Sunday, February 22, 2015

Still Small Voice

40 Days of Reflection 

Although Zachary and I were home sick today, our Small Group Children's Church lesson was the conclusion of the story of Elijah. This is one of my top five favorite Old Testament stories. Last week we learned about how Elijah stood for God against the prophets of Baal, Ahab and Jezebel. He was the catalyst for God to prove before all the people that He was the TRUE God of Heaven. This week was the lesson was that even after all that, Elijah felt alone and afraid and went off by himself. God took care of him and Elijah waited to hear from God. Elijah saw many loud and powerful signs, but God was not in them. Finally, God sent a still small voice and Elijah heard from God.
 (‭1 Kings‬ ‭19‬:‭11-13‬a NLT)
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. Then Elijah heard it,"
Many times we search for God in the BIG, extreme signs. Sometimes, God speaks in the quiet that causes us to really be listening. Recently, God has spoken to me about BIG things, but He has spoken in very subtle ways.
Sometimes we are discouraged when we think God isn't there. We think we can't see Him at work or hear Him, but He is there. 
Just like Elijah, sometimes in that discouragement, God speaks in a still small voice - after the BIG event has seemed to pass.
I see that Jesus also experienced something similar. After his "Big Reveal" into ministry, his baptism, God spoke through the Holy Spirit, announcing that this was His Son in whom he was very pleased. Then Jesus was sent into the wilderness, alone and tempted by the devil. I'm sure it was very quiet and maybe God's voice wasn't easily heard. But God sent His Angels to comfort and attend to him. Even though, Jesus may have felt alone and and tired, God was there and taking care of His needs.
Mark 1:9-13
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[a] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
There are many unknowns in my life, just as there are in others. Sometimes I feel like for every exciting "Mt Carmel" experience , I then feel alone and scared. Or every time, I feel like God may be pleased with something that I've done, the devil tempts me to believe that I am a failure. I'm thankful that like Elijah and Jesus and a host of other spiritual ancestors that have felt the same way, God was always there!!

This Lent I want to listen, so I can hear the still small voice. I pray you can do the same!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A New Start

40 Days of Reflection
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (‭1 John‬ ‭1‬:‭9‬ HCSB)

This has always been one of my favorite verses. It is such a promise and encouragement. We sin daily and knowing that we can be forgiven and cleansed is an undeserved blessing, that we should never take for granted. As a teen, I had a teacher who referred to this verse as the "Christian's Bar of Soap". Just like real soap and bodily cleanliness, we have to use it to get clean! 
Many times we live in our sin, instead of confessing, receiving forgiveness and moving on to do better. 
During this time of Lent, I pray that God will reveal any hidden sins and that I will confess, receive forgiveness and be clean!

This prayer has been included in one of my Lenten readings and the more I pray it, the more God is showing me.

Help me, Lord Jesus, die to self this day. (silence) 
Light of the world, shine into my darkness. (silence) 
Jesus, show me how to serve the members of Your Body. (silence) 
Enliven my spirit as I reveal myself to You in written word. (silence)

I pray that something I share on this Blog will help someone to grow closer to God. Then Easter can be a glorious celebration of our risen Savior and the newness of life we can have in Him! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

All In

40 Days of Reflection
"This lenten season, let’s do more than suspend our vices—let's run to Christ. Let’s be brave, come out of hiding, and be reconciled to Him." Rebecca Faires
Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross. She Reads Truth - Day 3: Springtime   #shereadstruth

This was in one of my devotions today. It spoke so loudly to me. I don't want Lent to just be another thing I do. I want it to matter and make a difference. With reckless abandon, I want to run to Jesus, press into His holiness and hang on with all my might!!!  
Over the last few weeks and especially yesterday, there have been several prayer concerns that have gripped my heart. Real needs. Health, spiritual, job, future plans, huge decisions, even some matters of life and death.  I'm so thankful that I have a relationship with Jesus that allows me to pray directly to Him with every need. But God isn't just an umbrella for tough times. Our relationship with Him needs to be "all in". Not just during Lent, or at Christmas or at Easter. ALL the time.
So, I am praying that right now, during Lent and every day of my life, I will "run to Christ. Be brave, come out of hiding, and be reconciled to Him." 

