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Women in His Presence

by Erica Salazar

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christianity

Wrestling with God

Wrestling is a physical interaction between two people in which one is trying to gain dominance over the other.

Spiritually, we learn in Ephesians that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against evil principalities. Because of this, there are times that my flesh and my mind wrestle with God.

Last Sunday I woke up with an overwhelming feeling of rejection. That continued as I went to church feeling like an outsider being over 40 yet under 50, divorced, and with no kids. It’s a personal perception of being a modern day leper. Looking around, you see where you want to belong but not having the qualifications of kids or a spouse to quite fit in. Of course this isn’t anyone’s doing, it’s just a perception I have always felt in my position. I felt like that married without kids and now it’s just gone from bad to worse.

I continued in service not able to shake it. I started to really miss my spouse. I started to wrestle with why my best wasn’t enough. I started to wrestle with my worth and wondered how long was I going to have to wait.

I went home and rested in my sadness for the rest of the day.

Sunday Evening
When evening came, I sat with the Lord in my prayer closet with music and started to draw. The word TRUST was written down.

What was at the root of this rejection? Has God not provided for me abundantly? Has God not given me joy in my sadness? Has God not shown himself to be faithful in so many ways? He has! Over and over he amazes me, yet in that prayer closet the root of my rejection was a wrestling that I have with God because I don’t trust Him with my prayers.

I told Him, “I feel rejected by you because it seems as if you don’t answer my prayers. I don’t ask for much.”

There are two things that he has spoken to me and that I believe are prayers of his will but are unanswered. Because of this, I wrestle with feeling as if I’m suppose to settle for less than God’s best. I feel like miracles are for everyone else but me.

Monday Evening
The next evening, I did the same thing. But this time the word TRUTH was written down.

What he spoke to me, comforted me. He reminded me that he has faced the ultimate rejection. Him, the perfect gift of love, rejected by many repeatedly and continuously and that “many” includes me. He showed me that everyone’s life is a whole with fractional parts of ups and downs. Their answered prayer comes when their particular fractional part of hardship is at its end. Mine is more of in the middle. He also reminded me of what he has been able to show me during this time of unanswered prayers and what I would miss and could miss if that prayer was answered in my timing.

Saturday Morning
Yesterday morning I walked with the Lord. This is when he showed me that I’m wrestling with Him. He showed me as I walked along the creek that its beauty is in the bends and where the water flows over the shallow areas where it’s very rocky. The parts of the creek that are still and straight do not bring the beauty. They are boring. He showed me I’m wanting everything to be perfect. Perfectly straight…which is not what life on earth is like. Perfection is only in Heaven and in His Presence.

At that point I got it and He illustrated how this grappling got me to God’s truths.

Position
When I’m wrestling with God, I’m trying to dominate the match and I’m telling God what I see in the natural and that I’m angry and hurt. God, does not let me go. He stays in the wrestling match pinning me down occasionally reminding me of his dominion over all things. However, he doesn’t try to dominate me. He doesn’t force me to give up or give in. He allows me the position to question and guess and at times have a false sense of control.

Perception
1. When I’m in a dominating position, I try to pin God down so he can look up at me and see the situation I’m in and everything that is behind me and surrounds me.
2. God then makes a maneuver and flips the script. He is now trying to get me to look up at Him. However, in my struggle for control and reason, I’m working and wrestling so hard my eyes are pinched shut.

Submission

1. This goes on until His love eventually wills me into submission.
2. At this point, my muscles relax and stop.
3. My eyes open and I see Truth and I see Trust.

Saturday Evening to Tonight
From the point of submission, I can’t even explain how God has unleashed his love. He has sent so many people to me, unknowing to them, with words of encouragement, confirmation, and truth.

God is so amazing in His love for us.

Point to Ponder: When we wrestle with God we win. He positions our perception so that through submission His mission is truly realized.

To God be the Glory

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God Gave Me a Stone

My dogs favorite thing to do is have time off the leash. This means they can run fast and crazy without bothering anyone.  It’s complete freedom and bliss for them, which also makes me happy to see.

