One Wise Woman

beachpath-1024x714Our plan was to not have a plan. We both simply wanted to sit, relax, chat and look at the waves for four glorious days. So, a week or so ago, Pat and I went away for a much needed rest at the beach. We rented a beautiful condo right on the ocean. What a view!

It was a great trip – we walked along the sand, watched the waves for hours, had long conversations, and took a little trip down memory lane. The condo was in Bethany Beach – but memory lane was a little ways up the coastal highway in a sweet seaside town called Rehoboth.

When I was a little girl, my grandparents lived on a farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore not too far from there – a visit to their place in the summer always meant a day trip to the beach. My parents would rent a cottage for two weeks every summer while I was growing up and Pat & I continued the summer tradition when our boys came along.

I have so many wonderful memories of Rehoboth Beach – they span from the earliest memories of my childhood up until when my boys were teenagers. So…it was fun to walk all over the little town and the boardwalk – remembering this and remembering that. We spent the day conjuring up old family vacation stories and recalling the early years of marriage and family. As we walked along Baltimore Avenue, I stopped Pat in front of a cute little restaurant and asked him,

 newrestaurantphoto.jpg“Do you know what happened here?” Continue reading “One Wise Woman”

Craveable

Craveable graphicChocolate.

Cheese.

Tacos.

All things dip.

And coffee.

Who can forget about coffee? As a young mom, coffee is my lifeblood. My source of sanity most days. My body craves the smell, the taste, and that oh so sweet caffeine surging through my exhausted body one blissful drop at a time.

This is not my grocery list (although it could be). This is the stuff CRAVINGS are made of.  We always think of cravings as indulgences or even fantasies if we are “dieting”, but they are almost always indicative of something deeper. Continue reading “Craveable”

Doers of the Word

Another great devo from The Connection’s Refresh! Originally shared on October 10, 2017.

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James 1: 22-24 “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

Let’s imagine this…

You are going on a date.

You dress nicely.

You do your makeup.

You did your hair.

You’re invested.

Halfway through the meal you go to the restroom and while washing your hands you notice it. You have a huge grotesque piece of spinach in your front teeth. You are horrified! What do you do? Well, when you turn from the mirror to dry your hands you completely forget about it.  You travel back to your date with a huge smile in all your green glory.

That’s a very literal analogy of what James is saying so let’s look at it this way.

I woke up early to capture that short window of time before the kids wake.  I grabbed my coffee, found my chair. Verse of the day. “Love your neighbor as yourself”, Mark 12:31. Instantly, I think wow that’s convicting! Nevermind that I could very possibly have one of the most challenging neighbors in the entire world.

Anyway, moving on…

I did my devotional.

Scrolled through Facebook. Ooh, I like that verse. Hit like, maybe share it.

Then suddenly, I’m knee deep in laundry, errands, to do lists, kissing booboo’s, playing on the floor and helping with homework.

How many times did I pass this neighbor in the chaos of the day.  It’s at this point when reflecting on James 22-24, I have to ask myself. Am I being a hearer or a doer?  At what point did I love my not so lovable neighbor as myself?

Then the dialog goes in my head something like this…

“But he’s so mean – not just to me but to my kid!”

“But he’s lonely.” 

“But he can be really nasty.”

“But he’s hurting.”

“But…..

“Love your neighbor as yourself”

Let’s be honest. I can remember times when I haven’t been so friendly to others, maybe lonely, maybe projecting my hurts on other.  When I read that verse of the day that morning, was I convicted? Did I allow it to truly penetrate my heart? Was I being a doer or just a hear? At what point, do I truly live the Word?

How did I allow the devotion that I read that morning to change the way I interact with my husband? The devotional was soaked in great biblical truths. Was I hearing it? Or was I living it?

James 1:22 “Be doers of the Word.”

What are you saying here James?

You not only want me to hear the Word but you want me to “DO” the Word. Okay, I get it. You want me to LIVE IT OUT. You want me to LIVE like Christ. To be a DOER of the Word is to LIVE the Word.

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Ok, I get it James. To be doers of the Word is to say that we are to live like Christ.

What does that look like? Because let’s be honest, life is busy.

Isn’t it good enough that I am reading the Word? Now James is saying that’s not enough? So how do I allow my sinful nature to change into a life that can glorify God?

