Changing Your Perspective

A few weeks ago my GFBC BFF lifegroup got together to paint wooden front door hangers. Our instructor was Tammy Westbrook of Two T’z in a Pod. She provided us with everything we needed to complete our project. Our only effort was to paint our chosen door hanger, either a bird or flower arrangement. As about 30 of us got together that night to work, the constant theme was “I am just not good at this” or “yours is a lot better than mine.” We each were judging our piece based on how the other artwork around us looked.  We were in the comparison mode, but the truth is we all left there with a finished hanger, and they all looked great. It was just when they were being compared to each other we all felt like ours lacked in some way.

Comparison is a constant theme I am hearing and studying about lately.  I have been reading a book by Nicki Kozariz titled “Why Her? 6 Truths We Need to Hear When Measuring Up Leaves us Falling Behind” along with doing the Bible study she wrote on “Rachel and Leah: What Two Sisters Teach us about Combating Comparison.” (You can read Rachel and Leah story for yourself in Genesis 29-30.) Since I have not finished either one I will refrain from giving a critique; however, it has gotten me to thinking about how many times a day I compare myself to those around me. I have to say it is a constant stream of thought going through my mind. I want to share with you some insights I have gained.

I looked up the definition of comparison on dictionary.com and found the first two definitions were: the act of comparing and the state of being compared. Or another two words are envy and jealousy. Isn’t this so true during our day we are either constantly comparing ourselves or being compared by others. So how do we break this act of comparing?

belly-black-and-white-body-42069.jpgFirst, we have to be aware of the comparison. I am constantly comparing, grading and measuring myself against other people. Comparison is not something we can avoid in life, but it is something we can be aware of and take note of how we act and react. Social Media is our worst enemy in the comparison game.  I look at other people and judge myself against what others post. I am sure you have all heard something about someone and thought or said “well it must be nice,” and the comparison, envy, jealousy, and coveting begin popping up again.

A year or so ago my friend, Debbie, started posting about the realities of life.  I have another friend that posts Marriage Chronicles of the things she is discovering about being a newlywed. When we stop and really look, things are not really how they seem. Not everyone I know is always hopping off to a great vacation somewhere or buying the latest and greatest thing.  I have to change my perspective and see things like they really are. Others’ lives may have some good things happen in them, but the reality is, most of them have junk in their lives just like me.

Secondly, I have to learn to combat the comparison and realize I have done nothing wrong.  When the coveting and comparison rears its ugly head, be it a friend getting married for the second or third time (and I am still single), or those having babies or grandbabies around me (and I am still Single), or a husband and wife celebrating a wedding anniversary (and I am still Single),  or going on dates (and I am still Single), I have to learn to focus on what is truth in my life. I have done nothing wrong. It is just not God’s timing for me to be married. Will it every be? I don’t know, but I’d rather be single than be in a relationship not ordained by God.  Then I’d just put myself in a mess and the comparison would be worse. Cause I would be wanting to know why my marriage was not like hers. One of the quotes in the book Why Her? is “We have to find contentment with who we are without becoming complacent in who we are becoming.”

We have to find contentment with who we are without becoming complacent in who we are becoming.

Thirdly, I haven’t loss anything, by those around me gaining something and I can’t become discourage by the success of others. Just like in the story of Leah and Rachel. Rachel had not lost Jacob’s love even when Leah was having babies. 2 Corinthians 10:12  (CSB) says, “For we don’t dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding.”

Nicki has the “Bless Her” Prayer in the book Why Her? She says that “anytime the enemy starts to slip in a lie of lack in your soul as you’re looking at someone who’s gaining, as you’re beginning to feel like you’re losing, there is something you can do” pray for both you and her. Her gain is not my loss and I have to keep doing what God has called me to do.

So the next time you are struggling with comparison, try to say the “Bless Her Prayer” and change your perspective.

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God, today I’m praying for _____ (insert their name).   I am grateful You have gifted her with the ability to _______ (insert their gift/opportunity).  You are a good God who gives each of us good gifts.  I pray that today would be a good day of increase with the ability to use those gifts in her life.   Help _____ (insert their name) to use her time, resources and gifts wisely today.  Surround her with what she needs most.  And bless her greatly.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

“Bless Her Prayer” by Nicki Koziarz.  Excerpt from Chapter 9 of Why Her? 6 Truths We Need to Hear When Measuring Up Leaves Us Falling Behind. Find her book at you local bookseller or on Amazon.

