August 20, 2017

You Have Been So Good

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You have been so good
You have been so good to me
In my faithless hour
You’ve been my strength
You are my tower

From the enemy
You have been so good
So good to me

Your hand is always faithful
Your mercy never ends
And when I feel unable
Your grace is there again

You chose me with my weakness
And all my sins forgave
I’ve nothing to repay You
So all that I can say

Lenny Leblanc, singer/songwriter

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Today is a day when many folks recognize the importance of being thankful.  As Christians, we are to have a life full of expressing our gratitude and thanks to our heavenly Father.  I think that the words of this beautiful song sing out our praise and gratitude for God’s overwhelming goodness.

You have been so good
You’ve been my strength
You are my tower

You chose me with my weakness
Your hand is always faithful
Your mercy never ends
Your grace is there again

We are so very thankful for God’s constant goodness to us, His children.  Truly, can you think of anything else that can so change your heart’s attitude more than being thankful?  Websters 1828 Dictionary (one of my favorite references) defines thankful as ‘grateful; impressed with a sense of kindness received, and ready to acknowledge it.’  Hmmm, sounds vaguely familiar…similar to a praise the Psalmist wrote:

Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)
O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!
Who can put into words and tell the mighty deeds of the Lord?
Or who can show forth all the praise [that is due Him]?
Psalms 106:1 and 2

I think  Mr. Webster’s definition clearly shows that thankfulness is both thought and action—you ‘sense’ being blessed AND you ‘acknowledge’ it.  Here’s a great example:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come before His presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God!
It is He Who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]!
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving
and a thank offering and into His courts with praise!
Be thankful and say so to Him,
bless and affectionately praise His name!
For the Lord is good;
His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting,
His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.
Psalm 100

The Psalmist was confessing—remembering—just a few things he was grateful for, AND voicing his gratitude  ‘for the Lord is good‘.   To remember is ‘…to bear in mind; to keep, consider, meditate.’ We can—we should—do the same!  We have oh-so-very-much to be thankful for, amen?  We have so very many memories of God’s abundant goodness to us, true?  We can sing…

I will thank Yahweh with all my heart;
I will declare all Your wonderful works.
Psalm 9:1

Listen to the some of the things that David remembers the Lord did for him and the beautiful way he voices his thankfulness here in Psalm 30:

I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to You and You have healed me.
O Lord, You have brought my life up from Sheol (the place of the dead)
Sing to the Lord, O you saints of His,
and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
By Your favor, O Lord, You have established me as a strong mountain;
You hid Your face, and I was troubled.
I cried to You, O Lord, and to the Lord I made supplication.
Hear, O Lord, have mercy and be gracious to me!
O Lord, be my helper!
You have turned my mourning into dancing for me;
To the end that my tongue and my heart
and everything glorious within me
may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

We have oh-so-very-much to thank our great God for…so many ways in which He has been so good to us!  Today, of course, as you gather with friends and loved ones…but each day, every day tell Your Father how very grateful you are for His goodness, for His protection, for His healing, for His deliverance, for His provision, for His admonition, for His guidance, for His love, grace and mercy!  And give Him much thanks!

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His compassion and lovingkindness endure forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so…
Psalms 107:1 and 2

On My Knees

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There are days when I feel the best of me is ready to begin
Then they’re days when I feel I’m letting go and soaring on the wind
Cause I’ve learned in laughter or in pain how to survive

I get on my knees, I get on my knees
There I am before the love that changes me
See I don’t know how but there’s power when i’m on my knees

I can be in a crowd or by myself or almost anywhere
When I feel there’s a need to talk with God, He is Emmanuel
When I close my eyes, no darkness there
There’s only light

 

Jaci Velasquez
written by David and Nicole C. Mullen, and Michael Hunter Ochs

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

One of the joys (and privilege!) of our relationship with our heavenly Father is being in His Presence, and spending time alone just with Him.  I call it my  ‘quiet time’ with Him.  There are many different ways to seek God but, to me, nothing compares to a dedicated, purposeful, intentional, devoted quiet time. Think about this for just a moment…what are some of the things we do with our bodies as we seek Him? A few that I thought of were:

we kneel
we sit
we stand
we lay prone
we raise our hands
we clap our hands
we walk
we lift our eyes

Perhaps you are thinking, “Oh, that is NOT for me, Coleen!  I am kind of reserved, y’know.  And besides, what might people think?!?”  Let me remind you, my friends, we are talking about YOUR quiet time with Your Father…most probably no one is around, right?

