June 28, 2017

How Sweet The Sound

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Yea though I walk through the valley
I know that You are always right beside me
And I will fear no evil
You’re my Rock, and my Strength
You comfort me

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
I hear You singing over me
I once was lost but now I’m found
And it’s beautiful
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
It covers every part of me
My soul is silent, I am found
And it’s a beautiful sound

You carry me through the waters
Where Your peace clears away all my sorrow
And nothing can separate us from Your love
Oh, Your love it will always be

You were healing in the pain
You were shelter in the storm
Hallelujah, You restore my soul

Citizens Way
Writers: Josh Calhoun / Ben Calhoun

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Yahweh your God is among you,
a Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will bring you quietness with His love.
(in His love He will be silent and make no mention of past sins, or even recall them)
He will delight in you with shouts of joy.
(He will exult over you with singing)
Zephaniah 3:17 HCSB / AMP

I have had the first part of this chorus stuck in my head for days now. I could not figure out why but I knew there had to be a reason. So I decided to look up the lyrics and suddenly I understood.

“…It covers EVERY part of me…”

Y’all, life is just plain hard sometimes.  Aging is hard.  Marriage is hard.  Exercise is hard.  Eating healthy is hard.  The big stuff, and the little stuff, is just downright hard.  I am pretty good about remembering to take the big stuff to God.  But the little stuff—the daily struggles, things that seem unimportant in the grand scheme of things—those I often try to handle on my own.  Right now, the hardest thing for me is eating healthy.  There is so much information available it is hard to know which opinion is right.  At every turn there is an ad or commercial encouraging me to reward myself with food.  This is a daily battle which I seem to have no motivation nor strength to fight.  Then boom!  Those 6 little words “It covers every part of me” hit me like a 2×4.  God’s grace covers EVERY part of me.  (Including my struggle to eat healthy.)

In my Bible study we have been talking about battles and how to fight them.  I have been learning so much.

  • I don’t have to be strong or do it own my own. God’s grace is all I need.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT it says,
“My gracious favor is ALL you need. My power works BEST in your weakness…For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

  • I need to use the right weapons. God’s grace provides the weapons.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us,
“We use GOD’s mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil’s strongholds. With these weapons we break down every proud argument…with these weapons we conquer every rebellious thought.”  (Note to self: right thinking leads to right eating – not arguments, or rebellious thoughts excuses,)

  • I must be sure I am covering myself in the armor God’s grace provides.

Remember the armor listed in Ephesians 6,
– Belt of truth
– Breastplate of righteousness
– Shoes of peace
– Shield of faith
– Sword of the Spirit – the Bible
– Helmet of Salvation
– To pray at all times
(Look y’all, God’s armor covers every part of us – from the top of our heads to the tip of our toes!)

Your battle may not be the same as mine.  My battle is subject to change in the blink of an eye.  But these battles are real.  And they aren’t just fought here on earth.  They are fought in the heavenly realm as well.  (Remember Gabriel’s battle in Daniel 10?)

Look at this Facebook post from 9/9/15 by Ben Carson:
“An eagle does not fight a snake on the ground.  It picks it up and changes grounds, then releases it back to the ground.  A snake has no stamina, no power, no balance in the air.  It is useless, weak and vulnerable unlike on the ground where it is deadly, wise and powerful.  Take your fight to the spirit realm (pray) and when you are in the spiritual realm God takes charge.  Don’t fight in the physical realm, change grounds like an eagle.”

There is so much to unpack in that brief post!  I love the visual imagery.  But the main thing to remember is that our very first strategy should always be prayer.  Our prayers take the battle to a Higher Authority.

God covers every part of us—every battle, every sorrow, every pain—with His grace.  His grace provides us the strength and the weapons to fight our battles, whether big or small.  He cares about each of our battles, even the ones we think are insignificant or mundane.  We do not have to fight them alone.  He does not expect us to handle them on our own.  He is always right beside us, our Shelter in the storm.  His grace covers every part.

