Stir Me Up Lord!

Stir Me Up Lord!: September 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Heathens get Miracles Too!

Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:28 ESV)

I love the story in Mark 7:24-30 & Matthew 15:21-28 about the Greek (Gentile woman) who fell at Jesus' feet for Him to heal her daughter. To give you some background: at this time, Gentiles were 'unclean heathens' according to Jewish ceremonial laws and beliefs - and women were considered property, so she is considered by the Jewish people to be an 'unclean heathen non-person'.

More background, in Mark 7:1-21, Jesus had just left the Pharisees and was trying to secretly get away and find some quiet when this woman approached him. Jesus had just been questioned by the Pharisees about why His disciples didn't follow the ceremonial cleaning and washing of hands before eating. Jesus told them that Isaiah had prophesied about them (Pharisees) when he said:

"These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules." (Isaiah 29:13 NIV)

Jesus continued to explain to the disciples that the outside doesn't cause the unclean heart, it's from the inside that causes one to be unclean. These Pharisees were empty of God, but full of religious rituals that meant nothing because they were without an honest, thoughtful heartfelt praise to God.

In the Book of Matthew, the disciples just received this lesson from Jesus, but when this 'unclean' woman is crying out for help, the disciples still don't understand.

"And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon." But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him saying, "Send her away for she is crying out after us." (Matthew 15:22-23 ESV)

It's easy to be confused by Jesus' response, I believe He was testing this woman's faith and perhaps He knew His disciples still needed some lesson reinforcement.  Or maybe this would serve as an example after Jesus had ascended, for the disciples to recall that Salvation wasn't just for the Jew but for the Gentiles as well (Romans 11:17).

Here this 'unclean' woman is begging Jesus to heal her daughter, Jesus tells her that he has come for the Jews - at this moment, Jesus is basically putting her in 'her place' (testing her faith, is she really willing to give her heart for her daughter?).  This doesn't stop her - she's not ashamed, she continues to beg for mercy for her daughter. As a parent, I can relate to this, there is nothing we wouldn't do for our children, we would risk humiliation and pride to do whatever is needed for our children.

He (Jesus) replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs." "Yes it is, Lord," she said. "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table" Then Jesus said to her, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed at that moment. (Matthew 15:26-28 NIV)

Jesus doesn't hold out on a miracle for a woman who wasn't accepted, a woman considered an unclean heathen - no Jesus saw her heart, Jesus saw the truth inside of her that the world could not see, Jesus accepted her and her faith. God wants everyone to know His love, to experience His mercy and grace, and to know that His salvation is freely given to all, it's a gift that only needs to be received, your faith is the key that opens the door.

"Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking.  If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door,  I will come in and fellowship with him and he with Me." (Revelation 3:20 LIVING)

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Avoiding a Heart of Stone

Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life. (Proverbs 4:23 AMP)

Our hearts must remain tender, when our hearts harden we block the flow of the Holy Spirit and become disconnected from God. Imagine a river flowing smoothly, the river being the Holy Spirit and the smooth flow is how we receive God's Word, will and instruction in our lives.  Now imagine each time we allow ourselves to be offended by another that a rock is dropped in that river, and each time we judge someone another rock is added, if we continue to allow these feelings and 'things' to add up; soon the rocks begin to pile up and the flow of the river is corrupted.

I've made the same mistake myself, I've judged other believers, I've compared myself to others, I've taken offense and let it stir inside me - those sins corrupt the good inside our hearts and harden us. When our hearts become hardened, we're unable to receive what God is sending us, whether it be blessings, favor, grace or mercy - we're just not able to receive what God has for us, because we have blocked ourselves off from God, intentionally or unintentionally.  Blocking ourselves from God, turns our hearts to stone and away from God, as if we never knew Him and our thoughts and actions become more like non-believers.

They are blind to true understanding. They are strangers and aliens to the kind of life God has for them because they live in ignorance and immorality and because their hearts are cold, hard stones. (Ephesians 4:18 VOICE)

Social Networking has allowed me to witness other Believer's criticizing their brothers and sisters in Christ, judging them with religious scrutiny, using scriptures that were meant for false doctrine as a weapon against one another. There are more instances in the Bible where we're told specifically NOT to judge one another, yet we harden our hearts by casting stones at others, when we've all fallen short of the glory of Christ. 

