Gratitude for Lessons Learned!

Psalm 118:1
Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good;
For His steadfast love endures forever!
James 1:2-4
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
 I am thankful that I waited on the Lord and sought Him when faced with a difficult decision. I am thankful for the strength He gave me to stand by my decision and for the clarity of mind this morning. God helped me to see past the emotions involved to get to the practical side of things. By nature, I do not like to give cause for another person to be unhappy but I have to be true to myself and honest. I cannot placate another person because it does not benefit them. It inhibits their ability to practice self control. I am learning that everything that comes my way; God has a purpose in it. It is up to me to exercise the emotional muscle that God has helped me to develop. If I do not, then I lose ground and no one is the better for it. God does work all things together for my good which is to build my character to be like Jesus. Yesterday, when faced with a struggle I chose to spend time with God apart from distractions like TV, computer, or food. What peace came to my soul afterwards! I do believe that this is what God has been trying to get me to do all along and to trust Him with the outcome. For it is better to trust in God than to put my trust in man. What a lesson! My obedience was rewarded with peace and a sound mind.
My challenge for you is the next time you are faced with a difficult situation; take it to the Lord and spend time alone with Him. Where do you turn when you need help?
My prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I praise Your Holy Name! For You are true to Your Word. Thank for you for giving Your peace and clarity of thinking. I trust You to work it out to Your glory. Amen.
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His Steadfast Love Endures Forever!

Psalm 118: 1, 5-9, 29
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
    the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
    I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.
 
29 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
 There is a lot of wisdom in this Psalm. Today, I want to focus on a couple of things. The phrase ‘His steadfast love endures forever’ is repeated at least 5 times and there are two other phrases that are repeated, ‘the Lord is on my side’ and ‘It is better to take refuge in the Lord.’ The word endure means ‘to continue to exist; last.‘ Thus God’s steadfast love will continue to exist; last. It never changes and there is nothing that I can do to add or take away from it. He loves me the same yesterday and today. He has shown me His love in Jesus.  For me, this means that His love will not fail or quit on me.

I like how I am reminded that God is on my side, my helper, and He is my refuge. The noun refuge means ‘a place of shelter, protection, or safety.’ It is better to take refuge in God than in men or princes because He will not fail and His love will continue. For me, I am to find my refuge in God’s steadfast love for He is on my side and He is my helper therefore I give thanks to the Lord for He is good.

Where is your place of refuge? In man or God? Where does your help come from?

My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I give You thanks for You are my refuge and my helper. May I enjoy the safety of Your steadfast love that continues forever. Praise to You, oh, Lord. Amen.
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What Has Occurred Since I Started My Blog;

Some Amazing Things
Romans 12:2 (AMP)
Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
I first started out writing this blog to encourage others but yet God had another purpose in it for me. He used it to change me by renewing my mind, by its ideals and its new attitude, so that I would know what is good and acceptable in His sight for me. I started out on passages of scripture that where important to me. God took it a step further and had me apply what I was blogging about in my life and use His word to answer the issues that where going on in my life. I am amazed at the power of His Word. It proves what Hebrews 4-12 reads, 
 For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the [a]breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.
This is exactly what God has been doing in me as I spend time in His word. I rejoice in this because He is making me new. Like Mercy Me sing in their song ‘New Lease on Life’ it is down with the old and up with the new. I may not always get it right but according to Mercy Me’s song ‘Flawless‘ the cross has already won the battle. God has made me His own.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. His mercies are new every morning. Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. May you grow closer to Him as you read and study His word.
My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I rejoice as You have made me new. May others be drawn to You as they see You in me. Amen.
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God is Bigger Then All My Fears!

Isaiah 12:2 (ESV)
“Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.”
A very good friend of mine once told me that fear is False Evidence Appearring Real. I have to admit that I have an unhealthy fear of negative emotions particularly anger. The false evidence appearring real to me is my belief that someone’s anger is my responsibility and that it can cause me harm. God does not want me to be controlled by someone’s anger. For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control, 2 Timothy 1:7. I have had to tell myself that God is bigger than my fear and that He will protect me. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do to me? Psalm 118:6. If I give into my fear then I am saying that my fear is greater and I do not trust Him.
I know that I can trust Him. For when I stop and consider the wonder of the universe and that He holds the stars in their places and that God sent His Son to die in my place who am I to say that He can’t be trusted. There are quite a few verses that tell me to be strong in the Lord for He is with me wherever I go. Joshua 1:9; Haggai 2:4; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10 To overcome my fear of negative emotions I am to trust in the Lord. Psalm 115:11 tells me that I can trust in the Lord for He is my help and my shield. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put (my) confidence in man, Psalm 118:8. Psalm 118 will be my meditation this week. It is so good to read.
I encourage you to read Psalm 118 for yourself and see what God is trying to tell you. As for me, I will trust in Him and not be afraid for what can man do to me.
My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, forgive me when I give into my fears. I give You thanks for Your Word tells me that You are worthy of my trust and that You are by my side. I will trust and not be afraid for You are mighty and care for me. Amen.
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Let Your Yes Simply be Yes

And Your No Simply be No …
Matthew 5:37b
Anything more than that comes from the evil one.
 
