April 24, 2017

16 Day Love Challenge: Chapter 4 – Love Does Not Boast

16daythursboast

Boast~ To puff oneself up in speech vaingloriously,vanity. To speak of or assert with excessive pride.

Then they said, ‘Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches the Heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth.’

Genesis 11:4

Why is it that we feel so inadequate?  If we are made in His image—and we are—and He created us to be exactly who we are, why are we not content?  The parable in the Bible that this book talks about could very well be modern day, in any setting, church, Bible study, or soccer field.  And as Christian women seeking God, we are not exempt from this.  The enemy loves nothing more than taking two strong women, who are leaders for Jesus, and dividing them against each other.  A house divided against itself will not stand. We easily forget who the real enemy is and we start fighting each other.

We start comparing ourselves: whether we feel better about ourselves and become prideful, or, we feel less than and retreat.  These thoughts are quiet at first.  But eventually we start living them out loud; and then we slip into a pit of self-pity that leads to self-destruction.  Friends, let’s remember who the real enemy is.  Let’s remember that when we become proud or boastful, we are no longer an effective warrior princess for the Kingdom of God.

Remember Gideon in the Bible?  We find his story in Judges starting in chapter 6.  At first he is a humble servant threshing wheat in a winepress, just doing his own thing.  He is staying out of the spotlight and trying to provide for and to protect his family.  The angel of the Lord appears to him and tells him that he is going to be a great warrior for Yahweh! And that he will defeat the Midianites and tear down the altar of his own father Baal. Gideon tests God several times before he actually believes God.  The prophecy actually comes true and Gideon goes on to defeat the Midianites and tears down the altar of Baal and defeats the enemy with only 300 men, clay jars, and lit torches.  He was humble… until he wasn’t.  Fast forward after he wins some battles, Gideon starts boasting and taking credit for himself.  He actually asks people for their jewelry to melt and make himself a form of an idol.  After Yahweh had given him all that he needed to defeat the enemy, Gideon forgets who deserves the glory and takes it for himself.  He goes on to live successfully for the rest of his life but he loses that contact with God that he had and he no longer hears God’s voice.  What a terrible place to be!

As children of the King, we are equipped and ready to do any task that God has set before us.  He has given each of us different gifts and talents to use in the life that He has planned out for us.  All of us are different…no two alike; aren’t we blessed?  When we place ourselves above others we are prideful, and when we place ourselves below others we are saying God isn’t enough.  Remember, His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).  He is weaving a beautiful tapestry in our lives, every one of us a new design of His glory.  He is the Master, not us.  He is the Creator, not us.  He deserves the credit, not us.  Your life in Him is the greatest story and being all that He created you to be is the greatest gift we can give back to Him!

We began today looking at Genesis 11:4…the Tower of Babel had just been built and the people were boasting about their creation.  Humans trying to hard to leave a mark of themselves on earth. Don’t you know that when you devote yourself to His glory you are leaving your mark on the world?  An eternal mark; don’t cheat yourself of the most glorious privilege of all, bearing the name of Jesus!!

Here are some verses in His Word about boasting:

Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.

Proverbs 27:1

You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it.

Romans 2:23

 People who boast  of  their wealth don’t  understand  they will die  just  like animals.

Psalm 49:20

Let’s pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, You are our Creator, our Master; and You are worthy to be praised.  May we never forget Who the Blesser is and may we never become too content to give thanks for all You have done for us.  Help our thoughts to stay focused on You so that we don’t get caught up in comparing ourselves to each other. Help us to remember who the enemy is and to put our energy into fighting him and not each other.  Lord, may we never take credit for what You have done in us, for us, and through us.  And when we become too proud, humble us even if it is painful.  For whatever you have entrusted to us can be taken away if not used for Your glory.  Forgive us for our pride and for boasting and stepping on each other to get to the top.  We love You and we ask that You continue to equip us for the task You have set before us.  In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen

Esther – Chapter 10:1-3

16DayCover

Please join us for our next Online Bible Study!

“16-Day Love Challenge:

Matching our Words and Actions with

1 Corinthians 13:4-8″

by Cherie Zack and Rebecca LeCompte.

This study begins November 4th.

Be sure to go to our Registration page for more details, and to sign up today!!

The Registration page can be found by clicking on this LINK.

We hope you will join us!!

* * * * *

This book closes with God reminding us to remember the secret of victory….

King Ahasuerus laid tribute on the land and on the coastlands of the sea. And all the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brethren, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.

Esther 10:1-3

This book began with the king as the important, prominent figure and it told the story of the display of his might and power.  But as we kept reading, we learned of a hidden cancer in that kingdom, eating away at, ready to destroy this power.  But the story takes a turn and the book ends with the king being prominent again…his power and might is on display…and we now realize there is power behind the throne.  That power is Mordecai and he is always subject to the will of the king, and he never forces the king to do anything against his will.