I hope this is your prayer too.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Nothing That I Could Have Done

40 Days of Reflection
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (‭Romans‬ ‭6‬:‭23‬ NLT)

During Lent I find myself looking inwardly and trying to reflect on what God's grace really means. I'm not sure if it's the season, the fact that I give up some distractions or that I am truly seeking God, but it always seems like the reflection always leads to the realization that I am nothing without God. No matter how many good things I do or say. No matter how many "random" acts of kindness, I perform. I will NEVER earn God's grace. But the awesome thing is that I don't need to - it's FREE!!! 
Without a lot of embarrassing detail, let me just say that I know what it's like to live in sin. I even know what it's like to live in sin and go to church every Sunday. I'm not proud of that, but it's helped me be the person I am today. I realize what God saved me from. I can see how others are longing to find peace with God, but try to fulfill that void with everything but God. 

I am so thankful for God's grace and forgiveness. I'm also thankful that NOTHING, that I could've done would be enough. My efforts are flawed at best. God's plan is perfect. He can ALWAYS save a willing heart that accepts His free gift.

Here are words to 2 of my favorite songs - I think they say it better than me.

My prayer is that this season of Lent will draw your closer to Him.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus name
Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour's love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

Who Am I?
When I'm reminded of His words
I'll leave Him never
If you'll be true I'll give to you life forever
I know there's nothing that I could have done
To deserve God's only Son
To fight my battles until they're won
For who am I?

Who am I that The King would bleed and die for
Who am I that He would pray not my will, Thy Lord
The answer I may never know
Why He ever loved me so
But to that old rugged cross He'd go
For who am I?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

40 Days of Reflection - Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday. As a child growing up, we could join with the local Catholic Church to participate in the placement of ashes on our forehead to begin Lent. This was by choice and then we had the option to give something up for those 40 days. I didn't really understand or appreciate this until my mid twenties or early thirties. I have always been protestant and we just didn't put too much emphasis on the "liturgical" or "ritual" practices. About 7 years ago, I came to Grace church and over the last 6 years, some traditional things have been observed and .... I am so thankful!!
Two years ago we did an Ash Wednesday service with our Student Ministries and it was beautiful. I believe it was meaningful to all involved and it was probably the first time some had ever participated. Last year we had one with our Grace Kids and it made an impact on those kids. We encouraged them to "fast" from something or do something positive to show kindness throughout Lent. Due to snow and ice causing our area to be "shut in" tonight, we've postponed our "Ash Wednesday" (well at least the service) until next week. 
As for me, I've given up things that occupy my time like Bejeweled and Yatzee. I hope to use that time for reflection.  I've also chosen 2 different readings for Lent and to do 40 days of reflection on how God has blessed me, despite circumstance and sometimes despite my stubborn sin nature. I've also decided to spend more time in prayer and to make my acts of kindness not so random. Today, as I reflect, I refer back to "timehop". I know that sounds strange, but as I looked back at this day in "my history", I was reminded of how truly blessed I am. From year to year, we sometimes forget what God has done. I am thankful for the small reminders and the big ones too! Whether you participate in a Lenten practice or to whatever extent you do, I pray God's blessing as you reflect, possibly repent and allow God to restore!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Songs, Sharing and Scripture

I mentioned in a Facebook post that I was requesting prayer for a new adventure. Today, that adventure began!!

I'll start at the beginning....20 years ago this year, I moved to Columbia. I started going to Loyal Chapel FWB church. I met a family that had two young daughters. Flash forward to Grace, about 15-16 years later. One of those girls is grown and married and has her own young daughter, and she's one of my Grace Kids! She works at a local Assisted Living Center. Through our Grace Students Deeper Weekend, we worked together for our Students to do a day of service at the Sterling House.  Fast forward again and I was asked yesterday to do a devotional twice a month....starting today!!!!!

This is a little out of my comfort zone and I haven't led singing for a long time, but I anxiously accepted and today was awesome!!!

So for at least the next few months, I will be going to to Sterling House for a bi-monthly time of "Singing, Sharing and Scripture" with some of the sweetest Seniors in town!

Today, we had about 20 seniors and they loved singing and sharing. We sang about 5-6 of the sweet old hymns and shared a little about ourselves and then I spoke about the comfort in God's Word. It was a blessing to me and they expressed that they were blessed, as well.

Please pray for me as I continue in this ministry. I did not see this coming, but I'm excited about this new adventure!