Stir Me Up Lord!

Stir Me Up Lord!: January 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 4 of 21-Day Challenge: Do Not Be Afraid

When writing these devotions, I usually just wait for a scripture or a verse to ‘speak to me’. Today while I was reading my Bible and devotions, I wasn’t sure which direction to go for the devotion and then the word ‘Peace’ came to mind and while I was asking GOD if HE wanted me to write on peace, the horrific thunderstorm we’ve been having for the past 8 hours quieted down and all was peaceful…which made me think of the scripture John 6:20 in today’s reading, I think this is where GOD wants us to go today!

But Yeshua said to them, “I AM THE LIVING GOD, do not be afraid.” (Aramaic Bible in Plain English 2010)

Jesus is the peace in every storm, in every trial, in every situation; HE alone can bring us the peace we need. When we are going through these difficult storms of life, when it seems as if life is beating us down (and winning) we can not only survive during these times, we can thrive when we have GOD’s peace.

Some storms can come at you fast; out of nowhere you’re being hit by some trials you didn’t even know were possible. Other storms slowly set in, brewing off in the distance, you know they are coming, you even have time to prepare and hunker down while you ride out the storm. In order to have GOD’s peace, you need to have faith that HE can get you through your trials and tribulations.  GOD never brings you to your knees, but while you’re down there is when you realize just how much you do need HIM.

If you were going to go through a Hurricane or a Tornado, you would want to be in a very strong structure. You would want to be fortified in a home that was built with the best materials and by the best builders. Most people like to be prepared before a storm is even a possibility, that’s why they have building codes, so you can withstand the big storms when they do come. Like a builder, you want to have a strong structure to protect you from the storms of LIFE, and you can strengthen yourself by building up your faith. Our faith can either be well fed and strong or it can be weak and withered.

Our faith is fed by the Word of GOD, time spent with GOD in prayer or meditation. AThe storms we endure build onto our faith, like a wall that is re-enforced, the more storms we endure with GOD, we walk out on the other side, strengthened and encouraged. The more time we spend in GOD’s word, the more our Spirit is fed.

Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35 NLT) 

A person that wants to build muscle, they don’t just exercise they follow a sensible diet for building muscle as well. The foods they eat are not junk food and sweets, but good nourishing foods for their body to grow and be healthier – so instead of feeding your faith with ‘junk’, feed your faith with the Word of GOD; remember the ‘garbage in, garbage out’ philosophy! A muscle builder is not able to build muscle if he's only eating lettuce and tomatoes either. He can't eat one small meal a week, we're trying to build muscle here. You can't sit down and read a scripture a day and say, I'm full now; get into the Word, feast on it, the more you read, the more you'll want to read GOD's Word - it ALWAYS satisfies!

The definition of exercise is a set of movements, questions, tasks, etc., designed to train, improve, or test one's ability in a particular field. Thus why we need to learn to ‘exercise’ our faith for it to grow stronger. We can’t be a couch potato and build strong muscles – when circumstances are pounding you down, you exercise your faith, by pulling yourself up off the ground, walking forward through the storm and say, “GOD I don’t know why I’m going through this, but I know it’s not from you and I know you are here with me and you’ve never left my side. I know that if GOD is for me, than who can be against me, I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and I know that although a thousand may fall at my side and ten thousand at your right hand, they shall not come near me!!” Your faith will grow more than it was before, so that the next storm, you are not only stronger in your faith, you can encourage others and comfort them when they are taking on a storm in their life!

“I am leaving you with a gift- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT)

Our faith in GOD is what allows us to have peace during the storms of life. Our peace and joy is not based on our external circumstances, but by the relationship we have with our Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus said it HIMSELF that HE is the only one who can give us the peace that surpasses all peace. This peace Jesus gives can only be received by those who have accepted Jesus by faith, faith that HE is the Son of GOD, that HE died on the cross for our sins and the HE rose again on the third day and is now seated in Heaven at GOD’s right hand! So accept GOD’s peace and stand strong Child of GOD, you are will overcome!