Let’s look at some examples given in the Scripture of people who, using their bodies, gave voice to the cries of their hearts:

When Daniel learned that the document had been signed,
he went into his house.
The windows in its upper room opened toward Jerusalem,
and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed,
and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
Daniel 6:10

While Ezra prayed and confessed,
weeping and falling facedown before the house of God,
an extremely large assembly of Israelite men, women, and children
gathered around him. The people also wept bitterly.
Ezra 10:1

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord
in the presence of all the assembly of Israel
and spread out his hands toward heaven.
He said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like You
in heaven above or on earth beneath,
keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants
who walk before You with all their heart…
1 Kings 8:22-24

Then He said to them, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved,
so that I am almost dying of sorrow.
Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with Me.
And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground
on His face and prayed saying, My Father, if it is possible,
let this cup pass away from Me;
nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire],
but as You will and desire.
Matthew 26:38 and 39

And there are so MANY other examples throughout the Scriptures to show us that it is a good thing to physically express our love…our adoration…our praise…our great need for our awesome and great God! Just as Daniel,  and Ezra, and Solomon, and our Lord Jesus Himself prayed and cried to God, they were ‘on their knees‘ and prone on the ground as they expressed their hearts to Him.

So may I please encourage you to do the same…allow your body to be a part of your expression of the words you are speaking as you spend your ‘quiet time’ with your heavenly Father.

Jesus told us what is required—that we give Him all of ourselves:

Love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind
Luke 10:27

True worship and praise comes from the heart.  If our worship is not coming from our hearts, it will not matter what posture or physical expression of our praise we use.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

CHRISTLife — A Quiet Time (part four)

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This week we continue to look at one of the absolute joys of our relationship with our heavenly Father—our ‘quiet time’ with Him.  Each Saturday we have been looking in-depth at a few of the more important aspects of a dedicated, purposeful, intentional, devoted quiet time.

Over the past few weeks we have considered some of these aspects, such as:

  • reading the Scriptures
  • singing our praises
  • thankfulness

In addition to each of these, I do believe that quietness—actual ‘physical-absence-of-distracting-noise quiet’…and perhaps even more important…quietness in our hearts—is required as a component of a purposeful, intentional devotional time.

Before we go any further, let’s stop for just five minutes and worship our God giving our praise for these times of stillness and quiet alone with Him!

Here In The Stillness  {Singer/Songwriter – Ali Matthews}
Here in the stillness my heart is at rest
Alone in the silence, that’s where I hear You best
In the rush of the river, like a song in the breeze
It’s here in the stillness You speak to me

When I’m lost in Your Presence the world disappears
Taking all of my troubles…my burdens, my fears
Oh how gently You hold me, You are all that I see
It’s here in the stillness You speak to me

I will be still, I will stand in awe
Oh, just to know You are my God; You are my God

Yes it’s here in the stillness You speak to me
You speak to me

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Our Lord recognized His need for quiet and time alone to pray to His Father.  If He, in His perfect sinless life, needed quiet time alone with God then we surely do also…and even more so!  His example speaks clearly to us.

And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up
and went out to a deserted place, and there He prayed.
Mark 1:35

…and great crowds gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their infirmities.
But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Luke 5:15, 16

(Perhaps, when our Lord was alone, He sang words similar to those in that beautiful song we just listened to….)

There is also another type of quietness—a quiet, peaceful heart.  Isn’t this something that each of us yearns for?  Truly I believe it can only be found as we seek Him. There is a incomparable quietness that we are promised as we trust in our Lord.

Be still and rest in the Lord;
wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him;
fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way,
because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.

Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing.
For evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord
shall inherit the earth.
Psalms 37:7-9

Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.
Psalms 46:10 and 11

And as Jesus Himself said to us,
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened,
and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
Matthew 11:28

In closing, think about how the psalmist viewed his quiet time with his God.  As we intentionally pursue having quiet time alone with our God may we ‘pour out our heart before Him; God is a Refuge for us!’

