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Determination

This is the second week of the online Bible Study “Made to Crave,” by Lysa Terkeurst. I chose to write my blog today on the word “determination”and what it means to me, especially on this journey to learn to crave God more than food or anything else.

When I am doing a word study, my first step is to look up the meaning on the online version of the Webster-Merriam Dictionary and Thesaurus,  The definition of determination  according to W-MD&T,  is: 1) a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult; 2) firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end; 3) firm or unwavering adherence to one’s purpose.

The Thesaurus offers such synonyms as “doggedness” and “persistence,” This reminds me of my Corgi-mix puppy, Sophie. She gets her favorite toy–currently one of my husband’s old shoes–and with dogged persistence, shakes it, chews on it, works on it until the shoe is completely destroyed. Only then is she satisfied.

Determination goes deeper for me, especially on this journey. It is a relentless, unwavering focus on the end result. Think of a race horse, with blinders on, so that all she sees and all she focuses on is the finish line, the floral wreath and the trophy.

I have a small white board in my kitchen that we use to write notes of encouragement, reminders, etc. Across the top of the board is written in big red letters I WAS MADE FOR MORE THAN THIS! Underneath that hangs last week’s word EMPOWERED and under that hangs this week’s word DETERMINATION.  This is my constant reminder that I AM EMPOWERED WITH DETERMINATION BECAUSE I WAS MADE FOR MORE THAN THIS!

 

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You Are Not Alone

 It is one of the worst feelings—to be alone and lonely. Especially in the midst of a crowd. The grocery store, your child’s soccer game, church. Wherever you go, you feel completely alone, as if you are invisible. No one sees you. And if by chance they do see you, they don’t acknowledge you, much less the loneliness and the pain you feel. I know. I’ve been there. Right where you are.

    Here’s the real truth. You are not alone. I know. I am there.

There are numerous scriptures that assure us we are not alone. Here are just a few:

“. . . God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you . . .” Hebrews 13:5b The Message (emphasis mine)

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.” Isaiah 43:2-4 The Message (emphasis mine)

And one of my favorites Psalms 139:2-11 from The Message:

“You know when I leave and when I get back;
I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can’t take it all in!

Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!”

        You and I are never alone. No matter where we are, day or night, God is always with us. He is with us when we are alone at night in our bedrooms. He is with us when we sit in the midst of crowds of people. He is with us at this very moment. But sometimes we don’t “feel” his presence.

     Leanne Payne wrote a book quite a few years ago titled “The Healing Presence.” Chapter Two is “Practicing the Presence.” In this chapter she discussed the fact that we live in a world where our “systems of learning have long based their conclusions on scientific fact alone. She goes on to say we have “a much greater need for the discipline of practicing the Presence than did our forefathers. Paul spoke of this practice by saying: ‘We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’ (2 Cor. 4:18). The practice of the Presence, then, is simply the discipline of calling to mind the truth that God is with us.” 1

The next time loneliness begins to stealthily creep up on you, or perhaps it comes crashing in like ocean waves in a hurricane, remind yourself you are not alone. The truth is GOD is with us!

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Psalm 84:2 Am I Desperate Enough?

“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”  (Psalm 84:2, NIV)

I am participating in an online Bible study based on the book “Made to Crave – Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food,” by Lysa TerKeurst. Each Thursday during the Bible study we will have a list of topics from which we can choose one and write and post a blog.  Our verse for this week has been Psalm 84:2 and I have chosen this topic for my first blog.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines yearn as “to long persistently.” I think in this verse it means much more, because the Psalmist (it is believed David wrote Psalm 84 when he was driven out of the land of Absalom) goes on to say “even faints.” He is saying he yearns so desperately for the Lord, that he faints. Have I ever fainted from wanting more of Jesus?

Further study on the word “yearn” revealed additional words found in the Bible as the writers described their desire to know God deeper and more intimately.

“Pant” – “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” (Psalm 42:1) This reminds me of my little Sophie–not a deer–but my sweet little Corgi-mixed puppy. She loves to run outside and catch her favorite “toy of the moment.” But when she’s finished, her tongue hangs out and she pants desperately until she can get to her water bowl and laps up every drop. Have I ever been so thirsty for God, that I panted for Him?

“Hunger and Thirst” – “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matt.5:6). My pastor is teaching a series on Wednesday nights on the Sermon on the Mount and he discussed verse six this week. He asked if anyone had ever known true hunger and true thirst. Our answer was a unanimous “no” because we live in America where, for us, food and water are in abundance. Certainly, I’ve never been so hungry or thirsty that I’ve fainted. God is a God of righteousness. Have I ever been so hungry and thirsty that I’ve cried out for God and is righteousness?

