Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TRY AGAIN

Romans 5:1-5                                                                                                             Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
“Easy to Assemble”... that’s what the box said in bold print, so I bought it over another brand that didn’t claim the same. There was no mention in that bold lettering about the bag of tiny parts I found inside which required me to find a pair of glasses strong enough to see what they were...let alone know how to use them as they were designed to be! 
Yikes! When will I ever learn... “Nothing’s easy”... especially when it’s unfamiliar...and especially when it requires me to try the same thing more than once or twice to accomplish it. I’m really drawn to “easy”... I think most people are. 
The truth is; I like easy so much that I too often set myself up for disappointment and even failure when I open those boxes of challenging situations or difficult relationships. As it sits in my lap, I see that small bag of “parts that must be used” and moan as I realize I must “put on my stronger glasses” and pursue what God has for me in it. 
I have found “easy” is not always best... and “best” is not very often easy! Yet... what great peace and comfort I have discovered when I respond to life’s trials with the desire to “assemble” all the pieces that I have been handed with the guidance of God’s Word. I know I can trust that the finished product (me) will one day be completed. Glory!
So... if you are facing one struggle after another and your feeling tired and even overwhelmed by what you are being asked to do...try again...and also try responding as Peter did to Jesus after a long night of casting nets and catching no fish... 

Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5 (Emphasis mine)

Giving God my best in a situation or relationship doesn’t always produce the results I was expecting. Most often... I get so much more than I ever dreamed.

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats... Luke 6-7a
Praying you have a “boat-load” of encouragement from knowing that there is no shame in God’s mercy and grace as He leads us to “Try Again”...
Kathy

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Comfort Zone

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”    ~ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Old and Young ~ Rich and Poor ~Successful and Failed again ~ Ambitious and Not interested ~ Believer and Seeker....
No matter what your currently life situation is ... We all have a place we retreat to when life either is offering or confronting us with something we do not have an instant liking to or an instant “I can do that” response! Our Comfort Zone”!
In the past when I felt the Lord was leading me towards a new uncharted opportunity that seemed too big for me or that I didn’t feel qualified for, I didn’t walk ... I ran straight to my “comfort Zone” and screamed, “Not me”!
If you could place in a big box all the things that you feel would be found in your “comfort zone”, it might look a bit like mine.... 
~Only asked to do the things I already like and know how to do well. ~ Only work with people I know and like and get along with. ~ Everything asked of me comes naturally and is easy or takes little to no effort. ~ Healthy, no illnesses or afflictions for me or anyone I care about. ~ Plenty of money. No “surprise” bills.
Funny thing about our “Comfort Zone”. If you’re like me...you tend to think of it as a place of safety and a place to find rest and even peace. But is it really? I think you will find along side of each piece of “comfort” something else is attached to it as well...
~While “doing” the things that I like to do and that come easy and naturally I still get frustrated? How does that happen? ~ While I work along side of good friends I sometimes need more from them then they seem willing to give... disappointment and emotional fatigue begins to set in. ~ The doctor tells me I’m healthy so why does my head ache and my back hurt? I feel pain. Family and friends may have no serious health problems so why don’t they all have more energy? We’re all feeling so tired...discouraged even. ~ I have more than enough money to pay my current bills...but will I have enough as the cost of everything rises? Future money concerns have me feeing anxious and stressed
Yikes! I’m not feeling all that comfortable in my “comfort zone”! 
God did not create us to remain infants. I’m pretty confident if you’re breathing, you’re in a constant state of change! We are actually “wired for change.” 
We don’t have to look further than modern technology to see how fast our world is changing. No sooner do we buy the latest smart phone or computer and something better and faster comes on the market. Aren’t you glad we are not still using the phones and computers from years past?
I don’t even have to understand how these gadgets work to use them properly.The designer does all the hard internal work... all I have to do is agree to partner with him by following the directions. I am then enabled to obtain far greater knowledge and accomplish so much more than I ever could on my own.
We can resist the changes God brings into our lives...but why? What has indeed been  “good enough” yesterday is what has prepared us for our “even better” today...which leads us to God’s “better still” for tomorrow. 
Our God has already done all the hard work...He has also prepared us in advance (even if we don't think were ready) for what He is calling us to do. We don’t have to know how it will work out...we can just trust that not only will God’s Plan prevail...but that He will bless us and bring us success ...all for the Glory of God!
Why would you want to keep a “comfort zone” that is full of glitches and disconnects you from the abundance of God? Get connected and upgrade your “Comfort Zone” to Jesus...I’m willing to find my comfort zone in Christ...are you?
 “...because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”Genesis 39:23b (NIV)
Kathy

