We Can Conquer

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103-winnie-the-poohFor the last few days I have been thinking about a few spies sent to scout out some land. Perhaps you remember them as well …

Moses sent twelve men, one from each tribe of Israel, to go and see the land which God had promised to the people. Their instructions …

“See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps. Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.”
(Numbers 13:18-20, NLT)

The men do exactly as instructed, exploring the land for forty days and then returning to give their report. And so the report begins …

“We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country – a land flowing with milk and honey.” (verse 27)

And then the shoe drops …

But the people living there are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!” (verse 28)

And if that were not enough, they continued …

“All the people were huge. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” (verse 33)

These ten spies could only see with their natural eyes and minds, forgetting all which God had already promised to them. Their report quickly became exaggerated and spread like wildfire through the whole community. The response of the people?

Weeping aloud, they cried all night. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. (Numbers 14:1-2, NLT)

Seriously? How quickly they had forgotten all which God had already done for them – providing for their needs, rescuing them from their captivity, leading them day and night through the wilderness.

And sometimes, we are just like them, seeing the glass half empty all the time. Much like my friend, Eeyore, attempts at optimism, fall short –

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But there were two spies, Caleb and Joshua, who were able to see things differently. They saw the land through the lens of faith, from God’s perspective …

But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” (Numbers 13:30, NLT)

On those days, when life seems unsurmountable, may we not focus on the problem. May we not let our imaginations run wild and grow huge in our minds.

Instead may we focus on the One who overcame all odds.

For it is in Him, we can certainly conquer.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, NIV)

 

Today I am joining … Three Word Wednesday and Tell His Story and Wedded Wednesday and Women With Intention .

Your Sacred Yes

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JoanneVWordImageLarge

I’m not going to lie or make excuses, this word has been a challenge. I am six months into thinking deeply on what it means to “believe” for more, with a persistence which does not let go. At this point, there is no counting the number of times this year I have prayed, “Lord, when I falter, help me in my unbelief.”

In her book, Your Sacred Yes, Susie Larson quotes Dr. Wiersbe:

“As we feed on the Word of God and apply it in daily life, our inner “spiritual senses” get their exercise and become strong and keen …. It is impossible to stand still in the Christian life: we either go forward and claim God’s blessing, or we go backward and wander aimlessly.”

Your Sacred Yes has encouraged me to go forward, to believe God for even more in my life.

It is easy to over-obligate ourselves, saying yes to everything which comes our way. Yet even good things may not be the “yeses” we are supposed to embrace. We must learn to discern that which God is calling us. We must learn to heed the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit as He guides so that we do not strive and strain our way through life.

As we overcome unbelief and walk in God’s yes for us, we find ourselves living with expectancy and an awareness of Him. As our hearts and minds are engaged and do what He says, we become more spiritually healthy. We’re able to navigate life and our circumstances with increasing wisdom.

As we keep on believing, we learn to consistently guard our hearts and minds as those who are set apart for Him. We want to think as He thinks. We desire lives which will look at the injustices around us and dig our heels in deeply and determine we will not drop the ball in our generation.

In John 15, Jesus tells us: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” As our lives move forward in Him, our lives become productive for His purposes.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8, NIV)

Your sacred “Yes”.

It will bear much fruit.

All to God’s glory.

 

 

book-whiteThis book makes a wonderful study whether done alone or in a group. Each chapter includes a prayer, questions for personal reflection, a wise quote from another source, group discussion starters and a declaration of faith. The book will help lead readers into a deeper relationship with God, which will make it easier to discern God’s will and then respond.

**** I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

Today I am joining …. Testimony Tuesday and Unite and True Story and RaRa Linkup and Intentional Tuesday and Reflect and Words With Winter .