Remind Me Who I Am

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

When I lose my way
And I forget my name
Remind me who I am
In the mirror all I see
Is who I don’t wanna be
Remind me who I am
In the loneliest places
When I can’t remember what grace is

Tell me, once again who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget Who I am to You, that I belong to You, to You

When my heart is like a stone
And I’m running far from home
Remind me who I am
When I can’t receive Your love
Afraid I’ll never be enough
Remind me who I am
If I’m Your beloved
Can You help me believe it

I’m the one You love
I’m the one You love
That will be enough
I’m the one You love

Singer / Songwriter: Jason Gray

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it,
and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions,
I obviously need help!
I realize that I don’t have what it takes.
I can will it, but I can’t do it.
I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it;
I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.
My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions.
Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable.
The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.
I truly delight in God’s commands,
but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.
Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope.
Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.
He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions
where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind,
but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
Romans 7:17-25 MSG

I must admit I am feeling pretty worn and weary.  I am beginning to wonder if I will ever be able to make the changes I desire in my life. I have lost my ‘want to...’.  Lysa TerKeurst puts it this way:

“It’s not the how to I am missing. It’s the want to…really wanting to make changes and deciding the results of those changes are worth the sacrifice.”

As I was deciding which song to blog about, I was torn between this song and “Thrive” by Casting Crowns. God whispered to my heart “You must know who you are before you can thrive.”

  • How do we so easily forget who we are and Whose we are?
  • Why is it that “…in the mirror all I see is who I don’t wanna be…”?
  • Why do I struggle to do what I know is right and not do what I know is wrong?

I read an article on the story behind this song.  In it Jason Gray says this:

“Most, if not all, of the time I really don’t want to sin, so that I do so seemingly against my own will.  Or as the apostle Paul famously said, “I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway…”
So sin begins to look more like addiction than anything else, as though there is a ravenous hunger deep inside of me that demands to be fed. What is that hunger, I wonder? Genesis Chapter 3 tells us that one of the first consequences of sin entering the world is that the ground would be cursed, that we would eat by the sweat of our brow and the soil would produce weeds and thistles. This carries in it the idea of futility: that our efforts are frustrated, that no matter what we do, we feel it’s never enough–that perhaps we are never enough.”

Oh, how I can relate.  I have been ready to throw in the towel.  I am “afraid I’ll never be enough.”  Why?  Because I have been trying to do it on my own. No matter how much effort I put into it, I am doomed to fail on my own. Only when I realize who God says I am and rely on Him to lead me will I have success.

Who does God say I am?

  • Colossians 3:12 AMP says I am “well-beloved [by God Himself,”
  • 1 John 3:12 NASB tells us “now we are children of God,”
  • Zephaniah 3:17 NIV states “The Lord your God is with you…He will take great delight in you;  He will rejoice over you with singing.”
  • Isaiah 49:16a AMP reminds us “Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands;”

Think about Isaiah 49:16 for a minute.   Can you imagine the pain of having something inscribed (or tattooed) on the palm of your hand?  How much more painful was it for God to sacrifice His only Son for me?  I need to remind myself that God gave up everything for me so I don’t have to do life on my own.

All I need to do is ask God…
If I’m Your beloved, can You help me believe it?

Slumber

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Days they force you
Back under those covers
Lazy mornings they multiply
But glory’s waiting
Outside your window
So wake on up from your slumber
And open up your eyes

Tongues are violent
Personal and focused
Tough to beat with
Your steady mind
But hearts are stronger after broken
So wake on up from your slumber
And open up your eyes

All these victims
Stand in line for
The crumbs that fall from the table.
Just enough to get by
All the while you’re
Invitation
Wake on up from your slumber
Come on; open up your eyes 

Take from vandals
All you want now
But please don’t trade it in for life
Replace the feeble
With the fable
Wake on up from your slumber,
And open up your eyes

Sing like we used to
Dance when you want to
Taste of the breakthrough
And open wide

Sing like we used to
And dance like you want to
Open up your eyes

 NeedToBreathe
Bo Rinehart and Bear Rinehart

 *   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Jesus came so that we might have life…not just mediocre life, but abundant life!  A life full of joy and laughter and peace in the midst of hard.  He didn’t come so that we can just have the “crumbs” that fall off the table, but for us to have the full loaf and so much more!   He doesn’t want us just trudging to make it to the next bank deposit, or the next new car, or the next new outfit.  No, Jesus wants us to skip along and smile and laugh in spite of those hard things.

