October 18, 2017

Good Works

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For we are God’s workmanship
created in Christ Jesus to do good works
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2: 10

I am reminded of Jeremiah 1:5…

Before I formed you I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart.

This just shows us how we were created.  In Genesis 1:26-28 God said, “Let us make man in Our image and Our likeness…”  You will notice God was giving power to man to have dominion over things and what distracted is the sinful nature of man.  However God’s compassionate love gave us Christ Jesus in Whom we are born again.  Now that we are born again, what is required of us?

1. Go back to the drawing board and see the purpose of God over our lives

2. Appreciate God for giving us the second chance

3. Fulfil the call that we have without murmuring or blabbing

The anchor Scripture for this week says we were ‘created to do good works.’  What then are the good works, those that God prepared for us to do in advance?

  • Matthew 5:16
    In the same way let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
  • 1 Timothy 6:18
    Command them to do good to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share.
  • Titus 2:7
    In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity seriousness.
  • Hebrews 10:24
    And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
  • James 2:17
    Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by good deeds, is dead.
  • James 2:18
    But someone will say you have faith I have deeds show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith but I do.

Brethren, as we are doing good works it is not unto man but it is unto God (according to the Scriptures).  Let us take up this noble call with our whole hearts and pursue the calling.

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Dear Lord, we thank You for You knew us for all times.  We thank You for You predestined us and You knew our roles on earth for each one of us.  May we come to a full understanding of the good works that we are to do.  Use us to the maximum and all to the glory of your Holy Name.  Open our eyes of understanding to see the best inside us and how we should take action.  On our own we can hardly manage; we need the Holy Spirit—Christ in us—for this to be undertaken.  This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Humility

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We have now entered the season of Lent.  For many Christians, Lent is taken as a time of preparation for the celebration of Easter where God miraculously redeemed mankind by resurrecting His Son from the dead. It is also a time to consider what Jesus said and did; and how we should be living in light of His Words.  ✞ ♥

During this season, here on the Seeking Him devotional blog, we have chosen to focus our devotionals on Jesus’ instructions and admonition communicated in Matthew chapter 5—the Beatitudes.  Jesus said, “Blessed are…” and He went on to give instruction as to how to be “blessed.”  To be ‘blessed’ is to ‘be happy, or to be envied.’   Truly for the Christian, we ARE blessed—oh, how very blessed we are!  Those who observe our lives should clearly be able to tell that we ARE blessed—and that we KNOW it! ✞ ♥

Please consider Jesus’ instructions along with us.  We pray that our words will encourage you and spur you on to be prepare your hearts for the joyous celebration of His Resurrection!  ✞ ♥

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 
Matthew 5:5

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You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less.  That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. 

Matthew 5:5

Humility…this is one of those words church people say alot, but sometimes don’t understand.  I can see why when there are verses like Philippians 2:3 in the Bible.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit,
but with humility of mind
regard one another as more important than yourselves.

Humility is definitely something I struggled with at first and I’m still learning how to live this out.  The Message Translation (in Matthew 5:5) explains it as being “content with who you are—no more, no less.”  According to Philippians 2:8, Jesus was an example of humility when He “…humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death to the cross!”

I like to think of humility as accepting myself just the way I am this very minute; and understanding that, although I may not be perfect, I am loved and adored by the Most High…and if God can love me, then I can love me.  Humility to me is looking at another person, whether they be a murderer, thief, or liar (all of which are sins), and understanding that I am no better than they are.  They sin and I sin…and a sin is a sin.  Paul makes this concept simple in Romans 3:23 and 24:

For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and are justified FREELY by His grace
through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

When we see others who sin, our thoughts shouldn’t consist of “Oh, at least I don’t do that,” and we shouldn’t think of one sin as worse than another.  Instead we should be concerned with whether they have heard the gospel and if they know the awesome Savior, Jesus Christ.  And if they do? Great!  And so we should…

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:24

Don’t be so harsh with your brothers and sisters in Christ.  None of us are perfect, and although we may (or may not) strive to be perfect ambassadors for Christ, we all make mistakes.  One of my favorite verses (Proverbs 24:16) is, “For a righteous man falls seven times, and he rises again….”