Five More Women

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11015084_865590096835214_4335680576188250137_nLast week, I looked at five women from the Old Testament. It is only fair for us to look at fie New Testament women now:

  1. Elizabeth. A woman filled with the Holy Spirit. Upon seeing Mary enter her home, Elizabeth spoke words which affirmed Mary’s identity and calling. Made me question if the words I speak to others do the same. Not by way of compliments which flatter, but in a way that truly recognizes and encourages them for who they are. Or do my words and actions discourage or minimize others? “Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” (Luke 1:42-45, NLT)
  2. Mary. She sat and listened to Jesus as He was teaching, humbling herself at the feet of Jesus. Mary teaches me two things.  I need to know when to stop, to stay still, in order to listen to the voice of our Lord. In my busyness, I can miss His still small voice. Mary also teaches me to let the Lord come to my defense. Mary does not remark back to Martha, nor defend herself to Martha. She lets the Lord come to her defense. “But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, NLT) May I be like Mary and choose that which is better.
  3. Martha. And now for the other sister. It was the home of Martha which Jesus came to eat. Martha welcomed Jesus so she obviously has the gift of hospitality “but Martha became was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.” (verse 40). Here is a woman who possesses the gift of hospitality and is exercising it. This is only a problem when she became distracted by the details. Even something good can distract us from our Lord. In the midst of opening up our homes and being hospitable, sharing a meal or coffee, may we not get so caught up in the details of what we are doing that we forget our Lord. May we remember it is Him that we serve. And may we remember those we are extending hospitality are more important than the details. They will never remember how clean (or not) your house was or if it the meal was served on fine china or paper dishes. But they will remember if you served them the love of Jesus and His Word. May He fill our homes and be present in our hearts as we serve Him.
  4. Mary Magdalene. She mourned for Jesus. At the graveside, Jesus spoke her name (John 20:16) and she immediately recognized Him. I love the tenderness of this passage. Mary Magdalene, the very first witness to our Lord’s resurrection. Not the 12 disciples. A woman. She saw Him. She heard His voice. This woman whose life had once been a broken mess had experienced the healing which Jesus brings. And He brings that very same healing to each of us and grants us the same privilege of relationship. Very humbling.
  5. Phoebe. A servant of the church, who helped many people. Paul mentioning her (Romans 16:1-2) as such was indicative that she was a woman who had both wealth and social status. She used both to honor God in helping others. Phoebe – a woman who used her resources to help others. This morning I pause to question myself > What resources have been given to me? Which do I use to help others? What do I give freely? Our resources can be a host of things besides money. Sometimes, money isn’t even what another person might need. Do I give my ear to listen? Do I give an encouraging word of Scripture? Does my life reflect Jesus? Do I offer my home – a meal, a bed to sleep in? Phoebe has provoked me to think outside the box.

May I be like these five women – staying close to Jesus, letting Him mold and shape my life, and using all which He has given me to honor Him.

Candle and Bible, with woman praying in the background, Saint Nicolas de Veroce, Haute Savoie, France, Europe(credit)

 

Today I am joining … Sharing His Beauty and #SmallWonder and Inspire Me Monday and Playdates With God .

My Soul Waits

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United Kingdom, English channel at sunrise“My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the mourning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” (Psalm 130:6, NIV)

Precious Lord,

Ignite a powerful, spiritual momentum in my life! Increase my capacity for You! Help me to grow in my knowledge and comprehension of Your Word. Empower me to pray with bold conviction and to speak with holy precision. Awaken my heart to love what You love and to see what You see. Help me to be consistent with the things that matter most in my life. Motivate me to steward the gifts and opportunities You’ve set before me. May I abound in love and increase daily in all wisdom, knowledge, and depth of insight. May I understand the times and know what to do. Surround me with Your favor as with a shield. Tuck me in the shadow of Your wing – teach me to dwell there, to live from that place of power and protection. May Your favor matter more to me than man’s opinion. Teach me Your way that I might walk the high path You’ve established for me.More, more, more of You in me, on me, and through me, Lord! My soul waits for You. Amen.

(taken from Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson, pages 162-163)

 

Today I am joining … Give Me Grace and Sunday Stillness and Spiritual Sundays .

5: Of Dreams, Detours & Perseverance

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Summer. The season filled with long, sunny, and warm days. The nights cooler and calm, meant to sit outdoors till the shadows lengthen in the yard. And we did just this very thing, enjoying eating outside and conversing till the coolness overcame us, or it was time for Jeopardy, whichever came first :)

Slower days also makes room for more reading and I enjoyed these ….

