July 23, 2017

About Teresa Bolme

Teresa Bolme – Author, Blog Contributor
Teresa lives in middle Tennessee with David (her husband of 27 years), eight daughters (23 years – 15 years old). She has been a not-so-stay-at-home mom for the last 18+ years. She is her family’s biggest cheerleader, devoted counselor and caretaker. God has chosen to use Teresa to reach broken children, teens and women (most who were broken as children). She has been a ministry planter, a home missionary and a support to ministry families and staff. She is currently completing her degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Christian Counseling with Liberty University Online. Teresa wrote her first book titled "I AM - Discovering the Character of God through the revelation of Scripture" as a Bible study used here on Girlfriends Coffee Hour.

“I AM” Chapter 7 – Day 1: 7 “I AM’s” in Revelation

2Chron7_14_IAM

Revelation is more than just the end of the Bible.  It is more than the end of time, or the end of the world.  A revelation is a new realization of something you previously had not known or understood.  It could be revealing of a secret.  A revelation is definitely a gaining of knowledge you can use to apply to your life.

Here we are at the end.  The last week of our study.  The omegathe last.  There are seven more “I AM’s” for us to look at this week.  As we conclude our study together, we find that four of them use the term “Alpha and Omega”.  The word nerd in me had to look these up for us.  Let me show you a couple of things I have learned.  (Warning: This will be cheesy!)

  • The New Testament was written in Greek, the Old Testament in Hebrew (mainly).  Alpha and Omega are the first and the last letters in the Greek alphabet and signify the “beginning and the end” or eternity.    The Greek “alpha” was derived from the Hebrew “aleph.”  (Doing a Happy Dance!)  The Hebrew name for aleph sounds like “eleph” or ox.  An ox is a leader and leads the other letters in the alphabet.  (Get it?  The alpha – bet?)
  • Ox comes into play in our culture, too.  How many times have we signed a greeting card with oxoxox?  Did you know you were actually sending God’s love to that person?  These are Christian symbols introduced through the ages, based on the Bible and the Great I AM.  Don’t get me started on crossing your fingers….
  • The Hebrew word for truth – “emet” is made up of the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  This kind of consistency makes me dance with joy.  Our God is a God of order.  No matter what language or dialect you speak, His TRUTH will always be the same.  He is “I AM”.

From the Prophet Isaiah, “I AM the first and the last”  (Isaiah 44:6) to the Psalmist, “From everlasting to everlasting thou art God” (Psalms 90:2), to John, “I AM the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8), the message of the Bible DOES NOT CHANGE.

This “I AM” is important because Jesus is telling us He was before creation and will be after the end of time.  He is eternal.  When we see or hear Alpha and Omega (AΩ or ox) we are seeing the “I AM”.  Because of our relationship with Jesus (The Great I AM) we can claim the “Truth.” 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions, made alive together with Christ
(by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him,
and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
Ephesians 2:4-6

As a member of God’s family, seated in the heavenly places because of Jesus, we are in His KINGDOM.  A kingdom is where the king is.  The Kingdom is where the KING lives.  If you have received the gift of salvation offered by Jesus, you are in the Kingdom and the King lives in you.  Did you hear that?  The KING lives in YOU!!!  The Kingdom is not a far away land, it is here now.  If the King lives in you, the kingdom is hereon earth.  The kingdom is not broken down into small factions of fighters in their own corners doing their own thing.  We are ONE Church, ONE body of believers, living in the Kingdom of God RIGHT NOW!!!!  Let revival begin with us!

We have received a revelation over the last seven weeks.  Now, we have a responsibility to share the good news with others.  Listen to the prayer of our hearts as we declare our allegiance to the King of Kings.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father, King of Kings,

We praise You for the HOPE You have placed in our hearts as we have drawn closer to You.  We thank You for the great LOVE You have shown us that while we were yet sinners, You wanted us.  Lord, we want to let this fire burning within us to be seen by the world.  Heal our hearts and heal our lands so that we may serve You.  We ARE the ChurchSend us out to do Your work while we are here on earth.  We are YOUR church…One Body, unified for Your purpose.   Live in us.  Bring Your Kingdom now.  We are ready.  We love You, Lord.

AMEN

“I AM” Chapter 6 – Day 1: I AM…Significant

Eph2_10Have you ever thought about yourself as the person you might become?  Have you ever wondered why you struggle when you are doing everything right?  Have you sensed the spiritual battle around you?  The enemy knows your secret.  Do you?  Your life is more about who you might become than who you already are.   Your life is a threat to the enemy of your soul.  You are important.  It’s time to make your life meaningful.

As we turn the page to Chapter 6, we are beginning to see ourselves as SIGNIFICANT.  I took a survey to see what makes something or someone significant and I was met with blank stares.  As I asked more questions, I realized the definition of the word was the problem.  Do we not think we are significant because we do not know the definition of the word?  What else are we missing simply because we never defined the words in our lives?

