what to expect and sharing hope. Together they are taking their scars, both physical and emotional, and investing in others.

                  Katie graduated from high school and attended the University of Central Arkansas. While there, she watched an Oprah program that featured Aimee Mullins, a double amputee who had become an athlete and a model. This amputee even showed various prostheses she used for different occasions.

                  So Katie decided it was time to stop hiding her leg from the world, and she did it in a big way. She entered the Miss University of Central Arkansas pageant! She participated in the talent, evening gown, and interview competitions. But Katie won the hearts of the crowd when she proudly walked down the catwalk in the bathing suit competition. There have been many tearful moments as pageant sponsors have placed the crowns on a winner’s head, but I dare say there was never a more precious moment than when Katie Signaigo was crowned Miss UCA.

                   ‘We are all cracked pots in some way or other,’ Katie told a group of ladies at a women’s gathering. ‘We all have our unique flaws. Don’t be afraid of your flaws. Look for the positive things in life. Don’t let yourself dwell in the bad things. This has been the greatest blessing in my life.’

                    Like with Katie, often God uses our biggest struggles as a springboard for ministry. Listen closely. Is God calling you to use what you’ve gone through to encourage others with the hope and healing of Jesus Christ?

Let’s Pray
                  Dear Lord, sometimes I get stuck when life doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would. Help me to be a woman who refuses to say, “Why me?” but rejoices in saying “What now?” Show me how to turn my pain into purpose and my miseries into ministry.

                   In Jesus' name,
                  Amen.”


Jean’s email  jowildflowers@gmail.com
Blog:  jean-oathout.blogspot.com


Thursday, November 17, 2011

SANDPAPER PEOPLE


Mary Southerland shares with us, " I recently read the story of a young reporter who approached an older gentleman on his 100th birthday.

     I want to wish you a happy birthday, Sir. I have just one question for you.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment in life?
’ the young reporter asked.

‘Well,’ said the man, ‘I don't have a single enemy in the world.’

'Really? That’s incredible!'
responded the reporter.

'What is your secret?'

The centenarian smiled and proudly replied, ‘I have outlived every single one of them.’
                 

Let’s be honest. Some people are harder to get along with than others. I call them 'sandpaper people' because they are irritating and rub me the wrong way.

Tough relationships are a certainty in life. When it comes to handling those difficult relationships, God does not want or expect us to declare war.

We are to control our emotions instead of allowing them to control us. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:18, "As much as is possible, live peaceably with all men." In other words, we need to set our mind on peace – not winning.

God’s desire is for us to wage peace in every relationship.

What is even more amazing to me is the fact that God calls us to wage peace with even the roughest, most abrasive sandpaper people who come our way.

Now that is a formidable task, since sandpaper people seem to come with a set agenda that targets emotional eruptions and creates constant relationship upheavals.

They love a good fight, live to evoke angry reactions and are fierce warriors determined to win every battle initiated by their downright irritating personalities. 

However, combat is impossible when the enemy has laid down his weapons and chosen peace.

Unresolved conflict is the enemy of peace, and peace is often the casualty of unresolved conflict in relationships. I love this little poem about relationship problems:

‘To dwell above with saints we love, that will be grace and glory.

To live below with saints we know; that's another story!’ (Author unknown)

The world has its own system for working out conflict. That system is retaliation.

God has a different plan for working out conflict. That plan is restoration.


The apostle Paul was a master at conflict resolution and in 1 Thessalonians 5:13, he offers a simple but powerful command to "live in peace with each other."

In Colossians 3:12-14, he paints a clear picture of what living in peace should look like in our lives:

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."


Sounds like an impossible task, doesn’t it? It is … unless we choose to rely on and surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.

When Paul says that we are to "clothe" ourselves with certain characteristics so we will always be prepared for peace, he means we must plan ahead and make deliberate choices before the choice is actually necessary.

For example, the holidays are coming up. (I know. I can't believe it either.) Let’s say that your least favorite relatives are coming for a week and you are already dreading their visit.

Make the decision right now to practice patience, love and self-control during their stay. Choose today to please God by how you treat them and welcome them into your home. Why?

Proverbs 16:7 (ESV) “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

"He" is the operating word in the verse above. Did you catch that?

Our obedience to God invites Him to promote peace in our relationships — even the most difficult ones.

All we have to focus on is making sure our ways are pleasing to the Lord and He will do the rest.

Now that is a great plan for peace!

Let’s Pray-

    Father, I want to live a life of obedience to You. Make me an instrument of Your peace. Teach me to love even my enemies. Give me the strength to wage peace when what I really want to do is wage war.

Today, I choose to surrender my stubborn will to You. I lay down my emotional weapons and choose peace. Be glorified in my relationships, Father.

In Jesus’ name,
Amen."

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7, ESV

Plan for Peace by Mary Southerland in Crosswalk.org Today’s Truth November 15, 2011  www.GirlfriendsInGod.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Breaking the Will but Not the Spirit

Submit yourselves, then, to God …” (James 4:7, NIV).

Today’s Truth by Sharon Jaynes   November 14, 2011   in Crosswalk.com

“Friend to Friend

                  Of all of the activities ten-year-old Miriam enjoyed, she loved riding her horse, Charlie, the best. He had a sleek chestnut mane, well-defined muscular legs, and a fierce strong will to match. Miriam felt powerful and self-assured when controlling this massive animal—except when he caught a glimpse of the barn. Whenever Miriam and Charlie returned from a jaunt in the woods, as soon as they got close enough for him to see the barn, he bolted homeward, forcing Miriam to hang on to the reins for dear life.

                  One day Miriam’s riding instructor witnessed this strong-willed animal taking control of his master.

                ‘Miriam!’ she called out. ‘You cannot let that animal control you in that manner! Bring that horse back out of the barn this instant.’

                 Dutifully, Miriam mounted Charlie and led him a distance away from the stalls.

                ‘Now, when you turn around and Charlie sees the barn and begins to run toward it,’ the wiser, older woman instructed, ‘pull the reins all the way to the right. Do not let him go forward.’

                 On cue, Miriam steered her horse toward the stalls. On cue, he bolted.

                'Turn him! Turn him!' the instructor shouted.

                  Young Miriam pulled the reins to the right as hard as she could until the horse’s head was inches away from touching his right shoulder. Charlie fought her with the force of a war horse. Round and round the horse and rider circled.

                ‘Don’t let go,’ the instructor shouted. ‘You must break his will!’

                 After ten long minutes, Charlie stopped circling, and Miriam stopped pulling him to the right. Miriam gently tapped his flanks, and he slowly walked toward the stable. She had broken his will, and he now obeyed his master’s touch.

                   Have you ever felt that you are going in circles? Perhaps God is trying to break some old habit patterns in your life to help you become more adept at sensing His gentle nudges and tender tugging. Perhaps He is trying to steer you in the different direction other than bolting to the familiar. It’s an amazing ride when you yield your will to the Master and travel the path He leads.

Let’s Pray

                  Dear Lord, so many times I see myself in Miriam’s horse. I bolt to what is familiar rather than submit to You. Help me to follow Your lead, submit to Your guidance, and walk at the pace You set.

                  In Jesus’ name,
                  Amen.                                                                                            

                  Additional Scripture Reading: James 4:1-12

                  Is there an old habit that God is trying to break in your life?  Are you running for the stalls out of habit or obeying your Master’s lead?”

www.girlfriendsingod.com

Jean’s email  jowildflowers@gmail.com
Blog:  jean-oathout.blogspot.com