A couple of weeks ago, we were doing our normal off-the-leash trek when I decided to cut through the grass to a nearby waterhole.   Once there, they did their normal swim and stick fetching until it was time to head back.

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As I was walking back across the grass, I stubbed my toe on something hard.  As I reached down into the uncut grass, my hand stumbled upon a sphere shaped object. Pulling it up for inspection, I found it to be a rock. I found this to be quite unusual. So when I got back to the street, I had to test it.  I threw that rock down hard to see if it would break like mud but it didn’t. Therefore, like all other times an oddity occurs in nature with me, I took it to be some sort of message from God.

As I walked back home, I tossed that rock up in the air repeatedly.  As I did that, a couple of things came to mind:

1. Heft-This rock has the perfect heft to throw far and do damage.

2.  Catapult-This rock would be perfect for a medieval sling that catapults stones to hurt the enemy.

3.  David killed Goliath with a stone.

4.  Jesus’ tomb was covered with a large stone.

When I got home, I looked up the definitions for heft and catapult.

Heft: the weight of someone or something

Catapult: a device in which accumulated tension is suddenly released to hurl an object some distance, in particular.

So what was the message…..

God revealed to me that this stone represented a burden I am carrying.  As difficult as the burden is, he told me the heft and heaviness is exactly what is need to create a deadly blow to the enemy.

My arm on the other hand is like a catapult that the stone rests upon. The heavier the burden/stone gets, the further my forearm will hinge back and down closing in towards my shoulder   However, like a catapult, it will only go back so far.    Eventually, the tension will build upon the hinge until it can go no further. At that moment, with unleashing force, the stone will be released causing a deadly blow to the enemy.

Therefore, the burden that I carry of what is dead, will come back to life.

To God be the Glory

 

 

 

Reading the Bible: Why Should I and Where Do I Start?

Attempting to read the Bible can be intimidating. This is because we have the misconception that it’s too hard, too long, and we really don’t understand why we should.  We think we are too busy, it’s not relevant, and it’s made up of stories that aren’t real. Most of all, we think it’s filled with a bunch of rules we must follow.

When it comes to attending a Bible study, we are afraid to participate.  We think reading the whole thing is a prerequisite for participation. We think we have to actually own a Bible. We think behind those church doors are really smart people engaging in this high level conversation.

But none of that is true.

However, just a little over ten years ago, I was there.  I believed in God and that Jesus died on the cross.  I had faith.  I wanted to start attending church regularly.  I tried to be a good person

Wasn’t that enough?

Well the problem that I ran into once I started reading the Bible was…..

  1.  I realized that prior, I didn’t know what it actually meant to be a follower of Christ?
  2. What I thought was good, ok, or not a big deal, did not line up with the Word of God.
  3. The “rules” were a protective covering that kept me feeling whole, loved, safe, and not lacking.

What I started to gain by reading the Bible….

  1. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
  2. A desire to read the Bible out of enjoyment and not out of requirement.
  3. I started to feel alive and complete.
  4. It became my anchor in a storm.
  5. It gave me ability to heal, love, and forgive when I should naturally be bitter.
  6. Etc…..The list could go on forever.

Overall, it unlocked this whole new world that was better than before.  Sure, life still happened.  But, more and more instead of turning to outside solutions to make me feel good, I turned to my Bible.

It is the place where God guides me.   It’s the place where He speaks to me. In there is the truth about life, circumstances, and choices.

Its the only place I can go that gives me peace, comfort, excitement, adventure, purpose, and an understanding of the condition of my heart.

I encourage you in 2018 to give it try.  Journey with me, by reading a Proverb a day.   It’s a great place to start and very applicable to everyday life.

Don’t be afraid.   Be ready to be amazed.

 

Ready for War

He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow, and concealed me in his quiver.

Isaiah 49:2

As the year comes to an end, 2017 has been a year of new firsts, a season of waiting, and a total dependence on the Lord.

As the past lingers with unexpected reminders, so does God’s Truth. It hits hard and is a constant reminder of how things work when someone steps out of God’s will and when you remain under his covering.