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.
Proverbs 31:25 NLT

I know there are days that we see the sun and instead of seeing it’s beauty, we really want to climb back into bed.  We are raining on the inside.  But God has an invitation for us to wake up and see the world that He created for us.  He wants us to feel the love that He feels for us and to embrace the grace that He so freely gives us when we trip and stumble and fall.  And when you sing and dance just because, He smiles on you and dances over you from heaven.

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in His love He will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

What does your life look like today?  Are you truly living the life that Jesus died for you to have?  Or are you just walking through life with your eyes half open, just barely making it.  If that is you, I pray that Jesus will send you so much joy and sunshine that you can’t miss it…and you will want to open your eyes and just breathe it all in.

 *   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Let us pray: Dear God, You are so amazing and loving and want so much for each of us.  Thank You for the sunshine and for the abundant life that You sent Your only Son to die for.  Oh Lord, forgive us when we take our life for granted and all the blessings that are staring us in the face for there is always something to praise You for!  We love You and we praise You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

He Lives (I Serve A Risen Savior)

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today
I know that He is living whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near

He lives, He lives
Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives, He lives
Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart

In all the world around me I see His loving care
And tho’ my heart grows weary I never will despair
I know that He is leading thro’ all the stormy blast
The day of His appearing will come at last

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find
None other is so loving, so good and kind

Alan Jackson
Words and Music – Alfred Ackley, 1933

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

One morning I was feeling a bit sad…life wasn’t going as I had envisioned.  And I was wondering why God wasn’t answering my requests and my desperate pleas.  Then, in the mail, I received a beautiful card with some much-needed reminders.  In it was this Scripture:

For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a Mighty Savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With His love, He will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

As I walked up the stairs to enjoy my quiet time, I was thinking about that verse, and this song sprang into my mind.  Christ lives!  He lives in me.  He walks with me and talks with me.  He is my Hope and my Help.  No one loves me like He does.  Whenever I need Him, He is always near.  Christ is my Savior and He takes great delight in me.  He actually rejoices over me with singing!  (If that doesn’t lift your mood, honey, you DO have problems!)  In a matter of moments my whole perspective had shifted.

All of this reminded me of another card I had received earlier in the week that contained this Scripture:

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you;
do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen…yes, I will help you;
yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 AMP

Another card I received reminded me that God is with me ALL the time and that ‘God is my Strength and Power, and He makes my way perfect’ (2 Samuel 22:33 NKJV).  God reminded me through these ladies and these cards that I have no reason to be dismayed or discouraged.  I have nothing to fear.  Christ lives and He holds me in His VICTORIOUS right hand.  (I just love that phrase!)  Christ alone is my Strength and my Power.  He loves me and ‘makes my way perfect.’  Who am I to question His plan?

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Lord Jesus, thank You for the much needed reminder that You are alive and live within my heart.  Thank You for walking with me daily, talking with me, and calming my fears.  I am so very blessed that You take great delight in me and rejoice over me with joyful songs.  Thank You for the lesson I learned through all of this and giving me the words to share it with others.  In Your holy name, Amen – So Be It!

More Than You Think I Am

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

You always think I’m somewhere on a mountaintop
But never think behind bars
You’d be amazed the places that I go
To be with you, where you are

So forget what you’ve heard
What you think that you know
There’s a lot about Me
That’s never been told

I’m more than you dream
More than you understand
Your days and your times
Were destined for our dance
I catch all your tears
Burn your name on My heart
Be still and trust My plan
I’m more than you think I am
More than you think I am

Rumor has it there’s a gavel in My hand
I’m only here to condemn
But let Me tell you secrets you have never known
I think of you as My best friend

So much has been said
Even done in My name
But I’m showing you now
Who I really am

Let me open your eyes to see
The heart of Me, differently 
Come closer than you’ve ever been
Let Me in like never before
Bring Me every broken part
The wounds and scars of who you are
Hide in Me and you will see

More than you think I am
More than you think I am
I’m more than you think I am

Singer/Songwriter: Danny Gokey along with Bernie Herms, Tim Nichols

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   * 

My God is loving and forgiving and full of grace and mercy.  He is thrilled when I succeed and cheers me on…even when I slip.  There is no condemnation from Him.  When I think of Him, I don’t see a gavel.  I see a Father Who was willing to send His one and only Son to die so that we might live. Every day was planned before we were born and all He wants for us is a life full of abundance.

