Anna's Alcove

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Category: Bible (page 2 of 4)

Angels watching over me

After spending a lovely evening of cooking dinner, writing thank-you notes, going for a walk and watching a movie with my fiance, something completely unexpected happened.”

I had been driving on I-78 for about 10 minutes, singing along to Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted,” when I rounded a corner and an unusual movement caught my eye. Next thing I know, my little Suzuki is right on top of the big momma deer that happened to be in my lane..

THUD

… my hood crumples and she goes flying straight up into the air, right over my car and the car behind me, smacking onto the pavement on the side of the road. I manage to steer off to the side of the highway, smoke swirling out of my now-exposed engine and windshield wipers going like crazy (in my shock, I smacked everything around the steering wheel trying to find the turn signal so I could safely exit my lane, thus turning on the wipers full blast).

20141111_081131The girl who was driving behind me didn’t have a scratch on her car and she stopped to make sure I was ok. She left and the realization of what had just happened began to set in, triggering a mini freakout. I called my fiance and he dropped what he was doing to meet me (did I mention how awesome he is?). The necessary calls were then made to the police, AAA and my Dad and we had my car towed away while my wonderful fiance gave me a ride home.

In hindsight, I believe that my car was surrounded by angels that night.

I mean, what else could’ve kept that deer from coming through the windshield (causing even more damage or even critically injuring me)? It had started to roll up my car’s hood and then suddenly shot high in the air; high enough to get over 2 cars and land way off on the side of the road (out of the way of oncoming traffic).

The only explanation I have is God’s angels! The Bible states:

“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” 
Heb. 1:14
 
” For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  
In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” 
Psalm 91:11-12
 
“The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” 
Psalm 34:7

While I haven’t personally seen a healing happen before my eyes or had one of those incredible visions from God, I have had angelic experiences throughout my entire life (angels kept me quiet and occupied while Mom dealt with a fish tank disaster – I was just under a year old; there have been car crashes that could’ve ended really badly; hiding my keys on me so I would be a couple minutes late, missing the multi-vehicle accident; and more).

All I can say is that God must have something big planned for my life, someone He wants me to impact personally, something He wants me to do to further His kingdom. It’s the same for all of us! He is faithful in His promises and will never leave us nor forsake us. When he says that He will send His angels to guard us, it’s not a lie. We are surrounded by His protection day in and day out.

Trust Him. He won’t let you down.

I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 
Matthew 28: 20
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God-Dependent

“To become a [true] servant is to become radically strong spiritually”<
[Be] God-dependent rather than spouse-dependent”

During one of my mornings with God last week, reading from a book called “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas, these phrases popped out at me and got me thinking…

What does it mean to be “God-dependent”? How does that come through in every day life?

I know that most of us, growing up in Christian homes and churches, have been taught at a young age to put our trust in Christ, to have our happiness depend on God rather than our family or friends. To a young girl, that seems easier said than done.

My happiness depends on a God I can’t even see? How does that work? He can’t make silly faces that get me to laugh, He can’t tell me a joke or take me somewhere fun or sit for hours to just talk and catch up.

But as I got older, I began to realize what being “God-dependent” really means.

Throughout high school I got excited whenever one of the older guys happened to smile at me or when one of my friends invited me out to a girls’ night. Then college came, I got a boyfriend and felt like I was on cloud nine because I finally had someone who seemed to value me for who I was and who I enjoyed spending time with.

And what happened?

I broke my heart multiple times because those high school boys were just being nice and had no interest in me whatsoever. Most of those girls’ nights ended up being gossip-fests that I couldn’t share in because I was homeschooled and didn’t know anyone outside of church. Half of the guys in college, including my then-boyfriend, weren’t interested in a long-term relationship and eventually started to push me away.

The bottom line is that people will let you down, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It’s just the way we are with the sin nature in our lives… and that’s why we’re encouraged to allow God to become the source of our joy and happiness.

David realized this when he wrote Psalm 28:7:

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him and I am helped;
therefore my heart greatly rejoices and with my song I will praise Him.”

What does he do in this verse?

David owns the truth by saying “my strength” and “my shield.”DSCN7730

By claiming that truth as his own and striving each day to place his dependence on God alone, David was able to “greatly rejoice” and “praise” the God of joy and peace!

