This past weekend was a challenging one for me. We had a Directors Retreat in Salina at Camp Webster and as usual...it was great connecting with other Jesus seeking women. One of the best challenges came with Dr. Radu Georghita from Midwestern Seminary. He challenged us again to be memorizing entire books of the Bible. I have heard him speak before and have been challenged each time. This past weekend was no different. I came home ready to memorize Colossians. So...that's what I'm reading, that's what I'm studying, that's what I'm meditating on. You will likely be hearing much about this book that Paul wrote.
This morning as I was memorizing verses 1-5 verse 5 struck me. Verse 4 spoke about the Faith in Jesus and the love for people that the church in Colossae had. Then verse 5 says where the faith and love came from. He writes "the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven." Simply put...when we have hope for eternity, our faith in Jesus and our love for all of God's people springs up. Now...personally...I know I have faith and I know I have love...But if there is anything I need more of...it's those 2 things. I need to have REAL faith...the kind of faith that believes God in a way where my actions show it. The kind of faith that transforms my thoughts, my desires, how I spend my time, what I think I deserve and so much more. I also need REAL love. The kind of love that puts people first...the kind of love that overwhelms my pride and my selfishness. The kind of love that Jesus showed me.
Paul is saying that if I have a firm grasp on the hope of eternity...I will know that Faith and I will know that Love. So instead of praying for more faith and more love...perhaps I should be asking for a greater understanding of what the hope of eternity means in my life. Maybe I need to ask that my heart be broken by my sin and what I truly deserve...so that I can fully appreciate what God did when He sent His son into the world to pay the sacrifice for my sins and purchase the hope of eternity for me. Then...only then can the Faith and Love God desires spring up from that hope. So...as I start this journey in Colossians, I'm asking for eyes to see the hope of eternity. And may that Hope accomplish much in my life and through my life. Please Jesus...let it be so.
"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;".
You know...It's the same between Craig and I. If our relationship is "in the clear"...our communication is usually spot on. It's when we are struggling with selfishness...and sin is between us...that our communication stinks. Only when we approach each other in humility saying "i'm sorry...please forgive me" that our communication is restored.
So...just saying...this morning several I'm sorry's later...I remember what freedom feels like and fills like. It is a truly beautiful freedom found only through Jesus and a restored relationship with Him.
1 Timothy 2:8
I desire therefore that in every place men should pray, without anger or quarreling or resentment or doubt [in their minds], lifting up holy hands.
Today God has been asking me to pray. I know I need to, but somehow I keep struggling with the follow through in this area. I had recently made some steps forward in this area as I had new motivation to pray for Bethany. I really felt like I had figured out a few things until recently...I have stopped doing it. As I examine my motives...I am tired of fighting. It takes a whole lot to fight for the soul of an individual and lately I've chosen to not get into the ring. That means I am very selfish and that deep down I am dealing with doubts. I know and believe that prayer is the answer, but when it doesn't trickle down to effect my actions...doubts have to be the reason.
This afternoon I had the chance to visit with Craig's mom. We were talking about Christmas shopping. Now last year, she almost ended up in the hospital due to the stress of shopping for everyone so I was trying to convince her today about the ease of shopping at Amazon.com:) She is not a computer kind of gal and doesn't own one that works. She listened politely, but couldn't keep the doubts at bay. She doubted everything I was telling her and barely agreed to come try it out. So...tomorrow afternoon, I am showing my mother in law how to shop online. It will be interesting to see if the perceived benefits will outweigh her doubts. I hope they do because she really doesn't need to shop those hours and hours in the next month. I feel like I have an answer for her pain, but her doubts might keep her from finding the joy.
That must be what God is feeling. He must wonder how long I will keep entertaining the doubts about prayer making a difference. He must say to Himself..."I wish she would just believe and act on that belief." I want to unlock the doors to these vast blessings in their life and she is content to sit behind the locked door.
Father...please help me overcome my doubts and unbelief. I want to believe you and I want to believe everything in regards to talking to you. Help me love others enough and believe you enough to be willing to stay in the ring. I don't ever want out...give me the strength to fight for your glory!