It’s been a year of experiencing the truth of living in the light and witnessing when someone chooses to live in the dark.

It’s been a year of focus when God is first, and yet a year of distraction when a career grabs a hold of my heart.

It’s been a year that magnifies the areas of my flesh that need to be scrubbed away. At the same time, I’ve seen how he has also slowly transformed me and my heart.

Overall, it’s been a lesson that’s preparing me to pick up the Sword of the Spirit in 2018 and really fight for the kingdom of God.

I’ve been too passive.
I’ve been too complacent.
I’ve been too worried what people will think.

All the while, people are lost.

I haven’t spread the gospel the way I’ve been called to. I’ve kept too much in, because I’m so focused on something that is God’s business. It involves me, but the saving, healing, and mending is not mine.

He has simply called me to obey Him and wait.

I however, have been too busy wasting time trying to understand it. I’ve wasted time letting my flesh fight being obedient.

But not anymore. I choose YOU-God.

As 2018 approaches, let me encourage you to choose Him too.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize that choosing Jesus meant dying to self and living by the Spirit and not the flesh.

It is a constant wrestling, but the Spirit is winning more and more. I’ve been stretched beyond what I thought possible. But it is undeniably comforting, peaceful, and exciting.

When I gave my life to Christ, if I would have known before hand the fire and refining I would go through, I would have been too afraid to proceed. But coming out of it polished and sharpened, I can’t imagine living my life without going through it.

2018 will be a year of conquering and gaining ground.  It will be a year of harvest and hard work for the kingdom.

Set your eyes and heart on the Lord this year.   Let he truly be the king that reigns in your heart.

To God be the Glory

 

Relentless

My grandma has always had a special touch in making a backyard look special and relaxing.

This Thanksgiving morning, I sit in the backyard reflecting, resting, and enjoying the birds, fresh air, and just being alert to what God has to say today.

 

RELENTLESS.

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He reminds me that his love is relentless and so should mine.

I am a STANDER.

Many of you may not know what this is, but it means you are waiting for your marriage to be restored. You are standing in the gap for your spouse in prayer and petition. You do not date. You wait even in they are in a relationship. You wait even if they remarry. You wait for God’s perfect timing for your marriage to be restored. Even if it takes twenty years.

It’s not always easy and it’s flat out crazy, but it’s not as uncommon as you would think. In fact, there are many amazing testimonies and they all have common patterns that include what led to the divorce as well as what happens when restoration begins.

Like Jonah, a stander cannot run from their calling. God makes it clear over and over. He always answers to stay the course when logic and flesh want to take over.

It seems so impossible. There is nothing in the natural that I can see to even have hope for. But, my God is a God of faith, hope, and love.

I am thankful.

1. Thankful for a trial that is truly testing my faith.
2. Thankful for a trial that can only end by God’s strength and power.
3. Thankful for the awareness that I need to grow in prayer and faith.
4. Most of all though, I’m thankful that God has given me the ability to truly love RELENTLESSLY just like he loves us.

It’s the only way to love if you are a stander, because it can be very easy to quit when you are not seeing God’s promises formulating quickly.

RELENTLESS

It’s a strange word that almost sounds violent. Which then reminds me of the cross. Reminds me that Jesus Christ laid down his life for us in the most uncomfortable and painful way.

For us
A group of undeserving sinners
Definitely not logical

So….

Who am I to limit my love, my life, my time, my heart?

You see, what seemed illogical becomes the most logical thing to do when the perspective is through the lens of unconditional love.

Loving like Jesus.

I wear Biblical glasses with lenses set on a prescription of scripture giving me insight to the love of Jesus Christ.

I loved you at your darkest.
Romans 5:8

To God be the Glory

Uprooted

I had a really difficult time about thirteen years ago moving from Houston to a small south Texas town. Even though I had gone to college there, it was still a drastic change from the big city of Houston.

