Prayer Challenge

I want to ask you to say this prayer out loud, if possible.

“I belong to God. I am a holy vessel, because I have the Holy Spirit of the Living God. The Lord of Heaven and earth has said over me; “I declare you holy!”. I commit to start believing what He says. I AM HOLY! Remind me daily, Spirit of the Living God, to treat myself as holy, open my eyes to every scheme of The Enemy to treat me as if I'm not. You God, are Holy. Your word is truth. This day Father, I chose to believe you! I ask this in the mighty name of your son Jesus Christ, who died on a cross for me so that I could be a coheir to the kingdom of God. Amen”

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Verse of the Week - Galatians 1:10

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people?
Good questions aren't they? As I grew to maturity as a branch on the Lord's vine, I had to be willing to let God prune some extra leaves and twigs from my actions and behaviors. One of behaviors that had to be pruned, or removed was my need to be a people pleaser. Yep, I had a terrible time learning that I could not please people first and God last. Below, is a list of lessons I have learned and strive to live by today.
  • I can only accomplish a set number of tasks in today.
  • Go to bed early and get up earlier to finish a task. I work more efficiently when I am rested. 
  • It is okay to gracefully say no. Example: Thank-you so much for thinking of me. However, I already have a full calendar at that time.  Another graceful way to turn someone down is: I am so happy that you thought of me for this job, but I already have commitment(s) for that time, day, or week. 
  • Giving of myself to gain approval - wanting others to recognize my contribution and give me a little pat on the head - is putting man above God. It isn't okay
  • Faith requires me to go ahead and step out to do what God tells me to do, even when I feel fear. 
  • There are always going to be people who don't like me and it is okay. 
Did you catch what I said about the lessons? 
I am striving, or trying, to live this way.  Am I always successful at living this way? Of course not. However, the moment I become aware that people pleasing behavior has crept back into my life, I remove it as quickly as possible through the following actions:  
First, I call on my father in heaven and ask him to remove that people pleasing sprout that has sprung up again. 
Then, I tell him I am willing to have it taken away. 
After that, I tell him that I am his to command and that I only want to do his will and not mine. The time in between each people pleasing pruning has become longer and longer as I trust my heavenly father to continue to shape me into the person he has plans for. 
If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
To be a bold witness for Jesus, I cannot worry about pleasing people. I can only please Jesus. I am his servant and that is all the approval that I need. Jesus gave me a job to do. I have to tell others about the Good News of Jesus Christ. My Jesus loves me and cares about me. God knows me intimately and sent the Holy Spirit to live in me. I don't need any more approval than that. Amen?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wrap Your Marriage in the Word of God