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation.
He alone is my Rock and my Salvation, my Fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him..
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty Rock, my Refuge is God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him;
God is a Refuge for us. Selah
(excerpts from Psalm 62)

CHRISTLife — A Quiet Time (Part Three)

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Each Saturday recently we have been looking in-depth at a few of the most important aspects of having a quiet time—or as some folks call it—a devotional time.  Already we have talked about two very foundational aspects of a quiet time—Bible reading and singing praises.  This week we are remembering the importance of being thankful and expressing our gratitude to our Father.

Truly, is there anything else that you can think of that can so change your heart’s attitude more than thankfulness?  I don’t think it presumptuous to say that every one of us has had times of worry, sorrow, despair, grief, anguish, pain in which we turned our hearts to seek God and found ourselves praising and thanking Him for His goodness and kindness towards us.  True?

Before we go any further, let’s stop for just five minutes and worship our God voicing our thanks and our praise!


~  Thank You  – Hillsong / Songwriter – Reuben Morgan  ~
Thank You for Your kindness, thank You for Your mercy
Thank You for the Cross, thank You for the price You paid

Thank You for salvation, thank You for unending grace
Thank You for Your hope, thank You for this life You gave

There is no one like You…There is no one like You, God
All my hope is in You, Jesus Jesus

To Your name we give all the glory
To Your name we give all the praise
And You’re alive—Our God everlasting—let Your face shine on us

Thank You for Your promise, thank You for Your favor
Thank You for Your love…everything You’ve done for me

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

The Psalmist, writer of many, many songs of thanks and praise, had this in his heart:

Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!) O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!
Who can put into words and tell the mighty deeds of the Lord?
Or who can show forth all the praise [that is due Him]?
Psalms 106:1 and 2 AMP

Who can speak forth enough words to tell all the wonderful, mighty things that God has done?  Or who can utter all the praise that is due Him?  Clearly the simple answer is ‘No one.’  But that doesn’t mean we don’t still thrill to voice our gratitude and thankfulness to our Great God!

I checked out Webster’s definition of thankfulness:

THANK’FUL, adjective.
Grateful; impressed with a sense of kindness received, and ready to acknowledge it.

• The Lord’s supper is to be celebrated with a thankful remembrance of His sufferings and death.
• Be thankful to Him, and bless his name (Psalm 100).

I think Mr. Webster’s definition clearly shows that thankfulness is both thought and action—you ‘sense’ having received <God’s> kindness AND you ‘acknowledge’ it. Here’s a great example:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come before His presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God!
It is He Who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]!
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving
and a thank offering and into His courts with praise!
Be thankful and say so to Him,
bless and affectionately praise His name!
For the Lord is good;
His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting,
His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.
Psalm 100

The Psalmist was confessing—remembering—just a few things he was grateful for, AND voicing his gratitude.  We can—we should—do the same! We have oh-so-very-much to be thankful for, amen?  We definitely ‘sense’ God’s abundant goodness and kindness to us, true?  And we acknowledge it through our words of gratitude and thankfulness.

I will thank Yahweh with all my heart;
I will declare all Your wonderful works.
Psalm 9:1

I cried to You, O Lord, and to the Lord I made supplication.
Hear, O Lord, have mercy and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!
To the end that my tongue and my heart
and everything glorious within me
may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Psalms 30:10, 12

So in your quiet time (but not ONLY in your quiet time!) may I encourage you to tell Your Father how very grateful you are for His goodness, for His protection, for His healing, for His deliverance, for His provision, for His calling, for His admonition, for His guidance, for His love, grace and mercy!  And give Him much thanks!  (Perhaps you might share with us something you have thanked Him for just today…?  Leave your comment below; thanks!)

Keep worshipping Him and enjoying your quiet time with your Lord!  As you seek Him, He will be found…He promises!

CHRISTLife — An Intentional Quiet Time (Part 2)

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Each Saturday for the next few weeks, we will look in-depth at a few of the most important aspects of having a quiet time—or as some folks call it—a devotional time.  Last week we talked about one aspect of a quiet time—reading the Bible. This week we will focus on recognizing how vital it is to include singing praises to God as part of our quiet time.

If you are like me, you have found that singing and praising through song is so uplifting; don’t you think?  Almighty God is the point…He is the focus…keeping my mind and heart set toward Him is my aim.  He is the reason why I sing praises to Him!

