Saturday, May 27, 2006

Praying for Others

I have to say that one of the things I enjoy most about 'surfing' through the countless blogs on the internet is the opportunity that the Lord gives me to pray for others.

Being a stay-at-home Mom, I'm no longer out in the work force - so my contact with others is limited to my family and church friends. I've prayed that I will be able to minister to others and lead them to the Lord, but knowing that my contact is limited...I often wonder if I'm reaching my full potential in the area of evangelism.

As I'm browsing through the blogs, it's amazing how the Lord will lead me to someone's space and I'll read the words..."please pray for..." What a blessing and honor it is to be able to pray for others --even though we don't know one another and perhaps will never meet this side of heaven. I'm counting on one day, after I reach my eternal home, asking the Lord to show me how my prayers have impacted the hearts and lives of others. I have a feeling that we'll be very surprised to learn that our prayers have impacted others far more than we can ever realize.

So, may I encourage all Christians reading this post; take some time to say a prayer for those whose blogs you read. Many share situations in their lives which need lifted up. Don't neglect the Holy Spirit's prompting when He tells you to pray! I guarantee you'll be blessed in return!!

"Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." -Galations 6:2

Friday, May 26, 2006

Today is my Birthday

Today is my birthday. I awoke this morning, as I do every day, with my joints achy and creaking. As I stumbled and bumped my way into the bathroom, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Looking back at me was a woman that doesn't look anything like she did years ago. There are wrinkles where there once was smooth skin, strands of gray hair amongst the brown, and certainly, everything that once was firm and perky is now flabby and sagging!

A few moments after I awoke, our three year old daughter bounced into the bathroom announcing that she wanted a smiley face pancake for breakfast. "...Just a minute, I'll make you some breakfast just as soon as I take my medicine." As I popped my "happy pill" and my "high blood pressure pill" and my "cholesterol-reducing pill", I thought to myself that there are days when I think I'm just too old to be a toddler's Mom. It is true, after all, that most of my friends who are my age are enjoying being grandparents. Or at least their kids are in school and out of diapers. Something which I wonder if it will happen simultaneously in our household as Olivia STILL hasn't mastered the whole potty thing and she's going to be four in one month. I have visions of packing a pull-up in her school lunch bag. (ugh.) Like I said, some days, I just feel like I'm too old for all of this!

A few hours after breakfast, after I unplugged the toilet, wiped up spilled juice, tried to balance what little money is left in the checkbook, helped Olivia blow her nose ten times, started to clean the kitchen and was interupted several times (deciding that it's my birthday, so maybe I just won't do the dishes until tomorrow...) and glanced sideways at our wedding photo - I chuckled to myself as I thought back to the years when I was younger and a little more care-free. In just the five short years I've been married, I've gone from "the most beautiful bride anyone has ever seen with a waist 'this' big" (to quote my cousin) to a middle-aged Mom of a toddler wondering whatever happened to her waist.

I sat down briefly to check my email. What's this? - an email from my dear husband, part of which reads, "...until she rose to look into the mirror. To peer at the image of a woman now one year older. A bit worn from the stress of being part of a business family and the mother of an active three year old; yet strikingly beautiful to her husband..."

Wow. Tears filled my eyes as my heart melted and I fell in love with Randy all over again. This was a time when he got it - just right.

...."Mommy! Puhleeeze come and fill my sippy cup! I want Orange-Strawberry-Banana Juice!" "Okay Olivia, I'm coming!" (smile) Happy Birthday to me.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Standing Watch

Spending time in God's Word today took me to the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament.

Habakkuk lived during one of Judah's most critical periods. His country had fallen from the heights of Josiah's reforms to the depths of violent treatment of its citizens, oppressive measures against the poor, and collapse of the legal system. The world around Judah was at war, with Babylonia rising to ascendancy over Assyria and Egypt. The threat of invasion from the north added to Judah's internal turmoil.

In the beginning of the book, Habakkuk is overwhelmed by the circumstances around him. He believes that God has removed Himself from the situation and is nowhere to be found. After crying out and asking the Lord several questions Habakkuk says, "I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me. And what I will answer when I am corrected." Then the Lord answered Habakkuk and said: "Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." (chapter 2:1-3)

Having completed his questioning, Habakkuk stands like a sentinel to await his answer from God.

