Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gifted2Go Forgive!

"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:14-15

"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

Christmas, The Season of Giving, represents one of the greatest times of the year as we celebrate the greatest GIFT that was ever given by God ~JESUS~ HIS ONE AND ONLY SON. Jesus was born to die so that we could be FORGIVEN and experience ETERNAL LIFE here on earth and forever some day in heaven! Forgiveness is a gift from God. A gift to receive and a gift to give. Is there someone or some life experience that God has brought to your mind and heart to extend fresh forgiveness? When we do not forgive over and over this could cause bitter feelings or thoughts.

Some of the best definitions and truths of forgiveness that I heard and learned years ago when I was in a Bible Study about making peace with the past was shared from Focus on the Family and it goes like this "Forgiveness means giving up my right to hurt others that have hurt me! Forgiveness doesn't mean that what someone did to me is OK, it means that God will take care of everything as I put it all in His Hands! Forgiveness doesn't mean that I am suppose to have a close relationship with those that do not have your best interest at heart, I just need make sure that I am not holding any grudges that end up choking the life out of me!"

Usually forgiveness is not a one time action, it is an ongoing healthy habit!! If the enemy fails at causing Christians to turn their back on and/or be bitter at God, he will try over and over to get them to turn their back on/or be bitter at people!!

As a first-generation Christian that was NOT raised in a Christian home and that has suffered deeply from the sins of others projected onto my life. As a Christian, some of the most difficult times in my walk with God has been when other Christian's have betrayed me, but, God has allowed me to learn how to supernaturally FORGIVE the many many offenses of others (as I never forget all that He has forgiven me from) 70 x 7 and much more!! How?

Here are some simple steps, that I pray encourage you, that you can take that I have taken over and over and over to be BETTER instead of BITTER!!!

1. Never forget the many things that God has forgiven you for! (1 Tim.1:15)

2. Never stop praying for others that have offended or hurt you! (Matt. 5:44)

3. Never let the sun go down on your offense or anger! Confession keeps our hearts free from bitterness! God will take care of the offender! (Eph.4:26, 2 Tim. 4:14)

4. Never get confused with who is behind all the offenses and hurts of this world, it is NOT people, that the enemy wants you to hold a grudge against, it is THE ENEMY himself that deserves ALL blame...this is his purpose, let's not give him any purpose in our lives! (Eph.6:10-12)

5. Never forget the many ways, some of these ways will cause others to become believers, when we walk in forgiveness this will cause others to become one step closer to the CROSS, the GREATEST example of FORGIVENESS for us all!! (Gen.50:20!!, 2 Cor.1:4)

For Further Study: The life of Joseph written about in Gen. 37-50 is a great study, Joseph is a great role model, and his life is a great example of forgiveness as we all strive to be Better instead of Bitter!!

"Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. "See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Hebrews 12:14-15

When, not if, life gives you lemons, add the sweetness of forgiveness and let God turn lemons into lemonade:-)!! (Seventy Times Seven by David Meece)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

storytelling through art

"Jesus said, 'Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again.  But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again - ever!  In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life'" (John 4:13-14, HCSB). 

Recently, I went to a henna party and found out more about how missionaries are finding a new way to talk about God with others through art.  Henna is a natural dye for the skin used for beauty reasons in Southeast Asian countries.  It can help share a story like this:
The hour of the day was when most people weren't out, but that was just the right time that this woman went to get some water.  In the fourth chapter of John in the Bible, we learn that she had a reputation.  Jesus was going to get some water at the same time and asked her for some.  Now, Jesus was recognized from being of Jewish descent, and she was a to some, this could've seemed scandalous, that this man was talking to this woman at this odd time of day.  The Bible lets us know that God looks at the heart, though, not the outside - so, it makes sense that Jesus started this conversation with her.

He asked some questions, and as they talked, He explained that He was the living water.  God gives us new life through Christ. When she realized that He was the Messiah, the promised one who God sent prophets to tell about so long ago who would save God's people.  She went to the city to tell others that He had come.