Psalms 147:1, 7
Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God,
for He is gracious and lovely; praise is becoming and appropriate.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
sing praises with the harp or the lyre to our God!

There are more reasons to praise our God than we have words enough to do so!  Here are just a few of His attributes:
• He is full of glory (Psalm 138:5)
• He is great (Psalm 145:3)
• He is wise and powerful (Daniel 2:20)
• He is good (Psalm 107:8)
• He is merciful (Psalm 89:1)
• He is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9)

And just some of His wonderful works:
• He is the One who saves us (Psalm 18:46)
• He keeps His promises (1 Kings 8:56)
• He pardons sin (Psalm 103:1-3)
• He gives us our daily food (Psalm 136:25)

There is a day coming when all will praise God by bowing to Jesus the King!

Philippians 2:10-11
That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge
that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Almighty God is oh-so-worthy to be praised!  Psalm 107 would be a great place to look to be encouraged with reminders of what God has done for His children! Throughout this particular psalm are listed proof after proof of God’s goodness.

Psalms 107:8, 15, 21, 31
Oh, that men would praise [and confess to] the Lord for His goodness
and loving-kindness and His wonderful works to the children of men!

The Book of Psalms has been called the ‘Praise Book’ of the Bible.  In it are literally hundreds of examples of praises and reasons why praise is oh-so-very important. Did you know that every single one of the 150 psalms included in the Book of Psalms is an actual song?  Steve Pearson, a wonderful singer and songwriter, has written and recorded many songs using the words of the Psalms and his own inspired musical accompaniment. To my knowledge, he has now written and recorded a melody to each of the 150 psalms!  Here is a link to his website  www.psalmistry.com  Check it out!  Click on a song you have chosen to listen to…this will give you the particular songs words.  then click on “mp3 or midi” (I usually choose midi and listen to a piano rendition of the song). Also you can choose to view (and print!) the sheet music for the song.  I would love to hear how these wonderful songs and website have been a blessing to you!

As I read the Scriptures, one thing is clear: singing our praises is a good thing!

Join Miss Amy Grant as she sings Sing Your Praise to the Lord!

Psalm 92:1
It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High…

Psalm 138:1-5
I will confess and praise You [O God] with my whole heart;
before the gods will I sing praises to You.
I will worship toward Your holy temple and praise Your name
for Your loving-kindness and for Your truth and faithfulness;
for You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word
and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!
In the day when I called, You answered me;
and You strengthened me with strength
(might and inflexibility to temptation) in my inner self.
All the kings of the land shall give You credit and praise You, O Lord,
for they have heard of the promises of Your mouth [which were fulfilled].
Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord
and joyfully celebrate His mighty acts, for great is the glory of the Lord.

Keep worshipping Him and enjoying your quiet time with your Lord!  As you seek Him, He will be found…He promises!

CHRISTLife — An Intentional Quiet Time (part 1)

IMG_1391Each Saturday for the next four weeks, we will look in-depth at a few of the most important aspects of having a quiet time—or as some folks call it—a devotional time.  What comes to mind when I use those words “quiet time or devotional time”?  (I would love to hear your responses below in the comments section!)

Awhile ago, I had talked with a few friends about their own quiet time.  Gathering from their experiences, there seem to be a few basic components which include:

Bible Reading
Prayer
Praise Songs
Meditation
Seeking the Lord

This week  we will focus on one of the most important components of a devotional time—spending time reading the Bible.  If we are to come to know God, we must begin to seek Him where He has made Himself known…and that is in His written Word, the Bible.

I would venture to say that almost every single one of us owns a Bible (at least one).  Did you know that the Bible continues to be the best-selling book in the world?*  One reason the Bible is so popular is that it is God’s Rule Book.  He reveals Himself within the pages of the Bible.  In the words of His written Word, we find that:

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
Psalms 19:7-11

So, we learn in this passage that the Bible—which contains the Lord’s law, testimony, precepts, commandments and judgments—is to be desired!  The Scriptures can be to us, as the Psalmist wrote, more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey!  And, in keeping (obeying) the words of the Bible (the Lord’s law, testimony, precepts, commandments and judgments) there is great reward!  Such encouragement there is then to spend time reading the Bible, wouldn’t you agree?