 

 

Chirp…Chirp…Chirp…Where Are the Batteries?

We have all experienced it.  It can drive you crazy.  The sporadic chirping of a dead smoke detector battery.  I bet the sound is going through your head right now and you are remembering back to the last time your heard it.  They never seem to go out at a convenient time.  For some reason it always seems to be in the middle of the night.

Well about a month ago, I got an early morning, and I mean early, text from my brother.  He stopped by on his way home from work to check on my grandparent’s place and do a few loads of laundry.  He was not amused when what greeted him was the chirping of a dead smoke detector battery.  Our text exchange at 4:30 am went like this:

His text:  “Next time you come down bring a lot of 9-volt batteries.  Smoke detectors are driving me crazy

Of course, I inform him where he could find the replacement batteries at the house.

His text:  “ LOL ok I’ll check. They are all going out at once.” … “They [batteries] were there.  I’ll hang them back up instead of smashing them. Lol

He claims that there were at least six smoke detectors in the house and all of them were beeping at the same time.  I think he is exaggerating just a little.   He said it was like walking into a game called “Let’s Find the Smoke Detectors.”

So have you felt like this?  Are you walking through a maze of smoke detectors?  You know… stop one chirp and another pops up.  It is like you can never get ahead.  You feel like you don’t get anything accomplished on your “to do” list.  You are run down and running on empty.  Frustrated.  Something is always pulling you back, getting you down.  You worry, have fears. You get irritated. It’s driving you crazy and you feel like smashing something.

So what do you do? Do you give in to your pity party or do you calmly put out the chirps?  Are you spending time with Jesus recharging your batteries or are you letting everything build up until you just want to smash something?  Really, what does smashing something accomplish?  It may satisfy you for a few minutes, but in the long run not only do you end up hurting yourself, you hurt those around you, and you hurt your witness as a lover of Jesus Christ.  Plus, you have to go out and buy new smoke detectors which takes more time, effort and money.

pexels-photo-586340.jpegIs this how you are feeling?  Are you hearing the warning chirps?  Is your battery running low? Batteries can only last so long.  They are easily drained by over use.  Just like a cell phone has to be recharged every day. You need to plug in and recharge. Every day.

Today, let’s take some time to plug into our POWER source.  Maybe put on some PRAISE music and sit down with your favorite beverage and God’s Word.  Below is just a few verses to get you started.  I am sure you can add more.  Now spend time with the source of your power, pouring your heart out to him in prayer, letting him fill you up and recharge you.

Joshua 1:8  This law must not leave your lips! You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper and be successful.

Isaiah 40:31  But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength;
they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary,
they walk without getting tired

Psalm 55:6  I say, “I wish I had wings like a dove!  I would fly away and settle in a safe place!

Isaiah 43:2  When you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you.

Matthew 11:28-30  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”

Isaiah 14:3-4  When the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and anxiety, and from the hard labor which you were made to perform, you will taunt the king of Babylon with these words: “Look how the oppressor has met his end! Hostility has ceased!

As your time of recharging comes to an end, I pray that you start your day with a fully charged battery ready to face the fiery darts you know the enemy will be sending your way.

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More Than Just a Name!

I am one of those children that was gifted with a very uncommon unusual name.  It was not a popular name. It was not a family name. It was not in a baby book of names when I was growing up.  I couldn’t go find cute little items with my name on it.  I had to have a company research my name for the meaning, and I still have the card I received.  My name is often mispronounced, and even I could not pronounce my own name when I was little.  When I was young, as the story is told by my grandparents, I would call myself BI (bee-eye) and would argue with them that they were not saying my name correctly.

