Sep 1, 2014

Let's Pray.....

September Reading Plan: Psalm 31-60
September Memory Verse: Psalm 34:1
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

Happy September, Friends! I love this time of year! Don't you?

We are doing something a little different this month. Stay with me now. [please] 

Our reading will be continuing on in the book of Psalm. We began Psalm back in July. We are picking up right where we left off. 

Why Psalm? Oh, I am so glad you asked. ;)

This month we will focus on PRAYER here on SHINE. I could use a little booster shot in my prayer life, and I am hoping you could use one too.  Psalm is the perfect book for this journey. The Hebrew title of the book of Psalm  translates to "praises."  Furthermore, the word "psalm" comes from the Greek psalmoi, meaning "songs." 

So, Psalms are prayers and songs. See? Perfect.

One more little factoid about Psalm: Jesus loved the book of Psalm. His last words were quoted from Psalm 31:5, "Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46

Pretty amazing, right?

This time of year can get busy. Football games, school schedules, work schedules, blah blah blah. Our prayer lives can become a little stale, or maybe even a little non-existent. 

This month we are going to be intentional about prayer. I will post some ways that can help keep us on track with our prayer time. Again, this is as much for me as it is for all of you.

Each week of this month we will focus on something specific to pray for. All week we will be very intentional in praying over this specific thing. 

As we study the book of Psalm, we will intertwine our reading into our prayers. You will absolutely love this part of our learning this month!

I am so excited about what the Lord will teach us and how He will lead us this month. I have prayed FERVENTLY about what to study this month. This is His plan for us, girls! Oh, how He loves y'all!

He is longing for closeness to us. He is longing for our hearts to be connected with His all day  long. We must train ourselves to focus our hearts each day. He designed us for this!

"Pray without ceasing" 1 Thessalonians 5:17

This week our prayer focus is this:

Marriage

Maybe you are married. Maybe you are single. Maybe you are divorced. Maybe your are widowed. 

It doesn't matter. I want us to pray for all marriages. If you are married, begin by praying for your own marriage. As you continue to pray, pray for the marriages around you. 

Girls, marriages are falling apart at the seams. More to write on that later, but for now, please pray. 

If you are not married, please still pray with us and for us, and for the marriages around you. We desperately need your prayers. When the enemy gets a foothold into our marriages, we are doomed. We suffer, and our children suffer. 

Please don't think that you will not be affected by these prayers if you are not married. Oh, the contrary. When we pray these self-less, others-focused prayers, something amazing happens. God pours out His love right back on us. He will bless you in ways that will blow your mind. 

"And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." Job 42:10


I cannot wait to approach His Throne on behalf of all of your marriages. His ears are attentive and His hands are outstretched. He wants our marriages to be strong. He wants them to thrive, not just survive.  

Let's lift up prayers for the marriages in tact, but also for the marriages that have already fallen apart. For those that are divorced, separated, widowed. These hearts are in desperate need of healing from hurt, pain, and possibly even regret. My prayer is that God will soothe and replenish your heart. No matter where the hurt lies, His hands  can and will heal even the most broken of hearts. 

Your marriage is being covered in prayer, you have my word.


hitting my knees,


jill



Aug 29, 2014

Whom Shall I Fear?

August Reading: The Book of Jonah
August Memory Verse: Psalm  84:1-2
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

"But Jonah ran away from the Lord..." Jonah 1:3

As we wrap up the book of Jonah this week, I keep thinking about one very important thing in this book.

When God told Jonah his mission to go to Ninevah and preach to them, Jonah fled. My question is this: What made Jonah flee?

Obviously, Jonah was a godly man or the Lord would not have trusted him for such a large task. Jonah had proved himself wise and dependable in the past, so why did he suddenly flee?

This is what I keep going back to: Fear.

Jonah must have been fearful.

Imagine the Lord giving you a task of this nature. It certainly would bring some anxious thoughts! The Lord never told Jonah that the outcome would be good. He just told Jonah to go.

These people were wicked, wretched, despicable. How would they react to this man, Jonah, showing up and telling them to turn from their wickedness?

Jonah was alone. All by himself. No mission group to take with him. Just himself.

A little scary, right?

Fear can keep us right smack in the opposite direction of God's plan for our lives. It will prevent us from living the life that He has intended for us to live.

"Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety" Proverbs 29:25

This is exactly what happened to our friend, Jonah.

Fear has been the greatest enemy in my own life. It has paralyzed me. It has taken away my joy so many times. It has caused me to shrink back and stay away from anything that could pose danger to my well-being.

Fear can be the exact opposite of faith.

Fear has many masks. Pride, anger, unforgiveness, insecurity...just to name a few.

The root of all of those things can be fear. Fear of what "may happen". Fear of what others will think.

I believe Jonah was fearful. His faith wavered, and he ran.

I sat at the funeral of my beloved Uncle Mike last Sunday afternoon. The man that led the service was not a preacher. He was an in-law of my uncle's.

He said that on several occasions he felt prompted to tell my Uncle about Jesus. He said he chickened out instead.

My uncle had just had surgery in one of these instances and this man had bought him a bible to take to him at the hospital. My uncle never got the bible. This man chickened out....again.

However, one sweet day, this man got the courage to talk to my uncle. He said he couldn't take it any longer, he had to tell my uncle about Jesus.

He followed through this time.

My uncle didn't say a whole lot. This man was disappointed. He felt it was pointless after all.

The next day my uncle's wife called the man and told him that something incredible had just happened. She said my uncle told her that he was finally "right with the Lord."

The man was overwhelmed with joy.

However, what if he had not followed through with God's prompting to talk to my uncle about Jesus? What if he had continued to be fearful of my uncle's response?

 I believe the funeral would have been different. It would have been much more sad and very hopeless.

I'm thankful for this man that I had never met before that day. He stepped out of fear and into courage because he wanted my uncle to know Jesus and have eternal life.

Because of God using this man, I will see my uncle again. Praise Jesus.


Our Fun Friday Challenge:

What has God been prompting you to do? Are you afraid of what may happen or what others may say?

Let's step out in faith today. Let's throw fear away and clothe ourselves in courage. God would never ask us to do anything that is not beneficial to us and/or others.

He loves us. He longs to use us to tell others about Him to spread the good news of Christ. What are we afraid of?


"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10



stepping out in faith,


jill


Aug 27, 2014

Losing my 'tude.......

August Reading: The Book of Jonah
August Memory Verse: Psalm  84:1-2
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.


"But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry." Jonah 4:1

So, the book of Jonah ends with the people of Ninevah repenting, and God pouring out His compassion on the city.

Jonah is not happy about it though.

Jonah pouts. Jonah sulks. Jonah even said he would be better off dead. [Jonah 4:8] A little dramatic, eh?

Boy, Jonah had quite an attitude problem. I can't relate at all.

Just kidding. Oh, how I can relate.

Basically, Jonah was mad that God showed so much forgiveness and compassion on these sinful, wicked people. He found it unfair and unjust.

Yet, while Jonah was in the belly of the whale, and the Lord rescued him, he certainly had no complaints.

This story is striking familiarly close to home in my heart.

We love when God does what we want. When He grants our every desire and when we see justice around us served, we are happy happy happy.

However, as soon as our little apple carts get turned over and things seems unjust, we can pitch a fit that would make a two year old look angelic. [Or maybe I am just speaking of myself here]

When things don't go the way I plan, when life doesn't line up like I envisioned, I have a tendency to pout. And whine. And even wail. And maybe even slam a door or two. [i wish i was kidding]

Just like Jonah, my vision can be self-focused, self-centered, and self-motivated. As long as things are well in my little world, God and I are good.

As soon as things get bumpy, I can lose my good attitude and turn into a mopey Jonah.

In order to change my attitude, I have started to ask every day that His will be done in my life. No matter what. No matter what my flesh desires, or my heart longs for, let Your will be done, Lord.

It has helped my attitude tremendously. Let me rephrase, TREMENDOUSLY.

The truth is, His will is the only way that works. His will is the only way that will ever work. His will is the only way that will ever be right. Ever. 

I will never forget my friend, Rebekah, telling me this one day: "No matter where God takes me, good or bad, if it's His will, it is the safest place to be."

This statement could not be more true.

My attitude, good or bad, shows the Lord whether I am a willing partner to His plan, or a complaining and reluctant accomplice.

