July 27, 2017

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

Memory Verse:

Heb4_16

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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

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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!

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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” Week 3 – Day 4: The Day of The Lord

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

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You, my friends, are God’s chosen people, and He wants to lavish you with His love and shower you with blessings that only He can give. But you have to put Him first in your life, above everything else and constantly seek Him. Friends, the day of the Lord is coming. Are you ready? Are you serving Him only? Or are you still dabbling in worldly behaviors?

Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah were all prophets, chosen by God to send messages to His people about the coming day. They had messages of hope and blessings for His people after years of persecution, captivity, and darkness. The only thing they had to do was seek God. They had become complacent, content in their lives, desensitized to the evil that was going on all around them. Some were worshipping idols, others were worshipping their own lives. God loved them enough to send some hard words, warnings of what is to come if they didn’t turn from their wicked ways and follow hard after God.

Zephaniah 3:14-18 is a beautiful, love letter from God to His people then and to us now. You can make this personal and find such hope in these words from your Father. No matter what your life may have looked like, God wants to rescue you and redeem you.  I want you to substitute your name in these verses. (Italics mine)

“Sing, O daughter of Zion (your name), be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord has taken away your punishment. He has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you. Never again will you fear harm. On that day, they will say to Jerusalem (your name). “Do not fear, O Zion(your name), do not let your hands hang limp, the Lord your God is mighty to save. He will take great delight in You! He will quiet you with His love and He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:14-18

I’m in tears, aren’t you? God, the Great I AM is rejoicing over you with singing!!!

Next  comes  the book of Haggai. He brings a message of encouragement to the people of Jerusalem. He wanted them to return to the task of building the Temple. When they were first released from exile, they were filled with hope, excitement, and on fire for God. But life and the pressure got to them and they became selfish and they quit doing the work God called them to do. Can you relate?

Haggai was to get them back on track. To get them to stop making excuses and to show them the reasons they were suffering, which were directly related to not putting God first in their lives. How true this is in our own lives. We can get back on track just by asking. It is that simple. And we will be better than we were before because of what we learned in the battle.

“The future glory of this temple will be greater than its past glory, says the Lord Almighty. And in its place, I will bring peace. I, the Lord Almighty, have spoken.”

Haggai 2:9

And last, Zechariah leaves us with the hope of the coming Messiah, the coming of Jesus! He wanted God’s people to know that even in times of discouragement and turmoil, and trials, God is working out His plan in our lives and guides and directs us if we trust and follow Him. Is He going to be your Savior or your judge? Some of His promises are conditional. We must obey Him to receive them. He will give us consistent blessings when we consistently live our lives for Him.

 “When that day arrives, The Lord, their God, will rescue His people, just as a shepherd rescues His sheep. They will sparkle in His hand like jewels in a crown. How wonderful, how beautiful they will be. The young men and women will thrive on the abundance of grain and new wine.”

Zechariah 9:16

You will be a sparkle in God’s hand! A jewel in a crown. He calls you beautiful and wonderful. Amazing grace! We may feel like our life is a battlefield!  As long as we are on this earth, there will always be a battle going on between good and evil. When we turn our lives over to Him, the Great I AM, He will rescue us and keep us secure; safe and in His arms we will dwell. We will never be fully satisfied in life without Him. We were made to need Him.

The Day of the Lord is coming! In the blink of an eye this world will be no more!  All that we have endured will be worth it when we look into the eyes of our Savior. Is there something that you need to turn from today? Dear friends, He is worth the sacrifice. Eternity with Him is your reward. You are worth it!

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord of Heaven’s Army, Messiah, we praise You for sending Your Son to die so that we may live in eternity forever with You. Thank You for all these promises that we are seeing come true in our lives. Thank You that no matter where we have been or what we have done, You will forgive us and set our paths straight again. You long to be our Savior and Redeemer. Thank You for Your Word, and for these prophets You sent before us with Your messages of hope that relate to our lives today. We love You and Praise You. We can’t wait to meet You face to face one day. In Jesus’ name we pray.

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

Girls with Swords: Chapter 14: Our Cross-Carry (pgs 214-220)

Going through this book I have loved the various crosses that we are to carry. I have loved learning of the true power that we have as girls with swords.  I have loved learning about the true power that those swords possess.  We are instructed to wield different kinds of swords, to possess different characteristics; and, yes, I have asked, “How, Lord? How do I do this and do it the right way?”

