Category Archives: spiritual growth

Beauty Rises From the Ashes

I knew this incredible young woman when she was a teenager. I was aware she was suffering and seeking help but I never knew the full extent of her suffering. What a joy to see her come to a place of healing. Please read this e-book she wrote sharing some of the steps in her journey to find peace.

Also check out Emily’s blog.

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Filed under depression, Grace, inspirational, Listening to God, spiritual growth, suffering, women

Who Am I?

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Often I forget life is not about me.

I’m not the source of strength or truth in my life. I can’t produce one good thing in my own strength. My breath is a gift of grace from God. I can’t hold on to it or guarantee I will take another one.

As I take a deep breath…that act is grace.

Do I have hope? That is a gift.

Do I have a moment of peace? Also a gift.

Every second I spend with a loved one and look into their precious face is a gift. ALL good things come from our Creator Father. The ability to enjoy His gifts comes from Him. Life and death are gifts from Him. Life because it allows us to know Him. Death because it allows us to be with Him forever. I need reminders of who I am.

I’m a receiver of His good gifts.

I am…

A branch not the vine.

A creation not the Creator.

A pencil not the source of truth

A reflection not the light.

A servant not the master.

A voice not the message.

One part not the body.

Gifted not the gift.

A messenger not the message.

A channel not the source.

Forgiven not sinless.

In process not perfect.

En route not at my destination.

A singer not the song.

A child.

A follower.

A believer.

A vessel.

Forgiven, loved, trusting.

He is…

The Creator.

The Light.

The Hope.

The Master.

The Message.

The Author.

The Giver of every good gift.

He alone is worthy of praise, honor and glory.

All that I am, I owe to Him.

That this Great God would choose to love me and use me is overwhelming GRACE!

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (ESV)

“But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 (ESV)

For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17 (ESV)

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Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions

 

 

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I’ll take instant maturity, please.

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Grinning with pleasure, I watched my newly planted butterfly garden. The bold yellow of the Yarrow and the vibrant orange of the Blanket flowers were a great beginning, but I longed for all the green to turn to blossoms. I rushed out each morning, excited to see new blossoms but nothing seemed to change.

Gardening brings a great lesson in patience. Hoping for growth, we plant seeds or small plants where they will get sun, adding soil, food and water. It takes weeks, months or in some cases a year or more to get full benefit of our labor. We must trust the food, water and sun to bring the seeds to full growth.

Spiritual growth is the same. When I read an inspiring verse or book or hear an insightful sermon, I want the maturity offered right now. I read about loving others with all my heart and wonder the next day why I’m rude and uncaring. I learn about the power of thoughts and keeping them focused on truth and want victory that minute. Like my butterfly garden, spiritual maturity comes with time and the right conditions for growth.

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Luke 8:15 (NIV)

   Perseverance produces a crop. If I want growth, I prepare my heart with prayer as I would prepare the soil. Letting the Holy Spirit break up the hard clods of sin. I plant the seeds of truth in the soil of my heart by reading and meditating on Scripture. I drink from His living water, yielding to the Holy Spirit. I spend time in His presence and His light shines on me like the sun warming my heart and bringing the seeds to life. As I listen and obey, those seeds grow and produce fruit. But like my garden this takes time and patience, daily care and trust that the fruit will come. If I apply food, water and light, my garden will grow. When I pray, read Scripture, stay in God’s presence and obey His leading, over time spiritual maturity will come.

I few years ago, after struggling to be consistent with daily Bible reading, I was introduced to the SOAP method of Bible Study. With excitement, I made it a priority every morning. After a few weeks, I wanted to see change. God helped me to see that change comes as we make these choices day by day.

It’s what we do everyday that changes us over time.

I realized I would have to be patient and faithful and trust the power of His word to work in me.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.” James 5:7 (NIV)

Do you wish for instant maturity? I know I do.

     If we will persevere and keep studying, praying and applying His word as we seek to know Him better, maturity will come. Just as one day I will walk out and see a garden of beautiful flowers, there are days when I get a glimpse of His word producing fruit in my life.

Keep going! Persevere. The fruit will come!

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Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions

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Filed under beauty, Bible, Bible Study, Butterflies, Christianity, Faith, Obedience, personal, SOAP, spiritual growth

Take One Step

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 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:7-8 (ESV)

 

I have to make some choices here. I have to choose to submit to God. I choose to draw near to Him. When I do, He promises to draw near to me.