Our memory verse here at home this week is this: "Do everything without complaining or arguing." Philippians 2:14-18

Gulp. This is harder than it sounds.

Even if the complaining is not verbalized, if it is in our hearts, it's still there.

Let's learn from Jonah, shall we? Let's have a good attitude. Let's be a willing partner to God's plan. Even when we don't always understand it.


"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9


getting a new 'tude,


jill



Aug 22, 2014

Trouble....

August Reading: The Book of Jonah
August Memory Verse: Psalm  84:1-2
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

It seems like I hear bad news everywhere I turn these days. Each time I hear it, my stomach tightens up, my hands get sweaty, and my heart beats a little faster.

Life can be so overwhelming. Life can be confusing. Life can be hard.

I notice in the book of Jonah, that trouble came to him when he ran from the Lord. However, we can be right in the middle of God's will and trouble can find us.

Trouble is not the absence of God's Presence. Oh no. Trouble can come right in the midst of His Presence.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the belly of a whale [like our friend Jonah], when we did not ask or choose to be there.

Notice in the verse above that Jesus says, "In this world, you will have trouble..."

It doesn't say we may, or that we might. It says we will.

This is not meant to scare us or bring fear. He is telling us this to encourage us that even though trouble will come, He is bigger. He has overcome the trouble that will find us.

In other words, He has already fought and won that battle for us.

No need for us to fight it and lose our peace. In fact, in Psalm 46:10, He commands us "to be still, and know that I am God."

He also assures us in Isaiah 49:25 that He will "contend with those that contend with you."

So, let's break this down.

When trouble comes, we need not to fear. He has won that battle.

We are just to be still and know that He is able.

Not only is He able, but He is contending with the trouble that finds us.

The trouble of sickness.
The trouble of death.
The trouble of heartache.
The trouble of loss.
The trouble of rejection.
The trouble of fear.
The trouble of anxiety.
The trouble of worry.
The trouble of addiction.
The trouble of guilt.
The trouble of regret.


It may not look like He is contending, oh but sweet friend, His word never returns void. You can bank your last penny on His Promises.

Trouble will come, but His Presence will never leave you. His peace is there for the taking.

Be still, breathe in His Promises, and let Him contend.


finally some good news,


jill


Aug 20, 2014

I Need a Second Chance......

August Reading: The Book of Jonah
August Memory Verse: Psalm  84:1-2
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.


"Then the Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: Go to the great city of Ninevah and proclaim to it the message I give you." Jonah 3:1-2


I love that the Lord is the God of second chances. And third. And fourth. And fifth....

Despite Jonah's escapades to flee from the mission, God still gave him another chance.

Since we started the book of Jonah August the first, I have read the passages over and over. It's a short book, so I just keep re-reading it and praying for God to show me something new.

He never fails to teach me something each time I read it. Go figure.

"His Word is living and active..." Hebrews 4:12

As I was reading chapter 3, again, I find God's never ending Grace. Again.

Jonah had screwed up. Big time. He had put himself in danger, and the sailors on the boat in danger because of his disobedience to God.

Yet, God gave him another chance.

I don't know about you, but I need to hear this today. I need to know that God never gives up on me. Ever.

"Love keeps no record of wrongs" 1 Corinthians 13:5

My record of wrongs is a mile long. Let me rephrase, it is many, many, many miles long.

However, God keeps no record of those wrongs.

He patiently waits for me. He waits for my heart to turn back to Him.

When it finally does, He gives me yet another chance.

Each day is a brand new. Each day offers me another chance at His mission and His will for my life.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morninggreat is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

I can run away from Him and be miserable, like Jonah, or I can surrender and live in His mercy and grace.

I think I will choose the latter, how about you?

Are you afraid it's too late to turn back to the Lord?

Oh how we awaits your return to Him. Oh how He desires you to fall full in His arms of Grace.

You will never run out of chances with Him.


speaking from experience,


jill

Aug 18, 2014

Praying in the Pit.....

August Reading: The Book of Jonah
August Memory Verse: Psalm  84:1-2
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

"But you Lord, brought my life up from the pit, Oh Lord my God." Jonah 2:6[b]

One humongous thing stands out to me as I read Jonah Chapter 2. 

I will give you a minute to browse over it. 


