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Saturday, March 17, 2018

SALVATION (March 17th)






I wanted to continue our discussion of the book of Isaiah.

Chapter 12 begins with the discussion of mercy.

Isaiah writes, "I thank You God, You were angry, but your anger wasn't forever. You withdrew Your anger, and move in and comforted me."

God gets angry with us. Sometimes we choose not to be the best followers of Christ that we can be. And I'm sure this disappoints and hurts God-- maybe even makes Him upset. BUT, His anger does not last forever. He does withdraw it and comforts us after the fact.

My mom had a talk with me one day about God's anger... and the healing of His anger. Mom said, "You get mad at your children right?" I said, "Yes I do!" She said, "Do you let that anger continue forever?" I said, "No! As soon as I know they understand what they did wrong, I drop it." She said, "And you're a human. How much more forgiving do you think God is?" 

It hit me like a ton of bricks. 

He's forgiving. He's merciful.

Isaiah 12:2 says, "Yes, indeed- God is my salvation. I trust, I won't be afraid. God- yes God- is my strength and my song, best of all my salvation."

This tells us three things:
1. God is our salvation. Salvation is described as, "the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc." God protects us from harm, risk, loss, and destruction. He covers us in every situation.

2. We should trust and not be afraid. 

3. God is my strength. 

He protects us. He's our strength. We should never be afraid with Him in our life.

In Isaiah chapter 17, we read about religion.

I feel like Isaiah discusses a religion a great deal in his book.

Religion, according to the dictionary, is described as, "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a  super human agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

Over and over again, we read that God doesn't care about religion. He cares about our hearts and how we are treating others.

In Isaiah chapter 17, Isaiah writes, "And why? Because you have forgotten God-Your-Salvation, not remembered your Rock-of-Refuge. And so, even though you are very religious, planting all sorts of bushes and herbs and trees to honor and influence your fertility gods. And even though you make them grow so well... nothing will come of them. Instead of a harvest, you'll get nothing but grief and pain, pain, pain."

God doesn't care about religion! He just wants to be remembered every day! That's all He wants from us.

In chapter 19, we read:

"On that day, there will be a place of worship to God in the center of Egypt and a monument to God at its border. It will show how the God-of-the-Angel-Armies has helped the Egyptians. When they cry out in prayer to God because of oppressors, He'll send them help. a savior who will keep them safe and take care of them. God will openly show himself to the Egyptians and they'll get to know him on that Day. They'll worship Him seriously with sacrifices and burnt offerings. They'll make vows and keep them. God will wound Egypt, first hit then heal. Egypt will come back to God and God will listen to their prayers and heal them, heal them from head to toe."

What I took from this verse is this:

Does God wound......... just to heal?

I would be curious to hear thoughts on this concept. 

Does God smite us with certain things... in order to heal us?

Would love to have a discussion on this concept.

Happy 365 Days of Blogging!


Friday, March 16, 2018

TV SHOWS. (March 16th)






The question today was: what are your top 10 tv shows to binge watch... which I'm excited to share with everyone!

1. Forensic Files: I would say this is my favorite TV show to binge watch. It's on Netflix and there are often marathons on cable as well. One of the main reasons I love this show is because I love seeing justice done for terrible crimes and I enjoy seeing how these crimes are solved. You learn so much. Some days I wish I would have went to school to be a homicide investigator- but instead, I'll live vicariously through shows like this.

2. Cold Justice: There are only 2 seasons of Cold Justice and 1 season of Cold Justice: Sex Crimes on Netflix, but I think I watched every single episode within 48 hours. Once again- I love seeing justice done for terrible crimes and even though some cold cases are not solved, I am amazed at how these investigators go back to the beginning and figure out things they couldn't solve years ago.

3. The Office: What a switch up, right? But how can you not laugh at this TV show! Michael Scott is the absolute best. He makes me laugh, without hesitation, every single episode. Toby coming back from Costa Rica is probably my favorite. If you haven't tried this TV show-- DO IT. You won't regret it. It's the perfect pick me up on a tough day.

4. Big Brother- This is probably my favorite TV show EVER. Of all time. I have CBS All Access, so I get to watch every season, whenever... and that just so happens to happen every single day. I don't think a day goes by that I don't watch Big Brother. Going to bed, hanging out around the house. It is seriously one of my favorites. I love the showmances. I love the game talk. I love it all! 

5. Supernatural- I think I could watch every single episode from season 1 and 2... over and over and over again. Dean and Sam Winchesters are two of my favorites. This show has so much mystery and comedy- it's perfect! Plus the supernatural (duh!) theme! If you haven't watched 'Supernatural' I would definitely put it on your watch list!

