Monday, February 29, 2016

Are You One, Sister? Is This Your Tribe, too?

Too many Christian women are having an identity crisis! We don’t know who we are anymore! We're confused because the world insists -- through marketing and all sorts of advertising -- we must look like the women (airbrushed and photo-shopped) on the magazine covers in the grocery stores. And, we get to STARE at those stinkin' covers while we stand in line waiting to pay for our food. Uh-huh. 

And then we're also supposed to have those perfect lives portrayed in the social media selfies. Right? Yup. Uh-huh.

Yep. The world tells us our value is in our appearance. And somehow the lie works into our minds that if we can gain some sort of celebrity status we'll receive all the value and affirmation for which we have hungered. No, Sister. It's a lie. There is only one true Celebrity and it is His Fame we should be promoting! His name is Jesus.

The truth is God is not interested in the outward appearance but instead He "looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7).  And He doesn’t scream at us. We have to be still -- even for a moment -- in this crazy world to hear His loving gentle whisper: the Holy Spirit.

And think about this…

The world tells us our value comes from us and to be obsessed with ourselves! Think about it…I'm just sayin'.

I don’t know about you but when I become self-centered I’m in big trouble! That's when I can quickly be pulled into a deceiving undertow of lies by the devil. It means I've let go of my anchor, my identity in Jesus, and I've been swallowed up in self-absorbed idolatry. Hep me, Jesus! Yes, I said, "Hep."

Dearest Sisters, our identity is not what we do. How often do we say, "I’m just a mom. I’m just a teacher, I’m a cafeteria worker, I’m a receptionist, I’m a small business owner, I’m just a stay at home mom, I’m just a home school mom, I’m just a nanny, I’m just a  corporate president, a realtor, a lawyer, I'm a volunteer at a non-profit...!"

That is not who we are! That is what we do!

What if we began to transform and renew our minds and steer our thoughts toward TRUTH. We are WOMEN WHO FOLLOW JESUS.

 The LORD is our Shepherd and He promises to meet our every need as His sheep/people! (Psalm 23:1). :) 
 “His sheep follow Him because they know His voice."
 (John 10:4). 
"I am the Good Shepherd, I  know My sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:14)

We don’t change who we are, Jesus did that on the cross the day He called our names, forgave us when we confessed our sins, and saved us! We are to ACKNOWLEDGE who we are…Women Who Follow Jesus. Everything else will fall into place when we start thinking right. 

And with our new mindset we can step out each day with an attitude of gratitude, a servant’s heart and filled with His mercy!

 And, we would be on a mission to love God, love people, and make disciples.

Look, as women we are born nurturers! When you are nurturing you are not thinking about yourself! You are focused on loving and serving and helping!

We would live passionately for God's glory. "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

Let’s look at the women who followed Jesus in the Bible.

Matthew 27:55
The women were devoted to Jesus and modeled community in their loving service together.

Luke 8:1-3
The women supported His ministry out of their own finances.

Luke 24:10
It was a woman who carried the message of the empty tomb back to the disciples

Acts 1:14
The women prayed constantly.

Acts 8:1-4
The women were willingly persecuted along with the other disciples.

BAM! Pretty simple, huh? Pretty straightforward, isn't it? Maybe we need to let go of some stuff, you know, "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (Hebrews 12:1). Lord, please help us do that!

Sisters, every morning before our feet hit the floor, we can say aloud, "I am a woman who follows Jesus. That is who I am! " We CAN daily put on that highly-honored robe of righteousness and dignity of being WOMEN WHO FOLLOW JESUS! Let's consider starting each day by intentionally FIRST seeing ourselves as WOMEN WHO FOLLOW JESUS...

...and SECONDLY seeing ourselves as wives, moms, daughters, grandmothers, employees, home school  moms, artists, writers, teachers, homemakers, and business owners? It would the same as, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33). 

In other words, if we own it that we are women who follow Jesus, and put Him first, He will abundantly take care of all our needs!

I know women are not going to follow Jesus unless they have a humble heart and a grateful attitude for what He has done for them. 

A woman is going to follow Jesus because she loves Him so much and she is so very thankful for what He has done for her! Frankly, she knows Him as her Lord and Savior.

Women Who Follow Jesus is not a club. There is no membership, no fees or dues. It's just a growing community of women who reach out to other women with the love of Christ. It's reaching out to help, to mentor, to encourage, to pray with and for, to meet for coffee, to come alongside in ministry name it, Sister. 

It is creating community for the glory of God. Are you a woman who follows Jesus? Are you in this Tribe, Sister? 
Consider this your invitation. 

I would love to hear from you.

For His glory,
"Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together. "
Psalm 34:3

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

how do you keep going, sister?

God speaks to us all the time. Every child of God, knows that, right? If we look to Him for everything, and listen for His voice, we'll discover He's so close! Yep. He watches us and knows when we need to be encouraged. He sends us the perfect message in the moment we need it.