Do you see what I see?


Jonah is in the belly of the fish. 


He prays a sincere, desperate, heart-felt prayer. 


After Jonah's prayer, this is what the next sentence says:


"And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land." Jonah 2:10


Are you seeing this?

Jonah prays. God answers.

Yes, that is the obvious. 

However, the thing I also see is that Jonah says in his prayer that the Lord had brought his life up from the pit. Notice how Jonah says this as he is IN the belly of the fish.

Jonah is not yet out of trouble at this point. He is in the depths of the ocean, stuck in the belly of  huge fish, yet, he is praising God

How can this be?

Sometimes when we are faced with the most difficult situations in life, we see God the clearest. We see Him through different eyes. Suddenly, the clutter of all of the other things that have distorted our vision filters out and give us a new vision of our Savior.  

Jonah was praising the Lord, thanking Him for saving him, before he was actually physically saved. 

Are y'all following me here?

Jonah's perspective changed. As he spent time in the dark and lonely belly of the fish, his spirit recognized the enormity of God. His spirit recognized his utter dependence on God. 

Jonah realized that God was the only One who could save him, and the only One who was capable of saving Him. 

We often can become self-sufficient and put God in a small box. We forget that God is the whole purpose and reason for our existence. Until we are faced down in the pit [or in the belly of a fish, like Jonah], we often forget about God.

Jonah saw things crystal clear while in that dark and lonely place. The things that he once thought mattered, suddenly did not. 

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them." Jonah 2:8

Whatever idols Jonah had, suddenly disappeared. God was the only one on Jonah's mind. God took His rightful place in Jonah's heart even when things seemed pretty dim for Jonah's future. 

Jonah saw the big picture. He realized that nothing was more important than praising and worshiping God. Not even his life.

Jonah got right with God, but it was before he was spit out onto dry land by the fish. 

Do we sometimes wait to be saved and rescued from our situations before we decide to fully give our hearts to the Lord?

Do we wait until God gives us what we want before committing our ways to His?

I wonder how long Jonah would have stayed in that fish if he had not have prayed this heart changing prayer. 

I wonder how long I have delayed God's deliverance in areas of my life because I haven't fully surrendered those things to Him. 


Something to ponder:


1) Are you in a dark season of life like Jonah found himself? If so, will you spill your heart out to the Lord today, just as Jonah did in his prayer? Thank Him for delivering you, even though you don't yet seem delivered. Thank Him for what He will do. Thank Him for what He is doing. Praise Him in that pit!

“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple." Jonah 2:7

2) Do you ever find yourself putting God in a box and maintaining a sense of self-sufficiency? This can lead us down dangerously wrong paths---just like Jonah. I encourage all of us today to acknowledge God's place in our lives. When we remember His place in our lives, we remember His Power, His Presence, and His Purpose in our lives. 

"In my distress I called to the Lord,and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,and you listened to my cry." Jonah 2:1-2




Jonah's life is teaching me, 


jill



Aug 15, 2014

Jesus is in the Laundry......

August Reading: The Book of Jonah
August Memory Verse: Psalm  84:1-2
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.


I have a confession. I hate laundry. I despise it. 

Cleaning toilets, I don't really mind. Dishes, not so bad. 

Laundry, puke. 

Laundry is just so consuming. It seems to never ever end. In fact, it never does end, does it? Toilets can stay clean at least for a few days, right?

Laundry is constantly being turned over, and over, and over. [insert frustrated face]

As I was folding the kids laundry [for the thousandth time this week], I recalled this verse. The Lord literally pierced this verse straight into my weary heart.....

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:23

Suddenly, I imagined doing the laundry in the presence of God. I imagined Him watching me, and talking to me. I imagined it was His laundry I was folding! I imagined Him smiling at me and showing me His appreciation for my service. 

Y'all, it helped my mood tremendously! I suddenly became overwhelmed with joy to be folding the laundry. Shocking, I know.

When the kids came home from school, I kept this same verse in mind as I helped with homework, prepared after school snacks, cooked dinner, cleaned up after dinner, watched a dumb show with Lem on the couch [because he loves when I sit next to him] ,bathed the kids, and tucked them into bed. 

Again, it worked. 