Two words:  “Follow Him.”

Jesus spoke the truth, fed the hungry, cast out demons, healed the sick, confronted religion, and raised the dead. He did this to show love, forgiveness, healing, freedom, and redemption.

Christ:

Loved the people

Matthew 4:23 (NKJV)

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.  

Forgave the people

Matthew 9:2-8  (NKJV)

Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”  And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”  But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said,“Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house.  Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men. 

Freed the people

Acts 10:38 (NKJV)

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 

 

Redeemed the people

Psalm 107:2 (NKJV)

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.

 

One of the things that stood out to me the most is the need for us to follow Him, for us to model our lives, words, actions, and thoughts after Him. Lisa said more than once that this generation, the world we live in today, needs these things more than ever. We need love and forgiveness, we need redemption and freedom. We need miracles, and we need signs and wonders. We need to follow Him in His actions, in His efforts to draw others closer to Him. We need to show that the Cross was the “ultimate display of His unconditional love for us” (pg. 214).

The Cross is our sign and you are His wonder.”  We were placed here to pick up our swords.  We were placed here to follow Him and to build the kingdom of Christ.

The final verse of this section touched my heart:

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NKJV)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Love. Forgive. Free. Heal. Redeem. Encourage.

FollowHim.jpg

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example You offer to us.  We see so much hurt and pain in our world.  We know that we have the sword and we know that we have the power, but how to use these sometimes escapes us.  Lord, remind us to follow You, remind us to model after Your example.  Most importantly remind us to love.  Through love so many other tasks can be accomplished.  As You instruct in Hebrews 10:23-25, let us stir up love, let us stir up good works, let us lift one another up.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Girls with Swords: Chapter 13 – Sword of Forgiveness & Restoration: What’s Your Story? (pgs. 205-206)

2Cor1_4

If you could see the underside of your life, you would see God your Father all over the details. He wrote your story. What is your story, dear friend? Do you have deep wounds that still need healing? Or perhaps you have overcome and you are in a good place, but someone in your family is struggling and you are just at your end with it. The ripple effect is reaching everyone including your children. How can you do this any longer? I don’t know your story. I don’t know what your childhood was like.

If your daddy loved you and told you how beautiful you are or if you are still begging for his attention; or maybe your childhood was stolen by someone who had no right to it. Maybe you had life happen to you as an adult and you’re ashamed of the way you dealt with it. Oh dear one, there is One who knows all and He came to take your shame away, to redeem and restore; release you from all that’s past and give you a future full of possibilities. Your story is full of opportunities to help someone else struggling.

We are given so many opportunities as His followers to step out and share the hope that we have in Him. One by one, story by story, lives are transformed and families restored…the list goes on and on. Hope is passed on when we walk in obedience; when we speak His words of restoration.

There’s a saying that goes: “Hurt people hurt people.”  Oh how true this is! But let me encourage you to try something if you are that hurting person. Instead of lashing out at a grumpy cashier, or anyone else giving you a bad attitude, show compassion. We don’t know their story of why they are acting the way they are. We are called to be His hands and feet in this lost world. Lisa asks us if we have any daggers of disappointment or bitterness that might threaten to misdirect a sword at hand. If so, we must willingly lay them down (pg 205).

Only when we have let go of resentment and forgive can we be free. As stated on page 206, “How might God use YOU as an agent of restoration?”

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Let’s Pray:

Dear God, my Daddy in Heaven, I surrender all. I lay it at Your feet. I trust You will guide each one of us and direct our steps as we step out into a hurting world and speak Your words of restoration and healing to others. Give each one of us the courage to be bold and use this story You have given us to encourage and give strength to one another as we travel together. I pray we choose to always say ‘yes!’ to You. We love You and we praise You and worship You with our whole being. We release our hurts and resentments. We release those who hurt us so that we may be whole to serve You wholly.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Girls with Swords: Chapter 13 – “The Sword of Forgiveness” (pgs. 200-205)

Working as a hospice Bereavement Counselor, I have heard and seen stories like Lisa’s numerous times. These stories do not cease to touch my heart. But I have seen stories of forgiveness have two different outcomes as well.

There are two decisions that can be made in a situation such as the one depicted in this chapter.