6. Criminal Minds- Annnnd, we are back on the criminal theme again! Love the earlier seasons SO much. It is definitely one of my favorite crime shows. It is amazing how profiling works- and every single actor/actress makes this show. It wouldn't be the same without all of them working together. 

7. Modern Family- This is another great comedy series! Phil Dunphy never ceases to make me laugh. Actually, every single person on this show makes me giggle out loud. I love Wednesday nights just for the fact that I get to watch this! It is definitely a show that can heal a rough day.

8. The Challenge/Are You the One- These are two reality TV shows on MTV and they are my favorites. Sometimes I just love trashy TV. It's a good get-a-way from reality at times LOL I love the drama (as long as it isn't in my own life!) and I love the craziness of it all! I'm even one of those people that follows all of the contestants on Instagram and Twitter. I'm sure they love having this groupie in their life! ;)

9. One Tree Hill- I swear, I can watch this TV show any time of the day! I mean, I did name all three of my babies from characters on this show (Tayler, Quinn, and Lucas) I have some of my favorite episodes- for example the episode where the gang goes to Honeygrove because mouth needs ASS-istance. Please, please.... go check this show out! It will quickly become one of your favorites as well. I promise.

10. Smallville- Smallville was on TV for 10 seasons making it (in my opinion) one of the greats.  I love superhero talk and Tom Welling is the perfect person to play the role as superman. I love Chloe... Lois.. all of the characters work together to make such a great TV show. If you didn't grow up in the early 2000s, you may not appreciate it as much, but I promise, it should become one of your favorites! 

What are some of your favorite TV shows to binge watch?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

SPIRIT (March 15th)







Isaiah.

I finished the book of Isaiah last night- and I feel like there is just so much to share from this book. A book of prophecy- a book of encouragement- a book of salvation.

There are 66 chapters in the book of Isaiah, so I plan on splitting this discussion up over the next few days. I hope you enjoy this journey of Isaiah as much as I have.

One thing that immediately stuck out to me in Isaiah chapter 1 is:

"I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put up your next prayer performance, I'll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or how often you pray, I'll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you've been tearing people to pieces and your hands are bloody. Go home and wash up. Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of evil doings so I don't have to look at them any longer." (Isaiah 1:14-15)

I'm sick of your religion- your performances. 

God was tired of fakeness. Of people acting like they were worshipping Him and living a good life-- and then they would turn around and hurt others. God isn't impressed with LOOKING like we are holy. He just wants holiness-- in private and public.

In these verses, He talks about what He doesn't want from us.

In the next two verses, He talks about what He DOES want from us. 

"Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless."

Be a GOOD person. Just be GOOD-- kind, compassionate, forgiving, loving, moral. He doesn't expect perfection. He doesn't want religion. He wants GOODNESS. 

In Chapter 2, Isaiah writes: "People with a big head are headed for a fall, pretentious egos brought down a peg." The one thing I took from this chapter is: don't have a big head. Get control of your pride.

Pride is the high opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority. It is dangerous to have a high opinion of oneself. Now, this isn't to say we cannot have self-esteem. It is important to treasure yourself and your worth-- pride is seeing no flaw within yourself. You can see your best qualities and nothing else. 

One verse in chapter 3 really stuck out to me. "Reassure the righteous that their good living will pay off." I know it seems hopeless sometimes. I know there are moments where you think 'Why do I even try? Why do I have morals? The people that seem to have no morals live such good lives. Where do I get being a good person?" But God assures us-- good living WILL pay off! 

It reminds us that being a good person is beneficial both in this life... and after.

Chapter 7 begins talking about prophecy- we will talk about that in a different blog.

In chapter 8, one thing discussed is: "When people tell you, 'Try out the fortunetellers. Consult the spiritualists. Why not tap into the spirit-world, get in touch with the dead?' Tell them, "No we're going to consult the Scriptures." 

We are warned to not trust fortunetellers. To not seek answers anywhere else but His precious Word. It has everything we could ever need. It truly tells us the facts: we have a hope beyond this life and He holds every situation in His hands. That's all I need to know.

One cry I found myself pleading while reading Isaiah is from Isaiah chapter 11:

"The life giving Spirit of God will hover over him. The Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding, the Spirit that gives direction and builds strength, the Spirit that instills knowledge and fear of God."

This became my prayer. To fill me up with His spirit so I could have wisdom... have understanding... have direction... have strength... have knowledge.. have the fear of God. That became my heartfelt desire and still is. 

