Month: January 2011

31 Days of Praise {Day 9} Snowing & Planting

Photo credit to http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Nossirom

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. – Isaiah 55:8-11

We are in the midst of a winter storm warning, with snow and sleet and ice expected over the next few days. While many people are not looking forward to the storm that is headed our way, my kids are excitedly anticipating it. It means hot cocoa with marshmallows, a fire in the fireplace, and building snowmen.

To me it is simply a reminder that God is the Creator and Author of all things. God has ordained our weather this weekend, and He wants us to find joy and comfort in the knowledge that He has a purpose for it, even if we don’t know what that purpose is!

There are few things more beautiful than a fresh blanket of snow on the ground, unless it’s when life begins anew in the Spring and the plants and flowers burst forth from the ground, awakening from their wintry slumber. As Christians, we are called to plant the seed of God’s word in the hearts of men that are cold to Him, men that slumber in the icy grips of a wintry death. When we plant the seed of God’s Word in the hearts of people, God has said that it will not return to Him void, but that it will accomplish His purpose in that person’s life.

God sent His son Jesus to fulfill a greater purpose, one that is available to all men who call on His name.  John 1 tells us that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Sharing His son Jesus (the Word John was talking about) as well as His written word (the Bible) with others is as easy as handing a tract to someone you meet in the grocery store, or writing a blog post about what God has done in your life. This is one of the greatest forms of praise you can give God – with a pure heart and sincere actions. I love this song by Nichole Nordeman called “Every Season” – it reminds me that God is constantly working in our lives. Isn’t that worthy of some praise?

My challenge to you is to plant a seed somewhere this week and then come back and tell us how it went.

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 8} – Praising in Adversity

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. – Prov 17:17

Years ago, I worked for a personnel agency as a recruiter. I didn’t particularly enjoy my job, because I was required to make over 100 cold calls a day. We were given a script to use as a guideline, but anyone who has been successful in cold-calling knows that scripts are just that – a guideline. They don’t prepare you for the sometimes frustrating and crazy things that happen in real life. Let’s just say that not everyone appreciates the fact that you are calling them, but the quota had to be met. It was a very stressful and fast-paced job – when we weren’t cold-calling, we conducted interviews and scouted for people to fill positions for our clients.

There were four of us in the office and we became fast friends because of the experiences we shared there. We spent time together outside of work listening to the other’s problems and frustrations, watching kids for one another, and supporting one another in any way we could. Over the years, we have all lost touch – one of the ladies moved out of state to get married, one got divorced and moved away, and I really have no idea what happened with the other one. But I still think about each of them from time to time because these were friendships born out of adversity. We all shared something in common and were able to minister to one another’s needs because of our situation.

I love the above verse because it reminds me that a true, hearty, faithful friend, loves in times of adversity as well as in times of prosperity. To no one person can this verse be applied with so much truth and exactness as to our Lord Jesus Christ. John Gill, a Reformed Baptist theologian, said it better than I ever could:

He is a “friend” of men; more especially of his church and people; of sinful men, of publicans and sinners; as appears by his calling them to repentance, by his receiving them, and by his coming into the world to save them.

He “loves” them, and loves them constantly; he loved them before time; so early were they on his heart and in his book of life; so early was he the surety of them, and the covenant of grace made with him; and their persons and grace put into his hands, which he took the care of.

And he is a “brother” to his people; through his incarnation, he is a partaker of the same flesh and blood with them; and through their adoption, they having one and the same Father; nor is he ashamed to own the relation; and he has all the freedom, affection, compassion, and condescension, of a brother in him: and now he is a brother “born”; born of a woman, a virgin, at Bethlehem, in the fullness of time, for and on the behalf of his people; even “for adversity”; to bear and endure adversity himself, which he did, by coming into a state of meanness and poverty; through the reproaches and persecutions of men, the temptations of Satan, the ill usage of his own disciples, the desertion of his father, the strokes of justice, and the sufferings of death; also for the adversity of his people, to sympathize with them, bear them up under it, and deliver them out of it.”

Spend a moment today in praise and thanksgiving to God for giving you friends born out of adversity – and for giving you a friend like Jesus. There is no one like Him!

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 7} – When We’re Busy

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.  – Proverbs 31:13-19

Okay, confession time. It’s now 8p.m. on Day 7 of 31 Days of Praise and I’m just now finding time to write this post. When reading about the Proverbs 31 woman above, I get exhausted thinking about all that she does. I aspire to be her, but there are some days that I just can’t quite measure up to her, much less even imagine my children rising up to call me blessed.

Today has been ‘one of those days’. Between homeschool lessons, three conference calls, four website designs in progress, two blog moves, and church responsibilites, I was left feeling a little deflated and a LOT overwhelmed at the tasks on my plate. I wasn’t sure I had the energy (or much less, brain power) to write this post, and then the Lord brought Proverbs 31 to my mind. I hadn’t even come close to doing all she does and yet, I was ready to quit!