I asked my mother how she came up with my first name when I was thinking about writing this blog post, and she said she came up with it one day in church.  I wonder if the preacher was preaching on Berea in Acts that day? My middle name was still up for grabs. When I was growing up I came across a piece of paper where my mother was trying out middle names. On the list was Ruth – one of my favorite books of the Bible and part of my Dad’s mother’s name, Emma Ruth.  The story from my Dad was that he wanted to name me Angela.  Mother settled on Angelique after she heard the name in a movie. But she didn’t like the spelling.  So my given name is Brea (bree-uh meaning – noble, strong, virtuous, hill), Angelic (Ahn-zhay-Leek meaning – of the angels). I am often called Bree or Baria.  I finally came to the point I would answer to anything close.

black-white-1444737_640The naming of a child is a very important task for parents.  This name is heard by the child their entire life, unless they get it changed in court.  Nowadays many parents spend hours/days/months picking out the name their child will carry.  Many look in baby books for the meaning.  Some chose family names.  Some choose popular names. Some take names and spell them differently.  Experts believe that the name of a child will play a major role in a child’s life.  It will shape their future, character, success in life and personality.  Jabez in the Bible went around with a name that meant affliction or pain.  Naomi wanted to be called Mara which means bitter. (Ruth 1:20) Asher means happy or blessed. (Genesis 30:13) Esther means star.

In just the same way, the names of God are important. God’s names tell us about his character. This past fall, Pastor Kevin preached a 12-week sermon series on the Names of God. Some of his material came from Tony Evan’s book The Power of God’s Names.  He suggested we get a copy to read if we wanted to dig deeper. So I did. And I read right along each week with the name Pastor Kevin was preaching on in the series.  There were so many nuggets of insight and revelation about the character of God in the book and through the series, but Pastor Kevin couldn’t cover all the names listed in the book.  So I have taken the time to go back and read the ones that he didn’t cover.  The book ends with the name Immanuel (God with us).

Elizabeth (“my God is abundance”) and Zechariah (“Yahweh remembers”) and Mary (“sea of bitterness, rebelliousness, wished for child, loved or beloved”) and Joseph (“he will add”) didn’t have to wonder about what to name their new little babies. God, through an angel announcement, gave Zechariah, Mary and Joseph the names to use.  When it came time for Zechariah and Elizabeth to name John (“Yahweh is gracious”), their friends and relatives had their own ideas.  In Luke 1:57-63 you can read the story.

Mary was told in Luke 1:31-33 “Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”

christmas-crib-figures-1060059_640Joseph was told in Matthew 1:21-23 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us.’”

When Jesus was born that name was very common.  Jesus is the equivalent of the Old Testament form of Joshua. The meaning of the name is “Yahweh saves.”  The angel gave Mary and Joseph a more detailed description of who Jesus would be:  Great, Son of the Most High, He would be seated on a throne, reign over the house of Jacob forever, his kingdom would never end, He will save HIS people from their sins, He would be Immanuel – GOD WITH US.  In Acts 4:12 we are told by Peter “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”

Jesus is more than just a name. He personifies all of the character of GOD in human form. Do you think that Mary and Joseph remembered the prophet Isaiah foretelling about Jesus in Isaiah 9:6?

“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Tony Evans looks at these descriptive names of Jesus in the last chapter of his book.  The names in Isaiah 9:6 give us “insight into His character and mission” and “puts on display everything there is to know about God.”  Jesus also has other names – Redeemer, Deliverer, Good Shepherd, King of king and Lord of Lords and more. He fulfills the names of God:  Elohim, Jehovah, Adonai, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Tsaba, Jehovah Shalom, Jehovah Rohi, Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Mekoddishekm, Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Tsidkenu, El Elyon and El Shaddai.

• Wonderful Counselor – Jesus “perspective is infinite.  His resources unlimited.  His experience includes a lifetime on earth enduring the same trials and temptations we face.”  Jesus is the one we should turn to when we need perspective on what we are dealing with in life.  He is the counselor that has all the answers.  There is nothing we will face that he can’t see us through.

• Mighty God – “Jesus never fails.  He is faithful.  All the power of creation stands behind His promise to provide and to care for us…Might is more than strength.  Might is the ability to use strength strategically for the good of others.”  Jesus is all God.  He is Immanuel God with us.  All the power behind the name of God can be used by Jesus.

• Everlasting Father – “Jesus is Everlasting.”  In Revelations 22:13 he says “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”  John 1:1 tells us “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 17:5 “Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with that glory I had with you before the world existed.”  In John 10:30 Jesus tells us “I and the Father are one.” Jesus is eternal and if we are saved and acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior we will live with him for eternity.

• Prince of Peace – We “believe that peace is the absence of conflict. Yet Jesus gives us so much more.  He promises peace that transcends our circumstances.  It invades the inevitable conflicts that naturally arise in a sinful world.  It makes perfect sense to be at peace when all is well.  But Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace, promises us a peace that transcends understanding (Philippians 4:7).”  We all desperately want the kind of peace Jesus offers.