We will continue our discussion of Isaiah tomorrow! Hope everyone is having a faith filled week! 




Wednesday, March 14, 2018

THE PROCESS. (March 14th)






Isaiah 52:11- "Just leave, but leave clean. Purify yourselves in the process of worship..."

Purify yourselves in the process of worship.

We talk about repentance often. I've heard it discussed a million times over the years.

Repentance is deep sorrow for a past sin, wrongdoing, or the like.

And we often hear 'true repentance is letting that sin go and making a 180 degree turn in the other direction.'

Someone even told me once: It isn't real repentance if you keep picking that sin back up again. So, then the question became: what if I mess up again? Should I even say 'sorry' if I know I will struggle with this again? 

We try so hard for perfection because we want repentance to flow through us. We don't want to make a mistake again. We don't want that demon to creep back up and cause us to stumble again.. and then I believe we get so focused on perfection that we become burdened with a life that is so unattainable.. we just feel like giving up on releasing those sins, completely.

But reading this verse, I just felt like God was showing what actual, true repentance really is.

It isn't perfection. 

It's a journey.

Purify means to free from anything that pollutes or contaminates 
and process means a continuous action

which means Isaiah 52:11 says, "Free yourselves from anything that pollutes or contaminates your soul in the continuous action of worship."

CONTINUOUS ACTION.

Purifying your souls. Repentance. Getting rid of that icky stuff. Letting go of your demons...

all of that requires continuous action.

We can confess our sins to God. 
We can address our shortcomings.

BUT, we must walk away knowing: we will not be perfect. We could possibly stumble again. We could fall short every single day. 

HOWEVER. 

Through the continuous action of worship: praying to Jesus Christ, reading the Word, singing, being a light to others, listening to praise music, playing music, studying the Bible.. 

we can purify ourselves. 

It's a process!

Repentance isn't a one time thing and we move on with our lives.
Repentance isn't a one time 180 degree turn and that's it.

A lot of times the sins we battle have a hold on us-- they're demons we face if we aren't subjecting our spirits to God Almighty consistently which means that a one-time confession isn't going to change our ways, BUT it also means that we are going to have to work at it... and by working at it.... we might have tough days.

When I was trying to get control of my alcohol problem last year, it was a daily struggle. It wasn't something I confessed to God and then was like 'Wow, I'm all better!' and I never picked up a drink again. 

I had to hit rock-bottom and nearly lose everything... and then I finally realized I had a problem.
And then after that, it was a private moment with God laying in bed one night asking Him to help me.
It was being sober for a few weeks..
And then falling off the wagon...
And then hitting rock bottom once again.
And then talking to God again..
And then realizing that I held myself to such a high standard. Failure wasn't acceptable. Struggling wasn't okay. If I was so full of Christ, I shouldn't struggle. I fought the thoughts that- I wasn't walking in true repentance because I struggled so much. 
And then I felt like giving up the fight of being sober because I couldn't nail down perfection. I felt like I was failing God. Like people would think I was 'fake' when it came to confessing my sins. 

I could only imagine what people were thinking. Oh look at her over there, confessing her sins and her struggles with alcohol. Then she goes right back over and picks up a drink. Sad.

BUT, through this scripture God reminded me:

You are striving for the PROCESS, not the PERFECTION.

I am walking in the process of worship. Every day.

The demons we face often do not just walk away without a fight. They want your life consumed by them. So it will take work. It will take the process. BUT, the process of worship is worth it if you are freeing your life of that contamination.

I have been striving towards a life without drunkenness and after falling off the wagon in December, I can say that I have lived a life without getting drunk for 3 months Sunday. 

And you know what? That's okay. Because I do not hold myself to the standard of immediate healing of those demons and I do not hold myself to the standard of 180 degree repentance.

I hold myself to the standard of: God sees my heart. He sees the struggle. And he sees the process. 

I'm not perfect.
I still have the demons in my ear, especially on tough days.

BUT.

I have worship now and I have grace..

I have moments alone with Him to renew my strength.
And I have the understanding that even if I struggle, He will help me pick up the pieces and keep moving through the process. 

The process.

The process of worship.
The process of repentance.
The process of peace.
The process of overcoming.

You're going through the process...
and that's just where you're meant to be.

Don't expect perfection.
Expect the process.








Tuesday, March 13, 2018

THE LEAST. (March 13th)





Paul wrote 13 books of the Bible after his conversion. He was an instrument for the kingdom of God. He traveled from country to country bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was poor, had an ailment of some sort, and sometimes, I doubt he knew where his next meal was coming from. He was dedicated to Jesus Christ and lived his life as such.