So, how would that apply in real life?

The verse that popped in my head was Ephesians 5:21, which says:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

As we start to turn our focus toward Christ and work to base our joy off of our relationship with Him, everything else will fall into place.

It’s just like Thomas says:

“If [you] are faithfully serving [your spouse] when [they’re] in a surely mood and [they’re] not exactly falling over [themselves] to show [their] appreciation, [you] still receive an inner affirmation and sense of fulfillment from God. [You] have that inner witness that tells [you] that [your] Creator is pleased with [you]…”

When we place our identity in the One who is the source of joy and happiness, it won’t matter so much what other people do to us, as long as we’re faithfully striving to serve our heavenly Father and do His will by loving on those He created…

… because He will be pleased with us.

“There is true joy when true service is offered up with a true heart”

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Happily Ever After

There comes a point in every girls’ life where she suddenly realizes that boys don’t have cooties, that it seems like the kid in her class may just be flirting with her or that her best friend that she’s grew up with is actually kind of good looking.

Most of us have watched all the Disney princess movies, can belt out “A Whole New World” with the best of them and sigh dreamily every time the prince rescues the princess, captures her heart and they ride off to his castle together, to live happily ever after.

Yes, I pretty much described myself and I was that hopeless romantic at a very young age. My first crush lasted a good 13 years (it started at age 4 or 5) and I started “planning” my wedding when I was about 16. I’ve always been a sucker for Christian romance novels and romantic comedies. Being married to a godly man and becoming a stay-at-home mom is really all I’ve ever wanted from life.

I’ve been praying for my future husband for several years now and for my happily ever after. God has been faithful and pretty much landed me a fairy tale of my own!

Some of my Bible study friends convinced my sister and me to go swing dancing one night, we got hooked and came back the next week. The minute I walked through the door, this guy across the room caught my eye. I can’t really explain it, but for some reason, I couldn’t stop glancing his way during the hour-long lesson and when the social dance came around, he asked me to dance, taught me a couple dances and we talked and danced the night away.

I’m not kidding 🙂

The next day, he asked me out on a date, we went biking along the river, talked some more over ice cream, he asked to meet my Dad (which was one of my “Hey, God, could you give me a sign if he’s the one?” things) and the rest is history.

Fast forward about 10 months.

We get back from a week at the beach with my family and everyone has finally unpacked and gone to bed. Charles and I are just hanging out and talking, when he suggests we take a walk outside to see the stars (there are some big corn fields near where I live, so it’s perfect for star-gazing). As we’re walking, we both catch sight of one of the brightest and longest shooting stars I’ve ever seen. We get to the field and, as we’re looking at the stars, he asks if I figured out why he hasn’t been able to stop smiling all day. I said that I thought he had enjoyed himself at the beach and was enjoying the moment.

Next thing I know, he’s down on one knee in front of me, holding out a box with a sparkly ring inside it and I hear him ask, “Will you marry me?”

Needless to say, I said yes!DSCN7439

But now with being engaged and the wedding date set for Dec. 28, 2014, I’m finding it hard to pull back on the reins on my wedding planning. I just wanna go, go, go and get every last detail figured out now instead of spacing it out over the next 5 months. But, in reality, that’s crazy.

My loving fiance has amazing patience for putting up with my random texts, messages and constant talking about the little details as they pop up in my head. When I started to get worried that a certain detail may not work out the way I think it should or that we wouldn’t get the venue we wanted, he will gently remind me of how much God has already provided for us and that He has everything taken care of. All we have to do is take a deep breath and trust him.

And it’s true. I mean, one of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4,

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”

I know this verse can be confusing to many people. Some take it to mean that when you follow after God wholeheartedly, He will bless you with everything you ever wanted. Others take it to mean that when you follow after God, He will bless you with the things He thinks are best for you, whether you desire it or not.

To me, it means that when you fully commit to following after God, diligently seeking Him in His Word and prayer, your desires begin to align with His. That part of you that was all about making yourself happy and getting what you want just falls away and is replaced by a heart after God’s own heart.

Yes, that original longing for love and happily ever afters will still be there, but it won’t be about you anymore. As you’re delighting in the Lord and chasing after Him for all your worth, your focus will shift. It will be more about how you can help another person to feel and experience the love of Christ through you.

