Jun 27, 2014

Guard My Stinkin' Mouth......

Reading Plan: The Book of Matthew
June Memory Chunk: Psalm 23
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.
 
 
"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."
Matthew 15:8
 
 
This verse hits to the core of my beating heart. It only hits so hard on my heart, because I have been "these people" that it so pointedly describes.
 
In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I was "these people".
 
If any of you precious ones would have been a fly on the wall of my closet that day, I think you could just go ahead and bury me in my worn-down flip flops.
 
Die, I tell you, I would die. Willingly at that.
 
My day was rolling along pretty well. A few bumps here and there, but for the most part, smooth as butter on my gluten-free toast.
 
Lem came home. Lem is my husband if you need a reminder.
 
We had dinner as a family, did our "family time" thing, and rolled on into the night time.
 
Lem jumped in the shower to wash off his hard day of work. I cleaned dishes, whistling while I worked. I may have even had a smile on my tired face as I reminisced about what a pretty good day it had been.
 
However, all of that was about to change. In the blink of a dirty dish.
 
After the dishes were clean and the kitchen was tidy, I went to our bedroom to talk to Lem about his day.
 
I walked through the bedroom door and saw our precious little 15 year old dog lying on our bed.
 
Normally, this may be a sweet sight to some folks, but not here, not in our house.
 
Why, you ask?
 
Because our little old doggie will relieve her bladder on our bed....every single time.
 
Not just sometimes, but every single time she gets on our bed.
 
I quickly jumped into action.
 
Hurriedly, I grabbed the dog, and put her outside while I held my breath thinking about the puddle that she probably left on our bed.
 
I went back to the bedroom, and sure enough.....
 
A big, fat, wet, puddle was awaiting me. Soaked right through to the mattress.
 
Before I could clean it up, Lem comes out of the shower, and sees the crime scene.
 
He sees the puddle and falls apart like a two dollar watch.
 
Now, I am just being honest here. Lem doesn't fall apart very often, he's usually calm as a stinkin' cucumber. However, tonight, my calm cucumber turned into a red hot jalepeno.
 
Accusations were coming out of his mouth so fast it made my blonde head spin.
 
He was upset with me that "this happened".  I shouldn't have let her on the bed. Blah, blah, blah.
 
I was stunned with disbelief that he actually believed that "this" was my fault.
 
Here's the part that will make you feel like mother, wife, and woman of the year after reading {you're welcome}.....
 
The next thing I remember, I  was slamming the bedroom door, and running to the closet so I could scream without the kids hearing me. At least I was somewhat thinking rationally, right? {pitiful, Jill, pitiful}
 
Words were flying out of my mouth so fast they would have knocked you out cold if you would have been within arm distance from my spewing mouth.
 
The last thing I remember was calling Lem a bad name. In a very loud voice. Possibly several times for dramatic effect of course. {bowing my head in dramatic shame}
 
Also, the name I called him begins with a proper name...."Jack".
 
To be fair, the definition of the word I called him can be found in Mirriam Webster's dictionary, I will have you know.
 
The definition of the word I used for him states this:
  • a male donkey
  • a stupid person

I meant exactly that definition at that exact moment.

As soon as I called him the male donkey, I opened my bedroom door to find my children standing there, mouths wide open in horror.

I died. Right then and there. DIED, I tell you.

No words, just a red face full of guilt as I saw their mouths gaped open in awe of what they had just witnessed.

My daughter immediately said, "You called daddy a bad word!!"

My response was, "Yes, and I will continue to call him a male donkey until he quits acting like one!"

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Well, girls, there you have it.

A bad day in the life of yours truly. Your bible study girlfriend.

I was not so SHINE-y that day.

Somewhere along the way,  my heart got messed up. Those words that spewed out of my mouth, the hatred coming from my lips, was from a heart that was covered with some yuckiness. Some unrepented yuck.

Now, I know we all have bad days, but for me to fall apart so quickly and so hatefully, showed a big underlying heart problem.

My heart was far from God.

My lips were living proof of this.

"What goes into a man's mouth does not make him "unclean", but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him "unclean". Matthew 15:11

My unclean words were embarrassing. Especially due to the fact that my children witnessed the whole blasted thing.

I will let you in on something that I have recently learned though.

Sometimes the tool that God uses most for us to bless people with, can become the very tool that we fall deep into sin and flesh if we are not careful.

For me, it is my tongue. God can use it to bring teaching, encouragement, exhortation, love.....

However, in an instance, if I am not guarding this tongue of mine, it can be used very destructively. It can harm and wreak havoc if it is not protected by God's Word and His Truth.

I have a friend who has incredible spiritual discernment. However, if she is not careful, her flesh can quickly use it to "judge" instead of "discern". These words came out of her very own mouth.

I have another friend that has a passion for good health and taking care of her body and helping others with staying healthy as well. However, she must stay very in tune with the Lord so she doesn't fall off track with becoming overly obsessive with her health and fitness. She has to constantly maintain in check and balance with the Lord so that she honors Him and not the flesh in her passion for being healthy.

Are you following me here?

We must make sure we refine the tools that He gives us. We must make sure to sharpen them and guard them against sin and our flesh.