Paul was an apostle.

A servant of God.

And his humbleness, I believe, was what God loved most about him.

I was reading Ephesians chapter 3 the other day and a few of the verses instantly brought tears to my eyes. When I read about Paul-- and I see what a man of God he was-- but how unworthy he felt... I can't help but relate. 

I'm not a 'man of God'... some probably wouldn't even called me a 'saint.' I'm on a journey back to a solid, peaceful relationship with my Savior. I'm getting there one day at a time. But when he writes about feeling unworthy--- that just takes me to another place in God. A place where I realize how perfect His grace is and how wide His mercy is.

Ephesians 3:7-8: "I became a servant and preacher of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace as He exercised His amazing power over me. I cannot think of anyone more unworthy to this cause than I, the least of the least of the saints. But here I am, a grace-made man, privileged to be an echo of His voice and a preacher to all the nations of the riches of the Anointed One, riches that no one ever imagined." (VOICE)

Ephesians 3:7-8: "By God’s special gift of grace, I became a servant to tell that Good News. He gave me that grace by using his power. I am the least important of all God’s people. But he gave me this gift—to tell the non-Jewish people the Good News about the riches Christ has. These riches are too great to understand fully." (ERV)

I am the least important of God's people.
I cannot think of anyone more unworthy to this cause than I.
The least of all God's people.
I am the very least of all the saints.


Paul understood he was called. And that was all he needed to know. He knew he was the least of the saints. He had just spent time persecuting the very Christians he was bringing the gospel to. He probably felt a little undeserving of such a blessed calling.

Galatians 1:23-24 states, "But stories of my call and mission preceded me: “The very man who wanted to kill us all is now preaching the faith he once labored to destroy.”  And so they praised God for the miracle He did in my life." (VOICE)

His testimony is what God desired. 

God saw the work Paul could do-- He saw how those searching for something greater would see a man that was once lost, but now found... and they might seek after the very same thing that changed Paul.

You know, I've made my fair share of mistakes in my life. I know God has shaken His head so many times. He's probably broke down and cried. He's probably sat there, begging for a relationship with me.... and I just continually piled things not of Him in to that space. 

But God spoke to me yesterday and reminded me that where I've been... and where I am now... could be used as a testimony to those that are hurting.. to those that are searching.

Are you struggling with anxiety? Are you struggling with hypochondria? Are you becoming alcohol dependent? He can fix that! He can heal that.

I'm the least of the saints. I'm the least of His people. I'm the most unworthy of His children. 
But I promise, He can fix that hurt inside. He can heal that pain. He can take those fears. I'm living proof of it. 

My prayer is that when people look at the life I've lived... and then see me at this point in my life-- that they will praise God for what He has done in my life-- and seek Him for joy, peace, and love too. I just pray for the sins I've committed to be used as a testimony. That people will see I was once LOST but now I am found. 

By the grace of God, I am what I am. And I pray that what I am now will be used as a testimony of His goodness, His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness, His ability to change a soul. 

To change a life.

I know He's changed mine.

Monday, March 12, 2018

THE CENTER. (March 12th)






The blogs I write-- they're always because it is a word I NEED. And I can only hope that it will bless others while it is TEACHING me. I desire a lot of help in the area of character and reputation... 

and after a discussion with my dad last night and reading through these verses, I just felt God flowing through me.. asking me to heal my past and redirect my future. This blog has taught me today.. and I pray it blesses you.





Who are you when the church isn't looking? Who are you when you walk out the door of the sanctuary? Who are you in the privacy of your home? Who are you when the congregation you just sat in a pew with on Sunday isn't looking?

Are you still that man or woman trying to best the person you can be for the Lord?
Are you still living like God Almighty designed us to live?


Or does that flee as soon as people cannot see it?
Does that end as soon as you're at home with your family?
Does that stop as soon as you're at the store?


Isaiah 48 says, "And now listen to this family of Jacob, you who are called by the name Israel: Who got you started in the loins of Judah, you who use God's name to back up your promises, and pray to the God of Israel? But do you mean it? Do you live like it? You claim to be citizens of the Holy City; you act as though you lean on the God of Israel, named God-of-the-Angel Armies...." 

You ACT as though you learn on God.
You CLAIM to be citizens of the Holy City.
DO you live like it?


The author asks a lot of questions in this chapter about the motive behind the family of Jacob. You ACT like you lean on God, but behind closed doors... it's another story. You CLAIM to be citizens of God, but when the church isn't around, it stops. He tells them they've never been good listeners. They have a history of ignoring God Almighty.