My second year living there was the first time I had heard the saying, “Bloom where you are planted.” From that moment on, I began to embrace the differences and adapt to my new home. It was slow progress, but eventually I loved it. Everywhere I went, I ran into somebody I knew. Wal-Mart was my go to place when I was bored. A drive down the backroads was always relaxing and the outdoors was always near. Friends were like family and across town (15 minutes) seemed far. Traffic was never an issue and summer always brought the best snow-cones and fire flies. No matter the season, the stars were always in view and home was where my heart was.

Uprooted.

Everything I grew to love began to slip through my fingers. It started small, but eventually led to me moving back home to Houston to be near family, find work, and start over with a divorce in the works.

Uprooted.

It hurt. Every root that grew down was tangled around a dream, a spouse, normal routines and friends. And then, it all got pulled out. Trying to cling to every grain of old soil, I fpund that the process rips. Roots don’t let go easy and they take a piece of that earth with them no matter what.

When I saw this tree in the middle of the road I found it to be very interesting. It’s so grown and not like a seed that’s expected to bloom where it’s been planted. No, this seed bloomed already. In fact, it even reproduced. It’s gone through years of growing, storms, branch breaking, and leaves falling and growing.

I wondered, how does it live and not die of shock in the replanting? How do the roots get ahold of something that they never held before? This is new soil. A new territory.

For me, it took support. Luckily I had family to lean on. But, the biggest support was God. Only through the Word of God, could I receive healing. Only through the Word of God, could I receive understanding. Only through the Word of God, could I receive the most delicate pruning. And only through the Word of God, could I have received comfort through this shocking process.

I’m not going to lie. Some of my roots feel a little lost as if nothing quite feels right. Part of my heart isn’t home. Some of my roots are growing deep excited about the new growth to come. But my core root knows to hold tight to only one thing. The root of Jesus Christ. It will always comfort, always provide, and always bring life to my soul.

“For there is hope for a tree, When it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not fail. “Though its roots grow old in the ground And its stump dies in the dry soil, At the scent of water it will flourish And put forth sprigs like a plant.

Job 14:7-9

To God be the Glory

 

Week 2: Harvest

Three Harvest Times:

1. Barley Reaping (April/May)
2. Wheat Harvest (June/July)
3. In gathering of the Fruits -Tree/Vines (Sept/Oct)

Festivals occurring during each of those harvest times.
1. Passover
2. Pentecost
3. Tabernacles

Main Scripture

Galatians 6:7-10 NASB
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Monday: Get Your Ground Ready!

1. Read Proverbs 24:27
I’ve included three different translations.

New International Version
Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.

New Living Translation
Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.

English Standard Version
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.

The first thing that needs to be done before you have a crop to harvest is to get a field ready. However, not just any field will work. Each plant grows best in a certain type of soil. Soils vary by region which have different climates and precipitation. Fields also need to be plowed and made ready. If a seed is not planted in the right type of soil or an unplowed field, then its growth is not fruitful or nonexistent.

It’s kind of like humans. We live in different places with different cultures. But, our heart and our minds are like fields. Everyday we see, hear, and experience things that are planted in our mind, vision, desires, and emotions.

Because of that, last week I asked, “Where do you plant your presence?” A blessed man plants himself in the Word God. However he chooses this. He is not being forced. Therefore it shows his heart/mind or field is ready for the seed of God to be planted. His field has been plowed and made ready

If he was being forced to be in the presence of the Lord or had minimal exposure, his heart/field isn’t plowed well enough for the seed to grow strong roots. Therefore the seed is received, but will fail to reach the maturity of being harvested.

We got to get our field ready so God’s seed grows and remains in us.

1 John 3:9 NIV
No one who is born of God will continue to sin,because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.

So to start off today, I want to ask some questions that will have you reflect on the status of your field/heart before moving into the study.

1. How often to you plant yourself in Bible reading?
2. Answer only the question that pertains to you:

A. What keeps you from attempting to read the Bible? Explain any past attempts that did not succeed in becoming a Bible reader.

B. What keeps you from reading the Bible regularly? Think about how you can create some type of system that works around those challenges if they are not going to go away. Think about which challenges are actually distractions, therefore becoming a priority in your schedule over reading God’s Word.