Wow! God's Word was really on to something here! [as always]

When I get tired of serving my family, tired of the daily duties, tired and weary from the demands of motherhood and wife-hood.....I can recall this verse. 

A heart focused on serving the Lord, will turn a weary heart into pure joy. 


Our Fun Friday Challenge:

Start this day out with the intentions of doing everything as unto the Lord. Imagine Him right next to you as you begin your daily grind. Imagine Him talking to you, encouraging you, and smiling at you for your heart of service. 

Let the middle part of that verse put you into action a little quicker: "since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward".

Need I say more? :)

Go, serve HIM!


folding laundry with Jesus, 


jill


Aug 13, 2014

Woman Overboard....

August Reading: The Book of Jonah
August Memory Verse: Psalm  84:1-2
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

"Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to Him." Jonah 1:15-16


There are seasons in life when we just want to be thrown overboard, just like our Jonah.

Seasons that are too rough, too rocky, too messy, too painful....

We just want to jump ship and escape. 

Are you with me?

Not long ago, I was in this season....

Something was happening around me and I cried out to the Lord, "I'm done! I cannot take one more day of this. Do you hear me, Lord, I am done!"

My heart was aching, my flesh was burning, my spirit was completely weary. 

Just like Jonah, I wanted to escape the raging storm. I needed to flee. And far. 

If a jet would have landed on my house, I would have hopped right on and flew to the farthest continent. I would have even settle for a boat, like Jonah. 

My emotions were at an all time high. I went straight to my room, grabbed my bible, and pouted to the Lord. I explained to Him why this was just not working for me. It was too hard. It was too......much. 

I wrestled with Him about why I had to do this. Why was I the one that had to deal with this situation that always seemed to have chaos and confusion....and pain. 

He showed me this verse: "Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:17

 He reminded me of the big picture. The picture that He paints. Not just the picture of a girl [me] wanting to flee,  but a plan much bigger than me. A plan that involved His masterpiece. A masterpiece that I couldn't see, but that He was putting together, one day at a time.

He reminded me that any suffering and hardship endured would bring forth glory. Glory to Him.

Read the last part of that verse again...."we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."

My heart burst wide open when I read this. He was showing me the light at the end of this long dark tunnel. 

He was showing me that the part I cannot see yet, He already sees. The part that seems impossible and hopeless, will bring Him glory and that I will be able to share in that glory one sweet day. 

My heart began to look at the situation differently. Instead of seeing a boat being tossed and turned in the sea, I saw a boat in the midst of the storm, yet sustained by an anchor. A big, huge anchor of peace. 

The anchor was Him. 

The storms will come, He reminded me. I just have to trust in the strength and power of my anchor...Him. 

So, instead of throwing myself overboard like Jonah, I can sit tight in that boat and know that my Anchor is sustaining me. He will keep me safe, and He will keep my heart at peace. I just have  to remember my Anchor is there. Through every storm.

One last thing that strikes me when reading the verse at the very top of this page:

"Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to 
the Lord and made vows to Him." Jonah 1:15-16

Do you see what I am talking about?

This wasn't just about Jonah, it was about these men witnessing a miracle. These men, who were unbelievers, started to believe in God.  

Jonah thought the story was all about him, when really it was so much more. God was doing many things that Jonah could not see in the midst of the storm. 

Think for a moment of your situation. Can you think of someone that may be affected in a HUGE way because of watching you go through that storm? 

You have no idea what God is doing to those around you as you go through that storm. It would truly amaze you. 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Something to Ponder:

1) Think back to a time when you wanted to jump ship, like Jonah. Or maybe it's right now. Maybe you feel that any minute you will be overcome because of the storm swirling around you. If the storm has left, can you see what God was doing in the midst of it? If the storm is still raging, ask Him to show you something today. Ask Him to give you a glimpse of the big picture He is creating. He is so faithful, go ahead, ask Him. 

2) Do you need reminding that He is your anchor? Do you need to feel His presence and His peace today because of the storm swirling around you? Listen to His Words.... 

"For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow,  or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us." Romans 8:37-39

"I am holding you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God—and I say to you, Don’t be afraid; I am here to help you." Isaiah 41:13

"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you." Isaiah 41:9

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." Psalm 91:4

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain" Hebrews 6:19



relying on my Anchor,


jill