In our study this week, we look at the word “significant.”  Today I want to introduce another word: POTENTIAL Potential is who you could become if you pursue who you are meant to be.  Please don’t leave this world with unused potential.  Use it all up!

po·ten·tial  /pəˈtenCHəl/

Adjective          Having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future.

Noun                  Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.

Synonyms

ADJECTIVE        possible – feasible – eventual – contingent

NOUN             possibility – potentiality

 

Your life is FULL of potential, usefulness, meaning, expressiveness, eloquenceand significance.  What are you willing to do to reach that potential?  It’s not too late to expand your life’s vocabulary.  Let’s make the enemy mad and GROW.

Think of some of the most significant people in our history, our culture, or in your family.  Can you imagine what would have happened if Billy Graham decided to stay home even one night of his crusades?  Can you imagine a world without a Billy Graham Crusade?

What about India without Mother Teresa or Ghandi?  Or South Africa without Nelson Mandela or Angus Buchan?  Or the United States without George Washington or Abraham Lincoln?  The list is long of people who have chosen to make a mark during their time on this earth.  What will your mark look like?

  • Each of these people are just like you.  They were born, they grew, they made choices, and they lived out their convictions.  There were crossroads and milestones in their lives along the way.  Hard choices had to be made.  If we could sit down with each one of them they would have a story to tell of good times and bad, successes and failures, hurts and blessings.  Their lives were not easy, but they lived them so we can benefit from their sacrifice and contributions.  We remember their names even after they have passed on from this world.  Their lives were significant.  Can you imagine our world without them and their influence?

The future is up to you.  Take a moment today to ask God what HIS desire is for your life.  The enemy already knows you have potential, do you?  God wants to use your life to bring His Kingdom here and now.  The choice is yours.  Will you let God change you to be who you were created to be?

Worship with me as we offer this prayer through the song “Starts With Me” by Tim Timmons.

Let’s Pray:

Father God,

You have created us with incredible potential.  Help us to accept ourselves as valuable to You and to submit ourselves to do Your will.  We want to allow You to change us into someone useful and meaningful.  We want to leave a legacy that will be remembered long after we have left this world.  Father, place the desire to be significant deep within our hearts and give us the strength to see our purpose through to the end.  We want to finish this life well.  We want to be able to lay our crowns at Your feet and bring You glory.  We love You, Lord.

AMEN

 

“I AM” Chapter 5 – Day 1: Who I AM in Christ

Memory Verse:

Heb4_16

___________________________________

I AM Accepted…

I have a dream that burns within my heart.  I was very young when I first felt the fire of that dream.  Its warmth has kept me going down a different path that separates my way from the world.  Even in church circles I am different.  A square peg trying to find my way through the round hole.  Maybe you are too…and never realized it.

As a Christ-follower I never really understood why there were “denominations” of believers. To me, a denomination is a mathematical term used to quantify or an English term used as an adjective to describe the more superior word (noun).  Why do we need denominations in the family of God?  My experience has been that denominations are exclusive, divisive and, well, negative.  You must join, perform, and perpetrate the belief for that church  to flourish.

A few years back, my “word of purpose” was Unity.  There should be unity in the body of Christ.  Unity in the Church (with a capital “C”).  Does this thought ever cross your mind?  Look at what the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:4-6:

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

UNITY means we are all ONE.

Jesus established the Church.  The members of the church were followers of the Way (John 14:6).  The Way is a person: JesusJesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Lord of All.  When we each stand before God we will be asked  ”What was your relationship with Jesus?”  The question will NOT be “What denomination did you belong to?”  The question will be “Who do you belong to?”

When Paul stood before the council of Jews (as reported in Acts 24) he talks about his experiences and commitment to the Way.  He was asked about his beliefs because they were radical.  Paul lived his life following Jesus’ example.  He was “All In.”

There is another word that describes someone who strives to live like Jesus:  Christian.  Because Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God, He is known as Jesus Christ.  Those who choose to live life by His example can call themselves Christians.

Unfortunately, the world hears the term “Christian” and thinks “Pharisee,” “Hypocrite,” and “Judgmental.”  Do those words describe your walk with the Lord?  If we truly live our lives like Jesus, we will show love and compassion, grace and mercy, and generosity.  The world will want to know us and our Savior.  Jesus’ life changed the world.  Jesus living in you will change the world also.  Let’s change our world in Jesus’ name and live it by His example.

Jesus gave us a gift.  Have you accepted it yet?  Just like with any new gift, we have to learn how to use it properly.  Apply yourself to learning who Jesus is and what His life was about.  Jesus will Rock your World!!!  So, back to denominations…

Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth addresses the division in the church over which leader they were going to follow (1 Corinthians 1).  The man leading the church was not as important as Jesus Christ as the head of the church.  The Corinthians received correction over their wrong thinking.  We need to check our allegiances, too.

