Praising God for 72 hours.

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Psalm 146:1-2 (ESV)

In my circle of friends I have one that is going through some changes and she asked for prayer. Prayers were offered but then a suggestion was made that worked for one friend. She suggested not praying or complaining (I added the complaining part-our complaints are really needs disguised) for anything for 24, 48 or 72 hours. Instead she was challenged to turn her thoughts to simply praising God. Challenge was accepted and several us have joined, shoulder to shoulder, with her in praising God for 72 hours.

It sounded like a great idea as I walked out, in the brisk 38 degree temps, to feed and water our chicken. I praised and thanked God for protecting them from the cold temps and nightly predators.

I praised and thanked him for hot coffee and a warm home.

Then I sat down to the pile of prayer requests that I promised to pray over every day. What to do-I committed to no prayers but committed to pray-that was my dilemma.

Then I was reminded of Jeremiah 29:11-13(ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He knows our story yesterday, today and tomorrow. He knows when we will fly right and when we will stumble. He knows what we need before we even utter the request.

So what is the answer to my dilemma? To go through each pray request and praise and thank God for answering each request before the person sees the physical manifestation of their answer to their pray need.

Praise God for each person I pray for daily.

Praise God for meeting their need.

Praise God in their long wait for an unanswered prayer.

Praise God when it seems their answer is impossible.

Praise God when the answer will be different then what they wanted.

So that solved the prayer issue-I went through each one and praised God for that person and meeting their needs,

I’m also turning my complaining to Praise. My house is a mess, medical issues have made cleaning a challenge but today I choose to praise God for the mess and thank him for it.

It was super cold when I went out to feed the chickens-I praised God for the brisk morning air.

I’m having surgery on the day before Thanksgiving and being released on Thanksgiving and I am praising God there was a cancelation and I don’t need to wait until late December.

I am praising God that we had already decided to move Thanksgiving to the Sunday before-funny how God knows our need before we do.

When we turn our lives to one of praise a wondrous thing happens. We forget our needs and are filled with Joy. It’s only the first day and I am feeling the blessing of joy in my heart and a lightness in my step.

In Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) we are told:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

Trusting God with all our hearts and leaning not on our own understanding means we trust him to answers our prayers in the best way for us, even when the answers don’t make sense to us. I can’t acknowledge God without praising Him. I am thankful he makes my path straight.

I praise you Lord today for this challenge, for opening my eyes to my need to turn my neediness to praising and put my trust in you as I join my sisters in this challenge.

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Count it all joy…..

Every December I spend time seeking God for what my focus should be for the coming year. One year it was trust, another believe, then my focus shifted from a single word to several scripture verses. Proverbs 3:5-6 were the verses for 2017 and believe me there were times I needed to lean into those words or I would have been crushed by circumstances.

This past December I once again spent time in prayer and these were the verses I was given:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.                                        James 1:2-4 ESV

This definitely has been a year of continually saying…..I am counting it all joy……as many things have come my way, and continue to come my way and also to my husband.

Continual oral pain that has radiated to my jaw, ear and eye.

Complete knee replacement surgery to replace the partial knee replacement I had 10 months prior.

Very painful and slow healing of my knee

Bill’s several cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Bronchitis for me and Pneumonia for Bill

A virus for Bill and I this past week

The medicine for the jaw pain (Trigeminal Neuralgia)that is $7/month this year, will be $100/month next year

to name a few….

Lots to deal with and now, yesterday, in a freak accident, I fell twisting my back, landing on my new knee, both hips, the other knee, somehow cutting my left foot UNDER my shoe and jamming my right hand. Seriously some days I want to say enough is enough.

and then I remember….

I count it all joy, my brothers, when I meet trials of various kinds. I do so because it’s during these trials that I draw ever closer to my Jesus.

I have made the mistake of saying the enemy is attacking us but the truth is we live in a fallen world. In this fallen world we will face many trials. My peace comes from Jesus.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

It is what we do in those trials that makes the difference. Do we say “why me?” or do we keep our eyes on Jesus and walk through those trials knowing we are not alone. I would love to say that I do the latter all the time but, sadly, I fall short. I allow temporary pain to keep me from eternal gain. I’m pretty sure that is why James 1:2-4 are my verses this year. I am improving. I stop, take a deep breath and acknowledge that there is purpose in this journey.

God may reveal the purpose to me here or in eternity but one thing I know for sure God will be glorified in this journey if….I count it all joy as I meet these trials.

