Would He MARVEL at me? (and my word for 2017)

It never ceases to amaze me when I find something in Scripture that I have never seen before.  At some point in my 40 something years, I have read the passage three, four, five + times, but this time…the words hit me differently.  I am just finishing up a study in Luke and that’s exactly what happened when I got to chapter 7.  The passage that got my attention is found in Luke 7:1-10.  It’s the story of Jesus healing a Centurion’s servant.

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

I’m a bit of a word nerd so when I a particular word catches my attention, even if I think I know what it means, I look it up.

MARVEL ~ to be filled with wonder, admiration, or astonishment, as at something surprising or extraordinary

Which definition of MARVEL do you think best describes Jesus in this passage?  Was He astonished at the faith of this man?  Maybe He was filled with wonder at the simple faith shown by the Centurion!  It’s on my list of things to ask Him when I get to heaven. {smile}  Reading this made me wonder if Jesus is ever filled with wonder because of my actions, words, or attitudes?  Or maybe He is astonished…even saddened by my display of selfishness and lack of faith?

2016 is officially over.  It was a hard year.  I would not be truthful if I said that I am glad for the difficulty, however, in all honesty I can say that I know that God never left me.  He was with me and my family every step of the way.  In the midst of the hard stuff, I put a piece of paper on our refrigerator.  I explained to my family that we needed to fill this paper with things and people that we are thankful for.  thankful

I cannot tell you what this simple exercise did for our family.  Of course, if you have ever read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp you are familiar with the concept of counting the gifts in life.  Sometimes those gifts are hard.  As I have been considering the past year, I kept thinking of the Centurion and Jesus.  I kept thinking of what it would be like to have Jesus MARVEL at me.  But I also began to realize that not only do I need to practice an attitude of thankfulness for ALL things, I need to MARVEL at the world around me.  We moved to KY in April and I have never seen such beautiful skies.  Almost every day, I have the opportunity to MARVEL at what the Lord is doing.

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So in 2017, I am going to work hard to find things that fill me with wonder…things that astonish me (in a good way)…things that I can truly admire.  I have a page in my planner dedicated to the word MARVEL.  As I find these things, I am going to make a list.  I’ll most likely add them to our 2017 Thankful board too.

I’d love to hear in the comments if you have a word for 2017.

Happy New Year! and Joy to You!!


 

 

Contentment ~ A 31 Day Post (day 27)

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Back on Day 16 of this series, I quoted missionary Jim Elliot.  It’s my favorite quote in relation to ministry because it reminds me that I need to be 100% present wherever God has me.  I ran across another quote by Mr. Elliot that hit me hard.   It reminded me of an exercise that a dear friend and his wife challenged my husband and I to do just after graduating from seminary.

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After my husband graduated, we were wondering what God would do with us next.  He was serving at a small church at the time.  We loved…and I do mean LOVED…the people there.  We really didn’t want to leave but wanted to be sure that we were in God’s will.  And, I can admit now that I wondered about full time ministry.  Surely God didn’t take us 7-1/2 hours from family for the previous 4 years to only serve part time.  I had to repent on that one.  And I did.  But I still had a longing to be closer to our immediate family.

Back to our friends.  He was and still is a pastor in a nearby city to where we were living.  He and his wife are precious friends that listened and counseled us on ministry, parenting, and more.  We were discussing our “what’s next?” with them and he challenged us to really search and study what God has to say about contentment.  I didn’t really want to do this because, well, I didn’t want to find out that my heart’s attitude was just flat out wrong.

But you see, as I studied, I learned that my longing even just to search for what might be next was definitely slaying my appetite to live life to the fullest.  I was missing out on things and people that God had right in front of me.

Paul has a little bit to say about being content in the New Testament.  In Philippians 4:11, he says:  “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

We were not in need.  We lived in a perfectly lovely house, were serving a wonderful congregation of people, had awesome friends,…you get the idea.  Our situation was good.  And yet, I was not content.  Timothy says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain,  for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”  ~ 1 Timothy 6:6 – 8 

I had food and clothing, and the things I listed above.  When studying this verse on contentment, I had to really look at my personal walk with the Lord.  I had to evaluate if my attitudes were in fact godly.  And I had to consider how my attitudes (and actions) were perceived by and/or effected others.

