September 25, 2017

God our Teacher

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Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in His ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them His way.
Psalms 25:8-9

No one is perfect.  No one is without sin.  If we were, we certainly would not be in this world.  We would be in the glory of God at this very minute.  However, we fall short—way short.  We needed Someone to teach us how we should act and worship in order to reach God’s glory.

Without Someone’s perfect ways and blood, we could not ever hope to reach God’s glory in the end.  We would be looking forward to an eternity of doom.  God instructs us to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior so that we may be reunited with Him in the end and be able to spend eternity in Heaven.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;
teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Colossians 3:16

Jesus becomes our Guide and Teacher once we enter into a relationship with Him.  The relationship works to help teach yourself and others how God expects us to live.  We live in the Word to keep ourselves from falling in line with the world and with Satan. We become wiser the longer we stay in the Word of God and immerse ourselves in our relationship with Christ.  When we become wiser through God, we can help others become closer to God.  By allowing God to be our Teacher, we gain the wisdom to be able to discern what is right and wrong. We become humbled and are able to teach others about God.

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Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being our Father and Teacher.  With Your teachings we can walk the right paths and look forward to the glory of God in eternity.  Thank You for giving us the wisdom needed to teach others and be able to discern right from wrong.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

REjoice In The Lord

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So, I’ll just say it now…rejoicing is all about being joyful in the midst of trying circumstances and troubles. It’s about bringing it back to joy. It’s about not losing our joy. It’s about joyno matter what.  (Otherwise, it wouldn’t be called rejoicing!)

Joy is a beautiful, righteous, God-given thing! Little children sing, “I have the joy…joy…joy…joy down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay!”  And that is the TRUTH!  Joy needs to remain down in our heart!  However, we live in a broken, confused, evil-influenced world.  And much determines to take our joy away.

In the Book of James, we read in chapter 1 verse 2:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Other versions interpret the word ‘endurance’ as steadfastness, patience, or perseverance.  And this—the patience, the persevering, the remaining steadfast, the enduring—this is what we can do to  keep our joy when trials come along.

When times are hard and tough…when we seem to be continually struggling….when the light at the end of the tunnel seems SO far away—that is when we are to ‘consider it all joy!’ Please know (be assured!) that you are not the only one to say, “What?!? Not possible!”

If someone suggested it as a ‘positive confession’ or if I read it in a self-help book…then I would be able to totally disregard it.  Agreed?  BUT, this is not just a mantra to help me train my mind. Nor is it a positive little ditty to sing to myself.  N.O….this is TRUTH from the Bible.  And so—no matter what—I need to find a way no matter what to rejoice.

And did you notice that little word attached to joy in verse 2 (‘all’)? It  means great joy, full joy, pure joy, wholly joyful. Again, if I read this anywhere else, I would wholeheartedly refute the possibility!  However, I read it in God’s Holy Word, the Bible. So it must be possible! It must be available with the help of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to hold onto joy.

I do believe that one very important way to ‘consider it all (pure, full, great) joy’ is through the encouragement of singing!  Remember the Scripture which has inspired this blog?

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you,
with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another
with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

Listen to this incredible song, would you? This song is part of the bedrock of my soul…it encourages me so greatly! I learned this song from a group of Mennonite teenagers over 18 years ago…. And I have never forgotten it!  It was written by a man, Ron Hamilton, who had struggled with cancer…in fact, he lost his eye to this disease…for a number of years. But he and his wife placed their trust in the faithfulness of God Almighty. And they considered these trials and struggles to be ‘all joy!’  I pray that the words of this song will truly teach and admonish your heart…encouraging you to always find your way back to joyno matter what!  If I can pray with you, please contact me; I would consider it my  joy and privilege!

 

Oh, Rejoice in the Lord

God never moves without purpose or plan, When trying His servant and molding a man. Give thanks to the LORD though your testing seems long; In darkness He giveth a song

I could not see through the shadows ahead; So I looked at the Cross of my Savior instead. I bowed to the will of the Master that day; Then peace came and tears fled away.

Now I can see testing comes from above; God strengthens His children and purges in love. My Father knows best, and I trust in His care; Through purging more fruit I will bear.

O Rejoice in the LORD, He makes no mistake, He knoweth the end of each path that I take, For when I am tried And purified, I shall come forth as gold.

Glorious Living w/ Coach Megan: Changing Your Heart from Critical to Caring

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Dear Coach Megan,

God has really been working in my heart lately and, whether I like it or not, He has shown me that I have a really critical spirit with the people closest to me. I don’t like it and I want to do my part to change, but I’m not sure where to begin. Can you help?