The enemy wants nothing more than to turn our God-given gifts into a full-blown disaster of the flesh. The enemy does not want us using our gifts in the way they were meant for us to use them. He wants to distort them and disable them. Pure and simple.

What spiritual gift has He given you that may need extra guarding and refining today?

Guard the spiritual gifts and tools He has given you, and ask God to help you use those tools for His Glory and nothing more.

In the meantime, I will have my tongue under lock and key.

"set a guard over my mouth oh Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips" Psalm 141:3

My kids and husband will thank me for this.



armoring my mouth,


jill

Jun 20, 2014

What's your story?

Reading Plan: The Book of Matthew
June Memory Chunk: Psalm 23
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.
 
 
It's Friday!
 
A little business to take care of before you start your fun weekend.
 
Keep reading Matthew. You should be around chapter 20 or so. If you are not even close, no worries. Just read. :)
 
Today, my family and I leave for the beach so I will not be posting next week. I will be leaving my computer behind to enjoy some sun and fun!
 
If you are behind on reading, this is a good time to catch up. Go slow and absorb God's Word. Don't miss the little details, they teach us so much.
 
I'm already praying about what to read next month, so be in prayer with me as we figure out our July plan. :)
 
This is the most fun I have ever had! Digging deep in scripture with my favorite SHINE girls is a dream come true for this little heart!
 
God is teaching me SO much along the way. I have to stop and catch my breath sometimes as He reveals new things from scriptures I have read time and time again. His word is alive. Truly.
 
I will leave you with this to ponder next week as you study...
 
**What part would you have played in the life of Jesus if you would have been on earth with Him?
 
--A Leper?
--A woman bleeding for years?
--A girl who needed to be brought back to life?
--A blind woman?
--An unbeliever?
--A follower of Jesus?
--A disciple of Jesus?
 
 
Maybe several all rolled into one. Or maybe something I haven't listed.
 
Pray to the Lord and thank Him for coming for you.
 
Whatever your story, He came to heal you. He died to heal you.
 
"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters" Psalm 18:16
 
"He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me" Psalm 18:19
 
 
Your story is His story.
 
Praise Him for this.
 
 
 
blowing you kisses,
 
 
 
jill 
 
 

Jun 19, 2014

Forever Your girl.....

Reading Plan: The Book of Matthew
June Memory Chunk: Psalm 23
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

"He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases" Matthew 8:17

As I sat down to write this post, I suddenly realized God was changing the direction of my heart.

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

Can I get an amen on that verse? He does this all the time!

Studying the book of Matthew is changing me from the inside out.

As we dig deep into the life of Jesus, I grow ever more amazed at Who He is. I mean, I love Jesus, and I have for a long time. However, I am beginning to see Him differently. He is becoming intimately intertwined in my every day thoughts.

Every day that I read the book of Matthew, I close the book wanting to bawl my mascara-dripping eyes out. Reading about Jesus literally breaks me into a million pieces.

Jesus, the Son of God, came here to Earth....to save me. To save us.

This was His only agenda.

Jesus could have come in on a big white stallion dressed in kingdom attire, wearing a crown of jewels. He could have stood on a grand stage overlooking a stately podium and wagged His heavenly finger at us.

Instead, He was born in a stable. His parents were not noble. They were ordinary, plain Jane folks.

He grew up to be a carpenter. A carpenter, ya'll.

"Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form" Philippians 2:7

Jesus was not looking to be noticed.

"He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets" Matthew 12:19

Jesus had no personal agenda. His only agenda was us. You and me.

  • He wanted to heal us. Matthew 8:17
  • He wanted to open the eyes of the blind. Matthew 9:27
  • He wanted to take the heinous spots away from the rejected leper. Matthew 8:2
  • He wanted to heal a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. Matthew 9:20
  • He wanted to bring a man's young daughter back to life. Matthew 9:18
  • He wanted to restore those possessed with evil. Matthew 8:32
  • He wanted to give life back to the limbs of a paralyzed man. Matthew 9:2
  • He wanted to calm the storms of our life. Matthew 8:27
Can I just add a few things to this list that He came to do in my life?

He came to wash away a sinful past.
He came to love a girl that did not love herself.
He came to bring courage to a heart paralyzed with fear.
He came to restore and accept a heart scarred from rejection.
He came to stroke my hair and tell me that I am beautiful, no matter what my eyes saw.
He came to tell me that I am cherished even though I felt unworthy of being desired.
He came to say that I didn't have to cover up my many flaws because He loves me just the way I am.
He came to show me that no matter how I feel about myself, His Truth overrides these lies.
He came to shower me with mercy and grace although many nights I felt unworthy of forgiveness.
He came to show me that I am not worthless, but priceless to Him.
He came to show me that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.
He came to show me that I cannot "earn" His love because I'm already His beloved.


I will never be able to fully grasp the heights and depths of His love. It's too much to take in.

What about you?

How has He changed your life?

My life is living proof that He loves absolute nobody's and mess-ups. In fact, I believe we are His favorites. ;)

I think it's because we need Him the most.

We know the depths of our very own depravity and He comes and fills that deep gaping hole with His intense and scorching love. We cannot escape the passion and the fire of the Love He brings. He burns right through the scars.

My eyes are spilling over with tears. I have never known a love like His, and I will never desire another. I am forever His girl.



a life changed by Jesus Christ,


jill


Jun 18, 2014

Mercy me.....

