Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Thrill of Hope

Christmas is coming!
That inner gasp happened to me this morning.   A thrill, if you will.  Anticipation that something really good is going to happen.   A vacation is coming and there is going to be a little something fun every day!  I’m thinking of the people, the lights, the music, the preparations, all pieces parts of the celebration.  But I love the anticipation!
When I was a young girl I would squeal when I got excited.  But now I tamp it down.  I tell myself not to get my hopes up.   Don’t raise my expectations too high.  Then I can’t get disappointed.  This is what life on earth can do to us, worry often replaces joy and maturity replaces fun.
So I said a mini prayer in my head.  I asked the Lord if anticipation is an ok thing.  Then I remembered that anticipation is just having high hopes.  And hope is all over the bible…
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul.  Hebrews 6:16
Be joyful in hope Romans 12:12
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
So it is good for us to have high hopes and excitement for good things to come.  I think God would be pleased if we let ourselves have the thrill of anticipation of the things He has promised.  So let’s read the New Testament and find out what He has promised, like help and love and heaven, and let it bring us sparks of excitement and happiness. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hope

What do you hope for?  Make a list. 

Now cross out every hope that God did not inspire.  If you hope your neighbor steps in a mud puddle cross that one off.

Some of our hopes are so clearly from God.  If you have heard God's voice then you know you have something solid to hope in.  One time I heard "let it go" when I was praying to restore my business.  I was shocked!  But then I knew to put my hope in moving on instead of holding on.

Some things on my personal hope list are, happy healthy grandchildren, wonderful jobs for my children, loving marriages...  Pretty basic stuff.  Yet, all God's ideas.  All good things.  Obviously this is my prayer list.

My hope list also includes guidance.  That's a biggie.  That I will be guided by the Holy Spirit.  I hope I can learn to trust. And that all those on my prayer list will hear the guiding voice of our loving heavenly father.  And that rebellion will gently fall away in the hope of God's goodness.

But I think it would be fun to make another list.  "Hopes that Happened".  Because we easily forget about those.  One time I hoped for a little doggie that would want to cuddle with me.  And he is on my lap right now.  Looking at this list makes my heart leap with joy.  It feels like love.  It is ok to be happy.

And to those hopes that didn't happen, God asks us to be patient.  He asks us to trust him anyway.  The story is not over.  Because ultimately our biggest hope is in heaven.

Hebrews 11:1- Faith is the substance of things HOPED for.
Romans 12:12 Be JOYFUL IN HOPE. patient in affliction,  Prayerful always.
1 Thessalonians 5:16 Always be joyful and don't stop praying. 


In other words, don't stop believing, and, get this party started!


Thursday, February 9, 2017

The ONE Thing.




I was in college in the early 80s.  I was not raised in a “Christian home”.   But for some reason I put this poster on my dorm room wall.
Looking back I wonder why.  I want to ask myself, “Hey Julie, what’s up with the Jesus poster?”  I was barely following Jesus.  I was doin’ my own thing.  Making my own way and accomplishing things.  I was a little bit type A back then.  Ok, very type A.  I liked things my way.  And I got things done and I overscheduled and achieved.  Dang it, I achieved!   Move out of my way or get run over.  But still I seemed to know one thing…Jesus loves me.

I am turning 55 this year.  I am happy.  I have a wonderful husband,  great kids who I respect and cherish, a new grandchild,  a successful business, a beautiful home, a funny little doggie, and bonus, my parents are still kickin.  And yet, I treasure above all that one thing.  Jesus loves me.
I have been broke.  I mean, praying for the next meal, daily bread, broke.  I have dressed in hand me downs, drove a rusty car, and filed bankruptcy.  I have felt shame and despair.  I have basically had a nervous breakdown.  I have been weak and sick and overweight.  I have lost my peace about things like buying and selling our homes, and sending kids to private school, or college, or home school.  I watched precious family members get sick and die before my eyes.  But alas, that one thing… Jesus loves me.

Life lifts you up and sometimes drops you hard.  I live in Indiana.  We can be sunny one day and sub-zero the next.  But I have been rescued many, many times.  I have been helped by friends, strangers, and (I believe) angels.  I have seen miracles. I have experienced healings.   I have had more prayers answered than I could ever record.   I have been led by the Holy Spirit. I have “heard” God’s voice in my head giving answers to my ugly questions.  The fact that I can understand the bible is amazing to me.   I have always been provided for and I have never been alone, why?, only that one thing, that one amazing thing.

Everyone who loves knows God because God is love.  God’s perfect love casts out fear.  And no greater love has ever been shown than the sacrifice of Jesus for us.

