Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lead Me Lord

My blog today is not really mine. I get daily email devotionals from Proverbs 31 Ministries and they are just awesome. Many days they are just what I need to read. Today was one of them.

Lead Me Lord
31 Mar 2009

"Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

Do you pray for direction, and hear nothing?

Do you wonder if God even heard your prayers?

Friend, you are not alone. Often I come before God, pouring out my heart in prayer, seeking His will for different areas in my life. Then I hear nothing. He is silent. Not wanting to wait, I forge ahead on my own. In my busyness, I fail to sit and wait. No time, I say, because someone is waiting for an answer. No time, I say, because I need to act now.

Yet, when I examine Scripture, God consistently teaches: sit, pray, and wait. Jesus began His ministry by fasting forty days alone in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). He spent an entire night alone in prayer before choosing His twelve disciples (Luke 6:12).

Esther fasted and prayed for three days before she took the bold and courageous step of going before the king on behalf of her people, knowing it could mean her death (Esther 4:8-16).

Elijah went into the wilderness for forty days to hear the "still small voice" (1 Kings 19:11-18).

What do these great people of faith teach us? To know God's leading, to hear His voice, we must listen and wait. Maybe we think God is silent because we never take the time to sit in God's Word and wait. When we do, He promises it will penetrate us to the marrow of our bones, to the deepest places in our heart. Hebrews 4:12 says His Word is living and active and "sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow" (NIV).

When we choose to get alone with God, He promises to meet us there. Jeremiah 29:13-14a says, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be f ound by you" (NIV). Take the challenge to meet Him in His Word.

Do you want direction? Follow these steps

.1) Read God's Word: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the [woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (NIV) God was actively involved in the writing of Scripture. It is the infallible and authoritative Word of God written to speak Truth into your life today.

2) Study God's Word: 2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (NIV). When you study His Word, He plants it deep within your heart. His Spirit then takes the Word and bends your heart in His direction, enabling you to hear His Voice.

3) Pray God's Word: Isaiah 55:11 says, "...so is My Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purposes for which I sent it" (NIV). Prayer is God's living Word spoken out of your mouth. When you pray in faith, you hold God' Word up to Him in prayer. You put Him in remembrance of His Word, and His promise is that Word will not return void. Furthermore it shall accomplish that which He purposes and pleases.

Join me today in applying God's Word to the circumstances in your life. Know that when you do, God promises to do abundantly more than you could ever ask or imagine!

Heavenly Father, I need direction in my life today. You seem distant and silent. Yet I know that You are not because You promise to never leave me or forsake me. Today, I commit to search Your Word. Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in Your Law. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear Your direction in my circumstances. Thank You, Lord, that in my seeking You will meet me. Thank You that as I trust in You completely, You will le ad me down Your paths! In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

He Speaks to Me by Priscilla Shirer

Stop by Wendy's blog

Application Steps:
Commit one area of your life or one situation with which you struggle to hear the Lord. Search His Word for verses that speak to your situation. Write them down on a card, commit them to memory, and pray them back to God. Wait and watch for God to do a mighty work. Share your story with me on my blog. I would love to celebrate God's faithfulness with you.

Reflections:
Sit and soak in Psalm 119 and marvel at the many blessings that flow from knowing and obeying God's Word. Power

Verses:
Read, study, and pray the verses listed in the body of the devotional.

© 2009 by Wendy Blight. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Anxiety

Last week while I was journaling, I had some thoughts about anxiety. Well, it's nothing too profound, simple actually, I just had never thought it through before I guess. But anyway, I was just thinking about Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing but in all things, by prayer and petition and with thanksgiving, make your requests known before God."

But I just think about how you hear people quote the first part of that verse a lot... be anxious for nothing. Then when they do feel anxious, they might just keep saying over and over in their mind "be anxious for nothing, be anxious for nothing, be anxious for nothing..." But that's not really what that verse is saying. If you just stop at the don't be anxious part, then you are putting it on YOU to not be anxious. The Bible says don't be anxious so I'm just going to try and not be anxious.... no... the Bible says to present your requests before God. With prayer and petition. In the dictionary, petition is defined as to beg for or request. With thanksgiving... for everyone who asks, receives; he who seeks, finds; to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

So for me, I do this in my journaling. I pray a lot in there. God, this is what I'm anxious about. I don't understand. Why is it like this? It hurts. I feel like I can't handle this... Why? Now it's GOD's problem... He can handle it. I can't. And He can give me peace and release my anxiety at just the right time and give me eyes to see. Well, that's my sermon for the day. (-: Just my thoughts anyway...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My testimony

In May of 2003, I was living in Greenville, SC and started to feel a calling to move to northern Virginia. Although I had only lived in SC for about a year and a half, it had quickly become home and I was very comfortable there as a pastor’s wife. I loved the ministry there, as well as the people of my church. They became to me as close as family. Life was good there. Life was comfortable. This calling to move away was a little bit scary. Yet, there it was.

On May 31, 2003, I was sitting alone in my living room and I felt the Lord tell me to kneel right there at my couch and pray for direction and a confirmation if this was the direction we were supposed to go. The next day was Sunday and I went to church as usual. I sang the songs as usual. I went through all the usual motions. When it came time for the message, the pastor stood up at the pulpit and said something like, “I had a sermon all prepared but as we were singing, the Lord gave me a different one…” He began to preach from the book of Daniel when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fire. He spoke about how even though it was a scary place to be, God was with them. As he was preaching, I felt the Lord speaking to me. After the message, he prayed and in his prayer he said that he didn’t know why the Lord had given him that message that morning, but that he knew that there was someone in the congregation that it was for. Tears began to roll down my cheek as I distinctly knew it was meant for me. I don’t remember if I had ever heard the Lord speak to me so clearly before.