In your life, is this true for you?  Your will is supreme in the final decision of what takes place in the kingdom, but there is power behind the throne, and through the Will of the King.  The Holy Spirit works to bring power and peace to the kingdom.  Isn’t this a picture of the Spirit- filled life?  Isn’t this the open secret of every joyful Christian?  Our will is still dominant and we can still do wrong if we choose to, but we have learned a lesson.  We have learned that it is only through the yielding of our will in a continual sense of dependence on the One Who dwells within us, that there can be a manifestation of power and peace in our kingdom.  And when we learn to walk in dependence, we become under the authority of God, under His power—Who brings peace and joy and all that we long for into our own lives and those around us.

This is what makes a Christian believer able to fall time and time again, and pick ourselves up and start over again fresh and clean, unblemished.  God uses everything and makes it good, under any and all circumstances.  Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good to those who love God” no matter how bad or evil or difficult they appear at first.  This is why, to us who follow Jesus, our disappointments make us better not bitter.  Our heartaches are turned to joy. The hard circumstance of your life produce in you the choicest virtues, the very things you long to add to your character.  The weaker you feel, the more impact your life has on others.  You become sweeter, mellower, filled with inner beauty, driven to this by the very unpleasantness you go through.

This is the secret…this is the spirit-filled life—a human instrument counting on an indwelling of the Holy Spirit to meet every need.  All our weaknesses are made strong in Him.  And as we come to the Lord’s table, all the glory of the Spirit-filled life flows from this experience of the victory of our Lord upon the cross.  As we celebrate this awesome mystery, we see that it was in this manner that His life became our life and that our old life came to an end and our new life starts when we become Him!  We are joined to Him!  As Paul says, “We are crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ, lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

Let’s Pray:

Dear God, we cannot begin to comprehend these amazing truths, but we believe them. We know that they are true. We know there is deliverance in this truth. There is power in them and glory to You. Lord, we pray that Your Spirit will enlighten our understanding so that we will not ever walk in defeat but walk in the peace and joy, knowing that in our weakness, You are strongest. When we are weary, You are a place of rest. You are our Stronghold, our Deliverer. You are everything.

Thank You for bringing us through this study and for revealing so many truths to us. May we continue to stay on top of anger and resentment and repent of it immediately. We want to live with joy, freedom, and love. You are all those. Keep us humble and remind us always where our help comes from. In Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 9:1-3

16DayCover

Please join us for our next Online Bible Study!

“16-Day Love Challenge:

Matching our Words and Actions with

1 Corinthians 13:4-8″

by Cherie Zack and Rebecca LeCompte.

This study begins November 4th.

Be sure to go to our Registration page for more details, and to sign up today!!

The Registration page can be found by clicking on this LINK.

We hope you will join us!!

One of the most outstanding aspects of our study of Esther: The Beauty of Courageous Submission, in my opinion, has been the evidence of the influence of the Holy Spirit.  Oh, I had my preconceived thoughts of what we would uncover through our study.  HA!  I am so thrilled to admit how very wrong I was!

Based on certain information that I already held in my head (a brief overview of Mrs. Schacht’s book and a fair knowledge of the Book of Esther), I was looking forward to ‘sharpening my skills’ at submitting to my husband and in the other areas in which the Scriptures tell us of God’s will regarding submission: to elders (1 Peter 5:5), to governing authority (Romans 13:1-7), governors/political leaders (1 Peter 2:13-15), masters/bosses (Ephesians 6:5-8), AND to one another (Ephesians 5:21)!

As we began our study back in early September, it seemed like ‘submission’ would be the overall topic at hand.  And throughout Week 1, that was true. However, it seems to me that only that very first week was this the case!  From Week 2 through now, overwhelmingly the primary subject of discussion has been God and His working through the Holy Spirit.  (Wouldn’t you agree?)

Now while nowhere in the Scriptures are we commanded to ‘submit’ to the Holy Spirit, it is clearly evident through many, many other Scriptures that, YES, we are to submit.  In our study, we have looked at the definition of submission a few times.  Here again, from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, we see that to ‘submit’ is to ‘yield or surrender.’

SUBMIT

To yield, resign or surrender to the power, will or authority of another…

Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hand.  Genesis 16.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands.  Ephesians 5.
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man.  1 Peter 2.

And this IS a large part of our relationship with the Holy Spirit—we are to yield or surrender our will, our thinking, our understanding, our <limited> wisdom, our perception, and our own desire to the guidance, leading, and influence of the Holy Spirit.

