Saturday, October 22, 2011


"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

Expectations. Anticipation. Outlook. Hope. Do I start each day looking forward to what the day might bring? Do I anticipate that God is going to do wonderful things for me today? Is my outlook on life sunny and full of hope? Some days yes; some days no.

It all depends on my plans for the day. If, like today, I have a day full of fun things planned, I wake up excited, anticipating spending time with family and friends. If I have a day full of work planned, not so excited. Yet, in this verse, God tells me to "hold unswervingly to the hope" I profess. In other words, I should expect His best for me today and everyday.

Today is God's gift to me. He didn't promise today to me; He gave it to me. And, since He gave me this day to treasure, who am I to be unhappy with it? Psalm 118:24 (NIV) reminds me that, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." He doesn't tell me to just think about rejoicing about the day ahead. He doesn't say be happy only if I have something good planned. There are no caveats or excuses. I should be expecting blessings, should be actively looking for them.

God intends for us to live each day to the fullest, whether it's working overtime at a job we really don't like or spending the day with people we really do like. Whether we wake up with the "blahs" or we wake up overflowing with joy. If we profess to be Christians, we really have no excuse not to celebrate the day. Jesus is alive and well and sitting at the right hand of God, isn't He? He gives us the hope of eternity in Heaven and life everlasting, doesn't He? Everything else in our life is bonus!!

God is faithful. God loves me unconditionally. God keeps His promises. God is awesome, all-powerful, benevolent, merciful and gracious. God is hope. Everyday begins and ends with Him. There is always something to be thankful for. It's up to me to expect it and be looking for it.

"Put your expectations on God, not on people." - Joyce Meyer

Awesome God, You've gifted me with another beautiful day. Let me celebrate it and expect blessings from You. I pray that I will live today to it's fullest; tomorrow is not a given. May I share the hope that You've given me, in the form of Your Son, Jesus, with all those I come into contact with today, so that they may also begin to expect Your blessings in their lives. Thank You for being such a faithful, loving God. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Having an Attitude of Gratitude

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:18b (NIV)

There's a book out by M. J. Ryan called Attitudes of Gratitude. I haven't read it yet but it's on my list of "to be read". The title says it all, though, and goes right along with this verse.

I'm to have an attitude of gratitude in ALL circumstances in my life. Yes, ALL!! Not just when things are going smoothly and life is grand. I'm also to have that kind of attitude when everything in my life is in turmoil and heading straight down the toilet. There are several verses in the Bible to back this up.

Hebrews 12:28 (NIV): "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe."
Psalm 100:4 (NIV): "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name."
1 Timothy 2:1 (NIV): "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone."
Psalm 107:1 (NIV): "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever."  

I'm sure you're thinking to yourself, "God doesn't really mean that I'm supposed to be thankful no matter what, does He?" My answer to you (and to myself) is, "Yes He does". It's His will for us, just as this verse says. "My husband lost his job, our house is in foreclosure, we have bills we can't pay and I'm supposed to be thankful!?" Yes! "My kids won't listen, my boss is a jerk, my husband ignores me and I'm supposed to be thankful!?" Yes! "My health is terrible, I don't have good insurance, I can't pay my deductible and I'm supposed to be thankful!?" Yes! Whatever scenario is playing out in our lives, we make the decision to have an attitude of gratitude....or not.

If you can't find anything to be thankful for in your life, then you've chosen not to have an attitude of gratitude. You've closed yourself off to the miracles God performs each and every day. There's always, ALWAYS something in your life to thank God for, if you choose to open your eyes and mind to the blessings He has bestowed upon you.  

Just like you, I have a choice of two different attitudes. Choice #1: moan, whine and complain. Choice #2: pray, laugh and praise. I don't know about you, but I know which choice makes me feel better and I also know I'd rather be around someone who chooses to be thankful. There is nothing worse than being around someone, who, no matter how good they have it, thinks they have the worst life ever. They never have enough of anything good in their life. And they sure don't want to hear about your problems, do they?