Y’all, it’s hard to take that look at yourself.  But I did it!  And you know what, the Lord allowed me to see all the reasons He had given me to be perfectly content exactly where I was.

Even though this didn’t apply to that time in my life, I would be amiss if I didn’t share Paul’s writing in Corinthians on contentment.  2 Corinthians 12:10 says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Paul is such an amazing example of being content.  He understood that our life, changed by Christ, didn’t always mean we would walk an easy path.  I’m beginning to feel like a broken record during this series but then again, I feel like I can’t be reminded enough that God will never leave or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5 ~ another contentment verse.)

Life happens!  We can’t avoid it.  Not the bad.  And not the good ~ of course, we don’t want to avoid the good.  Times are tough.  I could run a tangent on the state of our country but I vowed to never walk the political road here so I won’t.  But there are issues that can cause any of us to loose sleep.  Here’s the thing:  God loves us and calls us to Himself.  He asks us to follow Him in obedience.  Sometimes He asks us to do hard things.  He always asks us to trust Him and to be content in Him and His plan.

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


Measuring My Faith ~ A 31 Day Post (day 25)

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What is FAITH?

If you look in the dictionary to discover what it is, you will find things like:

confidence or trust in a person or thing…..belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion…..the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.

The word FAITH appears in the English Standard Version of the Bible 475 times.  It’s important.  We learn that in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School when we are very young.  We know that God is FAITHful to us.  And we know that part of being a follower of Christ means that we are FAITHful to God.

But how do I measure up?  This 31 day series has been an outpouring of my heart sharing things I’ve learned in my walk with the Lord over the years.   Over the last year, I’ve learned that sometimes my FAITH is not as strong as I know it should be.  Oh, I can talk the talk.  But sometimes when it’s just me and God, I’m have to admit that my FAITH waivers.  I doubt and so I tell Him so.  I let Him know that I just don’t understand.

I love the devotions found in My Utmost for His Highest.  Over the past year, I wrote down a few excerpts from the book.  Take a look at what Oswald Chambers had to say about FAITH.

..the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven to us as trustworthy in our own minds…Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him – a faith that says, “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.”  The highest and greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is – “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.” (Job 13:15)

Let me clarify that I do not feel “slain” by any means.  But I do have things that have crossed the journey I am on that are just hard to swallow.  I’ve thought a good bit about Chambers’ statement, “…God’s character must be proven to us as trustworthy in our own minds…”  Why, when we know so much about God, would we need His character proven to us?  And more importantly, why do we need it proven over and over again?  It’s like we get it, and understand it, but once we are through one obstacle we need that proof all over again when the next thing comes.  Being reminded 100, or more, ways that God is FAITHful should be enough.   Kind of reminds me of the children of Israel!

I’ve mentioned the website Love God Greatly before in my writing.  In one of the studies that I did through their site, I came across the statement, “How we act reveals what we think about God…”  It’s true.  If the gospel has changed our hearts and minds…if we believe that God is who He says that He is…if we have confessed that we have FAITH in Him…then our actions should reveal that. 

I titled this post “Measuring My Faith”  because I’ve been really looking at and thinking about it a lot lately.  I have FAITH.  It’s part of the core of my being.  But is it seen in and through me by those around me?  I had a Sunday School teacher once that said, “you may be the only Jesus that others see.” (I’m not sure who originally coined the phrase.)  Though I didn’t fully understand that in the 4th or 5th grade, today, I do.  My faith, and how I live it out, reveals who God is to me.  That’s in good times and bad.

How about you?

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!


 

 

Days..Places..Circumstances: A 31 Day Post (day 5)

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Do you ever ask “WHY?”