One of my oh-so-very favorite Scripture passages is Psalm 119.  (And, yes, it directly correlates to the psalm we just read—Psalm 19!  You noticed that, hmmm? Watch, you’ll see!)  Psalm 119 is the longest chapter contained in any of the 66 books of the Bible;  it totals 176 verses.  Each of these 176 verses communicates a different truth about the Lord’s law, testimony, precepts, commandments and judgments along with His ways, statues, and ordinances.  I find it so amazing (our Lord IS so amazing!) that every single verse tells us something new and different!  Reading and considering and meditating upon the dynamic truths contained in this ONE chapter could be a continuing study for your quiet time.  Perhaps these three verses would be a good place to start:

With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O Lord; teach me Your statutes.
Psalm 119:10-12

Our heart’s desire—is to seek God!  He is what we yearn for…just to be with Him!  And these three verses express that desire so simply.

Here is a link to a cd that I think you will find a useful tool for your devotional time.  It is called Psalm 119 in Song by Susie Kimbrough,  a compilation of the 22 songs from Psalm 119 all of which are original musical compositions.  Listen to each of the selections and meditate on the Scriptures being sung.

Every day, perhaps every morning, set aside a dedicated time to spend simply reading the Bible.  My own experience has taught me that unless I determine to intentionally pursue spending time each morning reading…it just escapes me through the busyness of the day.  And, yes, during most seasons of life that means setting my alarm a bit earlier than I would prefer.  But it is so worth it!  And maybe you simply start off with 10-15 minutes; could you squeeze that in?  Some people like to read through chronologically.  Some prefer to read a particular book through, and then move on to another.  There are many different Bible reading plans/schedules out there.  You can even choose one through an app and then, automatically, every day you will be sent a portion of the Scriptures to read…how handy is that?!?

Keep seeking for and desiring Him…your heavenly Father has MUCH to show you about Himself through His Word, the Bible!  Enjoy your quiet time with Him.  As you do, He will keep you from wandering, help you not to sin, and will teach you His statutes (Psalms 119:10-12).  Praying for each of you!  I know that the Lord will answer your heart’s cry as you seek Him with all your heart!  (Know how I can make that absolute statement?  The Bible tells me so!)

The Bible is the best-selling book in the world:

http://www.booksellerworld.com/bestselling-booksever.htm

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/1/best-selling-book-of-non-fiction

Esther – Chapter 7:1-2

Here in Esther: The Beauty of Courageous Submission, Mrs. Schacht asks us the following question…it is a biggie…ready?

“…is there anything that draws you away
from your relationship with God,
or distracts you from serving Him?”

Anything.”  I don’t like to admit it…to you or even to myself, honestly.  But ‘yes’ is my answer.  How about you?  Please take a few moments, right now, and consider this question.  Perhaps ask God to reveal this to you.

As we consider that we allow circumstances and situations to distract us from the One Who we should be seeking, I am sure your heart is saddened as mine is.  Actually,…no…not saddened!  My heart is sorrowful.  But, rather than just be depressed, my next thought should be/is “What am I going to do about that!?!”  Our heavenly Father doesn’t want us to remain in our sorrowful state of mind…He wants us to mourn our sin (of course), repent and CHANGE.  And then to live our lives to His honor and glory!

As we each experience daily, there is much to distract us from focusing on our relationship with our God.  From the moment our eyes open each morning, it can be a struggle to maintain the right perspective—God first.  But we CAN rise above this challenge and choose where our hearts and minds go.  For me the impetus must be to seek Him above, before, and instead of anything else.  He comes first before anything else.  And so I need to purposefully, willfully seek Him.

We have such joy and privilege of having direct access to His throne of grace!  At any time during the day (or night!) we can seek our heavenly Father—and enjoy quiet time alone with Him.  David wrote about his ‘quiet time’ in the following verse.  Does God hear you expressing your heart to Him in the same way?

In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord;
In the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You
And watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].
Psalm 5:3

Now, of course, that time you spend alone with Your Lord—your quiet, devotional time—is certainly not the only time to pray! Actually, I think, being intentionalseeking Him first and foremostour hearts are prepared so that the rest of our day is filled with continual little prayers and petitions directed to our God.