C. If you are reading regularly, have you thought about deepening your understanding by incorporating Biblical resource books? What would you like to know more about?

Now read Galatians 6:7
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

A man reaps what he sows. The acting of sowing requires effort and energy.

A. The person has to physically take seed out and intentionally sow it somewhere.
B. The amount of harvest and the type of harvest depends on what the sower sowed.
C. The amount of seed sown depends on the size of the field.

Based on what has been written up to this point, reflect on Galatians 6:7.

1. Where do you sow your seed? Where do you invest your energy in besides work?
2. Reflect where do you sow into sin.

For me I sow into emotional eating. Eating is not bad, but when I eat to calm my emotions I’m sowing to the flesh. And trust me, my body will not be mocked. It shows!

3. How often are you sowing into your sin?

Tuesday: Sowing

Galatians 6:8 NASB
8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 5 16-13 (NASB)
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, [d]factions,21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

1. Galatians 6:8 says if you sow to please the flesh then you will reap/harvest destruction. From Galatians 5, list the 15 things that are deeds of the flesh. List them straight down your paper leaving room to write on the side of them.
2. Next to each deed, give examples of ways that either you and/or others sow into that particular deed. (This is between you and God. Don’t be afraid to confront anything or even place a question mark on things you are not sure fall into that category but you think maybe do.)
3. Now, for each deed write whether or not the secular world thinks your examples will lead to destruction.
4. Now from Galatians 5, list the nine fruits of the Spirit in the same way you listed the deeds of the flesh.
5. Next to each fruit, express where you feel you are with that fruit. You can even give yourself a ranking using a 1-10 range. One meaning not there at all. Five is neutral, and 10 would represent as close to humanly possible at reflecting that fruit.
6. Can you think of any situations God has grown you in a specific fruit or is challenging you to grow in a specific fruit?

If you have time, reread Psalm 1:1-6 from last week. It reemphasizes these scriptures.

Wednesday: Sowing and Growing

Matthew 13:3-8 (NASB)
3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell [a]among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

1. First notice there is one intentional action and three unintentional actions.
2. All the seeds are in the presence of the sower, but some have either slipped through or fallen out when others are intentionally being sown.

There are many things that can put us in the presence of God.
1. Going to church
2. Listening to Christian music
3. Listening to an online or radio sermon
4. Reading a devotional
5. Praying
6. Reading the Bible

However reading the Bible and prayer are the only two that require just you and God. It’s that 1:1 personal relationship and it is first hand information.

Remember in week one of this study, the Word says the blessed man meditates on the law of God day and night. Where is that first hand information? In the Bible!

In this parable, there are four types of ground.
1. Side of the road
2. Rocky places
3. Thorny ground
4. Good soil

Here is the danger. Every single person has a heart/ground. If it’s only being “plowed” with Christian music, online sermons, or just attending church, your heart will not be plowed to the point that your ground can get to the point of good soil. Good soil reaps a harvest    .

We usually start by going to church etc., but to never move to reading the word of God for ourselves, along with praying, leaves you missing out a great relationship. Plus, the Word transforms us from the inside out. It’s how God speaks to you directly to grow you to maturity. Maturity that can be harvested and multiplied. You don’t want to have stunted growth

This is why many people think that they will go to heaven because they attend church regularly, believe in Jesus, and try to be a good person. People think the activity is the relationship.

Let’s compare this to a real relationship.

If you spend time as a couple going to a movie, concerts, and believe the person is your spouse without talking or “listening” to what that person has to say to you first hand would that be a real relationship?

No.

You have to talk and share your thoughts, concerns, and beliefs. And these conversations need to happen with just you and your spouse. Not with a middle man or receiving second hand information.

So why do we think not having this intimacy with God is ok?

God shares his love, thoughts, character, beliefs through his Word. We have to read it for ourselves to get to know Him. We have to pray so we can share our thoughts with God. He wants to listen.

1. Out of the four ground types which one(s) do you most relate with?
2. Based on the parable, what is happening to God’s seed when it lands on your ground.

