When My Obedience Looked Like Disobedience

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Every week for over a year, I have met with a small group of women  from my church for a time of prayer.   On a week morning we gathered together in our church’s counseling room, chair bumping into chair, and we shared one another’s burdens and we prayed for our church. We prayed for the lost. We praised our God.  We wept together.  We rejoiced when the pleas to God had been answered.  It has been a huge blessing in my life.

But then I had to stop going.

The Lord began tugging at my heart with a burden for the shut-in of our church, for the sick, for the stragglers who visited, then were missing.  I wanted to do something for them that would be helpful and practical.  The Lord brought to my mind the thought of cooking or baking for these folks and periodically taking meals or treats for them to enjoy.  But with an already full schedule,  each day obligated to this or that, how would I ever accomplish this?  I began to pray and seek God’s direction.

One day my husband and I went on a little afternoon excursion away from home.  We had time to sit and talk and share our hearts.  I poured out to him the burden God had given me, and the frustration of not knowing how I could serve others from my home and my kitchen when every day was so full.  God gave him such wisdom and it was so clear to him as he said,

God has given you a burden to use your home to serve Him.  You need to focus your ministry out of our house.  You can pray in our home as well as at church.  Ask others to join you, if they’d like.  You all could pray and then cook together.  It’s what you love to do, and God is the One who has placed that burden on your heart.  Do it!

I felt as though a burden had been lifted off of me, and I knew at that moment that this was exactly what the Lord wanted me to do.  But that meant that I could no longer attend the morning prayer meeting at church.  My next thought was, “What will my friends think?  It looks so unspiritual to stop going to prayer meeting!”  But I knew that my not going to this morning prayer time was in obedience to what God was asking me to do.  When I shared this with my prayer group, they rejoiced with me, as I should have known they would!

It’s so easy to think that I have to do it all. It’s easy to put the guilt on myself and worry about what others will think if my obedience looks like disobedience.  But God’s Word says~

The fear of man brings a snare. Proverbs 29:25

I could’ve let my fear keep me at our weekly prayer time (not a bad thing) but I would have missed out on the blessing that this step of obedience has brought!  From the very first morning when I began this new cooking ministry, I had absolute peace that I was obeying God!  My heart was filled with the joy God gives AFTER we obey.  We want it before the obedience, don’t we? After all, it would make it a little easier!  But no, we obey, then God gives joy!

It was truly hard to say “No” to that weekly prayer time in order that I could say “Yes” to this burden of baking, cooking and visiting our church folk. Another wonderful thing is that some of the ladies have been able to join me.  We stop and pray for each person we’re taking a meal to.  We cook and stir up delicious food, and then we deliver it.  It has been wonderful…even if it did start out looking like disobedience!

Do you ever feel like you’re responsible for doing it all?  There’s freedom in listening to God’s directives and obeying Him.  He gave us gifts to use that will never be contrary to His Word.  Are you serving Him in obedience?  There’s no greater joy!

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Endurance of a Counselor

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I have the joy of teaching first and second graders in our church Pioneer Club on Wednesday nights.  In this children’s ministry, each club works for badges by learning Bible verses and different skills.  This month I’m teaching them to sew two kinds of simple stitches.  While it’s hard to tell them they have to pull out the stitches they worked so hard on because they’re wrong, they would never learn if I let them go on with their own way of doing it. So, we rip out and they do it again with help from workers.

Have you ever watched someone you knew and cared for slip away from the Lord? It’s even more heart wrenching than a 7 year-old who has to redo a task.  Out of a desire to help, someone steps in – maybe it was you – and tries to give godly counsel. The one going astray is guided to God’s Word but they continue a downward spiral, avoiding the Bible, church, and anyone who points them to God. The frustrated counselor might want to say, “Fine, go your way. You will reap from what you’re sowing! I’m washing my hands of this.”

As we read I Samuel 15 we see how Samuel responded to hearing that Saul had not obeyed the Lord. It says in verse11 –  

“And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.” 

