Embrace the Training…Have Faith in the Call

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By: Dawn Ashley

Have you ever found yourself wondering  what is the call God has on your  life?   Is there a bigger purpose for your life?  Why is God waiting so long to reveal these answers in your life?  Why has God allowed you to walk through some of the difficulties you have in your life? Maybe you even feel like you have had to walk through far too many difficulties and if God is for you and has a call and purpose for your life why is He waiting so long to reveal it?  Why did He not rescue you from all the hard times you have endured?  Why is God still allowing the storms of life to reign down on you?    As you sit back at the end of 2016 and reflect on all it held for you, the good and the bad  and as you begin to set goals or New Year’s resolutions for yourself for 2017, do you find yourself asking some of these questions?  I believe many have been asking these questions throughout the year, some of you for most of your life.

I want to encourage you today with a message I feel the Lord gave me just this week in response to this burning question I believe is happening in the hearts and minds of many of God’s children.  A question that I believe God is saying is burning in the hearts of those for which He has an assignment, a calling beyond what you could ever imagine, a purpose greater than yourself.   I believe 2017 is going to be a year of greater revelation for many of God’s people.

My friends, God did not stop all our storms, but the ones He did not stop He walked with us through them. He did not leave us alone and He never took his eye off of us. We serve El Roi, the God Who Sees.   God is the Creator and he did not create you by accident but rather he created you to have purpose and meaning and ultimately to give Him glory.

Everyone who is called by My name and whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even who I have made.  (Isaiah 43:7)

God didn’t stop the storm that took the life of His own son, but do you think he left Him?  Do you think he didn’t see what we did to Jesus?  Do you think He didn’t love Him or have a call on his life?  Jesus Christ was sent to this earth on an assignment . An assignment to save the world.  Yet he faced many storms.  He was flogged, had a crown of thorns put on his head and was mocked, slapped in the face, and crucified naked when there were no basis for the charges against Him.   Jesus did not doubt God in the storm.  In fact he said:

“You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” John 19:11

If there was a reason, a greater purpose, an assignment, a calling on Jesus life despite this huge storm, why do we doubt the calling on our life or that God might have a reason for the storms in our life as well?

As God began to reveal this to me this week, I believe He said, being a Christian when life is good is easy.  My people are in training for something bigger. What I am developing in them occurs when life is hard.  Where I am calling my people is to the broken, hurting people in this world who desperately need me and they will not be able to relate to them until they too learn to weather the storms.  They  can’t share the hope of Christ until they first have experienced it themselves.  I am not punishing my people, I am training them.  Some of them have endured more than others, some of them require more training. Just as in the life, the larger roles in life often  require more education.  If you are going through a longer season of training it might just be to prepare you for something God has to first train you.

So I encourage you in 2017 to simply allow your resolution to be to embrace the training and have faith in the call that will be revealed on the other side of it. Don’t ask God why the storm?  Don’t ask God why He won’t he stop it?  Ask God what He wants to develop in you through it? What does He want to teach you?  Then embrace it.  You are God’s masterpiece.  You may not feel like a masterpiece but it doesn’t make it any less true. Gideon didn’t feel like a valiant warrior either  but God sees us not for who we are in our own self but for who we have become in Christ and He will continue the good work in each of us.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

So in 2017 let’s take heart and praise Him as Elohim, our Creator,  Who has made you and given you great work. God is sovereign and in total control of our lives which is why we my friends can place our full confidence in him without any hesitation because our God has the amazing ability to work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)

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Quiet Time With the Lord

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By: Tina Coble

When I wake up in the mornings before my feet even hit the floor, I know my day will be non-stop. I will hear my toddler yelling “Mommy! Mommy!”, while impatiently waiting for me to answer, before I can even clear my sleepy eyes. I will rush around the house getting the other two elementary children ready for school and out to catch the bus, all while listening to the strong-willed and let’s say at times, demanding,  three year old little princess of mine. The day will continue with household duties that never seem to feel caught up, laundry, dishes, picking up the house, etc.   I am lucky to get out of the house before 10am many days to begin running all those errands, before 3:00pm when the kids rush back in for the afternoon with homework and extracurricular activities.  So where in the world can I find some quiet and much needed time with the Lord?  Can anyone else relate?

I recognize that I need more personal time with the Lord. And yet, given how jam-packed my life is at this season of life, it difficult to do this. So many times I hear myself tell my kids and husband, “give me a minute I will be right with you”. And then later I realize that I never did respond to their request.  I wonder how many times Jesus is trying to speak to me, and I respond “ give me a minute.” Then time passes and I too find myself missing the special moments of the day with Him.  I found myself convicted by the Holy Spirit.

I went to  the Lord in prayer over this and repented for  not taking time for Him and not responding when I do hear His still small voice in the midst of my day. He reminded me that He is with me throughout my busy day. Spending time with him isn’t a chore it is a privilege.  It isn’t about carving out quiet time from my busy day, it is about spending time with Him in the midst of it.

Spending time with God doesn’t always “look” the way we might have imagined it.  Small moments of time with the Lord here and there can add up to many spiritual encounters.  I am learning to take time with Him while driving the car and listening to Christian music, praying in the shower while getting ready for the day, or just enjoying the special moments with my kids. God is everywhere and even in the midst of our crazy, busy schedules.