Now, I’m not saying that the minute you start pursuing God, your Prince Charming will show up. It doesn’t happen that way. It takes time.

We may feel like we’re ready – and maybe we are – but what if God is still working on the other person? What if they’re not isn’t at the point where they can genuinely demonstrate the love of Christ to you?

I know I felt like I was ready for a committed relationship the last year and a half before I met my fiance, but a part of me hadn’t fully become content in Christ. I was still occasionally moaning to God, asking Him why I was still single at 23, why there seemed to be no husband-material on the horizon…

… then something changed.

I don’t know what it was exactly, but during a prayer, I was all of a sudden filled with peace and contentment. The days after that, I woke up each morning with joy in my heart and a genuine smile on my face. Life was good!

The whole time I was halfheartedly pursuing God in His Word and prayer, the Holy Spirit was working on me. As I got deeper and more committed in my pursuit of getting closer with God, praying that He would strengthen my faith and reveal Himself to me day after day, He was faithful in His promise and helped me to become fully content in Him.

And shortly after that was when I walked through the doors at Fearless Firehall and met my future.

God’s timing is perfect… trust me 🙂

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An Approachable God

What is normally the first thought that comes to mind when something unexpected or exciting happens in your life?

“I’ve gotta tell somebody about this!!”

And who would that be?

Probably your best friend, spouse, parents or someone who just happens to be sitting next to you at the time, right?

But have you ever thought about telling God – the One who had orchestrated that exact moment or circumstance because He knew it would either bring you joy or draw you closer to Him? He may already know about every single detail, but in reality, He loves to hear about it directly from us.

Sadly many people, when they think of God, get this picture of a vengeful, supernatural being who is watching their every move, getting ready to blast them the minute they mess up. There’s no way we, as mere humans, can just talk with a God like that, right? Yes, it’s true that He is a wrathful, jealous God who cannot look upon sin:

“Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made
with you and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the
Lord your God has forbidden you. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”
Deut. 4:23-24 NKJV

… but that’s only a small part of who He is.

When I think of God, I think of the God who “so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Also,

“… love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God…
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world,
so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God,
but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins…
God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”
1 John 4:7-12 NKJV

What’s the one word repeated over and over again in those two passages?

LOVE

He is the God of love who gave up the only thing (Jesus Christ, His Son) who could make it possible for us to spend eternity with Him. He is the God of love who seeks out new and different ways to connect with us, on our level, in order to reveal more of who He is.

Honestly, He’s not as big and scary as some people make Him out to be. He certainly can be terrifying and wrathful when He wants to – like when the devil just won’t let up on us or when thousands of people are pretty much spitting in His face by refusing to change their ways (see Genesis 19 for the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. You’ll see what I mean).

But the side of God I’m talking about is the God who wants to hear all about our hopes and dreams for the future. He delights in spending time with us, listening as we talk about the latest thing that has happened in our lives. He’s also very good with giving a comforting hug and a compassionate ear when we need someone to lean on during the hard times.

You see…

… this is the God who wakes me up with either a bright ray of sunshine or gently falling rain in the mornings.

… this is the God who I rely on for strength to get me through each day.

… this is the God who I talk to late at night as I’m falling asleep, telling Him all that I experienced throughout the day.

So, take the time to get to know this caring, compassionate God that we serve. It’s just like having an ongoing conversation with your best friend throughout the day. He loves to hear from you anytime, anywhere.. whether at work, home, out shopping, etc.

“I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping.
It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”
C.S. Lewis

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Live Out Loud!

Walking along a city street, strolling through the mall with your friends or shopping in a farmers’ market, you’re bound to bump shoulders and be jostled by at least a dozen or more people of varying backgrounds, ethnicities and beliefs. Guaranteed.DSCN1978

Some of us relish the opportunity to lose ourselves in a crowd, experiencing the excitement of navigating our way through a throng of people, diving for that open space when the moment is just right. Others dread having to deal with crowds and will attempt to plan their outings when the volume of shoppers, walkers and employees is significantly lower.

But we all interact with people at some point of our day, extroverts or introverts alike. Now, take a moment and think about the number of people you come in contact with throughout the day. How about in two days? Three? A week? A month? A year?

The numbers have increased, right?