One of the popular worship songs we sing in church is “What a Beautiful Name.”  Listen or read the words and rejoice in what a beautiful, wonderful. and powerful name the name of Jesus truly is. It is more than just a common, popular name.  It is the Name above all Names.  In Philippians 2:9-11 we read we should have the same mindset and attitude as Jesus

“Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity.  And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

There has never been nor will there ever be a name greater that the name of Jesus – our SAVIOR.  His Name is above all Names and everything is under his feet.  It is at the name of JESUS every knee will bow.   So who do you need Jesus to be for you today:  Your Peace, Your Shepherd, Your Messiah, Your Savior, Your Healer.  He is waiting to be these and more for you.  Just call on HIS NAME!

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CD’s of Pastor Kevin Hamm’s sermon series on the Names of God can been found in the GFBC Encouraging Word Book Store.
“What a Beautiful Name” words and music by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood.

Putting Together the Pieces

My grandmother has always loved to work jigsaw puzzles.  I have many fond memories of us spending hours in front of a puzzle working well into the night to finish the picture.  Even today at the age of 91 with her being almost completely blind and dealing with Alzheimer’s, she still sits for hours working puzzles.  The puzzles may have become fewer in pieces, but she still loves fitting the pieces together.  When she completes a puzzle she is always excited to show it off, to let you see what she has accomplished of taking all the pieces and fitting them together to reveal the complete picture.

51ktrzbp0il-_sx326_bo1204203200_That is what we are doing when we study God’s Word.  We are taking each piece of knowledge we receive from reading God’s Word and placing it in its proper place to see God’s story being revealed.  We are becoming more Bible literate.  Jen Wilkins in her book Women of the Word: How to STUDY the BIBLE with Both OUR HEARTS and OUR MINDS gives her definition of Bible Literacy: “Bible literacy occurs when a person has access to a Bible in a language she understands and is steadily moving toward knowledge and understanding of the text…Bible literacy stitches patchwork knowledge into a seamless garment of understanding.”

I need to be up front and say I do not have it all together and I am not perfect!   It is not easy trying to be diligent and faithful in spending time in God’s Word on a daily basis.  Let’s be honest, it is a struggle for me and I am sure for many of you.  I get in a routine and then something comes along and messes it up.  One day becomes two and before long it has been a week.  One thing I do know is My God is faithful to forgive me and prompt me to spend time with him.

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The other thing I struggle with is how to approach the study of God’s Word.  No book, study plan, or Bible study book can replace just digging in and reading God’s Word and letting the Holy Spirit direct you.  That being said, I am always interested in seeing, hearing and reading how other people approach the study of God’s Word. Are you one that reads the Bible through once a year or do you select a book at a time?  Do you follow a daily devotion or reading plan?  Do you write verses down and meditate on them?  Or do you just let the Holy Spirit lead you in your reading.  Do you use Iva May’s approach in Chronological Bible Teaching reading the Bible Chronologically?  How about Jen Wilkin’s 5 P’s of Sound Study approach in her book: Women of the Word: How to STUDY the BIBLE with Both OUR HEARTS and OUR MINDS?  In Angie Smith’s study Seamless she streams all of the major stories in the Bible together in one thread.  There are so many ways to approach the study of God’s Word, but what are we doing with our knowledge and understanding?  Are all the pieces of the puzzle fitting together?

51jyryn98ul-_sx366_bo1204203200_As we start 2018, do you have a plan?  Did you make a New Year’s resolution to Study God’s Word more?   So how is it going?  No matter what plan you use, make sure that you are seeing God’s complete picture.  Don’t shy away from the things you don’t understand?  I have many times written or said to God, “I don’t understand this passage.”  You know, it is usually not long before I hear someone preach on the same passage or read a book where the verse I don’t understand is revealed to me with more understanding.  As Women of the Word let’s be more intentional in becoming more Bible Literate this next year.

Lord, may we make a commitment to spend more time in your Word.  Not just to gain head knowledge, but to gain understanding so that when the end of 2018 comes around we may be able to see each piece of your Word revealed as a beautiful picture of YOUR LOVE for us from Genesis to Revelation.