Here are a few reminders of  insights that my sister-bloggers have shared with us about the influence of the Holy Spirit:

  • “In this place of communion, have you sensed the Holy Spirit’s influence on your life? He’s always at battle for you against the enemy who has an evil plan for your life.” (Kim Spring)
  • “Holy Spirit, thank You for being our ultimate Helper! Help us today to see our beauty not as the world sees it, in the outward woman, but as our Father sees it. Help us in our “beauty regimen” to make ourselves pure, holy and beautiful for our Lord Jesus. Forgive us when we are resistant to Your leading.” (Robin Claddell)
  • “Mordecai symbolizes the Holy Spirit and, like Esther asked questions of Mordecai, we can ask a question of the Holy Spirit. We need not send someone to ask for us—we can go directly to our Helper ourselves.” (Tonya Ellison)
  • “You are looking for our obedience and courageous submission so that we can come into Your Presence, as Esther came into her king’s presence…You have promised us that Your Holy Spirit will be close to us to guide and comfort us.  Please Holy Spirit, help us daily to “walk our talk” so others will see You even when we don’t speak Your Name.” (Clella Fox)

Finally, Mrs. Schacht asks an important and probing question in our reading today:

Do a little soul-searching to find the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.  Does it convict you?  Does it comfort you?  Does it guide you?  Perhaps you can think of some specific ways He’s at work…?

Have you taken the time to consider this?  There is no doubt that God is desiring to influence you through the Holy Spirit!  When Jesus was preparing the disciples for His leaving them, He told them that He would send the Paraclete (aka the Comforter, the Helper) who would teach them, lead them, guide them, and remind them of His words.  I would say that is ‘influence,’ wouldn’t you?  The Holy Spirit does them same for us, in our day and time.

We must ask for help, through the Holy Spirit, so we can bring our thoughts, our words, our actions, and our attitudes in line with God’s.  We must allow His Spirit to become the guiding force in our lives to produce the qualities that the Scriptures tell us are found in true Christians.

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Gentleness, self-control…
If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Galatians 2:22-23, 25

* * * * *

Let’s Pray:

We are so very blessed, heavenly Father, by Your gracious provision for our lives through the gift of the Holy Spirit!  May we remain humble and meek to His influence in our lives.  Truly may we seek His convicting, comforting, helping, and guiding!  And may we respond with submitted and obedient hearts!  Thank You!  We love You!  And we pray, asking these things in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 5:10-14

Jealousy: a sentiment which is born in love and which is produced by the fear that the loved person prefers someone else. Wouldn’t you say Haman was jealous of Mordecai? He was so afraid that the king would prefer Mordecai over him that he couldn’t even enjoy the fact that Esther had indeed invited him to the banquet that she had prepared for the king. He admits to all that it means nothing as long as Mordecai is seated at the palace gate.  Isn’t that just like us? We let what we don’t have  overshadow what we do have. The desire to have it all might just cost us the riches that we already have.  And for Haman, it cost him his life.

Anger had manifested itself into a dangerous mission to kill. Hatred and bitterness are like weeds with long roots that grow in the heart and corrupt all of life. He couldn’t even enjoy being the king’s right hand man because he was so full of anger that had gone unchecked for so long that it had manifested itself into killer instinct.  Hebrews 12:15 warns us to watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble us corrupting many.  Don’t let hatred and its resulting bitterness build up in your heart. It will backfire against you.  If the mention of someone’s name provokes you to anger, confess it, ask forgiveness, and let it go. Don’t allow it to live in your mind rent-free. It will cost you a lot more than you think.

As Christians, children of God, we cannot ignore anger and bitterness. We don’t need to hide it from our sisters in Christ or just make superficial changes to our behavior or personality. If it isn’t completely eradicated, it will grow back, making everything worse. Your Father knows what’s best for you. He doesn’t want us looking at others and wanting what they have. He knows you better than you know yourself and He loves you more than you can imagine. And He wants us to love each other the way He loves us. In  1 John 1:11, we read “But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still walking and living in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by darkness.

Wk5_Spring_Esther

In the end, this bitterness and resentment caused Haman the ultimate price.  His family and friends even suggested for Haman to set up a sharpened pole so tall that all would surely see Mordecai’s death.  But God had other plans, as He does for us too.  He is the ultimate judge.   Justice was done.  Haman ultimately paid the price.  Our consequences may not be death, but I can promise you we won’t have the joyful life that He promised us if we are consumed with the roots of anger.  Jesus came to set us free.  Free from all chains that bind.

Are you struggling today with any of these? Anger, jealousy, or bitterness?  If so, bring it into the light and tear down the veil of all of these; and then ask Him to take it away so you can enjoy this life He chose especially for YOU!

 *****

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, we come to You today praising You for Who You are.  God, we confess to You today all spirits of anger and resentment and bitterness.  We bind them in the name of Jesus and we release them to You today.  We love You and we know You have only good things planned for us and sometimes we mess it up.  Forgive us from our sins and give us a new fresh beginning.  Keep our eyes on You so they don’t wander and lust and covet what someone else has.  Thank You for Your grace and unending patience.  Fill us with Your unconditional love so that we can spread to all who come in contact with us.  For it’s in Your Son’s precious name we pray.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 2:16-20

HolySpirit_Fox_Wk2

Esther asked for little and was given much! The Word doesn’t say that after a period of time King Xerxes decided he “liked” Esther. It says when Esther was taken into his presence, he “loved her above all other women.” And not only that but she also “won his favor (grace) and approval more than any of the other virgins!” (Esther 2:17).  To show his affection and approval, the king elevated Esther from a lowly position of a concubine (for that’s what she would have become had he not chosen her; Esther 2:14) to be his queen, and gave her a royal crown so no one would mistake her position in the kingdom.

