Reaping What We Sow

Today was the perfect day for me to return to my church home.  Not because it is just a beautiful day weather wise, or because I was awake before the alarm clock sounded.  Not even because, though I was blocked in I managed to get out of the driveway.  This day was perfect because God is perfect and so many things fell into place that I am confident today was meant to be my once again return to church.

It actually began last night when I was listening to some messages online from another church I had been considering trying out for a home place to worship.  The messages are in a series titled, “Unpopular”.  I totally understand why that is too, because there is nothing warm and fuzzy about the messages that were preached over the summer at White Water Christian Church.

The first message was about how it isn’t all about me.  The second on sexual morality.  Mind you I know this, but it was still a bit of a sting.  In choosing a place to return too for worship and being fed I’ve been more concerned about me and far less about doctrine and teaching, and that Christ is glorified above all else.  My heart attitude has been pretty selfish.  I want what I want as far as music for the services, attitudes in others toward me, church on my terms.  Well that isn’t how it works if I want to be taught something solid.  We’re to be imitators of Christ, and that means it cannot be all about me.

In my life I have spent many years justifying things.  First through the swinger years but that is another post, then through being single and feeling that it was okay to have sex with the guys I was dating.  I heard my own words echo back in the sermon message last night, “I know it’s wrong but what am I supposed to do, deny myself????”  Well yes, yes that is exactly what I am to do. Christ denied Himself, came to earth as a man and died.  We are in fact to deny ourselves, imitate Christ, pick up our crosses and walk.  God’s word is not known for its grey areas.  Certainly there are things it does not address, but it isn’t hard to figure out what the right answers would be in relation to God’s word.  Sex outside of marriage isn’t a grey area.  Adultery is pretty specific too.

If it’s about Christ, as my life should be, then it isn’t about me.

If He is in control, I’m not.

If He is God, I am not.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” ~ Jim Elliot

“Attitude reflects leadership” – Remember The Titans

What does my attitude say about who leads my life?

I went out of here ready for church, with my car blocked in by my niece.  My fault, I didn’t think of it last night so I could get my car in last or put it on the street.  So, determined that I was going, I drove through the lawn to the neighbor’s driveway to leave.    Sunday school was in the book of Judges.  While it spoke to me, and was good for me to hear, it was more about what was to come.  The service really got under  my skin and down into my heart.  From the  opening chorus, then hymn, the reception of a new member (mostly her testimony), the scripture reading  which was Psalm 1 (below) and then the hymn, When Trials Come which is SO good that I’m including the video from Youtube and you should watch and listen, the beat picks up and it’s a beautiful hymn, and  then finally the message from Pastor.  His message was from Galatians 6:7-8.  This was entirely too timely given the messages I heard last night.

Galatians 6:7-8

New King James Version (NKJV)

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

WOW do I know the truth of that passage.  For years was a lifestyle that sowed seeds of sin with each fantasy, encounter, etc. and we reaped sin in return.  The final reaping being the end of the marriage.  The consequences were high.  When we attended church we were a better couple, when we started sowing seeds of wrong doing in a sinful field, we fell apart.  That lifestyle was all about self, desires, appetite and little or no thought for God.  The end result was corruption.

But now, my desire is to sow not to my flesh but to the Spirit.  Good seeds so what grows in my life is good.  Not an easy task but then in Christ I can do anything.

I had someone recently tell me basically good luck finding a man, even a professing believer, willing to wait til marriage for sex.   My thought…if he IS a believer he will desire to wait as well.  If not then obviously he is not the one for me.  If I never find him, then I was meant for single life.  There is no grey area.

Psalm 1

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Way of the Righteous and the End of the Ungodly

1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

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Once Again…Coincidence?

This morning was not a good one. I did not want to get up for anything, but I did.  Again I pulled myself out of my bed and went to Sunday School and church, and again the Lord showed me He is with me.

The music I chose to listen to as I tried so hard to focus my heart and ready it for worship, was the Fernando Ortega CD Jane gave me when I came back to church the first Sunday in December.  The song that I  got stuck in my head and heart while listening….was the song sung as service began, Fernando Ortega’s, sang by Cameron who I had no clue could sing until last week when he  and Jesse sang the song that I had been listening to at home.  Two Sundays in a row now the song I am listening too for quieting my heart and preparing for church, is the song sung AT church.  Nope, no coincidence at all!