Just this morning just before I opened a new bottle red nail polish to brush on my nails, I glanced at the top of it and read the color, "Keep Up the Flame" and I laughed. I thought, Lord, you are speaking again. 

At that moment I sensed the Holy Spirit of God was telling me that no matter how I felt I needed to keep pressing in and pressing on. Yep. "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you...for God did not give you a Spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Awesome, isn't He?

Spiritual warfare. Every faithful child of God knows all about these battles. Whether it's fighting against our own fleshly, idolatrous lusts, believing the lies of the enemy, or hearing dark tormenting thoughts.

Yep. It's tough to resist all that stuff that bombards the minds of God's kids here on earth, which is why Scripture calls it spiritual warfare. It rages on every day, doesn't it? Whether it's a small, nagging thorn in our side or an ongoing nightmare in our own mind, Jesus tells us, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

It's spiritual and we are supposed to fight spiritually. God says so. "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds" ( 2 Corinthians 10:4). He has armed us with the supernatural, Holy Spirit-powered arsenal of Scripture and prayer!  

You know that power, Sister, it's the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and it's living inside of us! Whew. Yep, it's the "incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 1:19-20). 

And that spiritual power prompted me last Sunday morning while I was getting ready for church. I had been having discouraging negative thoughts that have haunted me over a period of time. But I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw I was still standing! I finished putting on makeup and slipped my boots on my feet. It was the power of the Holy Spirit who was already encouraging my heart by saying,  "I know all about how you are feeling but look, you're fine, awake and getting dressed because you're about to go worship with your church family! Do you see, no matter how low and dark you feel, you are persevering because I am empowering you by my Spirit. I am keeping you going, no matter how you feel." BAM! I smiled. Wow. He was talking to my heart reminding me of His power continually at work in me. 

I jumped in my car and drove myself to church -- sweet hubs was sick -- and couldn't wait to worship with all my heart and thank God for 'the incredible greatness of His power" in me! No matter how I feel, God showed me He is going to always help me. 

 Precious Sisters, no matter how we feel, God is going to always help us. Always. Now and forever. 

Love in Jesus,
"Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together!"
Psalm 34:3

Monday, February 15, 2016

too big for my britches

When we think we “know it all,” we’re in serious trouble. Several passages in Scripture call someone who is “wise in your own eyes’” a “fool” (Proverbs 26:5), a “sluggard” (Proverbs 26:16) and even “the rich man may be wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has discernment sees through him” (Proverbs 28:11). Ouch.  Some of us just like to be right all the time and do not want anyone else’s perspective or counsel. There’s a word for that, too. It’s called pride, also known as being too big for your britches. That’s when we think we know what is best and don’t look to God for wisdom and godly insight.

I used to think I always knew what was best for me. I would make decisions by my feelings and how things looked to me.  I didn’t often ask God, “What’s your will in this situation?” I saw myself as very observant and insightful and then just made decisions.  My britches were getting tighter and tighter, Sisters! And with that attitude I created lots of potholes in my own heaven-bound highway due to personal assumptions and unrealistic expectations. “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:21).

As God watched my behavior over the years, I imagine He may have thought, “I need to help my girl get out of her miserable pit of repeat offenses.”  My rescue is and has been gradual and gentle over the years as I’m continuing to learn to not be wise in my own eyes. Yep. This is absolutely an ongoing process for me.  “If anyone of you thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3).

This I know is wisdom for me:  "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." (Matthew 6:33). I don’t know the future and the specific plans for me, my family or friends. I learned it was stupid for me to call the shots like that anymore. The wisest thing to do is to step back, kneel, and ask my Lord what to do, and to reveal to me what’s best.

 I don’t know about God’s Big Picture. All I know is that it’s magnificent because He’s painting it and He uses the richest of colors in the most spectacular of images when He paints our lives on His huge canvas: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “…plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

There is only one God and we are not Him. He is the only Creator. He is the only wise and loving Controller of the universe. That’s who He is. He is King and we are His subjects. His servants. His beloved children, you know, we’re His kids with whom He “rejoices over with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). He gives us the Bible as our instruction book for abundant life. We are to look to Him and follow Him down the path of righteousness.

Because He deeply loves His children and knows us exceedingly well, He sends us continuous warnings to guard ourselves when our rebellious attitudes rise up within us. “Do not deceive yourselves. If anyone of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19). God tells us to turn away from man’s wisdom, which is worldliness. The reason Christians have a difficult time in this world is that most people do not think biblically. Who is asking, “What does the Bible say?” and “Lord, how am I supposed to think about this situation?”

We must encourage each other to look to God. That is wisdom. If we are His with His Spirit living inside us, we can open our Bibles for the right answers and His Spirit will speak to our Spirit. Wow! What a priceless gift! “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you” (Romans 8:9).