Reading Plan: The Book of Matthew
June Memory Chunk: Psalm 23
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

"I desire mercy not sacrifice" Matthew 12:7

In Chapter 12 of Matthew, we find the disciples picking grain from the grain fields to eat on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were infuriated when they saw this happening.

They angrily told Jesus, "Look, your disciples are doing what s unlawful on the Sabbath." Matthew
12:2

Back story, the Sabbath was the seventh day of each week, which was a sacred festival in which the Israelites were required to abstain from all work. (see Deuteronomy 5:14, Exodus 20:10, Exodus 31:13) Including picking grain to eat.

Jesus sets those Pharisees straight pretty quickly.


He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”


He then goes on to heal a man and they accused Jesus of disregarding the Sabbath again.

He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. He said to them, Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

Jesus rebukes them and sets them straight, again.

Girls, I cannot help but to think that we can have that same Pharisee mentality. We sometimes pour out the sacrifices to God, but withhold the mercy to those around us.

We joyfully sacrifice our time, efforts, and our works in plain view of others to see. We joyfully say, "this is for You, Lord!"

However, are we so busy "serving" and "sacrificing" that we don't help our brothers and sisters in need? Are we glad to lend a hand at church, go on a mission trip, sing in the choir, teach a Sunday school class...yet all the while turn our back on someone in desperate need of a little mercy?

These sacrifices are not bad things by any means, but they cannot be in lieu of showing others mercy.

Are we extending mercy as much as we are extending our sacrifices?

Mercy often goes unnoticed by the world. Remember yesterday's post?

Sacrifices get big praises. From the church, and from others around us.

Do we have a "works based" mentality, instead of a "grace based" mentality?

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

We often sacrifice our very own families when we get caught up in being a do-gooder to everyone around us, yet neglect those that need us most.

God desires mercy, not sacrifice.

Mercy for the poor.

Mercy for the imprisoned.

Mercy for the unsaved.

Mercy for those that are different than us.

Mercy for those that don't act like we think they "should".

Mercy for our husbands. {umm, hello}

Mercy for our children.

Mercy for the family member gone astray.

Mercy for the waitress that screws up our order, over and over.

Mercy for the neighbor child that shows up at your door before daylight begins.

Mercy for the lady that checks out your groceries with a grumbling attitude.

Mercy for those that hurt us.

Mercy for those that disappoint us.

Mercy for those that reject us.

Mercy for those  who have spitefully used us. And continue to.

Why is it often easier for us to extend mercy to a stranger than one right under our very own roofs?

Our families are being torn apart--and left behind--because of our sacrifices and our duties. What are we teaching our children? Will they resent the sacrifices we made for the church or for the community because we end up spent and merciless after our endless sacrificing?

God desires mercy, not sacrifice.

When we stop making these "sacrifices", when we stop being the "goody-two-shoes bible study girl", when we stop doing things out of  a heart of duty or obligation.......we will become what God desires of us. Merciful.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" Matthew 5:7

Jesus is teaching us in this 12th chapter of Matthew that nothing is more important than the well-being of our fellow brothers and sisters. Sacrifice will never override mercy.

Aren't we glad?

I for one, desperately need mercy. I will screw up time and time again. Mercy is a gift when it is poured out. Mercy is the salve to a gaping wound. Mercy is the rainbow after a storm.

We all need some mercy, girlfriends.

Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, because of His great mercy for us.

We can ease up on the sacrificing, His sacrifice covers us all.


Thoughts to ponder:

To whom do you need to show more mercy?

Where do you need to sacrifice less?

Are your sacrifices consuming your time so much that you don't have time for others?

Are you often doing things out of Christian duty instead of listening to God's voice for direction?

Can you think of a time when all you really needed was some mercy and you didn't receive it?


*You may be missing out on the greatest blessing of your life by your constant sacrificing. Mercy is what He desires.

*Pray and ask the Lord to reveal to your heart if you need to show mercy in an area. Ask Him to give you clear directions on how to move forward in mercy.





have mercy,


jill


Jun 17, 2014

Crowd Pleasers.....

Reading Plan: The Book of Matthew
June Memory Chunk: Psalm 23
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

"....Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him." Matthew 12:15

Something that I notice in the book of Matthew and throughout the New Testament is this.....

Jesus withdrew a lot.

Jesus did not like crowds. At all.

He often went away from the crowds, even when they followed Him.

Y'all, before we dig deeper,  I have to tell you something funny. The Lord laid this teaching on my heart as I was blow drying my hair yesterday. I am so serious!

Here are my notes written on our bathroom mirror....


side note--always keep a dry erase marker in your bathroom.
great revelations come when you are getting dressed!


See, what I mean? When God speaks, He speaks! It doesn't really matter what we are doing at the moment. Blow drying our hair can be some serious God business! Who knew?

Okay, back to the lesson.

Jesus often went away from the crowds. He preferred a small group.

He chose twelve, only twelve men to teach, mentor, and disciple.

Why did He choose just twelve?

I think that if Jesus would have had a lot of disciples following Him around, He would have lost His focus. He would also have lost the authenticity of His discipleship.

Follow me for a minute...

When we are surrounded by a "crowd" of onlookers, we often get swayed by their opinions. We want to please them. We want them to like us. We long for their approval.