If this topic of Unity of the Body of Christ has sparked an interest for you, please read First Corinthians Chapter 1, ask God to give you an understanding of being “One with Christ,” and a part of a larger body of believers (The Church).

Look at these words of beauty and warning:

“Every word of God proves true.  He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.  Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.”

Proverbs 30:5-6

“And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book:  If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book.”

Revelation 22:18

These words are from the book of wisdom and the best friend of Jesus.  Follow the Great I AM.  Accept His Gift, it’s free.  Learn the Truth, follow the Way and let Him show you how to LIVE.    You have been chosen by Jesus.  You have been ACCEPTED into the family of God.  What is your response to Jesus?

We are a City on a Hill.  We are to be shining the Light.  We are ONE.  United we will Stand. Divided we will FALL.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Jesus,

You are the Christ, the Messiah, the One who gives us Life and Love, Grace and Mercy.  Teach us to love like You.  Help us to accept our place in Your Church body.  We all have a part to play as we reach the lost for You, Lord.  Open our eyes so that we can see where we have gone astray.  Give us the desire to be one with our brothers and sisters.  May our love for You bind us together and the divisions be erased.  We want to be the Church—Your Church, ONE CHURCH.  Father, gather Your children home.  Thank You for making us that City on a Hill leading the lost to You.  We love You, Jesus.

AMEN

“I AM” Chapter 4 – Day 1: Jesus is the “I AM”

 

Memory Verse:

John15_11

___________________________

I am full of questions today.  Why is it important for people to know us?  What difference does it make if people REALLY know who we are?  Does it hurt us when people get the wrong impression of us?  If I needed someone to write my life story, what kind of person would I choose to do that for me?  How would I go about finding someone who could accurately portray Who I Am to other people?

If you are still following along with us after three weeks of learning who the Great I AM is through the Old Testament, then hold on to your seat, because Jesus is going to ramp up the study!  Jesus was like that, you know.  Wherever He found people, He would push them outside their comfort zone, challenge their beliefs and get them to really see themselves for who they really are.  Have you begun to look at yourself a little differently yet?

As we cross the Bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament we walk across 400 silent, unholy, mixed-up years.  God is preparing the world stage for the coming Messiah.  The people were living life the way they wanted to, making gods of whatever they found valuable to them at the time.  The Bridge crosses a silent ocean of godlessness.  The picture of the Bridge in my mind sags in the middle.  The first part is downhill, bottoms out at a very low point and then there is an uphill climb to get off on the other side.

Look at our memory verse for the week.  It is John 15:11.  If you notice in your study guide, there is a typo in the “I AM’s” of Jesus.  It should read John 15:1 for that section.  As I began to prepare for the study, I had all these questions, so I took them to Jesus.  He turned that typo into our memory verse for the week and the answer to ALL my questions.  He will do that, you know.  There are no dumb questions when you seek Him with ALL your heart.  He will give us the answers we need so our JOY will be FULL.

  • Why is it important for people to know us?  We were placed on this earth for a purpose.  If we don’t share ourselves with others, we are missing our purpose.  Don’t miss your purpose for living.  Share your life with others.
  • What difference does it make if people REALLY know who we are?  If you do not show them who you really are, they will make up their own story.  Some of it may be true, but it cannot ALL be true.  Truth is important!  Let others into your life so there is no question where you stand on important matters.
  • Does it hurt when people get the wrong impression of us?  Absolutely!!!  There is nothing more painful than having someone tell a lie about us and have others believe it.  It hurts even worse than when the story is true.  We can grow through that pain, too.
  • If I needed someone to write my life story, what kind of person would I choose to do that for me?  I would want someone who was known to be truthful, honest, and fair.  Someone who had taken the time to get to know me and my heart.  Someone who would not back down when others had a different story to tell.
  • How would I go about finding someone who could accurately portray Who I Am to other people?  I would take the time to reveal myself to others so they could make up their own minds about me and let them write the story based on their own experiences with me.  Each story would be different and unique—just like the relationship between us.  By reading the stories of each writer, others would be able to get a fuller picture of who I really am.

Who did Jesus choose to reveal His character to?  He chose to share His life with strangers who HE turned into disciples.  He said, “Follow Me” and they did.  The disciples got to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of living life as Jesus.  Just like us, Jesus had best friends.  John was Jesus’ closest friend and gives us our first seven “I AM’s.”  If I truly want to know who Jesus is and what He is like, I want to talk to His best friends.

You are writing your life story RIGHT NOWWhat would those closest people to you be able to reveal about your character?  It matters, you know.  If you aren’t showing them the example you had hoped, there is time to make changes and reflect the Light inside you.  You can open the Door and offer Bread.  You can point people to the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Your story isn’t finished yet.  Finish it well!