Why did this or that happen? … Why is that person stricken with an illness…that may take their life? … Why doesn’t this person or that person like me? … Why did God provide this job over that job? … Why live in this city instead of that city?

You get the idea!  And probably have your own list of WHY’s.  We all do.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wrote on Sunday…how God plans for us. My friend “D” was telling me once about a situation that they were dealing with.  She had been talking to her aunt about it and her aunt said something very profound,

if we knew the (His) plan, we’d mess it up.

“D” went on to say that, in retrospect, she knew her aunt was right! She shared that she had wanted to help God out.

“Imagine that?”, she said. “Us feeling the need to help God!”  Then she reminded me that our Heavenly Father loves us and provide the best…HIS BEST…even when we doubt!  Isn’t that good news.

Earlier this year, I read Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love by Sally Clarkson.  In the book, Sally delves into what it means to live intentionally.  She talks of bringing order to chaos – and couldn’t we all use some order!  She shares her own life experiences in a way to help the reader see that God is, in fact, in control.  My favorite quote in the book is this:

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No matter what we are going through.  No matter where we are.  God is in control!  That is a blessing and just pure refreshment to my soul.  And even better news is that I can’t mess it up!!

So what do I need to do in the midst of difficult days, OR while perched in difficult places, OR knee-deep in difficult circumstances?

I trust.  Isaiah 26:3 is a favorite verse.  You may know it, but I just have to share because someone surely needs this encouragement from the Lord.

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts You.

Trusting is hard.  Especially when nothing seems to be going right.  I have to remember that it might not be going “right” in my mind, but God doesn’t goof.  He’s got it!  No matter how big or small “it” is.

Do you know that things not going our way are sometimes the best places to see the goodness and mercy of the Lord?  Writer and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa Terkeurst,  says “Sometimes our greatest disappointments today will set us up for God’s greatest appointments tomorrow.”

Profound words.  Valuable words.

Let me clarify that I’m not in any way disappointed with the path that God has taken me on.  I’ve been surprised because…well, I had my life planned and…..well, He had other plans.  There have been things that have happened over the years that were disappointing but ultimately, I can see God’s hand.  Sometimes it’s hindsight – which I can testify really is 20/20!

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!

 

 

 

 

Who God Is ~ A 31 Day Post (day 2)

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We began our journey of determining what the Lord had next for us.  It’s a process, but God in His great mercy confirmed day after day that He was with us and that He would guide and direct us.

Often that confirmation came through God’s Word.  No surprise there, right?  I was in the middle of working my way through a “Names of God” Bible study through Love God Greatly.  If you have never visited their site, I highly recommend it for a wonderful Bible study plan.  This study was a beautiful reminder of just who God really is.

He is our:

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All throughout Scripture the Lord confirms exactly who He is for us.  When studying God as “Jehovah Jireh” I was reminded of Abraham.  He walked up a mountain, following instructions from God to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.  Abraham took two of his young men with him on the journey.  As he left, with Isaac, to go to the place God had told him to go, he said to the young men,

Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you. ~ Genesis 22:5

It always amazed me that Abraham told his men that he and Isaac would come back to them.  He trusted the Lord to provide.  He didn’t know how but he knew that God would provide so he walked forward in obedience.  God takes us through this path of obedience as our Shepherd and ultimately gives us peace.  It’s a beautiful picture of who He is.

In difficult times, the Lord asks us to trust Him.  He asks us to obey Him.  These things are not easy.  Matter of fact, in our humanity, they are down-right hard.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. ~ Psalm 143:8

This verse sums up my desire for life and for the ministry that God has for me.  I have no idea where you are in your life, or where you are in your walk with the Lord.  What I do know is that He is faithful.  All He asks for us to “entrust” our lives to Him.

Thanks for joining me today for part of my Write 31 Day series.  I hope you’ll visit often during October.

Joy to You!


 

 

Looking Back – Looking Ahead

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I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that another year has come and gone.  In one sense, it seemed to move along…not too fast – not too slow.  On the other hand I have to ask “where did it go?”