Our author, Darlene Schacht, has us reflect on Hannah’s prayer of praise in I Samuel 2:4-8, which comes after years of barrenness and humiliation.  As background in I Samuel 1: 1-28, we read the story of Hannah and Elkanah.  In the eyes of their society, Hannah was “a nobody” and a disgrace to Elkanah since she hadn’t borne him any children.  But Elkanah didn’t see her that way.  No matter what…he loved her for herself.  And God loved her and had a plan.  In His timing, God took a humiliated, barren woman and honored her by blessing her with Samuel who would serve the Lord in the temple all the days of his life.  Hannah saw first-hand how God would “lift the needy” in His timing, and she raised her praise to Him in prayer.  From barrenness to blessed.  From humiliated to honored.

Esther was one of the Jewish exiles who lived as a common citizen of the community surrounding the palace, even though Mordecai, her cousin, sat at the king’s gate and had responsibilities in the palace (Esther 2:5-7).  She was lowly with nothing to offer the king—but her submission and trust.  The king saw that and more in her, and he lifted her up and blessed her.  The king presented her before his people and celebrated with a great feast in her honor.  From “barrenness” to blessed.  From humbleness to honored.  With grace and honor, he set her among his royalty and crowned her to share in his throne and kingdom!  And perhaps, Esther prayed Hannah’s prayer of praise, especially I Samuel 2:8,

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.

From my perspective, I’m like Esther was—just a common citizen with nothing to offer the King of kings, but my submission and trust.  Ephesians 2:4-7 tells “the rest of the story”:

But because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in Heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Wow, what an honor—what a celebration! And I praise my King!

Did you notice in Esther 2:18-20, that even in the midst of all the honor and celebration, neither Esther nor Mordecai forgot their relationship and responsibility to each other?  Even though Esther was now in a pretty secure position, she still respected Mordecai’s wisdom and submitted to him because, I believe, she knew he loved her and had her best interests in mind.  God has our best interests in mind, too.  And, like Mordecai, the Holy Spirit of God is standing close by watching over us, loving and guiding us in all His grace and wisdom.

One other point from Darlene about this relationship: Esther was an orphan and Mordecai had taken her in and cared for her as his own.  As we follow this story we see that Mordecai continued to watch out for her best interest.  Darlene points us to James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion (unstained devotion) in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”  Mordecai demonstrated pure religion as he watched over Esther.  He “walked his talk.”  In the Book of Ruth, Ruth demonstrated pure religion by caring for her widowed mother-in-law (Ruth 2:17-18).  God wants us to demonstrate our pure religion by living out our faith. Perhaps we should check ourselves each day with this question, “Am I walking my talk?”

*****

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord,
We thank You, Lord, that when we were “a nobody,” like Esther, we were a “somebody special” to You.  We have nothing to offer You except ourselves; and, come to find out, that’s exactly what You are looking for!  You are looking for our obedience and courageous submission so that we can come into Your Presence, as Esther came into her king’s presence.  You are eager to lift us up “from the ash heap” and seat us with You, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Help us to remember that You have our best interests in mind.  You have promised us that Your Holy Spirit will be close to us to guide and comfort us.  Please Holy Spirit, help us daily to “walk our talk” so others will see You even when we don’t speak Your Name.  In Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

 

“Esther” – Chapter 1:16-19

Week1_IfWeDontSubmit_ClellaFox

The party is over! The king is angry, the court officials are appalled, and the queen is realizing that she made a big mistake!

King Xerxes in his anger and frustration turned to his court advisors to figure out what to do considering Queen Vashti’s disobedience. Memucan, one of the advisors, might have stood up and said, “Good king, ‘no man/woman is an island!’ What the queen did affected not just you but your whole kingdom!”

It is true for us as well. What we do or don’t do has an effect on others around us. The Word exhorts us in Romans 13:5, that “everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities….” And in Hebrews 13:17 it says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.” We are also told in I Timothy 4:12 to “set an example for the believers…” and in I Thessalonians 1:7-8 [to be] ”a model to all the believers….”

If we don’t submit to our authorities, why should we expect others to submit? A simple example would be obeying the speed limits. To obey them is to submit to the Transportation Authority that has set those limits for our safety. If we don’t submit to that authority and don’t obey the limits, why should we expect our youth when they start driving to submit to and obey the limits? Others are watching our example and are likely to follow us–even possibly to a greater extent.