Do I enjoy these trials every minute of every day? No, to enjoy is a temporary feeling, to live with joy is a daily choice and today, despite the pain, I CHOOSE joy

Heavenly Father, Help us to keep our eyes on you and not our circumstances. Grant us peace and joy knowing you are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, you know the plans you have for us and they are for our good. You are our good, good God. Forgive us, Lord, when we shift our eyes from eternity to the temporary. In Jesus name, Amen

Honoring God-Part 1

Honoring God in our bodies-His temple

This weeks blog is the first of a 4 part series on Honoring God in our lives.

I have been through some physical challenges in the last two years, three major surgeries and a low immune system, that have caused me to gain 15-20 lbs. In all honesty, I have struggled with my weight since the late 80’s, when I was in an abusive relationship and gained about 50 lbs. I think I was using food to hide behind and camouflage my feelings. These last 20 lbs, though, are totally from inactivity and poor eating habits. I don’t binge eat anything, just don’t make the best choices in what I put into my mouth. My weight is affecting everything. I get out of breath easily, have trouble reaching my feet to put on my socks and shoes, and makes simple hygiene habits an aerobic activity.

A couple of weeks ago I was spending my quiet time outside and I felt over whelming conviction about my weight. I picked up one of the devotionals I read “The Word for Today” and since I missed reading the day before I turned to that page. The title jumped off the page. How could the writer have known? The words I read were:

Glorify God in your body” I Corinthians 6:20

followed by

“CHANGE YOUR DIET”

How in the world did this writer know my need. He didn’t but God knew and so, long before I needed it, He laid it upon this writers heart to write this devotion for this particular day.

In the devotion the writer shares that he had a health crisis and was confused why he, a Pastor, who believes in the mighty healing power of Jesus, could come to this crisis. Then he remembered all the warnings the Dr had given him that he ignored. He went on to share that we know tobacco and alcohol can kill but so can food and the church is silent about it. In fact, if I might add, we encourage over eating with our doughnuts at coffee hour and over flowing counters of tasty goodness at our monthly potlucks. He sighted Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:19-20(NKJV) where Paul states:

“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”

We have a choice what we put into our bodies but are our choices honoring God who dwells in us? Mine sure have not!! So what to do about this? I am a recovering over thinker. I tend to think so much I am paralyzed into no action. I have several friends on the KETO Diet and it’s working well for them but I just didn’t feel good about eliminating entire food groups from my diet. I have another friend that is doing a MLM plan and is getting great results. I spoke to her about it and she gave me samples to try but the more I thought about it, the more I wasn’t sure this was for me. I prayed for God to give me wisdom and clarity and ,clearly, I got this answer:

“This is a great product but it’s not for you. Do you trust me to guide you in this journey? Together, we have this.”

So I am not going to try this product and instead, consciously and with Holy Spirit guidance, make better choices in reference to what goes in my mouth, as well as, what comes out of my mouth. We have a choice. God loves us that much and it’s up to us to honor God with our choices.

1 Corinthians 6:12 states:

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.

I seek to live a life that is not enslaved by anything, specially food, and will seek God, so that, I honor the temple that is within me through the Holy Spirit. Will this be a bit harder than popping a pill, drinking a shake and putting a patch on, you bet it will, but it will also be so worth it as I draw closer to my Savior with every “no thank you” I utter and every morsel that passes my lips.

I pray for our chickens!

You read that correctly. I pray for our chickens, every night, and in the morning thank God for protecting them from predators. In fact, I walk around their night house and then the pen, every night, praying for their protection.

Philippians 4:6 says:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be know to God.

I am a thinker, honestly, an over thinker. Can I get a “me too”? I can over think something to the point that I am paralyzed and do not move forward. Our chickens are just one area I got stuck with over thinking. We bought our little chicken coop almost 2 years ago but didn’t get any chickens until about a month ago. Part of the wait was building an enclosed pen for them because there are too many birds of prey to allow them to free range the entire yard. The main issue was reading too many books and articles about taking care of chickens and asking friends, with chickens, how they take care of them. Truth be told there are as many ways to care for chickens as there are varieties of chickens. I was on information overload!!