We were commanded by Christ to LOVE one another and to go and share the Good News. How can we love one another, when we are busy judging each other? Christians are considered a joke amongst non-believers because we are so wrapped up in ourselves and judging and criticizing others, that we've ignored what Jesus called us to do. If a Believer is sinning and they are your friend and you can talk to them about that sin privately, do so, but otherwise; pray for them, pray that they will recognize their sin, and pray for yourself that you will not be tempted by that sin and that you will not judge them. There are far more lost souls in this world that need to know the love of Jesus!! But instead we point fingers of condemnation towards them and other Believers- the only thing accomplished is their lack of trust in our God because of a hardened hearted Child of God pushing them away.

I'm not saying to look the other way - there are terrible sins happening like abortion; this is something that is undeniably wrong and against God's Word - but that doesn't mean we ignore our Christian values when we stand up to this evil, there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. Pray for how you are called to respond to these sins, don't give in to your flesh, spend time with God and He will show you the way.

Read Romans 12:2, I've posted the link to some of my favorite Bible versions of this powerful scripture, it's so much to meditate on, it really is the renewing of the mind...

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

(Romans 12:2 NLT, AMP, VOICE, EXP, MSG versions)

If every Believer would pray and meditate on the issues that seem to divide the church, there wouldn't be any division, because God doesn't send different messages to His children. The Holy Spirit tells us one thing.  There are so many times when I've posted on my blog and then gone to church only to have my Pastor speak on the same subject, and to have a friend from another state say the same thing - why, because the Holy Spirit is in constant communication with God and if we allow ourselves to receive from God, we'll receive the same message.  Jesus told us that He was sending the Holy Spirit to encourage, comfort and guide us - but somehow we've forgotten His words and need to get back to the path that was laid before us.

"If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you." (John 14:15-17 NLT)

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Barely Surviving or Thriving

For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you," says the Lord. "I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land." (Jeremiah 29:11-14 NLT)

Walking with God is a beautiful adventure, giving our hearts to Jesus, doesn't mean we will always have an easy time at life or a walk in the park - it means that we will always have a guide, a defender, and a protector.  Not until we get to Heaven (our true and final home) will everything be perfect.

"...He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever." (Revelation 21:4 NLT)

Until we get to Heaven, we have to live here on Earth (our temporary home) and that means we are in enemy territory.  As a Child of God, you are an enemy to the devil and he will do whatever he can to keep you from receiving the blessings and favor that God has planned for you.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NLT)

Our Earthly home holds many seasons for us, the key to not just surviving the seasons of life but thriving are found in our walk with God. How close do we cling to our guide - is it wholeheartedly? Or only when we encounter bad times?  Have you noticed that when life is going smoothly, no bumps in the road, no turbulent weather, we tend to drift on the path laid before us; sometimes to the left or to the right, not so intent on following closely to our Guide, our God - instead we're distracted by the buzzing around us and losing focus on the Light that has been shining on us. It's not until the clouds roll in, the conditions get harsh, that we notice we haven't been paying attention to our Guide, and have somehow gotten off path - then we call out to God, only to learn that He never left us, no matter how far we got off our path, He was there all along, waiting patiently for us.

Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6 AMP)

The enemy deceives, he entices, he lies, and uses our own pride (the very thing that got him cast out of Heaven) to convince us that we don't need God.  Sometimes the devil wants us to believe we've messed up too much to return to God, that He would never take us back, so we might as well continue with our diversions or maybe just figure out this problem on our own and the further we get away from God, the easier the lies are to believe and we become more like those who never knew God.

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT)

Pride blinds - our pride tells us that we can fix it, we don't need anyone's help, we got ourselves in this mess, we can get ourselves out - God doesn't want our pride, He wants our obedience. When we make mistakes, He wants us to ask forgiveness, but He wants us to humble ourselves and acknowledge that He is God and that we NEED Him, not just to help us out of our problems, but that we NEED Him everyday in every situation. 

Know whom you're dealing with!
   God alone is powerful enough to create the earth.
He alone is wise enough to put the world together.
    He alone understands enough to stretch out the heavens. (Jeremiah 10:12 VOICE)

God isn't a 'Cure-All-Your-Problems' solution to be taken out only when needed, God is our Heavenly Father - He desires a relationship with us, He wants to be a part of our everyday lives, He wants to share in our joys and comfort us in our sorrows. God is the Almighty Creator of the Universe, we were each created for a purpose, we each have that stirring within ourselves that until we've fulfilled our calling will leave a void that cannot be filled. 

Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; (Jeremiah 1:5 AMP)

We each have a purpose, we each were created by God - for God, we each have been given God's promises, we each have been given the opportunity to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We can navigate this life blindly without our Guide and Light, or we can call upon our Lord and God and follow Him - follow Him ALWAYS, through the seasons of plenty and the seasons of plight, just barely surviving or thriving - the choice has always been ours. 