A few weeks later, my sister was visiting and sang a special song by Ginny Owens about walking through the valley. She told me that she sung it for me. I didn’t know why because I figured that God was calling us away from there so the following years were going to be wonderful! He surely wouldn’t call me right into a valley, right?

In August 2003, we moved. In September 2003, I got pregnant with my first baby who was born with special needs. We were there until October of 2005. Those were very difficult times in my life. They were also very hard times in ministry and I didn’t have any friends there other than my sister. I only knew people in the church and I couldn’t talk to them about anything because of my position there and I felt so alone. I couldn’t even talk to my family about the trials in my life. I prayed to God but still didn’t feel any relief.

When I moved back to Florida in 2005, I didn’t know what was going to happen. I still had no one to talk to, no job, no money and an 18 month old baby who had already had two surgeries and the medical bills to go with it. Fortunately, my parents lived here and helped us a lot. It wasn’t long before I had a job again and found a wonderful church. It seemed like the first week I was here I already had friends at church after two years of having no friends at all. That is amazing for a shy girl who doesn’t make friends quickly. Things were looking up.

But then the difficulties started. I just didn’t understand. Was I being a bad Christian… a bad wife… a bad mother? I didn’t know why all of this was happening to me. ...Then in December of 2007, my perfect "little family" world came crashing down. I found myself in a place I never thought I would. Dreams broken and shattered and instead of a happy little family I had dreamed of in my own little house, I was now back in my parents home trying to piece my world back together for my children and myself. .... I am starting to shake even as I write these words. I remember the pain all too well. I have never felt a pain like this in my entire life. In these moments, I so clearly understood the pain of every alcoholic… every drug addict… every person contemplating ending their lives. The pain was so incredible that it physically hurt. I don’t know if I could accurately describe the physical pain if I had not personally experienced it. I went days without any sleep at all and I’m not sure how long it took me to have another peaceful night of sleep. I could not eat. I could not do much at all. I am so grateful for my wonderful parents during this time. I had a toddler and a five week old baby at home who was still not sleeping through the night. I could not even hold them. My dad slept in the baby's room every night the first few nights and got up with him every three hours to feed him and rock him back to sleep. My mom got up every morning bright an early and went to work for me at the church. Words cannot express the gratitude I have towards them. I could not have gotten through it without them.

As I laid in my bed especially during those first few nights, I kept hearing the song “Shout to the Lord” running through my head. Especially the part where it says “My comfort, my shelter, tower of refuge and strength.” I knew that’s what the Lord was for me.

Even with my parents and my friends and so many people who loved and cared about me, I would not have made it through those times if I had not been for my Jesus and his reassuring words running through my head at night when I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know why this was happening to me and my two sweet boys, but for some strange reason unknown to me, the same God had allowed this to happen. He could have stopped it with the sound of his voice… but He didn’t. But he did assure me that He would be my comfort, my shelter and my tower of refuge and strength through this. As much as I didn’t like it and tried to make sense of it all, I wished that he would just take it all away from me and make everything okay. However, I knew I was going to have to walk through this fire and that I would not be walking alone. Also, for some reason, the Holy Spirit kept whispering the word “silver” to me. I had no idea what that meant or that it was even the Holy Spirit until I got an email from a friend a day or two after I started hearing the word.

It was a story from Malachi. Malachi 3:3 says “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” The story went along that a woman wondered what that verse actually meant so she went to watch the work of a silversmith to see the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over thefire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: 'He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.'She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, 'How do you know when the silver is fully refined?' He smiled at her and answered, 'Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it.'

Christ’s image on me. Is that what this trial is about, Lord? The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus asking Him if it was right to pay tax to Caesar. Jesus asked them whose image was on the coin and said to give to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. In effect, he was asking “Who’s image is on YOU?” Just as the silversmith knows that the silver is refined when he can see his image on it, I realized that I am being refined in the same way so that it will be evident whose image is on me.

I still have a long road of refining to go, but I have learned a LOT in this fire. I have learned to submit to God. That has been a difficult lesson for me. I am a doer. It’s hard for me to sit and wait on God. I feel like there is something I should be doing. Yet God has told me to be still and only do what He tells me to do instead of trying to fix things myself. Psalm 131:2 says “But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” The nursing child demands attention now, but the weaned child trusts and is content to wait. God just amazes me sometimes. Some things He even teaches me from my one year old son who has recently been weaned from the bottle, himself. I love to just sit back and look at God’s timeline of events in my life.

I’m so glad that He didn’t always do things they way I wanted Him to. If my life had been easy, I would have never gotten to this point. Not that I have figured all of this out or that all the hurt is gone. But, God has shown me that He is in the middle standing right next to me and holding me. Praise Him - He meets me right where I am each and every day through every high and every low. He doesn't wait for me to be joyful or thank Him for my circumstances. I have realized I can cry out to Him. I can be happy. I can be angry. I can be upset. I can be hurt. No matter what the circumstance, I have chosen to give Him praise.