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Becoming a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit

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I am a person who likes to read.  I usually have two or three books going at the same time and more stacked nearby waiting to be read. However, I have a problem:  I don’t always finish the books. Something always gets in the way.  It seems I get about ½ way through a book and we start a new bible study or life gets really busy or sometimes I lose interest when something better comes along.  Are you like this?  I admit it:  I AM A QUITTER.  I start things and can’t seem to get them finished.  I can also be a procrastinator or start something and wonder why I agreed to do it.  What are you thinking about quitting?  What have you quit, given up on?  Is it something small like a project, book, or bible study?  Or is it something big like your marriage, your job, or your New Year’s goals?  Did you even set a New Year’s goal?  Have you already quit?  Well, I 51ceqnhm8el-_sx322_bo1204203200_recently read a book called A WOMAN WHO DOESN’T QUIT: 5 Habits From the Book of Ruth by Nicki Koziarz.

Yes, I read the whole book.  You can’t stop reading when you are trying to find out the habits of a person who doesn’t quit.  There are several reasons why I read the book, but here are two of the biggest: (1) I could relate to the title. We have already discussed that I can be a quitter and I can procrastinate; (2) The book of Ruth is one of my favorite books in the Bible.  Who can pass up a love story when you are single and still waiting on your Boaz.  However, one thing I do know about Ruth – she was not a quitter!  In fact, Ruth over-excelled.  What can Ruth teach us all about not quitting?  This I had to learn.

If you are not familiar with the story of Ruth.  Stop right now and grab your Bible and read the book of Ruth in the Old Testament.  Or better yet go to www.Biblegateway.com and read it on-line.  It is a very short book with only 4 chapters.  But WAIT!  Don’t be a quitter and forget to come back and read the rest of this post.

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Now back to the book, Nicki gives 5 habits we should apply to our lives.  You will need to read the book to learn the habits.  Yeah, I know the easy way is for me to tell you, but that doesn’t accomplish our goal – to finish what we start.  In the book she uses practical applications combined with Biblical truth to make her points.  It is an easy read.  What I liked the best is that each point has a current relevant example from Nicki’s own life and in the next chapter she uses the story of Ruth of make the same point, contrasting someone prone to quit with Ruth, one who didn’t quit.

Nicki was convicted by the verse in Luke 16:10 when she wrote the book:

He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much: and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much.

Some quotes from the book that really stuck me were:

“A committed woman learns to choose what she wants most over what she wants now.” (i.e. set goals, don’t think you have to have everything now)

What is important to you?  What is important to God?

“Thoughts become words.  Words become actions.  Actions become reality.”  This is so true!

“Refinement becomes redemption when we fulfill our responsibility to wait in expectation for the Redeemer to carry out HIS plans.”

Are you in a time of refinement?  Romans 8:18 says: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” Where does your dependency rest during times of refinement, on yourself or God?

“Living under the covering of God means we are asking God to ‘see over’ our lives.” 

Am I open to the movement of God in my life?  How can I share what I have not experienced?  Am I living under God’s covering?  Am I open to him “overseeing” my life?

girl-3047297_1280One of the excuses I usually use to either to quit on my commitment or not do to something is “I don’t feel like it.”  Do you use this excuse too?  Well Nicki convicted me on this.  Just remember these are Nicki words not mine: (1) “Commitment has nothing to do with feelings; (2) My defeat comes from my thought and actions.”  Wow!  She continues on with “We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control our reactions.”  Isn’t this so true in life.  We are always reacting with our feelings.  We let our feelings take over allowing bitterness and anger to build up when things don’t go our way, or when something happens to us over which we have no control.  How about when someone else doesn’t fulfil their commitment.  How do you react? Do you get mad or angry, or become bitter?

The Bible has a lot to say about bitterness and anger and how it can affect our lives.

Job 10:1 “I am disgusted with my life. I will give vent to my complaint and speak in the bitterness of my soul.”

Acts 8:23 “For I see you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by wickedness.”

Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice.”

Hebrew 12:15  “Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many.”

Proverbs 14:16  “A wise person is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool is easily angered and is careless.”

Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but one slow to anger calms strife

James 1:19-20 “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”

I am the only one that can control my reactions.  I want my actions, reactions, and feelings to reflect my commitment as a follower of Jesus Christ.