God is with you.  Everywhere you go, He goes before you and walks beside You.  He is not somewhere that He cannot be reached (though it may feel that way when we have moved a little far away from Him).  And He will go to any lengths to be with you.  Wherever you go, He will go.  He is in prisons everywhere and in detention centers.  He is in hospitals here and overseas.  He is with those little children digging through trash piles.  He wraps His arms around the homeless sleeping on the cold streets.  He is everywhere.

He is waiting for you to let Him in.  And He wants all parts of your life. Oh, how much He can do in your life…if you just let Him.  He can take away pain and sorrow and give you grace and love and comfort . Don’t you see that the Creator of this world dances over you with singing and dancing.  He is the Lover of your soul and the Guardian of your heart.

I pray as you listen to this song, that you will let Him speak to you and tell you all that He is.  Just be still…know that He truly is God and He is able to do everything you need. And if you need to rededicate your life to Him today, all you have to do is tell Him.

What is He to you? I leave you with His own words:

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in His love He will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

He says, “Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   * 

Dear God, You are Holy and awesome and full of wonder.  Your Presence is everywhere and there is no where we can go that You will not follow.  Oh Lord, thank You for loving instead of condemning. Thank You for grace instead of a gavel.  And thank You for loving us enough to pay the ultimate sacrifice.  You are God and there is no other like You.  For those today that are far away, keep them wrapped in Your arms until they come back to You.  Help us to continue to spread Your hope to all who are hurting.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Remind Me Who I Am

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

When I lose my way
And I forget my name
Remind me who I am
In the mirror all I see
Is who I don’t wanna be
Remind me who I am
In the loneliest places
When I can’t remember what grace is

Tell me, once again who I am to You, who I am to You
Tell me, lest I forget Who I am to You, that I belong to You, to You

When my heart is like a stone
And I’m running far from home
Remind me who I am
When I can’t receive Your love
Afraid I’ll never be enough
Remind me who I am
If I’m Your beloved
Can You help me believe it

I’m the one You love
I’m the one You love
That will be enough
I’m the one You love

Singer / Songwriter: Jason Gray

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it,
and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions,
I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it.
I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.
My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions.
Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable.
The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.
I truly delight in God’s commands,
but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.
Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope.
Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.
He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions
where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind,
but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
Romans 7:17-25 MSG

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   * 

I must admit I am feeling pretty worn and weary. I am beginning to wonder if I will ever be able to make the changes I desire in my life. I have lost my ‘want to...’.  Lysa TerKeurst puts it this way:

“It’s not the how to I am missing. It’s the want to…really wanting to make changes and deciding the results of those changes are worth the sacrifice.”

As I was deciding which song to blog about, I was torn between this song and “Thrive” by Casting Crowns. God whispered to my heart “You must know who you are before you can thrive.”

  • How do we so easily forget who we are and Whose we are?
  • Why is it that “…in the mirror all I see is who I don’t wanna be…”?
  • Why do I struggle to do what I know is right and not do what I know is wrong?

I read an article on the story behind this song.  In it Jason Gray says this:

“Most, if not all, of the time I really don’t want to sin, so that I do so seemingly against my own will.  Or as the apostle Paul famously said, “I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway…”
So sin begins to look more like addiction than anything else, as though there is a ravenous hunger deep inside of me that demands to be fed. What is that hunger, I wonder? Genesis Chapter 3 tells us that one of the first consequences of sin entering the world is that the ground would be cursed, that we would eat by the sweat of our brow and the soil would produce weeds and thistles. This carries in it the idea of futility: that our efforts are frustrated, that no matter what we do, we feel it’s never enough–that perhaps we are never enough.”

