Prayer: Make It Personal

Using the Lord’s Prayer
Matthew 6:7-13 (ESV)
 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.”
To make this personal one needs to change the pronouns. It is easy to read it with the plural of you but it reads differently when you change the pronouns to I and me in verses 11- 13. Try reading it this way.
My Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give me this day my daily bread,
12 and forgive me my debts,
    as I also have forgiven my debtors.
13 And lead me not into temptation,
    but deliver me from evil.”
I especially like how verses 12 &13 read in the Amplified version, 
“And forgive us our debts, as we (I) also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our (my) debtors.13 And lead (bring) us  (me) not into temptation, but deliver us (me) from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” 
I personalized this too. It gives one a better idea of what forgiving one’s debtor’s is to be like. I imagine prayer as a personal and intimate conversation with my Heavenly Father who loves me and care about me. Jesus prayed bold prayers and I can too. I have seen many answers to prayer that I have often felt like a spoiled Heavenly Daddy’s girl. Recently, God answered my prayer to sustain my earthly father so that I was able to visit with him last month as his health is failing him. On more the one occasion He has given me peace in my turmoil.
It is my hope and prayer that you will be encouraged to make your prayers more intimate knowing that God cares for you. I leave you with this verse.
  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18,
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
My disclaimer: I know that every believer’s relationship to God is different and unique. You may not have the same experiences and that is okay. I am sharing because I want to bring Him the glory for what He is doing in me and impart to you what I have learned from His word.

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Thankful Thursday

Oh Give Thanks to the Lord!
I did a search for the phrase ‘give thanks’ on Bible Gateway. It gave me 73 results. I particularly like
1 Chronicles 16:34, 
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever. 
King David was a very thankful servant of God. The Psalms are full of thanksgiving to the Lord. Last year when I studied the Servants of God, I learned a lot about David before he became King. He had a terribly rough time under King Saul and many times David’s life was threatened. Yet, David did not fail to give thanks to God.
The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah instructed the people of Israel to give thanks to the Lord.
 Isaiah 12:1-2, 
 You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
    that you might comfort me.

“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.”
 Jeremiah 33:10-11
“Thus says the Lord: In this place of which you say, ‘It is a waste without man or beast,’ in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again 11 the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord:
“‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
    for the Lord is good,
    for His steadfast love endures forever!’
For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord

Daniel gave thanks to the Lord after God revealed to him in a dream the mystery of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. 
Daniel 2:20-23, 
“…To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”
For me personally, something has changed in me for the better when I began to look at my hardships with thanksgiving in my heart to God. I read it somewhere that ‘you will not often find a strong person who has had an easy life.’ I am thankful for my scars because they have helped me to become stronger person for them. God has a purpose in all that happens in our lives. 
Hebrews 12:10,
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.
My challenge to you is to offer thanks to God for whatever He has brought you through and for what He is bringing you through now. An attitude of gratitude is life changing as well as an uplifting perspective to all that we go through in life. I invite you to leave a comment about what you are thankful for.

My disclaimer: I know that every believer’s relationship to God is different and unique. You may not have the same experiences and that is okay. I am sharing because I want to bring Him the glory for what He is doing in me and impart to you what I have learned from His word.
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Can You Find Jesus in Psalm 22?

Find Jesus

Find Jesus’ Crucifixion in Psalm 22

Psalm 22:1a,16-18 (NIV)
 
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
I remember reading this psalm back when I was still in the military at Bergstrom AFB. For me, it was amazing to see Jesus in this. It was like visiting the cross myself. This Easter, I hope that you would take the time to consider what Jesus went through so that you might not perish but have everlasting life. Therefore, I want to encourage you to study it for yourself. The following references are taken from the NIV. To clarify, I am listing the verse from the Psalm  and then where I have found the similarity in the New Testament.
22:1 – Jesus cried out, “My God , My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
22:15 – Jesus was weakened from loss of blood from sweating blood and from the flogging. (Luke 22:44; Mark 15:15)Jesus complains of thirst from the cross. (John19:28)
22:16 – The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus and drew lots for his clothing. (Matthew 27:27-31) Jesus’ hands and feet were pierced. (John 20:25b-26)
22:17 – The chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked Him. (Matthew 27:41-43)

The Purpose for the Cross

After all, Jesus willing went to the cross for everyone. Hebrews 12:2b-3 explains it so beautifully,
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

For You to Consider

Celebrate this Easter with joy and thanksgiving to our risen Lord and Savior! Be sure to go and see the Easter Triumph Passion Play if you are in the Austin, Texas, area.
 