Remember the saying, “Actions speak louder than words?” Well, these are the things that Memucan was so concerned about when he said,

For this deed of the queen shall become known to all women, and so shall they despise their husbandsThere will be no end of disrespect and discord. (verse 17)

He was greatly concerned that others would follow Vashti’s example to even greater extremes. Therefore, to stop that potential fallout there had to be consequences for her actions. She lost favor with the king, she lost her position of respect, and she lost those precious possessions that go along with the position. The punishment corresponded to the crime: she wouldn’t go before the king–so she was denied access to the king from that point on.

Now remembering that King Xerxes was a foreshadow of a greater King, Jesus, we need to recognize Vashti as a foreshadow of the Jewish people. Time and again the Jews refused to submit to God’s commandments. They chose to “do their own thing.” And thus they lost favor with God and were even separated from Him by exile to foreign lands. As with Vashti, the punishment corresponded to the crime.

When Jesus came, he came to be the Jews’ King. Through His example, His teachings, and His miracles, He tried to draw the Jews to Himself. Matthew 23:37  says, “I longed to gather your children togetherand you were not willing”—you would not submit.

Our author, Darlene, writes, “righteousness is conformity to God’s laws,” —submitting to God’s Will and God’s Way. I think of righteousness as “being in right standing with God.” But most of us, like the Jews, like to do things our own way. Surely we are good enough. We do good deeds! Vashti thought her beauty and position were enough to sustain her! We, as Vashti did, try to define our own righteousness by our own rules. “Beauty is only skin deep,” and so is our “goodness” unless we come before God in submission and in faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22, 4:3-5).

If Vashti had come in submission before the King it would have shown everyone that she trusted him. It would have put her in “right standing” with the king. Perhaps he would have presented her with some lovely gift or a new royal robe! In Matthew 22:1-14 (the parable of the wedding banquet) many were invited to come but most refused to attend. They were doing their “own thing” and didn’t have time for the king’s banquet. Others came and accepted the wedding garment and enjoyed the party. The man in verses 11 and 12 refused to submit to the king and his offer of security and right standing (righteousness) and, like Vashti, he was forever separated from the one who wanted to save him (verse 13).

ALL of us are invited to Christ’s banquet, but only those prepared can come and stay. For us, the garment represents our covering of righteousness provided through our faith in Jesus Christ to make us acceptable in God’s presence. God wants to clothe us with His robe of righteousness. He wants us to sit with Him in His heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6).  Have you accepted God’s invitation?  Have you submitted to Him and allowed Him to clothe you with His robe of righteousness?  If not, do it today, and join the greatest banquet ever!

*****

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord,

Today we are reminded that our submission to You, our King, makes the difference between separation from you or being welcomed into Your presence. Help us, Lord, to also remember that what we do or don’t do does affect others. Thank You, Jesus, for offering through Your shed blood Your robe of righteousness. We cannot earn it and certainly don’t deserve it, but You are offering it to us freely as we have faith in You. We submit our lives to You, and ask You to clothe us with Your robe of righteousness.  Thank You.  In Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

“I AM” Week 2 – Day 5: Glory of The LORD

One day we will perfectly, completely, totally, truly exalt and praise and honor and glorify the Great I Am forever and ever…for all eternity!  Oh, isn’t it going to be so AWEsome?!!!?  Then we will be just like the heavenly host who now are around God’s throne.

…and day and night they never stop saying, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY
is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and Who is and Who is to come.
And whenever the living creatures offer glory and honor and thanksgiving to Him
Who sits on the throne, Who lives forever and ever,
The twenty-four elders fall prostrate before Him Who is sitting on the throne,
and they worship Him Who lives forever and ever;
and they throw down their crowns before the throne, crying out,
Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and dominion,
for You created all things; by Your will they were [brought into being] and were created.
Revelation 4:8-11

But even now we can exalt and praise and honor and glorify Him!!!

Our author writes in the I AM study,

As we seek God, He places the need to conform to His character within us.  As we walk out our life in the world, we take Him with us.  He is glorified or shamed, depending on how we carry ourselves.  It is our responsibility to make sure God is glorified through our life …God will be glorified with or without you….”

Jesus our Lord lived His life as He walked on this earth to bring glory to His Father.  Even He did not bring glory to Himself!

Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.
My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.
John 8:54

Jesus also taught His followers that they, too, could glorify God.

“You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

Just like you, I so yearn for my walk in this world to bring attention—to bring glory—to the Great I AM!  My prayer every day is that others will see Jesus in me, and that anything good or righteous I might do will glorify the God that I love.  As His child, everywhere I go…He is with me.  But not always do my actions {or my words} prove that I am a child of God.

God will be glorified through our lives in the big, as well as the small, things as we live and breathe with His character within us.  By His grace we have been enabled to love with His love…to show mercy just as He shows us mercy…to forgive…to give grace.