1.  Forgive 
2.  Don’t forgive

As a Bereavement Counselor I have the opportunity to speak with some of the most interesting individuals I have ever met. Our patients have lived full lives, raised families, and created legacies. When working with our patients and their families all too often we are faced with issues of unforgiveness—either on the side of the patient or on the side of their family.  I have seen unforgiveness lead to children not visiting their parent as they die. I have seen unforgiveness breed words of hurt and hate; open wounds that were thought closed; and cause those wounds to go unhealed…opportunities gone.

I have also seen forgiveness build bridges, heal hearts, and create new beginnings and new opportunities. Relationships restored and mended. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing!  It is a beautiful gift that we are given by God to have relationships with others after our flesh and the world has tried to corrupt them.

Forgiveness is the remission of sins.
For it is by this that what has been lost,
and was found, is saved from being lost again.

–Augustine (pg.205)

Lisa questions how forgiveness impacted her father that night she went to go see him, she doesn’t know exactly what happened, what he was thinking? But, she did know that God moved that night. Her willingness to forgive, her willingness to pick up that sword and walk forward with God by her side made a difference in her father’s life. It made a difference in her life and it made a difference in the life of the social worker who cared for her dad. She didn’t know what forgiving her father would do but she knew that it was something that needed to be done.

We don’t know what events will follow after we choose to say ‘yes‘ to God, we don’t know what will happen after we pick up that sword of forgiveness and carry it with us on our journey. We don’t know what will happen after we forgive that mother, that father, the brother, sister, friend, whomever it may be. But what we do know is after we forgive, after we lay the issue at God’s feet and allow love to fill the space where the unforgiveness lived, that God will take over, He will fulfill the promises He made regarding those relationships before they were even formed.

Lisa’s forgiveness of her father and his actions was a gift—a gift to her father and a gift to herself. Like Lisa said in this section “God is faithful.”  We are to forgive, and He will handle the rest.

Forgiveness.jpg

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Forgiveness is at times made to seem to sound so easy; but, Lord, You know that it can be hard. Lord, it takes faith and strength and trust in You.  Stories like Lisa’s are beautiful and heartwarming. Please touch the hearts and lives of the women here who are dealing with the issue of forgiveness.  Please soften our hearts and give us the strength to lay the pain at Your feet, the strength to pick up our sword of forgiveness and walk forward with You by our side.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Girls with Swords: Chapter 12 Sword of Silence “David’s Sword of Silence” (Pgs.183-187)

The variety of swords at our disposal does not cease to amaze me. I think that it is easy to forget the power that our swords truly hold, but I am thankful for studies such as this that lay those swords out in front of us, resources that remind us that we have been blessed and chosen by God to carry these swords and to use them for His glory. The sword that is being discussed this week is one that has, at times, been difficult to wield; but at other times—with God on my side—it has been carried with ease. The sword of silence seems too heavy to bear when we have been “wearied by all the altercations” (pg. 183). All the altercations of life, of relationships, of responsibilities, and like David we may have felt the weight of wanting to be included. It feels unbearable when we feel like we have had enough and we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders.

When David felt like this, when he felt wearied, he reacted. He tossed aside his sword of silence and picked up a sword which he intended to use for harm.

“If you are not careful, listening to what other people say about you may cause you to forget who you actually are” (pg. 185). One thing that I have noticed is that this does not always apply to other people. There have been times when I have been my own distraction, where I have talked myself out of my sword of silence. Both those around us and our own inner thoughts can distract us enough to cause us to react. “The trick is choosing to allow those critiques to refine, not define, us.” (pg. 185)

There are some key takeaways for all of us here:

1.     God alone establishes houses.

2.      When we live under the directive of God’s Spirit, God protects us.

3.      God knows how to settle matters with our enemies.

4.      We should never use our position with God to protect ourselves.

5.      We are not to take judgment or salvation matters into our hands; both of these matters belong to our God.     (pg.186)

I have to remind myself often that the sword I am being instructed to pick up is my sword of silence. I am to step back in prayer and allow God to handle the situation; I’m supposed to bite my tongue.

silence.jpg

 

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, there are so many times when Your instruction is to pick up our sword of silence. Life (and the weight it places on us) can cause this sword to feel extremely heavy at times. Lord, I ask for strength for all of us when we are to carry this sword, when we are to silence our own thoughts and the words of those around us. Thank you for protecting us and for settling our matters for us, Lord.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.