Oh, how I can relate. I have been ready to throw in the towel. I am “afraid I’ll never be enough.” Why? Because I have been trying to do it on my own. No matter how much effort I put into it, I am doomed to fail on my own. Only when I realize who God says I am and rely on Him to lead me will I have success.

Who does God say I am?

Colossians 3:12 AMP says I am “well-beloved [by God Himself,”
1 John 3:12 NASB tells us “now we are children of God,”
Zephaniah 3:17 NIV states “The Lord your God is with you…He will take great delight in you;  He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Isaiah 49:16a AMP reminds us “Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands;”

Think about Isaiah 49:16 for a minute.   Can you imagine the pain of having something inscribed (or tattooed) on the palm of your hand? How much more painful was it for God to sacrifice His only Son for me?  I need to remind myself that God gave up everything for me so I don’t have to do life on my own.

All I need to do is ask God…
If I’m Your beloved, can You help me believe it?

I’ve Always Loved You

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

I don’t know how to explain it
But I know the words would hardly do
Miracles and signs and wonders
Aren’t enough for me to prove to you

Don’t you know I’ve always loved you
Even before there was time
Though you turn away
I tell you still
Don’t you know I’ve always loved you
And I always will

Greater love has not a man
Than the One who gives His life to prove
That He would do anything
And that’s what I’m gonna do for you

 Songwriter: Mac Powell / Performed by Third Day with Josh Wilson

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~   ♥   ~   *

This song was more than words to a dear member of my family.  It was as if God was speaking directly to her.  On her worst days, this song would come on the radio and she would smile through tears.  How encouraging that when the whole world is crumbing at your feet and everything that you held dear is gone, that the Creator of the universe is wildly, madly in love with you. He always has been and always will be.

Sometimes He has to really work at making us believe it—that no matter what we do or don’t do, He will never stop pursuing us.  Miracles and blessings come our way, and yet on a hard day, we question.  Why do we still have so much doubt?  We hear all around us that if God loved us that ___ wouldn’t have happened, or that divorce wouldn’t have gone through, or that your child wouldn’t have become sick, or even worse, died.  We will never know the answers to those hard questions. Not on this side of Heaven.

What we do know is that He is Sovereign and His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  We know that even if we could rewrite the story, we would choose His way.  We only see what is in front of us.  There is a bigger picture and all of the things we trudge through  do have a purpose.  Maybe one person was saved through your example. Jesus stopped for the one, right?  And even if just one person asked Jesus into his or her heart, wasn’t it worth it?

All of this life is doable, simply because He does love us. There is so much hope in those four letters…and joy and peace.  I challenge you today to find all the ways He loves you.  Write them down and look at them when those bad days come (and believe me, they will).  But your hope is in Him.  And He is really all you need.

Here are some verses that I encourage you to write on index cards and place them where you will see them and be reminded that He has always loved you.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son,
that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

~   ♥   ~

For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, “Fear not, I will help you.”
Isaiah 41:13

~   ♥   ~

The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

~   ♥   ~

Let us pray: Dear Lord, You are amazing, wonderful, and loving.  You are Sovereign and You are good.  You have always loved us, even when we feel we do not deserve it.  You sent Your Son to die, so that we don’t have to work to be saved, we just are when we ask.  The veil was torn and now we come to You as we want.  No temples, no walls, no harsh judgment… only sweet love and forgiveness and grace.  Remind those who forget often.  Let them know that they are loved by You!  We thank You and we praise You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

My Beloved

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

You’re My beloved, you’re My bride
To sing over you is My delight
Come away with Me My love

Under My mercy come and wait
Till we are standing face to face
I see no stain on you My child

You’re beautiful to Me
So beautiful to Me

I sing over you My song of peace
Cast all your care down at My feet
Come and find your rest in Me

I’ll breathe My life inside of you
I’ll bear you up on eagle’s wings
And hide you in the shadow of My strength

I’ll take you to My quiet waters
I’ll restore your soul
Come rest in Me and be made whole

 Singer/Songwriter: Kari Jobe along with Klaus Kuehn

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Have you ever been to a wedding?  The way the groom looks at his bride is beautiful…almost like he is seeing her for the first time, and she is his. She has left her old life behind and is now stepping into a new one with him forever. A ring is given, a circle with no beginning and no end.