These are things that bring Him honor and glorify Him:

  • when a wife chooses to speak words that respect her husband
  • when we sit with our children and grandchildren reading to them out of their little Bible story books teaching them about their heavenly Father
  • when we go on a missions trip to a far-away country and share the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus with young women who have lived with no hope
  • when we take a meal to neighbors who have just added a new baby to their family
  • when we take part in our church’s community-wide VBS program and minister to a little girl who has never heard about Jesus until this week
  • when we are in a long line at the grocery store and ask the mom with a cart overflowing with food AND 3 children to get in line ahead of us
  • when we go sit on the porch to chat (and listen) with an elderly neighbor whose family rarely comes to visit

So I ask you…today will Almighty God, the Great I AM, be glorified with you or without you?

Let’s practice what we will be doing forever…and ever…and ever!

Praying for each of you!

♥  coleen

*****

Let’s Pray:

Almighty God, You deserve all the honor, all the glory, all the praises that our hearts could ever hold and our voices could ever speak!  There is NONE like You!  You WILL be glorified throughout all eternity!  We so desire to glorify You here and now, Father!  Today, Lord, may our words and our actions bring glory to You as we obey and love You with our whole hearts, souls, minds, and all our strength.  May the care that You give and the needs You provide for in our lives draw others to You!  May the world glorify You, Lord, as we live out our lives manifesting Your character.  May the light that You have placed in us shine into the darkness of the world bringing hope to the lost.  And may it be clear that it is never ‘us’ but always of You!  We love You…we praise You…we glorify and exalt You!

Amen.

 

“I AM” Chapter 1 – Day 4: Look for the LORD

“O storm battered city, troubled and desolate. I will rebuild you on a firm foundation of sapphires and make the walls of your houses from precious jewels. I will make your towers of sparkling rubies and your gates and walls of shiny gems”

Isaiah 54:11-12

This is the verse I have clung to over the past few years, the restoring God, the God of hope when I had none.  As Teresa mentioned in the beginning of this study, the Great I AM will speak to you in the manner that you need.  He will be what you need Him to be.  Have you begun to see this for yourself? As I looked up each verse, I was overwhelmed by just how much He loves each one of us, so much that He does not want to leave us in the state we are in.

Today we have the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us, a gentle nudge from the Dove, a Gift left to us by Jesus when He departed into Heaven.  But in the Old Testament, God sent prophets to do just that…to give His people His messages.  These messages weren’t always what they wanted to hear. Can you just imagine? I mean who wants to be told that you are not walking in His will and you are about to be punished? I know that being on the receiving end of “constructive criticism” is not easy (especially when I know I’m wrong) but, as Jesus followers, it is our duty to hold each other accountable and to do this in a loving, godly manner.  Praise God that He loves us enough to send messengers our way to redirect our path.  He is relentless when it comes to His children, right?

Just as Isaiah’s message to the people was “return, repent and be renewed,” so should ours be. “Fear not, you will no longer walk in shame. He is your Redeemer!Isaiah 54:4-5

He is my _________________ (fill in the blank). For example: do you need Hope?  He is your HOPE.  “From eternity to eternity, I AM your God.  No one can oppose what I do, no one can reverse My actions.”  Isaiah 43:13

Do you need Forgiveness?  He is your FORGIVER.  “I,  yes I alone, AM the One Who blots out your sins for My Own sake and will never think of them again.”  Isaiah 43:25

Do you need Rest?  He is your REST.   “I will be your God throughout your lifetime, until your hair is white with age.  I made you and I will care for you, I will carry you along and save you.” Isaiah 46:4

Do you need Comfort?  He is your COMFORTER.  “I, even I, am the One Who comforts you, so why are you afraid of mere humans who wither like grass and disappear?”  Isaiah 51:12

Friend, His message to us is one of hope, forgiveness, rest, and comfort; but we must return, repent, and be renewed in Him to receive all that He has planned to give us, blessing upon blessing, and we must not be timid with His message.  He wants us to be bold!  Isn’t this what we were created to do?

There is a song that has been playing in my mind the entire time I have been writing. It is by the Sidewalk Prophets and goes like this: “If there’s a road I should walk, let me find it. If I need to be still, give me peace for the moment. Whatever your will.  Whatever Your will, can You help me find it?”

He will rebuild us and continue to work in, and through us, until His grand finale’ — the Coming of Jesus!!

How is He speaking to you today?  As you wrote out each verse from today’s section, which of His names really spoke to you? Would you tell us about it?

I love each one of you and I’m praying for you.

Blessings!!

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, Daddy, the Great I AM, You are so many names to us in the midst of whatever we are going through at the moment.  You become what we need.  You are the Redeemer, Deliverer, Comforter, our Resting Place, Beginning and End.  We praise You for satisfying our every need.  We thank You for Your unfailing love and Your Presence that never leaves us.  You give us Your words of wisdom so that we know what to say to all weary souls. Thank You for giving us an understanding of Your will. May we have the strength to boldly carry it out for all to see so that You alone are glorified…for it is in Your Son’s precious Name we pray.