We live in a world that glorifies "followers". This world glorifies the ability to have the most "followers" and the most "likes". Right?

Y'all know this is truth!

Unfortunately this can take our focus off of our desire for approval from God, and give us the craving for the approval of man.

We can become obsessed with the crowd of onlookers, instead of becoming obsessed with the One we should be looking to....God.

The world says give me more, more, more. More money, more things, more friends, more followers, more approval, more everything.

God's Word says:

"There is only one thing worth being concerned about." Luke 10:42

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Matthew 6:33

The world defines our success by our popularity. We think that if we don't have a crowd around us, a big ministry, a big important job, a lot of money, a lot of friends...that we are failures.

In fact it is completely the opposite.

"Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:4

Some of the greatest mentors and teachers in my life have been complete nobody's by the world's standards. They are unknown, followed by few, and are not found hanging out in big crowds.

They are quiet, gentle, meek, God-seeking, and God-focused.

These mentors have taught me, poured into me, and helped to establish roots in my faith journey more than anyone else.

These women didn't have a classroom with a hundred students. Their lives were the classroom. They taught me by the way they lived. {and they still teach me!}Their timely words gave me strength. The truth they spoke into my life gently guided me and corrected me.

Real life training and changing comes from a real-life experience. We can read all of the greatest encouraging books in the world and not be changed. We can hear incredible sermons on Sunday, and not be changed.

 However, when we see it first-hand in our everyday living, we can absorb it, learn it, and then live it out.

That, my friend, is true discipleship.

Jesus had a classroom of 12 disciples. He had to make sure that those twelve would live, breathe, and fulfill the Great Commission once He was gone. He knew that He had to establish deep, unshakable roots in the lives of these men. His concentration and focus was on these twelve.

He could not have done that in a large group. The roots would not have been as deep or as wide.

Because His focus was small, the outcome was huge.

The size of your ministry, sweet friend, does not determine it's effectiveness.

The smallest of acts, the tiniest of gestures, day in and day out reap HUGE outcomes.

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." Matthew 25:23

Maybe you are a momma, wondering if you are making a difference in the seemingly small world you wake up in each day.....

Maybe you are a hard worker and daily do your job with faithful diligence wondering if anyone notices how hard you are working....

Maybe you are one of many students in a classroom just wondering how to find your place in this world...

Maybe you are a teacher wondering if you have impacted any of your students.....

Maybe you are not surrounded by friendships and often crave to have your phone ringing off the hook with people wanting to hang out with you...

Maybe you are shy, meek, and insecure, rejected, neglected, and crave to be noticed....by anyone....

Maybe you have a dream in your heart, a BIG dream that you desire to be fulfilled....

Let me assure you, sweet friend, YOU can and will be called GREAT in the Kingdom of God.

Great people in the kingdom of God are not established by the world's standards. Often they are unnoticed, not given any praise, and have very few followers.

Let me remind you again....

 Jesus chose 12. Just 12.

Jesus is teaching us a big lesson here.

It's not about  big numbers. It's the quality, not the quantity.

I used to strive to have many friendships. Despite the number of friendships that I had, I felt lonely.

One day,  the Lord spoke right into my heart. "Friendships lose their quality when you have too much quantity."

Gulp.

He was so right.

From that moment on, I asked Him to filter out friendships that were not right for me at that time, or that I was just hanging on to for "quantity".

The friendships that were left became fuller, deeper, sweeter, and more meaningful.

Less ended up being much, much more.

Jesus was able to establish His work here on Earth, because He left it in the hands of very few.

Those few changed the world.

Those few spread the gospel to many nations.

Those few are still spreading the gospel to many nations--two thousand years later.

I encourage you today, to lose the crowd-pleaser mentality. There is no fruit there. No everlasting value.

Focus on the few.

Those few will be impacted greatly because you were able to pour more into them. You won't have to spread yourself paper thin by being at the mercy of a big crowd.

"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve"
Colossians 3:23-24



less really is more,


jill

Jun 16, 2014

Look Who's Talking.....

Reading Plan: The Book of Matthew
June Memory Chunk: Psalm 23
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30


Sometimes we just need a reminder of who Jesus is. This verse sums it right up.

He is gentle, and humble in heart. He is rest. He is easy. He is light.

Why is it that we make Him out to be so complicated and hard to figure out?

Why do we make it seem like He is so hard to follow?

Really, He's not complicated. We just twist Him all up in our heads sometimes, and get really confused.

We see things, we listen to things, we read things that are contrary to His Words, and it confuses us. 

I was just telling my friend the other night that the reason it is important that we KNOW God's Word, is so that we will not be deceived with false teaching. We get a lot of things thrown at us on a daily basis, and we must be careful to filter it through the Word of God.
 
 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves" Matthew 7:15

Over time, this false information builds up in our brains, and we slowly turn away from Truth.

We begin to justify things, because well, everyone else seems to be doing the same thing.

My children are notorious at this. They often try to "explain" their way out of trouble by giving me the reasons "why" they had to do what they did.

I always stop them and say, "Did you do this? Yes or no."

The back story is not important, it's our actions that tell the story.

We try desperately to defend our guilt, when really it doesn't change the outcome of our action.

All of this takes a lot of work!