~ DJ

Dearest DJ…

In my experience, anyone with a critical spirit is an expert at finding fault and focusing on it! Bless you for not only admitting this, but being willing to let God in and work on your precious heart to make an impact {in a good way} on all the lives you touch!  I pray that this blog post will be a blessing to you and your family, and I would love to hear how God fills your heart with His supernatural caring!

A critical spirit does not reflect the heart of the wise, nor does it reflect the heart of God.  Jesus said, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man  brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him”  {Matthew 12:34-35}.

A critical spirit is an excessively negative attitude with harshness in judging.  A person with a critical spirit gives unfair criticism by fault-finding, nit-picking, carping, quibbling, and complaining.  The Bible is clear about those who are judgmental:

Romans 14:10

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister?  Or why do you treat them with contempt?
For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

On the flip side… a caring spirit is a thoughtful, attentive attitude with a heart to help.  One of the most important needs we all have is for someone to care about us; someone to be attentive to our dreams and disappointments, our joys and sorrows, our successes and failures, our strengths and weaknesses, our vices and virtues.  How blessed we are when we have caring people in our lives!  Those who have a caring spirit reflect the heart of our caring Savior.

Nahum 1:7

 The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him

How to change your heart from critical to caring:

Identify your shortcomings {Psalms 139:23-24}

  • Humble your heart to see your own sin, your imperfections, and your immense need for God’s mercy.
  • Help others see their significance in God’s eyes.
  • Pray: “Lord, may I see my sin as You see it…may I hate my sin as You hate it.”

Practice compassion for others {Colossians 3:12}

  • Look closely at the life of Christ to learn His compassionate way of confronting the truth.
  • Pray that you will not be a critical stone thrower, but a compassionate need-meeter.

Draw out the heartfelt needs of others {Proverbs 20:5}

  • Don’t listen to only what people say on the surface. Listen for the needs and feelings beneath the surface… feelings of being unloved or feeling insignificant or insecure.
  • Pray that God will give you a discerning spirit as you seek to draw others out.

Offer acceptance to others {Romans 15:7}

  • Realize that everyone has an innate fear of rejection and a deep yearning for acceptance.
  • Choose to be a channel through which God extends His acceptance to others.

See the God-given worth in others {Luke 12:6-7}

  • Treat every person, especially the one most problematic to you, as someone with God-given worth.  The truth judges our hearts, attitudes, and actions towards others.
  • Pray that the Lord will not allow you to despise anyone whom He created and loves.

Praise the positives in others {Philippians 4:8}

  • Avoid the temptation to try to catch people doing something wrong.  Instead, comment on what they are doing right.
  • Pray that you will see something positive in every person, then faithfully make that your focus.
  • Pray that you would see others as God sees them and value them as He values them.

Refuse to wound others with words {Colossians 3:16}

  • Consider the fallacy of the saying “talk is cheap.” Talk is costly when it tears others down. Prayerfully consider the possibility that what you are criticizing in someone may be something God wants to deal with directly, and that God may want you to pray and remain silent.
  • Before speaking words of criticism, ask a wise friend to evaluate the content and tone of your words.  Realize that after critical words are spoken, you can never take them back.
  • Inspire those who need to change by sharing with them your belief that they can change. Encourage them by saying “Don’t give up. Trust God to guide you in the way you should go. I know you can make the right decisions. I believe you can experience God’s best!”
  • Present your words to God as His instrument for good, and pray that He will put His words into your mouth.

See the unmet needs of others {Philippians 4:19}

  • Instead of judging the inappropriate actions of others, seek to understand the need behind each action.
  • Realize that people who speak forth cutting words reveal that they have unmet inner needs {for love, significance, or security.}
  • Realize that people don’t always mean what they say nor understand their own deepest needs.
  • Pray that your critics will allow the Lord to meet their deepest inner needs.

Rely on God’s Word and God’s Spirit for wisdom

  • Seek God’s wisdom by reading a chapter a day from the Book of Proverbs.
  • Write down every verse from Proverbs that pertains to the tongue.  Check your words against this list and see if you are being wise with what you say.
  • See God at work in every circumstance and trust Him for wisdom to know how to respond {wisdom is the ability to look at life from God’s point of view.}
  • Pray that God’s Spirit will teach you spiritual truths and lead you to speak these truths in love.