You’re probably thinking, ok, so what? Yes, we know that dealing with crowds is just a part of life, so what’s the big deal? You just shove your way through or impatiently wait in line to check out, surfing Facebook on your smartphone as the customer in front of you pays for their items…

… but wait a minute!

How many of those people know Jesus? How many of those people have heard about the free gift of salvation that He’s holding out to them? How many of those people are headed to eternal punishment because no one reached out to them with God’s love?

Puts it into perspective, doesn’t it?

A couple Sundays ago, Kevin King, one of the missionaries my church supports who is based in New York City with his family, shared about what God has been doing in his life and what He has laid on his heart.

Their mission in NYC is to share the gospel with students from other countries (Muslims, Buddhists, etc.) while they’re studying here in America. As they come to know Christ as their personal Savior, King disciples and teaches them more about the Bible and how to lead their own studies.

That way, when they head back home, which is more likely than not to be located in the “10/40 window” (a section of unreached countries, tribes and people located in Japan through China, India, the Middle East and Northwestern Africa), these students can share what they’ve learned about the gospel in places where our missionaries are unable to go.

This seems to be one of the most effective ways to reach countries where Christian missionaries are not welcome. These students grew up in the villages and can easily get back into these countries, where they’ll have the opportunity to take what they’ve learned during their time in NYC and start Bible studies and churches with the people they know.

The goal of the Kings’ mission is to create relationships with the people they come into contact with on the streets, in schools, at stores, etc., spreading the love of Christ and sharing the Good News. They don’t wait for opportunities to come to them.. they intentionally seek out anyone who needs to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Some of us get stuck in the thinking that we’re not qualified or don’t know enough to be a good witness for Christ. What if they ask us questions we don’t know the answer to? What if what I say ends up sounding stupid or doesn’t make sense?

Yet, God still chooses to work through us to spread His Word. God can use common and ordinary people to do extraordinary things!

While talking with our congregation, King used the example of Peter and John in Acts 4:1-13. The men were arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. When questioned by what power and in whose name they acted in, Peter started to testify:

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: if we this day are judged for the good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (vs. 8-12)

Now, you’d think the whole place would go ballistic after a claim like that, but they don’t. These leaders heard what Peter said and “when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” (vs. 13)

Peter and John didn’t go through seminary. They didn’t spend years studying up on the Scriptures. No. They were just stating a fact and giving an eye-witness account of what they did. And it was evident through their actions and straightforward answers that they had been with Jesus.

Another example King used included the woman at the well (John 4) and how “many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did!'” (vs. 39). She just shared her story and told about what Jesus had done in her life. There wasn’t any exams she had to take or memorization of Scriptures. It was just her story and the love of Christ that was evident within her.

Also the demon-possessed man in Mark 5. After Jesus cast out his demons and the man begged to go with Him, Jesus wouldn’t let him. He said “Go home to your friends and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He has had compassion on you.’ And he departed and begain to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him and all marveled.” (vs. 19-20) Again, this man was just sharing his story. No training. No studying. Just talking with his friends and family.

I’m not saying this is an easy thing to do. It can be really scary to go up to someone in a public place, introduce yourself, build that 5-minute relationship and steer the conversation toward religion and what they believe. Some may turn you down directly, others may be really interested and ask a lot of questions that you may not know the full answer to.

But that’s ok. No need to freak out or worry that you don’t know the answer. This is an opportunity for you to continue the relationship after this conversation by promising them that you’ll get the answer for them at a later time. Admitting that you don’t know everything reveals that you’re still human, not some super godly person who is superior to them.

When Jesus says to go and make disciples of all the nations, He mostly meant to build relationships. Strike up those conversations. Sit with someone in the food court if they look like they could use a friend. Put your phone away and talk with people in line while you wait to check out.

We’re created to be relational and we should use that to our advantage!

Let’s work on living out loud for Jesus by building relationships and sharing what He has done for us each day, no matter how big or small 🙂

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Love Never Fails

Many girls have dreamed of having their own fairy tale endings. You know the ones I’m talking about: meeting the right guy and hitting it off right then and there, a whirlwind romance and then riding off into the sunset with Prince Charming on the back of a white horse.

Or growing up with a best friend that, as you got older, you discover you just can’t live without, so your friendship blossoms into this beautiful romance that leads to marriage and a happily ever after.

