Trusting God Paid Off!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

Several years ago, we had a credit card with a $4000 outstanding balance. (Mostly due to an expensive surgery.) We were appalled and determined to get it paid off as quickly as possible. We cut back on everything. My husband took on extra jobs. I created custom items and sold them online. It was hard work, but we eventually got that card balance down to $400. We had taken Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and they had encouraged us to cut up our credit card, but I was afraid. What if we needed another surgery? What if our car broke down? What if something happened to a family member in Ohio and I had to fly home suddenly? I held onto the card.

Then several things happened - 3 more surgeries, multiple car breakdowns and family members that needed some help. Suddenly that credit card balance was almost $12,000 dollars! Appalled was not the word for what we felt - more like ashamed and panicked, wondering how in the world we would be able to ever pay this off.  

Then I received a statement that said if we paid $300 a month for the next 3 years, we could pay the card off in that amount of time. We were struggling just to make the minimum payments, so I couldn't imagine how we could afford $300 a month, but I felt God prompting me to trust Him. 

Took a leap of faith, cut the card in half, framed it and hung it on the wall, trusting God to help us make the large payments to pay the card off in 3 years. This week we made the final payment on the card! God came through every month and to our amazement we never needed a credit card even once during that time. Even more amazing, our car did break down, but each time we had the money to pay for it and just about the time we were sick of making repairs to it, we were given a car!. We did face another surgery, but we worked through the hospital to pay off our part without putting it on the card and without interest. I even made several trips to Ohio to help my mom after open heart surgery and just to visit, but I didn't have to pay for the tickets.

Trusting God definitely PAID OFF!

Do you have overwhelming credit card debt? Why not take a leap of faith. Cut the cards up and ask God to help you pay them off. 

Do you have a story of how God helped you out financially in an amazing way? Please share it in the comments. I'd love to celebrate God's goodness with you.

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Praying with Confidence

Sometimes God's word doesn't seem to match up with my experiences and reality. At first glance, 1 John 5:14-15 appears to be one of those passages...

"14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him."

It's easy for us to skim through verse 14 and jump to the promise of verse 15 - he hears us and we have what we asked of him, but not so fast. If you're anything like me, that's not always a reality. I don't get everything I pray for, do you? So, let's dig a little deeper into this passage.

First of all, I love the fact that we can have confidence in approaching God. That could not be possible if He had not loved us enough to send Jesus to bear our sins on the cross in order to open the door for a right relationship with Himself. (Thank you, God!) So, confidently I go into prayer, confident that he hears my prayers - that they do not bounce off the ceiling or fall on deaf ears, but are carefully monitored by him. I am praying heart-to-heart.

The hard part of verse 14 is praying according to his will, for we don't know how to pray as we ought (Romans 8:26).  Fortunately, God has given us His Spirit, who helps us to pray and intercedes for us as we pray. It is the Holy Spirit who knows God's will - knows God's thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). As we pray, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us pray according to God's will and He will do so.

Still, we are human and our own desires creep into our prayers, so in the end, after we have prayed  and shared our cares and requests with God, we need to acquiesce to His will in the matter, just as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-42) when He closed His own prayer to be released from the cross with, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." (Luke 22:42)  In doing this, we recognize and submit ourselves to the sovereignty of God.

So, pray with confidence, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6), then end your prayer by submitting to God's will over your own, because His will is perfect (Romans 12:2). After that, you can relax and let Him handle the situation. Receive His promise to fill you with His peace, which transcends all understanding and will guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7). I am assuming that means guarding your heart and mind against worry and anxiety, as mentioned in Philippians 4:6.

You prayed.
You put it in God's hands.
God's got it.
He will do what is best.
Rest in Him.

...and that's how you pray with CONFIDENCE!

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How to Develop Intimacy with God

Exodus 33 records an amazing conversation between Moses and God...
12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked,because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Were you as astonished as I was at the boldness of Moses when speaking to the Lord? 

Where did this confidence come from? I believe the answer is found in verse 12 when God said...

"I know you by name and you have found favor with me."
Moses and God had an intimate relationship. That kind of relationship can only be developed after spending much time together, after displaying devotion and obedience to God, after walking with Him daily in a way that honors Him.

 Do you wish that you had that kind of relationship with God? I know I do and I'm willing to put in the time, live my life to the best of ability to please Him, cultivate intimacy with Him and listen hard for His directions for me.

There is no better pursuit that we can have then an intimate friendship with our Creator.

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Oh, my Soul - I'm NOT Alone!

The song, Oh My Soul, by Casting Crowns has been pulling at me for a couple of weeks, now. Especially the line that goes, "There's a place where fear has to meet the God you know."

Today, I found the story behind the song on YouTube and it really spoke to my heart...

 I'm not really a fearful person, but lately, fear has been trying to rear its ugly head where my health is concerned. I have a disease (not cancer). I'm not comfortable sharing the details, but there is no cure and no effective treatment. For the past 12 years, it has been getting steadily worse and painful. You can't tell it by looking at me, but I feel it every day. The fear that keeps cropping up is what the future might hold. How bad will it get? Will it turn into cancer? etc.

When that fear rises up in me, I have to remind myself that I am not alone. God walks through every step of life with me. He is fully aware of what's happening. He more than able to heal me, but if that's not his plan, I'm okay with it as long as I know He is with me. Why? Because I know he loves me beyond measure and even if this condition takes my life, I am going to be with Him.