1 Corinthians 2:13

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom 
but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

Blessings,

Coach Megan 🙂 

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 7 Review (pp 205-223)

■Realize I am not God

■Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, that He has the power to help me recover

■Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control

■Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust

■Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character

■Evaluate all my relationships.  Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others

■RESERVE A DAILY TIME WITH GOD FOR SELF-EXAMINATION, BIBLE READING AND PRAYER IN ORDER TO KNOW GOD AND HIS WILL FOR MY LIFE AND TO GAIN THE POWER TO FOLLOW HIS WILL

■Y

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GCH_Colossians 3_16

 

This week we have discussed how to stay on the path, finish the race, and maintain momentum in order to grow in our relationship with Christ and leave our past behind.  When I was just walking away from my past, I remember waiting and wanting God to really show Himself—not just show Himself, but REALLY show Himself to me.  I can only imagine the things He tried to show me or places He wanted me to go to that, because I was waiting for the BIG show, I missed out on blessings.  Then I got discouraged and that’s when the enemy wanted to swoop down and distract me.  The little whispers of “You’re not worthy enough,” or “See, you really didn’t recover from that.”  Recovery is not always seeing the BIG shows but listening, spending time with God, and beginning to know who He really is.  The following Scriptures are just a few that show God’s power through the smallest of things—or what we see as small things:

Be still and know that I am God. 

Psalm 46:10

Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.

Job 37:14

And if you leave God’s paths and go astray, you will hear a Voice behind you say, ‘No this is the way: walk here.’

Isaiah 30:21

And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire, and after the fire a still small voice. 

1Kings 19:12

If you go back to read those Scriptures, look at the words used for us to see God’s power:  be still, stand, hear, walk, and the still small voice of God.  We need to seek Him through our prayer time, Bible reading, and begin knowing who He really is and be thankful for all that He has brought us through.  Each one of us has come through a different fire and been refined at different places, but God’s miracles and promises are Yes and Amen!!  Believing that is truly how we can avoid relapse!!

Monday: We discussed the four patterns of relapse – Complacency; Confusion; Compromise and Catastrophe.  If we become too comfortable and start believing we are ok, or that we don’t need to stay the course, then the enemy can quickly get a foothold and start the doubt, confusion, and compromise.  Then we start heading directly for CATASTROPHE!!  God has such a bigger plan for each one of you.  Stay the course.

Tuesday: Leslie talked with us about the causes of relapse—we revert to our own willpower; we ignore the choices; we try to recover without support; and we become prideful.  We cannot stress enough how important it is to have support through this process.  Even when you come to the end of the study, it is important to remember to keep your support person who will stay with you to the end.  Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in trouble (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10).   Then Leslie made an excellent statement: ‘Our greatest weakness is often unguarded strength.’  If we get to the point we think we have it, be careful – don’t let your guard down, don’t take your armor off – guard yourself with His strength and power.

Wednesday: Kim started us off midweek with: “We must plant ourselves at His feet daily. It’s like water for us, friends. He is our Stronghold now and what an awesome Stronghold!” Can you imagine going without anything to drink for more than a day? Or a week? Or a month?  So why try to go without our Living Water for a day?!?  He is just waiting to transform and renew your mind.  He longs to restore all we have lost from our past.  Sound good?  So what do we have to do?  Rely on Him; He will restore your soul.

Thursday: Amy brought it back to us with pray about it, write about it and share about it.  The method of praying scripture will be such a refreshment to your daily prayer life.  Talking to God about His word and using it personally in your life can bring so much more freedom and gives you more insight into who He is.  When you are praying, stop and listen for that still small voice to speak—don’t be in such a hurry or routine, you pray through and move on. Take time to write about the four areas we discussed: physical, emotional, relational and spiritual.  Are you hurting? Tired? Angry?  Listen to how you are reacting to others and are you relying on God?  Once you have taken the time to write about it then share with your accountability partner if you are having any difficult areas; also remember what is very important:  CELEBRATE THE VICTORIES no matter how small you may think them to be.

As we take time to reflect this weekend and begin to prepare for the last week, take time to look back in your journals and see how far God has brought you in this healing.  Begin to thank Him for bringing you through your past and into the present with hope for the future.  Thank Him for being the awesome God He is, thank Him for others He has placed in your life, thank Him for your recovery, and thank Him for your church.  Remain in this ‘attitude of gratitude’ through this next week as we embark on how He wants us to use our recovery.

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Let’s Pray:

Most gracious Father, we come to You with humble and grateful hearts as we end this week.  Father, I thank You for each one of these amazing women in this study.  Keep them safe, guard their hearts, and help them to rejoice in their healing.  Lord, help us to set aside the distractions of this world to focus and listen to Your voice, whether it is the BIG show or the still small voice.  Help us to understand what You have planned for each one of us and prepare us for this.  Let others see You through our words and actions.  We thank You for Your perfect grace and forgiveness.  Father, as we continue on this race help us to keep humble giving all the glory and honor to You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!!