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world our faith.” (1 John 5:4 NKJV)

My, Standing in Faith Scriptures, are from these scriptures: John 14:16, Romans 8:31, Philippians 4:13, Psalm 91:7

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 3 of 21-Day Challenge: A New Habit

I was never a fancy sunglass wearing kind of person, but I married a Southern Californian who has an ‘Oakley’ habit. I could never spend more than $10 on a pair of sunglasses because I tend to break or lose them. But one day while we were buying my husband his umpteenth pair of Oakley’s (his collection of Oakley’s is similar to my shoe collection) he decided his wife needed to own a pair as well. I was very nervous about spending that much money on something knowing my clumsy tendencies with sunglasses, yet I walked out with a pair. So here I am 5 years later with not one but two pairs of Oakley’s, I have not lost or broken either pair. How could I go from breaking and losing the cheap-y sunglasses to keeping one pair this long? Simple, I’m VERY careful with them because they cost a lot more!

Obey my commands, and you will live. Guard my teachings as you would your own eyes. (Proverbs 7:2 NCV)

Here I am being ultra-careful with my expensive sunglasses, but I’m not near as careful with GOD’s teachings. GOD’s wisdom, commandments and teachings are priceless and far more valuable than a pair of sunglasses, so why have I been so careless with GOD’s Word?

I have a hard time memorizing scripture; it is not easy for me at all, which is also very frustrating to me! As I'm reading the Bible or when I’m writing my blog, I’ll think of a scripture related to what I've read or written, but only bits and pieces of it, so I’ll have to Google it to find the actual verse. Or I will be talking with someone and say, “oh you know that verse, Matthew 6 or is it verse 6?,” and then I’ll grab my iPhone and try to look up the verse from my Bible app, but by the time I find the scripture, the moment is gone and it’s a loss opportunity.

Memorizing scripture could be called a sacrifice on my part, as much as giving up chocolate! But I see now, that to obey GOD’s commands and guard GOD’s teachings, I need to put more effort into memorizing scriptures!

Tie them on your fingers as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. (Proverbs 7:3 NLT)

Before there were data planners and smart phones to remind us of important things, people would tie a string on their finger to remind them they had something important they need not forget! So a modern Bible might say instead, put this on your reminder list and set an alert to 'Remember GOD's teachings'! So once I begin to memorize GOD’s Word it will be much easier to write HIS Words deep within my heart. We want GOD's Word to become second nature to us, if it's as difficult for you as it is for me, be strengthened and know that we can pray and ask that GOD would give us the ability to memorize HIS Word! I believe that is a prayer GOD would bless us with without any delay because when we know GOD’s Word, we will start LIVING HIS Word! 

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 2 of 21-Day Challenge: Warriors Weep Too!

Somewhere along the way, the process of crying became seen as a weakness. I know I get upset if I cry in public, it’s bad enough that I’m upset enough to cry, but to have someone see me – what must they think of me now? I’m human, we cry, it’s part of our DNA, but yet when we cry we become ashamed of those tears showing our true emotions.

But David said to him, "You come to me using a sword and two spears. But I come to you in the name of the Lord All-Powerful, the God of the armies of Israel! You have spoken against him.  Today the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll kill you and cut off your head. Today I'll feed the bodies of the Philistine soldiers to the birds of the air and the wild animals. Then all the world will know there is a God in Israel! Everyone gathered here will know the Lord does not need swords or spears to save people. The battle belongs to him, and he will hand you over to us."  As Goliath came near to attack him, David ran quickly to meet him. He took a stone from his bag, put it into his sling, and slung it. The stone hit the Philistine and went deep into his forehead, and Goliath fell facedown on the ground.  So David defeated the Philistine with only a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. He did not even have a sword in his hand. Then David ran and stood beside him. He took Goliath's sword out of its holder and killed him by cutting off his head.  (1 Samuel 17:45-51 NCV)

One of my favorite people from the Bible is David, he was a mighty warrior of GOD. He stood before a giant with just a sling shot and before he threw a single stone, he gave that giant a verbal smack down.    He was so confident in GOD having his back, that he didn’t hold back a single insult.  So when he took down the giant, he ran to cut off his head; he didn’t hesitate, he knew he was taking down the giant. There was never any doubt in his mind that GOD would deliver Goliath to him; that is trust. You would imagine if you just shot someone you would pause and be amazed that you were able to take them down, but not David, he was expecting it. This warrior of GOD fought in so many more battles, that songs were song by the people about him slaying 10,000 men; this isn’t a man afraid of anything.