The apostle Paul says give great instructions on how to make that happen.

“Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.“ Romans 12:2

Paul is telling us to renew our minds. When you simply read the Word and do not think on it, pray on it, and allow it to move from head to heart knowledge you are simply a hearer not a doer. If we want to be Christ like we must be transformed by renewing our minds.

Just like we become more like the company we keep. Proverbs 13:20 says “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”

The amazing thing about the bible is that as you spend time with God, as reading, the Word becomes part of you. As you think about it and pray about it, God is molding you and suddenly by the grace of God working through you, you become “Doers of the Word”. You allow Christ to move in you, by RENEWING your mind.

We are all in different stages of our walk. We all have our own unique circumstances in our lives.

What James is asking you to do isn’t to become a theological scholar. He’s inviting you into a relationship with the Word of God.

Take that circumstance you are going through right now and look to see what the Word says about it. The next time the Holy Spirit speaks to your soul with a verse….

Stop.

Pause on it.

Pray about it.

Memorize it.

Think or meditate on it.

This is renewing your mind! The renewing of your mind brings your will into agreement with Gods will.  Suddenly, I’m looking at my not so lovable neighbor in a new light. God’s Word is great instruction and a call to action. A call to renew our minds to come in alignment with the will of God.

In the book of John, it says (paraphrased) I came so that they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. Jesus himself is life.

Don’t miss this: when you live the WORD you truly LIVE.

 So be a doer. Let’s renew our minds to live abundantly.

Mary Bender


Ok, now let’s put this into practice! Download our free Doers scripture printable. Print them out. Cut them apart. Select one card per day. Meditate on that verse and ask God how you can DO it.


 

View More: http://hcphotos.pass.us/bender-familysummer2017

Mary Bender and her husband Norman live in Greencastle, PA. They have three energetic boys, and one adorable little girl.

Mary counts herself as being truly blessed to be a stay at home mom to her four “littles”. In addition to being a wife and mother Mary uses her God given gifts to serve in women’s ministry at her church, LCBC, as a life group leader. Mary also uses her passion for women’s ministry for serve on the board of directors for The Connection.

It is Mary’s desire to serve and encourage women to have genuine faith while building a home and raising her children.

 

My. Heart. Broke.

#PrayforLasVegas

 

We don’t have cable television in our home so I learned of the Las Vegas, NV shootings the morning after it happened when opening my computer and seeing #PrayforLasVegas throughout my social media news feed on many of my friends posts. “Pray for Las Vegas?” I questioned. I went to google and began typing: “What happened in Las Vegas?” and hit enter.

There it was.

My. Heart. Broke.

Many dead, many injured. This brought sadness to me as I am sure to many others. Why does another tragic thing have to happen in this world?

After hearing of this, I went to my oldest daughter who was up getting ready for school. I gave her a huge hug and kiss. I then let her know of what happened as I figured she would hear about it at school. We both prayed for all the victims and their families and went on to finish getting ready. We got into the car and headed to her school. I didn’t think I would hear any more of the sadness that happened the rest of the day especially since I decided to take a break from the computer. Sometimes when I hear of things like this I just want to shut it off because my heart just breaks so much for this world. But I should have known we cannot shut off hearing about these sad tragedies because if we don’t see it on the news, or the internet, or hear on the radio, someone eventually will ask you, did you hear what happened?

And so, as the man on the radio station began talking of what happened in Las Vegas tears came rolling down my face because a moment of weakness came over me. I felt like turning the car around to head home and lock myself and family up in our home forever just so that nothing bad would ever happen to us. But of course reality hits. I know that is not possible. I know we cannot live in fear and God certainly does not want us to live in fear either.

One thing I am realizing is I need to not be ashamed to step out in faith and proclaim what I believe. The church my family and I attend is currently in a series called “Next level U”. How can we take ourselves to the next level? Stepping out and proclaiming our faith is certainly a way we can take ourselves to the next level. Instead of fearing what could or will happen next, we can trust God’s got this and wherever we go, whatever happens, God will be with us. Fear is only going to take away the joy that this life has to offer or what we as God’s children could offer someone else. If I were to lock myself and family up in our home forever, I know that would leave the world five less people to let God’s light shine through for others to experience the love God offers us.