His heart was broken for Saul. Samuel had given Saul much instruction, but spite that, Saul chose to go his own way and disobey the Lord’s commands. In verse 35 we read,

“Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless, Samuel mourned for Saul…” 

 Samuel wasn’t afraid to share the truth with Saul; a reminder, I believe, that we don’t just sit and watch someone sin and be afraid to tell them the truth in love. But we must remain broken over their sin. I believe that Samuel continued to pray for Saul, and even though he watched Saul slipping farther and farther away, he loved him and desired that Saul make things right with the Lord.

If there’s someone you know that has drifted – perhaps a friend, or even a child or family member, ask the Lord to keep your heart soft towards them, as modeled by godly Samuel. May our hearts be as such as would mourn and cry to the Lord all night for a brother or sister that has wandered. Keep praying and lovingly sharing the truth when you have the opportunity. God desires that they return to Him, and it might be due to a Christian friend like you that they will do just that.

I can’t wait to see my club members get their sewing badge at the end of the month! Let’s care enough to share the truth with that one who isn’t walking with God, then stick around to see the results; it will be worth it!

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Refresh Yourself With Fellowship

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A week or so ago I found myself at a surprise birthday party for a friend.  Because it was a surprise, and everything was “hush-hush!” I had no idea who else had been invited.  I was delighted to find several other good friends were also there.  We were able to sit together and enjoy the fun of some fellowship that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise!  We had a great time celebrating our friend’s birthday AND getting to share an evening together!  It was a reminder to me that we need to schedule those times of encouragement! 
When was the last time you got out and had fellowship with a friend or two?  Women tend to be so busy with life that they seldom make time for fellowship that will encourage and strengthen them as a Christian woman.  We need each other.

I love what Paul says in Philippians 3:17, 18 – ‘

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.  

This is a warning not to fellowship with the wrong people, as well as an encouragement to fellowship with the right people!  Paul is saying, “Walk with people like me and steer clear of someone who will take you down the wrong path!”  This is a reminder to me that we need the influence of strong believers in our lives.  

What a blessing it is to get together with another Christian woman, who loves God, loves His Word, and loves doing the things that will honor the Lord!  Can I encourage you to schedule time to get with a godly friend in the next week?  Share a cup of coffee and talk about what you’re reading in the Word. Share your burdens with one another.  Pray together.  It will refresh your heart and hers!

Be refreshed by a friend,

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The Blessing of Friends Who Know God

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Yesterday morning as I read Exodus 33 I was reminded what a blessing it is to have friends who walk with God.  Moses was such a man.  Let me explain.

God’s anger was kindled against the Israelites because of their continual sin and God said that His presence would not go with them into the promise land.  Moses spoke to God on their behalf, telling God that they couldn’t go on unless God would go with them.  Verse 11 says, 

“And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”  Because of his intercession, God said to Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. 

What relief that the Israelites wouldn’t have to trudge on in their own devices, their own weak ideas and strategies!  God answered Moses’ prayer!  Having a friend who can talk to God on your behalf is a huge blessing!  You see Moses going to God, then talking with the Israelites, then talking to God, and again to the Israelites.  Who wouldn’t want a friend like that?!

While I was reading that passage and being reminded of dear, godly friends that the Lord has given me, I received a text message from one of those friends.  Another called while I was getting ready for the day.  A third called as I was driving to do some work at church just to tell me she loved and appreciated me!  And lastly, another godly friend met me at the church to help and support the work I was attempting to do!  My cup was running over with the blessing my friends.  Each one, led by the Lord was calling to encourage or bless in some way.  That is a godly friend!  God spoke to them, and they followed through to tell me what He said to them!  That’s just like what Moses did!

I have to stop and ask myself if I am that kind of friend to others.  How about you?  Do you hear the Lord speak a word to you to call and encourage someone or to stop and pray for them and then you do it?  If He prompts us to stop and pray for them or do a loving act for them are we quick to obey?  Do we go out of our way to help and support them as they are serving the Lord?

May we each be the “Moses-kind of Friends – a friend who knows God, talks to God on behalf of our friends, and also talks to our friends about God!”