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
Sometimes, I just forget to ask. Its really one of the things that maddens me the most. I can get through a day and realized that I forgot to ask God to accomplish the things I want Him to accomplish. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for me to get through a whole day and think about normal "me" things and never think about God and what He desires and what He is doing ...
I want to remember. I know He hears me and I want to constantly talk with Him throughout the day. I want to lift my requests to him with expectation because I know I'm asking in accordance with His will. I wish it wasn't such a struggle to do more than survive the day...but to thrive and live each minute for His glory. For His glory would mean that I'm in constant communication with Him. For His glory would mean that I don't forget to pray my guts out daily for those I love and those I should love. For His glory means that it wouldn't be about me...it would be about Him. If that were the case...I wouldn't forget.
So tonight...I'm asking you God to take away the huge part of my soul that is in it for me. Replace that part of my heart and let my entire heart be what you are about.
In a nutshell...Help me remember.
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
Tonight I'm thankful for my Shield. Today, He shielded me from fear, anxiety, worry about the future, and so much more that I may never know. I feel Him hovering close as I consider the events of the last few days. I feel Him pressing in close...not wanting any stray arrows to find their way to my soul. It's like I hear His heart saying..."it's ok Janene...you can handle this, but have no fear...cause for anything else to break through, it will have to come through me". Tonight...I am thinking about the biopsy and I'm thinking about my fears for Bethany and Amelia...but all I feel is comfort. I feel my shield pressing close and I feel peace. And for tonight...that will be enough.
I lean not on my own understanding
My life is in the hands of the Maker of heaven
I give it all to You God
trusting that you'll make something beautiful out of me
There's nothing I hold on to
There's nothing I hold on to
There's nothing I hold on to
There's nothing I hold on to
We sang this beautiful song this morning and I have to tell you I was gently reminded by God that my life is in His hands, I can trust Him and that I shouldn't be holding onto anything but Him.
While I was singing "there's nothing I hold on to", God gently showed me how I was holding onto a couple things I need to release. I'm still holding onto my selfish pride that wants others around me to look at my family and say "they did it right". I selfishly want people to look at us as having it all together instead of being a hot mess. Bethany's pregnancy has really brought that front and center. I am still holding onto wanting people to think I'm better than I am. And God said this morning...Janene...why don't you let that go and hold onto what I think about you and your family.
He also gently nudged me and showed me that I was holding onto a "right" to being healthy...and a "right to live a long time and see my kids grown and at least one grandaughter growing up. On the outside, I know the right words to say, but inside I'm thinking "surely God you don't expect me to walk this road and leave my family early". Another cancer scare has me thinking about only a few things...and they are all things that matter. Mainly people. Through it all this morning, God reminded me that I can't hold onto those rights. I need to let those go and hold onto Him. He promised peace, and he promised to be my walking buddy along whatever road He chooses for me. The uncertainty is quite difficult, but I really do want to release those thoughts and those perceived rights. So..for tonight...I'm practicing holding onto Him alone...
11 And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
12 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not theLord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
14 And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?
15 And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.
16 And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
17 And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
18 Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again.
19 And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it.
20 And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so.
21 Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
22 And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.
23 And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
God had quite a job for Gideon. He told Gideon " Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?" Like our God does, He gave a seemingly impossible task to the most unlikely. Then He met each of Gideons weak objections with His promise of nearness. Then He showed Himself to Gideon despite the questions and doubts and the asking for proof.
Now when Gideon figured out that He had seen the angel of the Lord face to face, He was undoubtedly shaken. But the most amazing thing is God's response. He could of given Gideon anything to help him accomplish the task He had set out for him. He could of chosen courage, strength, determination or any other of things to give to Gideon...but He chose peace. He knew that peace trumps strength, it trumps courage, it trumps wisdom, and really maybe everything. God knew that in order for Gideon to accomplish the impossible, He had to give Him peace.
And did Gideon receive peace?...in immeasurable ways I believe. In order for him to build an alter and name it Jehovah Shalom, He must have been changed that day by peace. It must of come in and invaded every corner of his heart and soul in a way that made him name that alter after His Jehovah Shalom. I would of liked to see the change that came over him that day. From that day forward, He became the mighty man of God that God asked him to become. Simply put, God gave him a task...granted him peace...and Gideon accomplished the task in a mighty way.