How can we apply this to our lives today? God requires that we make our relationship with Him our highest priority, that we bring our deepest questions and turmoils before Him, expecting His answers and guidance. Set aside a regular time and place that is holy to the Lord. Spend time listening for His word as you read, study, and mediate on Scripture. Be faithful in daily prayer. Document those things the Lord speaks to you or quickens to your heart. Record biblical promises He makes alive to you, and hold fast to them, knowing they will come to pass.

The book of Habakkuk gives the account of a spiritual journey, telling of one man's pilgrimmage from doubt to worship. The difference between the beginning of the book and the end of the book is striking. Habakkuk reminds us that the question, "Why?" can, should and must be asked. His circumstances demanded that he ask God about the apparent reign of unrighteousness around him. Because he believed in God, he believed that God had an answer to his problem. Habakkuk teaches that it's possible to rise above circumstances and even to rejoice in them, by focusing on God who stands above all. Habakkuk does not deny his problems, nor does he treat them lightly; instead, he finds God sufficient in the midst of his troubles.

When all the circumstances of our life present a negative picture - in failure and loss or when the natural reaction would be grief or complaint --this is the time to put faith in God and in His Word. Then we can see through God's eyes to the final glorious outcome. This brings worship and praise even before our circumstances have changed. Determine to praise and worship and thank God for His faithfulness, no matter how devastating the circumstances. Look with the eye of faith at God's plan for the future.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hearing From God

Recently, I've been counseling a friend who is convinced that she's hearing from God regarding a certain situation in her life. She has admitted that she hasn't spent any time praying about the situation --she just says she's getting "a feeling" or "a sign" and "she KNOWS" that God is revealing things to her about a close relationship in her life.

Knowing that she hasn't spent time seeking God in this matter, I'm not convinced that she's hearing from God. There is no shortcut to spiritual understanding. You have to learn to walk with God and to know His voice; otherwise, you will mistake your own voice for His. You even may be fooled by the voice of Satan, or you may hear the clamoring voice of the world. It is so easy to get these voices mixed up. Usually, God speaks to us in a still, small, quiet voice. See I Kings 19:11-13:

“And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice. When Elijah heard the voice, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, What are you doing here, Elijah?" - Amplified Bible

It takes time, prayer, and waiting on God to hear His voice.
How do we succeed in hearing God's voice? By spending time with God. The ultimate is not merely to get direction from God; the ultimate is to know God. God can make it difficult for us to get into His presence because He wants to see if we truly will expend the spiritual energy and exercise necessary to do so. Will we stop certain sins? Will we get rid of things that hinder us? Will we truly seek Him with all of our hearts?

Some people only want a quick fix -- "God, tell me how to make money on this business deal, please. See You next time!" And then that is the end of it. But God wants to be treated with the reverence and deference that His nature warrants. He wants to change us, not merely give us quick answers to difficult problems. We will never be changed unless we come into His presence, spend time with Him, and allow Him to purify us from our sinful nature.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Illustration Friday - Theme: Sorry

So Sorry...I need a nap..., originally uploaded by beyondhope.

...So Sorry...I need a nap....

Artist quality gouache on 140lb cold press archival watercolor paper. Dimension: 2.5"x3.5"


As I was creating this painting the other day, I was reminded of the popular acronym F.R.O.G. which stands for Fully Rely On God.

In Philippians 4:19, Paul says, "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

This verse tells us that God will supply our need by a distinct and definite measure, "according to His riches." In declaring this, God makes clear that He is not stingy when it comes to provision. His "riches" encompass all of creation, so there is nothing you need that He cannot provide! Do not misquote or misread this verse. It does not say that God shall supply your needs: it says that He shall supply your need. That includes everything at once, and all of it is adequately covered because He does it according to His riches. This verse cannot be lifted out of the Bible. It underwrites and relates to everything the Scriptures tell us to do in order to prosper. If we do what the Bible tells us to do, then God will provide abundantly.

All we must do is to Fully Rely On God. He will meet our need --not always our wants but our NEED.

Are you trusting God today to meet your need? Don't lose faith. He is always faithful!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Illustration Friday: Under the Sea

under the sea, originally uploaded by beyondhope.

Here's my latest Artist Trading Card - created for Illustration Friday's theme - Under the Sea. I used my "artist's license" to have this guy swimming in the RED Sea!