Then, in Jeremiah 29, where Pastor  has been preaching, is one of my favorite passages, only today, my word for 2011 stuck out, bringing new life to verses  for me.

SO glad I went today!!!!

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (New American Standard Bible)

11‘For I know the (A)plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for (B)welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a (C)hope.

12‘Then you will (D)call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will (E)listen to you.

13‘You will (F)seek Me and find Me when you (G)search for Me with all your heart.

Funny thing, we use the New King James translation at church, but today I had my New American Standard.  I  WILL seek Him and FIND Him.

Here is the song:

Ever Seeking

Being sick derailed me a bit, I missed church 2 Sundays and a Wednesday thanks to the cold/sinus infection/flu bug…whatever that was.  But today I was there and SO thankful.  Great Sunday school lesson on eschatology and a great sermon on the two cups, one of God’s wrath and one of the blessings to the believer.  I was so thankful pastor opted to preach first today, and hold  communion until after the sermon.

I really needed to think hard about the wrath that was poured out on Christ for my sins, a cup He prayed and asked the Father if there be any other way at all to let it pass when in the garden the night before He was crucified.  God’s wrath toward our sin must be unimaginable.  Equally the cup of blessing to those that are redeemed by the blood that was spilled under that wrath, must be unimaginable.

The teaching time was very important to my considering if I take my sin too lightly.  The answer of course is yes.  I needed that  focus before  communion, to pray and refocus on my walk.  The more I seek God, the more I will see my sin for what it is and turn from it.  I will not do it perfectly.  I will slip, stumble and fall.  But I will keep brushing myself off, standing back up, and continuing to walk on the road less traveled.

Ever seeking.

I Am Wonderfully Made

There are times when I really can beat myself up like no one else could.  I am without a doubt my own worst critic and when I get on a roll it is so easy to rip myself apart  from one end  to the other, finding fault in everything I think,  say or do.  I’ve made  enough mistakes in my life that I have plenty of ammunition for the assault on myself, so I need no assistance from others.  Though often it is others that trigger it, and there is nothing that can get under my skin like someone finding fault with me.  I  spent a lot of years with self esteem that  was almost non-existent so it pains me a lot when someone dislikes me, especially when I don’t really understand why.

But then I remember that my worth is not in the minds of others around me.   My worth is not really even my own.  Any value is in Christ.  God sees me through the blood of His beloved Son, making me priceless, and whole, and perfect.  In Christ I am everything I should be, though that perfection won’t be seen this side of eternity, it is there.  And it is now how I try to steer my thinking about myself.  As my favorite Jason Gray song says, “I am not defined by mistakes that I’ve made”.  And I’m not. I’m defined by who I am now with renewed faith. 

Psalm 139 says that I am ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.  WONDERFULLY made, and that God  knew everything about me down to how many days I will be on this earth, long before I ever was conceived.  I would say that makes me pretty darn spectacular, mistakes and all.  Jason’s song goes nicely with this Psalm, which is one of my very favorites!

Psalm 139 (New King James Version)

 

Psalm 139

For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

 1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
         You understand my thought afar off.
 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
         And are acquainted with all my ways.
 4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
         But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
 5 You have hedged me behind and before,
         And laid Your hand upon me.
 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
         It is high, I cannot attain it.
         
 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
         Or where can I flee from Your presence?
 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
         If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
 9 If I take the wings of the morning,
         And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
         And Your right hand shall hold me.
 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
         Even the night shall be light about me;
 12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
         But the night shines as the day;
         The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
         
 13 For You formed my inward parts;
         You covered me in my mother’s womb.
 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b]
         Marvelous are Your works,
         And that my soul knows very well.
 15 My frame was not hidden from You,
         When I was made in secret,
         And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
         And in Your book they all were written,
         The days fashioned for me,
         When as yet there were none of them.
         
 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
         How great is the sum of them!
 18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
         When I awake, I am still with You.
         
 19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
         Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
 20 For they speak against You wickedly;
         Your enemies take Your name in vain.[c]
 21 Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You?
         And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
 22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
         I count them my enemies.
         
 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
         Try me, and know my anxieties;
 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
         And lead me in the way everlasting. 

Diamond In The Making

James 1:2-4 (New King James Version)

 Profiting from Trials

   2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:2-4 (Amplified Bible)

2Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.

    3Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.

    4But 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.