I have had Philippians 4:11 posted on my desk for many years.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.”

board-928392_1280So the next time you can’t make a commitment to do something, are thinking about quitting on something you have commit to do, feel like procrastinating or letting your feelings control you, or are showing apathy.  Ask yourself, Why?  Why are you quitting?  Why are you reacting this way?  Why are you anger at that person?  Take a really hard look at why you are making these decisions. Appreciate what you have and give it some time and prayer before you react.  Are you acting as the world would have you act?  Or are you fulfilling your commitment to do what God has called you to do even when you don’t feel like it?  Do you jump into a commitment due to the pressure of others?  Are you allowing yourself to become defeated when you don’t commit, spiraling down into a world of defeat so you don’t even try?  Don’t be a quitter.  Be a Ruth.

Ruth committed to going with Naomi.  She fulfilled her commitment even when things around her looked bleak.  She could have let feelings keep her back, but she moved ahead in faith.  She didn’t allow anger and bitterness at her situation to keep her from going out and finding food, working tirelessly.   Ruth was not in the ideal situation but she kept herself open to God working in her life.  She stayed the task even when Naomi gave her some crazy things to do.  She met the needs of others around her even when she didn’t have much herself.  She kept moving forward in faith that she could accomplish what she started.  She learned to be content with the life she was given which allowed her life and situation to improve as well as Naomi’s. And in the end, God approved and gave her a husband and child.

So grab Nicki’s book and read it for yourself.  Let God speak to you.  Don’t live in defeat as a quitter.  Excel in the commitments where God has planted you.  As you read:  Let your thoughts become words, your words become actions, and your actions become reality.  Think in the long-term not in immediate gratification.  Remember:  “Refinement becomes redemption when we fulfill our responsibility to wait in expectation for the Redeemer to carry out HIS plans.”

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What Does a Donkey Have to do with My Destiny? (Part 2)

How do you respond to changes in your life?  Do you go in kicking and dragging your heel? Are you one of those that can’t leave anything behind, so you try to juggle the old and new? Very few of us are excited when changes come in our lives. Changes in our lives are unavoidable. It is how we deal with them and accept them that affect our destiny.

I can honestly say I am one that thinks long and hard before making changes. I like to hold on to the old and familiar. Recently, my dearly beloved 18-year-old recliner needed to be replaced. This recliner had moved with me three different times and has served me Chair 3well, but the time had come for it to be replaced.  I have been putting off getting a new one for several years thinking this one could last a little longer. However, over the past year it had started to lose its stuffing in several places from wear. Finally, I had no choice, I knew something had to be done!

So why did I delay getting a new one? You see, this old recliner really fits me just right. It is so comfortable. The arms are just the right size to hold the remote. It is just the right height. It reclines to just the right angle for sleeping and watching TV. It is what I know. I am happy and content and even a little lazy. This old recliner has been doing its job. I didn’t want to think about going and searching for something new. I didn’t want to face the unknown world of recliner shopping; the colors, the styles, the choices. I knew there would not be one like the one I already had, and I would rather hold on to what I knew than to face the unknown.  However, once the decision to order a new recliner had been made, the question became what to do with my old recliner. Should I get rid of it or keep it around just in case I needed it for some reason. Can you relate? Do you hang on to stuff just in case you need it? (Let me be honest, the real reason I want to keep the recliner around is as a safety measure just in case I don’t like my new recliner.)

Some of you may be saying, “Well Brea, I’m glad you got a new recliner, but that seems very small and insignificant compared to the changes that come into my life.” You are right, but the decision is still the same. Sometimes you have to be willing to let go of things in your past or current life to embrace the new, exciting, and unknown things God has for you in the future. Be it a new recliner, a new Lifegroup, a new bible study, a new church, a new circle of friends, a new ministry, a new career or job, a new relationship, a move to a different city or country, etc. … You get the idea.

In the last session of the Priscilla Shirer Live conference in Knoxville, Priscilla gave us some warnings of things to be prepared for as we chase our donkeys heading towards our destiny. (To understand, read Part 1 if you haven’t.) The word of warning that really stuck me was that sometimes God calls us to let things in our life go: friends, possessions, ambitions, plans, and desires. (She is not talking about your marriage!)  Wait a minute! That is change! I thought I could just carry on with my every day task of chasing my donkey while waiting for my destiny. I didn’t sign up to give anything up. But God’s ways are different from our ways and his thoughts are different from our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9) Sometimes we have to be willing to change to meet our destiny.

