Friday, September 6, 2013

Glimpses of God

So I cannot believe that we are almost done with this Bible study.  It has really zoomed by, but I've learned truckloads of ways that I can get closer with God and make my relationship with Him even stronger.  
The question on today's post that I am going to try my best to answer is:
"How can my life experiences help provide people with glimpses of God?"
 I do a few ministries with children in our church...Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, and a children's moment during Sunday morning service, and I've talked to them before about how they can witness to people.  Much like myself, the children aren't big on preaching to people about living a life for Christ.  I was raised in a household where telling people what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong as far as God goes what not the way to lead people to Him.  Quite the opposite, many times I've seen that kind of approach backfire and force people to shy away from God, for fear they just are not and will never be good enough.  The way I was taught and how I continue to teach the children how to lead people to God is by showing people how great God is in your simply telling people, "Look what God has done in my life and look at the awesome blessings He continues to give to me!"  Christianity...having that faithful and blessed relationship with God is beautiful.  Letting people know how God has blessed you is nothing but awesome, and can help those people say and believe that not only do they want a relationship with God, but that they can have one too!  I mean who wouldn't want a life of security, love, and peace?  If we show others how God makes that happen in our lives, it's only a matter of time before they start really believing that it can happen in theirs too. 
Check out his Bible verse from Philippians 2: 14-16.  I'll offer some different translations and a little verse mapping as well.

"Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may be innocent and pure as God's perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people.  You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, as you offer them the message of life.  If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted." Good News Translation

"Do everything readily and cheerfully--no bickering, no second-guessing allowed!  Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.  Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.  Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I'll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns.  You'll be living proof that I didn't go to all this work for nothing." The Message

"Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you will be blameless and pure, children of God without any fault.  But you are living with evil people all around you, who have lost their sense of what is right.  Among those people you shine like lights in a dark world, and you offer them the teaching that gives life.  So I can be proud of you when Christ comes again.  You will show that my work was not wasted--that I ran in the race and won." Easy-to-Read Version

And now a little verse mapping...
As Christians, God wants us to live our lives doing everything without complaining or arguing so that when people look at us they can tell who we are living for...God.  
Living in a world that is corrupted, squalid, polluted, sinful, and has lost its sense of what is right, God wants us to be a breath of fresh air and shine like stars lighting up the sky.
God wants us to live our lives so that just by looking at us, people get a glimpse of good living and the living of God.  
By doing that, we aren't living our lives in vain, but we are living them to carry the light-giving Message into the offer others the teaching that gives life.  
Then on the day when Christ returns, He will see that He didn't come back for nothing.  He came back for the world!

Just as I am doing right now, give these verses much thought before you start your day, and let the Words encourage you to do God's work in the lives of others.  Let these Words, and any other verses in the Bible that are helpful and encouraging to you...let them all be our guide to our day to day.  Reading these verses inspires me to be God's light in a dark world.  I want to shine like a star in the sky so that all a person has to do to know that I have God in my life and in my heart is just watch me for awhile.  This is my Godly goal.  I will have days of success and I will have days of failure, but I will always have God either way.  And God is great!    


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Stick With It

Here we are!  It's already week five of OBS!  I have to be honest...this week I have not been very good at "sticking with it"...the Bible Study that is.  Yes, I finished my chapters which is fantastic, but the week was not as inspirational and encouraging as I wanted it to be for one reason and one reason!  I was not opening myself up to be inspired and encouraged by the wonderful messages we receive daily from our leaders and from God.  
My life has had a bit of change over the last couple of months.  My husband and I found out that we will be blessed with another baby, which we are totally thankful for.  But let me tell you...this precious unborn angel has left me zapped.  We also have a three and a half year old who has been zapping my energy as well, God love her.  Both of these angels are nothing but blessings, but I've been allowing myself to get beat down by all the negative stuff...nausea, exhaustion, hormones, exhaustion, insane-frequently changing cravings...and of course, there's exhaustion.  But I have been allowing myself to be so consumed with all the negative that I completely closed my fist to the positive...and that includes getting all I can get out of this awesome online Bible Study!
Today, as I was catching up on my Bible Study questions and sitting down to finally do my blog hop, I was reviewing the previous few posts on the OBS website, and of course, wouldn't you know it...God spoke right to me.  I opened the page to yesterday's post and right there, big, bold, and beautiful declared this awesome verse out of 1 Chronicles 28:20:

"Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you."

I mean could God have said it any clearer to me?  He is saying, "Be strong, Jenny!  Don't get scared and discouraged!  Stick with it!  I'm right here!"  
How awesome is that?  Then, it got me thinking about good old Joshua when God expected him to carry on in Moses' place in leading the people into the Promised Land.  Talk about scared and discouraged!  I love this story, it is the place where God always leads my heart and my mind when I start to get just the way Joshua did at first.  Just like all the other fearful times in my life, God leads me to this verse:

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." -Joshua 1:9

Once again, could he be anymore clear to us?  Did He say "well, I'll be with you when it starts getting really tough."  Nope.  Did He say "well, ok. You're scared, so I'll hold your hand this time, but next time you're on your own."  Not even close.  God says that He will be with us wherever we go.  Good times...bad times...sad times...and silly times.  He's there for everything.  He's here to help me not just get through this pregnancy, but to get through it with joy in my heart so that there is not doubt of the blessing He has given to us again!  It's the same with this study.  These studies have been such an inspiration to me since I started them about a year ago.  They have changed my life and made me so much closer with God!  My love for Him is so much deeper and my concept of Him is so crystal clear.  He brought me here.  He opened the door to this awesome study and these awesome leaders and Bible study members!  And He didn't get me this far to drop the ball.  He's going to continue leading me in the right direction...His direction.  I just have to wake up and STICK WITH IT!!!  Which means I need to get with it.  Head up, eyes up, palms open.  This week is going to be an awesome week.  I am once again, prioritizing my relationship with God over sleeping in late, household chores, favorite tv shows, and anything else that tries to get in my way.  First thing in the morning is generally when I get my great big cup of God.  Coffee used to be in there too, but nausea has replaced that with gingerale.  But if I don't have that time with God first thing in the morning, I'm lost for the rest of the day.  I'm like a dog chasing my tail, going round and round in circles getting absolutely nowhere fast.  Of course, in order to get that much needed time with God, I have to get myself up before the rest of the house.  I don't know about you, but I can't really spend my much needed quiet, concentrating time with God when my loved ones are awake and moving around. So with God's help, I will start this week right and keep it that way!
Gracious and Heavenly Father, 
Thank you so much for the blessings You continue to give me.  I know I have been lacking and tired this week.  Please, Lord, help me to rise above the fear, discouragement, and exhaustion, and help me to open my heart, my mind, and my palms completely to Your Word and Your guidance.  I don't want to miss any of the blessings you have for me.  Thank you, Father, for being with me wherever I go.