1) As we let go of the trappings of the world, grace appears revealing Itself to us in new measure. In this post we’re reminded, grace … “It’s like a faucet that can’t be turned off.” When-the-weight-of-your-sin-fades-by-the-730x548

2) Dreams. We all have them. We’re told to embrace them. But what happens when one of our dreams does not come to fruition? In this post, we find the encouragement to embrace the detour because … “It is no detour at all; it’s a divinely crooked road that is all yours.” Dead-Flowers

3) Strong-willed children. Maybe you know one. Perchance you have one. Or for all one knows, you were one. No matter the case, a strong-willed child is able to test the patience of even the most patient. In this post we’ll find this reminder for those hard days … 2014-12-04-simplyforreal

4) The world recently said goodbye to a most godly, encouraging, and loved Christian woman – Elisabeth Elliot. In this beautiful tribute to her, you will find several favorite quotes including … proxy

5) Flash mobs. You can find any number of them on the internet. I’ve watched this one several times and it leaves me humming and smiling every single time. Why? It reminds me there is nothing we cannot do if we join together, work together, and shake off the things which would seek to hinder us. “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  (Hebrews 12:1b, NIV)

May you have a great weekend!

Love,
Joanne

Today I am joining … Still Saturday and The Weekend Brew .

Dream

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I’m joining Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday. One word prompt. Five minutes. No editing. Lots of women. All of us writing on that same word.

Today the word prompt is … Dream.

I look at the word in my Bible dictionary (NLT Bible) and read, “a strongly desired goal or purpose.”

Growing up, I had a a dream of how my life should turn out. Many years later, my life looks similar to my dream but it surely has taken a very different journey.

My dream never included tears or difficulty or rejection or health issues for family. I never dreamed it may include Alzheimer’s or unemployment or even, unmet dreams.

Scripture tells me, “It is pleasant to see dreams come true.” (Proverbs 13:19, NLT)

The dreams which God fulfilled were pleasant. Through those dreams, He brought His overwhelming joy and peace. And it was very pleasant.

Sunrise on a golf course

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”
(Proverbs 13:12, NLT)

Yes, I desire to see my dreams come true. But more so, I want to see His dream, His intended purpose fulfilled in my life.

Dreams fulfilled in my life bring life.

His life.

To me and –

to others.

 

Photo Credit

Today I am joining … Five Minute Friday and Faith Filled Friday and Fellowship Friday and Grace & Truth .

From Messes to Miracles

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I’m thinking about messes today. In fact, I have been a mess, lived in a mess, and more times than not, created a mess.

Mess, as defined by dictionary.com:

  • a dirty, untidy, or disordered condition
  • a state of embarrassing confusion
  • an unpleasant or difficult situation
  • a jumble

We can be a mess or experience a mess. Either way, a mess leaves us feeling ineffective, at times purposeless, and useless. At times, we can wonder what is it that is wrong with us, or question what is missing in our lives.

But sometimes, it is right into the middle of our messes where God does His best work. He can step in and turn those very messes into miracles which will astound for the rest of your days.

Miracle, as defined by that same dictionary:

  • a wonder; a marvel
  • an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God

Each and every one of us, known and loved by God, are miracles. Our lives are transformed from the messes they once were into the miracles He makes.

Every broken piece is a part of the artwork He is creating. Every fragmented area, He is looking to make whole.

41MTEvrTUiL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_In her book, More: From Messes to Miracles, Tammie Head writes:

Jesus’ love was made manifest when He took the time to heal the hurting, notice the rejects, the sinners, the lepers, and even, the harlots.

What sets Jesus apart is His ability to see through the eyes of redemption. He’s not so much looking at the mess. He’s looking at the masterpiece. He’s not so much concerned with who we’ve been, but who we’d become if we wholeheartedly put our faith in Him.

Our past is never, ever, ever wasted. It is a tool of purpose in the hand of a very strategic God if we’ll humble ourselves to become fully healed vessels.
(taken from page 97)

This is a wonderful book bringing such hope and encouragement to every reader who is tired of just surviving the day. This is a book which will challenge the thoughts of stale and tired religion. Each chapter builds on the one before and by the time you close the pages of this book, you will long for a heart set ablaze once again.

God sees the entire picture of our lives, from birth to death. And He knows what His power can achieve in a life wholly surrendered to Him. He never gives up on any of us but finishes each masterpiece He begins.

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“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
(Philippians 1:6, NLT)

 

*Thank you, Deb Wolf, for the use of your graphic. It is much appreciated!

Today I am joining … Thought Provoking Thursday and Literacy Musing Mondays and The Book Nook and Looking Up .