If we take one step towards God, He meets us.

I have to choose to resist the devil, just resist. Submit to God, oppose the devil. It doesn’t say I have to defeat the devil in my strength. Just resist. Don’t just give in or follow blindly along. Don’t just accept his lies.

RESIST.

Draw near to God. Cleanse and purify my heart. Be single-minded in seeking God.

Father, thank you that you love me so much. Thank you that in your strength it is possible to resist the devil. Thank you that you always meet the one who steps toward you. I want to submit to you, dear Father. I want you to have all my heart. Please help me resist the evil one today.

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When My Ugly is Showing

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My selfish attitude slapped me in the face.

I was in a situation where I realized my attitude was ugly, stingy and self-focused. And this was concerning my eighty-six year old mother! Wow, way to go self.

As I thought back over the choices I’d made throughout the day I realized how self-focused I’d been. I felt helpless in the face of my own weak nature. My inability to be a good person. I’m not a good person by nature. When I operate in my own strength, I always default to selfishness.

It’s only as I yield to Jesus and trust Him by faith to work through me that I can live and love as He wants me to. Words aren’t enough to express what His grace means. Amazing, astounding, glorious. How can words express thanks for such a gift?

I had missed my prayer and Bible reading for 5 or 6 days before this instance and had been operating in my own strength. I was “doing” the right things but harboring a selfish attitude.

Then I remembered: run to Jesus!

He was right there loving me. He died so that I could come to Him aware of my own failure and sin. I cried out to Him and confessed my sin. I confessed my weakness and remembered how He loves me. How He has always been there to love and forgive, Running to Jesus is always the answer.

When sin grips my heart, I run to Jesus.

When problems rise like mountains, I run to Jesus.

When that voice in my head says I’m a failure, I run to Jesus.

When I realize I’m weak, incapable of loving my neighbor as myself, I run to Jesus.

When regret threatens to crush me, I run to Jesus.

When I do it right, I run to Jesus.

The LIE is that I’m not worthy and I should just give up.

The TRUTH is Jesus says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 So when I am weak, He is strong.

My flesh rebels at the idea that I have to have connection to Him everyday. That I need time in prayer and scripture every day. That I have no strength apart from Him. But it’s true, I don’t. When I am walking with Jesus and He’s working through me, loving through me, I can make the mistake of thinking “I” am good. “I” am doing something. I can’t take credit for anything. I breath because He lives. If I’m able to love sacrificially, it’s because He first loved me.

It’s all grace.

Praise His holy name!

Thank you Jesus that you can take all my weakness, all my mess, all my brokenness and use it to your glory. Thank you that nothing is wasted. Thank you that every good thing in my life is a gift from you. I thank you that you use even the hard things to draw my heart to you. I love you Lord!

Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions

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Filed under Bible, Devotional, Faith, God's love, Grace, Jesus, personal, relationships, spiritual growth, struggles

The Best Decision for the New Year

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Today is the last day of 2015.

The end of another year of reading through the Bible with the SOAP method. His written Word is our daily food, it’s alive and powerful. It’s not like any other book every written. It’s inspired by the Holy Spirit and every word is true.

Here are my SOAP (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) journal notes for this last day of 2015 as we finish the book of Revelation:

Anyone Who Wishes

S – “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17

O – After reading about those who will be outside of heaven and will not be allowed in, what wonderful words! Anyone who wishes, ANYONE who desires the water of life is welcome! Those who stay outside are those who choose to do so, those who refuse to come, who refuse to believe or repent. Jesus invites all who want His gift, to come in.

A – I am so thankful that I know Jesus. I am so thankful that He loves me and welcomes me into His kingdom. I can do absolutely nothing on my own. I am a helpless, wandering sheep without Him.

P – Jesus, thank you for giving me the water of life. I do wish. I do want that free gift and I have received it! Please take all that I am and use me for your glory.

Please join me as we start a new year reading through the Bible tomorrow! There are various reading plans that fit whatever your needs are.  You can choose from a snack, meal or a feast.   Find a journal, a notebook or use an online journal as I do to record your insights. God’s written Word changes our hearts and our lives when we mediate on it and choose to obey. Please comment below if you have any questions. You can also follow along with others as we read at Discover One Thing.

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Filed under Bible, Bible Study, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, heaven, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Journal, Listening to God, personal, SOAP, spiritual growth