~*~*~*~

I could just let those verses be my post!  Patience…I  have next to none.  I want what I want,  when I want it, which would be now.  But good things take time.  Certainly the Lord could just touch me and make me patient, a quiet and gentle spirit, etc.  But what would I really gain from that?  I’d not see the blessings unfold one at a time as my dependence is more and more on Him and less and less on myself. I’d not need to cry out in my heart for strength to get through the hard times, or need to be in His Word to find encouragement and guidance.  Without the hardships, I’d not have anything to compare the good things too, which cause me to praise Him.  Every single thing we go through helps to strip away the bad and purify the good.  The dross floats to the surface and can be removed so we are refined like silver.  Trust me there is plenty of dross in this vessel, but I’m a work in progress.

 Diamonds are formed within the earth under extreme pressure and temperature.  Silver and gold are purified under extreme heat to cause impurities and dross to float to the surface, and faith is made strong through trials….the heat and pressure in our lives.  Not that we want to  pray for difficulties, but when pain and adversity do come along, it can be for our good, as it causes us to lean on the Lord, pray, and draw closer to Him.  More of Him, less of me = “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

 

Hanging On Tightly

With the honeymoon over now, in my renewed faith,  I know that my friends are correct, I need to be in the word and prayer daily.  I’ve been at a real loss has  to how to pray about my hurt over not being with my kids like I used too, and the bitterness I feel trying to creep in on me.  I’m thankful that when I have no expressible words, God knows my heart and  what is there and will hold me up.  I pray for strength to not let go of His hand, not stop turning to His word, and just hold on tightly.

I opened my bible to seek comfort there in the word and found it immediately:

Romans 5:1-5 (New King James Version)

Romans 5

Faith Triumphs in Trouble

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:1-5 (Amplified Bible)

Romans 5

1THEREFORE, SINCE we are justified ([a]acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to [b]enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

2Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.

3Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.

4And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of [c]character (approved faith and [d]tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] [e]joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.

5Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.

Praise the Lord!!!

Where Does My Help Come From?

This morning when I woke up the first thing I did was reached for my bible.  I was seeking comfort and assurance as I am wrestling internally over the news that my mother’s cancer has returned.   I hate the unknown, and I’m trying to keep my thoughts from going into a panic mode.   As a daughter of the Most High, naturally my comfort should be sought in Him and so I wanted to see what His  word would be today to hold me up.  Psalm 121 was what I came across, another one I need to memorize!   It did bring comfort to me, as well as the verse hanging on my wall, Isaiah 41:10.  These will be my strength verses to meditate on today.

Isaiah 41:10 (New King James Version)

10 Fear not, for I am with you;
      Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
      I will strengthen you,
      Yes, I will help you,
      I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Psalm 121

A Song of Ascents.

 1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
         From whence comes my help?
 2 My help comes from the LORD,
         Who made heaven and earth.
         
 3 He will not allow your foot to be moved;
         He who keeps you will not slumber.
 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
         Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
         
 5 The LORD is your keeper;
         The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
 6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
         Nor the moon by night.
         
 7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
         He shall preserve your soul.
 8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
         From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Psalm 51 And My Journey

After coming away from a very dark and sinful way of life, I’ve been working my way back up on to the path to God.  My friends, Jane and Dan, have embraced and wrapped around me in prayer and support.  I dearly love them and missed them so much while away from the church family.

This past Sunday, Dan gave me the book “The Way Back To God” using Psalm 51 as its basis and the story of King David.  A man after God’s heart, called that by God Himself, David slipped in his walk and fell hard into dark sin that included adultery and murder.  Yet due to his sincere repentance God forgave his horrid transgressions.  David still paid the consequences of his sins, God took his new son from him among other severe outcomes to his failure to walk without sin.  But God was merciful and restored David to Himself.

It is because of David that I know that my own walk and faith are able to be restored.  David is a wonderful example of a true, believing heart, falling into the depths of sin and yet returning to be restored in his faith and salvation.  I know that I too am forgiven.  I’ve paid a horrible price in the end of my 22 year marriage.  The sinful way in which we were living no doubt resulted in the ultimate disintegration of what was once a solid, loving relationship.  I also lost living in my home, living with my beautiful daughter and sharing in her day to day life, and all the blessings that went with residing in our marital residence.  But God’s hand never left me completely, and while I gave up so much, He is blessing me with goodness and mercy that I do not deserve.  How could I not repent, bend my knees in submission to the Most High and desire to serve and love Him as He has so loved me?