If you do not have the Spirit of God living inside of you as you are reading this, ask Him to forgive you of your sins. Ask Him to help you turn from your old ways. In your mind, body and soul, run to Christ and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. That’s the wisest thing anyone can ever do.

Do I still at times get too big for my britches? I'm sorry to say that I do. But His grace is like giving me stretch pants; He gives me just enough room to repent before I decide whether to go back to fill up another plate of pride. 

That's who He is. Awesome. Yep. God is Awesome.

"Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His Name together!"
Psalm 34:3

This is a revised version of a devotion from my second book,Totally Devoted 2. The book is being updated and published as a Kindle edition.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

favor comes from God

 Mary Agee, one of Polly's daughters, after a Peachtree Road Race, Atlanta, GA.

“ have found favor with God.”
Luke 1:30

God’s favor is so much like God’s grace. We don’t deserve such a heavenly gift. We can’t earn it. We can’t create it. We can’t buy it. Favor does not come from man.  

Sometimes we may think favor comes from our boss or our parents or our neighbors, but God still rules over our circumstances and orchestrates even the outcome of our conversations. He decides who will give us a raise, who will be kind and generous to us, or if the boss will fire us from our job. 

His sovereignty decides all of the outcomes in every area of our lives. Our responsibility is to be faithful in what He has called us to do. When we step off His path for us -- which usually causes pain -- He will work situations to get us back to the place where He wants us! He expects us to be where we’re supposed to be at the time we’re supposed to be there.  

Favor is a spiritual blessing from the hand of God. He decides how and when any of us receive His favor.  He loves to give it to His children. "If you then, even though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him" (Matthew 7:11).

In the book of Luke, the story is told of a very young woman named Mary. She was approached by an angel who said to her, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28) She was about to be told she would conceive a child and remain a virgin. God knew she was faithful and humble and He knew how she would respond. “'How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’” (Luke 1:34) Mary did not ask this question in unbelief and we see confirmation of that when she visited Elisabeth, who said to her: “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:45) 

Mary obediently responded to the Lord’s instruction – through the angel – by saying, “'I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ’May it be to me as you have said.’” (Luke 1:38). She answered in such a way that God was glorified and His purposes would be accomplished. She was a very obedient servant of the Lord Most High and was given great favor. Through her body, the Savior of the world came to earth and changed humanity forever.

“Noah found favor in the eyes of God” (Genesis 6:8). God called Noah to a remarkable task; a father to a new mankind. God wiped out all mankind and all creatures except Noah, his family, and specific creatures. There were countless instructions for Noah to build the ark to God’s measurements, to count the breeds and pairs of animals who would come into the ark, and to hear mocking of unbelievers as he spent 100 years building it. God knew Noah would follow instructions and persevere to the end. He knew Noah was a faithful and true servant. Noah had the favor of the Lord. Period.

Over and over we see in Scripture, God chooses specific people to call His own and then grants them favor to accomplish His purposes! So cool, isn't it? When we're in the flow of God's favor, doors of opportunity seem to fly open and then at the God-ordained time He sends another one of His chosen ones to walk into your life...and all for His purposes and His glory...and of course, He blesses our socks off in the process. Yep. I've seen it in my own life. God brings amazing people in my life and He likes to blend our gifts together...for His purposes. And some of you reading this right now are some of the ones I'm talking about! Just know I'm so very thankful for you! Just sayin'. (I'm having fun with this, aren't I?)

Look what God did for Moses in Exodus 33! "Moses said to God, "If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is Your people. The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:15). FAVOR! GRACE! 

And how can we fathom the deep love the Father has for His children?  "...Your Presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth" (Exodus 33:16)! Moses knew God and was fully aware His God has set apart His people for HIS glory! How beautiful is that?

"And then God said to him, I will do everything you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name" (Exodus 33:18). 

There is a common denominator...these people put God first in their lives and sought His face and His glory at all costs. They knew God intimately and spoke with Him, sort of like we are able to do today.  We speak to God when we pray and worship...and He listens to our hearts when we are not speaking. Yep. And then He speaks to us when we read His word and when we will stay still, we can hear His voice through the Holy Spirit inside us. Supernatural. Spiritual. Awesome. Whew. Yes!

 "For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 8:35).  Finding favor with God does not mean we live in sinless perfection.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Finding favor is finding grace and if we were sinless, we wouldn’t need His grace. These faithful servants needed His favor and His grace as much as we do today. “Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:3-4).

God has purposes He wants fulfilled and lives He wants to transform and a world of people He wants to see come to Him, on their knees. He knows His faithful servants are not up to the task He has called them to do, unless His favor is poured out upon them…for His glory and the good of mankind.

For HIS glory,
"Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together!"
Psalm 34:3

This devotion is a revised version of "Favor Comes From God" published in my paperback edition of Totally Devoted 2.
I am revising the entire book to publish as a Kindle edition.