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Diluted Devotion

Psalm 119:71-75 (NIV)
It was good for me to be afflicted
   so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me
   than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Your hands made me and formed me;
   give me understanding to learn your commands.
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me,
   for I have put my hope in your word.
I know, LORD, that your laws are righteous,
   and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
I recently read in one of my bible studies this statement; “If Satan cannot destroy God’s people he often settles for the next best option; he will try to dilute their commitment to God.”
At first I thought ~ OK... maybe that was something Satan was able to accomplish in the past with me, but Hey.... I’ve traveled a long distance away from my former “worldly- self” with Jesus, and there is no way Satan is going to be able to ever entice me again with anything he can offer! Nope...not possible. So I decided to sit down at my computer this morning and write about this very subject! 
Yikes! The first thing I saw as I entered my office was that my new computer screen was “lit up” but there were no images on it! Well that’s not right... So I giggled this and pushed that and still....nothing. As I decided to unplug it (yeah I know...you’re not suppose to unplug a computer before turning it off...) I began to feel upset since this computer is new and this is not suppose to happen. My thoughts raced to disgust as I also began to wonder if I will be without my computer if it needs repaired....how long will that take?  That thought really upset me as I rushed back to my first thought which was “this isn’t suppose to happen to a new computer”! Suddenly my beautiful song of victory I was humming as I entered my office quickly changed tunes from “I am woman hear me roar ~ of God” into “I am woman hear me roar ~ of the world.”
Well...after the unplugging and re-plugging, my computer instantly came on. “Praise the Lord’ I said out loud, as I sat down in front of my computer.... ‘now I’m ready to write...”
My first thoughts went to Peter who told Jesus;But Peter said to Him, Even if they all fall away and are caused to stumble and distrust and desert You, yet I will not [do so]”! Mark 14:29 (Amplified Bible).

I think what I love the most about how God loves me is that He never gives up on me. Jesus knows exactly where my weaknesses are and in His protective care he will allow Satan and my sin nature to expose my worldly attitudes to my eyes and heart so that I can better see which path my feet are walking on. I can choose either the path of this world that may indeed lead to temporary pleasures but also great distress without hope...or choose the Path that leads to the Savior’s arms and eternal life with Him in heaven. Satan will attack my resolve to never stumble and tempt me with trusting “what seems right and good”...but God is faithful even when I am not. 
 "People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy".~ Proverbs 28:13 (NLT)
Dear Lord, Thank you for your mercy and grace...your love. Thank you for the example of Peter so that I may be encouraged by his example. I have stumbled and my devotion to you get’s diluted with my devotion to me. I pray that like Peter, I too will surrender my ways to Yours. This life is not my own and this world is not my home. Praise God! Increase my faith so that I will live each day fully devoted to Jesus. ~ Amen
Kathy

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Divine Interruptions

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. ~ Philippians 3:7 NLT
I’m not very graceful. I tripped and stumbled so often as a child that when I was about 12 or 13 years old my mom even enrolled me in several classes that taught young girls how to properly and gracefully sit, stand...and walk! I may have gained some much needed skills way back when... but unfortunately I can still trip over the tiniest pebble as easily as the sizable stone to this day! Perhaps the clumsiness of my feet is due more to my “unawareness”  of where I’m walking than just my being unable to walk without stumbling.
I use to live my life the same way I use to walk as a child ~ not really paying attention and even unaware of what was right under my nose. I also wanted life to be smooth and easy without any ‘trip ups”. I was easily thrown off my feet by the unexpected changes to “my plans”.
Life. Who has a life that is not filled with the unexpected change to their plans?  Who lives a life that is not challenged by the need to adjust and change their focus to what is needed “right now”? 
Sadly, I have too often chosen to put on a big pair of rose-colored glasses...
sometimes even blinders... so I can either shade or completely block out the “stuff” I don’t want to see or possibly be asked to deal with. This “defensive” tool seems to have allowed me to see only a shadow of and at times even run away from people and circumstances that I saw as an unwanted interruption to my day ~to my life! Instead of seeing the interruption as coming from God and His desire for me to respond with His leading... I resented them.

I became very adept at dodging the people and circumstances that God intended for me to encounter....not understanding that God was giving me these things in answer to my long sought prayers to Him! “Lord” I prayed... “Help me to know You more” ~ “Love You more” ~ “ Trust You more” and to be “With me Lord always, so that I may be so bold one day as to say to You ‘Send me’ and be used by You for Your glory”. (Isaiah 6:8)
While I had been avoiding and resenting...even fearing “today’s” interruptions...I also was tripping over and miss seeing God’s love and blessing He had given to me "in it" for this day! 
I’m not very graceful...but God is full of grace for me. Far from having perfected my "walk" at least now my feet today are a bit more steady.
“Dear Lord,
Forgive my narrow thinking - my selfish attitude. I desire to be re-molded by the only One I trust to reshape my heart and give sight to my eyes. Protect me from stumbling as I trust You never will lead me where You have not also prepared for me to go. I know in asking this, I will be given opportunities that will change the direction of “my plans” ...but Lord, thank you....for how blessed am I that you would even choose me to be a part of a Divine interruption.”
I pray you too will accept God’s grace filled invitation to join Him in His work today.
Kathy