__________

Let’s Pray:

Dear Jesus,  Messiah, Lord of ALL,

We thank You for making Yourself known to us.  Thank You for loving us in our sinfulness enough to give Your life for ours.  Thank You for showing us what it means to develop friendships.  I pray for each person seeking You today.  I pray they find You right where they are.  We allow You into our hearts so that Your Spirit can change us from the inside out.  We want to reflect Your Truth, Your Light, and Your Way.  We can feel that JOY welling up now.  Help us to reach the overflowing mark.  We love You, Jesus!

AMEN

“I AM” Chapter 3 – Day 1: The Great I AM in the Books of the Minor Prophets

Memory Verse

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:19

____________________________

As we begin our week examining the books of the Minor Prophets, we begin with Hosea and Amos.  Do not be fooled by the size of their writings because their message is mighty.  Through Hosea’s life we see God revealing Himself (for the first time) as a Faithful Bridegroom and the children of Israel as His bride.  That imagery runs all through the New Testament.  What a legacy!

For thousands of years and many generations, God has been patient with His people.  God demonstrated His love for His people using marriage as a metaphor.  Ouch!  If our life was a metaphor for our relationship with God (and it is) what would it say to the people around us?

In looking at Hosea’s story, I noticed seven ways God used Hosea’s life as an example to the people around him.  Let’s see if they might pertain to our lives as well.

  1.  Our relationship with God is like a marriage.  From “Will you…” to “I do”… to “?”
  2. God uses our struggles to display His POWER through us.  Not what we can do on our own.
  3. God uses our challenges in our relationships to reveal His LOVE to others.  We have a choice.
  4. God calls us to love the unlovely – even those who have hurt us deeply.
  5. Our disobedience to God brings judgment and severe consequences.
  6. God calls us into a covenant relationship with Him. He WANTS you!
  7. God expects us to live in a manner that would connect others to Him.

From the moment we say “I Do” to a relationship with the Great I AM we are in a committed, monogamous, covenant “marriage.”  Why does God use marriage as an example of His relationship with us?  Marriage is that object or state of being we have sought after (in one form or another) most of our lives.  When we were young, we would dream of our perfect wedding to the perfect person and we would live a perfect life.  Happily Ever After, right?

Then maybe we found that perfect someone, promised a perfect “forever” and began to live that dream.  Then…that “perfect” life hit a few bumps along the way.  Our perfect marriage gets rocky…then what?  Dreams are shattered, hearts are broken, eyes are opened.

Look at God’s example.  He used Hosea’s life and Hosea’s marriage and Hosea’s service to speak to the Israelites about their “marriage” relationship with God.  Just as those “perfect” dreams were shattered, our relationship with God becomes broken.  It is at this moment of broken dreams that we find we have a choice.

We can choose to honor our marriage vow or walk away.  We can choose to love the unlovely one or cast them aside.  We can stand firm when the going gets tough or we can faint in the face of struggle.  We can choose to OBEY or expect the consequences of our actions.

We can break our promise to God.  We can leave those “other people” out there in the dark instead of leading them to the Light.  We have a choice.  Because we chose to say “I Do,” we get the blessings of a life in relationship with the Creator of the Universe.  Because we said, “I Do,” we have a Helper, a Leader through our struggles.  Because we are “one flesh,” we are loved when we are un-lovely.

So how can God use us  –  You and Me – to lead others to Him?  How can God use a broken heart and a broken spirit to shine its LIGHT?  He changes our heart.  We were born with a heart problem, but God is our Healer.

The prophet Amos (who studied under Hosea) told the Israelites their words were empty without the right heart.  They needed the heart of a worshipper and the heart of a servant.  Oscar Wilde once said,

“Every Saint has a PAST.  Every Sinner has a FUTURE.”

God showed Hosea how to love his wife, Gomer, the way God loved Israel; the way He loves you and me.  Hosea forgave Gomer, rebuilt the marriage and taught others to follow God.  Hosea’s struggles did not disqualify him from service.  Gomer’s wicked ways did not prevent Hosea from being used by God. Their children, who were given very unfortunate names by God, were restored and dearly loved in the end.

We were born with a heart problem, but we have a choice.  We can choose to live with a bad, broken heart, or we can give the pieces to God and let Him make something lovely.

Let’s Pray:

Lord, We bring You the pieces of our broken hearts and our broken lives.  Thank You for loving us when we are un-lovely.  Thank You for making a way for us to go from an unfortunate name of “I am not your God” to “I AM your God.”  You asked us “Will you?”  We want to say “I Do” and live under Your Protection all the days of our lives.  We love You, Lord.

AMEN

 

“I AM” Chapter 2 – Day 1: The Great I AM in the Book of Ezekiel

Have you ever watched someone worship and wonder, “How do they do that?”  I have.  I think I have “worship envy.”  Maybe it was my upbringing in a conservative church environment, maybe I care too much what people think, maybe I have never totally surrendered myself to worship.  The reality probably lies somewhere in between.

As I read the Book of Ezekiel, I found myself in awe again of someone so sold out for God that he was willing to do whatever to get God’s message across.  Ezekiel was “All In.”