God has no beginning and no end.  Did you know that He looks at you just like the groom looks at his bride?  With so much love and affection…unconditional and forever.  Jesus is the Bridegroom and we are the Bride.  When we accept Him into our lives, we leave our old life behind and take His hand and walk with Him into a new life forever.  He is beautiful and so is the life He will give us.

He takes all our worries and cares and bears them for us.  Nothing is too much for Him.  He says to us,

Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:26

He rejoices over us with singing,
Zephaniah 3:17

We are His beloved and He is ours. This is truly a beautiful love story.

He doesn’t see our sin anymore for we have been forgiven.  Psalms 23: 2 says,”He makes me to lie down in green pasture; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His names sake.” Oh, the places He leads us. Peaceful, beautiful places where we are washed clean by His blood and free.  We are living a life of abundance and blessings fall down like rain.  Don’t you want to come with Him?

As you listen to this song, just imagine being with your Savior.  Picture yourself in His arms safe from everything.  Peace is yours because He has already won the battle.  And today, remember that you are His and He loves you!

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Let us pray: Dear God, You are worthy to be praised.  Thank You for loving us so much and for taking our lives and making them so beautiful.  You really do rejoice over each one of us.  You love each one of us and nothing we can do will make You love us less.  We are forgiven and free.  Be with the ones who don’t know You yet or who haven’t given their lives completely to You.  Gently nudge them and bring them to You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

CHRISTLife — ThirtyFive: Delighted In, Favored, and Honored

cl delighted in favored and honored

Hadley, my two-year-old granddaughter, recently spent a week with me.  And, yes, I pampered her as all grandmothers do their grandchildren.

Like most women, Hadley enjoys a bubble bath at the end of a day and I was happy to oblige her.  One night, along with the rest of the bath toys she likes to surround herself with, I tossed a crown into the tub that had been used for decoration on a birthday cake.  As she soaked in the bubbles, the crown floated past her.  She grabbed the crown, placed it on her head and said:

I’m a Queen.

Oh, the imagination of a child!  How quickly Hadley had made the transition from being a little girl surrounded by bubbles and toys to wearing the title of Queen!  Just for fun, let’s play an imaginary game.

Suppose you were standing outside the palace gates of a king. As you stood there at the gates, your attire looked something like this:

  • you were clothed in filthy rags of whining, coaxing, self-pity, anger, resentment, revenge
  • you fought for your own rights and pushed your way through life
  • you always tried to borrow from others the kind of love you desperately needed
  • you rummaged through garbage pails looking for scraps of self-realization
  • the life of a pauper was your lifestyle

As you stood outside the palace gates in your filthy drab, you heard the king beckoning someone to come to him and be his bride.  You look around to see who he is calling, but there is no one else standing at the gate at this time.  And then you hear him issue the call again.

You look up to the window where he stands, your eyes meet his gaze, and say:  “You can’t mean me—why I’m just a pauper.  I’m not good enough for you. And my appearance, well, I am not the prettiest woman in the world.  I wouldn’t be a very good helpmate either, because I am just so dumb.  One of my teachers in school told me I would never amount to anything, and she was right, I didn’t; I’m just a failure.  No, I can’t marry you; I’m just too unworthy to be your bride.  But, thanks for asking anyway.”

Without another word spoken from the king, he stretched forth his hand beckoning you to come into his arms.  This time, you caught a look of love on his face that you had never ever seen on another.  It penetrated into the very depths of your heart and you at last realized that, “Yes, he wants me!”  You accepted his proposal, you were quickly ushered into the palace to be with him, and he placed a crown on your head.  Instantly, your life took on a new identity with the king in the palace.