In 1 Samuel 9:27, Saul experienced having to give up something. He had to give up his servant that had been traveling with him. Samuel told him to let his servant go:

“When they reached the edge of town, Samuel told Saul to send his servant on ahead. After the servant was gone, Samuel said, “Stay here, for I have received a special message for you from God.”

Priscilla told us that sometimes in order for us to grasp the new things God has planned, we have to be willing to let go. Saul’s servant had served his purpose by pointing Saul to Samuel and faithfully working alongside of Saul chasing after those donkeys. Let’s be honest, sometimes it is others in our lives that encourage us and point out new opportunities in our lives. We just have to make the decision to follow their suggestions.

A little warning though: Don’t be like Balaam with his donkey (Numbers 22:8-35) and follow someone else’s suggestion or encouragement out of un-pure motives or rebellion and without actively seeking for God’s permission through prayer to move forward.  Draper Rogers detour-44163_640said in his sermon a few weeks ago: “Road blocks are not the enemy and when you encounter road blocks they can be God’s warning signs to you and should not be ignored.”  Make sure you are watching for the road signs while you chase your donkey.  Detours and unintended hazards are no fun and can slow you down.

But back to change. When change comes in your life how do you react: Are you excited?  Do you embrace this new change? Are the words from the song in the movie Frozen your motto: “Let it go! Let it go!” Do you embrace the words found in Isaiah 43:19 (NET) where the Lord says: “Look, I am about to do something new. Now it begins to happen! Do you not recognize it?  Yes, I will make a road in the desert and paths in the wilderness”?

Are you willing to drop everything and follow Jesus, just like his disciples?

In Matthew 4:19-22 (NET) Jesus said to them, “ ‘Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.’ They left their nets immediately and followed him. Going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. Then he called them. They immediately left the boat and their father and followed him.”

These disciples were willing to drop everything to follow Jesus.

Sometimes this is so hard to do. I have been known to flat-out rebel by refusing to make the change, or I try to juggle the old and the new. This never works. Can you relate to the rich man in Matthew 19:16-30 (NET), when he came to Jesus and asked him how he could gain eternal life? Jesus told him to keep the commandments, to which the rich man replied that he did, so what did he lack? Jesus replied: “ ‘If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich.” This man went away sorrowful, sad. He could not let his possessions go. He missed out on following Jesus for things. Do you let worldly possessions, your friends, family members, job, church, current ministries, etc. hold you back from following God to your destiny? Do you favor them and the security they bring over God?  These are some really tough questions! Let me say from experience it is better to willingly give something up than to have the Holy Spirit come in and strip things away as he cuts and prunes your life. The hurt is a lot worse when God has to purposely remove something or someone, than for us to acknowledge and obey God’s instruction when He asks us to let things or people go.

Giving up the familiar and stepping out into the unknown is scary. But God has said in Deuteronomy 31:5 (NET) “Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you!” Also in Isaiah 41:10 (NET) God tells us, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you! Don’t be frightened, for I am your God! I strengthen you—yes, I help you—yes, I uphold you with my saving right hand!”

So are you willing to let go and step out on Faith? At the conference, Priscilla said, “Our calling/destiny is not here. It is there. And we have to be willing to release what God has called us to let go of so that we can fully grasp the future he has planned.  If we choose to hold on to the past it limits our enjoyment of the life God has given us. God lays the table and invites us to come eat, but we have to decide to leave things behind and go.”

It is time for me to let my old recliner go and embrace many years with my new recliner. What is God calling you to leave behind or change in your life so that you can experience new and exciting things He has for your destiny?

What Does a Donkey Have to do with My Destiny? (Part 1)

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Recently, I attend a Priscilla Shiver Live event in Knoxville, Tennessee, with some ladies from our church. (Side note: if you ever have a chance to go hear her live – take it.  You will be blessed!)  During the weekend she taught from 1 Samuel 9:1 – 10:2 with a message I would title “You have to chase a few Donkeys to reach your Destiny.”

Priscilla said God has already made a pathway for our future. We don’t have to rely on luck or the stars to tell us our future when we know the Maker of the stars.  The only thing we have to do is be faithful in regular mundane duties and tasks and our lives will intersect with our destinies.  Here are some Biblical examples she gave:

Rebekah was just faithfully going about her daily task of drawing water from the well when she had an encounter that would change the trajectory her life.  She met the man who would take her to marry Isaac.

The Woman at the Well was faithfully drawing water when she met Jesus and he offered her living water. That day her life was changed.