I want to be a woman with an attitude of gratitude to my Lord. No matter what circumstances I find myself in, I want to be able to find the blessings. Right now, as all 5 grandkids are here, fighting and arguing loudly with each other, I am thankful that they are all here and healthy. I am thankful that they keep me on my toes. I am thankful that they keep me young. I am thankful that, even as they frustrate me sometimes, they make me laugh even more often. An attitude of gratitude makes all the difference!!

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances." - Martha Washington

Dear Lord, let me be a woman of gratitude. I have been so blessed by You in my life. Let me be humble and thankful in all circumstances. Let me praise You in word and deed today and every day. May my attitude bring You all the glory. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen. 

Give It To God

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." - Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

This is one of my favorite verses. I have this one memorized and it's one I love to quote. It's the verse I fall back on when life is handing me worries, fears and anxieties.

God is telling me I have nothing in this world that I should be worried about. Not my finances, not my health, not my relationships, not my kids or grandkids.....absolutely NOTHING!! I wish I could say I always do as this verse tells me, however, as a human being and sinner, I do let my fears and anxieties take hold of me. I am learning, though, to "let go and let God" much sooner than I used to.

In 1 Chronicles 28:20b (NIV), David tells his son, Solomon, "Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." These words also apply to me today. God is always with me. He won't distance Himself or turn His back on me. I'm the one who does that to Him. When I do, He waits patiently for me to get my act together and lay my troubles at His feet.

But it's not just my troubles He expects. He also expects me to see, even in the midst of disappointment or tragedy, that I still have things to be thankful for. Sometimes it's very difficult to see the blessings He has bestowed on me but it's not because they're not there. It's because I refuse to look for them. Sometimes, I want to be the victim. I want others to feel sorry for me because of this awful thing I'm going through, whatever it may be. However, if I may paraphrase this verse, God says, "SUCK IT UP!! Turn to me, give me your problem. I'm here, let me help you!!"

I'm so grateful to know that I don't have to face anything alone. God is here, He is available, He is waiting....the rest is up to me. He's more than able to lead me through my fear, heartache, uncertainty, frustration, anger....I just have to give it all to Him.

"We must lay our questions, frustrations, anxieties and impotence at the feet of God and wait for His answer. And then receiving it, we must live by faith." - Kay Arthur

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to me when I am so unfaithful to You. I love this verse, Lord. Remind me of it when I am going through adversity. May I turn to You first instead of last. You are always with me and for that I am grateful. Teach me not to fear, Lord, but to leave everything at Your feet and trust that You will take care of me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Finding Enjoyment

"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." - John 16:24 (NIV)

I woke up this morning still feeling "blah" (I'm sure there's a better word to describe the feeling but this one works best for me!). Thought it was going to be another day of not wanting to get anything done. I sat down at my desk to check my emails, delaying opening my Bible and doing my morning reading. God had other ideas for my day, though. 

I receive daily devotions in my email so, as I was checking them, I came across one from Joni & Friends. It was about taking by force that which is promised us in the Bible, no matter what obstacles Satan places in our paths. Then, I read one from Proverbs 31 Ministry about being tired of waiting on God. About praying the same thing every day and feeling like God's not hearing the prayers. It gave Isaac as an example of someone in the Bible who prayed, pleaded and begged God, daily, but never lost faith that his prayers would eventually be answered. And it started to hit me, that's what's been going on with me. I've allowed Satan to place obstacles in my path and have been expecting God to just reach right down and take them out of my life. I want Him to fulfill His promises without any work on my part. That's not going to happen.