Bill, with a little help from our “bonus” grandson and a little help from me completed the chicken pen, we bought containers to feed and water them, food, and bedding. Our friend, generously, offered us 4 of their laying hens as they had some chicks and needed to thin their flock. We were all set. What I didn’t anticipate was the worry I would have at night that something would get into the pen and eat our chickens. We weren’t able to bury the fence two feet below dirt level and an electric fence was out of the question. Was I feeding them correctly? Would they get mites or lice? Seriously, the first week the thoughts that would go through my head, at night, were troubling. I must be doing something right as our chickens, based on their variety, should be laying about 13 eggs a week and we are getting 20-24 a week. There are no lice or flees and they are happy and healthy.

Matthew 6:27 says:

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

Not only wasn’t I adding a single hour to the span of my life I was robbing myself of sleep. God loves us so much that he wants us to come to Him with ALL our concerns, not just the big ones. I pray continually daily-it’s more like a conversation. I pray for a good parking place, for him to guide me in my steps and words, to be more aware of who he would like me to interact with daily, if I see someone and God lays them on my heart and, yes, I pray for our chickens. Every night and I thank God for His protection when I go feed them in the morning. Does this guarantee that nothing will come against them-absolutely not-but what it does do is give me peace knowing I let God shoulder that burden for me and I am doing the best I can for them.

God keeps me in perfect peace because my mind is stayed on him and I trust him.

About a year ago….

image This is an edited post of a blog I did about a year ago, I had been participating in the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study Blog hop and this was a post about moving from being a consumer to a contributor. Since I would like to do a one year follow up I thought those who did not read it the first time would like to know the back story.

God  Answered My Prayers with the Lottery….REALLY??!!

Let me first say that I am in no way encouraging others to buy lottery tickets or put their faith and trust in them. This is my story about going from a consumer to a contributor. I have been disabled due to failed back surgery and Chronic Lyme’s Complex since March 2005. When we moved to Arkansas we found the salaries to be much lower than in NJ. My health issues, some unavoidable home expenses and several attempts by me to have a home based business caused us to be in great debt. We were grateful to have three family members help us financially in the last 6 years or so. My husband has always worked very hard, in fact, he worked two low paying jobs for the last two years just so we could make ends meet. Often friends treated me to meals and outings because we could not afford for me to go. God has always provided for our needs. All through the time we struggled financially I always contributed with my time in many areas. People who struggle financially often forget that being a contributor is so much more than just money- we contribute with our God given gifts and time. I have always contributed time but in my heart I wanted to do more. We also were contributors with our belongings, always willing to give to others what we were not using but others would gratefully use.

My story: In the Winter of  2013 during a Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study “Rev It Up” session, an hour of on-line Bible Study on Facebook, we were asked to write our biggest burden on the top of an index card and underneath write:

“With man this is impossible but with God ALL things are possible” Matt 19:26.

I did this and put it aside. In January I came across this index card and instead of telling God, in my prayers, how he should answer my prayer(you know what I mean…God provide my husband one job that pays enough money so he can have one job and be able to go to church) and I started to read and pray the Bible verse over our finances daily. I felt led to start going to what I call the “wise women’s” Sunday school class. It’s made up of women that are like moms to me and I felt a desire to glean wisdom from them. On Sunday April 6th I was doing my Sunday School lesson for that day, the topic was on “Financial Responsibility”. I felt really convicted about our debt and cried out to God “you have GOT to do something about our debt-we are not honoring you with this debt, we want to bless others more and there is no earthly way this is possible in our own capabilities”. I was crying my heart out to God. Then I went to take my shower-singing praises to God as I often do in the shower. I had also been praying to God to empower me to testify to others about God because I tend to be very timid in this area.