David was faithfully attending the sheep when his father called him to take provisions to this brothers, and he met Goliath.  He was also faithfully attending the sheep when Samuel came to anoint him as the future king of Israel.  These two events changed the trajectory of David’s life.

The passage Priscilla spent session one on was Saul and his search for the donkeys.  Here is an abbreviated overview of the passage.  Saul has been tasked by his father to go and find the donkeys that had strayed away.  He was going about a very mundane everyday task, but along the way he met Samuel, a Man of God.  Samuel had been sent to the city by the LORD to anoint Saul as the future king of Israel.  The task of chasing the donkeys set Saul on the path to meet his destiny.

Here are a few things to remember about chasing our donkeys:

  • It will not bring us fame on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
  • It does not matter if your family has failed to chase the donkeys before.  This is your chase not your family’s.
  • Your attributes, beauty or lack of beauty, skills or lack of skills, do not matter.
  • You have to make a conscious choice to chase the donkey.
  • We can’t be lazy or have apathy for chasing the donkeys.
  • You can’t think that chasing the donkey is not worth your time.
  • You have to faithfully keep chasing the donkeys until God moves you on.
  • You have to constantly be praying and seeking direction for the path and destiny the donkeys will take.
  • Sometimes you have to keep chasing the donkeys even if you know your destiny because it can take years to come to fruition. Just ask Abraham and Moses. God revealed to them their destiny, but it was years before it was fulfilled in their lives.
  • Don’t get ahead of your donkeys thinking you know where they are going. They may just take a different path.
  • Don’t grow tried and frustrated or be willing to quit chasing your donkey. Your destiny might just be around the next corner.
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Donkeys can be smelly and dirty and stubborn and not much fun.

You see Saul was ready to give up. He was tired, hungry, frustrated and had already traveled through 5 countries. He was ready to return home to his Father and admit defeat. But Saul’s servant encouraged Saul to continue on and seek out Samuel to inquire where the donkeys may be found. God was already preparing the way. God had told Samuel to prepare and watch for Saul. Saul only had to walk the path God had already laid out for him.

Are you chasing the donkeys set before you waiting for your destiny to come? Or are you sitting back doing nothing waiting for your destiny to cross your path? Mary Margaret Collingsworth, an employee at Lifeway and a speaker at the You Lead conference I also attended while in Knoxville, said “God wants us to be doing the everyday, not just looking towards the big picture and waiting for something to happen.”

Are you a single woman waiting on God to bring your future husband?  Then you need to be walking in purity and doing the task that God has laid before you faithfully.  One day, if it is God’s will that perfect husband will cross your path; however, if we are just sitting back and waiting on God to bring him to our front porch we might be waiting a long time. Are you a married woman who is tasked with folding the clothes and raising children? Are you faithfully fulfilling these task while you wait for God to bring your destiny? Be it writing a bible study or teaching a lifegroup or ladies bible study or homeschooling your children. We all want to know what our future holds, but are we being obedient and doing the things we already have scheduled on our calendars. Are we looking for new opportunities to serve God?  Are we willing to do those tasks we despise? What if you knew they were tied to your destiny?

Priscilla asked us if we were waiting for the current season in our life to be over thinking the next one would be greater.  A single feels she can’t wait to get married, and doesn’t enjoy her time of being single.  A young couple can’t wait to have children but miss the time of togetherness they have to build their marriage.  An older lady can’t wait to retire.  What about a job you can’t wait to leave? Something you agreed to do that you can’t wait to be over? You get the idea. Are you racing through every season of our life waiting to get to the next and missing out on the blessing of the current season you are in? We all do it. We are spending all our time waiting for our current situation to be over instead of looking for the blessing God has for us.

So as you chase your donkeys, be on the lookout for your destiny.  Keep being faithful to the small, mundane task.  Don’t wish your life away and miss out on what God has planned for you. Don’t be so worried about the big picture God has for you that you miss the snapshots of God working on in your everyday life. Don’t get bogged down and feel that what you are doing does not have purpose. Everything you do has a purpose.  You may just not be able to see its worth yet. When Saul completed his task and arrived at the appointed place and time there was a reward waiting for him – a feast in his honor, a special message from God, anointing for his destiny, and word that the donkeys had been found.

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Faithfully do the task before you as you wait for God to bring you to your destiny!