You have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”  Romans 8:15 NLT

So, I know I can’t be fearful about going places just because there are some not so good people in this world. There is hope for those not so good people when we step out in our faith and let others know of God’s good news in any way we are able to. I may sound overconfident in this hope but I truly believe sharing the Lord’s word can make a difference and maybe, just maybe, one less bad thing would happen.

Lindsey

Linsey Montejo

Lindsey Montejo is a stay at home wife, mother and newer follower of Christ. The desire has been placed in her to share her experiences of her growing relationship with God and to let others know that His love is unconditional.

Want to read more from Lindsey? Visit her personal blog HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

What does serving look like to you?

ServingThe words “servant”, “service” and “serve” in various forms, occur well over 1,100 times in the New International Version. People are servants of other human beings or servants of God.

What does service look like to you?  Helping the poor, putting aside your needs for those of someone else, giving a ride to a friend, serving your family – the list is endless for that one! Holding the door for someone? The answer is yes!  Do you do things even though you will not get human praise for it?

How many of you feel that you serve too little? Too much? How about enough? The funny thing is that sometimes we don’t know how we will be of service. Most of the time, it comes and takes us for a whirlwind. Something we didn’t expect that happens in a blink of an eye.

Sometimes it’s only a random text sent to a friend because you felt such a strong urge to do so!

I think as women we tend to hold ourselves to a higher degree when it comes to serving others. I think that’s why the story of Mary and Martha was put in the Bible! We tend to look at the people around us and judge our serving against theirs. We ask ourselves why we don’t do as much as them. Or why our service can’t be like theirs.

I was guilty of this a lot in my younger years. And in that mindset I would usually take on more than I could handle. I would end up burnt out, and not enjoying the things I found myself doing. It was hard to find the joy in the ways that I served and I knew something had to change.

This summer I had several opportunities to serve in a few different ways. Ways that I knew the younger me would’ve jumped at the chance to have. But the wisdom I have gained over the years made me stop and ask myself if this was something I truly felt lead to do or was it a title I wanted to pursue. And in this wisdom I have found that it’s ok to say no. That there is someone out there who is more qualified with a little more room on their plate to take up that opportunity. And in this, I am able to devote more time to the ministries God has placed me in. I have more time for my family. Because let’s face it. They should get my best service.
So some guidelines to serving…

1 Peter 4:8-11

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Romans 12:3-20

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.(How many of you think blessing those who persecute you is an act of service?!) Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

I liked these verses because to me, this is when it’s hard to serve. This is when it’s inconvenient. When those we are serving do not like us or don’t understand what we are doing.

 

Galatians 6:9

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

2 Chronicles 15:7

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.

 

So here is my profound and utterly groundbreaking idea.

Serve.

Serve when it’s inconvenient, when it’s unpopular.

Serve when no one is watching.

Serve the least of these and serve the greatest of these.

Serve the friend that calls at 3 in the morning desperate for a voice to hear.

Serve the family that seems to not notice the things you do for them.

Serve because Jesus came to serve.

 

Mark 10:45

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

 

He served the least of these.

He served in his pain and sorrow and frustration.

He served the lame, the wicked.

He served the one that turned Him over for 30 pieces of silver.

He served the untouchable, the gross and twisted.

And aren’t we supposed to be like him!

 

John 13:12-14 

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

So in closing…

Philippians 2:1-8

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Ecclesiastes 9:10

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

Stephanie

Stephanie shared this great message at our September Refresh. The ladies appreciated it so much that they wanted the chance to hear it again & take notes. We are thankful for Stephanie & our other gifted writers & devo team members. Thank you ladies for being a blessing to us!

 

Stephanie CluteStephanie Clute

My new found love of bringing God’s word in a practical way to women of all ages still comes as a shock to me! But I am thoroughly captivated by the way He leads me and pushes me to dive in and dig more and more. I also have a great love for reaching out to teens and am very active in our teen ministry at LCBC where we call our church home.

My husband Paul and I have been married for 17 years and have two amazing kids! Isa is 13 and Ian is 9.

My hope and prayer is that we all grow closer to each other and closer to our amazing God and watch in awe as he draws us closer to Him!