Amen.

“I Am” Chapter 1 – Day 3: Suffering Savior

David is a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Although he made many mistakes and suffered the consequences, he had a real, intimate relationship with His Lord. His writings in the Psalms are raw and beautiful. They have, and will continue to, spoken to the hearts of those who read them. The Psalms reveal the humanness that we all feel – the pain, anguish, defeat, weariness, longing, sorrow and fear. They also show that despite those negative emotions, David continued to give thanks and praise to His God. He found joy in the Lord, in following the path set before him. I actually look to David as someone to model in this regard. Yes, he made some terrible, regrettable mistakes (me, too!), but his heartfelt prayers to His Lord are sincere and genuine. He laid all of his emotions at the feet of God, baring his heart and soul. Do you notice that many of his Psalms begin with anguish but end with praise and thanksgiving toward the Almighty? Through the process of praying and telling God his needs, his attitude is transformed from sorrowful to thankful. I think that is pretty incredible.

David anguished over being scorned and despised, poor and needy, insulted and lonely. He suffered and was in pain. Do you think any of those apply to Jesus? He was mocked, ridiculed, unfairly judged, harshly criticized, and unjustly punished. And this is the Savior of the World! His own people did not believe He was the promised Messiah!

As we read through the Psalms, we find prophecy of our suffering Savior, our Messiah, Jesus Christ. These messianic psalms were written hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ birth! The Great I AM knew that His begotten Son would be the Savior of the world. Every detail throughout the entire Old Testament all leads up to the revelation of Jesus and the fulfilled prophecies in the New Testament. Can you find examples of prophecy in the Psalms and corresponding fulfillment in the New Testament?

Savior_OpenArms

Sometimes we may have a difficult time relating to Jesus. We may have an inaccurate view of who He is based on our past or on preconceived ideas. We may see Him as this thundercloud waiting to strike us down if we do something wrong. Girlfriends, I just want you to know one very important thing as we begin this study – Jesus is and always will be LOVE. Satan will do anything in his evil power to make you think negative things about Jesus. That is the enemy’s job. Jesus loves every single one of us with an all-consuming love. That is why He came to earth as a human, suffered and died a sinner’s death. It was out of LOVE for us. He wants to know you. He wants to walk through life with you. There is not one situation in your life that He does not know about and want to help you with. He may not change your circumstance, but He just might change YOU.

Our suffering Savior is waiting for you with open arms. Are you ready to take the journey with Him?

God Bless You!

Jennifer

*****

Let’s Pray

Father God, thank You for the Psalms. They are filled with so much raw emotion that we can relate to on a very deep level. They help us through so many circumstances that we face in our lives, giving us hope and comfort and peace to take one more step forward when we just want to give up. We know, Lord, that You divinely orchestrated this entire world and every single one of us that live in it. Reveal Your power and love to each one of us today, Father. Give us the strength we need to fight off the enemy’s attacks. In Your Son’s Name we pray.

Amen

 

Girls With Swords: Chapter 14 Weekly Review – “Cross Carry.”

Welcome to Campground USA

Log Cabins, Nature Trails, Canoes, Paddle Boats, Bikes, Fishing

________________________________

Once upon a time there were 5 girlfriends–Teresa, Jennifer, Tonya, Diane, and Martha–headed to a weekend retreat. They were riding down the road giggling so hard that their sides were splitting. Then all of a sudden, they saw a road sign up ahead that read: 

 You are now entering the Prince of Darkness Territory.

You are a Target!

Deciding that they would not allow fear to defeat them, they continued on their journey, and met up with 2 bu loads of women.  Previous plans were cancelled and all 150 plus women ended up camping at Campground USA studying Girls With Swords by Lisa Bevere.

What a time they have had!  Tonight was their last night together before heading back home.  I can’t wait to hear what my 4 girlfriends have to say about  the final chapter: Cross Carry.  Let’s head on down to the bonfire.

Teresa

Throughout our study of Girls With Swords, we have learned that we are Chosen, Equipped, and Armed.  This week, we have been COMMISSIONED to enter active service.  ‘Commissioned’ means: the act of granting certain powers or the authority to carry out a particular task or duty; a group of people officially authorized to perform certain duties or functions; in active service; authority to undertake or perform certain duties.

Preparation for Active Service

1.  Jesus gives The Great Commission:  “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, BAPTIZE them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  TEACH these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

2.  How to carry out this job?  “If anyone would COME after me, let him DENY himself and TAKE up his cross and FOLLOW me.”  (Matthew 16:24)

3.  What is OUR crossIt is our part of the Kingdom.  We each have a job that only we can do.   

Take up your cross, do your job, and be honored to lay your crown down at the feet of Jesus.