Defending our crime is exhausting.

"Come to me all who are weary and burdened..."

Can I add exhausted too?

I'm not sure about you, but I can get downright weary and burdened. A lot.

Much of our weariness comes from listening to the wrong voice.

A very good friend and mentor gave me a piece of paper one day as I met with her.

This is what it said:

God's Voice:
Stills you
Leads you
Reassures you
Enlightens you
Encourages you
Comforts you
Calms you

Satan's Voice:
Rushes you
Pushes you
Frightens you
Confuses you
Discourages you
Worries you
Obsesses you

I will just be honest and tell you that I heard Satan's voice a lot last week! I heard every single one of the accusations on that list. Every last one.

You know how it left me feeling? Weary, burdened, exhausted, stressed, difficult, and confused.

We have to be in tune with God's Voice, so that we can be crystal clear when it's the enemy speaking.

If you are confused, discouraged, worried, obsessed, frightened, fearful, rushed, pushed....

You are hearing the wrong voice.

We can go through trials and still hear God's Voice. We can go through trials and still feel His calm, peace, reassurance, and stillness.

Read Psalm 23 again. And again. And again.

Memorize it.

Get familiar with God's voice, and you will be sharply keen when it's NOT His voice you are hearing.

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.




guarding my ears,

jill


***Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you! ;)


Jun 13, 2014

Stop the bleeding......

Reading Plan: The Book of Matthew
June Memory Chunk: Psalm 23
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

It's Friday, and officially the end of the second week of our Matthew study.

Today, we check in.

How are y'all?

Are you soaking in the book of Matthew? I sure hope so.

Isn't amazing what God shows us when we slow down and smell the roses in His Word?

This is kind of new territory for me. Not having a set daily reading. Just reading along, taking notes, underlining, and praying as I go.

It feels less forced. Less pushed.

I sure hope you feel the same way. It feels good knowing we have the entire month of June to finish up this book . We will definitely need the whole month.

If I am honest, this is the kind of bible study I dream about. Truly.

I have done so many countless bible studies, and I have loved them all. However, I really like to go at my own pace. Letting God teach me as I go.

The topping on the cake is to be able to teach you girls what He teaches me. It is so awesome to be able to share with you what He shows me in His Word. It's more than awesome, it is an absolute privilege. One that I never take for granted and will always be forever at a loss for why He has entrusted this to me.  Truly.

He is also teaching you. He is teaching you every word you read. Every page in His Word you devour, you are changing. Being molded. Day by precious day, your spirit is being refined.

You cannot read God's Word and not be changed. It is impossible.

Can I let you in on a little secret?

Our faith increases the more we get to know Him in His Word and through prayer.

Why is it important that our faith increase?

Hmm, let's see.

Matthew 8:10   Now when Jesus heard {this,} He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.

Matthew 9:2     And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew 9:22     But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.

Matthew 9:29     Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.”

Matthew 15:28    Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.

Matthew 17:20   And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

Matthew 21:21     And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.


Do you see a pattern here?

Our faith is a big deal. HUGE.

Without faith, we are lifeless. Without faith, we will not fulfill our God-given purpose and destiny.

Go with me to Chapter 9 of Matthew, verses 18-22.

18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

What would happen in our lives if we had this kind of faith?

This bleeding woman wasn't even looking for a word from Jesus, a touch from Him, or even eye contact.

She believed {by faith}, that just by touching his cloak, she would be healed.

Girls, we are the bleeding women. We are desperate for healing.

The only thing keeping us from being healed is our faith.

We often say we believe. But, do we believe like this woman?

This woman really had no reason to have faith. She had been bleeding for 12 years!

How long have you been bleeding?

Has it been longer than 12 years? Or maybe you just started to bleed and it feels like it will take your life any day?

Without the bleeding, there would be no need for healing.

Without the bleeding, her faith would not have a chance to be activated and set forth.

Without the bleeding, she would never have hungered to touch the hem of His garment.

Without the bleeding, she would have missed Jesus.

Oh, girls! Are you getting this?

What does touching His cloak look like today?

We have the opportunity to touch His cloak every single day. We don't have to search for Him on a mountainside or in a crowded city.

His Presence dwells within us when we received Him as our Lord and Savior.

"Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself" 1 Corinthians 6:19

So, if we have access to His cloak daily, this means the only thing separating us from true healing, is our faith.

We can touch His garment all day long, but if we don't believe He can heal us, then it's pointless.

How do we get more faith?

We ask Him.

I ask daily for more faith! I beg Him to shower me with faith.

Also, we receive more faith when we get to know Him.

In His Word. In prayer.

Do you have faith in a stranger babysitting your children? Absolutely not.

Faith comes when we know someone. When we take the time to know them well.

We begin to trust, and our faith grows.

From this day on, I want you to underline the word faith in your bible when you come across it. I want you to be reminded that faith is the key to your healing. To your relationship with Christ. To everything.

Luke 8:48:  And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”



reaching for His cloak,


jill

Jun 12, 2014

Prayer is the answer...

Reading Plan: The Book of Matthew
June Memory Chunk: Psalm 23
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.
 
Prayer is the answer to everything
by: Lisa Torino
 
I am so blessed to have been asked to share what God has laid on my heart with you all!  I am totally intimidated by the prospect of little ole me writing something, but I KNOW that it will be God speaking through me. 

