Monday, October 26, 2009

Expanding Your Territory

Today we’re heading back into Old Testament times to meet up with Joshua now that he had conquered Jericho and numerous other cities for the children of Israel. Joshua was dividing the Promised Land amongst the twelve tribes. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons, felt that they should have more land than they had received to accommodate all of the people in their tribes. So Joshua agreed to extend their territory up into the mountain region. The mountain region was wooded and uncivilized so naturally, the tribes protested. But Joshua was firm in his decision and told them that because they were a great and powerful nation they would be able to clear the wooded area and claim the land as far as their eyes could see. In the end the tribes chose not to clear the woodlands and took up residence in the small, cramped area that was already familiar.

Can you relate? Have you ever stood at the edge of the forest and begin to feel that you just can’t clear all of the trees? Do you take up residence in the familiar because you are afraid to step out into the unknown? God has a blessing for you; He just may ask you to put forth a little effort. All too often we see the ‘wooded area’ as something that is just too big for us to get past. When we see tree after tree after tree, we become overwhelmed and quickly give up, never claiming the vast territory that God has already given us. Every time we defeat ourselves, we lose out on the spoils of God’s victory! I hate to think of how many times I’ve completely defeated myself when God has called me to step out on faith for Him. Not only do I not claim the victory God has for me, I usually begin to question whether or not I was even called by God to do it in the first place.

I don’t know what the wooded area looks like for you, but I sure know what my trees look like. Each tree represents a struggle, a stronghold, a sin, a failure and a fear. There are definitely days that I have sat on the edge of the tree line with my head in my hands feeling completely overwhelmed and hopeless. That’s when God reminds me that I only need to clear one tree at a time. Staring at 1,000 trees is a daunting task, but cutting down one tree is completely attainable. God gives us the ability to cut down one tree at a time until, before we know it, we’ve made a clearing and expanded our territory. It’s not something we have to do in our own strength, but we do need to stand up and be willing to allow Him to do the work through us. So, are you ready? Let’s go cut down some trees!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“… overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Romans 8:37

Monday, October 19, 2009

Keep PUSHing

Don’t you love when you receive a word of encouragement just in the moment that you need it? I received an email from a friend the other day that had a ‘word for the moment’ for me. The take away from the email was for us to PUSH.
P-Pray
U-Until
S-Something
H-Happens
This particular email made me smile because I realized that I had stopped PUSHing. Something had happened alright, it just wasn’t the something I was hoping for and I responded to it as if it was a closed door. I was reminded that even though my situation may not have been going the way I thought or hoped it would, it didn’t mean that God was done. The message in this email was a sweet reminder from God that He wants me to get back up and keep PUSHing toward Him.

Often times, we’re not sure what to pray for! We walk a fine line of knowing if what we want is God’s will or our will. I know that whenever I’ve questioned the motive behind my prayers, I can ask God to show me if it aligns with His will. He never fails to reveal Scripture that will confirm my desire or corrects my way of thinking. But even then, He doesn’t always give me what I’m asking for.

God rewards perseverance. He wants us to come to Him and share what’s on our hearts. Each time we come to Him, we grow deeper in our love for Him and eventually what we’re asking for becomes secondary. God wants us to want Him more than we want our prayers to be answered! It pleases Him to know that we will seek after the desires that He has placed in our hearts, but He wants us to remember that those desires are there to be used for His glory. So keep PUSHing, He longs to bless you!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Monday, October 12, 2009

The three step

When I was younger I used to love going dancing with my friends. We did all kinds of dances, but my favorite was the three step. Recently, I’ve been thinking about a different version of that dance that I have seen a lot of lately. The dance I’m talking about goes like this: Step one - Sin; Step two - Cover up; Step three – Stronghold. So let’s break down the steps for a minute to examine each step.

Step one – Sin
Our battle against sin starts every morning as we rise and continues throughout the day. We are continuously faced with the temptation to sin, and even when we resist Satan tries to remind us of all the times we’ve failed in the past. Although that sounds like a bleak, defeating situation that would make you want to stay in bed, remember that we have the ability to wage war with spiritual weapons! Jesus has already given us victory over sin; we just need to use the tools He gives us. (see today’s verse)

Step two – Cover up
Our human tendency is to cover up our mistakes. We don’t like to admit when we’re wrong, have done something stupid and have sinned. Sin is seen as a personal failure so people don’t want to broadcast or even admit that they failed again. What we fail to realize is that our sin takes root and grows in the dark places of our heart and mind. When we open up and bring those things out into the light, the sin can’t continue to grow and we can conquer it! But then there are those who enjoy their sin so much that they don’t want it taken from them, so they cover it up thinking that no one will notice it’s there.

Step three – Stronghold
Strongholds are developed from the sin that we won’t deal with in our lives. The sin becomes deeply rooted in us that it begins to affect our behavior. The war we are waging internally begins to impact those around us in a negative way. Our strongholds can impact our integrity, our parenting and especially our marriages. The sad thing is that, even though Christ gave us freedom from our chains, we will often pick them back up or just not walk away from them because we’ve become used to them. We begin to see our strongholds are part of who we are.

Do you hear the distant hum of music in the background? Are you caught in the three step but didn’t even recognize it? If so, it’s time to change the behavior pattern by using the weapons that God has equipped you with. When we stop dancing the three step with Satan, we are free to learn a new dance from God and it is amazing!

Be blessed,
Jennifer

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Ephesians 6:13-18

Monday, October 5, 2009

Five Simple Questions

I recently learned that anytime you are being interviewed or just meeting someone new you should know how to convey 5 pieces of information: who, what, where, why, how. While I can definitely see how well thought out, concise information can apply to business interviews few of us have ever given these questions any thought. So, let’s take a minute to apply those questions on a personal level:

Who are you? This seems deceptively simple, but it’s one of the hardest questions a person can answer. There are so many answers like a daughter, a brother, a spouse or a friend. But what about answers like a dreamer, a champion, a child of God, someone who’s afraid or even someone who has lost hope. How you answer the question reveals how you see yourself.

What do you stand for? This is really asking what things are important to you. What makes your heart beat fast and what, or who, can break your heart? Which battles are worth fighting and which ones do you walk away from? Your answers will reveal your heart and the motive behind the things you do.

Where do you fit in? We all fit somewhere! God designed us to be in relationship with one another, we just need to trust that He will direct us to the right place for us. I’ve heard it said that you’ll know that you’re in the right spot when you have people around you that encourage you to become a better version of yourself.

Why you? It’s amazing to think that we are all placed on the earth at this specific time for a very specific purpose. It’s up to us to trust God’s plan for our lives and follow His lead. God uses us in our giftedness while reminding us that although we are in the world, we are not of the world.

How do you do it? This is the easiest of all the questions: I do all things through Christ who strengthens me! God infuses us with His strength so that we can do the things He has planned for us to do. It’s comforting to know that we don’t have to do all of this on our own; we can rely on the One who has called us! God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called!

Knowing our ‘who, what, where, why and how’ allows us to keep our purpose and focus on glorifying God. He uses each of us differently but for the same reason, to bring glory to His name! Try periodically asking yourself ‘Who am I?’, ‘What do I stand for?’, ‘Where do I fit in?’, ‘Why me?’, ‘How do I do it?’ and ask God to align those answers with His word. Remember, He will faithfully reveal the things that are being used for His purpose and refine the things that are not of Him…all from asking five simple questions.

Be blessed,
Jennifer