Be encouraged!  I am sure that you already seek Him throughout your day…. How often do we go along through our day accomplishing the normal even mundane tasks talking with our Father?  Or driving (yet again) to school to pickup your children; isn’t that a great time to pray?  Or waiting for them at dance/soccer/baseball practice or music lessons/cub scout meeting/Awana time/_______ (you fill in the blank); yet another small amount of time that can be eked out of our day to pray and seek Him.

Paul wrote a number of times in his letters to the Christian believers about the importance of praying.  Listen to this encouragement:

Eph6_18

Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

So we see by seeking God first and foremost, by being intentional to have a ‘quiet time’ early in our day, by seeking Him in our prayers and petitions, we will be better prepared to pray at all times, and, keep alert and watch, and, pray without ceasing.  We will be continually seeking Him throughout each day—thus carrying out His will!

Here is a great example of seeking Him:

Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life],
Being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2

Those are some very intentional words used at the beginning of that verse, yes? Other versions use similar words such as devote, persevere, continue….

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything,
but in every circumstance and in everything,
by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
continue to make your wants known to God.
And God’s peace [shall be yours, that peace]
which transcends all understanding
shall garrison and mount guard
over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

“In every circumstance and in everything by prayer and petition…with thanksgiving” …that is how we make sure we are seeking Him in spite of the myriad of distractions in our lives.  Keep seeking Him and enjoy your quiet time with your Lord!  As you seek Him, He will be foundHe promises!

Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me,
and I will hear and heed you.
Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity]
and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:12,13

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Let’s Pray:

Lord, You know our desire to seek You!   We need Your help, Lord, in everything…even in turning from distraction and seeking You!  We have Your promise that if we ask anything according to Your will, You hear us.  And since we know that You hear us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of You (1 John 5:14, 15).  Thank You, Lord!  We know that You will answer our heart’s cry as we are seeking You with all our heart!

Amen!

Glorious Living w/ Coach Megan: Christ’s Ambassadors

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2 Corinthians 5:20 and 21

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

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 Merriam-Webster’s definition of Ambassador:

1: an official envoy; especially: a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment
2a: an authorized representative or messenger, b: an unofficial representative <traveling abroad as ambassadors of goodwill>

Being a Christ follower, I am who people look to in order to see what Christianity is like. If you are a Christ follower, you are, too. Our eternal home is in Heaven, and our job as ambassadors of Christ is to show people how amazing it’ll be through the way we live our life and how we interact with others…showing the love of Christ.

Why are we ambassadors? Jesus has instructed us to do so, in the Great Commission. In Mark 6:15 Jesus tell us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” That is all the reason we need, right? So then why is it so HARD to just do it??? Fear of rejection? Afraid you won’t have all the answers? Why?

We are commissioned to NOT keep the good news to ourselves – it should be contagious! In Matthew 10:27,  Jesus tells us “What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!” If you are called to do something by the Lord and you choose to ignore that calling, not only are you not receiving the full blessing of God, but think of all the lives who are also not receiving it! God put you on this earth for a specific reason and puts you in the different seasons and places you are in for His purpose to be done on the earth. If you are not seeking Him to guide you through this life, to give you the boldness to be His ambassador, just think of the many lives you are not affecting!

Before we can be ambassadors, we need to know the person we are representing. Think about it…if you took a job as an ambassador of a country you knew nothing about and had never been to, you wouldn’t be able to do a very good job of representing it, right? It makes sense then that in order for us to do a good job of representing Christ to an unbelieving world, we need to first spend time getting to know Him. This means that we need to be spending time with Him on a regular basis—reading His Word, spending time in prayer, and growing closer to Him. He is craving this relationship with you…. all relationships need work. Are you doing your part?

Being an ambassador of Christ means being “like Christ” and having a servant’s heart. We need to strive to:

  • Be kind and compassionate.
  • Challenge what is wrong.
  • Speak out for truth.
  • Be joyful.
  • Refuse to conform to society’s standards.
  • Have self-control.
  • Do things only to please God, not man.
  • Be spontaneous and creative.
  • Think of others rather than yourself.
  • Live out life in all its fullness.

We must have integrity in our words and actions. Integrity means that what you say, what you profess to believe, and what you actually do, match up. This is certainly an intentional process. For us to be effective ambassadors of Christ, we can’t go around claiming to love God and then not show that we love Him by our actions. Actions speak louder than words, right? It is imperative that our actions back the Word of God that we are professing. We are not perfect, we are human…but we can strive to do our best, intentionally, everyday for His Glory!