A quick thank you to Jill for all that you are to me and so many others. ;)
I am basically a toddler as a Christian. My spiritual birthday is September 25, 2011 and although I grew up in the church, I never fully wanted to commit to Jesus. For years I hungered for a relationship w Jesus, but I did not commit my life to Him.  As many of you have experienced, it took being at my lowest point to say I was finished with how I was living my life. Reading God's Word has opened my eyes to His faithfulness and grace.  Tackling Matthew has been different this time around because as I continue to grow as a Christian, God will show me more or something new each time I read it. 
 
As I have progressed in our reading in Matthew, I find myself going back to chapter 5 and one verse continues to speak to me.  

Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

I would like to share with you what God has been showing me through this verse.  Let me tell you the first word that comes to mind when I read this verse, PRAYER. In the past year, God has shown me the extraordinary power of prayer.  I personally believe that there is little stronger than a mother's prayer.  My mother prayed for 33 years for my salvation.  It was unending and the Lord continues to bless her for her prayers.  

For years, I yearned for that closeness (what I affectionately call in the nook Christ's arm) with Him. I was able to get there through praying and seeking Him daily.  Praying for dependence on His word. Praying for the absolute need to pray in the morning and throughout my day.  Jill can attest to this, but I struggled with my quiet time.  My relationship with Him was so-so. I would walk that line with Him.  Give Him time when it was convenient for me. All along, not feeling fulfilled in my walk. I had to "hunger and thirst" for my relationship with Christ. I began by asking God to fill me with such an overwhelming need to pray and read the Word. I spent so much time praying about this particular matter that it seemed to happen on its own, but you and I really know that the author and perfecter of our faith used this time in prayer to draw me closer to Him. I have expanded my prayer to the ones closest to me.  Daily I pray for my husband, my daughter, for their safety throughout their day.  Their salvation.  I pray that I can be the light for them.  That when see me, they see Jesus.  

Romans 5:19 "For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinner, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous."

Ladies, we can change our little worlds by being hungry and thirsty for Him.  God will quench the thirst of those who desire Him. The woman at the well with whom Jesus spoke to had been married five times and was living with a man who not her husband, yet Jesus spoke to her about being thirsty.  (John 4:14)  We all have a desire deep down that only God is meant to fulfill.  If we go looking in other areas, we will never be satisfied.  

If you have something missing in your walk with Him, my hope is that you will seek Him in prayer. Prayer is always the answer. 

Psalm 107:9 "For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things."

I am no Bible scholar.  I am just like you.  I stumble in my walk, but I also am picked back up by Him.  No matter where I am, He is with me. If He isn't with you, He can be.  I am praying you will be hungry for Him.  Seek Him in prayer.  He is there, always has been.  

Have a beautiful day my sisters in Christ!
 
Lisa Torino
 
Lisa and her beautiful family
 

Jun 10, 2014

Meet me at the gate.....

Reading Plan: The Book of Matthew
June Memory Chunk: Psalm 23
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

One of the first sermons that we read about Jesus preaching in the book of Matthew is the Sermon on the Mount. It is by far the most famous and well known sermon ever preached.

Well, of course it is. It is preached by Jesus, Himself.

Can you imaging being there? Sitting at the feet of Jesus, soaking up His every word?

I imagine the people crowded around Jesus were hungry, starving, thirsty....but not for food or water.

But for Bread. The Bread of Life.

"For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
John 6:33

Jesus teaches on subject after subject, as the people are amazed at His words.

I want to be there. I desperately want to be on the side of that mountain, listening to Jesus speak.

One day, I will be. One day, we all will be.

In the meantime, He instructs us how to live here on earth. He instructs us, directs us, teaches us.

Yet, we go our own way. Don't we?

We choose to rebel against His words at times.

The world scoffs at His words.

The world says, "Take care of yourself. Put yourself first. Don't let anyone get in your way."

Jesus says, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Matthew 5:5

The world says, "If someone hurts you, hurt them back. Don't be a fool and forgive them, punish them. Turn your back on them."

Jesus says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9

As you study the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5-7 this month, ask God to speak to you. Ask God to show you where you struggle with His teachings.

His way goes against the grain of this world. It always will.

Our flesh goes against the grain of His way. It always will.

We must know His Word, so we will know His way.

Here is the irony of our flesh desiring to go our own way...

It never works out.

Ever.

Every time we fall victim to our fleshly desires....anger, bitterness, short-temperedness, hatred, prejudice, addictions of any kind, lust, gossip, gluttony....

We lose.

Every single time.

I know, because I have been there.

Our flesh will always lead us astray. It will get us into such messes that we don't know up from down, left from right, inside from outside.

Have you been there?

Yes, me too.

Many times.

However, we are now better equipped.

We know the right way to go, because Jesus teaches us. Right smack dab in the middle of the book of Matthew.

Does it mean it is easy to follow His way? Not always.

However, it will always work out in our favor when we follow His way. He knows this, that's why He teaches us.

 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

The narrow gate is a lot less crowded.

I'm so glad. Crowds were never my thing.

How about you?

Will you join me at the narrow gate?

The wide gate is overrated. Too many people, and the ending always disappoints.


looking for the narrow gate,


jill



Jun 6, 2014

Don't lie to me....