I am worn out from sobbing.  All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.  (Psalm 6:6-7 NLT)

David wrote this Psalm, GOD’s mighty warrior said he was crying, not just crying, today we would call this type of sobbing, ‘bawling’, about the problems he was having. David was so upset about the circumstances that he was dealing with it; he said he flooded his bed with tears! Not only is David admitting he sobs, he’s not ashamed of his tears; he writes this down to be shared with all of GOD’s people!

But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.  (Acts 13:22 NLT)

GOD said that David was a man after HIS own heart, what child of GOD wouldn’t want that to be said about them! So we can be a strong warrior of GOD and also a child that sobs when our circumstances are more than we can bear. David might weep when he’s under pressure and can’t see the end of his trial, but that doesn’t mean he gave up on GOD. No, David never stopped trusting that GOD would deliver him!

Go away, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer.  (Psalm 6:8-9 NLT)

While David was still in the midst of his storm, he did not waiver in his faith in GOD, he said that the Lord heard his cries; the Lord had heard his prayers and the Lord WILL deliver him. While we’re in the middle of a crisis, it’s hard to imagine that anything good will come from it. It’s natural to imagine things only getting worst and never getting any better, but our GOD is supernatural. Our GOD sees the beginning from the end, HE knows what’s going to happen before it does. HE has a path for us and when roadblocks and detours come about, HE’s not surprised. HE knows how to get us to our destination, the bumps in life that we go through aren’t put there by GOD, but HE can navigate us around them and use those circumstances to strengthen us and to bless us.

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

GOD never said the journey would be easy, but HE did say HE would never leave us. The trials we go through can bring us to our knees, and it’s okay to weep and cry out to GOD to deliver us. When you pray for GOD to rescue you, know that the rescue is on its way; but the timing is not what you want, it’s what you need!

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 1 of 21-Day Challenge: Don't Give God Your Left Overs!

Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase (Proverbs 3:9 NKJV)

The best of all the firstfruits and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household. (Ezekiel 44:30 NIV)

“As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 23:19a NLT)  
FirstFruits – the firstborn of the flocks and the first vegetables and grains to be gathered at harvest time. The Hebrew people thought of these as belonging to God in a special sense. They were dedicated or presented to God on the day of the firstfruits, a part of the celebration of Pentecost (Numbers 28:26; 2 Chronicles 31:5). The counterpart today is the “first” of our income or profit, and may be expressed in the worshipping of God with our tithes.

When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord.  Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.   “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”  (Genesis 4:3-7 NLT)

When I did my Bible reading yesterday this passage struck a chord with me. GOD Himself warned Cain about sin and he refused to listen. Abel’s gift to GOD was accepted because it was his firstfruits, the best of the best; showing GOD that HE was worthy, that HE was elevating GOD above all else in his life. I imagine Cain was coveting his crops, he was clinging to what he valued more and giving to GOD only what was left over. That made me think, do I give GOD my left overs?

When Cain started off putting his worldly treasures above GOD, he showed his faith wasn’t in GOD, but in himself and what he could do instead of counting on GOD. When Cain didn’t listen to GOD’s warning, he took offense, he let his heart get hardened, and he kept his mind on what GOD didn’t do for him and let his thoughts go where they didn’t need to be; he allowed sin to control him.  

The problem here is not wealth; the problem is putting wealth, possessions, ourselves or anything else before GOD. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to start a 21-day challenge of waking up early and starting my day with GOD before I did anything else. I want to put GOD where HE belongs in my life, in all of our lives – FIRST! 