Do you have a special godly friend for whom you are especially thankful?  What have they done to push you closer to the Lord?

With love,

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For a Lifeline, Call a Friend

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Did you ever watch “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”?  The contestants answered questions, each one getting progressively harder and taking them closer to a million dollars.  If they were unsure of an answer, one option they had was to call a friend.  This would be a person, who, obviously had lots of knowledge and could be their “lifeline,” helping them reach their hoped-for goal of becoming a millionaire!
It would be quite an honor to be asked to be your friend’s life-line!  That would mean the contestant had full confidence in your ability to give them the correct answer at a very crucial moment!
I recently heard a preacher say that at a time in his life when he had to make a decision about whether or not to accept an important position, he spent many hours in prayer.  He weighed the pros and cons.  He talked with friends and associates and asked their advice.  One night after spending time with godly friends, trying to come to a conclusion about the right decision, he came home and found his wife had already gone to bed.  When he laid down beside her, she rolled over and held up two fingers, signifying that she rated the decision he was going to make only a two.

“That was all I needed to hear.  My wife walks so closely to the Lord, I knew that if this only ranked a two, then the Lord would have me not accept that position.”

Talk about being a life-line! This godly wife was so trusted by her husband in her walk with God, that it altered the course of his life!  His story made me stop and ask myself a couple of questions:

  1. Could my husband trust my response to a decision that fully?
  2. Do I walk so closely to the Lord every day that at any given moment I could be asked a question by my husband, my daughter or a friend, and I would give the right answer because it would be God’s answer?
This dear pastor’s wife I mentioned had walked with God.  She’d been faithful to read and study God’s Word.  She’d spent time in prayer.  She was sensitive to His directives in her own life – that’s how she could rightly guide those around her!
It really doesn’t matter that no one has asked me to be their lifeline on a game show.  I’m not that smart!  However, I want to be able to know the Lord’s heart so well that I could be a lifeline to my husband, or to any friend that the Lord brings across my path today.
How about you?  Have you spent sufficient time in God’s Word this morning that even through what you read today you could give biblical counsel?  
Know God so that you can lead others to Him, too!
Psalm 119:1-7
Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
who walk in the law of the Lord.
 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies,
and that seek him with the whole heart.
They also do no iniquity:
they walk in his ways.
 Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
 O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
 Then shall I not be ashamed,
when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart,
when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
With love,

Foolish Choices that Could Destroy Your Marriage

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Someone told me recently that they had enjoyed reading my blog until they began reading my posts about The Foolish Woman! They were teasing, but the implication was that it’s not always easy to read things that hit home and bring conviction. I trust that you will read on anyway, and consider the description of the foolish woman from Proverbs 7.

Proverbs 7:6-10 reads, “For at the window of my house I looked through my casement. And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street near her (the foolish woman’s) corner, and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot and subtil of heart.”

I see here that another foolish characteristic of this woman is the choices she makes. She’s going out in the evening when it is dark outside. This is a romantic setting and she is setting herself and this foolish man up for a huge fall by being out at this time of night. She has no concern how this might look to others who might see her standing on the street alone with this man.

What a warning this must be to us! We have to let our mind run ahead to look out for situations that could put our testimony at jeopardy. Some potential danger zones would be:

  • Having a man in your home when you are there alone.
  • Listening to a man tell you about his marriage problems or you talking to him about yours.
  • Sending private emails to men (Why not send a carbon copy to his wife?).
  • Having chats with men on the Internet.
  • Riding alone in the car with a man.

Some may say, “My goodness! Are you suspicious of everyone?” No, but we need to make good, wise choices before we are in a situation that destroys our testimony and possibly our marriage.   What seems harmless could lead to other things.

If we guard our hearts and are also thoughtful enough to protect the men around us, we will know that our choices will label us as wise instead of foolish.

Were any of these surprising to you?

Make wise choices and guard your marriage.

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Refreshing Your Own Heart

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This week I shared some advice given to me on “How to Refresh the Hearts of Others.”  But has your own heart ever ached and wished someone would come and minister to you?  I understand.