If God said lay in the street on your left side for 390 days and then on your right side for 40 days…Ezekiel did it (to teach a history lesson).  If God said shave your head and divide your hair into three piles to explain a prophecy…Ezekiel did it.  If God asked Ezekiel to NOT mourn the passing of his beloved wife as an example to the Jews…he managed to do it.

God said, “Teach” and Ezekiel had the responsibility to teach the captive Jews discipline to follow their God.  Discipline doesn’t always have a positive feel to it, so I looked it up for us.

Discipline

1)       Training to insure proper behavior;

           the practice or methods of teaching and enforcing acceptable patterns of behavior.

2)      Training that corrects, molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.

The Israelites found themselves in captivity…again.  Sometimes we think God isn’t paying attention to our lives when times get hard.  I think it is just the opposite.  Those hard times are to drive us toward Him.  How do people survive without God?  We were created to need Him.  If we leave Him out then we deny a very important part of ourselves.

God sent Ezekiel to help the Jews adjust to their captivity.  He gave them hope to carry on and a way to return to a right relationship with God.  “God never forgets those who are faithful to Him” (pg 25).   He won’t forget you either.

Do YOU know Ezekiel’s God?  Ezekiel 16:62 says,

 “I will establish my covenant with you, and YOU shall know that I AM the LORD.”

God’s promise to establish His covenant was for anyone who would obey Him and follow His commands.  That’s what the name LORD means.

As we see in Ezekiel’s story, there is not one sedate and reverent way to worship God.  Neither is there always craziness associated with worship of the LORD.  Worship happens as we seek His face.  As we offer our lives to Him, He chooses how to express His love to us.  Give your life to the ONE TRUE GOD and be part of the Body of Christ.

If you search for the I AM, you will find Him…He wants to be found.

Let’s PRAY:

We come into Your presence to acknowledge that YOU are LORD.  You are Sovereign and You know what is best for us.  Thank You for loving us enough to reveal Your character to us.  Ezekiel has shown us that You can breathe new life into our dry, dead lives if we only have faith in YOU.  Change our hearts so that we can more fully submit to YOUR will and not ours.  We want to worship you in freedom.  Lord, teach us!  We love you, LORD.

AMEN

“I AM” Chapter 1 – Day 1: Introductions

 

“Hi, my name is Teresa and I AM ____hmmmmm_____.”  I AM one of those people who would rather not be in the spotlight.  It makes me uncomfortable.  I look at those people who can talk to strangers, speak in public, and smile during awkward moments—and I AM in awe.  Literally.

To me, those people are butterflies.  I am a moth.

  • They are comfortable.                                   I AM self-conscious.
  • They are graceful.                                           I AM clumsy.
  • They are special.                                             I AM…me.

THEY are butterflies; I AM a moth.

And then…God showed me something very special.  He created the butterfly and the moth with care.  Neither winged creature is lacking anything for its existence.  Did you notice this?  Did you also notice that there are MANY more moths than butterflies?  Somehow that fact made me feel better.  Maybe I notice those butterflies because there are fewer of them, not because they are better or more needed than me.  After all, God did create more moths than butterflies.  Didn’t He?

“Our differences make us beautiful and unique. 

We have the same Creator God who wants to show us who He is.”

I was envious of those butterflies until I saw myself the way Jesus did.  This Bible we have and the world we live in are God’s introduction to us.  He invites us to get to know Him.  He is God, “The Great I AM.”  The identity of God in the Scriptures is truth.  Any question or doubt I have can be answered in the Word.  When I doubt my purpose or position in this world, all I have to do is look to Him.

He is the True Light that draws this moth to Him.  Butterflies flit around in the day being all graceful and pretty.  The sun is their friend.  We could stop and watch them for hours.  Moths are also visible in the day, but are most noticeable at night when they are seeking a light source.  We all need the Light source.

Both creatures crave the light.  One is not better than the other.  Butterflies make me think of sunshine while moths make me think of electric bug zappers.  You know bug zappers, don’t you?  In the southern U.S. they are very common.  (Electric bug zappers control flying pests by drawing them to the light and then frying them.)   As I expressed this thought to a friend, she reminded me of a very important truth.   “Bug zappers are FALSE light…you, my moth-y friend, are drawn to the TRUE Light.”

I AM a moth with a purpose.  I want to be known for seeking the Light.  Recently one of my friends shared a picture of a moth she found in her garage.  I saw myself in that moth.  Look at it and see if you see yourself in it, too.

Clymene Moth compliments of Jane Dixon, Photographer

Clymene Moth
compliments of Jane Dixon, Photographer

 

We bear the mark of the One we serve.  Who has placed their mark on you?  Do you know the “I AM?”  Come with us as we seek the TRUE LIGHT together.  This journey is for moths and butterflies alike.  Our world would not be the same without either of these winged creatures and it will not be the same without you and me.  Let’s discover who we are and Who we belong to.