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

21-Day Challenge

Every one of us deals with thoughts and issues that plague us. We all have something that we struggle with: food, worry, gossip, finances, health, and/or depression, to name a common few.  We can blame the devil for all of those or even ourselves, but that won’t solve the problem (BUT if you need to repent of something, you do need to ask forgiveness from GOD). My focus today isn't where the blame lies, instead I’m looking to solve the issues that are keeping me from my peace and joy that GOD has for me.

I don’t want to be tormented by my own thoughts or the devil’s whispers, I want, no I NEED to only listen to how GOD thinks of me. I need to grasp hold of HIS promises for me, not the enemy’s lies or my own dread and worries. GOD created me for so much more than I’ve allowed myself to even consider possible. It’s going to take a whole lot of transforming on my part and the only answer is to spend time in GOD’s word and in HIS presence praying for the strength and wisdom needed to accomplish this.

GOD’s Word tells us that we have to renew our mind, we can’t think as fleshy, worldly people once we become new creations, it's not part of GOD's plan for us. The thinking of the flesh and the thinking of the spirit, will ALWAYS go against each other. Our flesh wants the easy way, our flesh wants what feels good, our flesh wants  – but our spirit needs to draw closer to GOD, our spirit needs us to be more Christ like, our spirit needs!

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

I’m going to start a journey to transform who I am, to renew my mind to what GOD wants me to be. I’m going to start this journey with starting my day with GOD’s Word. I will read my Bible, I will read my devotions, and I will pray in the Spirit to have communion with GOD. The only way to guarantee I do this and not get distracted throughout the day, is to wake up earlier. Giving up some extra time in the day is a sacrifice and I know GOD doesn’t require sacrifices, but I know that when we offer a sacrifice to GOD, if it’s done to draw closer and to seek GOD’s will, HE will accept it and bless us for it.

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”  (James 4:8 NLT)

When our loyalty is divided between GOD and the world, we can’t draw close to HIM. And we can’t draw closer to GOD when our mind hasn’t been renewed, because we’re thinking with our flesh and not of our spirit.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:15-16 NLT)

I believe the things that I’ve battled for years have never been resolved, because I’ve only concentrated on the symptoms and not the problem. Without attacking the problem head on, I’ve only found temporary success, once everything becomes routine, I tend to relax and find myself lowering my defenses and allowing my problem to resurface.  So to tackle this once and for all, renewing my mind is the only solution. GOD has to be my source, my focus and my desire. If you are waging a war within yourself and want freedom, I encourage you to take a 21-day challenge with me.

Put GOD first in your life for 21-days, change your schedule to allow GOD the first part of your morning. Set aside 5, 10, 15, 30, or even 60 minutes a day to be with GOD. Read a chapter in your Bible, read a devotion, talk to GOD, thank HIM for all he’s done, tell HIM you want to draw closer to HIM and that you want GOD to be the desire in your life and not whatever your problem is, and then LISTEN. Listen for HIS response, it might not be immediate, it might be at the end of the 21-days, it might be for a few months, but HE will answer you. The rest of your day listen to some worship music, sing songs that put your focus on GOD. Make GOD part of your day as much as you would make your spouse or children. Find a scripture that inspires you or gives you strength, write it down on an index card or memorize it. If you start thinking about your problem, say your scripture, say it out loud, own that scripture, for example, “For God is working in ME, giving ME the desire and the power to do what pleases him.“. That verse is Philippians 2:13 NLT, by changing ‘you’ to ‘me’, I can say this scripture to strengthen and encourage myself during my day.

I believe the key to any successful change in our lives is preparedness, you must prepare yourself by praying about this, by having scriptures ready and available for you to grab hold of, you must set time aside, otherwise you will be running behind and stress yourself out more. Before you go to bed at night, make sure you've scheduled time for your time with GOD and make sure you have your scripture(s) ready, before you go to sleep, pray that GOD would help you wake up early and be refreshed and ready to spend time with HIM.

If you've felt led to do this 21-day challenge, please leave a comment so I can pray for you during this time as well! I've added an additional page to my blog of scriptures that I’ve used for encouragement, God Bless and remember “With GOD all things are possible!” (Matthew 19:26b NIV)

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