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Where I Have Lived Growing Up

My Many Travels as a Child

I remember living in South Carolina, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania in my early elementary years. Sadly, some of the memories that I have from these moves were not pleasant. I was an easy target for bullying and teasing. We moved back to Texas after my 2nd grade year. I remember  having to attend speech therapy because I was sounding like someone from the northeast and not like a true Texan (LOL).

My next move came in my 6th grade year when we moved to Terrell, Texas. Again, there are some not so pleasant memories. I often got off the school bus in tears more often than not. I had the unfortunate experience of having had the chicken pox that year. It was here that my youngest brother was killed.


My 7th grade year, we moved to Gresham, Oregon. This was a good year. The school was a year around school which I happened to like and I made a good friend with whom I am now connected to on Facebook. Living in Oregon was great. It was beautiful with lots of waterfalls to see. Sadly, we would move again and just before Mount St. Helen erupted.
We moved across country to Spartanburg, South Carolina. We would live there til the middle of my junior year. I have many found memories. We often went camping in the mountains and my favorite place was and still is Table Rock State Park. I was a member of the marching band in high school. We had sharp uniforms and good supervision. When returning to campus from an away game we would sing the Alma mater song. My brother and I had many friends in our neighborhood. 
Our last move would be to Georgetown, Texas, in the middle of my junior. I regretted the move. I was not fair to my parents because I held on to that regret through the remainder of my high school years. The marching band was one of the best in the state but was so vastly different from the one I left. It was lenient in the discipline and unsupervised on the buses when we went to away games. The band director was a great leader and had high expectations of the members. Georgetown High School had clicks, groups with special members, and if you were not in one then you were considered an outcast. I had a few friends but I was not a part of a click.
So why do I share this with you, you might ask? Well so you know where I am coming from and what my life experiences are. Though it was tough God saw me through it all and He used these experiences to shape me into the person that I have become and that I might share the comfort that He has given me with others.   
2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 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 all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
My disclaimer: I know that every believer’s relationship to God is different and unique. You may not have the same experiences and that is okay. I am sharing because I want to bring Him the glory for what He is doing in me and impart to you what I have learned from His word.
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Mining Psalm 81

Psalm 81:5b-12
What Can We Mine from This for Us Today?
 I heard an unknown voice say:
“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
    their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
    I answered you out of a thundercloud;
    I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
    if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
    you shall not worship any god other than me.
10 I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
11 “But my people would not listen to me;
    Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
    to follow their own devices.
 A couple of weeks ago, I did a post on what if God had a cell phone. Verse 7 mentions that in Israel’s distress they called out to God and He rescued and answered them. As followers of Christ, God hears and answers our prayers. He gives us strength to weather the storms in our lives. It is by His grace that we come through them only made stronger for it. Yet in this Psalm, God warns His people to listen to Him. God is a jealous God and wants know other god to be in His place in our lives. He is our Lord and there is no other. When Israel would not listen to Him, He gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. He does this today for He wants us to love Him and be devoted to Him because we choose to and not a forced following. 
This is what I find to be so amazing about God. He is so astoundingly patient with us and He so willing lets people choose whom they will follow even though following God is the better choice. He never changes and is always faithful waiting for people to accept His gracious gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, who paid a price that was meant for all man to pay. I am forever thankful for what Jesus did for me. There is  nothing that I could do to earn my way into heaven for Jesus has done it all for me. This is so simple and beautiful yet people can’t seem to accept it for what it is, a gift freely given. May you contemplate on this as Easter is approaching and remember that Jesus died for you so that believing in Him you would be saved and have eternal life. I heard it said that eternal life is a changed life now and living forever with Him in the next.