This week has been full of activity, ministry and needs.  One morning when things seemed to be spinning out of control, I stopped – literally stopped with tears in my eyes and my heart pounding with frustration and the feeling of being overwhelmed.  I turned my heart to the Lord.  I told Him my burdens, my frustrations, and my need.  At the end of my prayer I said, “Lord, please show me what to do.”

It wasn’t much later after that the Spirit of God spoke to my heart, directing my steps in a clear, biblical answer. My plans were to head out the door to join others in a good thing – we were to pray together – but the Lord said,

“Be still.  Pray here.”  

I thought, “Really? That makes so much sense! Yes, Lord!  Thank you!”

I let my friends know I wouldn’t be joining them where they were gathered, but I did join them at the Throne of Grace from my home.  It kept me from running there, running back, then running to prep for another obligation later in the day.

It gave me rest.

It calmed my heart.

No one but the Lord could have done that.

Now I slowed my pace.  I took time to pray for the needs of others.  I cleaned the mess that was around me.  I added a few touches of decor in my dining room. I listened to a podcast while I worked.   It wasn’t long at all until my own heart was truly refreshed.  I was thankful that it had come completely from the Lord’s directives speaking into my heart and not from a person.  It made me so thankful for the reminder that God cares about every detail of my life – even the little things that can trouble my heart.

My need was so simple, really, and I know there are times when there are HUGE needs, but there is nothing too big for Him to handle!  When you have a hurt, confusion, anxiety, burden or longing that causes your heart to be filled with emptiness and longing, what do you do when God sends no one to your doorstep, your pew at church, or your side?

  1. Recognize the need to go to prayer and tell Christ about what’s on your heart.  He already knows, of course, but this isn’t for His benefit, it’s for yours.  Stopping to put that longing into words and tell the Lord is so helpful. Divine intervention is what you need, and if you don’t ask, how will you receive it? This time of prayer also makes us realize that we are completely dependent on Him.  That’s always the best place to find ourselves, because He is omnipotent!  In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Psalm 86:7
  2. While in prayer, ask God for His wisdom for the next step.  What do you do after you finish praying?  Without God’s help, you’ll be just as hopeless as before if you don’t have His direction for the next moment. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Prov. 4:18
  3. Look for verses of promise regarding your situation and meditate on their truth.   If you can’t think of one off the top of your head, or you don’t have your Bible with you, Google it!  We ask Google for other things we need information on, right?  Use it now!  Google Bible Verses on God’s Provision  or Bible verses on Comfort.  A list will come up that can anchor your heart with Truth!!!  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations. Deut. 7:9 
  4. Listen to music that will minister to your heart and calm you.  It’s amazing what good music will do.  I love to listen to instrumental music that points my heart to God.  It brings peace and a reminder of Who He is!
  5. Don’t isolate yourself!  Get with others that will encourage you.  It’s easy to want to sulk and be alone, but you need other believers to help you – even if they never hear a word from you about your trouble.  Invite a friend to lunch or coffee.
  6. Talk with a godly friend about your trouble and ask them to pray with you.  You decide with whom should share – it might be your husband, it might be a friend or your pastor’s wife.  Two are better than one.  Eccl. 4:9 Humble yourself and admit you have a need.  We ALL need encouragement from time to time!
  7. Put yourself in an environment that helps your attitude.  Open the blinds and curtains and let the sunlight in!  Straighten up the clutter that might be right in front of you.  Create the order that will clear your head and heart.
  8. Get some fresh air.  Take a walk in your neighborhood or walking path at the park.  Go walk through the nursery at Lowe’s or your local greenhouse.
  9. Do something you enjoy.  Stop for a sweet tea and take a drive in the country.  Go to the library.  Buy a bouquet of flowers for your kitchen table.  Stop for a Dairy Queen treat.  Rearrange your living room.  Do a craft you love.
  10. Do something for someone else.  See this list to remind yourself of what you could do!  The focus gets transferred from your problem to someone else.

I pray this will help you to know how to refresh your own heart when you need it!

What do you do when you’re anxious or feeling overwhelmed?

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