In the meantime, I want to live my life in a way that honors Him every day. I want to love others and let him love love them through me. I want to point the way to Him so that others can experience the joy and peace that comes from  knowing they are loved more than they can ever understand and that they are not alone.

Here's the song, I'm Not Alone...

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Detoxing Your Thought Life

Do you use the You Version app of the Bible?  I do and I love it. I have it on both my phone and my Kindle Fire and find it invaluable tool for digging into God's word, reading uplifting and eye-opening devotionals and sharing it with my friends.

Today I started a new devotional plan called Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel and already, day one of the plan touched me deeply.  It talks about detoxing our minds from toxic thoughts. I know, right? It's amazing how many times toxic thoughts enter our minds and how they they affect our relationships, our moods and our outlook on life.

Look at what God has to say about this...
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8
My child, pay attention to my words; listen closely to what I say.
Don't ever forget my words; keep them always in mind.
They are the key to life for those who find them;
they bring health to the whole body. 
Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life Proverbs 4:20-23

It seems that in these two passages of scripture, God has given us the key to detoxing our minds, hearts and spirits. I keep hearing that we can retrain our brains. I'm not sure if that's true, but I do know that we can renew our minds.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Matthew Henry's Commentary on this verse says that as we renew our minds (by submitting to his will, taking in his word and applying it to our lives and walking in obedience to him, we develop...

New dispositions and inclinations, new sympathies and antipathies; the understanding enlightened, the conscience softened, the thoughts rectified; the will bowed to the will of God, and the affections made spiritual and heavenly: so that the man is not what he was—old things are passed away, all things are become new; he acts from new principles, by new rules, with new designs. The mind is the acting ruling part of us; so that the renewing of the mind is the renewing of the whole man, for out of it are the issues of life. - This is called the transforming of us.
Part of the detox process for our thought life is to be aware of what we used to call stinkin' thinkin' and to be active in combating it.  I call this my 3R plan for detoxing my mind. (I just made that up 😊)

  • Recognize (toxic thoughts)
  • Reject them
  • Replace them
And I'll be replacing them with - whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.

How about you? Have toxic thoughts negatively affected your life and relationships?

Do your entertain those thoughts or do you have a plan to combat them?

Feel free to use mine.

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Citizen of Heaven - Represent

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven,
conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of
the Good News about Christ."
Philippians 1:27a (NLT)

This verse popped out at me this morning as I read through the book of Philippians - especially the phrase "citizens of Heaven."

I'm a citizen of Heaven! Since I surrendered my life to Jesus, he not only gave me a new identity (Child of God), but a new homeland (Heaven). This world is not my home, but while I'm here - a foreigner in the only place I've ever known, I represent the Kingdom of God and my conduct should reflect that.

That's a tall order, but not one I will back away from, because, while I feel inadequate, I know that God's Holy Spirit lives in me, enabling me to do God's will.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire
and the power to do what pleases him."
Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

My heart's desire is to represent God well, to bring glory to His name and to influence others so that they will want to know Him and experience salvation through Jesus Christ, but I can only do that by allowing God to enable me to do his will and letting Him work through me to touch others.

Prayer: Father, thank you for adopting me into your family and for making me a citizen of Heaven, where you are preparing a place for me to live with you eternally. I look forward to the time when I set foot in my homeland, but until that time comes, please help me to conduct myself in a manner that brings you glory and draws others to want to know you. Amen

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Prayer - Are You Doing it "Right?"

Just pour out your heart to God.
I've been thinking a lot about prayer these days. Being the Prayer Team Coordinator for our church means all prayer requests that come into the church and channeled to me, then sent out to our Prayer Team.  Some of these requests are heartbreaking and when there are many of those during the week, it can get you down if you don't anchor your faith in a God who loves each one of those people deeply, a God who knows what is the very best for each person in each situation, A God who understands each heart.

So, a while back, I started to feel like as I prayed for each request it seemed like I was giving God orders - God, heal this person, God restore this marriage, God save this woman's son, God break this man's addiction, God protect this man in prison...

One day the thought occurred to me that since God knows the intimate details of each person and their circumstances, that it might be better to ask God to step into their situation and do what if the very best thing for all involved and to help each person lean heavily on him during their trials.

Then today I read an short synopsis for a book on prayer. It started like this...\

"Are your prayers being answered? Do you even know what to pray? Deep down inside, do you feel that prayer is too passive to really accomplish much?"
I have to tell you, these three questions bug me. It seems to infer that unless you pray the correct way or unless you pray passionately, God won't bother to answer. Or if it seems that your prayers aren't being answered, it's your fault for not praying right. That rankles me to no end!

Friend, one of the most loving things we can do is lift a hurting person to God in prayer. We don't have use the perfect words or quote the appropriate scriptures back to God before he will pay attention to our prayers. We don't have to work ourselves up into a frenzy before he responds. All we have to do is open our hearts and let our love for others pour out to him. Sometime, we don't know exactly what to pray because a trial in someone's life may be what it takes to draw someone closer to God or to transform their character to be more like Christ. Not that God brings calamity on us just to teach us a lesson. He doesn't. Life will do that for us all by itself because we live in a broken world and when it does, God sees and works to turn a bad situation around so that good will come out of it.

So, go ahead and pray for those you love, those you don't like, those you don't even know when you see someone hurting. Don't worry about saying the right words or having the right posture, just open your heart and ask God to work his perfect will in their lives. That's better than anything else you could possibly do.

So, what do you think? Does prayer intimidate you? Have you been frustrated with your prayer life?

Remember, prayer is just an open conversation between you and your Father God.
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