Oh, my dear friends, this is no fairy tale, it is for real.  It is a story about YOU and ME, and how quickly we transitioned from our pauper state into a place of royalty when we accepted Jesus Christ as Savior.  Oh, yes, we became the Bride of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  You now stand daily in His presence and—

  • He sees you as His gift that He delights in—Ephesians 1:11; Isaiah 62:4
  • He takes pleasure in you—Psalm 149:4
  • He rejoices over you with gladness and singing—Zephaniah 3:17
  • You captivate His heart—Song of Solomon 4:9
  • You have favor in His sight—Psalm 84:11; Exodus 33:12; Psalm 4:3; 5:12
  • He honors you by making you royalty—Revelation 1:6; Romans 5:17

Enough said!  Now, if you will excuse me, I think I will just go fill my bath tub with bubble bath, light a candle, turn on the praise and worship music, and hop into the tub with my crown on. Just like Hadley said: “I’m a Queen!”

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Let us pray: Father God, I thank You for rescuing us out of our pauper state through the shed blood of Your son, Jesus, into a place of royalty. I am overwhelmed when I read in Your Word how much You delight in me, how much You favor me, and bestow honor on me as Your queen. May we all wear the crown and title in a way that will bring honor and glory to Your name by fulfilling the purpose for which You created us to be. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Captivating: Beauty Flows From a Heart at Rest – Beauty is Inviting (pp 132-138)

When I read the description of the two women, I saw a lot of what I am in Janet and a lot of what I wanted to be in June.

Despite our various personality traits or where we may feel in our lives, despite how we feel about our journey, or how successful we feel we have been on this journey, it is reassuring to know that we are beautiful. In every woman lies a God-given beauty. A beauty that we hide through our striving to be what we feel we should be, a beauty that we hide after hurts in life have caused us to question this beauty.

“Beauty indwells every woman…So the choice a woman makes is not to conjure beauty, but to let her defenses down.” 

Right there, that’s the key—our defenses. The book describes these defenses as our normal means of survival. We set up these defenses around our hearts and minds and keep others out, while at the same time keeping ourselves in. These defenses stop us from being who God designed us to be. But how do we let our defenses down…how do we embrace this God-given beauty?

Rest. What is rest, and most importantly, what is a heart at rest. In today’s busy world, rest is not a word we hear very often. But rest doesn’t mean an opportunity to relax in a quiet room without interruption from others. In this sense, rest means the opportunity to be who God created us to be without striving to be what we think we should be, without having to hide who we are. “That the more His we become, the more ourselves we become; more our true selves.”

I always try to find a line or two in each section that speaks to my heart. In these sections it was the following two lines:

You are free to be you, it’s one of life greatest gifts.

Despite what life and others may say, I know deep down that God created me for a reason, He created all of us for a reason.  He knew what character traits we would have, and He placed them in us for a purpose. Through Him and His love we can all embrace who we are, and open our hearts to rest.

 

Cap_Ch8_TonyaE

We do not have to be a ‘June’ to be at rest, or to have an inviting heart towards others. Like so many other discussions we’ve had, we need to simply let God in, let Him in to heal us as we walk in faith. Let our true selves come out as He shows us just how beautiful we are. Let Him in to show us the reality of 1 Peter 3:3, 4

 1 Peter 3:3 and 4

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

We need only to put our defenses down to let Him show us that we are inwardly beautiful.

Zephaniah 3:17

17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

He will quiet us with His love. He will lower our defenses with His love. He will allow our hearts to rest with His love. And He will make our hearts inviting with His love.

With Love,

Tonya

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Let’s Pray:

Rest, open, inviting, these are words that may not resonate with us, Lord, for we do not always see the beauty that You have placed in our lives and in our hearts. Our defenses and strongholds that we have created to protect us are stopping us from being the women You created us to be. Lord, please break our strongholds and help us to bring down our defenses through Your love. Thank You for Your love; a love that quiets, a love that heals, a love that allows us to see our true beauty through Your eyes.

In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.

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Your Assignment:

We so often overlook our beauty because in our eyes our flaws stop us from seeing it. Today we are all going to post a trait that makes us unique, that makes us who we are. God has placed so many beautiful characteristics in each one of us. “We are free to be us. It is one of life’s greatest gifts.”

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 If you are interested in sending a private message to Tonya, please email her at TonyaEllison@girlfriendscoffeehour.com