Reading Plan: The Book of Matthew
June Memory Chunk: Psalm 23
Prayer Requests go here.
New to SHINE? Go here.

The Book of Matthew is rocking my world. In ways that I never dreamed!

I'm stuck on chapter 4. Not stuck in a bad way, but stuck in a way that is reshaping my heart and my mind. Stuck in a way that means I am entrenched in the best way possible, and I am not ready to move on.

I have read this chapter before, perhaps several times over the last couple of years. However, as always, He is showing me something new. Something I didn't see before. His Word is breathing, it's alive, remember?

In this 4th chapter of Matthew verses 1-4 it reads:  "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
Jesus answered, "It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

The last sentence of that scripture context is what stops me in my tracks. "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

THIS is the reason we do this, girls. THIS is why we are studying scripture together. THIS is why we are taking our time, reading God's Word, discussing God's Word, learning God's Word, absorbing God's Word.

We are to live on "every word that comes from the mouth of God".

Wow!

Imagine how lives would change. Imagine your life and the life of your loved ones. If only.....we lived on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Where do we find these words?

In HIS WORD.

The next part of this scripture is what really gets my heart pumping.


Matthew 4:5-7:
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’" Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
 
I have to be honest and tell you something here.
 
This very verse is the reason we are doing this study together.
 
A few weeks ago, I was already in the book of Matthew, before I brought you all along on this new journey.
 
As soon as I read this scripture, the Lord showed me something so clear and so transparent. It all but slapped me in the face. Perhaps it did!
 
Satan knows scripture better than we do. He knows God's Word front, back, behind, below, inside, and outside.
 
The enemy is so atrocious in nature, that he will try his best to trip us up with God's Word.
 
Have you ever heard someone quote a scripture way out of context and you knew immediately that they were very, very off? You knew immediately that they were twisting it and distorting it to make it sound like a defense for a certain behavior?
 
Satan does the same thing to us.
 
Girls, we must know God's Word so well that we don't fall for this trick of the enemy's again.
 
When the enemy tried to trip Jesus up in the wilderness, Jesus immediately quoted the Word right back to him. Jesus knew the enemy's scheme, and He wasn't falling for it.
 
Jesus didn't know God's Word just for academic sake, He knew God's Word because He loved it. He absorbed it. He craved it. He hungered for it.
 
 
Jesus read the Word faithfully, gaining wisdom and knowledge with each word by precious word He read.
 
If you aren't sure why or how you landed right smack in the middle of this study with us, please allow me to give you one suggestion.....
 
God desires you to know Him. Deeply.
 
God desires you to know His Son, Jesus. Intimately.
 
When we know Him, we don't fall so quickly for the enemy's schemes. We become wiser. We become equipped for those darts the enemy throws.
 
As we know from reading a few more lines down from the enemy testing and tempting Jesus, Jesus prevailed. Jesus defeated that wily enemy with a bang.
 
v.11"Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him."
 
Let me leave you with one last thought before you get your sweet nose back in the Word today....
 
The very next subtitle of scripture after Jesus' testing in the wilderness states: "Jesus begins to Preach".
 
Jesus's ministry began.
 
This shows us that quite often out of our greatest testing and temptation come our greatest fruit and victories.
 
A lot of the time, our life purpose starts falling into place after a time of attack or hardship. The clouds part and we see clearly. Vividly clear.
 
Almost every victory and awakening I have ever had in my life, came just after a deep and dark time in the valley. The deeper and darker the valley, the sweeter and greater the victory.
 
We must not give up in these valleys. If we stay strong, stay faithful, stay prayerful, stay in God's Word, we will overcome. Victoriously.
 
The enemy will tell you that you're finished. You're done. You're worthless. You will never recover from this. You're life is over.
 
Lies, lies, lies, and more lies.
 
What if Jesus would have fallen for the enemy's lies? What if Jesus would not have known God's Word and fell for the enemy using God's Word against him?
 
I cannot even fathom.
 
Thank goodness He didn't.
 
I wonder what's around the corner of your valley. I wonder what life changing plans the Lord has for you after you come out of your deepest valley.
 
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16
 
I can see you shining from here.
 
It's a beautiful sight.
 
 
soaking up Matthew,
 
 
jill
 
 
 
 
 
 

Jun 4, 2014

A Not-So Perfect Past.....

Reading Plan: The Book of Matthew
June Memory Chunk: Psalm 23
Prayer Requests go here.

Hello, friends! Welcome to Bible study! Grab some coffee, a blanket, whatever floats your sweet little boat. This is 2014, and we can have a grand ol' time in an online bible study. Who knew?

Computers aren't that bad after all, right? We can study, learn, share, encourage....right in the comfort of our surroundings. {be glad you cannot see me today, you may run for your lives!}

Invite a friend (or two or twenty) along and discuss our reading together. Amazing things happen when our conversations turn to the Bible.

So, let's dive right on in.

Some of you may have already read the book of Matthew one thousand times. Others of you, this may be your first.

In either case, get ready for God to talk to you.

The Bible says: "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

This scripture translates to: IT'S ALIVE! His Word is Alive!

Because it is alive, each time we read it,  God breathes Truth into us.

Hello, isn't that incredible?