We all have a purpose in the Kingdom of God.  I AM honored to walk this path with you.  As God began to reveal the truth to me about Who I AM, I realized a few things.

I AM…  

A moth

A mother

A child

A child of God

A dearly loved child of God

Hi, my name is Teresa and I AM Beloved by God!!!

PRAY:

Father God,

I thank You for these friends You have given me to walk this path with.  Thank You for revealing Yourself to us so we may know You.  You are our TRUE LIGHT and we seek You only.

Thank You for Your love and for the purpose You have placed in our lives.  We want to seek the TRUE light and live.  Keep us away from the false light of the worldly “zappers.”

Be with us as we learn about Your character as You reveal Yourself through Scripture.  Tell us once again who we are to You.  We belong to You.  We love You.

AMEN

Girls With Swords: Chapter 14 – “Cross Carry” (pgs 209-210)

As we come to the final section of our book, we find a new word:  COMMISSIONED.  I looked it up for us so we would know what we were talking about.

COMMISSIONED

  •     The act of granting certain powers or the authority to carry out a particular task or duty.
  •     A group of people officially authorized to perform certain duties or functions.
  •     In Active Service.
  •     Authority to undertake or perform certain duties.

There are a couple of very powerful words hidden in the definition of this word.  In the first point, someone has the authority to grant certain powers or authority to another person to enable them to carry out a task or duty.  In the second point, there are a group of people who have been assigned this authorization – they have been commissioned.  In the fourth point, being commissioned means someone has the authority to undertake or perform assigned duties.

BUT, in the third point, someone who is commissioned is IN ACTIVE SERVICE.  Someone is not authorized to be in passive service, or absent service, or ‘when you want to’ service.  If you are commissioned, you are in ACTIVE service.

Throughout our study of “Girls With Swords” we have learned that we are CHOSEN.  We have been EQUIPPED and ARMED.  In this final week we are learning what it means to be COMMISSIONED by our Commander to enter Active Service.  Look with me at the words of Jesus as He prepares the remaining eleven disciples for ACTIVE SERVICE in His Kingdom.

JESUS Gives The Great COMMISSION

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

Did you notice the action words in this passage?  Go, Baptize and Teach.  As commissioned disciples of Jesus, we have a JOB.  Jesus did not give us a job without teaching us how to carry out that job.  Look back at Matthew 16:24, Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Again…more action words: Come, Deny, Take and Follow.

Jesus says “anyone” and that includes you and me.  We have the ability to accept His invitation to follow Him, to obey Him, to deny ourselves, and take up our cross.  Lisa says we each have a different cross because we are different people.  We each walk our own journey and need His help carrying our cross.

For us to be able to wear the King’s crown one day, we must learn to carry the cross.  Lisa says something pretty profound:

“We wear the crown, and we carry the cross.  Jesus bore our cross so we could wear his crown.  He became like us.  Isn’t it time we became like him?” (page 210)

So, what is OUR cross?  It is our part of the Kingdom.  We each have a job to do.  We are called into ACTIVE SERVICE because Jesus has the Authority to Commission us.  Jesus invites us to join Him in His work.  He has given us a job.  Will you participate actively?  Are you passive?  Are you still sitting on the bench waiting and watching other people carrying THEIR cross?

When I have a really big job to do, it bothers me to no end to see my kids sitting on the couch watching TV or painting their nails.  We all have a part to play in the proper function of our household.  If I am the only one working, I begin to have a bad attitude.  I imagine Jesus has felt the same way about us, don’t you?

Jesus has offered us the opportunity to come alongside Him and serve.  He has commissioned us Into Active Service.  We have a job that only we can do.  If you are sitting on the sidelines, someone else is doing your part and getting your blessing.  Your cross is not a ‘memorial’ or a symbol.  It is your active service to the KING.

Take up your cross, do your job, and be honored to lay your crown down at the feet of Jesus.  Let’s begin this last week together worshipping the King.  You have been chosen, equipped, trained, and commissioned.  Let’s make our Commander proud.

Let’s Pray:

Father God, King of Kings and LORD of our lives, we submit our will to You today.  Thank You for choosing us.  Thank You for Your care in training us and for Your belief in our ability to serve in Your Kingdom.  Thank You for Your Sword.  As we learn to use our Swords, we will be able to take up our cross daily and SERVE You.  We love You, Jesus.  You took our cross so that we might wear Your crown.  We lay our crowns at Your feet today.  We want to be ACTIVE warriors for You.   AMEN

Girls with Swords: Chapter 13 – “Sword of Forgiveness and Restoration” (pgs 191-198)

There is a cultural, learned pattern in our home the last several years which has been terribly hard to correct.  The concept of “stooping beneath” someone else is seen as subservient and undesirable.  Pride is prized above personal relationships.  Grudges are held until the reason for the anger can no longer be remembered.  Stubbornness and pride are not virtues in God’s economy; humbleness and forgiveness are.