My next memory passage when I am finished memorizing Psalm 103 will be Psalm 51.  What a beautiful reminder of God’s love, grace and mercy toward His children!

Psalm 51

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

 1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
         According to Your lovingkindness;
         According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
         Blot out my transgressions.
 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
         And cleanse me from my sin.
         
 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,
         And my sin is always before me.
 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,
         And done this evil in Your sight—
         That You may be found just when You speak,[a]
         And blameless when You judge.
         
 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
         And in sin my mother conceived me.
 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
         And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
         
 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
         Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
         That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
 9 Hide Your face from my sins,
         And blot out all my iniquities.
         
 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
         And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
         And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
         
 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
         And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
         And sinners shall be converted to You.
         
 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
         The God of my salvation,
         And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
 15 O Lord, open my lips,
         And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
 16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
         You do not delight in burnt offering.
 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
         A broken and a contrite heart—
         These, O God, You will not despise.
         
 18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
         Build the walls of Jerusalem.
 19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
         With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
         Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Snow….

I really try hard to dislike snow, but when it is coming down and looking so beautiful out there it is difficult to dislike it.  The current flakes are the big ones, and coming down like a snow globe at the moment.  I love that my desk is by my window so I can work and watch it coming down. 

I decided to see what the Bible had to say about snow…and don’t you know the first thing I find speaks to my heart and are passages I am very familiar with:

Isaiah 1:17-19 (New King James Version)

17 Learn to do good;
      Seek justice,
      Rebuke the oppressor;[a]
      Defend the fatherless,
      Plead for the widow.
       18 “ Come now, and let us reason together,”
      Says the LORD,

      “ Though your sins are like scarlet,
      They shall be as white as snow;
      Though they are red like crimson,
      They shall be as wool.
       19 If you are willing and obedient,
      You shall eat the good of the land;

Psalm 51:6-8 (New King James Version)

 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
         And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
         
 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
         Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
         That the bones You have broken may rejoice.

 Okay, a good way to look at the snow, as a reminder that when washed in the blood of Christ, we are pure, whiter than snow, before the Father.  Okay okay so snow CAN be a good thing.  🙂

Memorizing God’s Word

Long ago I had set out to memorize Psalm 103.  In teaching the children at church we emphasized the need for memorizing scripture, and gave memory verses each week for them to work on.  It didn’t feel right not to work on memorizing myself so I set out to commit that Psalm to my mind.  I got to about 1/2 or 2/3s before I let my heart be numb and stopped.

This week my friend, Jane, has been staying in touch and holding me accountable in my walk.  Stan has also gently addressed some areas with me that need attention.  It is never easy to look at the areas that come up but all are in need of some work.  Jane is going to memorize the same Psalm.  It was interesting to me that we both were reading different passages in the Word this week, yet both of us were in sections dealing with our mouth or speech.  I certainly need to be guarding my mouth and the mind that drives the words that  come from it, and the heart that directs the mind.  It has come to light for me that I’ve not fully forgiven my ex-husband either, something I really need to do. 

Anyway, it is hard to meditate on what I cannot recall, so I’ll be working on getting Psalm 103 memorized in the coming days.

Psalm 103

A Psalm of David.

 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul;
         And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
         And forget not all His benefits:
 3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
         Who heals all your diseases,
 4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
         Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
         So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
         
 6 The LORD executes righteousness
         And justice for all who are oppressed.
 7 He made known His ways to Moses,
         His acts to the children of Israel.
 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious,
         Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
 9 He will not always strive with us,
         Nor will He keep His anger forever.
 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
         Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
         
 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
         So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
 12 As far as the east is from the west,
         So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
 13 As a father pities his children,
         So the LORD pities those who fear Him.
 14 For He knows our frame;
         He remembers that we are dust.
         
 15 As for man, his days are like grass;
         As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
 16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
         And its place remembers it no more.[a]
 17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
         On those who fear Him,
         And His righteousness to children’s children,
 18 To such as keep His covenant,
         And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
         
 19 The LORD has established His throne in heaven,
         And His kingdom rules over all.
         
 20 Bless the LORD, you His angels,
         Who excel in strength, who do His word,
         Heeding the voice of His word.
 21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
         You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
 22 Bless the LORD, all His works,
         In all places of His dominion.
         
         Bless the LORD, O my soul!