A perfect example of humility is shown in Luke 7:36-50.  This passage tells the story of Jesus being anointed by a sinful woman.  This woman knew who she was.  She knew who she needed, as well.  She could have looked at herself and felt that she was unworthy or “too” immoral/sinful; but she humbled herself and approached Jesus. The Pharisees, of course, looked down on this woman and criticized Jesus for allowing her to touch Him.

Jesus is willing to accept all…all can humbly approach His throne.

Thank You, Lord for loving me.  I am so thankful that I can do nothing to make You love me more or less—I am loved!  It’s just that simple.  Help me to remember not to complicate the love You give me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 8 – Recycling the Pain (pgs 241-267)

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Galatians 6:1-2
My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself. You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand.” (CEV)
At the beginning of this study in January, I had many comments on apprehensions, anxieties, and generalized worries about getting back in to the memories & experiences of the past. As the study progressed, I’ve been able to see transformations in our participants. Some have had small “AHA” moments on how the past has shaped today. Others have had eye-opening revelations. Where ever this study has taken you, God has blessed your life.
We are heading in to our final week of Life’s Healing Choices, but this is not the final week of our journey. John Baker tells us, in the Celebrate Recover Participant Guide 4, “Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Instead of the focus remaining on healing your personal hurts, it’s time to consider how others can benefit from our experiences. Baker references “recycling the pain.”
Recycle — to adapt or convert something to a new use
When we faced the events that shaped our attitudes, addictions, thoughts or behaviors, we never would have imagined that good would come out of it. Romans 8:28 states: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (NLT)
God truly does have an amazing plan for His children. He does not sit around looking for ways to hurt us, complicate our lives, or bring us pain. This comes from our choices in life. But He does promise to use ALL things for His good purpose. So when I consider the experiences of my past, I need to look to ways my experiences can help others. What did I learn from these events that can be passed on to another, give hope and encouragement?
We’re reminded that God “does His best work through weak people”

2 Cor 12:7 -10 tells us, “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (The Message)
If you had asked me in 2001 what good would ever come from the chaos around me, I would have thrown up my hands and said “Nothing!” I never could have imagined that God would restore my heart and soul to the point of remarriage, blending families, and step-parenting. And, I certainly wouldn’t have ever guessed He would use me in a ministry position like Girlfriends Coffee Hour! But in the midst of everything, I didn’t blame God or accuse Him of doing things to me. I knew He didn’t want me to experience pain, but He promised to use whatever I did experience for the positive.
As a parent, I see the same type of things with my kids. I don’t sit around thinking of ways to inflict pain or hardship in their lives (though they may think otherwise with the household rules!), but I do know that their teenage minds will make decisions that sometimes bring painful consequences. My goal as mom is to help them learn from the experience, give suggestions to overcome, and help them move forward. There is a purpose behind all that we experience, whether we want to admit it or not.

God does the same for us through His Word, our interactions with fellow believers, and in daily prayers with Him. Baker shares that , “people are not helped by our strengths; they’re helped when we’re honest about our weaknesses … the proof that you are truly recovering is when you begin to focus outside yourself, when you stop being absorbed with your needs, your hurts, your problems. Recovery is evident when you being to say, ‘How can I help others?”” pg.242
This week we’ll look more closely at the following questions:

  • Why does God allow pain?
  • How can we use our pain to help others?

A few verses to ponder this week:
Ecclesiastes 4:9 -1 2 NLT
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 real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (The Message)

James 1:22 NLT
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

 

Your Reading Assignment this Week

Monday – Chapter 8 Sharing the Choice – Laurie
Tuesday – Why does God Allow Pain? – Leslie
Wednesday – How to Use our Pain – Kim
Thursday – Make the Choice – Amy
Friday – Recap of the week – Laurie

Let’s Pray:

Lord, we thank You because You are ever-present in our lives. No matter what we experience, You are there with us to give us strength, courage, comfort through each and every step. Even as we look to heal from our past experience, we can hold hope in Your promise to work ALL things for good in those who live according to Your will. As our Heavenly Father, You desire the best for Your children. Continue to guide us as we continue to learn more about trusting You. Amen.