Rejoice in the Lord today and always for He is good! What do you have to be thankful for this day?
My disclaimer: I know that every believer’s relationship to God is different and unique. You may not have the same experiences and that is okay. I am sharing because I want to bring Him the glory for what He is doing in me and impart to you what I have learned from His word.
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Conflict Resolution Acronym

Conflict

Think of H.A.R.D. When It Comes to Conflict Resolution

This is one of my favorites from Bible Study Fellowship days. Personal conflict was something that I often dreaded. I actually had an opportunity to put this into practice.
Honest – Be honest with the person(s) that you are wanting to talk to.
Appropriate – There is no need to make a scene. Find the right time and place.
Respectful – Keep in mind that each person has the right to be treated with respect.
Direct – Do not beat around the bush. Get to the point promptly.

What Does the Bible Say?

Matthew 18:15-17 is a passage that, in my experience, is often abused and not explained nor modeled. There was a sermon on this very passage at my church by Pastor Ted Doering sometime ago that I found to be quite helpful. The passage reads as follows from the ESV, If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Therefore, we are to make every attempt to reconcile our differences. Yet, if someone refuses to be reconciled we ought to treat the individual as we would an unbeliever thus not giving up on that person but continuing to extend grace and mercy in order to win the person back. This is what the sermon taught me. As a result, one can learn to resolve a conflict.

Personally, I want to learn to resolve a conflict.

For me, it is a challenge to be direct because I want to please people. I want them to like me. Yet, I have come to learn that it is better to be direct and leave the rest to God. I am to do my best, to be honest, appropriate, respectful, and direct with others. Either I keep a friend or part agreeably.
Yet, I should not neglect prayer because it gets my heart in the right frame of being in order to do this with someone who matters to me. I have had the opportunity to put this acronym into practice and I am thankful for having learned this. Hence, some of my relationships have improved.
With whom could you use to put this into practice? Does this person matter to you? Would you prayerfully consider acting on this?
My disclaimer: I know that every believer’s relationship to God is different and unique. You may not have the same experiences and that is okay. I am sharing because I want to bring Him the glory for what He is doing in me and impart to you what I have learned from His Word.
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New Self: A Change in Our Hearts

Change in our hearts

Our Hearts are Keys to the New Self.

This is the final part in a series on the New Self of which this makes 5. In part 4 of this series, Characteristics of the New Self, I discussed Colossians 3:11-13. We learned what we were to put on. This part we will discuss the change in our hearts as a result of Jesus in our lives.
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:14-17 ESV.
Here we are instructed to put on love which binds things together, to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and be thankful. In verse 16 we find the how to, through letting word of Christ dwell in us going on to teach and admonish one another.
The key here is that it is a matter of the heart. First, we are to let the peace of Christ and His word rule in our hearts and second being thankful in our hearts to God.

My Personal ExperienceHearts changed

Ephesians 4:21-32 is another passage on putting on the new self. I particularly like verse 29, Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (ESV) This means that one should be mindful of what comes out of one’s mouth as not to hurt or harm others. One ought to think of something to say that would build the other person up instead.
God has often afforded me the grace to hold my tongue at times. He helped me to remember that once words are spoken I cannot take them back. I also think of how I would want to be treated and try my best to be kind. Again, I may not always get it right but I do my best to promptly admit when I do wrong and ask for forgiveness.
In conclusion, as a follower of Christ, I am called to live differently.  By the grace of God, the power of the Holy Spirit and study of God’s word I can be the light in this dark world. I am changed from the inside out and I like who I have become in Christ.
May you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Tomorrow I will have another acronym for your consideration.
 

Save

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Counting My Blessings and Giving Thanks to God.

Give Thanks Unto the Lord!
Psalm 86:12,“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”
Last week, I had a procedure done which required prep and anesthesia. I am thankful for the friends that prayed for me and those who called or texted me to see how I was doing. It is a joy to know how many people cared about me.
I am thankful for the women in my core group at Community Bible Study. They are a wonderfully diverse group and each one is a beautiful woman of God. I am blessed to have young babies in our group and each one is a unique gift from God to their families. I am thankful for my core leader who perseveres in her own struggles to be with us each week. 