Notice that each ground type is receiving the seed just like many people hear about Jesus and are even believers of Jesus. But, do all the seeds reach the point of harvest?

3. The difference is the ground. Once you receive God’s seed, is your heart/ground able to provide an ENVIRONMENT for the seed to grow in you and transform you? Are you staying as a seedling or are you growing in Christ to point that your flesh is becoming dead?

A harvested plant is a dead plant.
1. Yet it’s in its death that it feeds others.
2. It’s nourishment that allows others to grow.
3. It also gets to a point where it is creating many seed. The plant must die for the new seeds to be planted.

All plants die, but not all make it to a mature enough state that reproduces, multiplies, and can be used for a service.

Thursday: Sowing and Growing Continued

Let’s flip the script. Yesterday we looked at the scripture as if you were the ground with the ground representing your heart and how it may or may not be getting plowed well enough for the seed to grow to the point of harvest.

Today let’s think about you being the seed. All people belong to God. Yet some choose by the depth of their relationship with HIM to stay in his presence. These are the ones that are in His hand the entire time and get sown in good soil. The other ones are falling out of his hand or coming out too soon.

1. If you are the seed falling onto the side of the road, what real world situation could this be? What could have caused this situation to occur?
2. If you are the seed falling onto rocky ground, what real world situation could this be? What could have caused this situation to occur?
3. If you are the seed falling onto thorny ground what real world situation could this be? What could have caused this situation to occur?
4. If you are the seed being placed in the good soil, what real world situations could this be? What could have caused this situation to occur?

Friday: Harvesting

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

1. For the barley and wheat harvest, “the corners of the fields were no to be reaped and the scatterings of the cut grain were not to be picked up.” (Zondervan Pictoral Bible Dictionary)
2. “With a new orchard or vineyard the fruit could not be gathered for three years, and the fourth year’s crop had the given entirely to the Lord. So the owner had to wait until the fifth year to get any fruit for himself. (Zondervan Pictoral Bible Dictionary)

For the grain fields, the instruction to leave the corners and not pick up what had fallen or scattered was to benefit the poor.

1. Putting on your business cap, why would this good deed be an inconvenience?

2. If you were the owner of a new vineyard or orchard, what would be difficult about your situation based on the information above?
3. How does that scripture impact you now knowing the harvesting customs of that time?
4. What situation/crop have you been investing yourself in through action and/or prayer that has not come into fruition yet?
5. Is there a blessing others are able to receive because you are working and tending to your situation/crop even though you don’t see your harvest?
6. What emotions does God acknowledge you are going to go through while you wait?

Let’s think back to the past two days. God knows we get weary. Maybe he does too?
However, he keeps sowing. He does not stop, because he wants everyone one of us to repent and grow in Him and into an image of Christ.

He wants a crop of Christians that can be harvested and sent out to “feed” the world and multiply.

Matthew 13:8
And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

Galatians 6:10
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

7. How do you feel about your situation now?
8. What action steps will you take to either incorporate Bible reading, become more consistent, or gain a deeper knowledge?

Have a blessed week!

 

 

 

Surviving on Higher Ground

Today I went with my youngest sister for our daily walk in the rain. It’s a time we count our blessings that this little area has been spared so far. However, we take pictures of the increasing water behind the house as we toss a toy with the dogs. They have been the few to not mind the rain since it has given them plenty of off leash time and easy access swimming.

On our way back today, my sister noticed a bunch of empty snail shells in the crevices between the sidewalk and the landscaping off to the side.

We began to gather the empty shells and it reminded me of what is happening now during Harvey. So many empty homes whose inhabitants have had to flee. There the shells lay on the ground submerged under a thin layer of water surrounded by debris.

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We tried to rescue a few that were still alive but underwater. Like the rescue helicopters, our hands reached down to pluck the ones that had life. We then began to stick them to the trees to try and give them a chance to survive. My sister then realized, that other snails had made their way up those trees on their own clinging to higher ground.

I love when God reveals himself in nature.