My Bible tells me that All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  None of us will get out of this life without making a mistake, hurting someone, needing to ask forgiveness— and through grace and mercy—be restored to a right relationship with the one you hurt.  We have only one life to live, so we should learn to live it well.  We need to realize our faults and failures before we hold the faults and failures of others up for all to see.

If we consider another person’s feelings above our own, we will not find ourselves with the “wrong motives” Lisa talks about on page 192.  It is one thing to be ‘against’ something, but what are we really “FOR?”  We have to be devoted to a greater cause than our individual rights and opinions.  Lisa says, “Though we are entrusted with a sword of the Spirit, we are not armed to harm.”  The Spirit within us will not strike out to harm another person.

The purpose of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to lead, guide, and direct us on the path of right living.  The Spirit will reveal the areas in our lives needing to be cut away and pruned so that we may continue to grow in the Lord.  Cultivate a soft heart so the work of the Spirit will be quick and less painful.  A tender, caring heart is a vessel the Lord can use.

I was stunned at the anger in the heart of a loved one the first time I heard the term “stoop beneath” used.  There was hurt and bitterness.  Even after hearing the one-sided details of the story she was angry about, I knew there had been wrong on both sides.  Neither party was willing to “stoop” to offer an apology or forgiveness.  A record of wrongs was being kept and that pattern was taught in the home for many generations.  We are still struggling to break down these generational “curses” with unconditional love.  The Bible will lead us to a right definition of LOVE in 1 Corinthians 13.  Make it your guide as you break down these family curses.

Lisa shares with us, “We do not fight to tear down but to build up.  The authority heaven lends to us on earth is to destroy evil by doing good.  Just because I have walked with the sword of God’s Word on my hip for more than three decades doesn’t mean I have always worn it well” (pg. 192).  When we lift our weapon in anger we leave a wound that needs to heal.  Without the soothing balm of forgiveness, the wounds begin to fester and leave scars.  Be quick to ask for forgiveness, grant forgiveness, and begin to restore the damaged relationship.

After the lessons on keeping silent last week, it is only fitting that we focus on WHEN we should speak, HOW we should speak, and for WHAT purpose we should speak.  In 1 Peter 4:11 we find this bit of wisdom, If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.  If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory and power for ever and ever.  AMEN.”

The story Lisa shared about the relationship with her own father struck a chord in my heart.  I was emotionally abandoned by my father and I replaced him with God when I was twelve.  The new girls in our home were neglected and abandoned by their father and my husband has taken them in.  I totally related to the feeling of abandonmentand then of JOY at realizing my God was my Father and He would not leave me or forsake me.

In our family we are all adopted by each other.  We choose to be a family and love each other.  Our story gets told over and over, but we are still hard for some people to understand.  When Lisa shared that God spoke so vividly to her that the rejection by her father was an overwhelming ADOPTION by her Heavenly Father I totally understood.  It was at that moment that I released my earthly father from his “duties.”  I began to rely on my Heavenly Father for nurturing and support.

Like Lisa, I find comfort in the words of Psalms 45:10-11

“Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:

Forget your people and your father’s house,

And the king will desire your beauty.

Since he is your lord, bow to him”

Our earthly families are fallible.  Our earthly families can hurt us and we can hurt them.  We MUST show love like our Heavenly Father and offer forgiveness and restoration wherever possible.  Where stubbornness and pride live and flourish, Satan rules.  Do not give him a foothold in your life.  Keep your heart tender and soft, eager to forgive and be forgiven.  We are here to serve each other.  Someone will eventually need to “stoop” to show love.

I pray there are more great examples of fathers out there than neglectful ones.  We have a choice to show love like our Heavenly Father whether we had a good earthly example or not.  Choose today to reflect your Father.  It’s worth it.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your faithful love.  Thank You for seeing the beauty in my life and leading me in Your ways.  I thank You for my earthly father, because through him, I see You more clearly.  Today I choose to love others the way You love me.  AMEN

Girls with Swords: Chapter 12 – “Sword of Silence” (pgs 175-180)

Have you ever noticed those people who stay calm in the face of major trauma?  Some of us are “basket cases” and some of us are “cool cucumbers.”  God made us with a ‘Fight or Flight’ mechanism in our brains for protection.  We need them both to survive, but we can learn to control our reactions to the fearful stimuli.  It is not a sin to be afraid, but how we act and react to that fear can be sinful.

Over and over the Scriptures tell us, “Fear not” and “Do not be afraid.”  Our God knows we have fear when we face the unknown in our lives.  He knows our first reaction to hard times, both mentally and physically will be to have fear and He asks us to NOT be afraid.  If God asks us to NOT be afraid, then it must be possible to control the fear inside and perform anyway.  If you are one of those “basket cases” and need to work on being a cool cucumber,” then there is HOPE for you as you lean on the Holy Spirit.