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. Psalm 145:18

I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.. Leviticus 26:12

  I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! Psalm 139:7

My prayer for you as you go about your day is that you take small moments with the Lord, especially during this Christmas season. I guarantee you will start to see the Lord in all things and look at creation through His eyes. I believe you will find contentment and fulfillment in this place and walk with joy and peace.

Parenting is Not for the Faint of Heart

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By: Roslyn Maglione

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. (Proverbs 1: 8-9)

Nothing can make you feel like a failure faster than being a parent. It tests your patience, strength, and perseverance daily. As a parent, you have a tendency to expect more from your children then others because you see them as a reflection of yourself. When they are not “perfect” as you want them to be; whether it is not giving 100%, not following direction, or just making poor decisions; it makes you question what you could have done better as a parent so they could be a “success”.
Recently there was a situation where my son made some choices that were not in his best interest that were disappointing to me and my husband. It dealt with things that we had been talking to him about for several years and it made me question where I failed our son. We have given him every advantage we could in life, yet set boundaries to assure that he appreciated and was grateful for his gifts, talents, and resources. My son is 16 and as most teens, thinks he is grown and can make it in this life without parental supervision. I truly wanted to give him his wish of no supervision so that when he made mistakes in the future it would be on him and not me.

I was very frustrated and hurt because I felt that he just did not care about what my husband and I thought and that he was being purposefully defiant to our direction. As I was upset about the situation, I spoke to a friend at work that also has teen boys and he asked me, “Did you ever do that as a kid?” I told him that was not the point and that I expected my kids to be better than I was because I had taught them to learn from my mistakes. He reminded me that I had not learned from my parents’ mistakes and that people always tend to learn from their own experience.

I realized that I needed to give him some grace and I went to my Bible and prayed. I thanked God for giving me the gift of my son and that for 95% of the time he was a terrific person; kind, compassionate, and has a love for Jesus. I asked for strength, courage, and patience in raising my son. I also asked God to help me remember that his decisions in life are not mine and that I can guide and set an example for him, but he ultimately has to follow God for himself and that there is a path for my son that may not be the path that I thought was laid out for him.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.Proverbs 16:9

Loving the Unloveable

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By: Tina Coble

When the holidays come upon us the media is bursting with photos of families smiling and filled with joy. Yet if we are honest we realize that there are many this Christmas season that aren’t smiling or filled with joy at all.  Some of them are strangers we pass on the street or in the grocery store. Some we know in our workplaces, schools, neighborhoods, churches and even our own families. We all can probably think of someone right now we have encountered or will encounter this Christmas that will challenge us.  Loving someone who shows love back is easy to do, but the reality is the best expression of the love of Jesus is giving love to those who do not exhibit any love toward us or who have possibly even hurt us in the past. This kind of love requires us to know the One who first loved us. Our Savior who loved us even when we didn’t love Him back too well or possibly even turned on Him.  The Bible says for us to love others, there was not an exception in this command for the unlovable.

When Jesus was asked which were the most important of God’s laws, He summarized them in two commands: to love God and to love others (Mark 12:28-34)

I believe God’s wants us to love others as He loves us, unconditionally, unselfishly, and most importantly not expecting anything in return. The first step in being able to love this way is to walk in forgiveness and grace.  Is there a better gift you can give someone this Christmas?  Do the ones who seem to be the most unlovable need love the most?  Could one of the greatest gifts you give yourself be to release yourself from the bondage of unforgiveness, if it is keeping you from loving.  This doesn’t mean what someone did that hurt you was right, it means that you are no longer carrying the burden of unforgiveness or the bitterness in your heart that keeps you from being able to love or maybe even receive love yourself.  Don’t worry about the other person’s motives, only your own. God judges the heart not you or I.

Judge not, that you be not judged (Matthew 7:1)

Love conquers all my friends – (1 Corinthians 13)

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes you coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who ask you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:27-31)

We cannot love this way in our strength or our own flesh. We can however, love this way with the love of Christ in us. This Christmas season look out at those strangers you pass that may seem unlovable to the world and ask yourself, are they unlovable to God?  How can you show them the love of God?  Press into with that friend or family member that pushes all your buttons or has hurt you in the past and forgive them this Christmas, wrap your arms around them and show them the love of Jesus this Christmas.  This Christmas season let’s embrace and fully rely on God’s love and forgiveness that He first showed us, in that we can draw the strength to do the same for others .When we do this we might just start seeing others as Christ does.

I am praying now that all our hearts are softened by God for those people we are to love this Christmas, those unlovables in our life that might need a hug, a prayer or some encouaragement this Christmas.  Maybe they just need to hear they are loved, maybe they need a hug, or a little grace this Christmas.

Look inside your heart and  ask God how He wants to use you to be the light of Jesus to those unlovables in your life.  We are all so very human and we will make mistakes, but the most inspiring example of loving the unlovable is Our Lord. Despite all of the hurtful things people did to Him, He loved. I pray that this Christmas season you will draw closer to Jesus so that He may draw closer to you and from the overflow in your heart you love.  May your family be blessed and may your Christmas be one filled with the joy that comes through sharing love with someone else this season.