 

 

Walking through His doors

pexels-photo-277552.jpegI’m amazed how God has opened door after door in my life.  Doors which lead me to people who have shown me what it looks like to live for Christ. But, I’ve doubted if I could be someone to show others.

I didn’t grow up in a home where we talked about God, read the bible, prayed, or did acts of service together. I didn’t even know what it meant to be of service except that I thought it was something you got at a restaurant.

There was a time in my life where I never felt fulfilled. I felt alone, broken, and messed up. I sought after objects and human beings to satisfy me. I let the good for nothing serpent get so much into my head that I believed I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t deserving enough. Eventually, he tried to take over my life and make me feel as though it was not worth living. But God intervened! He opened a door that got my curiosity going.

ScoobyThe first door I walked through was when I was getting help at an inpatient facility. I sat down at a table with a man who colored a picture of Scooby Doo for me.  But, it wasn’t the picture of Scooby that got my attention. It was what the man wrote at the bottom: “Thank you very much. The best things for Lindsey & her family + her children. Jesus helps you.”

Next, a door opened which lead me to a lady who handed me a piece of paper with the Serenity Prayer.

These two doors opened and put me on a quest to search for who God is. This searching took time, but eventually another door opened which I was hesitant to walk through. That door lead me to a church where I learned about the one thing I needed most. The one thing that would fulfill me. Jesus.

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:22-24 (NIV)

 

Each door that opened did not come easily for me to walk through. I even turned my back away from some of them because I was too scared or worried about where it may lead. But as my relationship with God has deepened, I’ve found comfort in taking His hand. I’m now pressing forward through the open doors of the unknown because I do not want to deny the one who gave His life for me.

“I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

Revelations 3:8 (ESV)

Recently, God made a new door appear and I am going to walk through it. I don’t know where it will lead me. But, I know this door is taking away any doubt or wondering if I could show others what it means to live for Christ. Because I know by taking his hand and going through the open door I’m not just showing others how to live for him. I am actually living for him.

 

Linsey Montejo

Lindsey Montejo is a stay at home wife, mother and newer follower of Christ. The desire has been placed in her to share her experiences of her growing relationship with God and to let others know that His love is unconditional. You can email her @ quitesimplyLindsey@gmail.com.

Get some rest

rest

I had gone off the grid.

I had to. The signs of a crash was coming. First everything started to slow down, no systems were running at full speed, but I’m not talking about my Macbook . . . I’m talking about me.

Life had gotten way too busy. Too many programs were running all at the same time, and I started to feel like the spinning wheel of death that freezes everything on my computer when I try to operate too many things at once.

Everything needed to come to a halt.

For months I had been nonstop. On a mission, doing good things that the Lord sent me out to do, but I had come back exhausted from my journey.

I needed to enter into a season of rest but my mind and emotions did not agree. “There’s too much to do, you can’t stop now”, were the words that constantly guilted me.

All I could see were deadlines, serious needs that needed to be met, and my “to do list” only grew more with each new day. I felt like so much was riding on continuing at my same pace, and that my future success was at stake.

But the more I tried to press on, the more depleted I felt, and the more depleted I felt, the more defeated I began to feel. My emerging feelings of defeat weren’t based off any real failure or fact, it was solely based off being depleted of much needed rest.

I knew I was in a desperate place as I cried out for help, when the Lord heard my cry and brought to me these sweet words,

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

In the sixth chapter of the book of Mark, Jesus had sent out the twelve disciples on a mission. They went out and preached to the people. They drove out demons by the power given to them by Jesus, and they anointed many sick people with oil and healed them of their infirmities.

When the disciples returned and told Jesus all they had done, people still continued to come to them. Knowing exactly what his disciples needed, Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Jesus knew they needed rest after their long journey of ministering to his people. He knew they needed replenishment because they hadn’t even had a chance to eat. He knew exactly what they needed, and so they went away in a boat with Jesus to a solitary place.

But what happens next might surprise you.

When they arrived at their destination many of the people had seen where they were going and got there ahead of them. Instead of turning them away Jesus had compassion on them, and does one of his most famous miracles . . . he miraculously feeds not only his disciples but also five thousand men by supernaturally multiplying five loaves and two fish.

I can’t help but find the placement of this miracle so interesting. In one verse Jesus calls his disciples to come away with him to rest, and then only a few short verses later he is performing this magnificent miracle.