In most cases, fear immobilizes us.  We freeze, stop thinking clearly, and look for the flight path.  When we give up rational control of our thoughts, we tend to make bad decisions for ourselves and those around us.  If fear is normal, then how do we function when bad things happen?  If fear is normal, why can a trauma nurse or surgeon treat critically injured patients and not freeze up or be physically ill?  How can a police officer remain calm at the scene of an accident?  How can a mom care for her child who is broken or bleeding or heartsick?  How would we be able to live without those people???

A very familiar quote by Gen. Douglas MacArthur says, “If bravery is a quality which knows not fear, then I have never seen a brave man. For the courageous man is the man who, in spite of his fear, forces himself to carry on.”  Courage is learned.  Courage is practiced.  Courage is controlled strength of character.  If it were not possible to control our fear, the Scriptures would not ask us over and over to Not be AFRAID.”

FEAR

When looking at persevering through fear, I found this quote by Dave Grossi:  “Do warriors experience fear? You bet they do. The only difference is a warrior is trained to overcome that fear and forge ahead. He fights through it, and gets the job done. The untrained fall victim to it.”   Warriors have fear, but they train to learn to control that fear and overcome it.  As we learn to control the fear that sometimes rules our lives, we need to look to Jesus’ example.

It took great strength, courage, and character for Jesus to control his anger, fear, and words when being confronted with the sinful people attempting to stop Him from accomplishing His mission.  The message of Jesus is about finding the balance of seeking God, growth, and maturity—and resulting actions.  When directly faced by Satan, Jesus did not ‘take the bait’ and engage in a verbal war.  He didn’t prove Satan wrong by showing him how powerful HE was.  When all was said and done, Satan was defeated by the Truth in the Scriptures.  Jesus said, “It is written… and the devil fled.

Many people think Jesus was “born” knowing all the Scripture He used when He ministered.  Jesus was taught just like all the other good Jewish boys…and just like us if we apply ourselves to study.  There is not one bit of Scripture Jesus knew that we are not able to also know.  The only difference is the amount of time and conviction we are willing to put into our relationship with God, the Father.

If we really look at Jesus’ example we will find He sought silence to be alone with the Father before His major battles.  Here are seven instances where Jesus sought silence and solitude:

1)       He was fasting and praying when He was confronted with Satan in the desert (Matthew 4:1-2),

2)      He sought silence and seclusion after the death of His best friend, John the Baptist (Matthew 14:10-13),

3)      After ministering to the crowds and pouring Himself out, Jesus sought solitude and quiet in the mountains (Matthew 14:23),

4)      Jesus dealt with His popularity and the crowds that accompanied it by taking times of silence to reconnect with the Father.  By seeking silence and solitude, Jesus was able to deal with the growing demands of His ministry. 

5)      Jesus was constantly being confronted with sick people needing His healing.  Even when He told the healed ones NOT to tell, the crowds found out and came to Jesus for more healing. (Luke 5:15-16).

6)      Jesus main purpose for being on this earth was to serve others and bring them to a relationship with God the Father through His sacrifice.  Jesus would have experienced fear and anxiety as the day approached for His crucifixion and resurrection.  He dealt with this fear and anxiety through quiet time with the Father  (Matthew 17:1-3).

7)      Before Jesus faced his death, He went alone to pray to His Father and ask for the coming events to be taken from Him.  If we follow Jesus’ example, we will seek the Father BEFORE we get into hard and traumatic situations (Matthew 26:36).

There are also examples where Jesus held His tongue and did not respond in anger to those around Him.  When questioned by the Pharisees, Jesus was controlled, reserved, and thought before He spoke.  They were trying to trip Him up, geting Him to say things that Jesus could have been jailed and killed for.  When Jesus appeared before Pilate, He was asked very direct questions which would cause Him to be put to death and Jesus remained silent  (Mark 14:61).  In holding His tongue, Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah (53:7), “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

In our reading this week, Lisa gives us many examples from the Old Testament where God wants to be our Deliver, Provider, and Protector.  He has not changed.  God still wants to be our Deliverer from harm, our Provider for our needs and our Protector from evil. “Be still and KNOW that HE is God…” and He is able to provide everything you need.

This week we will begin to learn to be still, silent, and strong.  Our strength will rise when we wait upon the Lord.  He will fight our battles for us.  He will go before us and be our rear guard.  Trust God for His protection over your life.  Give Him control and see what a beautiful life He wants to give you.  You were meant to be courageous and brave.  Exercise the discipline it takes to develop the strength to stand in silence while the noise goes on around you.

Be silent before the LORD, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling.  (Zechariah 2:13)

The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.  (Habakkuk 2:20)

Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near.  The LORD has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited.  (Zephaniah 1:7)

I want to be SILENT and let GOD do His work in, and through, my life.  Thank You, God, for loving me enough to Protect and Provide for me.  I just have to be quiet. AMEN!