For the past few years, I have had a “word” of the year.  In 2015, my word was QUIET.   I decided that I need to rest, to slow down, to focus on the Lord and what His plan was for me.  That led me to do just that.  I didn’t even write very many blog posts.  I can honestly look back and say that I accomplished my goal of finding a way to truly be quiet.

As I look ahead to 2016, I’ve thought about again selecting a “word” of the year but I just can’t settle on one.  Instead, as I unpacked my Christmas gifts, I realized that instead of a “word” for the year, I am going to claim a verse.  My sister and her hubby gave me this beautiful print of one of my favorite verses.  It’s the verse I am claiming.

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In claiming this verse, I have three words that will be key for me this year:

JOYFUL – PATIENT -FAITHFUL

These three words mean that I will strive to be:

Full of joy; glad; delighted

Persevering; constant in pursuit or exertion; calmly diligent

Steady; loyal; constant

In 2016, I have books I want to read, projects I want to do, weight I want to lose {smile}, trips I want to take, and goals I want to meet.   When I review this list, I realize that none of it matters if I am not who God designed me to be.  I am thankful that He is in control.  He knows what His plan is for me.  He knows what 2016 looks like in light of eternity.

So in 2016, I desire to be JOYFUL – in my hope of the Lord,  PATIENT – in the good and the not so easy, FAITHFUL – in prayer for the requests that I am privileged to take to the Lord.

Happy New Year.  May 2016 be a year full of God’s grace and mercy for you and your family.

I’d love to hear if you have selected a “word” or maybe a verse for the year.

Joy to You!

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Mission HOME

Every July our church does what we call “Mission Hartsville”.  It’s a week-long, church-wide mission trip, in our home town. There are approximately 21 ministry areas that are carried out during this set week in July.  It’s a sweet time of service to our community and a great time of fellowship with other church members.  For some, we are stretched out of our comfort zone. For some, a passion for a particular ministry area is ignited and then carried out continuously throughout the year. For many, it’s the only mission “trip” that is feasible for them.  No matter the outcome, it truely is a beautiful time in our city. Matter of fact, there are some that have come to expect, or I should say anticipate our mission efforts.  It’s a really good thing.

The down side to our mission week is that although we are at home, we are not at home.  We are in and out.  Breakfast is on the fly, lunch is at odd times, dinner….well, 8 or 9 p.m. seems a good time to eat.  Laundry doesn’t get done.  The kids rooms become a mess and the hubby and I are piling clothes on the floor because the laundry basket is full.  We run out of milk, the trash doesn’t get put out for weekly pick-up…….

You get the idea!

This year, the week after I admit I was in a bit of a tizzy.  I wanted the house clean.  The laundry done. The groceries bought.  My poor kids!!  They just wanted to rest a little.  Read a little.  Watch a little TV.  Have friends over.  I confess that I was frustrated with them!

That’s when it hit me.

I spent a week pouring my heart and soul into ministry after ministry.  I participated in random acts of kindness. I loved on people that I don’t know and, honestly, weren’t very lovable.  I gave grace to people that I may never see again. (Actually in our small town that’s unlikely, but you know what I mean).  I prayed for those I came in contact with.

But my kids….my husband?

When was the last time I loved on them in their unlovable moments? Showed them grace whether they needed it or not? Really prayed over them?

OR….did a random act of kindness for my kids?  My husband?  I mean why shouldn’t I put their laundry away instead of piling it on their bed? Or do their chores instead of nagging for the chores to be done?  Not all the time, mind you, but randomly.

I’m convinced that missions should take place in the four walls of our home.  I’m not living out the example of being the Christian wife and mom I claim to be if I am not serving those that the Lord so graciously gave me to be my family.mission_home

What about you?  Does your heart for missions come to fruition in your own home?  With your extended family? In your circle of friends?

I am praying about how I can serve my family more.  Knowing that they may read this, I’m held accountable {smile}. Knowing that the Lord knows my heart is accountability enough!!

I pray that you will be on “mission” in your own home.

Joy to You!

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