So my question for you tonight is what is the task God is giving you? It's the hard one that's staring you in the face tonight and might keep you up at night. Lets learn a lesson from Gideons story tonight. Instead of coming up with the questions and excuses, lets be willing to meet God face to face and receive the peace He wants to give us.
Tonight thats a hard task for me. I'm still coming to terms with being a grandma and helping my 19 year old bring her daughter into this world alone...and today I find out that I have to have another biopsy on a "spot" in my breast. I'm thinking about being a grandma and having breast cancer and both scare me half to death. So tonight, I know without a doubt that the task God is placing before me is to walk this road with peace and confidence in Him alone! He has something He wants to accomplish through both and my job is to walk with my head held high looking at Him. It's very likely that these days will result in me building an alter of sorts to my Jehovah Shalom, and I am so grateful to be the child of the only One who offers us peace.
You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.
Keeping your mind stayed on God = perfect and constant peace. When I allow my mind to go to my desires, my plans, my hopes and dreams...my anything...the peace leaves. When I am disciplined and keep my mind focused on God, He works. My plans are His and He has it all worked out and has already gained the victory.
I really wish it wasn't so hard. I went to work this morning praying that my mind would be stayed on God. The reality was that I barely thought of Him all day. I thought about the MRI I didn't want to do. I thought about how busy I was at work and what I didn't like about my job. Really what I thought about was me. I got mad at Craig for not calling me and asking me about the MRI. I felt sorry for myself and was only inward focused.
Peace really is a beautiful thing. I love the scripture in the Bible that calls peace from God something the world does not understand. That is so true. Sometimes I think I'm getting a handle on it and then days like today happen and I wonder if I've even come a step or 2? So...out of necessity...I think I am going to be working on "staying". Come on Peace:)
My son, if you will receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you,
Making your ear attentive to skillful and godly Wisdom and inclining and directing your heart and mind to understanding [applying all your powers to the quest for it];
Yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding,
If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures,
Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God.
What is your treasure? Mine lately has been happiness, financial success, familial success and others i'm sure. This verse is my challenge this morning because it simply says I need to put wisdom as my treasure. I need to seek wisdom like I'm going after silver. I need to seek wisdom like I'm pursuing my own financial stability. And the kicker as usual is that wisdom is found in His word and knowing Jesus intimately. As His heart becomes more and more mine, wisdom is obtained because He defines wisdom and offers it freely.
This morning I need wisdom to know how to be healthy, I need wisdom about how to be a good mom, I need wisdom about how to be a good jamaw. I need wisdom to know how to be a great wife and how to be a great disciple. Sometimes, I feel on my own and that nobody is around to help me know what to do next. That was one reason I loved talking to my dad when he was alive. He was my advisor and was so wise. His perspective was one I longed for and still do.
The thing is...when I look towards others, I'm looking for wisdom in the wrong places. I need to search for wisdom in His word. Yes, others can help...but He is my ultimate wisdom. I need to stop treasuring my desires and my world and the status I desire and start treasuring His words, His wisdom and His image.
The last few days have been full of inner turmoil for me. My heart resonates with the words of Job in Job 3:24-26.
For sighing has become my daily food;
my groans pour out like water.
What I feared has come upon me;
what I dreaded has happened to me.
I have no peace, no quietness;
I have no rest, but only turmoil.”
Job had just experienced pain of such magnitude I can't even fathom. His family was gone, His livelihood was gone, his safety net was gone, his wife and friends were hurting more than helping.
Things were pretty bleak. Even after all that...his very first response was to worship. In Job 1:20, after Job was told all the horrible news, He got up, tore his robe, shaved his head, fell to the ground and worshiped.
Those words are a challenge to me this morning. I haven't felt like worshiping lately. I have been caught up in myself, my own problems and my image. I've worried more about what other people think than God. I have turned inward once more and stopped looking upward and outward. When I do that...things don't get better, they get worse. When I focus on me...my world pretty much falls apart. My thoughts are a mess, my relationships are a mess, my emotions are a mess and on and on.
So...I appreciate the reminder from Job this morning. I am planning to worship through my life today and see what God desires.