Why is it that saying No is so hard? Each person has the right to say No without guilt or explanation. This is why I like this verse. I am to let my Yes be Yes and my No be No anything more is from the evil one. I need not explain the reason for my No. It is one of my hang-ups to be overly concerned about the other person’s reaction to my No. I am fine with someone telling me No because I know when I ask that it is an option that I have to accept. On the other hand, if I make a great deal about saying Yes like expecting someone’s gratitude in return then I am not acting properly either. The same can be said if I find myself trying to explain or defend my saying No. When I ask someone for a Yes or No, I am ready to accept their answer without any explanation for their response. 
 
I learned from the book titled, “Boundaries,” that in order for my Yes to be an honest Yes and not a reluctant Yes I need to be comfortable with saying No. So why is it so hard to tell a family member No? The answer is people pleasing. One has to be free from the fear of negative emotions to be able to say No. I have to recognize whose problem is it and then not take it as mine. The other person can be angry or not. It is not my place to fix it. I also need the freedom to be told no and to have my feelings about it and get over it by myself.

An honest answer is like a warm hug. Proverbs 24:26 from The Message. 
An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. (NIV)

The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious and win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him. Ecclesiastes 10:12 AMP

So I encourage you to let your Yes be Yes and your No be No. Let us be honest with one another.

My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, help me to give an honest answer to anyone who asks. Let my Yes be Yes and my No be No. Forgive me when I do anything else. Amen.

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Thankfulness in ALL Circumstances

I Still Have Not Got This Right!
James 1:2-3 (AMP)
Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.

Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
 But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.
Colossians 3:15 (AMP)
 15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].
I have to admit that I am not good at this. Yet, I know according to James that I should consider it joy whenever I encounter various trails and temptations because it has its purpose of developing godly character. After all how does one get good at something? Practice! There again I am not good at practice. I must admit that I want a shortcut to the change in my character. This is not how God would have it.
Looking at Colossians 3:15, above, I am to let the peace (soul harmony) that comes from Christ rule (act as umpire) in my heart to aid me in the questions that arise in me. And be thankful. I do want to grow in my faith and my character to be more like Christ. With growth, there will be pain and/or discomfort. With God all things are possible.
All in all, I am thankful that God loves me enough to do what is necessary to help rid me of poor character traits. I am thankful that He gives me the needed strength and promises to comfort me and never leave me nor forsake me. I give thanks reluctantly for those times of trials and temptations. With His help, I can get my attitude right when it comes to hardships. After all hardship is a pathway to peace. Therefore, I rejoice in my recent trial for God is in control and will use it for His purpose. By His grace, I can allow it work its purpose and practice what He has taught me.

My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, forgive me for not giving You thanks in all circumstances. Thank you for helping to see that You have a purpose in all my situations. Let Your peace rule in my heart. Not my will be done but Your will be done. Amen.
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God’s Desire for Us

God’s True Desire for Us

God’s greatest desire is for His people to live in peace with one another. Yet, there is a big difference between making peace and keeping the peace. Romans 12:18, 14:19.

PeaceKeeper Vs. Peace Maker

Keeping the peace is not a healthy choice.  The person keeping the peace sacrifices one’s self for the sake of the other person thus losing and being vulnerable to manipulation later. The other person appears to get their way but in the end the relationship is only weakened. This perpetuates a nasty cycle. It is a win-lose situation which in turn becomes resentment later. I know I have been there done that.
Whereas the peacemaker works towards a win-win situation. People involved are free to discuss their opinions and ask questions in order to come to an agreement. There is mutual respect and they seek to understand one another. This is what I am striving to learn and act upon.

Peace Maker

There is a really good book titled, “The Peacemaker,” by Ken Sande. In chapter 2, he discusses peace with God, peace with others, and peace within yourself. He states that this peace, which often is referred to as “unity,” is not the absence of strife and conflict. The unity is the presence of genuine harmony, understanding, and goodwill. From my experience, I have come to understand that some of the strife between people can stem from a lack of peace within themselves. I get my peace within from my personal relationship with Jesus because He gave me a right standing before God. He Loved me enough to die for me.

Hebrews 12:14 (AMP)
  Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.
Mark 9:50 (AMP)
Salt is good (beneficial), but if salt has lost its saltiness, how will you restore [the saltiness to] it? Have salt within yourselves, and be at peace and live in harmony with one another.
James 3:17  (TLB)
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. 
 