Maybe Jesus was trying to teach them that when we go away with him and get some rest, that is when he will do some of his greatest miracles in our lives.

Those miracles won’t be done out of our own strength or abilities. They won’t be done by anything that we will do or complete. They will solely be done by the power of our great and loving God when we go to Him and rest.

Right now I’m in a season of needing rest and a miracle. Maybe you are too.

If you are like me you may be feeling like you don’t have enough energy to do anything to help this miracle occur. All the best within you is already spent, and you have nothing left to make something amazing happen.

Perhaps like the disciples, Jesus is calling us too, to come to Him and rest. To trust Him for the miraculous. To believe that He already knows what we need and that He is faithful to not only meet those needs . . . but exceed them.

For me that means I need to embrace this season of rest. To stay off the grid as long as necessary, and to turn my “to do list” into a “not to do list”.

I do believe rest is a powerful weapon, given to us by God, and I pray we all enter into the power that only occurs when we rest in Him.

diane-square-150x150-1

Diane Swan is a Credentialed Assemblies of God Minister, Professional Christian Counselor, Speaker and Blogger who is passionate about using her God given gifts to assist ladies in living victorious lives in Christ. She enjoys sharing true life messages that relate to the complex lives of every day women and leaves them feeling equipped to be more than conquerors in all their battles. Diane and her husband Todd are the founders of Seven Swans Ministries, an organization devoted to living out the gifts of the Spirit by offering a unique array of services to encourage, edify and expand God’s kingdom.

A prowling lion

lion-wildcat-safari-africa-47036

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12

Last week at work someone sent an email to another colleague about me. It wasn’t overly terrible, but it insinuated I thought I was a big deal and that I take credit for things that are not mine. Unfortunately for the writer, the receiver cc’d me on their reply. When I read the words, I was so hurt and yes, mad. You see, the writer and I have history. They were not kind to me when I came to my current position and talked behind my back. After years of holding them at arm’s length, I felt like God was telling me to step in, make an effort and let the past go. I thought I had. Actually, I had recently assisted them on two or three projects and didn’t ask for recognition or make a big deal out of it.

So, when I read the hurtful words, I just couldn’t believe it. I wanted to march down the hall and let them know exactly what I thought of the message. I wanted to lecture them about how I had tried so hard to get over hurt feelings and now they were just making it worse. But, I am less confrontational now than in the past. Thank you Jesus! All Him, not a bit of me there. He has taught me the first thing I want to say or write, I will regret.

I would like to say, the peace of the Holy Spirit fell on me and I was able to forgive right away. Um, no. I stewed about it for several hours. Then, finally, I prayed. “Why are people so mean? Why am I being attacked? What have I done?” God didn’t answer any of my questions.

As I listened for a reply, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the Gospels. Our small group has been reading through the Gospels over the last year. There are numerous times when Jesus was misunderstood, hurt, accused of wrong doing, and laughed at, even by family. If all of these things can happen to Jesus, my perfect Savior, how could I not expect that I might have to deal with hurt feelings?

Then, He reminded me of Paul’s words.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12

You know, hurt people, hurt people. But the true issue was not that this person is hurting and lashing out. The true issue was that satan was trying to derail what God had been doing over the last few years. He wanted me to either blow up or to withdraw from the person. Satan doesn’t want there to be unity at my workplace. He doesn’t want us to get along and there be a possibility that I am able to share my faith with my coworkers.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  1 Peter 5:8

But he doesn’t stop there. Over the last week, I have seen his attempts to derail me with my husband, my daughter, family, neighbors and friends. A small slight becomes something monumental and the foundation for me to push people away or harbor resentful feelings. And friends, he wins sometimes. Before I bring it to God, I lash out. I let my feelings rule me.

Lysa Terkeust teaches that feelings are indicators, they do not have a brain. So, you have to stop and use your brain before acting on them.

We must be vigilant dear friends. VIGILANT! We have to take the offensive for our marriages, family, friends, coworkers and for this world. As soon as we fall back and start playing defensive, we will soon be overrun by situations and feelings.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Ephesians 6:18

Let’s be alert. Pray for your marriage, family and friends even when it seems things are going very well. Because we know our enemy is prowling, trying to find a weakness he can attack.