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pruning Time - Praying about Priorities

Sometimes it's hard to tell if I'm being led to write or just can't sleep. And since I've felt inspired so many times after recent sermons yet with my husband home, I haven't had a chance to write my thoughts, this morning 5am seemed like the time to write. Of course, add that it's been two months since I've posted on my blog as well and it seems like maybe this (writing a blog) isn't what I should be doing. Sorry, this is writing based on a lack of sleep and coffee, so try to bear with me.

I've had a lot of that lately, what has God called me to do, what should I keep in my life and what do I need to remove. One of my sweet Sisters in Christ informed me months ago, that she sensed a season of pruning, so maybe this is that time. My health has been at it's worse and I've had so many tests and appointments that I allowed that to be an excuse to keep me away.  It's hard to get a sense of the right direction sometimes, but ultimately I believe deep down - we know, it's just a matter of if we want to listen. 

Since I started homeschooling our sons, I'm very confident that homeschooling is the first priority, as it is God's will for our family. The next question was whether to continue to with my Scentsy business, every time I would stop and pray about continuing the business, I would get a call or a text for an order - so I'm taking that God wants to still use me there. What I've learned is maybe I need to redefine the question I'm asking God; not just, "God do you want me to keep the Scentsy business?" but I need to be asking, "God HOW do you want to use my Scentsy business?".  So that's where I am on that front - God uses us to plant seeds and sometimes to water seeds, perhaps His use for me with Scentsy is more than just what I thought, a way to be bolder with sharing my faith and testimony. 

When my husband is gone for months, I spend my time busy with our sons karate twice a week and I volunteer with our children's ministry (Kindergarten through 5th grade) on Wednesday nights. I've found an incredible joy being with those kids, it doesn't matter the age, they are all bundles of light eager to soak up God. I've joked before that I'm amazed how much I enjoy these kids, I've always thought I wasn't a kid person, you know more of a dog person! But once I was asked to be a camp counselor at our summer church camp three years ago, I've been hooked! It's an intense week of non-stop action, singing, and loving on God and kids; I relate Kid's Camp experience to pregnancy and childbirth, so much work, but you're so blessed by the results, that you forget about the pain and labor and by next year - you're all ready for another! 

Prior to my Wednesday nights with the kids, I worked at our church bookstore, which was great, I could volunteer before and after service - but after we closed the store, since I had already done Kid's Camp I had God nudging on my heart to move to help with the kid's ministry but thought no way, that's once a year and I wouldn't want to miss out on Wed night services... but God pulls us where we need to be, whether we realize it or not; I might not get a sermon out of Wednesday nights but my heart is full of God after! So Wednesday night volunteering while hubby is gone, is a for sure keeper (Remember, my husband is working away months at a time, so when he's home for a short few weeks, I take time off from all volunteering and homeschooling - after all, God is the foundation of our family and God needs a strong family to be a true family of God!!) 

Here's a public announcement if you don't volunteer at you church, pray about where God wants you to help, all churches need help, don't ever assume that they have plenty of help or there's nothing you can do - helping your church does more than help YOUR church - it feeds your soul.  

The final thought I have on this is; I have to pick an area that I need to work on and really focus on that one issue. I'll have to pray to discover which area to go with, I've got so many things that I need to work on, and I've learned that when we try to change too much, it can be overwhelming and instead of having one success, I suffer from many failures from trying to tackle so many issues. So I'm going to work on concentrating on one area and once I feel I've met that goal, move on to the next. 

Sometimes I believe the saying, 'the road to hell is paved with many good intentions' can be used to sum up a person's desire to 'fix' so much in their lives, that they end up disappointed when they can't fix it all - they give up, it's kind of like the people who think they can't come to God because they've messed up so many times, that He would never take them now, they have to clean up their lives before they can walk through a church door or get on their knees and call out to God - but that's the wonderful part of Salvation - NONE of us, not one, will ever be good enough, clean enough, perfect enough to get to Heaven not without Jesus!

Jesus is the only way, His blood on the cross washes as clean as snow, His one perfect sacrifice was all that was needed - the hard work was already done, all we have to do is accept Him as God's only Son, sent to die on the cross for our sins, and that death couldn't contain Him, because He rose on the third day and is seated at God's right hand in Heaven and there's nothing more that He wants than for all the people of the world to come to a saving knowledge of the King of Kings - because one day, every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.  (Romans 10:9-10 NLT)

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