We must love people without any agenda. We don’t love people so that they will become Christians. We show love to them because they are God’s creation and sometimes, as a result of that, they will eventually come to accept Christ. We shouldn’t give up on loving them if after a few months it has had no visible spiritual impact. Loving people doesn’t mean doing good deeds begrudgingly for them because we feel as Christians that is what we should be doing. If that is the case, we are acting out of duty, not love.  Sometimes it can be hard, but we need to remember the example of Jesus. Many of the people He showed love to turned their back on him (such as the time he healed ten lepers, but only one came back to thank Him). We are working for a heavenly reward, not an earthly one…and that must remain at the front of our minds and hearts.

We must encourage people not to want to stay “on the outside looking in.”  This means making them want to be a part of the Christian community we are a part of. In Romans 11:14, Paul says “I want somehow to make the people of Israel [the non-believing Jews] jealous of what you Gentiles [the early Christians] have.”  If people see contentment, joy, and genuine passion when they look to us they are going to be curious. If all they see is people with the same doom and gloom as the godless world around them, they won’t be interested. Would you?

We must be openly honest about our faith, not hiding it when it is inconvenient. In Matthew 5:15, Jesus says “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” Because sharing your faith isn’t just about your words, it’s about actions, too. Here is a question to honestly ask yourself: If someone was watching your life 24/7 “Big Brother” style, how long would it take for them to realize you were a Christian? Would it be evident through the way you live your life, or would it take them until you went to church on Sunday to make the connection?

Hmmmmmm? OUCH!

Being an ambassador of Christ means being his hands and feet to a world that desperately needs God.

1 Corinthians 12:27 says that “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” You have probably heard the Casting Crowns song, If We Are the Body, which has a really challenging chorus for those of us who profess to be trying to be ambassadors of Christ.

“If we are the body,

Why aren’t His arms reaching, why aren’t His hands healing,

Why aren’t His words teaching, why aren’t His feet going,

Why is His love not showing them there is a way?”

If we REALLY are serious about being ambassadors of Christ, we need to reach out to the world through being Christ’s hands and feet.

Being an ambassador is what we have been called to do. It is not optional to the Christian life.

Ephesians 6:19 and 20

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 

 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Blessings,

Coach Megan 🙂

Glorious Living w/ Coach Megan: Stress Management

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Dear Megan,

I have been feeling really overloaded and burned out lately and I’m not sure what to do to make it stop. I was on your GCH call last week and I completed the exercise you gave us and talked about in your blog last Friday…. but I just feel stuck with what to do next. I know I need to delegate more and God showed me some tasks He does not intend for me to do, but I feel like I could be handling it all (especially the stress) better. I’m hoping you can give me some advice on this!

~M.

Sweet sister,

Thank you for taking the first step by doing that exercise from last week ! I pray it was a blessing for you to be able to see in black and white how you are spending your precious resource of time. Our world makes it easy for us to feel overloaded, over burdened and over worked! What I heard through your cry for help is that you are looking for some practical stress-management tools to help you now that you are beginning to spend your time more wisely (as God intends you to).

Adopting healthy stress management skills will enable you to slow down, stop, yield and reduce speed at appropriate intervals on your path of life. In turn, your pace will be regulated and you will be lifted out of the ditch of overload and burnout. As you work through this exercise, you will see how you can begin to walk the road to transformation in the peaceful assurance that God will never call you to do more than He gives you time and ability to do (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

SLOW

{Slow down and make the necessary changes for good physical health}

  • Do you eat a balanced and healthy diet?
  • Do you exercise at least three times a week?
  • Do you take at least one day of rest per week?
  • Do you get adequate restful sleep most nights?

Psalm 127:2

 In vain you rise early and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.