Power Verses for Chapter 8
Matthew 10:8
Matthew 6:24
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Deuteronomy 4:9
James 2:17
Ephesians 4:1
2 Corinthians 3:18
Hebrews 10:24
Romans 12: 9, 13
Galatians 6:1
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

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

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 6 – Make the Choice (pgs 182-186)

MAKE THE CHOICE: Repairing Relationships


“Today is a new day. Starting today, you can refocus your life on doing God’s will in your relationships” (Baker, 180)

I think we would all agree with John Baker’s assessment that broken relationships are the root of much of the pain we experience. The action steps this week allow us to move towards forgiving those who hurt us, and making amends with those we’ve hurt. Let’s explore how we can live unashamed, forgetting our troubles, full of hope and blessed (Job 11:13-10)

WRITE –
Throughout this study, we’ve taken a lot of time to write about our experiences, our actions, and our pain. I believe that writing gives us the opportunity to clearly see the thoughts that run through our minds, but by using both the thinking & writing tasks, it becomes more real to us. We take an active approach to the thoughts. We see it in black & white (or purple & white if you were to see my journal), and it’s no longer something hidden in the back corners of our lives.

Start out this week’s exercise by writing down a list of people who have harmed you in some way, and their relationship to you. Now, I’m not talking about the guy who cut you off on the road. It’s not the petty little stuff we’re dealing with here. Go back to your inventory lists from Chapter 4 if necessary. We are creating our Forgiveness List.

Once you have the list of people, or maybe just one person, describe what they said or did to hurt you. How did it make you feel? Dig deep and find the descriptive words for your feelings, don’t just say “angry” or “hurt”. Do you struggle with finding words to describe how you feel? You’re not alone! I know in counseling sessions, we were given charts & lists to help us as a family learn to communicate our feelings more clearly with one another. I found these links that might be helpful if you struggle in expressing words for your emotions:

http://www.professional-counselling.com/list-of-human-emotions.html

http://www.ami-tx.com/Portals/3/EmotionsFlyer.pdf (this is great picture chart for children!)

Now, let’s move to the Amends List. Write down names of those you’ve hurt or offended, and their relationship to you. As we did with the previous list, write down what you said or did to this person. How do you think this person felt? Why are you sorry for hurting this person? Do you stop to think about how your words or actions affect another person? So often we can point out every little offense of other people, but we dismiss what we did as nothing.

Baker gives a list of questions (p. 184) to help jump start your thinking if you’re struggling to think of those you have hurt:

  • Is there anyone to whom you owe a debt that you haven’t repaid?
  • Is there anyone you’ve broken a promise to?
  • Is there anyone you are guilty of controlling or manipulating?
  • Is there anyone you are overly possessive of?
  • Is there anyone you are hypercritical of?
  • Have you been verbally, emotionally or physically abusive to anyone?
  • Is there anyone you have not appreciated or paid attention to?
  • Is there anyone you have been unfaithful to?
  • Have you ever lied to anyone?

SHARE –
Our accountability partners will be crucial in this process. We do not want to run to someone who hurt us and put ourselves in a vulnerable position where we can be hurt again. In some instances, we will not actually face (or contact) the person we are forgiving because the risk of further harm is too great. Your accountability partner is there to talk with you, serve as a sounding board, and help guide your steps. Share your Forgiveness List with this person BEFORE you go to the one you are forgiving.

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Also share your Amends List with your accountability partner, and work together to develop a plan to make amends with the people you have listed. It’s not about running out to accomplish all that we can as fast as we can. There will be an appropriate time, location, and way to manage this step. Your partner knows you and will help guide you to the best way to accomplish your task.

I shared with you on Sunday my lesson in forgiving others. This was an action I needed to do, not just because God expects this of me, but because my life & health depended upon it. Harboring the resentment and anger would have caused more harm in my life … my ability to love and trust others, my ability to demonstrate His love to my daughter, and my ability to draw close to Him. But outside of the day I spoke to the court, I did not face my ex-husband to have a personal conversation with him. It would have been inappropriate to do so. I do have fleeting moments today where I think I should write him a letter, but going through this study has shown that it would bring harm to him. I said what needed to be said years ago. To make contact now would only stir up the issues and the emotions. Deep down, the flesh side of me wants to show him how well we’ve done in the years since. But that’s not what God wants. Forgiveness has been given. It was spoken, it was done.