There's more to learn about Jesus being living water, from John 4:1-26.  It's been on my mind for a couple of weeks, and symbols representing different parts of this story are now stained on my hand for about a week.  A woman named Katie told me about how this story, and how other Bible stories, can be expressed through henna art.  

In South Asian cultures, the henna plant is often ground into a sort of paste that feels cool to the skin.  Women use it for hair dye or as a temporary tattoo, as it's popularly considered a beautiful thing there.  Someone noted how it's similar to how many American women use lip stick stains and how some women in other countries stain their nails.  It goes away in about a week.

Some missionaries partnered with the International Mission Board to explain to others this way of sharing God's good news through Bible stories. The designs you can make using this dye can be symbols of different parts of the story. That way, they help give a creative, visual picture of the story that you can share.

If you'd like to know more, then check out the sites below.  A good place to buy something like the henna I used is online or at an international supermarket (I've heard that peacock, that comes out looking black, can cause serious allergic reactions - so I've heard to stay away from that kind).  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Generation to Generation

    "Great is he LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  One generation commends your works to another; they tell of you mighty acts.  They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty--and I will meditate on your wonderful works."  Psalm 145:3-5

I was blessed to be able to go to the Women's Forum in Nashville, TN last weekend at Lifeway.  As leaders, you should plan now to go to this conference next November and take some key women in your church with you.

The theme for this year's conference was "We're All In This Together."  The workshops walked you through all the different generations and gave practical ways to connect the generations.  It is so important for each generation to try to meet the other generations on their "turf" and to listen and learn from each other.  Intentionality is the key.  We must make sure the next generation knows the Lord and teaches the younger women how to live godly lives who will, in turn, influence others.

Many thanks go to the Lifeway staff that put this together!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Thanksgiving Tree!

John 15:5-8 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

As we all prepare to gather together with our families this Thanksgiving, I Thank God for A Family Tree that is filling up with Branches of Believers....because God is Faithful!!

I wonder if you can relate to my life in Christ in anyway? You see, when I became a First-Generation Follower of Christ = A Christian, I began my walk with the Lord all by myself. But, God Is Faithful, and it wasn't long before He began to Bless my life with A New Family Tree! A tree that began to fill up with His Branches of Believers! 4 months after I became a Christian, my loving husband became a Christian (and it was the week before Thanksgiving when he gave his life to Christ, this is one of the blessings I thank God for, A Christian Husband that loves Him and loves me!)! It was amazing how God changed every relationship in our lives. As we began to learn how to share Jesus with others as His Witness, our family tree began to grow in so many ways! Did it happen quickly and overnight, NO it did not for us, as we also learned how to "wait upon the Lord & pray without ceasing"! But because of God's Faithfulness, He still keeps enlarging our new family tree! Our children have all become Christians and love God and we look forward to the next generation of believers that God Promises to reach as we strive to live for Him and share Him until Jesus returns or we go to live with Him in heaven forever!!

Below is a short picture of one of God's youngest witnesses, Josiah!!! He is one of my favorite role models in the Bible and I pray that his life will encourage you that God will grow His Family Tree through YOU, no matter what age you are and no matter what kind of family tree you were born into...God's Word says it best in Jeremiah 29:11-13; "For I know the plans I have for you,' "declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart."!!

Some of Josiah’s Family Tree

 Great-Great-Great Grandpa – King David 1 Kings 11:4, 1 Kings 14:8, Acts 13:22 (“…I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”

 Great-Great-Grandpa – King Ahaz “DID NOT do what was right in the eyes of the Lord” 2 Kings 16:2

 Great-Grandpa - King Hezekiah: “Did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” 2 Kings 18:5-7

 Grandpa - King Manasseh: “Did what was EVIL in the eyes of the Lord” 2 Kings 21:2