I am thankful for the scars I have acquired along my way for they shaped me into who God wants me to be. I am forever grateful for the difficult people in my life because I have learned that God uses them to help me grow stronger in certain areas of my life. I am thankful for all of my life experiences, good and bad.
An attitude of gratitude goes a long way to uplift one’s spirit and put things in the right perspective. What can you give thanks to God for in your life?

Psalm 106:1,Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
My disclaimer: I know that every believer’s relationship to God is different and unique. You may not have the same experiences and that is okay. I am sharing because I want to bring Him the glory for what He is doing in me and impart to you what I have learned from His word.
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Characteristics of the New Self

Characteristics of a Christian

Characteristics of the New Self.

We are continuing a theme on the Putting of the Old Self and Putting on the New Self. In part three, Put Away Old Habits, I discussed more of what we are to put way. Today, we will look at the Characteristics that we are to put on with the new self.

Colossians 3:11-13, “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

In Verse 11, Paul is telling us that as believers we are all the same in Christ. There is no distinction between one another for Christ is all and in all.

In verse 12 to the end of the chapter, Paul is telling us what the characteristics of a new life of a believer are. We are going to look at 12 & 13 today.

Let us take a closer look at the word meekness. It is defined in Wikipedia as follows, ‘Meekness is a possible attribute of human nature and behavior. It has been defined in several ways: righteous, humble, teachable, and patient under suffering willing to follow gospel teachings; an attribute of a true disciple.’ There is a lot in just these two verses. We are instructed to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, and patience. We are to bear with one another meaning carrying and supporting each other and most important to forgive as the Lord has forgiven us.

For Further Thought

I like to think of this as thinking outside of ourselves and being other-minded. Again we find the word must in verse 13 which implies that we are to take action and not hold back. Luke 6:31 comes to my mind, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (NIV).’ Of ourselves, it is not possible but through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, it is possible. God gives us the grace to put these on especially when one stops to consider how much He has forgiven you. I have seen this in my own life and it has surprised me what He has given me the strength to do. 

For instance, I have been able to be gracious when someone made an attempt to push my buttons in order to get a certain response out of me. I saw it for what it was and did not overreact. God helps me to see what is really going on and respond rather than react to the situation. I may not always get it right but God gives me grace when I fall short.

In the final part of this series, we will look at verse 14-17. Until then rejoice in the Lord; again I say rejoice.

What can you ask God to help you put on as you draw closer to Him?

 

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God’s Many Blessing in My Life

Part Two of My Story

 Life itself is the first of my many many blessings. You see, I was born prematurely and when my mom took me home the doctor did not expect me to live. My mom would sleep with her hand on me and when I stopped breathing she would wake and help me to breathe again, for this, I am forever grateful. I was the first born and later I was blessed to have two brothers from my mom’s first marriage and a sister after my mom remarried. Sister was born during my senior year of high school. I remember Dad picking my brother and I up from school to meet our baby sister and who is now a beautiful young woman.
I am blessed to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I have had a love of God’s word since I can remember. Another thing that I am thankful for is to have grown up going to church.

Blessings of Marriages and Children

My next blessing came when I married my first love in February of 1989. John Mark loved to be around others. He would have given the shirt off his back if someone was in need. He loved music and football. I am forever blessed to have known him because I gave birth to his son in July of 1991. This is one of the greatest blessings in my life. I am thankful to have become a mom and my son is a wonderful young man. Sadly, my son did not get know his father for he was killed in a car accident before he was born.

I was a single parent for 15 years before God would bring into my life, my heart’s desire. We met in 2004 while taking our sons to a group to help them with their challenges in life. Brian married me in 2006. There are not enough words to express my happiness. I now have a family of six between the two of us. Our children are beautiful people with many gifts and talents.
 
These are just a few of my many many blessings. There are many others on a more personal scale from life lessons along the way. God is good all the time!
What are some of your blessings in life?
Psalm 103:22, Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!”

 

 
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