What I was getting from this little observation is, how do we survive the storm? It doesn’t have to be an actual weather storm, but any major disruption in life that is unexpected and can be catastrophic. It upsets and challenges our soul and spirit. Emotionally we can be swept away or in a rage. Or we can rise above to higher ground and be an overcomer.

Again, the question is HOW?

Jesus Christ!

By constantly being in His Presence through the reading of the word and prayer, the Holy Spirit equips us to supernaturally survive when by the world’s view we should be drowning.

It gives you the ability to love unconditionally who you are rejected by.

It gives you the ability to forgive those who don’t even ask for forgiveness.

It gives you the ability to go outside yourself to be helping hands.

It also gives you the knowledge that you are not a victim of your circumstances. Instead you are a victor in Christ.

Matthew 7:24-27New International Version (NIV)
The Wise and Foolish Builders

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

To God be the Glory

Planting: Where Do You Plant Your Presence?

Week 1: Planting

Worship: Endlessly-Bethel

Psalm 1:1-6
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+1%3A1-6&version=NASB

Day 1: Psalm 1:1
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

As we begin this study, I want you to notice that verse one starts with the word “How.” Normally, this is used to start a question, but here it is not. In fact it is using an exclamation point. Keep that in mind as we dig into this blessed man in verse one.

1. There three groups of people listed in verse one not including the blessed man. Who are they?
A. Wicked
B.
C.

2. What are the three things associated with each of these groups?
A. Counsel
B.
C.

3. What are the three things that the man, who is blessed, not do with them?
A. Walk in the counsel
B.
C.

Notice all three of these scenarios have to do with people and a close proximity. They have more to do with a form of companionship or a personal level of involvement.

The blessed man doesn’t WALK IN, STAND IN, or SIT IN their presence.

If he would plant himself in their presence, he would be greatly outnumbered. 1:many

4. What could happen in he planted his presence in an outnumbered situation?

Reflect:

1. Where do you plant your presence?
2. Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel outnumbered in your values?
3. If so, is this by choice or due to circumstances?
4. Is this a struggle? If so, how? If not, how?

Day 2: Psalm 1:2
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

1. In verse 1, where do the wicked, sinners, and scoffers find their delight?
A. In their own counsel
B.
C.

2. Where does the blessed man find his delight?

3. When does he find his delight?

I want to point out that this is a 1:1 ratio. I also want to point out that he is making a decision to meditate day and night on the law of the Lord. The outcome is that it is delightful which is a blessing.

I also want to point out that the scripture doesn’t say he is blessed because:
1. He walks in the counsel of Godly wisdom.
2. He stands in the path of righteous.
3. He sits in the seat of a pleasant person.

Although, those are all good things, the man is not blessed by keeping good company. He is not blessed because of humans.

He is blessed because he plants himself in the presence of God and delights in it.

4. In verse two it uses the verb meditate. What kind of conclusion can you come to when comparing meditate to the other verbs: walk, stand, sit?

Reflect:

1. Where do seek delight?
2. When you seek to delight in the word of God, do you notice a difference in your day?

Spending time with God in His Word allows you to be blessed by His Presence.

Day 3: Psalm 1:3
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

Verse three is stating the blessed man is like a tree.

What do we notice about this tree.
A. It is firmly planted
B. It is near a fresh water source, which is needed to survive.
C. It bears fruit.
D. It bears fruit in the season that is appropriate for that tree.
E. It’s leaves do not wither, which is not natural. Therefore it is operating in the supernatural.
F. Since the leaves do not wither, photosynthesis is constantly occurring. That is a key process for plant survival.
G. Day and night has its sources for survival: moonlight/sunlight for photosynthesis and the stream.

As an elementary school teacher, when I read this verse I think of erosion. Streams, naturally erode the banks and if you have ever been to a river, you can see tree roots exposed along the banks.

Although erosion is exposing the roots, the firmly planted trees help prevent massive erosion. The plant roots help secure and hold down the soil along the bank along with any other kind of plant life.