I am praying for you. Please pray for me.

first love

sunset-hands-love-woman

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 

Matthew 22:37

When I was seven-years-old I began to follow Jesus. We have had quite a journey the two of us. I wish I could tell you I have walked the straight road, always listening for His voice and direction, but that would be untrue.

We are in the middle of a sermon series on Hosea. This series has caused me to think a lot about my assumptions about God.

When I asked Jesus into my heart, I knew it was the right and good thing to do. But, naively, I believed that if I did the right thing, only good things would happen to me. Now, you might attribute this to the fact I was young. But, unfortunately, even though I grew older I kept the same mindset to some degree. You see I might know intellectually that my assumptions were false, but part of me wanted to believe that if I did good things for God, He would do good things for me.

We could unpack this statement for days, but we won’t. I will just share of a few of my thoughts and if you like, you can share a few of yours too in the comments.

In Hosea, we read that God told Hosea to marry a woman who would become a prostitute. He knew this would hurt Hosea, but He needed Him to do it as an object lesson for His people.

In Ezekiel, God tells the prophet to lie on his side for 390 days for Israel’s sin and then 40 days on the opposite side for Judah’s sins. This would not have been comfortable and I am sure people wondered what in the world he was doing.

In the Gospels, we read about Jesus, who we know God loved completely, but still asked Him to lay down His life in order to save mine.

Loving God, following God, is not a ticket to an easy life. Actually, for some, it means life will be harder. For some, they may lose their life.

This is heavy and hard. Our purpose is not to be happy and live a life of ease. It is not to be comfortable and to serve Him only within our comfort zones. Our purpose is to seek and do God’s will, to tell or show as many people as we can how great our God is with our lives. This is not easy. But we can do it. We can by seeking and investing in our relationship with Him.

Remember your first love? Remember how you wanted to spend every moment together? If you grew up in the 70s and 80s like I did, this often meant marathon phone calls. You thought about this person all the time. You wanted to make them happy, not because in turn they would make you happy, but because you simply loved them.

This ladies, this is how we need to think of Jesus. I pray for you and me. I pray we fall completely head over heels in love with Jesus. That is how He feels about us. Instead of asking God, help me to feel your love, maybe we should ask Him to help us to fall more in love with Him.

That is my prayer. Because ladies, those tough, awful, knock you to the ground times will come if you aren’t already walking through one. And when they come, all of our friends and loved ones will want to help. But the only one who will be able to meet you where you are, walk you through the difficult time and heal those hurting places is Jesus. He made you. He knows how to put the broken pieces back together. And He wants to.

Take my yoke

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This is what my life looks like right now.

I am crashing. I feel overwhelmed.

God, isn’t this what you want me to do? 

Why do I feel so overwhelmed? Why am I so flat?

WHERE ARE YOU?!?

Why don’t I hear you speaking? 

“Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 (NLT)

 Jesus says His yoke is easy to bear. The burden or weight is light. Then, why do I feel so heavy? Crushed? 

As I sit and think about it, about the weight I feel, a few things come up:

  • I pick up other’s burdens
  • I try to earn God’s favor
  • I follow the good things instead of waiting for the best things

I scheduled or agree to so many things that I crowd God right out of my life. Sure, I read the Bible and do studies. I learn a lot about Him. But, I don’t take the time to talk to Him. Then, to sit and listen. Just listen.

When I finally did sit and listen, He spoke.

Your list of reading and studies, it is time to lay that down. It’s time to read My Word and talk to me. Head knowledge is great. It helps you understand. But with Me, I will put it into action.

Let’s get comfortable again. Let’s talk.  

This is hard for me. I am a doer, definitely not a be-er.

I think a lot of women are uncomfortable slowing down, cutting out the tasks and just listening. But that is where break through comes from. Where our lives change and we are refreshed.  

Lord, your burden is light. Your way is best. Slow me down. Help me to notice the clutter. Then, Holy Spirit teach me to remove it. To see what my motivation is in each of my choices and then give them to you. Open hands. Open ears.

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Teresa Neal is a Christ follower, wife, and mother. Her passion is to see women grow in their relationship with Jesus and understand how great His love is for them. She is attends LCBC Church in Waynesboro and leads a women’s life group. You can email her at connectingwomenwithgod@gmail.com.