Your Assignment:
We have talked about celebrating the victories, no matter how small.  We would love to celebrate with you.  After reading this, if you are comfortable, share what victories you have had through this study.

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If you would like to send a private message to Laurie in regards to this blog, please email her at Laurie@girlfriendscoffeehour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 7 – Maintaining the Momentum (pp 220-239)

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PRAY
John Baker provides so much amazing information in this week’s Make the Choice section. He begins by giving examples on how we can pray using Scriptures, and how a prayer familiar to most of us (The Lord’s Prayer) relates to the choices we’ve been learning. I will be using portions of Baker’s examples for you today.

Scripture: Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name…
Choice 1: Realize I am not God
Choice 2: Earnestly believe that God exists

Scripture: Your Kingdom come…
Choice 8: Yield myself to God to be used

Scripture: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…
Choice 5: Voluntarily submit to God’s changes

Scripture: Give us our daily bread…
Choice 3: Consciously choose to commit…to Christ’s care

Scripture: Forgive us our debts…
Choice 4: Openly examine and confess my faults

Scripture: As we have also forgiven our debtors…
Choice 6: Evaluate all my relationships

Scripture: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…
Choice 7: Reserve a daily time with God

WRITE –
Through the week’s study we have looked at ways to prevent relapse of our bad habits by creating a new habit of evaluation. This week’s “Write” choice is about evaluating four areas: physical, emotional, relational and spiritual.

Physical: What is your body telling you?

Emotional: What are you feeling? Use HEART to help you express what you are feeling.

H – am I hurting?
E – am I exhausted?
A – am I angry?
R – do I resent anyone?
T – am I tense?

Relational: Am I at peace with everyone?

Spiritual: Am I relying on God?

SHARE –
Share what you’ve written with your accountability partner. Work to develop a plan to recognize and resolve problems more quickly, to be aware of them sooner and take appropriate action.

Over the years, I’ve become more aware of how I tend to react emotionally, based on the feelings that a situation brings rather than the facts before me. Instead of looking rationally at a situation, I have the knee-jerk reaction and most often spout out something I later regret. And, when I’m tired, it’s even worse. On good days, I can recognize this before I open my mouth and I pause to consider the other person and what might be prompting them to act as they are. I try to remember that those around me are not “out to get me” and may just be having a bad day. It’s the basic lesson—it’s not about me!
But on my bad days , I am feeling unappreciated or taken for granted in an area of my life, and anything someone says that may bump against my views for the day will result in a conflict. How dare they say that to me…act that way towards me…assume that about me, and so on. In a flash, I resort to the negative thoughts, the relational strongholds that I’ve been working to rid myself of. And, it’s during those moments that turning to a trusted friend helps keep me grounded in the here and now. When you have the right person alongside you, they will point you back to God through Scriptural reminders and truths. They will help you focus on your identity as a child of God. They will call you out when you’re stuck in negativity and hold you to a higher standard. Sure, it can be uncomfortable because we want to feel what we feel just because we want to! But life has so much more to offer us. God wants so much more for us than to be ruled by our emotions.

Take time to reflect on the pattern of relapse with your partner: complacency, confusion, compromise, and catastrophe. Where do you get trapped most often?

For me, it is complacency; and Baker couldn’t have explained it any better, “We get comfortable. We’ve confessed our problem, we’ve started dealing with it, and we’ve made some progress. Then we get comfortable, and one day we stop praying about it and then we stop working at it” (page 207).

When the immediate need to fix something has been addressed, the urgency to continue working on it dissipates. It’s no longer urgent, and slowly the comfort settles in. But Jesus reminded us, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Mark 14:38 NLT).

Even Paul tells us, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT). So it’s not a situation that wasn’t expected to happen, but it is a situation that can be prevented.


Let’s Pray
Lord, we thank You for loving us so much that You gave the greatest example of forgiveness through Your Son, Jesus. As we focus on creating dedicated time alone with You, let us remember to be still and know You. Timothy tells us that Your Word is “useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” Allow us to keep this focus and to develop a desire to know You even more. This journey to recovery from our habits, hang-ups, and hurts has not been easy, but we feel Your grace, love, and gentleness more each day. Amen.

Power Verses for Chapter 7:
1 Corinthians 10:12
Matthew 22:37-40
James 1:22
Colossians 3:16
Psalm 46:10
Psalm 107:15
2 Timothy 3:16
Hebrews 12:1



If you would like to send Amy a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Amy@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com