Before Bill and I were married we had several talks about what we wanted in our bible-based marriage. We discussed our marriage roles as set out in Ephesians 5:21-33.
  • 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
First, this verse doesn't say husbands and wives. It says one another, or fellow believers, out of reverence for Christ. I am going to be honest here. I had trouble with this idea. I am a strong personality and it took me awhile to realize I needed to rein myself in and yield the center of attention to others. It takes effort to consider other people, but that is what Jesus did. Out of my love for Jesus, I need to yield to my brothers, sisters, and my spouse.
  • 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 
I surrendered to the Lord completely. I love Jesus with all my heart. My life is his and my desire is to do his will. This was my relationship with Jesus before my marriage, too. However, I didn't want to surrender any control to my husband. I am a strong and independent woman who didn't want my husband to be telling me what to do.  However, this verse doesn't say my husband is going to boss me around, or be in control of me. Go back to verse 21 and reread what it says; submitting is yielding to each other because you both revere Jesus. Jesus is the authority of your faith and before your marriage you are both yielding to one another out of reverence for Jesus because you are fellow believers. At least you should be doing this. Bill looks at our marriage as a team and he wanted and wants an equal partner.
  • 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
These two verses were a stumbling block for me. I can submit to Christ because he is my Savior, but I did not want to apply this to my relationship with my husband, especially the part that says,"in everything." I am going to repeat that I am a strong and independent woman who doesn't want to surrender control of my decision making to my husband. My initial reaction was, "No way is he telling me what to do!" Bill and I talked about this and the analogy he used (that made and still makes sense to me) was that of partners in Team Bonham and one partner has 51% of the shares and the other partner has 49% of the shares. Both partners will talk about the major decisions and then the partner with 51% will make the decision. Yes, I had reservations about this, but I grudgingly gave my consent to this marriage model. That was 7 years ago and I can happily tell you that Bill rarely makes a final decision unless we are in total agreement. Why? because he wants me to be happy. He places my wants and needs above his own. Which brings us to verse 25.
  • 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 
  • 26 to make her holy, cleansing  her by the washing with water through the word, 
  • 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Think about what these verses says and Jesus' actions. Husbands are told to love their wives in the same way Jesus loved the church. Jesus put the wants and needs of all mankind before his own. He reconciled man and God with his death upon the cross out of love. Unconditional love and grace was given to us by Jesus' sacrifice. Jesus made the church holy and blameless when each person submits to Jesus and takes their place within the body of the church. The following verses return to how husbands should love their wives. 
  • 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 
  • 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 
  • 30 for we are members of his body.
These verses are clear as to the manner husbands should love their wives. However, I believe wives should also treat husbands in the same manner because of the opening verse, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." A marriage has to be balanced in the giving. If both spouses love, care, and feed each other just as Christ does the church, then both are giving of themselves to the other equally.
 Intimacy is being close to and concerned for each other other. Christ knows his church intimately and he cares for the church spiritually. Husbands are the spiritual leaders of the home. A godly husband reflects the light of Jesus through the indwelling Holy Spirit. These verses express an ideal standard that both spouses should try to achieve.  
  • 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
You are both on the same team. A victory for one is a victory for the other. Face each life challenge together. Support each other with unconditional love. Honestly, you cannot change each other. Get that idea out of your head. If you are single, do not go into a marriage believing you can change your spouse. You cannot change another person. All you can do is to love them as they are, just as Jesus loves you exactly where you are. More marriages end because a spouse keeps trying to change the other partner and both end up profoundly unhappy. Only God and Jesus can change someone. Pray for your partner when you are upset. Lift them up to God through Jesus and let the Lord take care of the situation. 
Note: I am not talking about abusive behavior. Do not stay in an abusive relationship. These verses say to care for your spouse as you would feed and care for your body. Abuse isn't doing this. 
  • 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.  
  • 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Wives, please do not speak to your husband disrespectfully at anytime. The husband is the head of the family. He is the spiritual leader of the family. Show your spouse the same respect that you would show Jesus. Again I am referring back to the opening verse,"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." 
Spouses must love each other as themselves and be respectful of each other. Being disrespectful to each other is destructive. It will end your chance for a happy marriage. Your spouse may "suck it up", but not forever. Sooner or later, they are going to quit trying to make you happy.  Sarcasm is another destructive way of speaking to each other. It isn't respectful or showing the reverence of Christ. 
You are going to have to communicate with your spouse. Just make sure your talks are phrased as "I messages" and not as blame. It takes practice to communicate with your spouse. It isn't going to happen overnight. However, if you are submitting to one another with the reverence of Christ, then you will be a team and learn how to be equal partners. Remember, this is why sports teams have practice - so they are working together and learning to act as one.  

Another set of scripture that Bill and I adopted as our "marriage scriptures" is this one:
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken   Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
In verse 12, the cord of three strands is the Lord, your spouse, and you. You are one cord made of three strands that is not quickly broken. Just make sure that the Lord is the first strand, your spouse is the second strand, and you are the third strand. 

I want you to know that what I have written is not professional help. I'm not a counselor. What I am is a spirit-filled, child of God who is relating how my godly husband and I have based our marriage upon the bible. Our marriage is seven years old and our "honeymoon" period has not ended. We put the Lord first, each other second, and then ourselves every day.  We have followed the biblical marriage model from the first day of our marriage and it is working for us. My hope is that you will try this biblical marriage model and strengthen your marriage too. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Verse of the Week - Galatians 1:8-9

Paul Speaks a Stern Truth
Paul didn't mince any words in telling the Galatian churches that there is only one gospel and that if anyone else is preaching a gospel, other than the one they accepted through Paul's evangelism, that the consequence is condemnation.

I know this sounds harsh, but many people want to preach a gospel that isn't the one Jesus taught and these gospels don't lead you to eternal life through Jesus Christ. False gospels lead to death and Jesus' gospel leads to eternal life. It is life and death for you and I to know the truth.
You don't have to earn your salvation.
Salvation is a free gift because Jesus already paid the price. My NIV Disciple's Study Bible states it this way on page 1490:
People still find it difficult to accept salvation as a free gift. They want to earn it, so they develop a code or ritual to justify themselves. Even more sadly, they fall prey to cults and sects which have an "aura of holiness" about them because they emphasize some kind of legal regimen which requires discipline...It is his (Jesus') crucifixion that sets us free to serve Him in love-not anything we have done, are doing, or will do. 
Brothers and sisters, don't listen to false gospels and preaching.
Know what your bible says. Don't use the excuse that man interpreted God's divinely inspired word into different versions and now it isn't God's word. That is the deceiver trying to keep you from the truth of God's word.
God's Divinely Inspired Words Have Not Been Changed
Use a parallel bible app, bible study website, and bible commentaries to learn that the original Greek and Hebrew has not been warped. For several years, I use to compare the different bible editions with Strong's Greek and Hebrew translations. God's original word has not been changed from the original, divinely inspired writings. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Rely on God and Pray Desperately