In some cases, that last scenario can actually happen. Rarely, but it does.

Yet, these days, love can be seen as a convenience and something that doesn’t include commitment to the other person. Couples can stay together for as long as they want and, when they get bored or tired of each other, they can just move on. Yes, it will hurt for a little while, but they’ll get over it the minute they find someone else to latch onto for fulfillment.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I’ve been thinking what real love is supposed to look like. I know it’s so much more than just a feeling and it can be hard to distinguish true love from the twisted view of love that the world keeps feeding us.

We’re constantly being bombarded by mixed messages from the media, peers and society in general when it comes to what love should look like. Messages such as:

– having sex before marriage is okay as long as you use the correct protection
– love should be completely physical and based on your feelings of passion and lust
– if you’re bored, you can get out of it by just leaving or through divorce.

Just go with the flow. You’ll get the hang of it and pretty soon you’ll be a “love expert” who can pick up and drop relationships just like that.

That doesn’t sound like it could emotionally scar people for life, right? Wrong!

Created by a relational God, we naturally look for relationships, romantic or otherwise. But, as Christians, we shouldn’t look for love as the world does. We should…

“… love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

Ok, I got that, but what does that look like?

Paul describes it a little better in the “love chapter” of the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13, where verses 4-8 say something like this:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 
it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, 
always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Now that’s something I can work with!

Love is patient, love is kind – That’s pretty self-explanatory. Maybe a little hard to put into practice at times when the patience is running a little thin, but something to strive for.

It does not envy – Envy is when you want or desire something that another person has. That’s not what love is based off of. If we’re talking true love here, we should be happy for the other person instead of plotting how to get what they’ve got.

It does not boast, it is not proud – There are certain stages of pride. You should be proud of your friends or boyfriend/girlfriend for what they accomplish, yet you have to be careful to not let that pride get to the point where it’s not uplifting others and its only aim is to make you feel better about yourself.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking – Love should drive us want the best for the other person and not twist situations around so that they benefit us and us alone. Going out of our way to do something for someone else is one of the best ways to demonstrate how you feel towards the other person.

It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs – There will be times when your “fairy tale romance” won’t go as planned and this is why our fulfillment shouldn’t be based completely on another person, but totally on God. That way, when relationships hit a bump in the road or encounter an obstacle, the grace of God can shine through and begin the healing process in order to make the relationship stronger.

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth – Again, self-explanatory. We should not hope for bad things to happen to others and be happy when things do go right for someone.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres – What’s the one word that is repeated over and over in this line? Always, always, always! People should never give up on other people. Yeah, there may be times when they need to step back and let them figure things out for themselves, but in the end, we all need each other. No matter what happens.

So, the bottom line is, forget what the world is telling us.

Yes, the romance part of relationships is awesome, but that’s not the whole point. Basing a relationship off of friendship, being open with each other and striving to honor God in all things is really the only way to go.

I’m no love expert.. far from it. But from what I can tell, true love based on the design God has given us in His Word is definitely a love worth waiting for and working toward once you find it.

Why?

Because that kind of love never fails 🙂

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The heavens declare the glory of God

Waking up on a Thursday morning can go two ways…

You crack open an eye at the sound of the alarm, groan, smack the “snooze” button and drift back to sleep because you know you still have two whole days to get through before the weekend officially begins. Getting out from your cocoon of blankets is the last thing you want to do.

Or

You open your eyes, taking in the soft sunshine pouring through the window. You stretch luxuriously and yawn, thinking, “The weekend is within reach! Only two more days to go!!” The smell of the coffee brewing downstairs wafts up your nose.. you let out a happy sigh; nothing can get you down today!

Normally, I’m the first option on a Thursday morning. I am not a morning person and some days it just seems extra hard to get out of bed, especially when the weekend is just out of reach.

But this past week, God gave me a pleasant surprise.

As the alarm went off, I stretched and started to hit the “snooze” button, when something caught my eye. The movement of the blankets had sent a small puff of air toward the blind, making it swing back and forth ever so slightly.

I sat up, grabbed hold of the blind, gave it a tug and, as it rolled itself up and revealed the entire window, my jaw dropped:

I stared at it for a while, in awe of the many intricate designs that were all over the bottom window pane, and then I kicked off the blankets and dove for my camera, snapping a few quick pictures while the lighting was just right.