 Dad – King Amon: “Did what was EVIL in the eyes of the Lord” 2 Kings 21:20

 King Josiah!: “Did what was RIGHT in the eyes of the Lord” 2 Kings 22:2

Meet Josiah: “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord”
• God called Josiah when he was 8 years Josiah’s day boys were considered men when they were 12 years old
• Josiah obeyed God 8-39 (killed at 39 by Neco, an evil king of Egypt), for 31 years Josiah obeyed God whole-heartedly (2 Chron.34:1)
• Josiah searched after God and had an open heart to God
• Josiah was a difference maker like his great-grandpa Hezekiah!
• Josiah cleaned out the temple of ungodliness and revived the atmosphere to following God’s Ways
• Josiah’s weakness and mistake that led to his death was to get involved in a battle that he had been warned against getting involved in (let God fight your battles!)
• Josiah made a difference for God because “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord”! (Unfailing Love - Chris Tomlin)

Friday, November 4, 2011

"Sewing" Seeds of Evangelism (Acts 9:36-42)

          Dorcas (also known as Tabitha in Aramaic) was a woman of influence in her home town of Joppa. Scripture says “she was always doing good and helping the poor.” (Acts 9:36). In the very next verse Scripture says: “she became sick and died.” (Peter happened to be in a nearby town called Lydda, and the disciples sent two men to him a begged him to: “Please come at once!” (9:38) Peter went with them and when he got there “all the widow stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.” (9:39)

Peter sent everyone out of the room, got down on his knees and prayed. “Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.” (9:40-42)

We know from v. 36 that Dorcas was a disciple of Jesus. Much of her “helping the poor” and “always doing good” included sewing robes and clothing for others. Another translation says she sewed shirts and coats. I am impressed by that! (I think I am doing good if I can thread a bobbin for a sewing machine.)  She had obviously been such a vital influence on the community in Joppa sent two men to urge Peter to “come at once.” It seems as if they all understood the impact she had on so many. “Sewing” was one of the ways she “sowed” seeds of kindness and compassion. This is evident from her work with the widows around her. Dorcas used her talents and gifts to serve other people.

Because of her acts of kindness and her actually doing good works (not just coming up with good ideas) Dorcas influenced all those around her. With her death and then Peter raising her from the dead, everyone heard all over Joppa and “many people believed in the Lord.”

Maybe we all need to examine our abilities and ask God how He can help us use them to “sew” or “sow” seeds of the gospel! And let's not do it in a "so-so" way, but with all of our hearts.  We are all Gifted2Go so let's sow!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Season of Thankfulness to God!

♥2 Thessalonians 2:13♥ "As for us, we can’t help but THANK GOD for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always THANKFUL that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth."

This time of the year is one of my favorite! Attitudes of Gratitude are all around us as we Thank God for blessing upon blessing!

This time of the year causes me to thank God for saving my life from the dark pit of lostness! Generational Lostness!! As a first-generation Christian, I heard about Jesus for the very first time ever in my life when I was in my 20's and I RAN TO JESUS! I THANK GOD that He has totally changed my life in everyway! Then God began to reach my loved ones one by one year by year, even though some of the years of waiting seemed like FOREVER, but God is Faithful!! My husband became a Christian 4 months after I gave my life to Christ, but it felt like a long season of waiting as God taught me how to pray and wait on HIM!!

This time of year is such a special opportunity to Thank God!! What would you like to Thank God for? Who are the ones on your life that you are praying and waiting on the Lord "to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth." ♥2 Thessalonians 2:13b♥ I must encourage you to Keep Praying as I count it a privilege to pray with you as we NEVER GIVE UP because God Is At Work~His Timing Is Perfect!!

Dear God, Thank You for Being You!! Thank You for having a plan for each and everyone of those YOU LOVE and have a HOPE & a FUTURE for!! We trust You, we love You, we wait on You, and we THANK YOU for taking care of everything and everyone that is on our hearts and minds!! In Jesus' Name, AMEN!! (Thank You, Lord by Hillsong)!!!