I find myself thinking about two difficult situations where I prayed desperately and my prayer was answered.

  • My late husband had been released from the hospital and two weeks later he had to be readmitted when his body and antibiotics just wouldn't get rid of his bacterial pneumonia.  He was skeletally thin, struggling for every breath, and tired of the fight. In my heart I knew I could lose him. That evening, I left the hospital and returned home. As I walked across my kitchen, I just sank to my knees and began talking to Jesus and Father God out loud and begged him to heal my husband. Words flowed out of my mouth and to the listening ear of my lord. At the end, I remember telling God that I would accept his will no matter what it was. As I rose from my knees, calmness filled me from the inside out. I had done all I could and given the situation and my husband to God. Peace filled my heart AND my husband came home, gained weight, and regained his strength. He was with me for another 8 years in spite of his terminal illness. 
  • On an especially trying day of dealing with a teenage daughter, I knew I was in danger of losing my temper. I also knew I wouldn't be able to control what I said, or did once the anger exploded into rage. Mentally I sent a desperate appeal to the Lord, "Lord, help me, oh please help me!" Instantaneously I felt as if a bucket of cool calmness had been poured over me. It flowed over me like cool water and when it reached my feet, not one spark, or ember of anger remained. In the place of the scorching anger, was a supernatural calmness that was just as great as the anger I had felt just seconds before. My desperate prayer had been answered in one amazing moment.  
The Apostle Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians 1:8-11:
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,a about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
God, Who Raises the Dead
When I faced great pressure that was beyond my ability to endure, I relied on God, who raises the dead. Yes, Jesus raised the dead and God raised Jesus from the dead! How exciting is that? If Jesus could raise the dead and God can raise Jesus from the dead, then they can take care of anything I am going to face WHEN I rely on him. 
God Did and God Will
I love how Paul says that God delivered them from peril and then says he knows God will deliver them again. Paul had that faith because God kept answering their appeals. Then Paul acknowledges that the prayers of the Corinthians had a place in their deliverance too AND Paul knows that they will give God thanks for answering their prayers. 
Three Key Points

  • When life seems darkest, rely on God, who raises the dead, to deliver me. 
  • I will rely on God and pray knowing that God, who raises the dead, has answered my prayer and will answer my prayer again.  
  • The correct response for an answered prayer is heartfelt thanks to God. Then, I will tell people what God has done for me and give him thanks again! This is how my testimony is meant to reveal the power of God in my life. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Verse of the Week - Galatians 1:6-7

Isn't Galatians so pertinent to today? 
When Paul wrote this, the problem was that Jewish Christians believed that some of the Old Testament ceremonies were still to be practiced by the followers of Jesus. They believed this despite the fact that Paul had preached that man is justified by faith in Jesus and through Jesus, faith in God. 

Today, people are still trying to pervert the gospel of Christ and change the meaning of what is written in the Bible.
I don't want to debate what the Bible says. I've read commentaries for the bible and I believe that the majority of Jesus' followers believe the bible as written.  I am grateful for my salvation and I KNOW I didn't get saved by any works that I did. 

Jesus saved my life and my life changed. 

I like how sums up salvation is by grace and through faith in their Statement of Faith:
We believe salvation is received by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Good works and obedience are results of salvation, not requirements for salvation. Due to the greatness, sufficiency, and perfection of Christ's sacrifice, all those who have truly received Christ as Savior are eternally secure in salvation, kept by God's power, secured and sealed in Christ forever (John 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 8:1, 38-39; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24). Just as salvation cannot be earned by good works, neither does it need good works to be maintained or sustained. Good works and changed lives are the inevitable results of salvation (James 2).
I especially love the use of the word inevitable in the last sentence! 
Faith in Jesus causes a changed life. At least, it truly changed mine and turned me into a joyful follower of Jesus. My heart's desire is to be a servant for the Lord and to accomplish the good works that HE sets before me. Do I hear an amen?