Jennifer 

Quoting Lisa:  “Jesus didn’t hold formal crusades, conferences, or even weekly services.  Yet every waking moment of his life was a message.  There is nothing wrong with these, but they are rarely part of our everyday lives.  Jesus carried God with Him every day, everywhere He went, and He is asking you to do the same.  Embracing all of what God has done for you and reflecting this new life to others can be likened to taking up the cross.  As we lay hold of this truth, we carry ourselves and see our world differently.”

How does each of our lives become a living message

  • It comes down to TRUST.
  • Will I let God use me, this fragile clay jar, in order to further the gospel message? 

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.  

(2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

Tonya

I have loved learning about the various crosses we are to carry, the true power we have as girls with swords, and the true power that those swords possess.  We are instructed to wield different kinds of swords, to possess different characteristics.  

I have asked, “How do I do this and do it the right way, Lord?”  Two words:  “Follow Him.”

Christ:

  1. Loved the people  (Matthew 4:23) 
  2. Forgave the people  (Matthew 9:2-8)
  3. Fed the people  (Acts 10:38)
  4. Redeemed the people  (Psalm 107:2)

As Lisa said:  “The Cross is our sign and you are His wonder.” 

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. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

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

Diane

In Zechariah 9:13, God tells us He will make us like a warrior’s sword:  “From now on people are my swords.”

1.  A Sword

  • As God’s warrior swords we put Him on display each morning as we begin our day letting His love shine through our imperfect human flesh.
  • Quoting Lisa:  “Daughter of God, turn from your reflection, deny its limitations, and reflect Him.”

 2.   A Hero

  • Being a hero is getting rid of yourself, and filling up your life with Jesus.
  • When we let ourselves be God’s sword, we become His hero as well.
  • Being a hero has nothing to do with us, it has everything to do with what we let flourish inside of us:  Jesus
  • Quoting Lisa:  “Live like a hero, and you will strike a sure blow to the enemy, and the captives will be set free.”

Be sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life.  As He leads you, Satan will be cut by the living Sword you have let flourish.  Lost, lonely, hurting captives will be set free, and you will be nowhere to be found but living as a hero in Christ!

***************  

And so it was a night to end all nights around the campfire.  “Something” got a hold of everyone in that campground. 

  • Such singing like you never heard led by Coleen
  • A pink bedazzled sword group led by Diane marched around the bonfire as in the Jericho March
  • The prayer team of Coleen, Merol, and Mary laid hands on every single woman in attendance
  • Much scriptures were given by Mary, Clella, Colleen, Amy, and Kim
  • At midnight, Christi started preaching again

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Laurie started dancing around that bonfire.  To put it mildly, she danced, shall we say a Freedom Dance. She stopped long enough to say:  “Come on everybody, join in with me, and let’s dance!”

Oh, how I do love to worship the Lord, but I have got to tell you that, in public, I am a little conservative.  But, when I saw Laurie dancing, something moved in me, and I said to myself;  “I want that kind of freedom, too.”  And so I began to move out slowly at first, but then, it happened.  What came upon me next was not, shall we say, a little charismatic skip and hop, it was a warfare dance.  Bondages fell off me, and I felt like The Great Commission had now taken root and would become active in my life. 

And that’s the way our time together ended—worshipping the Lord, and dancing into the night.

 *****

Let’s Pray: 

Lord, how we thank You for this time of studying Your Word together.  We thank You for using Lisa Bevere in our lives to learn more about the sword You have given us to wear daily.  We pray Your blessings upon her as she travels around the globe ministering to the lost and hurting.  I close with:  May we all fulfill The Great Commission in our lives.  In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen!

**********

Now a word from our Founder, Christi Wilson:

Ladies, I pray this last study has been as much of a blessing to you, as it has been to us!  We have enjoyed learning from Lisa Bevere, and will continue to lift her in prayer, as we have each day of this study.

We hope you will join us for our next study that begins July 8th.  

Written by Teresa J Bolme, especially for Girlfriends Coffee Hour, “I AM” will be a study about discovering who the great I AM is, who you are in the great I AM, and what your eternal hope is in the great I AM!  This is an amazing study, and we are so excited to share it with you.  I want to personally thank Teresa for all the many hours she put into writing this study!  The Holy Spirit truly led her in the writing of this book, and we are very appreciative!  We feel very blessed to have such a talented person, as Teresa is, on our Leadership Team!  THANK YOU TERESA!

We will release the study next Wednesday, July 3rd.  You will be able to purchase it then with a donation to Girlfriends Coffee Hour, in ANY AMOUNT.  This helps us defray the ministry and website costs that we incur; as well as helping us provide Bibles to those who are in need of one.   

You are able to REGISTER TODAY, but will not be able to purchase the study until July 3rd.  Once you register, we will email you when the study is ready to purchase and download to your computer.  

Once again, thank you for joining us again in this “Girls With Swords” study.  May the good Lord bless you, and all that you put your hands to, in Jesus’ Name, AMEN