So if the blessed man is like this tree by the stream:

1. He multiplies at the right or appointed time.
2. He is able to be nourished day and night because he is planted by a stream which is the law of God.
3. He is always able to grow because he is able to access light, the law of God, since his leaf does not wither.
4. He is able to be firmly planted, because he is rooted in the law of God.
5. Therefore, he prospers because he is always a tree that will bear fruit.

Reflect:

1. How deep are your roots?
2. What are you rooted to?
3. Are you bearing fruit?
4. What does this say about where you plant your presence?

Day 4: Psalm 1:4
The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

Now the focus has shifted from the blessed man to the wicked. The wicked are compared to chaff which is the inedible part of the seed that is removed during the threshing process.

1. What are your thoughts about the chaff being removed from the seed compared to fruit bearing tree which therefore produces many seeds?

One of the ways the chaff was removed was by tossing the threshed wheat with a winnowing fork up in the air. The chaff would then be blown away by the wind since it is light while the rest would fall.

2. What are your thoughts about the chaff being so easily blown compared to the firmly planted tree?

3. It says that the wind DRIVES the wind away which means a force is separating it. What force separates the blessed man from the wicked, sinners, and scoffers?

Reflect:

1. Is there a process of separation or a driving out of the chaff in your life?
2. Whatever your answer is, how does it correlate to the time you spend meditating on the law of the Lord day and night.

Day 5: Psalm 1:5

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous  

The switch continues here. Verse one told us what the blessed man does not do. Now we are seeing what the wicked and sinners will not get to do.

*The wicked will not stand in the judgement
* Sinners will not stand in the assembly of the righteous.

If they won’t stand in judgement, then they cannot receive mercy. If they are not in the assembly if the righteous, then they are far from people who are blessed and could witness the delight of the Lord.

1. Go back to verse four. What is causing this separation?

2. Go back to verses 1-2. What keeps the blessed man separated from the wicked and the sinners?

Reflect:

1. What is the opposite of blessed? Cursed!
If the blessed man would keep company with the wicked, sinners, and scoffers what intentional and unintentional curses could he receive?

2. Notice the wicked cannot stand in their own circumstances. The will be blown away. The blessed man chooses not to stand in the presence of the wicked. Instead the blessed man is planted in God’s presence day and night. What is the difference between standing and being planted?

Day 6: Psalm 1:6
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.

The blessed man meditates on the law of the Lord day and night.

1. Therefore, what is the instruction manual for the blessed man whose way is righteous?

2. Who created those “ways?”

3. Reflecting on the two questions above, explain why the Lord knows the way of the righteous?

4. Describe the relationship that exists between the Lord and the blessed man based on verse 2 and 6.

The way of the wicked has no source of life. The wicked, sinners, and scoffers don’t necessarily find their way in the same source. There is only one source and one way that brings delight and life. It works for everyone when we are in relationship day and night with the Lord.

5. If your source of delight is nothing, what do you become and what happens to you according to verse 6?

Reflect:

Notice the blessed man is one and chooses not to plant himself in a situation of wickedness or sin. He chooses not to be in a group where he is outnumbered by them.

However, by the end, the blessed man is like a tree producing fruit in season. Those fruit were a part of him. He is a multiplier.

Sometimes, we seem alone in this world as a Christian, but if you are meditating day and night with the Lord you become a multiplier. You get to stand in the judgement. You get to be in the assembly of righteous.

The wicked only have death to look forward to. Perish is defined in several ways: sudden death, rot, decay, complete destruction.

This should concern you when we think of unsaved people, prodigals, or apostates in our lives.

Their own sin will eventually separate them from the assembly of the righteous. But, being in a righteous crowd does not make anyone blessed.

Only being in relationship with Jesus Christ brings true blessings. 

Pray that their heart turns to the Lord and they seek delight in the Word of God and pray that you continue growing roots by meditating on it day and night.

Note:
(This Study is not saying that we don’t reach out through ministry or mission based outreach. Sometimes going into enemy territory is necessary, but it is typically within a group setting, has been bathed with prayer, and has a purpose of speaking truth in love and not sharing/partaking in an experience of sin or wickedness.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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