Of all the things we allow to “slide”, one thing we should keep front and center is our relationship with the Lord. He’s well aware of what is happening in our daily lives and how quickly we can become overwhelmed. We never intentionally stop spending time with God or praising Him, it just sort of happens somewhere between that third and fourth load of laundry. If we are able to steal a few moments, they are usually spent on basics things such as taking a shower. {Can I get an “Amen” on that one?}

So all of that to encourage you to grab a few minutes {just do it now} and spend some time giving a prayer of thanks and praise to God that He knows what we go through on a daily basis. Ask Him to instill a genuine desire to spend more time reading His Word and praying. Ask Him to nudge you when you forget to give Him the praise He deserves.  In Isaiah 65:24 God says, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will answer.”

He’s waiting…are you willing?

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 6} – Created for Praise

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. – Luke 19:40

Back when my husband and I were teaching Children’s Church, there was an object lesson we liked to use when teaching the children how to praise God. It involved filling up a long balloon with water, reading Luke 19:28-40, and then allowing one of the children to squeeze the balloon with all their might until it popped and water flowed out between their fingers.

We then explained that was how all of creation would feel if we didn’t do our part in praising God. Praise would burst forth from the cracks in the ground and all of creation itself would cry out that we aren’t doing what we were created to do.

Creation will cry out in the only ways that it can, all of creation will cry out if we keep our peace, we remain silent, we refuse to put our faith into words. There are some things that must be said, and they will be said , even if we do not say them.

God has given most of us the gift of a voice, shouldn’t we use it to praise Him?

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 5} Deliverance

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. –Psalm 18:2-3

I have always been a very positive person and generally choose to see the bright side of life, rather than the bad, hence my blog’s tagline. But last year was a very difficult year for me – I lost my brother to a drug overdose in April, my step-dad of 30 years died in July, was there for my mom after she ran over herself with her car, and saw her through yet another major surgery. I wasn’t able to spend my days focusing on too much good…it actually felt like the world was closing in on me.

I lost my desire to blog, work, go to church, or even stay connected to people. I spent vast amounts of time sick and in bed because I just didn’t want to face the day, it was too much like waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop’.  My children didn’t have a summer vacation – we spent it shuffling back and forth to nursing homes, hospitals, and rehab hospitals. We didn’t even use our Kids Bowl Free coupons very often. I just didn’t want to do anything that required leaving my house.

I had officially hit rock bottom, and when a friend (who had been there) called it by the ugly name of  “depression”, I was taken aback. “Me? Depressed? It’s not possible.”  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had let LIFE overwhelm me and I had inadvertently allowed myself to give up on the things that mattered the most – my family, my friends, and most importantly, my relationship with the Lord. I had become apathetic.

Sometimes when you’re in a miry pit, you don’t realize it until you’ve gotten so bogged down that you can’t move, and then you’re trapped. But that single comment spawned a true turning point for me because I knew in my heart that God could deliver me from those feelings. A lot of prayer has gone up since then, and though it hasn’t been easy, things have gotten better. I am sharing this because I believe there are others hurting the same way I was and I want you to know that GOD IS ABLE to deliver you too! I have to give Him all the glory and honor for what He’s done in my life – even my kids have noticed that mom is back to being more like her old self.

God will hear us no matter what the nature of the distress is. He will always be there: in trouble, adversity, need, calamity, whenever we are in turmoil. What adversity are you facing? Is it conflict in the family, financial problems, stress at work, emotional problems, spiritual battles? No matter what the distress, God is there to meet your need. God will answer us in the day of trouble.

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 4} – Singing a New Song for 2011

I’ll be the first to admit that my thoughts are not always focused on ways I can praise God. What?! You’re not surprised about that?

As women, we sometimes tend to every other area  in our lives (husbands, children, work, home, church…the list goes on) before we make time for what’s important to us — I know that my Bible reading is sporadic, as my daily schedule is full with homeschooling, work, and just life in general.

If we are truly honest with each other, very little of our daily schedules are comprised of thoughts about God, much less how we can find ways to honor Him and offer the sacrifice of praise compared to how many hours there are in the day. We are usually good at showing our thanks, no doubt! If you’re anything like me and you happen upon a good parking spot at Wal-Mart, that’s always something to give some thanks for.

However, there’s a difference between ‘thanks’ and ‘praise’. Thanksgiving describes our attitude toward what God has done, while praise is offered for who God is. Praise originates in a pure heart, one full of love and born from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Praise is an important act of Christian worship. The Bible even states we are to continually find ways to praise God! {Psalm 34:1}

So how can we make it an integral part of our daily life, especially when we are running 90 to nothing on a slow day?

Praise can be expressed in song, in verse, or in prayer. We may not always be able to pick up our Bible or go to our prayer closet, but we can always have a song in our heart! One of my absolute favorite songs {and one that is frequently in my heart} is “Come Thou Fount”:

Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

I challenge you to sing a new song in 2011 with me – a song of praise.

Is there a song in your heart today?

Visit other participants:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

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