It’s moments like these that reaffirm the fact that there is a Creator and that He delights in making beautiful things, which is evidenced in the words repeated over and over again in Genesis (1:4, 10, 14, 18, 21, 25 and 31):

“And God saw that it was good”

Everything God created, down to the last miniscule detail, was and is considered good by His standards (which is pretty awesome if you think about it. I mean, this is God we’re talking about, and if He says it’s good… well, it must be really good!).

As Creator, God enjoys making new things, perfecting each detail, and making it beautiful.
This is also seen in Matthew 6:28-30:
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. 
They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon 
in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, 
which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, 
will He not much more clothe you?”

If it pleases God to spend so much time on the designs on the petals of the flowers in the fields or the frost on the window that is here one moment and gone the next, how much more time will He spend on you… shaping, molding, breaking and strengthening you to become all that He wants you to be?

Let that sink in for a moment.

“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; 
You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; 
You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord… My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. 
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. 
All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” 
(Psalm 139:1-4, 15-16)
The next time you start feeling overwhelmed by life or that things are careening out of control, just take a look around you.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” 
(Psalm 19:1)
Look at all of creation and remember that there is a Creator who is orchestrating your life down to the last detail. He’s got everything under control and He won’t let you down. Take the time to get to know Him more and He will reveal Himself to you in ways you never expected or experienced before.
Spend time in His Word.
Spend time enjoying His creation…
… and give Him the glory!
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Chosen

The birds are chirping and the sun is shining through your curtains. You open one eye, stretch lazily and smile. It’s a brand new day and, while the blankets are still surrounding you in a cocoon of coziness, you’re excited to get out of bed and head to work.

Why?

Because you managed to land your dream job fresh out of college! You wake up each morning knowing that you’re getting paid to do what you love!

Ok, ok, so maybe you haven’t quite gotten to that point.. but can you imagine what it must be like to work in the job of your choice, doing what you love and getting paid for it?

Seriously, take a moment and think about that. Imagine having a job so perfectly suited for your abilities that you genuinely look forward to getting to work every single day… what would you be doing if you had a choice?

Each person has a unique set of skills and abilities and there are certain things that come easily to some than for others. One person can be really good at computers, while another person can hammer out a paper, grammatically correct and all, in less than an hour. Or someone can be really good at helping people to solve relationship problems while still another person is good at creating beautiful pieces of art out of pretty much anything.

Is one better than the other?

Of course not. We’re all gifted in different ways for a reason, but that doesn’t make one person better than the next.

This past week, I was reading Exodus 31 (the last part of God’s instructions to Moses on Mount Sinai), and this part stuck out to me:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel, son of Uri, the son of Hur,
of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God,
with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts…
Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him.
Also, I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you.”
(31:1-6)

Here’s what stuck out to me the first time I read this passage: God had gifted these men with the skill, ability and knowledge AND filled them with the Spirit of God to enable them to complete the task before them.

Yes, they were talented craftsmen who knew their work, but they were also selected and chosen by God to be skilled in these specific areas. They were granted divine wisdom in order to complete their assigned task.

Can you imagine what a difference it might make in your life if you knew that the God of the universe had selected you for a specific task?

Well, guess what?

He has!

In His overall plan, you are meant to play your part. You may feel insignificant at times or that your skill set is only so-so, but don’t give in to those lies! You are important and have a very significant part to play in the great picture of life!

While your dreams may seem so far-fetched that there’s no possible way for them to become a reality, or you may be stuck in a dead-end job with no forseeable way out, God does have a plan for your life… yes, you specifically… and nothing can ever get in the way of His sovereign will for you.

How do I know this?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:16

That’s the thing about God. When He makes a promise, He will follow through with it.

Just like He had selected and gifted Bezalel and Oholiab in Exodus to create the furniture, ornaments and utensils for the Tent of Meeting, He has also selected and gifted you with a very unique set of skills and abilities in order to complete the task laid before you.

All that’s required of you is to trust,

have faith,

and to constantly seek after Him…

in ALL things 🙂

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New Year Resolutions

It’s a new year and you know what that means… New Year’s resolutions!!!