{Slow down and evaluate your priorities}

  • Do the exercise from last week if you have not done so (Link up above)
  • Consider other priorities that should be on the list
  • Choose your commitments with careful prayer
  • Eliminate unnecessary stressful obligations
  • Don’t accept impossible deadlines
  • Don’t give in to the pressure of urgency
  • Tackle only one problem at a time

Ecclesiastes 4:6

Better one handful with tranquility
    than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

{Slow down and nourish your spiritual life}

  • Remind yourself daily to “be still, and know that (He is) God” {Psalm 46:10}
  • Open lines of honest communication with God about your concerns, needs, and fears
  • Set aside time daily for personal prayer and Scripture meditation
  • Memorize Scripture that builds assurance of God’s love {Psalm 36:7; Jeremiah 31:3; John 14:21; Romans 8:39}

Psalm 119:71

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees

STOP

{Stop and look at the real reason you are experiencing stress}

  • Do you try to meet your own needs instead of waiting on the Lord?
  • Do you think God cannot accomplish His purposes without your over-achieving?
  • Do you seek self-worth through proving your adequacy and effectiveness?
  • Are you Spirit-led or people-pressured?

Galatians 1:10

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

{Stop, confess and turn away from any known sin in your life}

  • Do you manipulate or control others?
  • Do you feel envious or jealous of others?
  • Do you express your feelings inappropriately?
  • Do you overreact to criticism?
  • Do you have impure motives?

Proverbs 28:13

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

YIELD

{Yield to God’s sovereign control over your circumstances}

  • What is God doing in your circumstances?
  • In what way does God want you to change?
  • How does God want you to respond?
  • Do you have impure motives?

Proverbs 21:1

A king’s heart is like streams of water in the Lord’s hand:
He directs it wherever He chooses.

{Yield to God your rights and expectations}

Dear God,

  • “I yield my right to control my circumstances.”
  • “I yield my right to be accepted by others.”
  • “I yield my right to be successful.”
  • “I yield my right to be heard and understood.”
  • “I yield my right to be right.”

Proverbs 3:5

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding

RESUME SPEED

{Resume speed, living in the presence of God}

Dear God,

  • “I choose to let Christ live His life through me.”
  • “I choose to live in the present, not worrying about tomorrow.”
  • “I choose to refocus my thoughts away from my pressures to Your purposes for allowing these pressures.”
  • “I choose to have a thankful heart regardless of the pressure I feel.”
  • “I choose to call on You, Lord, for wisdom and peace.”
  • “I choose to commit to talking less and listening more.”

Psalm 62:1

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him

Blessings,

Coach Megan 🙂

Have Time for Fitness…Physically and Spiritually

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I remember my thoughts, very clearly, as I sat drinking coffee at 5:30 one morning. It was the week before I went back to work from maternity leave for my second child Zach.  We were now a family of four and I remembered all of the words of friends and family who said, “Two kids changes it up.”  Life is different when you go from one child to two.  How would I have time for fitness, physically and spiritually?

As I sat there, I began to realize all of the things on my plate, not my breakfast plate, but my plate of life.  I did a quick check list:

  • Full time job
  • New business
  • Volunteer work at church
  • New schedule with Hannah (my daughter) starting Kindergarten
  • New baby

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Adding to all of that was my continued desire to have daily quality time with God, my husband, children, and exercise. They were all important to me, but were overwhelming and seemed impossible. It was then that I realized there were things I would have to take off my plate and let go of, if I truly wanted to focus on things that were important to me. As I thought about where my time went each day, I realized it was not all toward my priorities or really necessary. I knew I would have to make a few changes.

Such as:

  • Saying “yes” to things before thinking it through
  • Having my house perfectly cleaned and organized at the end of each day
  • Working hard to make sure everything goes according to MY plan (that can really take up a lot of time)
  • Giving up a favorite TV show

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about making exercise a priority.  Do you feel like you had good intentions of making it a priority, but still struggle to find the time to actually do it?  If so, it may be time to ask yourself two questions.

  1.  Is my time prioritized each day around what is important to me?
  2. Are there things I need to give up or add to focus on my priorities?

Improving our fitness and having a daily quiet time will not just happen. We have to be intentional with our time and sometimes that means giving up what may not be that important in the big scheme of things, certain responsibilities, or our own selfish desires.  God has shown me that, if I give my time to Him, He will help me find time for what is important, even now as a busy woman with a family of four.

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Finding time for your physical and spiritual fitness has to be intentional and usually comes about by making a few changes. Give your time and agenda to God and ask Him for guidance.  He will show you that you do have time for fitness, physically and spiritually.

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If you have a question for Crystal in regards to this blog, please email her at: Crystal@girlfriendscoffeehour.com