Finally, there is the phrase “cry out.” Again, looking to the dictionary, the word “cry” means “a loud vocal expression of strong emotion.” This seems a rather tame definition compared to what I believe David meant. “My heart and my flesh ‘roar’ for the living God.” “My heart and my flesh ‘bellow,’ ‘scream,’ ‘yell’ for the living God. How many times have I truly roared or screamed or yelled for God–not out of desperation for a situation I might have been in–but in desperation for Him?

Are you desperate enough?

Abba Father, make us more desperate for You. Increase our hunger and thirst until we are aware of Your presence every second of every hour of every day. Father, we crave You, knowing only You can fill us, satisfy us. Fill us, satisfy us today. We love You Jesus. It is Your most precious Name, the Name above all names that I pray, Amen.

 

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Encouragement for Your Wednesday

Coffee for Your Heart 150

It’s hard to believe we are already one week into 2014. But we are not so far into the year that I can’t share my hopes and prayers for you in 2014.

I am joining with a group of women who will share encouragement and prayers each Wednesday. The group is called “Coffee  for your heart. If we could, all of us would like to sit down with each of you, our faithful followers and have coffee and talk. Since that’s not possible, Holly Gerth thought of this fantastic idea. To learn more about Holly and her ministry, click on the button above,

My hope and prayer for each of you for 2014 is that God’s calling on your life will become so clear to you, it will be as though He wrote His plan on the wall of your kitchen! I pray that you trust Him, as He writes His plans on your heart. I pray the prayer of Jabez over you: “Jabez cried to the God of Israel, saying, Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and You would keep me from evil so it might not hurt me! And God granted his request.” I Chronicles 4:10.

May 2014 be the year you step forward and accept His call and move boldly into that call.

Dear sweet Jesus, I pray for each of my readers today. I pray that they will have an open heart and mind to hear and comprehend Your call. Give them the boldness to step forward in that call, trusting You to provide whatever they may need to fulfill that call. In the most precious name above all names, Amen.

Selah

 

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My One Word

Several years ago a new “craze” hit the pages and posts of Facebook. The premise of this latest trend was to select one word that would be your “theme” for that year. Obviously, for Christians, we were to pray and ask God to reveal the word He wanted us to have. We were to think about the word and incorporate it into our daily lives as much as possible. I went along with this trend and although nice, it wasn’t a life-changing move for me.

Early in December, before anyone had posted their ‘word’ for 2014 on FaceBook, I began to think about my ‘word’ for the coming year, and I wondered how this trend started. I researched and discovered Mike Ashcraft who started this movement at the church he cofounded and serves as Senior Pastor, Port City Community Church. You can listen to him talk about the My One Word project, read about the book he wrote, coauthored by Rachel Olsen, and get much more information on the website, http://myoneword.org/

I ordered the book, “My One Word,” have barely gotten started and already can see how this book and its premise can change lives. When I finish reading it, I’ll write a proper review and post it, along with my ‘one word.

If you’ve never tried this idea, why not make 2014 the year to select one word to focus on this year? After all, it can’t hurt, and just might change your life!

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Be Still . . .

Several months ago as I was praying, I believed I heard God say, “Priorities, priorities. Get your priorities straight.” Every time I prayed about something in my life, all I could hear was “Priorities, priorities. Get your priorities straight.”  This went on . . . for longer than I care to admit, until I finally decided that God wanted me to get my priorities straight. I began to think about what that meant and I realized that I had so much on my plate–so much going on in my life–that I had to empty my plate before I could even determine what my priorities were.

To make a very long story a little shorter, I determined what I could not give up (wife, mother, nana, job) and what was left was the book I was currently writing and my editing company, Monarch Writing Services. I put the book on the back burner and contacted my clients to let them know I would be on hiatus for an undefined period of time.

I began to wait to hear the voice of God. Where was he leading me? What did He want me to do? I waited. And waited. And waited some more. While waiting, I realized I don’t know how to wait. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” I can’t be still. I find myself looking for things to do to fill up each of the 86,400 seconds of every day. I’m as antsy as a kid on Christmas morning.

Although it may seem to be a small thing when we look at everything going on in our lives and the world around us, I believe my first priority from God is to learn to be still. To sit quietly before Him. To listen to Him speak as He shares the next priority.

What about you? Do you have a quiet time each day where you sit and wait to hear from the Lord? Do you play soft music? Have your Bible and journal close by?  I would love to hear from you and perhaps glean some ideas from you on developing my own quiet time.

Blessings!