The beginning of the year is a good time to reflect on the things you wish you had done last year and resolve to achieve your goals for this coming year. I personally have never made a new year resolution, but many people will try to reshape their eating habits, others try to prioritize their lives and still others want to get in better physical shape.

But what would happen if we dared to go deeper, to make a resolution that has the potential to change your life?

I’m talking about making it a goal to pursue a closer relationship with our amazing God this year. Open up and completely surrender to His will, letting His love fill you up and overflow into the lives of those around you.
While it may not seem like much, making a point to daily seek after God with your whole heart, soul and mind will start you on a journey that’s bound to turn your world upside down!

How do I know this?

“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 4:29)

“… if you seek Him, He will be found by you…” (1 Chronicles 28:9b)

“If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33)

It’s all throughout the Old and New Testament. When God’s people actively pursue a relationship with Him, seeking Him with their whole heart, soul and mind, He will be found by them.
God wants us to get to know Him more and longs for us to be more like the people He created us to be. The only way that can be accomplished, without Him stepping in and taking control, is by us humbling ourselves and making it a point to spend time in His Word and prayer.
Read the Bible as if you can’t get enough of it.. take notes… pray about everything… talk with brothers and sisters in Christ about what you’re reading and learning (they can offer good feedback and encouragement during the rough times).
I challenge you (and myself) to seek God first in everything you do; when you wake up, throughout the day and before you go to sleep at night. Make Him a part of your everyday life and just watch the change that is bound to happen!
Happy New Year 🙂
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Give thanks in all circumstances

Take a moment and count your blessings.

Seriously.

Get out a piece of paper, a journal, anything to write on and start making a list of the blessings you can think of.

What’s beginning to happen? You start writing down the obvious ones (I’m thankful for family, friends, that I woke up today, that I have food to enjoy, a warm house, etc.), and each of those brings to mind something else, which leads to more ideas and realizations of other blessings you had overlooked… the list gets longer and longer.
You see what I’m getting at?
There are so many different kinds of blessings that happen throughout each day. Small ones that you barely notice or take for granted and big ones that actually make you sit back and say, “Wow! That’s awesome!”
This past week, I’ve been thinking more and more about my life and what has happened up to this point.. and am still blown away by all that God has done.

1. That Christ willingly humbled Himself to live and minister among us, went to the cross, took all of our sins – past, present and future – upon Himself, paid the price we could never afford and conquered death so that we may have the free gift of eternal life!

2. That He has allowed me to grow up in a strong, Christian family with parents who love each other and are committed to our family and leading us to Christ.

3. That He granted me the money I needed in order to go to two good colleges (Northampton Community College and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania) and get a bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism.

4. That He’s blessed me with an amazing group of friends at Bible study, swing dancing, game night and other places.

5. That He has always provided for my every need, no matter how big or small.

And the list goes on!

Being thankful is a huge theme in the Old and New Testaments. Some of the well-known men of God in the Bible – Moses, David and Paul – made a point to encourage others to give thanks to God for everything. Not just the big things (such as bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, giving David success over Goliath or even granting Paul the opportunity to minister to the Gentiles), but in everything.
Here’s what they have to say on the subject:

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.” – 1 Chronicles 16:8

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” – Psalm 100:4

“But thanks be to God! He give us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” – 2 Corinthians 2:14

See what I mean? As children of the Most High God, we’re supposed to give thanks for everything each and every day.

It should be a natural reaction for us. It brings to mind the chorus from “Jury Duty,” a song by the O.C. Supertones:

“You know I haven’t had the best of days, but I want to stop and thank you anyway…
Cuz every single moment, whether sleeping or awake is Your creation,
and what You made is good. I don’t always thank You
for the rough days and hard times in my life,
even though I should.”

Now, I’m not saying that I still don’t struggle to find something to be thankful for on the really rough days.. I’m not perfect yet.

But the more I read and study the Bible, it’s encouraging to see that these great men of God (Moses, David and Paul) had to go through their own times of struggle and doubt before they came to the point of constant thanksgiving.
So, take it day by day. Try to make a point of thanking God for one or two things right after you wake up in the morning and right before you go to bed at night. I can guarantee it will soon become second nature and you’ll be able to live each day with a spirit of thankfulness (which is one of the fruits of the Spirit!)

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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