Girls with Swords: Chapter 11- Open Thoughts of Chapter

I remember my grandmother telling me the favorite part of her day was when she was worshipping God.  When she told me that, I asked her if she sang to God every day.  I was confused because the only time I ever thought I worshipped God was when I would sing praises at church.  My grandmother knew exactly what I was thinking and, with a smile, she replied with words that spoke directly to my heart, “I sing to God every day, with my words, with my prayers, with my thoughts, and with my time I spend reading the Bible and being still in His presence.”  This is when I learned worship isn’t about the building you are in, the drums in the background, or the people around you.  Instead it is all about using every opportunity of worship throughout the day to escape to a place of love, grace, mercy, peace, and complete joy with our Heavenly Father.  Our favorite time of the day should easily be the time spent singing to God. 

After reading this chapter and the blogs that my amazing friends have prepared for us there are some things God has laid on my heart I feel compelled to share with you.

Revelation 4:9-10

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on  the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

The first time I read this passage in the Bible, I could not help but cry out to God.  This passage helped solidify who God is in my life.  He is worthy of all of my praise, glory, and honor.  This passage challenges me to make sure that in everything I do, there are elders on their knees in Heaven worshipping our One and Only.

I love You, Lord,
and I lift my voice
to worship You;
oh, my soul rejoice!
take joy, my King
in what You hear…
may it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear!

I cannot even begin to describe to you how this song has helped me through some of the darkest hours of my life.  Now, I fall asleep singing this song many nights.  I am so thankful for music that God uses to help us through the dark.  As Lisa says on page 173 “Music invites your body to move, but remembering all that God has done for you will move you.”  (Move you out of the darkness!) What are some songs God has used in your life?

When I was singing the above lyrics as I was preparing this blog for today, I thought of different lyrics.  Let my life be a sweet, sweet, sound in your ear.  I decided to type this into Google and this is what I found…

I am an instrument of the living God
My life a melody to His name
More than the songs I sing
Worship is everything
I live to glorify my King

Hear the song of my life
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
I raise this anthem high
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound

Through all the mire and clay
You’re washing me with grace
You carry me, oh Lord, through it all
So I will testify even in the fire
I live to praise my Savior

Meditate on the lyrics of this song.  Is the song you sing every day the life you live for God?  I pray this song blesses your heart as much as it has mine.

 

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father,  I thank You for orchestrating the songs of our lives.  Help us to play back to You the music You created in our souls from the very beginning.  I pray we desire to bring You alone praise and glory and honor.  I thank You for the melody You are playing in our lives.  Help us to always let our lives be a sweet, sweet sound to Your ear!  AMEN!

Girls with Swords: Chapter 11 – “Sword of Song – Songs of Battle” (pgs 170-173)

 

When I read this section, I thought of this song. I thought of how this song touches my heart and empowers me each time I hear it. This song reminds me of how music works, it reminds me of those times when I was in the middle of a battle, in the middle of a test or trial and I would turn music on. Sometimes I would sing aloud, or sometimes I would sing silently to myself; either way the words of the song, and the sounds of the music would help to create a type of “joyful strength” (p. 171), as Lisa described it. Songs have the ability to “remind us of just how awesome the Most High is” (p. 171).  It is so easy to become caught up in life and to let His promises drift to the back of our mind. Music has a way of bringing us back.

Isaiah 54:1

“Sing, O barren,
You who have not borne!
Break forth into singing, and cry aloud,
You who have not labored with child!
For more are the children of the desolate
Than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.
(NKJV)

I think of praise and worship on Sundays, and the atmosphere that the songs usher in. The sanctuary full of people singing praises to God in unison, everyone lifting their voices in praise and thanks to our Heavenly Father. His power in the room can be felt. It pours into our hearts and minds, it covers us in God’s love. I think of driving in the car with the radio playing and a feeling of life and peace enveloping me. I think of my rambunctious children and the effect that music has on them!  I love hearing them singing Christian songs in the backseat as we go about our daily tasks; in their own way, they are singing through their own battles.

There are ‘go-to’ songs that I have when I need to feel closer to God; songs I listen to when I clean; songs I play for my children when they go to sleep. God has given us many tools in life, and the gift of song is one of them. There are times in our lives when we need to pick up our sword of song, we need to wield it, shout and sing. The song of battle needs to be one of our tools as a warrior of Christ, and, as a girl with a sword.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your gifts! Thank You for reminding us of Your love and Your strength through song. Thank You for the joy it creates, and the security it provides. Lord, please give us a holy boldness and remind us that we are living for none other than You.  In Jesus’ Name we pray, AMEN!