Jesus loves me.  He loves you.  He loves everyone.  And if I could tell you anything it would be
that one thing.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Birth of a Prince



On American magazine covers recently was headlined about the birth of the new baby in line for the throne of England.  It is fitting for a prince to be born with celebration and announcements, loud and proud!  But when Jesus, the King of Kings, was born it was very different.  God saw fit to keep it hush-hush.  But God allowed those who were looking for him to find him.

It is the same today with the voice of God.  It is not the loudest voice we hear.  The bible calls it a “still, small voice”.  It is not catchy like a commercial, or commanding like the wizard of oz.  It is the little “nah” inside when we are tempted.  It is the “I love you” when we are rejected.  It is the “lean on me” when you are down.  And when you speak his name, it is the “here I am”.

You can make God’s voice easier to hear and recognize with bible study.  God wants us to use his written word to get to know him better.  Even Jesus often spoke using scripture instead of his own words.  It can help to make a list of scripture that touches your heart.  It is best to start in the New Testament.  But here is one of my favorites from the Old…


Then he said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.”  And behold the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after that an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after that a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after that
a still small voice. 
                                                                                                            1 Kings 19 11-12


In this loud confusing world God’s voice can be hidden.  
 He can seem quiet as snow, and soft as a whisper.
But he promised that he would be found by those who earnestly seek him.

I love those who love me, and those who seek me will find me.      Proverbs 8:17

Inspired by the song “Winter Snow” by Audrey Assad (written by Chris Tomlin) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy29mQfiavg

Sunday, September 14, 2014

We’ve got personality!



 

 I have read that there are 4 basic types of personalities:  choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, and melancholy.  It is very interesting to study the differences and guess which category my children, friends, and especially my husband, fall into.  I apparently am a melancholy.  It brings me comfort to know that there are others who think like I do and that I am not alone in my, umm, quirks.  So being a melancholy I naturally want to know how I got like this and did God make me this way.  So I asked him. 
            I prayed “Lord, what am I?” 
The Spirit brought a thought to my mind immediately.
"An overcomer." 
Wow!  That was unexpected. But a much better option, I think.
"How, Lord?" 
"By the word.
By the blood of the lamb and the word of your testimony. "

The word says, “In the world you will have trouble but be of good cheer I have overcome the world.”  Be of good cheer?  Not easy for a melancholy.  But the word also says, “This is the day which the Lord has made.  REJOICE and BE GLAD in it.”  And, “Jesus came that we may have and ENJOY life in abundance.”  So the bible gives me permission to focus on joy instead of my natural inclination to be melancholy.

All these things have been brought to my mind when I ask God what I am:  A disciple, his daughter, a sheep, a worshiper, an intercessor.  That is how He sees me.  Funny that He never once said, a melancholy.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Don't Bother God?

Do you ever feel like your issues might be pesky to God?  After all, He has some global things to work on.  I often find myself praying small prayers throughout the day then wondering if I am becoming like a gnat to God.

But then the Holy Spirit reminds me that He is my daily bread.  And believe me I am a grazer.  I can eat all day long!  When Jesus said to "give us this day our daily bread" obviously he wasn't just talking about food.  It was a metaphor for all our needs but most importantly our spiritual ones.  Remember when he said "man does not live by bread alone, but by every word from God"? 

In Genesis it says that God met with Adam daily, taking a walk together in the cool of the evening.  I imagine they were talking about management issues since Adam was in training for taking care of the Earth.  If Adam needed it then, how much more do I need it now? 

God is not stressed out.  He is not too busy for me.  He can handle anything I come to him with.

We are like a sweet fragrance to him.  Always welcome. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Security



Everything is fragile.  Oh, the feeling of security that comes from having money in the bank.  It is so nice.  After going through bankruptcy in the latest recession I find myself really wanting to protect that new little savings account and getting a little jumpy if I see it dwindling.  Yet it is ever vulnerable.    
When my business is doing well like it is right now, and we are achieving our goals and accomplishing big things it is extremely satisfying.  But every victory is short lived. The next day comes and we are working again to keep up the progress.  Even in success it is a constant struggle.  I am blessed because I am passionate about my work.  But there is no coasting.  It always seems one month away from failing. 
As an athlete I had the gift of a strong flexible body that can be counted on in a competition or performance.  I took it for granted for many years.  Now at age 51 my body is fickle.  It takes effort to be fit, but the real struggle is finding the flow of motivation and energy.  

The rock. Only one thing makes me feel secure.  Gods love and hold on me.   For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38
 When I think of the wisdom and scope of his plan, I fall down on my knees and pray to the Father of all the great family of God—some of them already in heaven and some down here on earth—  that out of his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you the mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit.  And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself.”




Strength and beauty.  ”Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.  May he be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the Church through Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 3:14-21