Bills Story: My husband, Bill, likes to play the lottery to be able to dream. He plays about $6 a week IF he has the cash in his pocket. Here in AR what is done with lottery money is public record and easily tracked. He feels that if he wins a buck or two it’s great, if not, at least he knows he’s contributing to someone’s college scholarship. Friday April 4th he went to a friend’s home because she needed some window screens.  On the way home he stopped at the local convenience store to get a pop and decided to get some lottery tickets. He had cards, with the numbers we always play, in his truck but as he puts it was raining and not just regular rain drops, the rain drops were the size of golf balls. lol I laugh because my sweet Bill hates getting wet! So, instead of getting wet he got a quick pick…something he rarely did. When he does get tickets he brings them home to me and he always says “I got you the winning lottery ticket” as he hands them to me and often I would put them on the bulletin board in the kitchen so I wouldn’t lose them. Sunday morning, while I was in the shower he decided to have a second cup of coffee. He saw the ticket and decided to check it. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall because the way he explains how he checked, rechecked, checked again and then checked that the numbers and dates matched is really funny. Remember, I’m in the shower getting ready for church. Suddenly, he whips the curtain open, waving the ticket saying-we got 5 numbers, we got 5 numbers-I said “come on, it’s not April’s fools day anymore” and start to close the shower curtain. He said “FOR REAL!! We won a million dollars-finish your shower-we gotta sign the ticket”. I was shocked but did as I was told, after I got dressed we checked the numbers again on the computer. My husband put “TYJC” (thank you Jesus Christ) on the calendar, went to my office, made 4 color copies of the ticket front and back and put the original in a pretty envelope that had a sky pattern on it and wrote on the outside “our new life-thank you Jesus!” Then we went to church, we didn’t say anything until we went to Little Rock to cash it in. The rest is history.

The first thing we did was to tithe on the gross-we both say none of it is ours so we knew we had to honor the ONE who provided it. Our tithe went to our church and several well deserving charities in the area. We have been able to bless many with this blessing, we no longer have debts( except our mortgage on our rental property-it takes care of itself) and we have paid back the family members who helped us. I LOVE being a contributor. I always was with my time and always said I would be if finances allowed and I am so grateful God has blessed me with a like minded husband who loves to bless others too. This blessing has also empowered me to share my faith and how awesome God is to so many people-friends and strangers alike.

I have had many tell us that we should invest most of it for retirement but every time I pray about that God clearly tells me “I have given you manna for today-I have tomorrow covered.” Now that doesn’t mean we have run out and spent it all but it does mean when we have seen a need in others we have answered that need. After tithing, blessing, paying things off, and some much needed home repairs, we have both gotten new vehicles and a few toys. At first I felt guilty spending money on myself but I was told by someone I love and respect that God wants to bless us too. We also went on a vacation together for the first time in about eight years-a road trip meeting online friends and personally paying back family. As I write this, I am visiting my mama, in the past she has paid all the expenses and meals out when I’ve come to visit and it has been such a blessing to spoil my mama for a change. My husband, a month or so after winning, left his full-time job to work part-time at his previous very part-time job at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge-a job he loves, with people he loves, surrounded by furry friends he loves and he has Sundays off so he can go to church! Without debts, the salary is more than enough, with my disability, to live and still bless others.

Am I telling you to run out and buy lottery tickets-absolutely not. What I want you hear in this is that when we let go, let God and totally take our hands off our concerns God shows up in ways we could not have possibly imagined. My husband and I are living a life of limitless possibilities because Bill dared to dream and I finally let go of the biggest stronghold the evil one held against me- our finances. One of my favorite hymns says “trust and obey, there is no other way” and I am finally beginning to fully understand what that means! Oh, and yes, Bill still plays the lottery-he says with no debts can you imagine how much more we could bless others with another win. I married a dreamer and I wouldn’t have him any other way!

Trusting is….

image

Trusting is…….knowing God’s awesome sovereignty, even when you don’t see His hand moving in an area of your life that causes your heart to ache. He wants you to run to Him, pour out your heart and then let it go.

Psalm 62:8 “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Trusting is…..knowing you can pour out your heart to God knowing you can then rest in His promises-they never fail. They let you live with JOY and PEACE because HE is the one, true God that can be trusted.

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Trusting is……knowing that God’s ways are so much better than your ways.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Trusting is …..knowing God has a plan for you that is so much more than you could possibly imagine.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declare the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Trusting is…..knowing how limited your understanding is and that all you need to do is submit to Him and He will guide you.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Trusting is….knowing when you seek Him, with all your heart, you will find Him and He will bring you back from the captivity of your thoughts.

Jeremiah 29:13-14a “You will seek me and find me with all your heart. I will be found by you,”declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity”

Trusting is….knowing there is a time and season for everything. You may not choose the season you are in but God has a plan for this season.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

Trusting is…..knowing you can rest in peace knowing God is watching over you.

Psalm 29:11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

What area of your life do you need to trust God with? I would love to join you in prayer as you seek to trust Him today!

Heavenly Father, Thank you Lord for your presence in our lives, thank you for your truth that never fails. Forgive us, Lord, for not trusting you.  Help us, Lord, to trust you with every aspect of our lives. In Jesus name I pray, Amen