Our new plan starts in Matthew, because the book of Matthew is the first to introduce Jesus.

Jesus is the foundation of Christianity.

If you are a Christian, you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, sent from Heaven, to die on a cross and save us from all of our sins.

THIS is where life begins.

THIS is where the old life is dead and the new life begins.

 I am not sure about you, but this gives me HOPE. My old life was not pretty. My old life was dead.

Before Jesus transformed my heart, I was useless. Absolutely worthless.

There was no fruit in my life. Nothing that would outlive me if I were to have died.

Since Jesus made His home in my heart, and I have let Him have His way, my life is finally ALIVE. My prayer is that my life will bear fruit long after I am gone.

"This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:8

Back to Matthew....

Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. You may have skipped right over this part because it looks, well....boring.

Oh, but hang on, don't miss this!

If you trace Jesus' roots, you will find some very exciting things.

Besides coming from a royal lineage including David, Solomon, and many others....

Jesus came from a prostitute, Rahab, and an adulterer, Bathsheba.

Did I just get your attention?

In my heart, this gives me hope! This gives me major hope.

My line has not been that glorious. My line goes back to adultery, divorce, murder (yes, murder), alcoholism, addictions, molestation, and much much more.

God doesn't have to have a perfect line to create something GREAT.

 God doesn't have to have a perfect line to create something GLORIOUS.

The life of Jesus is living proof of this.

Did I just hear you breathe a sigh of relief?

Me too.

Can I just reaffirm this in scripture for you?

"But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9

He called YOU out of darkness into His wonderful light. If I were speaking to you now, you would see my eyes filled with tears, my speech at a whisper. It's almost too much to take in. His love for you. His plan for you.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

 

Oh, girls, I have 4 pages of notes just on the first 3 chapters of Matthew. Not only that, but this post just covers the first chapter. Oh my.

I will stop here.

I have a feeling many of you need reminding of your heritage today. Many of you need affirmation of who you are in Christ.

Regardless of who you are, what you have done, what your family history shows...

You belong to Christ.

You are a royal priest, clothed in beauty.

"I have received the gift of righteousness and reign as a king in life by Jesus Christ" Romans 5:17

"I am holy and without blame before Him in love" Ephesians 1:4

"I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood" Ephesians 1:7

If you haven't given your life to Christ, I urge you today to let Him reside in your heart. Ask Him to take over that precious heart of yours, and see what happens! A life given to Christ, is a life that is alive. A life that will bear fruit long after your heart beats its last rhythmic beat.

I am praying for you, each and every beautiful one of you. May the Lord wrap you up in His loving arms as you inhale the aroma of His Faithfulness, Goodness, and Love.

Keep reading the book of Matthew. Let's uncover some more treasures, shall we?


digging deep,


jill





Jun 2, 2014

Where You go, I'll go........

It is with such great anticipation and excitement that I write to you precious girls today.

My heart feels like it will literally burst!

God is moving us in a new direction, SHINE girls. A direction that He has been stirring my heart with for months.

Since last October, I have felt the Lord moving. My spirit has been restless since that time.

As you know, at the end of last Fall, I took a break from writing. God was prompting me to rest.

So, I did.

However, during that time, I had the sweetest communion with Him. He taught me so much as my world was quiet.

One of the verses that He showed me over and over was "For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." Isaiah 43:19

Since January, I have been asking the Lord to direct my path. Show me what this new thing is, Lord. Lead, and I will follow.

I wanted to be like the scribe who told Jesus in Matthew 8:19 "Teacher, I will follow you, wherever you go."

After much much much prayer over the last several months.... did I say much? Yes, I meant much. :)

SHINE girls will be doing things a little different.

We will be pulling away from the reading plan we have been on for the past 2 1/2 years and beginning a new study.

Each month we will study a book of the bible in depth. No daily reading plan, more of a "read on your own plan".

You can read at your own pace. Some days you may read 8 chapters in a day, some days you may read one.

The heart behind this new plan is to get to know God's word more in depth. I want us to be so familiar with His Word that it becomes a part of our DNA, girls.

We cannot become familiar unless we spend more time in each chapter. We must dig deeper, we must absorb His Life-giving Word.

Each week, I will teach from the book that we are reading. Each week, we will learn more and more about how His Word relates to us---in our day to day lives.

We are ready for solid food, girls. We are ready for the Lord to feed us the meat of His Word. I don't know about you, but I am craving some meat.

If you want to be a nerd like me, go and get a new notebook to take notes in from our reading. Each time we start a new book of the Bible, get a new notebook and you will have a collection of your notes!

Yes, nerdy, I know. ;)

Another change will be our weekly memory verse.

We will now be doing a monthly memory chunk.

At the beginning of each month, I will give you a chunk of scripture to memorize. You will be amazed at how much scripture you will learn by this! I believe it is more effective than short memory verses.

You can print out the memory chunk and stick it in your new nerdy notebook. :)

Are you excited?!

Me too!!!

Let's do this, girls!

Let's follow the path the Lord has clearly marked for us as we draw closer to Him.

As we study His Word deeply, we begin to know His Character. We begin to know His Heart. We begin to change.

The month of June we will be studying......

The Book of Matthew.


Our Memory Chunk for June will be:

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.



See you in the book of Matthew, girls!


He leads, we follow,

jill