At this time, I can think of one other for whom I need to forgive, and as much as I’ve said over the years that I have forgiven him, this study has made me see that perhaps I really haven’t. If I have forgiven this person for his actions years ago, would it still bother me that I only hear from him on birthdays and Christmas? If I have forgiven him, would it bother me that I don’t often receive replies to emails? If I have forgiven him, would it annoy me that he doesn’t seem to interact with family in ways I feel would be more appropriate? If I have fully forgiven him, would I actually have this list of things that bother me so? Or am I just holding on too tightly to the emotions the memories evoke? Either way, I haven’t fully given the issue to God, and I believe this is the area I need to really explore more deeply.

Power Verses for Chapter 6:
Luke 6:31-37
Hebrews 10:24
Philippians 2:4
Romans 12:17-18
Matthew 5:23-24
1 Peter 5:10
Colossians 3:13
Romans 8:31
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Taken from the Celebrate Recovery Participant’s Guide 3, I want to share with you the following prayer to closer out this week’s activity:
Dear God, thank You for Your love, for Your freely given grace. Help me model Your ways when I make my amends to those I have hurt and offer forgiveness to those who have injured me. Help me to set aside my selfishness and speak the truth in love. I pray that I would focus only on my part, my responsibility in the issue. I know that I can forgive others because You first forgave me. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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

Lady In Waiting: New Friends / New Surroundings / New Faith

 

Today’s lesson is brought to you by Tonya Ellison – GCH Singles Ministry

I want to be a woman of God. I want my thoughts and actions to glorify Him. I want to find my worth in Him before I look for that love and validation in any other person. I want to develop a relationship with Him before I invest time into any other relationship. How do I fully embrace this?
When I started reading this book last week I came up with a little saying on these three sections:

 

Person, Place and Faith

(because faith is more than just a thing)

New friends (person):  Who am I allowing to influence me?  How many times have I found myself spending time with friends and something just didn’t feel right? I’ve been in seasons in my life where I have to stand back and ask God and myself “How did I get here? What’s the deal? And to be perfectly honest I didn’t consider my friends to be part of the problem. I’m grown, I’m not doing what they’re doing, and I’m just there spending time with them.  I’m not letting them control my thoughts or actions either.

I was wrong. Like the authors said, I wasn’t spending time with other Christian women who encouraged me to live my life for God, women who “spurred” me forward on my journey.  My friends weren’t necessarily pulling me down but they weren’t pushing me forward either.

I’m not sure if you’ve experienced this but being a Christian woman in today’s society isn’t always going to make you the most popular person in the group. I found myself looking the other way and ignoring the behaviors of my friends because I didn’t want to lose them as friends and because I didn’t want them to look at me differently, mainly because I didn’t want to feel alone.

“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals”

1 Corinthians 15:33

New Surroundings (Places):  I have to ask God where He wants me to be. Like the example in the book it can be something as minor as a choice between two activities, or something as big as a move across states. He has places picked out for us, whether it is a church, a job or a home. He knows where He wants us.

Surroundings pt. 2: Culture. The culture we find ourselves in today is not always the most growth producing place to be. I have to ask myself on a daily basis if I am reflecting a “Christ-like culture, or am I molding to the culture of the world? I understand how hard it is to not do as others do.

We need to reflect His culture;

we need to be influenced by his behavior.

New Faith:  “…devoting as much energy to Jesus as I would in a relationship with a boyfriend.”  Wow! I want to devote more to Him than I would, my husband, my kids, my job, my friends, more than everything. Without a true relationship with Him, without a true journey with Him, I am not going to become the woman He destined me to be.

I have to give Him my all

before I can give any part of me to anyone or anything else.

So, what does this all mean to me? I need to look at who I spend time with, where I spend my time, and my willingness and readiness to place all of my faith in God and focus on my relationship with Him.

Who and what am I allowing to stand in the way of my reckless abandonment?

Let’s Pray:
Lord, I pray that you open our eyes and our hearts to the new things we need in our lives. The new areas that will allow us to grow in your love and to be the women you destined us to be. Please help us to love our friends who have not broken their alabaster box at your feet without allowing them to influence our thoughts and actions. Please help us to seek your will when it comes to where we need to be, where we need to work, worship, live. Lord please give us strength when we walk our journey with you, when we choose your culture over the culture of the world. Thank you for your grace in this journey. Thank you for your hand on our lives as we strive towards reckless abandonment.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

Your Assignment:

In the comment section below, please answer the following questions:  What do you look for in friends? What do you do, or does a friend do for you in regards to encouraging growth, and a stronger relationship with God?

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:24

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Blessings,

Tonya