I particularly like James 3:17. It is God’s wisdom that can help us work out peace because it allows for discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere. Praise be to God for this is where I am learning to operate from and now I understand better that it is God working in me.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ seek to live at peace with all people for this is how we reflect Christ to those around us. With God all things are possible.
My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I rejoice at this point in my life where I can strive to live at peace with others. Forgive me, Lord, when I fail to work toward peace. I truly desire to reflect You in my life to others. May we all strive to live in peace with one another. Amen.
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The Truth About Me.

Without Christ and With Christ
Without Christ, I am prone to self pity, withdrawing when conflict arises, and use passive-aggressive behavior to try to manipulate others. I am also an emotional eater and will use food to try to comfort myself. I am a grumbler and complainer too. Destined to spend eternity without God. I would not make a good friend.
With Christ, I am God’s chosen, holy and beloved (Colossians 3:12). God rejoices over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). God is gracious to me and shows mercy to me (Isaiah 30:18). I no longer stand condemned (Romans 8:1). I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). I am called to a newness of life and mind (Romans 12:1-2). God has given me everything I need to live a truly good life and bestowed on me His great promises so that I may escape the corruption in the world (2 Peter 1:3-8). God will help me resist temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). Let me not forget that I am forgiven (Colossians 3:13). As a beloved and chosen with newness of life and forgiven by God, I can love others as Christ first loved me and forgive as I have been forgiven. Thus I make a better mother, daughter, sister, wife and friend not because of anything I did but because of what Christ did for me and the changes He is making in me.
There is so much to be gained from believing in Jesus and what He did for me. In the two links underlined, I have three versions of the scripture which I have found to be quite helpful. I have God’s approval through Jesus therefore I need no other. Whatever approval I do receive from others I now consider as a gift from God and not something that I must have.
It is my hope and prayer that I can encourage and enlighten others to strengthen their faith and draw others to know Him better.
My prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I give You many thanks for making me Yours through Your son, Jesus. Help to remember that I have Your approval and not to seek after the approval of men. May others be strengthened in their faith and draw others to You. Amen.
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Priorities!

We All have Them But
Are They in the Right Order?
To be honest, I don’t always get my priorities in the right order, meaning I put myself first and what I need. Yet, when I do get them in the right order, meaning God first and me second, I have experienced more peace and stability as well as order in my life. I remember singing, when I was a child, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Alleluia!’ You will find this in Matthew 6:33.
Seeking God first. There are a few verses that I have found that address this quite well.  Psalm 105:4,  Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
 Jeremiah 29:13, You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Proverbs 8:17, I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
 From these verses, I find that I am to seek the Lord continually, whole-hardheartedly, and diligently. What does it mean to seek? I looked it up in the Bible dictionary, ‘to seek or strive after, endeavor, to desire.’ It is an action on my part in my relationship with Jesus.
I have come to look at it this way. When we first fall in love with someone, what are some of the things we do? One, we seek to spend more time with that person and talk with the person frequently.  Another thing that we do is that we desire to tell others about that special someone. The same needs to seen in my relationship with Jesus. If I say that I love Jesus then my actions need to reflect it.
Another of my favorite verses is Micah 6:8,
 He has shown you, O mortal, 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.
I see in this verse that God desires for me to walk humbly with Him. As I spend time with God, I will begin to reflect His character. Some of His characteristics that I know that I want to reflect  are to be slow to anger, to act justly and to love mercy as well as to be forgiving of others.

So I need to get my priorities straight in order to live a life that is pleasing to God and reflects His character.

My Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, forgive me for not getting my priorities straight. Give me, I pray, a true desire to draw near to You first and seek Your kingdom and Your righteousness. Amen.
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Acronym on Prayer

P.U.S.H.
Luke 18:1 (2-8)
 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
Pray
Until
Something
Happens
Being persistent in prayer is what Jesus is encouraging His disciples in the parable in Luke. We are to pray and keep praying until something happens. God’s timing is not like ours and He wants us to seek Him in earnest prayer for ourselves as well as for those we love. How often do you give up when you are praying for someone? I know that I have not always been persistent in prayer but I do desire to change that. Matthew 7:7-8 tells me to ask, seek and knock. In the Greek, it actually translates to ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, and knock and keep knocking therefore I am to be persistent much like a child does when he/she wants something from his/her parent. it is not that God holds things back to be mean spirited but because He knows our hearts and He knows best when the time is right. Persistent pray also builds a dependent relationship on our heavenly Father. This is what He wants the most for us is to fully depend on Him.
So friends, be persistent in prayer believing that God will answer in His time and that He knows best.
My prayer: Dear Father in heaven help me to be persistent in prayer trusting that Your timing is best and that You will answer. You know my heart and forgive me when I fall short. In Jesus Name, I pray Amen.
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