Then the strangest thing happened: the "blahs" started to lift. They lifted even more when I read today's passage in "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. It talked about how, if I focus on the obstacles, I'll go off course, but if I focus on Jesus, before I know it, the obstacles will be behind me and I'll hardly know how I passed through them. Another devotion on obstacles? Wow! That's it!! I've been focusing on the obstacles; I've gotten off course!! So, now what? Well, thank God these devotions are fairly short because I still hadn't gotten to the one I do my daily Bible study on. And when I opened up that book, this verse in John is what God gave me. I haven't been looking for enjoyment in anything. Not prayer, not the Bible, not my grandkids, not my husband, not my friends....not in anything! I've been able to laugh but it had to be something so obvious that I couldn't help but laugh. But, just to see the joy in everyday living...hasn't been happening. So, I bowed my head and had a heart-to-heart with God. I cried (we women have to do that from time to time, no matter how much we don't want to) and I asked Him to help me to find my joy again. I told Him I wanted to take back by force the enjoyment in life that I have allowed Satan to steal from me. I intend for my focus to get back on Jesus and get back on course. But I can't do it alone and I asked Him to strengthen me and to help me find the things today that will make me smile and laugh and bring joy into my heart. Things that I've overlooked in my focus on Satan's obstacles. My intention today is to find enjoyment in the little granddaughter's giggle, the dogs chasing each other through the house, a clean kitchen, a beautiful sunshiny day, a cleansing shower, my sister's encouraging text message and even Dennis' corny jokes! I'm thumbing my nose at Satan and his "blahs"!! Now that's something that's bringing me enjoyment!

"I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life. God gave life that I might enjoy all things" - Author Unknown

Heavenly Father, You knew just what I needed today and everyday and for that I am truly thankful. Please open my eyes and heart to the joy You provide for me daily. I want to find enjoyment in all aspects of this life. Help me to focus on Jesus and not on the obstacles Satan places in my way. I ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Overcoming the "Blahs"

"Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." - John 12:26 (NIV)

I've been feeling a bit "blah" about things lately and today seems to be extra "blah". I've released right at 40 pounds over the last 10 months but for the last 3 weeks or so, I've just been stuffing my face with doughnuts, candy, cake, fattening foods...whatever. Usually, clutter and a messy house drive me crazy (just ask Dennis!!) but, lately, I don't care if the dishes are piled in the sink, there's dog hair all over the place or there's an inch of dust on everything. For months, I've been excited and enthusiastic about getting up in the morning, having my prayer and Bible study time and then writing this blog. Maybe (or maybe not) you've noticed that I've been posting at odd times for the last couple of weeks. I've been finding "other" things to occupy my thoughts and time, instead.

I haven't quite been able to pinpoint what's going on with me. I'm not exactly sure where this lack of desire to eat properly, take care of myself and my home and spend time with God is coming from. But I know from whom it's coming. Satan, the devil, the enemy....whatever you want to call doing his best to give me the "blahs". I also know who is working to help me to overcome these feelings. Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God...He's more than capable of overcoming Satan and the "blahs". So, the question for me is: who am I serving?

If actions speak louder than words, as my last blog stated, then the answer would have to be that I am serving Satan. As much as I don't like that answer, I have to admit that I sure don't feel that my current actions have been pleasing to Jesus. I still pray first thing in the morning but I feel lately like it's selfish prayer. It's seems to me that I pray for the same things every morning. God help ME be more like Jesus, keep ME from giving in to discouragement, let ME be a testimony.....with a little bit of praise, worship, help others and thank You for my blessings mixed in. Then all I want to do is "veg out" - check emails, play games on my phone, get on FB, watch TV...ignore my conscience that is telling me there's Bible study to do, a house to clean, dishes in the sink, laundry piling up, phone calls to return, work to be done. For example: Dennis & I belong to a game night group that meets at each others houses once a month....kind of like Bunco. This month it's our turn to host and it's in two days. So I'm house cleaning today, right?...No. I've figured out what game we're playing, right?...No. I've figured out and grocery shopped the food I'm serving, right?...No. I'll get it all done and figured out before 6:30 PM Wednesday, right?...Yes I will. I always do but not usually at the last minute.