And while reading these verses it got me thinking:

What would everyone (outside of the church/your church) say about you? How would they describe you?

Would they describe you as a tender hearted person? Giving? Loving? Compassionate? Calm? Slow to anger? Honest? Forgiving? Loyal? Faithful? God-centered? Joyful? Good? 

OR

Would they describe you as harsh? Rude? Selfish? Unfaithful? A liar? Angry? Quick to lose your temper? A grudge holder? Self-centered? Sad? Evil? A gossip? Unfriendly?

I know it shouldn't be all about people's opinion of you- BUT your character and reputation should be cherished.

According to Proverbs 22:1, "A sterling reputation is better than striking rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.'

What is your reputation?

Is it what you've always wanted it to be? 

If not- what can you do to fix it?

Romans 12 says, "Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out.... God brings the best out of you... Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it.... Don't let evil get the best of you, get the best of evil by doing good."

I love the part that says: love from the center of who you are.

Today, lets plead the blood of Jesus over our hearts and minds that God will create a pure spirit within us. That who we are during our prayers is who we are walking down the street. That God will let His sweet, compassionate spirit pour out of our souls in every situation. That we will be changed from the inside out. That people will have positive, good things to say about our character. That God will shine through us so we can be who He wants us to be. God, help us to love from the center of who we are.. and we pray that the center of who we are is full of goodness, gentleness, peace, love, joy... all good things! Purify us Jesus! 

Who are we when the church isn't looking?






Sunday, March 11, 2018

Hard Times (March 11th)






I talk about tough times.
A lot.

Let me just be honest here- sometimes I feel like if we didn't have bad luck, we wouldn't have any luck at all. I know that sounds pessimistic, but bare with me here. I'm just being honest with you. I'm human and I have those helpless feelings more times than I can count (even though I read in His Word that I'm not supposed to be feel that way! It's just human nature I suppose-- and I constantly have to put those feelings and thoughts under the blood.)

I read Psalms 73 not too long ago.. and I promise, I highlighted the entire chapter. Next to it, I wrote "I've said this entire chapter more times than I can count!!"

And I really have.

Psalms 73 starts off with something we all know and try to believe 100% of the time:

No doubt about it. God is good! Good to good people, good to the good-hearted.

It's true.

He's amazing!

BUT, verse 2 already starts with our human nature.

"But I nearly missed seeing His goodness. I was looking the other way, looking up to the people at the top, envying the wicked who have it made, who have nothing to worry about, not a care in the whole wide world."

The author continues in verse 11, 'What's going on here? Is God out to lunch? Nobody's tending the store. The wicked get by with everything. They have it made, piling up riches. I've been stupid to play by the rules. What has it gotten me? A long run of bad luck- that's what. A slap in the face every time I walk out the door."

Haven't we all been there. We have watched people who we felt were 'less deserving' receive blessing after blessing. We have wondered whether being a good person gets us anywhere. We have felt like our morals were only weighing us down.

And then.... I'm sure the author had to step back and pray. Pray to see things from God's perspective. Pray to have an attitude adjustment...

And once he stepped back and sought the face of God, he saw things differently.

In verse 15, the author continues, "If I had given in and talked like this, I would have betrayed your dear children. Still, when I tried to figure it all out, all I got was a splitting headache. UNTIL I entered the sanctuary of God. Then I saw the whole picture. The slippery road you've put them on, with a final crash in a ditch of delusions. In the blink of an eye, disaster! A blind curve in the dark and- nightmare.'

While we never wish anyone ill, the author realized that not everything is as it seems. While we think 'the wicked' have it made and are living 'the good life' ... everything comes full circle. Wickedness only leads to more wickedness which has a destructive end.

When we begin to compare lives with other people- a dangerous thing happens. Bitterness and envy enter in to our hearts and overwhelm us. The author talks about being consumed by bitterness and envy. UNTIL he got in to the presence of the Lord.

If we can just get there. Get in to His presence and see things from His point of view. In His presence, He will take our hand, lead us, and BLESS US.

We just have to get there.

And stay there.

The author finishes Psalms 73 by stating, "You're all I want in heaven. You're all I want on earth... God is my rock- firm and faithful. Look! Those who left you are falling apart. BUT I'm in the presence of God. Oh how refreshing it is!"

Even when days get rough... even when we feel like we have been betrayed and others are living 'a better life' we have to trust that God has everything in His hands... and we have to promise Him to never leave His side. He WILL bless us. He WILL keep us. We just have to trust and remain by His side.