I don't want to serve Satan. I don't want him getting any satisfaction from my actions. I want my actions to be pleasing to God. So, how do I get rid of these "blahs"? How do I get back the excitement and enthusiasm for this life I've been given? How do I get back on track with my food choices? How do I get back on track in taking care of the home God has blessed me with? The answer is in this verse: follow Jesus. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. His love has the power to change everything. He'll get rid of the "blahs" in my life. Then, when my actions speak, they will be saying: she serves Jesus!

"It's your heart that Jesus longs for: your will to be made His own with self on the cross forever, and Jesus alone on the throne." - Ruth Bell Graham

Dear Jesus, I don't want to continue to live with the "blahs" and serve the enemy. I want to be serving You with excitement and enthusiasm. I want a heart filled to the brim with love for You. I know You have the power to change my life: the way I feel, the way I think, the way I speak and the things I do. Please, dear Lord, have Your way with me. Make me a follower and a faithful servant to You. I ask in Your name, Amen.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Word or the World

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power." - 1 Corinthians 4:20 (NIV)
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV) 
Time did not allow me to get my blog done Saturday so I'm playing catch up tonight, but God has made it very clear to me why that was. My studies for both of those days had to pretty much do with the same thing: being a role model.

There's an old saying, "Actions speak louder than words." and it's very, very true. Another old saying is "Talk is cheap". I can profess all day long to be a Christian but if my actions don't back up my words, who's going to believe me?! I'm a role model for the love and saving power of Jesus Christ and, like it or not, people are watching me. Am I living in the Word or in the world?

God really wants me to get this concept of how He expects me to live my life. Not only have several of my Bible studies been about this topic lately, but we've been doing a series about discipleship at church over the last few weeks that is just hammering this home to me. What exactly does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? It means I am an apprentice, a student of this man called Jesus. It means I will do everything to learn to become like Him. It means that, unlike the world -- which, for the last few decades has been plagued by this disease called selfishness -- I must learn to deny myself and put others wants and needs before my own. Philippians 2:2-5 (NIV) says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.". Am I living in the Word or in the world?

I would love to say I live in the Word from the time my eyes pop open in the morning to the time I collapse in bed at night but I'd be lying. I start every day with very good intentions....until my feet hit the floor. Then Satan goes to work. And there are days when I find it extremely difficult to stay out of the world. My "it's all about me" attitude rears it's ugly head and off I go! Me, myself and I are out to play!! And, if I'm not careful, if I don't nip my self-centeredness in the bud, if I don't get into a conversation with God and get my head back into His Word, then I become a role model for Satan. Unfortunately though, because I do profess to be a believer, Jesus is the one who gets the bad rap when I live in the world, not the devil. There's one more old saying that I want to quote: "It's good to be saved and know it! But it's better to be saved and show it!".

My actions should back up my words. My behavior should serve as an example of who Jesus really is - the Beloved Son of God who offers salvation to everyone who just reaches out and accepts Him into their heart as their Savior. Barbara Johnson observed, "In your desire to share the gospel, you may be the only Jesus someone else will ever meet. Be real and be involved with people.". That's the role model I want to be. I am making a conscious effort, daily, with God's help, to be a disciple of Jesus. I am striving to be kinder, more compassionate, more joyous and hopeful. I am striving to walk in Jesus footsteps and not look out for #1 but to make others #1 before me. Am I always successful? No. Am I getting better at it? Yes! With God's guidance and wisdom, I can live more in the Word and less in the world.

"Living life with a consistent spiritual walk deeply influences those we love most." - Vonette Bright

Lord Jesus, I want to be a role model for you; a genuine example of Your love and righteousness. I know that, as a believer, others see You through my actions and my behavior. May I be ever conscious of the image of You I project. Lord, help me to keep my heart and eyes focused on the Word and not the world. In Your precious name, Amen.